Journey to the West

A Buddhist monk walks barefoot and incredibly slowly through Marseille – so slowly, that his progress is barely perceptible and he becomes a calming influence in the midst of the town’s goings-on.


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  • ★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd


    Saw this before "Walker" (and without knowing it's more or less an expansion of same) and thought "it's an excellent 20-minute short that just happens to run for an hour, because it has to." Having now seen "Walker," I think the idea does work better at even more of a crawl, and with the tiny narrative fillip provided by Lavant. Compositions are consistently magnificent enough to remain absorbing even when it takes Lee nine or ten minutes to traverse the frame, and spectator reactions (which I assume are spontaneous, but wouldn't be disappointed to learn were mediated), especially that of the one little girl on the stairwell, prove richer and more thought-provoking here. Main reason I'm not even more enthused is that the film seems to have an easily digestible Buddhist message, viz. "be mindful of your existence"; there are two or three (superb) shots in which neither Lee nor Lavant appears (I don't think—Lee does show up at the very end of the final shot), which are designed primarily to disorient us into seeing the world anew—a benign form of pedanticism, to be sure, but a little pedantic nonetheless. Also, I've rated this because it's feature-length by my rules, but in my mind it's really a short film. That's how it plays. It's just verrrrry attenuated.

  • ★★★★ review by rischka on Letterboxd

    free online for one week!!

    like some kind of sublime dance; amazing self control by the actors. i was a bit worried someone would push lee kang-sheng down the stairs tho :\

  • ★★★★ review by Kristen Yoonsoo Kim on Letterboxd

    friday night where’s waldo cinephile edition

  • ★★★★ review by Peter Labuza on Letterboxd

    Discussed on the podcast back a while now, but probably the most "fun" one gets in a slow cinema movie. Made me probably more curious about the shooting technique in the stairway sequence, as well as the cafe street, and whether participants were aware of the filming. No matter - a sly reconsideration of how we look at movement in cinema essentially. Our eyes are trained to see the frame as still and turn our eyes toward movement, and Journey's "Where's Waldo" game flips this around, as we search for what's essentially stillness. Basically I've been thinking a lot about the relationship of cognition to slow cinema and films that don't exactly direct your attention to the narrative information in the frame, and I hope Tim Smith would consider this a worthy exercise for his tests.

  • ★★★★½ review by IanB on Letterboxd

    A perfect alternate ending to Beau Travail.

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