I was reading an article from The Guardian suggested by a friend on Facebook (“How post-horror movies are taking over cinema“), and towards the article’s end it references a film from 2003 called “Goodbye, Dragon Inn”, in describing director David Lowery’s infulences on his new film “A Ghost Story” (not to be confused with “Ghost Story”, which was in part filmed at my old college…). Here’s the actual snippet from the artcile:
“Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn, for example, set in a “haunted” cinema where ghosts and the living sit side by side.”
That was it, I had to track this film down, which I did without much effort at all on, yep, you guessed it, YouTube. Whoever posted this didn’t post the version with English subtitles, but that really doesn’t matter since there is less than six lines of dialogue in the entire film (not counting the soundtrack to the “film” being watched [which, incidentally, is the 1966 film “Dragon Inn” of the title]), and the only thing you need to know is one of the lines is “Do you know this theatre is haunted?”, and the other is “Nobody goes to the cinema any more”.
So what did I think? Well…I would describe this as an Asian Cassavetes film, minus the usual Cassavetes long-winded dialog bits. There are only two camera movements in the entire film, the rest are stationary shots, some of which last for minutes (!). You will watch the ticket taker, who is in a leg brace, climb up and down stairs searching for the projectionist. You will see a single shot scene of the theater once the lights are turned up, and the only thing that happens the entire scene is the ticket taker lady going up one isle and down the other looking for trash, which lasts the first three minutes, and then for the rest of the scene you see nothing but the empty theater (for three whole minutes!). You will also see a young guy cruise the theater, bathroom and hallway for…well, to put it bluntly, sex (and you will perhaps start to wonder if the guys he’s trying to “connect” with are real or ghosts…and once you do start to wonder who is a ghost and who isn’t it takes on a whole new level of weirdness). But the freakiest thing about the film is the lady eating peanuts, and the way its played I really hoped she was ghost, because if she was a “real” person that makes her little move to the next row even freakier.
So in summary, this film is not for everyone, but if you don’t mind sitting through “A Woman Under the Influence” or “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” (either version), then you might want to check this out for yourself.