Tsai Ming-liang’s haunted elegy lovingly evokes the dream life of a dilapidated Taipei movie theater, where King Hu’s martial-arts classic Dragon Inn unspools one final time before a handful of desultory patrons. The apotheosis of Tsai’s formal minimalism, this almost wordless film also contains the wittiest examples yet of his protracted silent-movie gags—the urinal-cruising scene finds a situation hilariously suited to his long, fixed takes. Wellspring’s DVD includes Tsai’s buoyant 2002 short The Skywalk Is Gone, in which the Taipei overpass in What Time Is It There? has been torn down and the Lee Kang-sheng character is trying his hand at porn. (A key puzzle piece in the Tsai cosmos, it seems to be the missing link between What Time and the recent scandalous Berlin entry The Wayward Cloud.)
Also worth tracking down: Catalyst Logic’s two-disc set (available from Chinatown stores and online import specialists, including hkflix.com), which pairs Goodbye with The Missing, the directing debut of Lee Kang-sheng, the reticent center of gravity in Tsai’s movies. Winner of the top prize at Rotterdam last year, The Missing patiently monitors a woman’s panic and despair in the hours after she loses her grandson at a park. A ghost story of sorts (like Goodbye), it’s also an absorbing meditation on public space and an eye-opening portrait of present-day Taipei. As for Dragon Inn itself, the 1966 King Hu original has yet to materialize on DVD, but the Tsui Hark-produced 1992 remake starring Brigitte Lin and Maggie Cheung is widely available.
Also worth considering:
Donnie Darko: Director’s Cut (Fox) Some would say this midnight favorite was just fine in its original version. Twenty-plus minutes of additional footage and commentary by writer-director Richard Kelly and, um, Kevin Smith.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 22, 2005