Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

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DarkImbecile
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Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue May 15, 2018 4:10 pm

Sounds like Bi Gan's Long Day's Journey Into Night is getting some very positive notices, in particular for
SpoilerShow
an hour-long 3D tracking shot.
I'm not familiar with him, though I know Kaili Blues has some admirers here, but on the basis of some of the captures alone I'll make sure to seek this out.
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Last edited by DarkImbecile on Tue May 15, 2018 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Omensetter
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#2 Post by Omensetter » Tue May 15, 2018 5:32 pm

I know it comes with following critical responses to films I've yet to see and is inevitable, but I did always agree with Rosenbaum's assertion that formal moves are as much as spoilers as plot points.

Bi's the real deal and ridiculously young.

For all the talk about how the festival's already more of a success than last year (and probably most years previous), I'm really just waiting to hear of pick-ups.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#3 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue May 15, 2018 5:34 pm

Omensetter wrote:I know it comes with following critical responses to films I've yet to see and is inevitable, but I did always agree with Rosenbaum's assertion that formal moves are as much as spoilers as plot points.
Yeah, you're right about that... apologies!

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senseabove
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#4 Post by senseabove » Tue May 15, 2018 5:43 pm

I don't think you're gonna be able to read any coverage of the Bi Gan without getting that particular formal move spoiled. It was literally the only specific thing mentioned in the first reactions that trickled out. So while I generally agree with the premise—I was kinda annoyed to read a formal spoiler for the Trier, for example, even though I'm as likely to see it as not—we don't really know anything about how he uses it, and it's not like you wouldn't know you were in for that particular formal feature literally as soon as you walk in the door to the theater. It would be impossible to see the movie without knowing it was coming.

Can't wait to see it, though, and I'm pleased the reactions are positive. I just saw Kaili Blues a few weeks ago and found the first half absolutely mesmerizing. I'll be very curious to see what he can do with what I assume is a bigger budget.

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Omensetter
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#5 Post by Omensetter » Tue May 15, 2018 5:43 pm

Oh no, you're fine! I'm definitely reading tweets (no reviews) to sate myself; it comes with the territory and I'm exposing myself by choice. I've learned to limit my intake of takes on films I know I'm already going to see, but some moments stand out such that you cannot help but read about them. Plus, I imagine there will be a lot more pleasures within the take.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#6 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue May 15, 2018 7:11 pm

senseabove wrote:I don't think you're gonna be able to read any coverage of the Bi Gan without getting that particular formal move spoiled. It was literally the only specific thing mentioned in the first reactions that trickled out. So while I generally agree with the premise—I was kinda annoyed to read a formal spoiler for the Trier, for example, even though I'm as likely to see it as not—we don't really know anything about how he uses it, and it's not like you wouldn't know you were in for that particular formal feature literally as soon as you walk in the door to the theater. It would be impossible to see the movie without knowing it was coming.
I'll add here that Bi spoke about the particular formal move in question while doing press for Kaili Blues, so it's not something he himself made any effort to keep under wraps.

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Omensetter
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#7 Post by Omensetter » Tue May 15, 2018 8:36 pm

No addition necessary; I've already admitted my culpability.

The Rosenbaum comment (which surely cannot be attributed to him directly) was more of a stray comment, a wistful what-if for critics that if actually adhered to, they'd have nothing to write about, more or less.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2019

#8 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue May 21, 2019 2:42 pm

So one of my local theaters will finally be showing Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, but unfortunately it appears it won’t be in 3D at all. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this for a year now, so I’m buying a ticket regardless, but can anyone who has caught it speak to how I should recalibrate expectations given that I won’t be seeing the — by all accounts show-stopping — centerpiece sequence as intended?

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Re: The Films of 2019

#9 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue May 21, 2019 2:52 pm

LQ and I walked out before the 3D sequence began, which is embarrassing to admit but we had seen a ton of films that week and the first 45 minutes or so were very film schoolish. Could be (and very likely am) totally wrong about the overall quality of the film once it all unspools

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diamonds
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Re: The Films of 2019

