The tender missed connection of What Time Is It There? has another chance in Taipei: Hsiao-Kang, now working as an adult movie actor, meets Shiang-chyi once again. Meanwhile, the city faces a water shortage that makes the sales of watermelons skyrocket. Can a distant love conquer (or save) all?
This surprising provocation, full of romantic longing, is one of the best films of the 2000s, and from one of our best directors: Tsai Ming-liang, master of melancholy, of deadpan humor, of the long take, of urban spaces, smells and textures). An audacious and controversial classic.
So I think this film is stunning and one of the most fascinating engagements with pornography and society I've ever seen — but please be warned that it grows more and more disturbing. From the first scene, which looks purely pornographic, to the last, which is entirely showing the artifice of porn, it builds a world of sexual alienation which must make do with insufficient replacements for the "water" of life.
The tragedy of love in a porn-saturated universe, a story of people who might connect as souls but have sexual roles to play, and most of all an explosion of ideas and genres (romance, sci-fi, musical). It isn't easy to take at times, particularly in a finale whose visceral disgust shouldn't overshadow what it has to say about male-female relations. But I left feeling I must have seen some odd kind of brilliance.
So much genius. It's a favorite from my younger days. One of those films along with Stalker, Persona, Marienbad etc. which opened me up to cinematic possibilities and totally astonished me in the process.
Certainly the most bizarre, puzzling, funny, charming, and altogether strange musical art-porn I've seen. I am officially on a quest to find the expanding noodles featured within this film and cook them.
Great. Now my wife thinks I watch porn. This is one of the boldest and self-assured movies I have seen in a while. But we skipped some movies, MUBI! How about 'The Skywalk Is Gone' and 'Good Bye, Dragon Inn'? Then we can watch 'I Don't Want to Sleep Alone'. OK?
In which the parallel lives of our disaffected duo finally converge in Tsai's version of a crescendo - a languid-yet-rollicking postmodern rom-com, complete with Annie Hall references, musical numbers, and very messy (in every sense) sex scenes. An unapologetically, if disappointingly, unsubtle portrait of the hilarious, disturbing, strangely comforting, deeply human, absurdity of life under conditions of alienation.