PROD Vincent Wang
SCR Tung Cheng-yu, Tsai Ming-liang, Peng Fei
CAM Liao Pen-jung, Sung Wen-zhong, Lu Qing-xin
ED Lei Zhen-qing
PROD DES Masa Liu, Tsai Ming-liang
PROD CO Homegreen Films / JBA Production
Brilliant, intermittently hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, Stray Dogs is Tsai Ming-liang’s new masterpiece. Tsai’s regular muse, the great sad-faced Lee Kang-sheng, is a father with two children. Homeless, they squat in abandoned buildings. He is a human billboard, holding up a sign on the street for hours every day, in rain and heavy wind. The children fend for themselves, snagging free samples in the local supermarket, washing in public washrooms and peeing wherever.
Tsai’s other muses also show up: Yang Kuei-mei, Lu Yi-ching, and Chen Chiang-shyi, whose mysterious appearance leads into fantasy, and even deeper heartbreak.
But all is not sadness; Tsai’s real-time tableaux pack the subversive, spatial comic punch of Buster Keaton gags. Packed with incident (for a Tsai Ming-liang film), Stray Dogs contains shots of such extended length and apparent immobility that some audiences might be challenged—but Tsai provides a punch line: wait for it, and each shot ends in a revelation.
“The setting for the whole film is ruins. In the ruins, there are dogs and people. People act like dogs, and dogs like people; they are free dogs, and also free people. They have nothing, but what about us? What do we possess? Do we really possess anything? Maybe we all are nothing more than stray dogs.”—Tsai Ming-liang
— Shelly Kraicer