Thu, Jul 11, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Movie review: Your Face

Director Tsai Ming-liang wants to know how long it has been since you gazed upon a face

By Davina Tham  /  Staff reporter

As Tsai writes in a Facebook post, he sent the famed Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto a copy of the film after a chance meeting on a beach in Venice. A month later, Sakamoto responded with his music files.

“I wasn’t sure what I was hearing,” Tsai writes. “Sakamoto very graciously told me it’s up to you how you want to use it, you can also not use it.”

As a result, Your Face is the first of Tsai’s films to have a non-diegetic soundtrack, although Sakomoto’s arrangement of isolated notes, repetitive sounds and atmospheric roars — like that of a passing airplane, or a solitary whale song — is far from conventional accompaniment. Having no apparent correlation to what is on screen, it seems to describe instead the depths of thought and feeling that dip in and out of our placid exteriors, connecting us all.

When Tsai’s last feature film Stray Dogs (郊遊) was released here in 2014, the director announced that it would be his last narrative feature, that he was taking his films out of the cinema and into the gallery space to further interrogate the relationship between art and film.

With Your Face, he announced a reversal. On a crowdfunding Web site for the film’s theatrical release, Tsai writes that he now hopes to transform the cinema into a space for installation art.

These declarations of intent might seem like flip-flopping, but also show a veteran filmmaker’s continued thinking about the longevity and evolving role of the movie theater in a world where streaming into your bedroom has become the norm.

Like a site-specific piece, Your Face is being screened exclusively at Spot Huashan Cinema, where it is paired with Tsai’s 18-minute short film Light (光), an ode to historic Zhongshan Hall, where Your Face was filmed.

Your Face is now in competition at the Taipei Film Festival, where it has received nominations for best documentary, best director and best soundtrack. Winners will be announced at the festival’s closing ceremony this Saturday.

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