Hou Hsiao Hsien’s MILLENNIUM MAMBO will begin its exclusive Los Angeles engagement at the Fairfax Cinemas on Friday, March 26.
Vicky is a hostess at one of Linsen North Road’s trendy Yao-tou bars. Engrossed in the narcissistic lifestyle of nightclubs and Ecstasy highs, her romantic attention is divided between two men. Hao-hao, her neurotic and jealous live-in boyfriend, constantly suspects her of infidelities and goes to absurd lengths to check up on her. Vicky resolves to break it off with him once she has drained the $500,000 from their bank account. Jack, an enterprising gangster with a personal stake in the bar where Vicky works, begins an ambiguous love affair with her which may or may not lead to a more emotionally intimate relationship. His presence in her life becomes both a source of trouble and a beacon of salvation.
The first in an intended series in which Hou aims to record the changing lifestyles of Taiwanese, MILLENNIUM MAMBO was originally touted as a change of direction for the filmmaker. Given the film’s neon-saturated urban setting, hedonistic, angst-ridden characters and detached, complacent voice-over narration, one would be inclined to think that Hou has taken a cue from the younger generation of Asian filmmakers, but his long takes, convincing realism and highly-refined sense of staging all convey Hou’s unique cinematic language. A story of female entrapment scored with a throbbing techno thump, MILLENNIUM MAMBO features a radiant performance from Hong Kong starlet Shu Qi (SO CLOSE, THE TRANSPORTER), photographed with playful luminescence by Mark Lee Ping-bing (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN). ~ adapted from Noah Cowan’s synopsis in the Toronto International Film Festival Program.