Author Topic: Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love and 2046)  (Read 2473 times)

Ombrenuit

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Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love and 2046)
« on: April 10, 2006, 02:25:16 PM »
I stumbled on the film 2046 around the time Memoirs of a Geisha was entering theaters, while researching the actress Zihi Zhang (lead role in Memoirs as well as House of Flying Daggers, Hero, and others). I've taken an interest in the style of Chinese films ever since I saw Hero (though I must admit, I hated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). It opened my eyes to a new school of cinematography that focused on the poetry of filming more then simply entertainment. For one, Hero expressed it's story through a series of minimalist scenes and ideas, reptition, and images of beauty. I came to deeply respect and be intruiged with how these films touched me both intellectually and spiritually, representing philisophies that are ill-represented in Hollywood films and a canvas that focused on truth and beauty.

It was only recently that I came to stumble upon 2046, as I said before, and from the looks of it, I really had no idea what the movie was about, nor did I know that it was in fact a sequal. All I knew was that it looked highly artistic in style, and a sci-fi at that (which in fact was the product of bad advertising because in fact, it wasn't a sci-fi at all, it took place in 1960s Hong Kong).

And as my interest slowly blossomed I rented the prequal to 2046, originally submitted to the Cannes film festival in 2000, "In the Mood for Love." Firstly, the movie was told in a way that I wasn't expecting. It seemed to take the approach of telling a story through emotions, objects, and body language then through dialogue and actions. It was a film with a focus on the blossoming relationship between Mr. Chow and Ms. Chan, both married individuals who live next to one another in apartments during the 1950s and come to realize jointly that their spouses are cheating on them for one another. In a sense, they agree never to be like their spouses but the film follows their relationship and their emotions in being in this situation; it is a film that follows the day to day living of these two individuals, but focuses on their feelings.

The soundtrack is sparse and the entire film is a collage of events and images, but in this sense of minimalist style, a glance, the turn of a head, a touch, a tear all send shivers down your spine. In this sense, if I was at all interested in pursuing cinematography as a career, this film would have pushed me to the limit with it's style (much imitating the film-noir style of older films), but most importantly, how it expressed it's story through images and reptition. How Mr. Chow and Ms. Chan always pass one another in the same ally every night and then his head slowly sways to look in her direction; the night Ms. Chan decides not to go out and see Mr. Chow and how she finally accepts the invitation of her neighbours to eat with them, and the longing expression on her face as she gazes into the night, a glass in her hand, and the strife within her at what she wishes to do.


In essence, the story is told as if viewing a series of memories, not completely connected from a sequential stand-point, but rather deeply laced with the lense of passion and sentiment and told through a progression of feeling. It is something that I feel that I cannot express well enough, but I urge you that if you have any interest in these types of films that I highly recommend you sample this one (only at one hour and a half long).

2046 is a different matter though; and I have recently found out that it is a sequal to both In the Mood for Love and a film the director Wong Kar-wai made in the early 90s as some of the characters in that appear as well. It follows Mr. Chow's deteriation of spirit with his increase in indulgence, uncaring, smoking, and drinking take hold of his life, but follows his observations and his subtle feelings throughout his writing of a story to express his situation entitled 2047 (but about the year 2046).

From the start, you get your first impressions of Mr. Chow as an entirely new person (a personality completely changed from the kind, sentimental, and loving person you see from the first film) and his sexual relations with various women. However, it is the repeted theme of the story that you begin to see Mr. Chow's true feelings about the people around him, his situation and connection to the first film (2046 is the name of the hotel room he stayed in when he worked on a story to be published with Ms. Chan). He admits to himself that people he meets in real life are repeatidly making their way into his stories, and you begin to see how he really feels about these people as he writes about himself and others. In another sense, I liked the film, but not the disintegration of Mr. Chow as I knew him.

However, it is some of the images and scenes that are most memorable from the films. Music is used so sparingly that when it is used, it adds an entirely new demension to the scene, that when the theme begins, it can move you to tears with its power. The camera angles are experimented with giving you a feeling of being an observer of the scene, sometimes placed underneath beds, sometimes behind a window, sometimes on a counter; in one sense, these are two films where I felt I truly got to know its characters as if they were real people, not the stereotypical, one-sided personalities that exist in most films.

Watching these culminates into a poetry on the lurking hopes, dreams, motivations, thoughts, feelings, desires, fears, fantasies (especially 2046), and realities of love and relationships. I hope I have at least inspired a curiosity of these films. They have been the most influential I have watched in a long time and my thoughts continually return to those characters and settings, and they will definitely be stories that will influence my writing to come. I made this post to share them with you and if you were interested and saw them, to discuss it a little.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2006, 11:27:30 AM by Ombrenuit »

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Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love and 2046)
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2006, 08:42:36 PM »
Well, I don't want to just leave this review sitting here without comment, but I haven't actually seen these yet...   :oops:   So they're in my rental queue; hopefully I'll get to them soon and can comment on it.

