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Capsule Reviews

Spider Lilies    (2007)
Almost in the same league as Yonfan's rather atrocious Colour Blossoms, Spider Lilies drives the point home that you can make cutting edge cinema without the edge, or much in the way of cutting. It's a Taiwanese film, which in this day and age is becoming a novelty at an alarming pace, but more than that tidbit, we can find very little in the way of the noteworthy here.

You should know that ostensibly Spider Lilies is also a lesbian-themed story, but in every aspect this is nothing but a plastic ploy to lure in the easily seduced and gullible. In several ways we have here a repeat of fellow recent Taiwan release Eternal Summer. Then it was gay men getting the shortchange treatment, now we have the same thing with women. Zero Chou presents, for your non-existent edification, a tale likely to titillate at most a fifteen year old. They managed some of the art house stance, but in the end this results in a most inane, simply uninteresting foray.

The Hong Kong angle comes in the form of Isabella Leung (Bug Me Not !, Isabella, Diary), here sporting her most butch look yet. Although somewhat likable in her previous jobs, Isabella in Spider Lilies is listless and lacking in most departments. Either her heart wasn't into it or the whole lesbian drama pitch didn't quite appeal to her sensibilities. She does a Taipei tattoo artist who's shy, reclusive and in charge of a mentally-challenged younger brother, played by John Shen, who thankfully grants the movie its only thespian-related redeeming feature. Isabella's character, oddly named Takeko but supposedly hailing from Hong Kong, soon hooks up with disaffected youth Jade (Rainie Yang from fondly-recalled Meteor Garden). The latter lives with her grandmother and has a whole list of grievances due to being left behind by her parents and life in general. Sure, the grandmother component works well and is touching, but otherwise Jade as a protagonist is just as unmoving as her counterpart Takeko.

The two women share a past and lots of inadequately covered angst, with Jade working as a webcam girl while Takeko keeps her father's legacy alive with a unique tattoo of a spider lily emblazoned on her arm. Jade also wants to acquire this very design, which leads to Takeko exploring internal feelings of the issue via flashbacks and rather minimal discourse with the spunky Jade. Well, if there's little discourse to write the homebase about, is at least the intercourse memorable? In a word, no. They kiss and feign doing the nasty close to the end, but just as Eternal Summer reminded us not long ago, there's a gulf measured in light-years between showing sexual content and making ticket buyers think they're about to see sexual content.

This cynical expectation-building seals Spider Lilies' fate. With a weak story, ho-hum acting and an overall dearth of relics to take away from the theater with you, this one kind of makes Colour Blossoms look good, come to think of it. At least there we got a bit of Teresa Cheung's mammaries. No, Spider Lilies is no AV masterpiece and should be stricken from the playlist of even the most mundane and timid GLB movie festival.

Amazingly for a pseudo-indie release, not even the soundtrack and cinematography produce moments of inspiration. That's just as well, since it makes passing on Spider Lilies much easier. Believe us, avoid it and you won't be missing out on anything good.
Lee Alon 4/16/2007 - top

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 4/16/2007 Lee Alon

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