this film strikes an emotional note of longing & somehow holds it for the duration - makes each mundane movement & motive ache with the monumental - cinema is rarely this present, this empathic, this compassionate, this tender, this ineffable - cinema as an act of love - the movie theatre as hall of our eternal yearning for connection
Just like the awkwardly lengthy urinal stays, the teary spectator unwilling to leave his seat, the ghostly strangers' cigarettes burning out, and the static, unmoving shot that has been deserted by its subject, the film moves painfully, slowly- like the limping ticket taker- to its dreaded farewell.
We try to lay hands on what seems ours: the ticket-girl limps out of the theater, alone and alive, but cinema has its revenge by ending; meanwhile we are forced to live and produce something in some measure worth living for. This isn't a film, it's an elegy in image and instance/Of course this is a film; it's an elegy in image and instance.
This was the first Tsai film I ever saw, by accident at a film festival. It remains the most magical experience I've ever had in a movie theater, even if today I don't even think the film is in his Top 5.
At this point all that had seemed interesting in early Tsai has petrified to the point of this utterly lifeless and vacant so-called homage to cinema's glorious past aimed squarely at the Art Film crowd, for whom no number of shots of people shuffling down aisles is enough of an endurance test.
Seeing this film for me was a very odd experience, as it a lamentation and an elegy for the classic cinema-going experience. I, on the other hand, have had few of those experiences, seeing most of my films at home or in mostly empty little theatres. "Goodbye, Dragon Inn" did affect me, but I'm not sure if it was in the way Tsai meant to.
Not going to lie, I think this film is an indictment of the Taiwanese people, who Tsai spoke about in an interview when he mentioned that Taiwanese people don't want to see good movies; hence why very few people in the film are actually paying any attention to the film in front of them.