Dear Directors of Artistic films.
Your extremely slow films are wonderful, truly. For any movie snob, we’d gladly take unnerving and picturesque over something mindless and entertaining. In fact, we’d rather sit through the twenty hour shot of someone’s face over an explosive sequence with a quip any day. No, seriously. A bag caught in the wind is more spectacular to watch than a musical number. We certainly enjoy it, we’d gladly sit through it and throw our hard earned cash at it.
Said No One Ever.
Ok, ok. So I very much like a great balance in my cinematic diet. I munch down indie and foreign films as happily as I do mindless entertainment (in fact, more so). Paced artistic films with a fantastic story in the middle and evocative performances are great when the narrative and editing calls for lingering imagery that push the story forward.
The problem is when the drawling shots overshadow and bore, the attention is taken away from quite an important story. Stray Dogs suffers majorly from this lack of flow.
See, see that plot that I just said, that is the film we were expecting. If Ming-liang carried the movie along on this note, allowing us into the story through the characters and their emotions, then this film would be incredible. With the beauty of minimal dialogue, moving the plot forward is crucial and it’s such a vital one too. In this climate where we are looking towards solving homelessness and increased government pressure to give people who are forced onto the streets shelter, a film that focus on the truth beneath the stereotype could've been handled better. This is the story we want to be enriched by, involved in and this is the tale we want to feel uncomfortable with, leaving us dismayed and battered by the film.
Perhaps this is a philistine talking, or my lack of knowledge of Ming-liang’s work. But Stray Dogs has all these elements that just aren’t pieced together well enough for it to be great work. Good, yes. Daring? Maybe. But boring it definitely is. Whilst you want it to exceed on every level, it is unfortunately, disappointing and decimates the overall product.
Stray Dogs is out on DVD & Blu-ray now!