The opening image of Help Me Eros, from Taiwanese director Kang-sheng Lee, could very well make you vomit. On a television cooking show -- who knows if this is completely dreamed up or something that's actually going on -- we see a carp fish being prepared as a dish while still alive, gulping for air. This jarring image is only the first of many in a film that could be charitably called disjointed and uncharitably called intentionally confusing. Kang-sheng stars, if you want to call it that, as a young man named Ah Jie who seemingly drifts in and out of a fantasy world that's as impenetrable as a dream. Throughout the film there are scenes of pornographic, acrobatic sex -- upside down, at one point -- that, while interesting have little to do with narrative. Mostly, the film seems to chronicle the mental wanderings and preoccupations of a man with a disposable income, a penchant towards creative sexual fantasies and a dream-like disconnect to the happenings or concerns of the real world. At least, that's how I see it.
The two recurring signposts on Jie's fantasy highway are Jane Liao, a plump woman who operates a help line and who, at one point in the story, will step into a bathtub full of eels -- again, don't ask -- and an attractive young woman played by Yin Shin, who works at some kind of elevated, outdoor snack stand. Shin has a recurring motif that, although inscrutable, did provoke lots of laughter at my screening. She has a stripper pole that she slides down a few feet to get to street level whenever necessary, and the film gives her many opportunities to perform this feat. Are these two women supposed to represent opposites on some kind of societal or sexual spectrum? Are they both acting as sirens, calling Jie towards different avenues or decisions in life? I have no idea. There's some vague stabs at plot towards the beginning -- I think Jie is a stock trader who went belly-up, and that's why he reaches out to Liao. Overall, however, as a director Kang-sheng is uninterested in coherent narrative.