A Study in Choreography for Camera
(Maya Deren, US 1946, 4 min., 16mm)
New York Portrait, Part I
(Peter Hutton, US 1979, 16 min., 16mm)
Rebels of the Neon God
(Qing shao nian nuo zha, Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan 1992, 106 min., DCP, Mandarin and Min Nan w/subtitles)
In Memoriam: Douglas Crimp. In memory of art historian, critic, and curator Douglas Crimp (1944–2019), the Dryden shares some of his favorite works. During his time as a University of Rochester professor, Crimp also curated film series and introduced films at the Dryden. Maya Deren’s film exploring movement in relation to space appeared in Crimp’s 2017 series Choreography for Camera, and Peter Hutton’s black-and-white contemplation of the metropolis was part of his 2015 series Five Faces of New York in the 1970s. The feature in this program, Rebels of the Neon God, is a remarkably impressive first film that hints at the promise of its director. Tsai Ming-liang emerged on the world cinema scene in 1992 with this groundbreaking debut that already includes a handful of elements familiar to fans of subsequent work: a deceptively spare style often branded “minimalist”; actor Lee Kang-sheng as the silent and sullen Hsiao-kang; copious amounts of water, whether pouring from the sky or bubbling up from a clogged drain; and enough urban anomie to ensure that even subtle humor is tinged with pathos. The loosely structured plot involves Hsiao-kang, a despondent cram school student, who becomes obsessed with young petty thief Ah-tze, after Ah-tze smashes the rearview mirror of a taxi driven by Hsiao-kang’s father. Though showing such diverse influences as the French New Wave, Wong Kar-wai’s early films—and, yes, Rebel Without a Cause—Tsai’s film is most remarkable for introducing his startlingly unique vision to world cinema.
Special introduction by Amy Herzog, associate professor at Queens College.