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136 minutes · 2013
Tsai Ming-liang's bittersweet feature echoes two touchstones of the silent cinema—Chaplin's The Kid (1921) and Ozu's Passing Fancy (1933)—with its tale of a homeless man (Tsai regular Lee Kang-sheng) raising two small children on the outskirts of Taipei. Though periodically funny, this is more despairing than either of its models, concluding with a long silent sequence that's as devastating in its anticlimax as the apocalyptic imagery of Tsai's The Hole (1998) or The Wayward Cloud (2005). The Taiwanese writer-director has long been a master of conveying loneliness—most powerfully, through cockeyed compositions that make contemporary architecture look like an alien landscape. Here he broadens his focus to consider the disconnect between the larger society and the people it neglects, and the effect is tremendous. In Mandarin with subtitles.

See our full review: Year in review: 2013 at the movies

Year in review: 2013 at the movies

J.R. Jones and Ben Sachs each pick their top ten. »

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