In Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his ... See full summary »
A strange disease starts to affect people in Taiwan just before the year 2000. The authorities order everyone to evacuate, but some tenants of an apartment building stay put, including a ... See full summary »
When a young street vendor with a grim home life meets a woman on her way to Paris, they forge an instant connection. He changes all the clocks in Taipei to French time; as he watches ... See full summary »
The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who's ... See full summary »
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
"What Time Is It There?" remains my favorite film by Tsai Ming-liang, but it's fascinating to follow his work and see how he builds his own imaginative world -- close to, but not exactly, our own -- film by film.
"I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" took me a little longer to get into than any prior film by the director, but by about the half-hour mark I was fully absorbed. Thankfully, "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" rewards patient viewers by reserving some fantastically humorous, mysterious, and even hypnotic moments for its last acts. Whereas in previous films, familiar visual tropes such as umbrellas and watermelons have played recurrent symbolic roles, here it's mattresses and anti-smoke facemasks, somehow used just as evocatively. Other obsessions -- dripping water, holes in floors and ceilings, mysterious and unspoken attractions -- recur here in ways that recall the director's previous works without depending upon them.
I wouldn't suggest curious viewers start with this film, but rather delve back as far back as possible into Tsai Ming-liang's back catalog and proceed from there -- easier than ever before to do now, what with the increased DVD availability of early gems such as "Rebels of the Neon God." For those unsure if they want to make that level of commitment, check out "What Time Is It There?" or "Goodbye Dragon Inn." But for the already converted, rest assured that "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" is a strong, worthy addition to Tsai Ming-liang's body of work.
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