Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy

Sexual Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-liang

2022
Author:

Nicholas de Villiers

A brilliant approach to the queerness of one of Taiwan’s greatest auteurs

A critical figure in queer Sinophone cinema, Tsai Ming-liang is a major force in Taiwan cinema and global moving image art. Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy offers a fascinating, systematic method for analyzing the queerness of Tsai’s films, drawing on extensive interviews with the director while also offering a complete reappraisal of Tsai’s body of work.

Condensed and intimate, Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy offers a systematic and insightful method to approach the queerness of Tsai Ming-liang's cinema, presenting a renewed understanding of queerness and queering in relation to the cinema as a medium and to queer politics and power relations that are specific to East and Southeast Asian cinemas

Victor Fan, author of Cinema Illuminating Reality: Media Philosophy through Buddhism

A critical figure in queer Sinophone cinema—and the first director ever commissioned to create a film for the permanent collection of the Louvre—Tsai Ming-liang is a major force in Taiwan cinema and global moving image art. Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy offers a fascinating, systematic method for analyzing the queerness of Tsai’s films.

Nicholas de Villiers argues that Tsai expands and revises the notion of queerness by engaging with the sexuality of characters who are migrants, tourists, diasporic, or otherwise displaced. Through their lack of fixed identities, these characters offer a clear challenge to the binary division between heterosexuality and homosexuality, as well as the Orientalist binary division of Asia versus the West. Ultimately, de Villiers explores how Tsai’s films help us understand queerness in terms of spatial, temporal, and sexual disorientation.

Conceiving of Tsai’s cinema as an intertextual network, Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy makes an important addition to scholarly work on Tsai in English. It draws on extensive interviews with the director, while also offering a complete reappraisal of Tsai’s body of work. Contributing to queer film theory and the aesthetics of displacement, Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy reveals striking connections between sexuality, space, and cinema.

Cover alt text: Lee Kang-sheng facedown on a mattress in the film “Vive L’Amour”; the words “Cruisy,” “Sleepy,” and “Melancholy” repeat in three rows over his face.

Nicholas de Villiers is professor of English and film at the University of North Florida. He is author of Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol and Sexography: Sex Work in Documentary, both from Minnesota.

Condensed and intimate, Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy offers a systematic and insightful method to approach the queerness of Tsai Ming-liang's cinema, presenting a renewed understanding of queerness and queering in relation to the cinema as a medium and to queer politics and power relations that are specific to East and Southeast Asian cinemas

Victor Fan, author of Cinema Illuminating Reality: Media Philosophy through Buddhism