* Review: Tsai Ming-Liang’s “Face” is kind of mesmerizing

Best movies from the World Film Festival of Bangkok

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Still from Tsai Ming-Liang’s “Face”

Perhaps I’ve undergone a conversion experience. “Face” (aka “Visage”) is a long 140 minutes but may be Tsai Ming-Liang’s most beautiful, accessible movie to date. Granted, I’d only seen two before this one: “What Time Is It There?” and the one with the watermelon. Perhaps once you have seen a few of the Taiwanese director’s movies, his signature motifs reverberate: holes, tunnels, stairways and long, bare, lonely corridors. Vicious plumbing. Two characters wordlessly trying to communicate. Very long shots of a human walking (usually laboring) toward the camera from a great distance along a dingy tiled corridor.

The opening scene is vintage Tsai: actor Lee Kang-sheng turns on a kitchen faucet and the water blows out like a geyser. He struggles to quell it with a bucket. Meanwhile, water from the pipe under the sink explodes. In the next scene, he slogs knee-deep down a flooded hallway to a room where a pregnant woman lies in bed. Continue reading