Yi Yi

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick Sun, Jul 2, 2002.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    So I got a chance to spin up the "Yi Yi" DVD that I bought on a whim a few months ago. I don't want to go into the quality of DVD transfer of the film, please go here if you want to hash it out.
    I wanted to let the film run in my head for the better part of today before making any comments about it, but I think I'm ready. Spoilers might be revealed (but I'll try not to reveal them - keeping many of my comments directed to those who've seen the film, but trying to also entice others to seek it out as well), so you've been warned.
    Bear in mind, I haven't listened to Edward Yang's commentary on the film yet.
    The film features the family of "NJ" who is a Taiwanese businessman, with a daughter (Ting Ting) and a son (Yang Yang), and wife (Min Min), a newly married brother (A-Di), and a grandmother who has suffered a stroke. Using monologues by the characters (as they speak at the bedside of the grandmother stricken with a stroke) is a good device to get a little bit in the heads of the characters and their reflection of what's going on in their lives at the moment.
    I thought it was interesting in the way Yang was able to create "attachment by detachment", meaning, there are many moments in the film that we, the viewer, see from afar, getting to listen to the dialogue, as the characters interact, but are kept far from us, and yet, this distance does little to keep us from developing feelings for the plight of members in this family going through a series of changes in interpersonal relationships. As a bonus, we get to see the total body language of the characters during the encounters.
    The parallels that the film draws as each member (the father, the daughter, the son, and even the mother, and brother-in-law) goes through discovery of themselves through finding attraction in another is quite well done and thought provoking. Do we ever stop not wanting to relate to others in complicated ways, even if though we know it'll most likely brings us pain and anguish, and bits of joy sprinkled in for good measure?
    The whole gamut of emotions that the characters go through as they either embark on new relationships, or strike up old ones is truly haunting in a deja vu sort of way. Decisions you make in life (at all stages) do leave emotional scars regardless of their consequences, but there's still this undercurrent that even though we are attracted to the "what ifs" of our lives, in the end, things work out for the best possible outcome regardless of what our longings would suggest otherwise. It's actually a positive message for living life.
    When I first completed watching this film, I thought it was okay (loved the little boy who played Yang Yang), but I kept flashing back to the "attachment through detachment" scenes of the characters, and recalling their conversations without having to deal with facial expressions and close-ups, I was able to focus on what was being said, and did not have the non-verbal gestures distract from the conversations. Even the long pauses in the characters conversations create this unspoken dialogue that is fun to fill in the blanks for the characters.
    The quiet thrills and disappointments of life captured in the film are more stunning upon reflection than during the actual course of viewing the film. Let it ruminate in your head for a bit. There's plenty of meat in this film for movie carnivores to enjoy.
     
  2. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Patrick, I agree with you so much on the merits of this film, but you got the wrong DVD! There's no reason to grouse about the horrible quality of Fox Lorber's disc, because there's another disc, region-free and NTSC, that finally gives this film the fine transfer it deserves!
    (Actually, the Ed Yang commentary on the FL disc is pretty good, and I kept that disc because of it.)
    But the version you should buy is Starmax's region-free/NTSC disc here: http://www.hkflix.com/xq/asp/filmID.1706/qx/details.htm
    Video transfer is leagues better than Fox Lorber's botch, and even the audio is improved.
     
  3. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    And be careful - there's another "Yi Yi" disc out there that's reportedly even worse than Fox Lorber's! Remember: you want the STARMAX version.
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Hey, I bought the DVD at a store closing, on a whim, at a decent price. But thanks for the pointer, I may consider bumping up the "quality" aspect of the DVD (and pass this DVD to another person who might enjoy it). [​IMG]
    Now, back to the merits of the actual film!
     
  5. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I thought there was also a strong theme of facing your regrets and learning that you shouldn't have had them. The chances to change directions for each family member and for each of them to come back to where they were.
    So I felt a message of "you might think you missed the boat in your life, but maybe you really didn't".
    So many films are about getting to change your life, about reaching your dreams, that it was nice to see a film that says "hey, maybe you didn't have it so wrong after all".
    A lot like the message from "A Wonderful Life" though done much more subtlely (like Capra was known for subtlety [​IMG]).
     
  6. Thi Them

    Thi Them Producer

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    What was I going to post?

    ~T
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Here's a 3 word summary of the film that I came up with while driving home tonight:
    Flirting With Disaster. [​IMG]
     
  8. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    The "attachment by detachment" method mentioned by Patrick seemed to me that Yang was very much in the tradition of Ozu. Yi Yi's settings in the modern world of Taiwan and Japan were perhaps an even stronger contrast to the seemingly distanced emotions. It's anything but distant, a movie with tremendous heartfelt emotion.
     

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