What am I missing? I went off and read some reviews of Hsiao-Hsien Hou's The Assassin after watching it to try and glean what was revving people's engines about the film and I kept seeing the words "gorgeous" and "painterly" attached to it... words that seem inexplicable in this context to me. I found the film boring - visually, sensually, emotionally boring. "Boring" is such a lazy (one might say boring) descriptor but if any film earns it, it's The Assassin. The film is purposefully glacial in its storytelling and world-building, neither of which are in themselves deadly to my sensibilities - I can take a slow movie, I can luxuriate in atmosphere for its own sake.
But there are shots in The Assassin where I hadn't an inkling what I was supposed to be feeling, looking at these stagnant things - a long lingering take of some goats sitting in a field isn't giving me anything to hold onto, not when it looks, to my eye, indifferently framed and edited in among more indifferently framed and edited and more indifferently framed and edited and more and more... things. That's what happens in The Assassin. Things. Every five minutes an attractive shot would sneak in to break up the monotony but calling this film "exquisite" tells me you've been smoking whatever random doobies strangers been passing out on the street.