Saturday, February 07, 2009

[SFS] What On Earth Have I Done Wrong? (情非得已之生存之道 / Qing Fei De Yi Zhi Sheng Cun Zhi Dao)

Just What?

What on Earth has Doze Niu done wrong? Well, if this mockumentary is anything to do by, then there are a series of missteps that were aptly documented, ranging from relationship woes to professional difficulties all stemming from a lack of funding.

Doze stars as himself, or at least the satirized version of himself, one who seemed a little overconfident in thinking that his latest mockumentary production about politics and the media circus, could take off without a hitch, given his track record and pioneering the "star idol" dramas on television. As with all productions, the reality of it is to secure funding, and for the most parts, this film tracks this difficult task, where the filmmakers have to pander to rich folks through entertainment, wining, dining, women of course and basically groveling at their feet. Funding trickles, and even government grants too come in installments.

All these take a toil on Doze himself, where existing issues with his live-in girlfriend Ning Ning (Chang Chun-Ning) gets amplified, and the other bulk of this film traces this systematic disintegration of this relationship where counselling is in progress to hold it together, but without the fundamental issues being resolved unfortunately. Which is of course his not-too-subtle transformation into an egoistical, selfish man unable to keep his libido in his pants.

But the film's a little deceptive in its message, and it doesn't seem to come out clear until of course the well-intended break away from the main narrative to pseudo-interviews with a bevy of stars and politicians, and the man on the street when they talk about what happiness meant. And that is the goal which everyone is trying to achieve constantly throughout a lifetime, to seek out a meaningful and happy life, which of course Doze at this stage is unable to grasp because of the negativeness. Not when you have a whiny secretary who comes to you every day with nothing but a continuation of woes that you have absolutely no certain solution to.

It's not all doom and gloom in the film however, and much of the comedy comes from the straight and trash talking characters peppering their dialogue with foul language, cursing at almost everything whether in their sober or drunken state. The Taiwanese Hokkien used here is strong, much stronger than that heard in Cape No. 7, and if I learnt anything new today, that will be GY is the English language equivalent of well, you know what when you read it out loud.

It's an honest look into the Taiwan film industry, and to me that's interesting just as I come at it straight off the heels of the Hindi one in Luck By Chance.

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