#10 Post by diamonds » Tue May 21, 2019 2:58 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 2:42 pm
So one of my local theaters will finally be showing Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, but unfortunately it appears it won’t be in 3D at all. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this for a year now, so I’m buying a ticket regardless, but can anyone who has caught it speak to how I should recalibrate expectations given that I won’t be seeing the — by all accounts show-stopping — centerpiece sequence as intended?
I saw it in 2-D at my local theater. The sequence in question is long and dreamy and washes over you nicely. I can't really imagine 3-D – which I typically imagine is used for bombast –  adding a whole lot to it other than in one ~two minute-long instance within the larger sequence where
brief, vague spoilersShow
it might intensify a sensation of vertigo.
But I am curious to hear an opinion from someone who has seen it in 3-D to describe the experience. For what it's worth, this is Bi Gan in Film Comment:
In order to somehow express the essence of memories and dreams, I needed 3-D. But the way I'm using 3-D isn't to capture the audience's attention. The film is actually post-converted from 2-D to 3-D. It's not like those big-budget films where you have these very lifelike 3-D objects around or in front of you.
The formal delineation between "reality" and memories/dreams is built-in to the film with the jumbled cutting of the first half vs. the single-take second half, so to me the 3-D seems like it would serve to lightly emphasize what's already there.

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chiendent
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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#11 Post by chiendent » Tue May 21, 2019 4:08 pm

I saw it in 3D a few weeks ago and it mostly amplifies the transition between the first/second half and enhances the dreamlike atmosphere of the centerpiece sequence. It's a shame more theaters aren't showing this in 3D; here it's showing in 2D in San Francisco and is only screening in 3D at some Berkeley showtimes, for example. For me, one of the highlights of the 3D part was the playfulness of
SpoilerShow
putting on the glasses alongside the protagonist as he falls asleep and only then having the movie titles pop up in 3D over an hour in!
I agree with mfunk that it's a bit film schoolish but I enjoyed it overall. Definitely looking forward to what he does next.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#12 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 21, 2019 4:24 pm

What do you guys mean by “film school”— too show-offy or too amateur?

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#13 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue May 21, 2019 4:36 pm

A little of both. I recall a lot of very well worn gangster/neo-noir tropes, which were tonally off from where one might expect them to be in a better film. Exactly the sort of film one might imagine a teenage boy who reads Empire magazine wanting to make - but again, can't make any overall value judgments whatsoever

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#14 Post by chiendent » Tue May 21, 2019 4:41 pm

I'll add that the influences are very explicit (Tarkovsky, WKW, HHH, Lynch, Hitchcock, for example) in a way that doesn't always mesh. Of course he's young and it's only his second film so I expect his style to become a bit more cohesive going forward.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#15 Post by BenoitRouilly » Wed May 22, 2019 6:43 am

I saw it in 2D, and didn't even know there was supposed to be a 3D sequence (because I hadn't read anything beforehand), so I had to figure out the dream sequence in retrospect, which was quite baffling. I didnt sense the rupture at first, but only gradually figured something was different after a while, mainly because of the plan séquence.
Though I wouldn't mind seeing it again in 3D. This virtuoso second half is really worth waiting for the long slow WKW-a-like first part, for all the ground it covers in one take at twilight going in the night.
I heard his previous film Kaili Blues uses a similar bi-partition with a near 50 min plan séquence as well, but I didn't see it yet.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#16 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:06 pm

After giving up hope on Kino Lorber expanding this release to more states/cities it looks like the Kendall Sq theatre in Cambridge, MA will be getting it in 3-D. It was seemingly just added to the Coming Soon page and then when I checked back an hour later showtimes were listed for this weekend, which is an oddly quick progression for their site. I wonder if this occurrence is happening elsewhere- it may be worth checking your local arthouse theatre.

As for the film itself, I can’t argue with the problems others have had with it but, even more than WKW, a key to enjoying this is forfeiting expectations from the red herring ‘plot devices’ and surrendering to the tone poem. As a film that uses everything the medium has to offer to craft a unique expression of loss and the attempt to attain the unattainable through all possible avenues
SpoilerShow
(reality, memory, dream),
it was one of the most emotionally impactful experiences I’ve had watching a movie in a long time and I’ll be seeing it again in this intended format.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#17 Post by Nasir007 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:33 am

domino harvey wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:24 pm
What do you guys mean by “film school”— too show-offy or too amateur?
I found it entirely opaque - to the point of incomprehensibility. I literally would not even be able to provide a summary of the events in the film.

It is formally well made but I wish the film-maker had put in more "plot hooks" or "story hooks" for the audience to support his formal conception. Without anything to hold on to narratively, the film can be confounding and tedious albeit a dream-like experience.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#18 Post by zedz » Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:46 pm

I saw this on the weekend, and I found the narrative pretty straightforward, although it's packaged idiosyncratically, and not conventionally resolved because the film sinks into a dream sequence from which it never emerges:
SpoilerShow
The protagonist is engaged in a quest to avenge his friend Wildcat, who was killed over a gambling debt, partly because our emotionally distracted (recently divorced) hero wasn't there to provide him with the cart of apples (an ongoing symbol within the film, one of many Tarkovsky co-options) which concealed a gun. Wildcat's body was dumped in a disused mine (an image we later see as a flashback / projection, just as we also see a 'flashback' to Wildcat's torture). The protagonist knows who is responsible for his friend's death, but not where he is, so he trails the guy's girlfriend, Wan Qiwen. A mudslide halts the train they are on and sends them back to Kaili. They hook up. After a while, she asks the protagonist to kill her lover / his prey, by sitting behind him in a movie theatre and shooting him at the same moment as there's gunfire on screen, so that nobody notices (we see what's presumably a projection of this scenario towards the end of the first section).

