There are few competitors (only Hou Hsiao-Hsien) for perpetrating very long immobile shots, frequently without any of the characters in or staying in the frame, of Tsai Ming-Liang movies. I am mystified by the critical praise (and international prizes, including Golden Horses for director and actor and a Venice Film Festival special Jury Prize and a Golden Mouse) he has accrued, especially for the excruciating (not just slow) “Jiao you” (Stray Dogs, 2013), which has Tsai’s muse, Lee Kang-Sheng shuffling along on the margins of Taipei as a homeless (squatter) alcoholic who holds up an advertising sign in the constant rain at a Taipei inersection and has two children (the actor’s real-life nephew and niece) who mostly have to fend for themselves. There is no narrative and no payoff of long, long, long shots by an immobile camera of rainy riverbank (Tsia’s cinematic universe has always been notably soggy) or contemplating a charcoal landscape mural for thirteen mute minutes. Tsai is bored with making movies and has said this may be his last. It certainly shows and shares his boredom.
Chen Kaige’s (2012) “Sousuo” (Caught in the Web) has rapid cuts and a complex narrative. It is unlike other Chen movies (centering on a video clip going viral), but is intriguing and watchable and even touching in the end, with considerable humor along the way.