Tsai Ming-Liang has garnered some deserved recognition for articulating difficult emotions through the mundane actions of every day life. How more simply can a lack of motivation be expressed than when watching a character urinate into a water bottle (no frontal nudity, don't worry) placed beside his bed instead of getting up to go to the bathroom, not 10 feet from his bedroom door?

In What Time is it There?, like his previous work with The Hole and Vive L'Amour, Ming-Liang utilizes long, ponderous, closely-framed shots of characters amidst detailed backgrounds that reveal more about their lives than anything that could come out of their mouths. It's not whether the character is clean or dirty so much as the items in their lives that make up these traits. There is virtually no dialogue. Together, these elements create the thrill of unpredictability. There seems no reason for the camera to linger on a specific moment, and there are no recognizable clues as to what will happen next. It's a fascinating, but irritating, way to keep your attention focused on screen. You never know if a character is going to speak or what reaction they will have to a given situation, if any at all.

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