While never-ending rain and a strange disease spread by cockroaches ravage Taiwan, a plumber makes a hole between two apartments and the inhabitants of each form a unique connection, enacted in musical numbers.
Tsai Ming-liang returns with this latest entry in his Walker series, in which his monk acquires an unexpected acolyte in the form of Denis Lavant as he makes his way through the streets of a sun-dappled Marseille.
A Japanese tourist takes refuge from a rainstorm inside a once-popular movie theater, a decrepit old barn of a cinema that is screening a martial arts classic, King Hu's 1966 "Dragon Inn." Even with the rain bucketing down outside, it doesn't pull much of an audience -- and some of those who have turned up are less interested in the movie than in the possibility of meeting a stranger in the dark.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The theater used for the film was actually on the brink of being closed, and shortly before the film was released it was indeed closed, in an strange example of life imitating art. See more »
Do you know this theater is haunted?
This theater is haunted.
[calling out to departing man]
See more »
Tsai Ming-liang's "Goodbye Dragon Inn" is a spectacularly dull movie, a limp ode to the bygone days of cinema-going. A film smitten with its own stasis, "Goodbye" culminates in a shot held for an obscene amount of time of an empty movie theater. Tsai's known for holding his shots way past the point most directors yell cut, and the result can be strikingly effective in the right context (the brilliant final shot of "Vive L'Amour") but "Goodbye" is almost an art film parody in its studied minimalism. The money shot in particular is a groan-inducer that makes you long for a fast-forward button.
"Goodbye Dragon Inn" sounds like it ought to appeal: a homage to the glory days of cinema by a great director, but Tsai seems to be resting on the assumption that anything he cranks out these days is destined for acclaim (which is true). However, ever since "The Hole" Tsai's inspiration appears to be running out; what in the earlier films seems innovative comes off as mannered in the later ones. "What Time is it There?" is a good flick but hardly feels like anything new from the filmmaker, "The Skywalk is Gone" is a short-film punchline for "What Time?," and "Goodbye" is just grinding. Tsai's probably incapable of making a thoroughly awful movie and there are spots of greatness in "Goodbye Dragon Inn," but hardly enough to justify a feature-length film. You can almost feel the director yawning behind the camera as he's filming, telling his actress to just continue sitting for an interminable amount of time so he can pad it just a little more (though the movie is only 80 minutes long it feels much, much longer). The director's always threatened to deadend his limited stylistic resources and "Goodbye Dragon Inn" is the wall he's always threatened to hit. I like Tsai and think he has some worthwhile things to say, but he's said the same things over and over again and the point's been made. People these days have trouble connecting, the values of the old days have become buried under the industrial rubble of progress, yes yes. Tsai fixates on the same themes in the same way he fixates on an empty theater or a woman hobbling slowly across the screen. Since there isn't too terribly much variety thematically or stylistically in the his films, familiarity with his past work leads to a feeling of having repeatedly tread the same path. It takes a true master to be able to be as stubbornly dwell on the same ideas in the same manner over the course of a career and pull it off, and Tsai is hardly a Bresson or Ozu. Flashes of brilliance and invention are certainly to be found in Tsai's movies, but "Goodbye" just uses minimalism to mask its lack of substance. Slow movies don't have to be tedious and unrewarding, as a few Tsai Ming-liang films have demonstrated, but often the tendency among art film devotees is to equivocate slow and good. "Goodbye Dragon Inn" isn't very good. The ideas are slight, the homage curiously lacks feeling, and the whole thing just drags along way past the point of interest like Tsai's lead actress down the corridor.
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