Working in his native country of Malaysia for the first time rather than in Taipei, where most of his movies are set, Tsai takes us into the seedy underbelly of hot and dangerously smoggy Kuala Lumpur, where we tag along with a merry band of impoverished immigrant Bangladeshi construction workers who are lugging an old and stained futon to their hovel. To them, it's a treasure. Along the way they run into a homeless guy (Tsai's main man, Lee Kang-shen), who's been brutally beaten while trying to out-con a con artist. One of the workers, Rawang (Nathan Atun), takes responsibility for gently nursing the poor guy back to health and enjoys sleeping next to him with a not-quite-platonic vibe.
Continue reading: I Don't Want To Sleep Alone Review
Following What Time is it There? and the short The Skywalk is Gone, The Wayward Cloud catches up with the watch-salesman-turned-porn-star and the unaffected object of his obsession. The opening scene (one for the books) shows Hsiao-Kang (Ming-liang standby Lee Kang-sheng) sexually violating a watermelon placed between the thighs of a female porn star. While he is tending to his craft, Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi) sits in her apartment, all zombied up by her television set. Their chance meeting occurs in a small outdoor booth in a sunny park, where a small spark is relit that sets off the beautiful mess that follows.
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In Goodbye, Dragon Inn, the decrepit building is the Fu-Ho Theater, a large movie palace that on this, its last night of operation, is showing the 1966 Chinese kung-fu classic Dragon Inn. At first glance, the theater is packed with people. At second glance, it's almost deserted, a strange mystery that leads to the first line of dialog, which comes along more than half an hour into the film: "You know this theater is haunted." What we have here, among other things, is a ghost story, Tsai's take on the belief of superstitious Chinese people that all movie theaters are haunted.
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After opening with a static, four-minute shot of an old man sitting in a chair, the conceptual Taiwanese drama-comedy "What Time Is It There?" does pick up a bit -- but there's an element of that cinematic passivity in evidence throughout the rest of the film.
At its heart are three interconnected stories just begging to be infused with a little clever commotion, which director Tsai Ming-Liang keeps in short supply even though he's quite daring and creative in his quiescent observational style.
One story is about the old man's forlorn widow (Lu Yi-Ching), who becomes obsessed with coaxing her husband's spirit to return to their home. The second follows the old man's son (Lee Kang-Sheng), a street vendor who falls instantly in love with a girl (Chen Shiang-Chyi) who buys a dual time zone wristwatch from him on her way to the airport for a flight to Paris. The girl's trip to the City of Lights then becomes the third narrative.
Continue reading: What Time Is It There? Review
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