From the Chicago Reader (January 7, 2005.) — J.R.
For all its minimalism, Tsai Ming-liang’s 2003 masterpiece manages to be many things at once: a Taiwanese Last Picture Show, a failed heterosexual love story, a gay cruising saga, a melancholy tone poem, a mordant comedy, a creepy ghost tale. A cavernous Taipei movie palace on its last legs is (improbably) showing King Hu’s groundbreaking 1966 hit Dragon Inn to a sparse audience (which includes a couple of that film’s stars) while a rainstorm rages outside. As the martial-arts classic unfolds on the screen, so do various elliptical intrigues in the theater — the limping cashier, for instance, pines after the projectionist, even though she never sees him. Tsai has a flair for skewed compositions and imparts commanding presence to seemingly empty pockets of space and time. In Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese with subtitles. 81 min. Music Box.