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Stray Dogs (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 28, 2015

I was hoping a second watch would warm me up to this a little more, but I’m afraid it remains one of Tsai’s “lesser” films for me.  Of course, lesser is relative, especially when talking about one of my favorite directors.  In fact, I think Tsai might have the most consistently rewarding filmography of anyone I can think of… ten features, three of them in my top 100 and not a one rated below 81/100.  While this one (perhaps his final feature film) doesn’t resonate with me as strongly as The Hole or What Time Is It There? or The Wayward Cloud, it still has plenty to recommend it.  Lee’s powerful performance (particularly in “the cabbage scene”, a whirlwind of emotional expression), the three enigmatic women, cinematography that highlights the stunningly decrepit locations, the compassionate portrayal of the homeless struggling to survive, and another intriguing take on Tsai’s themes of isolation and connection.  Nonetheless, I can’t deny that this film just doesn’t grab me as much Tsai usually does, and can’t rank it among his finest work and at times felt he was pushing his (usually rewarding) minimalist “slow cinema” too far.  Rating: Very Good (85)

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