Tsai Ming-liang, Lee Kang-sheng and Anong Houngheuangsy in Person
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Directed by Tsai Ming-liang.
With Lee Kang-sheng, Anong Houngheuangsy.
Taiwan/France, 2020, DCP, color, 127 min.
Mandarin with English subtitles.
DCP source: Grasshopper Films

Ever since Tsai prematurely announced his retirement from filmmaking following the release of Stray Dogs, his output has had a diminishing relationship to narrative, and Days provides only the slimmest shell of one. Instead, the director submits to the lengthy observation of two men at different points in their lives: Kang (Lee Kang-sheng) and Non (Anong Houngheuangsy), emblems of solitude in late middle age and young adulthood, respectively. Kang passes his time with silent meditations on nature and experimental acupuncture sessions for his ailing neck (a nod to Lee’s actual decades-long condition), while Non lives a solitary urban existence in a cramped apartment. Their day-to-day rituals provide more than enough raw material for Tsai’s ever-patient camera, which captures slow nighttime walks and ritualized meal preparation with the same rapt attention and Zen-like indifference to conventional action. In the lone concession to narrative expectation, Kang and Non eventually meet in a prolonged scene of cathartic physical intimacy, but Tsai’s delicate touch leaves the film in a state of poignant anticlimax, raising unsentimental questions about what constitutes fulfilling human connection.

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    Harvard professor Jie Li, Lee Kang-sheng and Tsai Ming-liang. Photo: Griffin Andres
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    Tsai Ming-liang and Anong Houngheuangsy. Photo: Griffin Andres
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    Lee Kang-sheng and Tsai Ming-liang. Photo: Griffin Andres
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    Lee Kang-sheng, Tsai Ming-liang and Anong Houngheuangsy. Photo: Griffin Andres

Days introduction by Brittany Gravely and post-screening discussion with filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang, actor Lee Kang-sheng, actor Anong Houngheuangsy, Professor Jie Li and HFA Director Haden Guest in addition to Junting Huang (Mandarin-English translator).

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