Taipei Story is dying slowly, desiccated by financial ruin, smothered by the malaise of modernity, all the while sucking down cigarettes and beers to make the process bearable. Lung (Hou Hsiao-hsien) and Chin (Chin Tsai) are a waning couple living in Taiwan, a city beholden to the past yet littered with the iconography of Western corporations (Pepsi, Marlboro) and culture (Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson). Lung is a former baseball player who now seeks solace in the glow of old televised games, while Chin, overqualified and underappreciated, has grander ambitions. The film, playing at the New York Film Festival in a gorgeous new restoration, finds ineffable loneliness in everyday banality; static cameras capture characters pinned in doorways or slumped in chiaroscuro corners while smoke gathers near the ceiling like so many dead dreams. Characters are so pensive that the simple undulations of a playground swing feel revelatory.
Everyone in Edward Yang's beautiful, despondent