Tsai Ming-liang

"Tsai is a visual artist with a singular, unique vision that does not shy away from critiquing long-established social hierarchies and behavioural codes. His focus on transformation deepens his audience's understanding of the aesthetic, psychological, and cultural impact of his world." - Jay McRoy (501 Movie Directors, 2007)

Tsai Ming-liang

Director / Screenwriter
(1957- ) Born October 27, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 100 Directors

Key Production Countries: Taiwan, France
Key Genres: Drama, Comedy Drama, Psychological Drama, Urban Drama, Erotic Drama, Avant-garde/Experimental
Key Collaborators: Lee Kang-sheng (Leading Actor), Liao Pen-jung (Cinematographer), Chen Shiang-chyi (Leading Actress), Lu Yi-Ching (Leading Character Actress), Chen Chao-jung (Leading Character Actor), Chen Sheng-Chang (Editor), Miao Tien (Leading Character Actor), Yang Kuei-Mei (Leading Character Actress), Yang Pi-ying (Screenwriter), Vincent Wang (Producer), Hsu Li-Kong (Producer), Lee Pao-Lin (Production Designer)

"One of the major names in New Taiwanese Cinema, along with Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang, Tsai Ming-liang specializes in static depictions of urban alienation featuring minimal dialogue, long fixed shots and sudden bursts of surreal humor courtesy of impassive actor Lee Kang-sheng, who has appeared in all of the director's features." - Andrew Bailey (Cinema Now, 2007)
"Alongside Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang has propelled Taiwanese film to the front ranks of arthouse cinema with his self-contained plot-averse brand of auteur filmmaking. All of his films inhabit a world of contemporary urban angst and disconnection. They are not easy on the viewer - but they are not meant to be - and their moods can be hard to pin down. And although renowned for their difficult and sometimes harrowing subjects and slow fly-on-the-wall pacing (often unpunctuated by dialogue), some of Tsai's films have included musical numbers and been characterized as "sweet", rather than miserablist." - Richard Craig (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Tsai films silent people — strangers or neglected family members — who maintain one another in a common space. People are engrossed in their own tasks, yet somehow "supported" by the actions of others — for instance, a neighbor at the end of the hall. The characters may be deadpan, but we see the degree of comfort or inhibition they get from each other." - Lesley Chow (Bright Lights Film Journal, 2006)
"Along with Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang became one of Taiwan's most prominent directors during the 1990s. His films regularly appeared in festivals around the globe and he received lavish praise from film critics worldwide. Born in Malaysia in 1957, Tsai moved to Taiwan 20 years later and graduated from the Chinese Cultural University in 1982. For the next ten years, he supported himself by working in theater and writing screenplays for films and television." - Tom Vick (Allmovie)
"Even by the standards of his New Taiwanese Cinema contemporaries, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang, Tsai’s films are, as some would say, deliberately paced. Cutting together long takes, often of static medium and long shots, he unabashedly requires each viewer to slow down and patiently experience another’s life, thereby avoiding the dictatorial imposition of classical continuity editing that would lead inevitably, in the words of Andrei Tarkovsky, to “a facile interpretation of life’s complexities.” Instead, Tsai’s camera lingers near his subjects in an almost documentary fashion, observing their behavior with relative objectivity, just as the director himself came of age freely observing and admiring the slow movements of Malaysian life." - Darren Hughes (Senses of Cinema, 2003)
"Like many of the most innovative directors, Tsai is a rebel soul. His subjects are almost exclusively outsiders, be they petty criminals, watch-sellers or porn stars of the sort that may haunt any of our cities. Tsai observes them, with a tough, almost invasive compassion – he's not a director to avoid a confrontation with truth, but neither is he immune to life's ironies, or the sweet seductions of a song. He's Western-friendly, too – a flag-bearer for the stylistic breakthroughs of the French New Wave, for instance. But despite that, his profile in the West – and in Britain – has remained discreet, his work hard to obtain, and you'll find few if any books dedicated to him." - Wally Hammond (Time Out)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Rebels of the Neon God (1992), The River (1997) , The Hole (1998)
Worth a Look
Vive L'Amour (1994) , What Time is it There? (2001) , Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) , I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006) , Visage (2009), Stray Dogs (2013)
Approach with Caution
The Wayward Cloud (2005)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Tsai Ming-liang / Favourite Films
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Rainer Werner Fassbinder, L'Eclisse (1962) Michelangelo Antonioni, The 400 Blows (1959) François Truffaut, Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) Tsai Ming-liang, Mouchette (1966) Robert Bresson, The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton, The Only Son (1936) Yasujiro Ozu, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Carl Theodor Dreyer, Spring in a Small Town (1948) Fei Mu, Sunrise (1927) F.W. Murnau.
Source: Sight & Sound (2012)
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Films / Books
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