The Films of 2015: No-No Sleep

I decided to look up Tsai Ming-Liang’s No-No Sleep after hearing Keith Uhlich name it one of his favorite films of the year on a recent episode of the Cinephiliacs podcast.  The first half of this wordless short (produced for the omnibus film Beauty 2015) depicts Tsai’s longtime muse Lee Kang-Sheng, dressed as a Tibetan monk, as he makes a slow journey across a pedestrian bridge high above the streets of Tokyo; the second half shifts to a series of interior spaces within a bath-house, where he briefly crosses paths with a younger man (Masanobu Ando).  I can’t really say what Tsai is up to in this film, which feels slight (and not just because it runs a mere thirty-four minutes), but the second half shimmers with the sexual tension of which Tsai has become a master.  If nothing else, No-No Sleep reminds us why Tsai is perhaps the most powerfully erotic of living Asian filmmakers.     

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