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Journey to the West (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 25, 2015

I wrote somewhat extensively (especially for a 54-minute film) about this last year, so I’ll keep this pretty short.  I had thought this wouldn’t hold up very well on a second viewing, but I think I like it even more now.  The “surprises” are no less delightful when you know they’re coming, and the film is just such a catalyst for trains of thought.  One notes that it takes a couple of minutes of watching the “infinity pool” scene before you realize that you’re seeing everything in reflection.  Or how much more the passersby are interested in Lee than Levant, either because of his garb or his skin or both.  One marvels at the physical discipline involved.  One is suddenly startled to realize that the camera has moved as Lee descends the subway stairs.  One thinks about how an object moving extremely slow through a static space gives that space an unexpected continuity with the world beyond it, a meditative feeling of the flow of all spaces into each other.

It’s such a fascinating and vastly rewarding piece, with unexpected humor and playfulness, an opportunity to perceive the world and its people from a different perspective.  It’s a wonderful way to experience time.  Ming-liang Tsai made this film after announcing a retirement from cinema, so I’m hoping there’s more to come and this isn’t his swan song.  But if it is, it’s a lovely song indeed.  Rating: Great (92)


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