On the edge of slumber
When people say they "nearly fell asleep" while watching a film it usually means they were bored to death. Unless you're really tired or watching a film past midnight, falling asleep during a film is not a very good sign. It often means the film couldn't provide any of the perks mentioned above, failing to keep the viewer's attention. But there are exceptions! There always are. Some films have the power to put you in a state of near-sleep, allowing you to nod off once in a while without giving you the feeling of having missed much in the meantime. These films feel like a warm blanket, wrapping themselves around you and providing a special kind of escapism.
While sound is a definitely a crucial important aspect of these films, there a some other common elements linking them together. These type of films are usually not plot-driven but thrive solely on atmosphere. The strong combination of visuals and soundtrack provide an ideal base for some first-class slumbering and the lack of important events or story twists make it easier to dose off for a few seconds.
What follows is my top selection of entrancing films. Films that bring you on the edge of dosing off and keep you there for most of their running time, releasing you somewhat refreshed when the end credits start rolling. Note that this selection is very personal, if the film doesn't have the desired result chances are you'll be bored to death. Just a friendly word of warning :)
5. The Clone Returns Home
A very recent addition to the list that actually kick-started the idea for this particular ToM. The film is a lovely blend of scifi and drama, combining the subtleties of cloning with the grief coming from a intimate family drama. The first hour is pretty straight-forward, but once the second part start a mysterious and dreamy atmosphere takes over, slowly putting your brain to rest. A strong musical score, slightly mysterious events and a slow pace all add to the dreamy feel of this film.
4. Bu San
One of the best Tsai films out there, or at least one of my definite favorites. While extremely slow and uneventful, Tsai mixes the everyday life of a rundown movie theater with some truly dry and absurd humor. The coolest thing is that you can dose off and wake up to a true wtf moment in the exact same scene, wondering what the hell happened in between. The film itself is pretty short but if it doesn't hit the right spot it's sure to be one of the most boring movie experiences ever.
3. Invisible Waves
The first Asano film in my list. The man has a kind of sleepy aura hanging over him, making his appearance and acting style quite perfect for this list. Unless he's doing comedy or some other hyperactive project again of course. But even more than Asano's appearance Pen-Ek Ratanaruang counts on the score to do most of the drifting. Lovely low-hum ambient that lulls you right into a borderline sleep. Their might be crime and murder, but it's essentially a marvelous mood trip.
2. Shinkokyû no Hitsuyô (Breathe In, Breathe Out)
With a title like this, you can expect some serious de-stressing, and that's exactly what this film is all about. Various people gather on a little Japanese farm to help out with the harvest. They all have good reasons to escape their previous lives, yearning for some time off, bathing in the sun, working their asses off on the field. On paper this might sound like a terrible bore (and for some people it surely will be), but it's one of the most relaxing films I've ever seen, somewhat reminiscent of a live-action version of Ghibli's Only Yesterday.
1. Cafe Lumiere
It didn't take me long to decide my favorite for the top spot. I've seen this film a couple of times and I'm still not sure whether I've seen all of it. I keep dosing off, but in a very good way. It's not so much the music but the sounds of the rumbling city that have an entrancing effect, most notably Hou's love for trains. The sound alone will transports you to the edge of slumber. Asano sleepwalks through most the film, which in itself is void of any big events or major storyline. Pretty awesome stuff.
My list is exclusively Asian. Maybe I could've included Gerry or Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic) for some extra variation, but that would be cheating. Hope this list inspires a little and pretty interested to hear about some extra suggestions from you guys.
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