That said, I want to encourage you to write more reviews like this.  Great attention to detail there. :)
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Re: Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love and 2046)
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2006, 06:30:16 AM »
I was a fan of ITMFL, and Wong Kar Wai films in general, but 2046 completely fell flat for me. I couldn't see the human dimension of it.

Now Chungking Express had heart. The most spontaneous of WKW films, shot quickly while he was struggling with In the Mood, it was comparatively less artistic, but showed sensitivity to human emotion and the quirky, good things about little people in the city. 2046 tried too hard to be an art film and ended up seeming depressing and empty instead.

Just my personal opinion. I suspect I dislike those of his films which are dystopic without leaving a spark of hope.

Ombrenuit

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Fallen Angels
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2006, 11:27:08 AM »
Weeks ago, while deciding which film I should rent next on Netflix, I decided that it would be nice to sample another of Wong Kar-Wai's work. I could have gone with Chungking Express or Happy Together (some of his most notable works), but instead, the premise of Fallen Angels was most enticing. Afterall, it was a story about an Assassin. But not only that. The main character felt like he was getting too close to his partner, and he then begins to doubt his career, a profession where you never make decisions for yourself. Two stories intertwine, although hardly, the other being about a mute who breaks into stores and "runs them" in the dead of the night, bullying people for money.

Upon reading another review I agree: at every corner this film challenges you to hate it. After watching it I didn't particularly like it. I sent it back without another viewing, but I couldn't get it out of my head. I kept returning to its strange characters in a world of transient moments. I just couldn't figure it out.

So I bought it, along with 4 other Wong Kar-Wai movies in a small collection (offered on Amazon). I realize more and more as I see Wong Kar-Wai's movies that the plot takes a back seat to the emotional dilemma. These characters are stuck in a fantasy world of their own--their their lonely stares gazing into the next moment, the future non-existant. The movie is like watching their lives, a saturated reality of reds, greens, yellows, and blacks as they stumble through the night on their quests for emotional fulfillment. All of them are missing something, as the mute's theme is "You rub elbows with a lot of people everyday. Some strangers might become your friends or even confidants." But then you observe Leon and Michelle's relationship, the assassin and his partner, two people who rarely even see one another, existing only in their imaginations. They have feelings for each other, but they are strangers themselves, never rubbing elbows.

It shows our undefinable quest for a destination. "Some people you really don't want to get too close to. Find out too much about a person and you lose interest." Yet we see how desperate we are to find that person to get close to, just as we push them away.

Wong Kar-Wai, in the insert of the dvd, explains his film as "sealing some of the existing images onto the negative, while they are still there," as nostalgia for the present. However, it is the quotes on the DVD jacket that are most ridiculous: "The most exciting film of the year." This film is in no way a thriller. It is a long slow observation about the modern day world. "I'm the practical kind. I know how to make myself happy." The characters are oblivious to what is going on around them, logic or reason, they are lost in their own bleak soul searching as the film becomes their "feel" of the moment.


The first scene of Fallen Angels, an uncontrollable shaking hand and a question: "Are we still partners?"

This isn't a film to make judgements, it knows what is important. You are an observer as Leon walks with a grin on his face, in step with the trip hop music of his entrance. Even worse is in the DVD jacket, they compare the gun-play with John Woo. This is a horribly off-the-mark observation as the entire film takes on an almost disposable ugly appearance. Leon merely walks into a back room, pulls out his guns, walks out, and unloads everything into the people in front of him. It's one moment of brutal, ugly simplicity. There is no fantastical flair to it, no moral judgements. You never learn who these people are that he is killing, but merely see it from his perspective, a job. We don't need to know the extra details or the morality behind it, what is important is how Leon confuses his job with his feelings (or desire, yet fear of feeling).

"I've always wanted to go to a wedding, but I know very well its not my scene." When he puts his guns back into his jacket and walks out, getting onto a bus with his nerves shot, a school friend peaks over his shoulder and starts screaming ecstatically about meeting him after all this time. "They ask me the same questions." Leon doesn't say a word. He merely opens his wallet and after every question, pulls out the correct article, the fake picture of his "wife", a fake picture of his "child", and a business card.

We are all in a world of our own emotional desperation. It's a film of style and imagery as they camera curls up close to its characters like an invisible comfort, an experience of "cool" mixed with retracted interest, you are left with not hopelessness nor hope, but merely a resignation as you are sucked into this world. I wouldn't see it for entertainment nor would I experiment with Fallen Angels as my first delve into Wong Kar-Wai's style, but if you want a movie that you can't stop analyzing, empathizing, nor getting off your mind, this is a movie that will forever appeal (though unnervingly) to your senses.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2006, 11:31:19 AM by Ombrenuit »