The initial impression upon watching Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Millenium Mambo, ( especially the first scene where we have Hsu Chi strolling down this bridge as the camera follows behind her, shot perhaps on a 48 or 60 framer ), was how much it reminded me of the splendid Korean film Take Care of My Cat. 2 things : 1) The dreamy and carefree, immediately memorable music ( I liken it to the pleasurable feeling of intoxication, without any of the nasty side effects )that give both films their characteristic mood, and 2) each fall into that risky category of cinema where there is no clearly established plotline; nothing important seem to be happening most of the time onscreen; there is no apparent premise or conclusion, and in the case of Mambo the potential bore factor skyrockets because the photographer is Lee Pingbin, who loves to lock down his camera and shoot empty compositions where the actors are completely out of frame. 3 other directors who have an affinity for this form of narrative comes to mind : Hu Jinho, Tsai Mingliang, and Robert Altman.
I cannot better explain their style of storytelling by this saying : The journey is the destination. Next stop, Hou Hsiao Hsien’s latest film Zhu Hao De Shi Guang ( Three Times ).