Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - L

Life Is Cheap…But Toilet Paper Is Expensive Movie Review

wang wayne chan mokri

Wayne Wang appears to be an artist struggling for his own voice in his fifth effort, Life Is Cheap…But Toilet Paper Is Expensive. Like Pedro Almodovar, director of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Wang is using an inferior product to battle a censorship issue. It's hard to render much enthusiasm for a movie when its denouement consists of a wisecrack delivered while the protagonist is eating a pile of manure. Earlier in the film, Wang shows a man on a toilet, complete with sound effects. There is also an eight-minute long chase with no real resolution and with the chasee often chasing the chaser. Accident or design? Hard to tell, since Wang, in a six-item statement then released to the press, admitted that he went with a crew to Hong Kong “with no particular perspective or commercial interest in mind.” Wang combines documentary footage of ducks being slaughtered for market with a next-to-nothing plot involving the delivery of a suitcase filled with junk. The cast consists of actors with variable abilities. Executive producer John K. Chan impersonates an anthropologist, but not as well as Bonnie Ngai portrays his unwilling bride. Mr. and Mrs. Kai-Bong Chau, complete with the punk coats and car which attracted the attention of Robin Leach and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, appear as themselves. Character actor Victor Wong is great as always, but why is he in this movie? Well, Wayne Wang “wanted to take a critical and sardonic look at…contemporary Hong Kong society,” so he assembled a screenplay with his director of photography, Amir M. Mokri (who shoots better than he writes). The resulting 89 minutes gave him “a better understanding of the world” although bewildered audiences may have some trouble with that. Life Is Cheap did not receive a rating when it was released theatrically, so the director identified it as an “A” picture: for Adults. Wang insists that the project is neither the “technical drill” IT appears to be nor the “business venture” HE appears to be trying to hype with a ratings issue. Wayne's GOOD films include Chan Is Missing, Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, Eat a Bowl of Tea, and The Joy Luck Club As for this butt-wiper wannabe, is it cutting edge art or is it pretentious trash? You decide!!! woof!

1990 89m/C Victor Wong, John K. Chan, Bonnie Ngai, Kai-Bong Chau; D: Wayne Wang; W: Wayne Wang, Amir M. Mokri; C: Amir M. Mokri.

Lightning Jack Movie Review [next] [back] Life Is Beautiful Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or