Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bu San (Goodbye Dragon Inn)

The Last Picture Show

Bu San(Goodbye Dragon Inn)

Starring Kang Sheng Lee (What Time Is It There?), Xiangqi Chen (A Brighter Summer Day)
Director: Tsai Ming Liang (What Time Is It There?, The Wayward Cloud)

The architecture has bearing, our elliptical romance with cinema is our elliptical romance with the cinema,too - - - haunted house, repository of stories, cave of dreams, spaces where anything can happen. Not entirely the girftwrapped valentine to the movies Tsai loved that it at first seems to be, but more a soft-spoken elegy to the fading glories of the moviehouses he watched them in. Naturally, nostalgia flavors things. Particularly resonant, though, is how the moviehouse comes off as an ecology ,with its interior sociologies , its modes of conduct. Everything's here, familiar as secret handshakes. There is a thin smattering of people who converge, on this sad and rainy night, at the rundown Taiwanese moviehouse showing King Hu’s Dragon Inn one last time before closing its doors forever. Each has a story to tell. So, too, the ticket booth girl with a game leg and the mysterious projectionist. And in this space where anything can happen, many things do. All bouncing off the movie , the moviehouse and the ramifications of the night , eventually revealing themselves funnily, wistfully, poignantly, beautifully, always deliberately. At just 80 minutes, this is still Tsai’s slowest movie. You know the immersive long take is his discipline, the risking of ennui to tap into epiphanies. Pointlessly argue at this juncture and you’re probably out of his reach. Slowness doesn’t always connote torpor,after all. Sometimes it connotes grace.* * * * *

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