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The Hole
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Cast:Tsai Ming-Liang, Yang Kuei-Mei, Lee Kang-Sheng, Miao Tien

As news reports -- always heard, never seen -- of a millennial plague filter in, two Taipei apartment residents treat the news differently. A man (Lee Kang-sheng) answers a plumber's knock and the latter inexplicably starts a hole that connects the man's living room with his downstairs neighbor's, a woman (Yang Kuei-mei) who's bogging down for the long haul. In the same grimy, dim apartment building, a spotlight suddenly falls on a glittering lady (also Yang, nearly unrecognizable in a peacock get-up) mouthing a peppy calypso tune by 1950s Chinese chanteuse Grace Chang. Director Tsai Ming-liang (Vive L'Amour) ping-pongs between opposite aesthetics -- say, Andy Warhol to Vincente Minnelli -- so that in the end, this remarkable, semi-uncategorizable film is equal parts behavioral study, extended ennui riff, and fluorescent homage to song. A real senses-wringer, The Hole isn't just the best musical of 1998, (Then again, what's the competition? Blues Brothers 2000?), but perhaps the best movie, period. Awarded prizes on three continents and a fixture on many critics top ten lists, The Hole is finally accesible to those who missed it at film festivals. Eddy Crouse

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