Plot: This is an autobiographical story, Le Kan Shen seems trying to show intolerable burden of loneliness with bright, contrasting, shocking scenes.
Ah Jie has lost all his money in the stock market due to a severe economic crisis. He is wasting life living secretly in his repossessed upscale apartment, smoking joints and looking after the marijuana plants that he secretly grows in his wardrobe. Depressed, he often calls the suicide hotline, fantasizing about the woman he talks to and gets to know Chyi. Her sweet and gentle voice causes him to fall in love with fantasized image of her. He tries to ask her out but is repeatedly rejected. He begins projecting his fantasy of Chyi on Shin, one of betel nut beauties, ladies in their various state of undress. Jie starts an affair with Shin, becomes closer to her and soon the two of them sink into a world of erotic and psychedelic pleasures. But it all amounts to nothing. The real Chyi, suffers from own failure - her pretty husband, gourmet and popular tv-anchorman, found a new love. Even a new lover, a guy.
Comments: Help Me Eros was nominated for two 2008 Asian Film Awards in the categories of Best Cinematographer and Best Production Designer, and for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2007. It won the Grand Prix Asturias award in the Gijón International Film Festival in the category of Best Feature.
Director's statement: I've been walking around with the idea for this movie for a long time, even from before I made my first movie 'The Missing', but at that time I had not written a script yet. The situation in Taiwanese film business is currently quite bad, as an actor you hardly get any opportunity to be in a movie or act on stage. What I did was, because I had so much free time on my hands, no acting jobs, I started trading in the stock market. That was not really a good plan though because I lost a lot of money and it left me with some very bad memories. At the time I was also suffering from a medical problem, some vertebrae in my neck got 'twisted' and it took me a year to recover. I consulted over 30 doctors but no-one could find the exact problem, and one of Tsai Ming-Liang's films, 'The River', is actually about that subject. During that time I got more and more depressed, I saw no way out and even contemplated suicide. I called one of those 'suicide helpline' phone-numbers, but it was always busy and I could never get through. So this got me thinking: if that helpline is always occupied it can only mean there are many, many people who, just like me, have a lot of problems. For me this was a reason to re-think about 'life' and how there are different ways to look at it.
«The film elevates itself above ribaldry by taking a calm, appreciative eye at the lives of these lonely people, casting them in beautiful lights. Much like other films at the Festival, Lee refuses to hide behind editing, allowing his shots to go on at length, giving us an extended, uncomfortable view of these lost lives. Ah Jie and his fellow characters are unable to find solace in the cuttings of the editing room, and "Help Me Eros" prevents us from finding the same relief.»
«Unlike his 2003 directorial debut, "The Missing," which Lee neither scripted nor starred in, "Help Me Eros" drowns in autobiographic fallacy, the experiences recounted apparently Lee's own. Thus, his supposedly superficial antihero is limned with utter pathos, if far too few good gags. Borrowing his visual vocabulary from Tsai, but without the latter's extraordinary sense of composition, Lee's own style only rarely breaks away from that of his mentor»
«once Ah Jie gets involved with the betelnut girls some scenes seem to come straight from the pages of the Kamasutra, the advanced sections even. I fail to believe some of these positions can actually be fun in real-life but within the movie it gives these scenes a fantastical sheen, especially when the participants have famous brand logos projected on them. This is definitely "sex: the fairytale" and not "sex: the reality"! Because of this, the film has already caught some flak for being "exploitative".»
«I learnt for starters to appreciate such a film, not to try and look at it as a whole, but to enjoy the moment, where strengths of individual scenes surpass one trying to find deeper meaning in something. Particularly enjoyable scenes include one which Ah Jie and Shin go on a joyride and having their pictures taken (you must check this out), and the ending which like many other surreal scenes in the movie, paints a very dream-like, picturesque postcard portrait.»
«For my money, Help Me Eros has some intriguing imagery, but that's all it is -- imagery, largely divorced of any meaningful context. Much like the films of Matthew Barney, it's almost unfair to judge it in the manner of a traditional narrative film. You'll need to put on your art critic hat in order to give the film a truly fair shake.»
«this is not just a story about Ah Jie, as the real Chyi (played by Jane Liao) is the other character placed under the spotlight. She's horizontally challenged, no thanks to the various delicacies that her cook husband Ah Rong (Dennis Nieh) concocts as part of his television food programme. And indeed, it is this portion of the movie that I found much more intriguing, as it was almost documentary like. There were some nicely down parallels between how the food was prepared and designed, and the state of the characters. »
«To help promote their latest film, Help Me Eros (幫幫我愛神), Lee Kang-sheng (李康生) and Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) have taken to the streets - they've embarked on a tour around Taiwan, giving lectures at universities that are free and open to the general public.»
«The film is a hoot - very cool. I wonder if Kang-sheng Lee will eventually eclipse Tsai as the duo's stalwart festival-oriented director? The film is, obviously, very adult - filled with sex and nudity but I do endorse seeing it, possibly though, not in this Strand DVD unless you can't wait for a better (I could use the word 'real') production house to improve upon it.»
«Lee Kang-Sheng's sophomore film is a welcome reprieve from the boring and mundane way in which sexuality and loneliness are treated in the majority of mainstream cinema (if they're treated at all). No, the film is not perfect - some of the metaphors are a bit overstated, and overall the compositions aren't as magisterial as Tsai's - but it still makes me want to build concrete sculptures of Lee Kang-Sheng and place them on every street corner.»
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