Millennium Mambo MA 15+
A dazzling 4K restoration of Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-hsien’s sensual 2001 tale of an adrift bar hostess at the turn of the millennium.
Vicky (a luminous Shu Qi, The Assassin, MIFF 2015) lives a nocturnal existence filled with melancholy and restlessness. She works long and hedonistic hours at a Taipei nightclub, while her bratty boyfriend, the wannabe DJ Hao-Hao, terrorises her – they are constantly brawling and bickering in their tiny apartment. Then she meets the much older but kind and affectionate gangster Jack, who might hold the key to Vicky escaping her repetitious and seemingly aimless life.
As its title suggests, Millennium Mambo – whose reputation has flourished into cult status in the decades since its release – moves to the rhythms of dance. Soaked in gorgeous neon light and set to a propulsive techno score, the film is mysterious and hypnotic in equal measure, pulling audiences into the languid days of Taipei’s youth. Prolific cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-bing, who worked on Wong Kar-wai’s sumptuous In the Mood for Love the year prior, offers more indelible images here, this time suffused with the energy and grimness of an ultra-modern metropolis.
“Not only the most pop movie the great Taiwanese filmmaker has ever made but … among the most astonishingly beautiful.” – New York Times