Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wong Kar-Wai is the coolest.

A few years ago, when I first turned my attention to Chinese movies, I came across a beautiful piece of work called In the Mood for Love. The director was noone I'd ever heard of, but after seeing that work of art, I was hooked on the career of a man named Wong Kar-Wai.

Of course, back then I didn't have Netflix, so coming by foreign films was sometimes a task, and knowing that the movie I had seen and fallen in love with had a prequel and a sequel, I was dying to have easy access to this phenomenal artist. Now that I have Netflix, I've been able to see Wong Kar-Wai's other movies, and have established him as one of my favorites, if not my favorite director.

Though he has a number of films I have yet to see, I will focus on Wong Kar-Wai's trilogy that oozes and sizzles with sensuality and beauty.

It's strange, really, because though the three movies I'm going to mention are part of a trilogy, they are so loosely tied together, it is sufficient to watch just one (though you'd be missing out), or watch them entirely out of order.

The first installment of the trilogy is Days of Being Wild. It is set in 1950s Hong Kong, where a womanizing young man is made aware that he is adopted, and that the woman who raised him has no intention of telling him who his real mother is. It's a simple story, and as I summarize it, I feel I could never do it any justice, but the real genius of Wong Kar-Wai isn't limited to the plot and story, but in the way he presents it all.

What really got me about this director is that he uses every tool possible to make his work appear more like an expressionist painting, rather than a movie. The entertainment factor is still there, but the cinematography, music, textures and colors are what make any of Wong Kar-Wai's movies stand out as high-class art.

In the Mood for Love is the second installment and is perhaps the most unique and beautiful of the three films in the trilogy. The character we are only shown in the last scene of the first film is suddenly the main character of the second one.

The story is of a married man and woman, who get acquainted and fall in love as they reveal that their spouses are cheating with the other's spouse. This film is unique in that it is extremely tame (there's not even a kiss in the film), yet it oozes with sensuality and desire. The film is presented much like an expressionist painting, with beautiful slow shots and gorgeous music to create the mood of love. In the Mood for Love is one of my favorite films of all time.

The third installment of this trilogy is 2046 (that is two-oh-four-six). We continue with the main character from installment number two, and this time, the story is very loose and scattered, but still good. 2046 is a room number and a year, where whoever goes there, doesn't come back. It is the story of a man searching for a past love, while filling his time with women.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this movie is the sexuality, which is not present in the other two installments. Also an interesting fact about 2046 is an interesting mix of languages and dialects. The cast is a mix of Japanese and Chinese actors. Some speaking Mandarin, some speaking Cantonese and some Japanese... not too strange right? Well, how about each of them speaking their own language with everyone? The Japanese is speaking with the Cantonese, and both understand each other... that's something I've never seen done before and find to be only one of the coolest features of the movie.

The bottom line is, Wong Kar-Wai is the coolest. Here is a video from YouTube that someone put together of In the Mood for Love with music from the film. I hope you enjoy the beauty of the images from this film as much as I do...

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