“Who Will Sing Folk Songs?”: The Film Musical in Nine Variations
35mm Print

The most memorable fusion of song, dance, and weather since Singin’ in the Rain.”

Dennis Lim, The Village Voice

In Tsai Ming-liang’s end-of-the-millennium musical, none of the actors sing. Instead, the past, in the form of recordings by Hong Kong idol Grace Chang, sings for them. The film’s scenario, which concerns a Kafkaesque epidemic, two isolated tenants, and an apartment building seemingly on the verge of collapse, suggests a future foreclosed were it not for these incantatory interruptions of the past. Lee Kang-sheng’s floor happens to be Yang Kuei-mei’s ceiling; an area of unrepaired damage—amidst a nightmarish December deluge—reveals this fact with such economy it could have fallen out of a silent melodrama like Paul Fejos’s Lonesome. Cinematic spectres would increasingly appear in Tsai’s films, but in The Hole the Taiwanese New Wave director first landed upon dance as a way to crystallize his choreography of actors. Surrounded by flooding and decay, Lee and Yang’s movements morph between routine and panic—when Chang’s music erupts, time and space are transformed.

In Mandarin with English subtitles

The May 23 screening will be introduced by Programming Associate Michael Scoular.

Transcendent … The major innovation of The Hole is its inclusion of musical numbers, each performed with gusto amidst ghostly corridors and crumbling structural facades.”

Lawrence Garcia, In Review Online

A sci-fi film set in the dreary present, a romantic-comedy about two people that never meet, an Antonioni-esque look at urban squalor, and a jukebox musical, Tsai Ming-liang’s The Hole is as protean as it is potent.”

Joshua Bogotin, Screen Slate

Upcoming in this Series

  • Hole 2
  • The Hole
  • Taiwan/France1998
  • Tsai Ming-liang
  • 95 35mm
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Une Chambre Un Ville 3
  • Une chambre en ville
  • aka A Room in Town
  • France1982
  • Jacques Demy
  • 93 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Magical Substance Flows Into Me 1
  • A Magical Substance Flows into Me
  • Palestine/Germany/United Kingdom2016
  • Jumana Manna
  • 66 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • West Indies 1
  • West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty
  • West Indies, ou Les nègres marrons de la liberté
  • Algeria/Mauritania/France1979
  • Med Hondo
  • 116 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Disciple 1
  • The Disciple
  • India2020
  • Chaitanya Tamhane
  • 128 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Dancer In The Dark 1
  • Dancer in the Dark
  • Denmark/Sweden/France/Iceland2000
  • Lars Von Trier
  • 140 35mm
  • 14A
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • All About Lily Chou Chou 5
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou
  • リリイ・シュシュのすべて
  • Japan2001
  • Iwai Shunji
  • 146 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Red Psalm 2
  • Red Psalm
  • Még kér a nép
  • Hungary1971
  • Miklós Jancsó
  • 84 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Golden Eighties 10
  • Golden Eighties
  • Belgium/France/Switzerland1986
  • Chantal Akerman
  • 96 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations