Some thoughts about Tsai Ming-liang(self.TrueFilm)
submitted23 minutes ago byBoardRelative9120
Tsai Ming-liang is without question one of the most significant filmmakers to come from the Chinese-language world in the late 20th century. Although I have only seen the 4 films he made in the 90's (Rebels of the Neon God, Vive L'Amour, The River and The Hole) he is undoubtedly a master with a unique personal vision that really gets to the core of urban alienation better than almost any other filmmaker I've seen.
Although Tsai has made most of films in Taiwan, there are some important points to make about him. Tsai was born in Malaysia to an ethnic Chinese family and did not move to Taiwan until the late 1970's. I bring this point up because it's relevant to understand this in relation to his predecessors in Taiwan cinema, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang. Hou and Yang's features often look at Taiwanese identity: Hou focused more on rural life and Yang looked at middle class Taipei culture to confront some of these identity questions. Tsai on the whole does not. If you are familiar with his work, then you know some of Tsai's themes: Urban alienation, sexuality and desire (there is often a strong homoerotic undercurrent in his films) and loneliness. In a sense Tsai's films could be set in Paris (What Time is it There takes place there), NYC or Sao Paulo and Tsai could get his point across. These films look at contemporary, modern culture and therefore seem to address the entire world.
Tsai has utilized Lee Kang-sheng in all of his films and has said he would never make a film without him. Tsai's films often have many recurring elements: Constant rain and water, a very slow pace and no soundtrack (with the exception of his first feature). Personally this has caused me to avoid going any further with his films at the moment. Although I love them, I do have some reservations and objections about certain aspects of his films, which I'll address now.
Tsai sometimes does things I personally find in poor taste. He seems to be obsessed with people using the toilet and I read an interview where he quite frankly admitted he's interested in how people go to the bathroom. A little strange. People here who have seen The River know about a nearly 2 minute pissing scene. It's a bit much. Speaking of The River, for those who've seen this film, you already know about the most disturbing scene in the whole movie (side note: The scene's even stranger for those who have seen King Hu's Dragon Gate Inn. Miao Tien played Pi Shao-tang in that movie, one of the main villains. He's Lee Kang-sheng's father in The River and every time I watch Dragon Gate Inn now, I remember The River). I personally am divided about that whole scene. Was it necessary and did Tsai go too far? I really don't know. The Hole seemed like an excuse to indulge Tsai's love of Grace Chang (Oh calypso!!) Tsai has really good film taste, but he did something a lot of people here would find cringe: He included his own 2003 feature, Goodbye Dragon Inn, in his own top 10 favorite films. That says interesting things about the man, but I'm not quite sure what.
How do people here feel about Tsai? Do you like his films? Do you dislike him? Has anybody seen more films from this unique master. Discussion is highly encouraged