Alongside this, our protagonist is trying to track down his mother who 'abandoned' him as a child (but actually seems to have been mentally unstable and incarcerated). He finds a photograph of her hidden inside a clock from his father's restaurant after his father's death, and follows a trail of clues from that. This leads him to a former colleague of his mother's in a women's prison, who tells him about their past.

Neither quest is resolved before our protagonist has his big sleep, but they both intertwine and get a kind of symbolic resolution within the dream (where he, for instance, helps Sylvia Chang (Wildcat's mother) as his mother, leave the prison / city in which he finds himself, and reunites with Wan Qiwen).
Much of the plot comes in big gobs of Wong Kar-Wai style narration, which means you need to pay attention to the intertitles and then match up details to scenes we see subsequently that aren't conventionally demarcated as flashbacks or imaginary reconstructions.

It's a masterful film. Although a lot of its visual tropes are borrowed wholesale from Tarkovsky, they're pulled off beautifully and incorporated into a style that feels very different. I mean, WKW is also a clear influence, and as a stylist he's about as far removed from Tarkovsky as it's possible to get. The extreme plan-sequence of the second half is far more reminiscent of Angelopoulos than Tarkovsky, however, in the way it wends its way all around a darkened town, but then it also incorporates an amazing descent by flying fox and unmotivated flight. Despite the antecedents (I was also put in mind of The Element of Crime, another film that tried to make Tarkovsky dance to a film noir beat), Bi Gan is doing stuff in this film that is incredibly hard to pull off.

The 3D definitely adds to the trippy feel of the dream sequence, and aspects of the sequence that involve unusual movement (gliding, flying, spinning) are strongly enhanced by the technology, but it would be a trippy and transformative sequence anyway, so I doubt that its absence would be fatal, and I'm definitely looking forward to revisiting this film at home, unenhanced.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#19 Post by BenoitRouilly » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:09 am

You figure it all out better than I did in 1 viewing. When you lay out all the plot points one by one, it seems obvious, but the film doesn't give in its keys so straightforwardly... We have to guess who the characters are, where they are, what they are up to, what they want, especially in the dream sequence, which adds to the confusion of the whole storyline. Maybe repeat viewings would help. It's a film that eschews resorting to signposts and expository dialogue (except for the protagonist's monologue, which is not helping much)
The Element of Crime is a good reference I didn't think of. Maybe, alongside Tarkovsky, we could cite Sokurov's The Lonely Voice of Man, among others of his.

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#20 Post by zedz » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:02 pm

It’s all that training from New Taiwanese Cinema. Hang onto casually divulged plot points (and character names and relationships) like a drowning man!


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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#21 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:12 pm

Did you take notes while watching, zedz?

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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#22 Post by dda1996a » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:25 pm

zedz wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:02 pm
It’s all that training from New Taiwanese Cinema. Hang onto casually divulged plot points (and character names and relationships) like a drowning man!


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Anyone else other than Hou whose characters are a bit hard to follow? I find Yang and Tsai pretty easy to follow

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zedz
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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#23 Post by zedz » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:59 am

No to Swo, and Hou can be more narratively oblique than Yang, but I can’t think of any of his narratives that are as dense or complex as A Brighter Summer Day, A Confucian Confusion or Mahjong, or as causally subtle as Yi Yi.

Thai is just kind of generally mysterious, but I also see him as post-New Taiwanese Cinema, without much in common with the earlier filmmakers.


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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#24 Post by BenoitRouilly » Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:03 pm

Yeah taking notes is quite useful, or an immediate debriefing after the screening.
I had trouble remembering the connections between the characters. Especially his best friend and his mother who are elusive characters in the storyline. i.e. characters existing only by the inner monologue and not fixated by images...

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zedz
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Re: Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan, 2018)

#25 Post by zedz » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:10 pm

I'm in the midst of the film festival at the moment (five days and 35 films deep so far!) and always write up the films I see afterwards to help sort them out and preserve my impressions, though for this film I posted here before I got around to writing it up myself.

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