Virtual Cinema Goes Dystopian with “The Hole” October 6, 2020
The most memorable fusion of song, dance, and weather since “Singin’ in the Rain.” —Village Voice
“Quarantine Cinema,” anyone? See the sly science fiction of The Hole in its complete, restored version. One of the most original films of the 1990s, The Hole is set in Taiwan at the dawn of the new millennium.
Newscasts are warning that the water will be turned off on January 1, 2000, because of an epidemic, prompting the evacuation of affected neighborhoods. The disease, possibly spread by cockroaches, causes victims to experience flu-like symptoms—and over the course of the film, people who are infected also take on bizarre, bug-like behavior.
The lead characters are hold-outs staying in an urban apartment building during a torrential rainstorm. “The man upstairs” is a cat-loving shopkeeper with a sympathetic nature who dozes in his underwear, drinks beer, and smokes. “The woman downstairs” is a chic career woman who arrives home from work to discover a leak in her ceiling, caused by a hole in floor of the apartment where “the man upstairs” lives. She requests a plumber as if times were normal, assuming the situation is easily resolved. The neighbors are well-supplied with essentials, choosing to hunker down in blatant disregard of official warnings to leave immediately.
The escalating crisis unfolds with minimal dialogue and is punctuated by five vivid, entertaining musical numbers performed to the pop songs of 1950s chanteuse Grace Chang. Occurring unexpectedly, the delightful numbers feature the two leads singing and dancing, complete with back-up singers and vividly colored costumes.
Internationally celebrated filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang’s dystopian vision is a truly memorable movie that resonates for our times.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lynn S. Wyatt; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.