- Over the years (this is his 10th feature)- Ming-liang Tsai seems to have crystalized his style. The camera is almost always static (a few slow pans here and there), long takes, silence (I bet the “screenplay” here if there is one is no more than a few pages long and we’re over 2 hours here). There is rain –I believe this connects not only to the melancholic mood—but a sort of end of days biblical parable or Armageddon (there’s a story here about the house crying).
- An impressive formal work– Apichatpong Weerasethakul it a good comparison. I feel like the comparisons to Ozu are a bit lazy just because it is a static camera.
- Opens with a four minute take of kids sleeping with a black background– unspecial
Opens with a four minute take of kids sleeping with a black background– unspecial
- This is more grounded in realism than Ming-liang Tsai’s other films—this is about a homeless (or close) family, an alcoholic father and his two children. Long takes of them washing in the public washroom. We have multiple scenes of people urinating which I think is a not to realism. No more technology induced ennui or apathy. He works outdoors in a whipping wind/rain holding advertising signs getting his soul crushed. They show the advertising sign five times and the last time in close-up with “anger in my hair stands on end”
Long takes of them washing in the public washroom. We have multiple scenes of people urinating which I think is a not to realism. No more technology induced ennui or apathy. He works outdoors in a whipping wind/rain holding advertising signs getting his soul crushed
- We’re an hour in without breathtaking compositions. There’s a long scene of a sad man eating a meal in close-up. Or destroying a cabbage.
- At 64 minutes there’s a great shot reflecting off the puddle—neon scene. But Ming-liang Tsai moves past it quickly- there’s no prolonged composition hold here like many of his other shots unfortunately
- Kang-sheng Lee is very good here in the lead. His pained face is a canvass for pain and self-loathing.
- Like all of us works- Ming-liang Tsai puts this all in an almost biblical amount of rain
- The second to last shot is a 13 minute silent shot of the two lead actors looking out one behind the other sort of. It isn’t great.
- The final shot is a stunner- much like The River– ending on a high note. Here we have a mural shot for the last six minutes
The final shot is a stunner- much like The River– ending on a high note. Here we have a mural shot for the last six minutes
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2013. I hate comparing auteurs—but when so much of what Ming-liang Tsai does is shared by Roy Andersson—it is hard not to see the vast difference in the strength of the compositions
You’re not gonna get a big argument from me, but I think you’re underrating the formal achievement here, which is up there with the most impressive in recent cinema (I watched Days, his newest film yesterday and I was blown away).
Also, sorry if I become tiring with this (since I have asked before) but is it possible a Pedro Costa study coming in the near future?
@Cinephile- that’s encouraging to hear about Days. Thanks for sharing. I guess it depends on how many others you include in the “most impressive in recent cinema” comment but I would part ways with you here of course.
Yes- I’m hoping to get a Pedro Costa study soon– it looks like it’ll be early 2021 at this point though as I have to finish up Gilliam and then am going to try to watch all the Pasolini films I can get my hands on (which regrettably doesn’t look like many). Costa should be up soon after that.
Great work, I really don’t know why I consider this film the best of the decade (maybe I’ll change my mind later), I think the feeling I have for this film is inexplicable, like Scorsese who said that Horse Thief is the best of nineties. My interpretation of the film (probably not going to interest you) is that the mural symbolizes the film itself and we are the main characters of the film, that we seek some meaning or answer to our life, the final scene of 13 minutes (which I, of somehow, I found it impressive) with only the characters looking at the mural, it is a representation of ourselves watching the film, after all the characters are looking at a static image looking for something meaning or an answer to see that, like us watching the film, but the film itself film “says” that we will not find anything here. And I wanted to ask you what do you think of the Buffalo 66 movie (I was curious, because this movie wasn’t even in the 1998 archives, I think it’s a great movie)? And Hirokazu Koreeda’s cinema? What is your opinion?