Official Artist
Kenji Lui
Director , Producer , Screenwriter
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Fear, Loneliness and the Ants...

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[endif]I just rewatched Scorsese's Taxi Driver on DVD yesterday. The last time I saw it was more than 10 years ago when I was still in film school. Perhaps a bit naive at that time, the film didn't really leave a very strong impression on me. But seeing it again after all these years, the experience was quite different.

One of the themes of Taxi Driver is loneliness. It is this loneliness that drives Travis (Robert DeNiro) to break out of the boundary of his life. Seeing how loneliness  deteriorates a life is absolutely terrifying.

Talking about loneliness, one interesting finding I just realized is that, a few of my favorite films from recent years are all about loneliness. Say, Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood For Love,  a mesmerizing tale of two lonely soul; Jun Ichikawa's Toni Takitani, a film that perfectly visualizes a lonely heart, and who can forget the crawling ants (and certainly the big one in the train) in Park Chan-wook's Oldboy?

In all of these films, loneliness is a catalyst of pain and suffering. It is a state of mind that brings no pleasure at all. Travis's famous line "Are you talking to me" clearly signifies his desire to connect with the others. The same also happens in Oldboy and In the Mood For Love, in which both of the male and female protagonists are in the search for acceptance and bond with each other, while Toni Takitani in the namesake film is a prime example of failure to reconnect.


Sometimes I just feel myself a perfect candidate to re-enact the life of the some of the above movie characters. The feeling of loneliness seems to be stretching infinitely inside my mind at times.  Sitting in my room alone at night, silence begins to slowly occupy every corner of the space,

 until it totally fills the entire room. When I sit still, I can even feel the sound of dust clashing in the air, and then just like Oh Dal-su in Oldboy, the ants on the desk slowly climb up my fingers, one by one, until it fills my entire body.


But it is probably not the most horrible experience. The biggest fear comes when I am crowded by my friends in a party or event and the feeling of alienation suddenly emerges. Note that these people are not strangers, they are all supposed to be my good buddies who understand me the best. But somehow at certain moments, the fearsome thought of loneliness would unexpectedly pop up, and then it would totally drag me away from where I am located and lead my mind to nowhere. The most frightening part is that you never know when it would appear.

"Laugh, and the world laugh with you; weep, and you weep alone."  This is quite true indeed. It is always easier to find someone to share your happiness than your pain and fear. So the easiest way to alleviate such pain is probably to write it down (from what I read, that's how Paul Schrader wrote the script of Taxi Driver, it was partly autobiographic in some senses), and so one day, I am sure loneliness is going to be one of my film's subject...

about 13 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
Mariejost 26 dsc00460
Loneliness makes us into people we would not be normally. Sometimes this is good, something this is not. Writing is the only thing that can snap me out of a funk when I have the kind of alienation loneliness you describe. Getting absorbed in something besides my loneliness, being totally focused on something creative can break me out of it. Then I'm glad to be alone, able to think, talk out loud, dance like a fool, wherever the work takes me. Then it is a relief not to be interrupted. Maybe it is worse for guys. They don't tend to hang out one-on-one and talk about serious stuff. They travel in packs and discuss sports or something equally manly. They don't generally sit around and talk about their feelings, whatever they are talking about. With another woman, my God, the heart to heart starts almost instantly when you friend says something like: &quot;You don't look so good. Tell me about it.&quot; And that is just for starters.
about 13 years ago


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english, cantonese, mandarin
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San francisco, United States
Member Since
May 14, 2007