Days (2020) marked Tsai Ming-liang’s return to filmmaking after a long hiatus in his directorial career. In this essay, Jean Ma argues that Days signals both a return to form and a reorientation that responds to a changing landscape of moving image projection beyond the traditional movie theater. With no subtitles and nearly no dialogue, Days eschews narrative conventions and continues the tendency toward reduction and minimalization that is omnipresent in Tsai’s body of work. Instead, Tsai explores what Ma calls “the unfathomable screen presence of the body” through one body in particular—that of Lee Kang-sheng, to whom Tsai refers as his muse and collaborator. The continuous physical inscription of Lee across Tsai’s body of work, invites a study of not character but rather shifting projections of presence, modes of being and doing before the camera that constitute the foundational building blocks of Tsai’s artistic project.

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