Io c'ho un problema. Quando un'inquadratura fissa dura più di due minuti, e non succede un cazzo, mi distraggo. Quindi a una certa ho iniziato a pensare a cosa scrivere nella tesi, a cosa sarebbe successo se la mia ex avesse iniziato a farsi di crack, a perché il colletto della mia felpa sapesse di pancetta. Ma a parte questo, il film è bello. Forse troppi cinesi.
"There is only one bad scene in this." Yes, but unfortunately, that scene is literally 20 minutes long with virtually no action. Other extended takes, such as the opening scene and the cabbage scene were not at all problematic for me, but I feel the final scene was asking too much of the audience. And so we have this 1 hour 52 minute, beautiful and engaging sequence with a 20 minute, nearly-disqualifying denouement.
Tsai Ming-Liang almost dares the viewer to experience each sumptuously shot scene. One of the most honest portrayals of living on the fringe, with all of its tedium and uncertainty laid bare, this film hides nothing. And it takes the time to do it properly. It got a bit surreal toward the end for my taste, but I understand the intent. Stray Dogs is exceptional in social commentary as well as cinema.
I share with this film maker a love for neglected/derelict buildings, and the spirits, both dead and alive, that haunt them. My favorite film of his is GOODBYE, DRAGON INN, filmed in a decaying movie theater. The family in this film is also neglected by civilization, but it is Miss Cabbage-Head who suffers the most.
Stray Dogs is an absolutely heart-wrenching depiction of poverty and desperation. In the emotional landscape of the film, the few moments of happiness (especially when Yi Cheng and Yi Chieh are joking about the cabbage) are the most poignant. It can certainly be excruciatingly slow at times, but Tsai knows what he is doing, and his brilliant direction enhances the emotional impact in incredible ways. An amazing film.
Tsai Ming-Liang seems to taunt with an idea of narrative that the deeper you try to delve into the less that narrative seems to be relevant to the film you're watching. The film feels cold, empty, and slightly nightmarish: all this to great effect. It's captivating. There's despair here, but almost an apathetic form of it, where we're resigned to thinking despair is not so bad, no need for a redeeming hope. Strange.