Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
CAAM Fest ’16: Thanatos, Drunk
are not kidding about the drinking. Their claims to camaraderie are something
else. Two brothers and their gigolo buddy share a bachelor flat, but it is
hardly a happy home. Of course, none of the three have really had much domestic
nurturing. They will run wild and court danger, eventually finding more than
they bargained for in Chang Tso-chi’s Thanatos,
here), which screens during the 2016 CAAM Fest.
his gay older brother Shang-ho was in America, Rat’s hopelessly alcoholic mother
became clingingly codependent. As a result, when Shang-ho returns, Rat is more
than primed to bolt from the coop. In their new digs, Shuo becomes the de facto
head of household. Both brothers fixate on him. For Rat, he is a role model,
but Shang-ho’s interest is cautiously romantic. Lustful might be more accurate.
Technically, Shuo has a girlfriend, but her trust is quickly evaporating. In
contrast, Rat has the closest thing to a healthy relationship to be found in
the film when he starts courting a mute prostitute. However, he also buys some
long term trouble for Shuo when saves the meek street walker from an abusive
gangster who frequents Shuo’s club, scarring him in the process.
something like that. Frankly, Chang’s narrative is so inert and the atmosphere
is so boozy and bleary-eyed, it is often hard to follow the film as it staggers
about erratically. It is a crying shame because the relationship between Rat
and the prostitute holds genuine potential. As Rat and the silent woman, Lee
Hong-chi and Chang Ning develop some potent chemistry. Unfortunately, whenever
the lads start drinking in their crash pad, the film essentially takes a standing
Chang is also rather klutzy when trying to handle issues of sexuality. Yet,
probably the most awkward scenes involve Rat’s inexplicable fascination with
pigs’ head and dead fish. It is like a metaphor that isn’t worth unpacking. Still,
there is plenty of tragic bite to Lü Hsueh-feng’s flashback appearances as
Chang Ning is indeed heartrending as the
vulnerable prostitute and Wang Ching-ting shows a much appreciated flash of
crazy as Shuo’s girlfriend. However, it is tough for the three chaps to
overcome Chang Tso-chi deliberate sense of entropy. There is a lot of young
talent in Thanatos, but Chang’s
approach does not do them any favors. It is sort of like he is trying to
combine the least appealing aspects of Charles Bukowski and Brett Easton Ellis.
Something of a disappointment after Chang’s charming A Time in Quchi, Thanatos,
Drunk is not particularly recommended when it screens this Saturday (3/12)
and next Saturday (3/19) during CAAM Fest in the Bay Area.
Labels: CAAM Fest '16, Taiwanese Cinema