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Friday
Sep 28 2018

NYFF: Long Day's Journey Into Night

Jason Adamsreporting from the New York Film Festival

Late in the film version ofSix Degrees of SeparationStockard Channing's character,at her wit's end,says,"I will not turn him into an anecdote,it was an experience;how do we hold onto the experience?"That's how I feel about writing up my thoughts on Bi Gan's dream-adjacentLong Day's Journey Into Night.It was an experience.An out of body one,sorta.How do I turn that experience into words?

Luo (Huang Jute,whose handsome face we come to know from every angle) is haunted by what else,a lost woman (played byLust Caution's Tang Wei,for a time anyway),and he wanders the damp earth and the the even damper underworld and everywhere damp in between trying to find her - trying to hold on to fractions of dreams and memories;who can tell which is which here?It's all fractured - time,space,sound...

It might be wise at this juncture to picture Luo's head as a planet.An unto-itself isolated landscape floating in space.Think of Google Earth if that helps.And this film is a travelogue mapping us over the space.We climb into the caverns of his ears and rustle through his brain,we float softly astride his craggy cheeks,digging in picks and analyzing what crystals come up - it's an odd way of going about figuring somebody out,but a one of a kind one nonetheless.There's a real first-person video-game feel to it - especially in the film's technically astonishing 3D second half.It's the furthest outside of myself,metaphysically speaking,that I've felt in a movie theater since David Lynch'sInland Empire.

Yes you might be bored at times.I was.But there's something to be said for experiencing a little boredom while watching a film,in the right hands anyway - that's a lesson I have to keep re-learning.When your mind wanders and you start mixing up your own meandering thoughts with the images on-screen - when you and the languorous cinematic experience become commingled.It can be,even if for just a kernel of a moment,transcendent.I wouldn't trust every film-maker with that tool - some movies are just flat out boring,full stop - but some folks know how to work it,and Bi Gan seems to be one of them.I transcended.

Long Day's Journey into Nightscreens at NYFF on October 2nd and 4th.

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Reader Comments (5)

This doesn't sound that appealing - I've read this piece and thought Gaspar Noé - except for the Tang Wei part.I love this woman.

September 28,2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I wasn't a fan of his first film,KAILI BLUES,but I've been eager for this one.

September 28,2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I saw the film at TIFF.You've made me think with your point about finding transcendence in the co-mingling of one's thoughts with the film's plot,but I don't know that I agree.Any old film that bores you ends up with you mixing thoughts about the film and about your life outside it.That doesn't make it great.This film would have to have intentionally wanted that -- it takes itself so seriously that I'm not sure it does -- and that co-mingling would need to service the film,which I'm not sure it does.

I found 'Long Day' virtually incomprehensible,both in terms of plot and in terms of the character's mindset.Maybe it's just me missing the point.Maybe a second viewing would help me piece together the film.But I don't find myself eager to embark on that second viewing.

Also,"the shot"is entrancing at times,but so,so,so darkly lit.

September 29,2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Kaili Blues is honestly one of the films of the decade for me.As soon as it finished,I had to watch it again from beginning to end.It was just so transporting.

I couldn't be more desperate to see this film.

September 29,2018 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I dun u/stand why they wanna tap onto O'Neill's classic (any throwback to the famous play??),but the direct translation from its Chinese title will be "Last Night on Earth"...which IS a good title

September 30,2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

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