Forest fires burn in Sumatra; a smoke covers Kuala Lumpur. Grifters beat an immigrant day laborer and leave him on the streets. Rawang, a young man, finds him, carries him home, cares for him, and sleeps next to him. In a loft above lives a waitress…
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Filed under "films that make you feel things." Tsai Ming-Liang's films have a quiet sorrow about them as his characters drift through the world alone but, in rare and beautiful moments, make intimate contact with others. This film is about friendship, touch, intimacy, longing, class and social divisions, love, connection and everything else that matters.
With this it become clear that Ming-Liang ranks among the masters of world and art house cinema. Hypnotic. Dream-like. Troubling. Even humorous. Beautifully composed and perfectly lit. Do any of the main characters even speak? There is no need. Their intents and desires are unmistakably clear. I want to dream this again.
There are no more words to describe, succinctly, the qualities of this film than there are to describe the feeling of being in love, and if you told me the two were one and the same, I'm not sure I could argue. Things that elsewhere would be paradoxical - languid urgency, sublime devastation - here feel like they might be the only truths that matter. Simultaneously oneiric and visceral; lavish and gritty. 4.5
The first time I saw this I'd never been to Asia. I just assumed it also took place in Taiwan. I liked it a lot. The second time I saw it, I'd spent time in both Malaysia and Taiwan and could comprehend the differences much more profoundly. It quickly became one of my favorite of Tsai's films.
Tsai's hallucino-narcotic dream-trudge made for an accidentally ideal follow-up to The Quiet Earth. While that film's post-apocalyptic triangle was underwritten yet occasionally overwrought, this one's undergoes a mostly unspoken, frequently unconscious negotiation of the end of the world, in this case always already here, but subject to internal renewals and reversals.
Not my favorite Tsai, but a beautiful articulation of how much you can do with such simple elements: a setting (a decaying city that would make a Hollywood art director jealous), three characters (wordless expressions of loneliness), and a central symbol you return to over and over. A film about connections in our perpetual apocalypse, meandering at times but coming together—much like its characters.
Falling asleep during MUBI movies is not a bad sign. Our brains have been trained for constant action for most of our years. This movie was particularly somnolent. I just watch it in parts. Watching these movies at night also helps one sleep. They are experiential, and so you have to train your brain to watch them.
love how words just wouldn't fit here. it's all about the urge (despair) of touching and the beauty that lives behind the gesture. even the butterfly scene (one of the most beautiful i have ever seen) suggests this. and i specially love the rythym.