Lush jungle and a building in ruins are the ideal stage for a film-confession that defies storytelling and goes beyond conversation on cinema. Tsai Ming-Liang and his actor Lee Kang-sheng confess and put on stage a pièce in which attention and slowness are in tune with the rhythm of memory. The unveiling of Tsai Ming-liang’s filmmaking: from Stray Dogs to the most intimate notes of the director-actor relationship.
The face of an exhausted man breathing deeply, his face agitated and, nearby, the sea. A Buddhist monk walks barefoot and incredibly slowly through Marseille – so slowly, that his progress is barely perceptible and he becomes a calming influence in the midst of the town’s goings-on. Lee Kang-sheng, who features in all Tsai Ming-liang’s films, plays the monk with impressive energy. His uniform slow motion footsteps and devoted posture turn his performance into a veritable tour de force as he unswervingly makes his way from the coast to the market in Noailles, like an illusion in his bright red robe. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]
A father and his two children wander the margins of modern day Taipei, from the woods and rivers of the outskirts to the rain streaked streets of the city. By day the father scrapes out a meager income as a human billboard for luxury apartments, while his young son and daughter roam the supermarkets and malls surviving off free food samples. Each night the family takes shelter in an abandoned building. The father is strangely affected by a hypnotic mural adorning the wall of this makeshift home. On the day of the father’s birthday the family is joined by a woman – might she be the key to unlocking the buried emotions that linger from the past?
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
Hsiao-Kang, now working as an adult movie actor, meets Shiang-chyi once again. Meanwhile, the city of Taipei faces a water shortage that makes the sales of watermelons skyrocket.
Goodbye, Dragon Inn is set in the approximately ninety minutes of the last feature at an old Taipei cinema that is closing down, showing King Hu’s 1967 sword-fighting classic Dragon Inn. Only a few people are present in the cinema, and a variety of subplots are developed around them. Throughout the film, the ticket woman tries to find the projectionist, searching for him in order to present him with a steamed bun. A young Japanese tourist wanders around the cinema in search of a homosexual encounter. An older man tells him that the cinema is haunted. An old man, who was one of the actors who appeared in the original Dragon Inn, watches the film with tears in his eyes. Outside the theater, he encounters an older man who had been watching the film with his grandson; this man also starred in the original film. The film is shot with almost no camera movement, most shots lasting well over thirty seconds. There are only about a dozen of lines of dialogue.