Stray Dogs (2013)

TSAI MING-LIANG

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Jiao You

France/Taiwan, 2013.  Homegreen Films, JBA Production.  Screenplay by , , .  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by , .  Production Design by , Ming-liang Tsai.  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2013.  

Tsai Ming-Liang presents another sober, thought-provoking collection of static images and quiet moments, with takes of such incredible length and steadiness that even his seasoned fans will find themselves challenged.  His stalwart protagonist appears as the father of two children, who works a job holding advertising signs on the freeway and at night manages a hardscrabble existence, barely feeding his children and living wherever they can squat.  Other characters pierce their existence, much of it given little explanation, all of it filmed in the dreamy, hypnotic style that makes this great artist so memorable.  The lack of subtle humour and musical numbers that have often punctuated his other works are missing here, the director obviously not in as jovial a mood as he usually is, but there is still a lot to take away from it given that his hold on gorgeous imagery has not abated.

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