Movie review: ‘what time is it there’ and ‘pushing hands’
The two movies, ‘What time is it there’ and pushing hands are similar and also different in a number of ways. In both movies, we find at least two contrasting situations, for instance, in what time is it there, we realize that the two sittings we have totally different situations. They are Taipei, Taiwan and Paris, France. Chen Shiang-Chyi who goes to Paris finds totally different conditions there and she feels out of place, lonely and bored too. She misses sex and has to find another woman to help her ease it.
On the other hand in ‘pushing hands’, Mr. Chu who goes to the US with his son Alex finds it hard to adapt to life in his new found home. He has problems with the diet and the western foods.
We also have conflicts in both movies where in ‘what time is it there’, Hsiao seems to have a deep-seated problem with his dad who apparently doesn’t help him to the point of his death. They seem to have their differences and we can see that Hsiao only confides in his fish pet and never tells his secrets and problems to his father. In pushing hands, Alex’s wife has problems with Alex father’s lifestyle, and this makes him move away to find a new place to live. These conflicts paly the definitive role in the two movies, and therefore play the thematic function.
Comics are also evident in both the movies, with interludes of amusement that provide a break from the tension that the conflict result in.
One notable contrast in the two movie is that ‘pushing hands’ takes a multicultural dimension whereas ‘what time is it there’ doesn’t exhibit and form of different cultures prevailing. When Chen Shiang-Shyi goes to Paris, she experience as a result of the new setting she finds herself in, we are not told if the culture in France, which is surely different from her native Taiwanese one, is the major cause. She only has the normal problem with adapting to life in a new town. After all, when she feels she misses sex, she gets a woman in place of a man to satisfy her sexual needs.
On the other hand, we are told Mr. Chu experiences dietary problems when he shift from his native chine to the United States of America.
In ‘what time is it there’, we have a character called Hsiao who sells watches by the roadside in Taipei. At some point, he sells to Chen Shiang-Shyi. At first, he wants to sell her the one from his display case, but she opts for the one he has on his wrist. This is because it has a feature on it that shows time in two time-zones, because she has to fly to Paris.
This movie contains some of the sad and deplorable living, looking at Hsiao’s home life. It is sad and has no redemption. His father is too exhausted and is not even able to breathe the smoke that comes from his cigarettes. He eventually dies in a lonely room and his wife, Hsiao’s mother believes that her husband’s soul has been channelled into the large white fish that is placed in tank which is found in the living room. The fish is called Fatty.
The extent of sadness in this film is such that Hsiao can only confide in fatty the fish, which happens to be the only pet he owns. His father dies without being of much help to him all his (Hsiao’s) life, but at least he finds joy in his fish pet, Fatty. There is some sort of humour in this, alongside sadness that is evident with the father’s death. Neither joy nor sadness concedes to the other.
It also has the concept of synchronicity. There are three acts that happen coincidentally. Chen Shiang-Chyi flies to Paris. Hsiao hasn’t spoken to her much, they have only transacted the watch business, but funny he longs for her and starts to reset the watches to Paris time. He does this to all the watches he has in his possession, beginning with the ones in the case and then all the others, including the big clock that’s mounted on a building. She is so lonely and bored in Paris, and somehow has no business to conduct there.
She has no reason to be there. Evidently, loneliness has struck all the three characters at the same time, and it is thought to be a coincidence/ synchronicity. The three being referred to here are Hsiao, Shiang-Chyi and Hsiao’s mother. Shiang-Chyi, being lonely, wanders on the streets of Paris and has no particular travel plans. They all look for release in sex, since they all miss it. Hsiao looks for a prostitute, Shiang-Chyi experiments with a woman who she takes to stand for a man while Hsiao’s mother resorts to masturbation while she thinks of her dead husband.
Unrequited love is also evident. Shiang-Chyi visits a number of places in Paris, including the cemetery where Truffaut is thought to have been buried. It also has many instances of perseverance.
Pushing hands on the other hand is a movie directed by Ang Lee who studied theatre in the United States having moved from his native Taiwan in 1975 after studying at the Taiwan national college of arts. It has cross cultural aspects as it depicts issues from various parts of the world, especially with scenes shifting from china to the United States. The lead character, Mr. Chu (Sihung lung), who happens to be a Tai Chi master, has had to settle down with his son Alex (Bo Z. Wang) in the United States. Alex has a wife who is bothered by Alex’s father’s lifestyle. She works at home as a writer.
This result in some sort of tension in their house which force Mr. Chu to find a place of his own, but he meets some comic misadventures along the way. Ang Lee conveys how difficult Mr. Chu finds it to adapt to the western foods and many other aspects of consumer culture in his new setting. There is also an enhancement by the discerning look at the spiritual potencies of tai chi, which is a Chinese ethic of filial relations. There is also the complications of the father son relationship.
As we can see, the two movies contain aspects of comic designs and some situations where father and son don’t agree. In ‘what time is it there’, it is seen that Hsiao is not close to his father before he dies and the father ends up not helping him much. In ‘pushing hands’, Alex’s wife causes Alex to disagree with his father and the latter has to move out.