If 2015’s Kaili Blues (Gan Bi’s debut) was a strong sketch of a burgeoning auteur, 2018’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night is the arrival of a confident, (and more accomplished) talented new voice in cinema.
No connection (except for a somewhat literal take on the title) to the Eugene O’Neill play
Starts with the camera in bed on our protagonist in a long shot—dreaming, the strobe light, talking about memories while looking at the ceiling and then the camera reframes (in the same shot, something he does skillfully and often) on the window in the mirror (in a really nice mise-en-scene setting of the frame)
Kaili again the location—we have noir-like voice-over, chain smoking
The running water in a meticulously designed (in the garbage art vein) Tarkovsky-like setting- 12minutes in—really well done
Gan Bi clearly is influenced by both Tarkovsky and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Like the Thai auteur Gan Bi’s films are about dreams (and his style makes you feel like you’re in one), memory (maybe a bit of WKW here)—it is not a straight narrative and dialogue like “assuming this isn’t a hallucination” blurs things even more
A stunner of a mise-en-scene set-up at 17 minutes – the red umbrellas with the street lights- one of the strongest images in cinema in 2018
Gan Bi’s dexterity behind the camera seems to be on display. I’m impressed—but I can see it being a turnoff for some- there’s a shot here – a tracking shot he’s doing in a moving car through the window of a girl walking—the degree of difficulty- wow
Gan Bi—like Tarkovsky and Weerasethakul, lets the lingering camera take his attention away and I love it- a reoccurring shot is where he’ll start on an object, then track down to a puddle with a reflection off the puddle—another he’s shooting through a fence, or through water—nothing quite like Antonioni but he’s intentionally obstructing the frame. The pond/algae reoccurring shot is surely from Tarkovsky’s Solaris
It is art-house cinema—in another scene we see a guy eating an entire apple—minutes go by with the static camera – Chantal Akerman
Reoccurring images like a dream – the apples, the horse, the green diary, the green dress on the girl—it’s a blend of reality, memory and dreams
The film takes place during the summer solstice- hottest day—and then at 71 minutes we get the movie’s title (this delay of the title is another Apichatpong Weerasethakul move) and like Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s work this is wholly bifurcated—here we get the Winter Solstice and the one-take dream sequence that goes 1 hour as the entire second half of the film. Like Kaili Blues (has a 40 minute take) we get much of the long take during various modes of transportation—scooter ride, the soon to be famous zip-line shot here floating down, and then we’re up in a drone (I think) getting a gorgeous landscape of the night scene with lights and a stage. Figures from his memory pop up—ethereal—it does feel like a floating dream- extremely effective—icons like apples and watches popping up. Wenders’ Wings of Desire is another comparison with the angels floating.
It is hypnotic, a great marriage of style and effect (content/narrative seems like a stretch- haha)
I’m putting it as a Highly Recommend now but with time to unpack and/or a rewatch I could see it moving higher