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APRIL 30–MAY 23
In Tsai Ming-liang’s latest film, the patrons of a movie theater that’s about to be closed wander through the building as if they’re not entirely tethered to the world; no wonder one character, in a rare burst of conversation, suggests that the cinema is haunted. Beginning with 1992’s Rebels of the Neon God (at 7 p.m. Friday, April 30), the characters in the Malaysian-bred Taiwanese director’s austere yet delightfully droll films move like wraiths through spaces—whether a shabby moviehouse, an officially unoccupied apartment, or the entire city of Taipei—where they can’t quite connect to anyone else. In 2002’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn (pictured; at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23), most of the dialogue comes from the screen—where King Hu’s 1966 Dragon Inn is showing—while the theater’s manager and a handful of spectators fidget and roam. The low-key physical humor suggests silent comedy, while the existential vibe and exquisite compositions evoke Antonioni. These are motifs of Tsai’s work, as is water: It always seems to be raining, and his darkest film, The River (at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 9), concerns a young man (perennial Tsai star Lee Kang-sheng) who develops a mysterious disease after floating in a polluted river while playing a corpse for a movie. The director’s style is unmistakable, yet his films offers many variations: The Hole (at 7 p.m. Friday, May 14) includes musical numbers, What Time Is It There? (at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 22) journeys to Paris, and Vive L’Amour (at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2) is Tsai’s idea of a love triangle—one in which none of the sides exactly meet. The series opens Friday, April 30, and runs through Sunday, May 23, in the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 633-4880. (Mark Jenkins)