Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Bu San
Taiwan, 2003. Homegreen Films. Screenplay by Tsai Ming-liang, Additional narrative by Sung Hsi. Cinematography by Pen-jung Liao. Produced by Hung-Chih Liang, Vincent Wang. Production Design by Sheng-Chang Chen. Film Editing by Sheng-Chang Chen. Toronto International Film Festival 2003.
Lesser effort by the great Tsai Ming-Liang, about the last night of a giant Taipei movie theatre that, in real life, was actually closed down soon after filming was completed. Despite a huge downpour outside, the theatre’s seats are barely inhabited, leaving a Japanese tourist who has entered the theatre in the hopes of escaping the rain to have to deal with the few scragglers he encounters. There’s a woman who eats peanuts far too noisily, another patron who puts his bare feet up on the chair beside him, and a number of patrons who are far more interested in cozying up to other audience members rather than watching the film. Tsai’s hypnotic visual style doesn’t fail him here; the static images of simple, everyday tasks being performed by the theatre’s physically challenged employee are gorgeously set off against the beauty of the movie screen and its effect on viewers, but there’s far less emotional resonance here than in his best works. Still, fans of his will want to see it.