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.
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. She sometimes provides care and attention. More violence seems a constant possibility. They find another man abandoned on the street, paralyzed. They carry him. While no one speaks to each other, sounds dominate: coughing, cooking, coupling, opening bags; music and news reports on a radio, the rattle and buzz of a restaurant. It's dark in the city at night. We see down hallways, through doors, down alleys. Who sleeps with whom?Written by
Probably my least favorite Tsai film, but still very good
This may be Tsai's first film set and made in his homeland of Malaysia, but he doesn't stray at all from Tsaiville. Which isn't much of a problem, really, if you're a fan of the director. Sure, we could complain that he's been hitting the same notes for eight features now, but there are artists in every medium that are like this. Either we get sick of it, or we like it and we stick with it. I'm sticking with Tsai. His moods and rhythms haunt my mind. He captures images like no other director, and he's definitely one auteur whose work you could identify from just one shot (granted, you have about ten times as many frames in that one shot as you do in your average auteur's work!). I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is probably my least favorite of all of his films (all of which I've seen except his previous, The Wayward Cloud I've seen the first five minutes and am aching to finish it). This is mostly because I wasn't too sure what was going on through much of it. The plot seems to concern a young Chinese man (played by Tsai's boytoy/regular Lee Kang-sheng) who gets beaten senseless in Kuala Lumpur. A construction worker saves him and nurses him back to health, mostly with lustful intentions. But when the Chinese man is up and about, he goes off and sleeps with some women, which understandably pisses off his savior. Then there was a bunch of stuff I didn't quite understand, notably a guy in a coma (also played by Lee Kang-sheng). A lot of my favorite shots involved that guy, but I'm not 100% sure what was going on in that plot line. The images here are top notch, and though there is little dialogue, Tsai's use of sound and music is wonderful. Much as Tsai uses Taipei, Kuala Lumpur is an area of urban alienation. Late in the film smoke drifts over from a nearby Sumatran forest fire, covering the city with a thick haze. Many of the scenes are set in a crumbling building (not quite sure what this was all about, really), which reminds me of the post-apocalyptic landscape in my favorite Tsai film, The Hole. I actually think I might have enjoyed this more had I watched it when I was less tired. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I want to give it another chance with the awful DVD, courtesy of Strand Releasing. It's cropped, for one thing. The image also looks a lot less crisp than any of Tsai's other films, though that may have been his stylistic choice this time around.
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