In an era when most movie cameras seem to be moving more, jerking and jumping around, obscuring what they're supposed to be capturing, Tsai Ming-liang's camera grows ever more still, gazing boldly and steadily at a scene for so long that we get to know its every corner. In his 2004 masterpiece Goodbye Dragon Inn, I detected one, maybe two, moving shots. But in his latest film, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, it doesn't even budge that much.
Tsai has never been one for telling linear, easily explained stories, but at least some of his earlier films had recognizable elements. In The River (1994), Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-sheng) takes a job in a movie playing a corpse floating in the polluted Tanshui River and develops a mysterious and apparently incurable pain in his neck. In The Hole (1998), a virus has turned most of the population into human cockroaches, and a remaining human couple bonds when a hole opens up between their apartments. In What Time Is It There? (2001), a watch salesman dreams about a girl he has only barely met as she travels to Paris (he watches The 400 Blows on video and she meets the real life Jean-Pierre Leaud). And in Goodbye Dragon Inn, several lonely people pass a rainy night in a dilapidated movie theater on the last night of its existence.