Where will Wong Kar-Wai lead us to?
by Daniel Lam on 5/13/2002
Wong Kar-Wai has worked with these actors from time to time and it's always fresh each time. Now in this film, Wong Kar-Wai turns to a much more different style than he used before, now there is no narration, no intertwined storyline and lots of love without sexual contact. How the heck does he do this? You ask. Well, he does it for sure. This film was only intended to be a short production, but complications with outside work led to a whole year of production.
It's about a pair of couples suddenly move into the same apartment and their spouces coping with the new enviroment, as Maggie Cheung's character meets Tony Leung's character they become alittle friendly in neighbors' dinner invintations. Their spouces has suddenly stay out longer then they usually do, and they both notice this. They both suspect that their spouces are having an affair together and try to think why and how to deal with it. They notice that they both are always around each other for quite awhile and they start to become afraid of themselves, afraid of becoming like their others. If you read my "Chungking Express" dvd review you'd know what I'd say about the Cinematography and other stuff. All you need to know it's quite a long movie yet it's very beautiful. I recomend it, especially when it's treated on the Critereon Collection.
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IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
by Madji767@msn.com on 7/1/2002
Dig if you will this picture: A man and woman who rent apartments down the hall from one another come to suspect their respective spouses are having an affair with each other. As the fact dawns on them, the two commiserate over their situation, strike-up a friendship, and dance to a delicate tune of despair and romantic possibility.
"Life is lonely again/and only last year/everything seemed so sure."
The plot, as seen on the page, is as traditional as popular song structure. The frame of that structure, involoving as it does both words and music, focuses the spotlight primarily on a individual singer's interpretation of the story told in the lyrics. Wong Kar Wai's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE alters the tried-and-true format, in cinematic terms, by taking a jazz improvisation approach; giving as much, if not more importance, to the music of visual imagery; making each instrument in the ensemble a full and obvious part of the storytelling process. As a result, the actor's vocals are but one aspect in the overall arrangement of the composition; duly significant, but far from alone.
Christopher Doyle's mellifluous and melancholy camerawork flows along in marvelous support of the minor key melody played by the leads, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. In the firmest control of form yet displayed by him (surpassing such works as CHUNGKING EXPRESS and FALLEN ANGELS), Kar Wai maintains the general consistency of tone with gorgeous lighting schemes (note his use of red and green) and meticulously composed shots. Thoughtfully adjusting the tempo and tenor of collective improvisation with a supremely sensitive editorial eye, Kar Wai rescues this lost art from the province of the blind and rhythmically challenged (see ATTACK OF THE CLONES, TOMB RAIDER, etc).
Eschewing the sentimental sap of common Hollywoood fare (evoking instead the film mastery of Luis Bunuel's BELL DE JOUR, or Alfred Hitchc*ck's VERTIGO), Kar Wai recreates a cramped, yet isolated Hong Kong set in the bygone 1960's, fashioning a plaintive and elegant blues, beautifully performed by Cheung and Leung. Both actors, stylishly appointed in wonderful cuts of clothing (particularly Ms. Cheung), play riffs of simple gestures and furtive eye contact, all ripe with adult complexity.
Less discerning viewers might conclude that his use of dialogue is deficient in the flashes of "wit" found in compositions from the pen of, say, a Nora Ephron (if that sort of thing floats your boat). Here however, as in the best solos of Miles Davis, the notes played share equal importance with those left unsaid; the space between the notes, between the words, speak the fine art of subtlety.
Actingwise, the greater technical challenge is presented to Ms. Cheung due to her circumstance of character. Unlike her co-star, for whom it is presupposed the affair has forever broken his marital bond (an understated comment on Chinese sex relations?), Ms. Cheung must portray the diffident demeanor of a woman who seems consigned to a future with her straying husband, rather than than explore the nascent desire of her heart. This might be superficially frustrating to many, considering how conditioned we are to the sentiments in another Nat King Cole song: "The greatest thing/you'll ever learn/is just to love/and be loved, in return." To deny such possibility for the sake of marital continuation is both jarring, emotional challenging, and yet, deeply insightful and realistic for the circumstances. Returning to Ms. Cheung, few actresses command the stage with her sheer sensual grace; she's riveting in moments that for others would be an un-interesting afterthought.
This film of subtle moments of visual beauty, balanced with understated technical bravura, threatened at various times to inspire gasps of delight from this viewer, succeeding on several occassions. With IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, Wong Kar Wai moves to the forefront of world filmmakers
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