There’s also a sense of inevitability to the events. For instance,zedz wrote:What's most impressive about The Terrorizer is its utter absence of coincidence. The cause and effect for every action is impeccably accounted for, so when Character A finally runs into Character F at Location C, there's the satisfying understanding of all the tiny details that have brought this to pass, not just the dull, ho-hum click of X happening because the author says it needs to.
The most outright Godardian (almost Langian, even) moment in the film is the montage of images during the opening police siege (which you spoke about in some detail). In extreme long-shots, Yang offers a lifeless body, and shorting after cuts to a disembodied arm shooting a gun from the cover of a doorway. Are we seeing the shot only after the man has been killed? But no… Yang doesn’t have the anarchic intentions of Godard, and in the very same scene, Yang repeats these shots, placing them within their proper context and creating a whole, clear scene. It’s the kind of meticulous precision Yang displays here, and throughout, that has me not at all surprised by his previous career as a computer engineer.zedz wrote:Yang's overarching method is revealed in miniature in several sequences… everything is spatially and logically related. Some event might at first appear coincidental - the writer turning up on the photographer's doorstep, say - but figuring out how she got there sheds light on the whole world of the film.
But this scene is more than Yang flexing his muscle. In fact, I would argue that this scene, in which a succession of seemingly disparate images come together to form a carefully composed whole, uses purely cinematic means to prepare the audience for Yang’s narrative of carefully interwoven threads.
Another striking example: Early in the film, Yang offers distinct shots of the photographer’s dark room and the scientist’s red-tinted bathroom. These scenes are left distinct in the opening, never quite making contact. That is, until a scene in which the photographer is shown transforming a studio apartment into one (relatively) big darkroom. The final shot of the now red-tinted space cuts immediately to the scientist in his bathroom, which is, in effect his “dark room”—Yang frequently finds the husband alone in the bathroom, the only space in the couple’s apartment that is distinctly his (in the context of the film, of course). This pathetic realization really underscores all that he’s foregone in order to appease his wife. He’s given her an apartment with her own office space (which, ironically, we later discover she considered a cage), leaving the husband with no defined space of his own.
There are many other stylistic masterstrokes, the best of which I think you’ve already covered. I think you’re right that Antonioni isn’t exactly a lingering presence over the film so much, although Yang does seem to offer some rather direct nods: the twice-used cut to an extremely long-shot of a UFO-like structure, and an electric fan’s prominent place in the mis-en-scene of a crucial scene are right out of L’eclisse (actually, the invasive presence of telephones is used to great effect in L’eclisse as well).
Terrorizers is actually the first Yang film I’ve seen (and it pains me to know that Yi Yi is the only other I have immediate access to), so I can’t speak much of his style in general, but I was consistently in awe of just how precise this film is. Not only does Yang frequently offer long-and medium-shots so perfectly framed that they rival those of Hou and Antonioni, but he has an uncanny ability to cut from these more distant shots to close up at the exact moment of maximum potency. An example that immediately comes to mind is the “break-up” scene in which the wife leaves the table to attend to a kettle. Yang dwells on a long-shot of him alone at the table, her alone in the kitchen and framed by the entryway. The shot itself is so exquisite that the sudden cut to the wife alone in the kitchen has a jarring effect that seems to underscore her own experience (and bring us to sympathize with her just in time for the big direct-address monologue that you mentioned).
For me this immediately brought to mind Hou’s employment of the very same song in the first sequence of Three Times, which was surely a conscious tribute to Yang’s film. And of course, this gives further credence to you Yang-Wong connection, since at least a couple of critics have made a connection between the opening scene of Hou’s film and the mood evoked in Wong’s ’60s-set work. It’s also interesting that Hou as well chooses to play ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eye’ in its entirety, though rather that set it to a marvelously constructed montage, Hou provides a single awe-inspiring shot.zedz wrote:The White Chick's mother comes home and puts on her old Platters LP. 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' starts to play and plays through to its end over a gorgeous nocturnal associative montage… of images and music in which Wong would later specialise.
Regarding the ending:
Despite the focus placed on the central prank call, I’d argue that it is another telephone call that provides the film’s most crucial turn:
Then there is the revenge fantasy—but is it really the scientist’s own fantasy, or an imaginary fulfillment of his fictional representation? The fantasy is, to some extent, him reenacting the outcome of his wife’s novel. Even the suicide—his ultimate end—does not belong to him alone, since his wife had also predicted that outcome in her novel.
I am confident that, with the film’s last shot, Yang signals that the wife is pregnant, though the very intentional juxtaposition of his gruesome death with her morning sickness is of course intentional. With her ex-husband’s final self-destructive act, she is given the last remaining piece of her ideal life.