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Tsai Ming-Liang and a Cinema of Slowness

Tsai Ming-Liang and a Cinema of Slowness

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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    Tsai Ming-Liang and a Cinema of Slowness
    Book Description:

    How can we qualify slowness in cinema? What is the relationship between a cinema of slowness and a wider socio-cultural "slow movement"? A body of films that shares a propensity toward slowness has emerged in many parts of the world over the past two decades. This is the first book to examine the concept of cinematic slowness and address this fascinating phenomenon in contemporary film culture.Providing a critical investigation into questions of temporality, materiality, and aesthetics, and examining concepts of authorship, cinephilia, and nostalgia, Song Hwee Lim offers insight into cinematic slowness through the films of the Malaysian-born, Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang. Through detailed analysis of aspects of stillness and silence in cinema, Lim delineates the strategies by which slowness in film can be constructed. By drawing on writings on cinephilia and the films of directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, he makes a passionate case for a slow cinema that calls for renewed attention to the image and to the experience of time in film.Tsai Ming-liang and a Cinema of Slownesswill speak to readers with an interest in art cinema, queer studies, East Asian culture, and the question of time. In an age of unrelenting acceleration of pace both in film and in life, this book invites us to pause and listen, to linger and look, and, above all, to take things slowly.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3923-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Note on Chinese Romanization, Translation, and Citation
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION Going Slow
    (pp. 1-10)

    In a Calabrian village in southern Italy, an elderly goatherd tends to his flock by day and copes with his cough by night, workmen meticulously build a mound-like kiln to turn wood into charcoal, and an enormous tree is felled and trimmed before being erected in the center of the village for a celebratory ritual. Seasons come and go, the goatherd dies, and a lamb is born. Michelangelo Frammartino’sLe quattro volte(2010), recipient of the Europa Cinemas Label award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, could easily have passed as a BBC natural history documentary except without the familiar...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Slowness
    (pp. 11-42)

    In a recent piece on world cinema and drawing on Jia Zhangke’sThe World(Shijie,2004) in his closing remarks, Dudley Andrew declared : “LetThe Worldbe the beginning of a general return to genuine cinema, which Serge Dancy claimed has nothing to do with spectacle and everything to do with time, time that passes” (2010b, 86). Elsewhere, in his foreword toGlobal Art Cinema(Galt and Schoonover 2010a), Andrew began with the sentence, “I never apologize for combining the word ‘art’ with the word ‘cinema’” (2010a, v), betraying precisely, like the caveat “I’m not a feminist but …,”...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Signature
    (pp. 43-76)

    If the recent debate on slowness in cinema has been conducted “among international cinephiles” (James 2010b, 5), what then is the relationship between discourses on cinephilia and a cinema of slowness? In this chapter, I propose that Tsai Ming-liang’s films are uniquely placed to illuminate the relationship between slowness and cinephilia and that this relationship is cast within the notion of film authorship and shot through with a dose of nostalgia. By bringing authorship into the discussion, I am mindful that the auteur, a hotly debated figure in the discipline of film studies, must not be taken as a self-evidential,...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Stillness
    (pp. 77-115)

    The relationship between photography and film has obsessed theorists and practitioners alike since the invention of cinema, with many recent publications reconsidering the relationship in light of new digital technologies (Beckman and Ma 2008b; Campany 2008; Green and Lowry 2006; Mulvey 2006; Sutton 2009). At the center of this obsession is the dialectic between stillness and movement—indeed, the question of time—for photography has commonly been regarded as a medium that stops and freezes time, a “serious project of stilling things” (Campany 2008, 22), whereas film’s forte lies in its ability to depict the flow of time and (the...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Silence
    (pp. 116-149)

    In the making and study of films, sound tends to be an aspect that does not receive as much attention as the image. Not only is sound “generally under-valued in film and television, both in professional productions and where it is taught, in film schools and media courses” (Sider 2003, vii), film sound still exists “in the shadow of the image” and “nearly all films go ‘unheard’ in academe” (Beck and Grajeda 2008, 2, 20). It remains largely accurate to say, more than twenty-five years after the claim, that most books on film sound tend to be on one of...

  10. EPILOGUE Getting Lost
    (pp. 150-156)

    In a pop-up gallery in the city center of Newcastle, England, a white car is being crashed into an artificial white wall at the speed of 7 mm per hour. Exhibited as part of the city’s AV Festival, whose theme for 2012 was “As Slow as Possible,” Jonathan Schipper’s work,Slow Motion Car Crash,is described as a “sculpture” in a “choreographed collision,” with the car eventually destroyed over the course of the month of the festival’s duration.¹ Schipper’s work deploys a cinematic concept to literalize a cinematic trope to an extremely slow temporality. Like Douglas Gordon’s installation24 Hour...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 157-176)
  12. Tsai Ming-liang Filmography
    (pp. 177-184)
  13. Glossary of Chinese Terms
    (pp. 185-188)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 189-204)
  15. Index
    (pp. 205-218)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-223)