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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, June 07, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 43

[43rd of 100]. When I think of the films of Wong Kar-Wai, I think of fortuity -- the mess of creating art leavened by a singular vision, or maybe just luck, resulting to a finish that somehow sparkles, the jagged edges somehow turned to poetry. You could feel the jaggedness in Chunking Express or Days of Being Wild or Happy Together -- but they have a cumulative power that works, approaching gracefulness even, perhaps magic cobbled in post-production. [And sometimes it doesn't work, like in the labored spread in later films such as 2046, My Blueberry Nights, and The Grandmaster.] Cineasts know why this is so: the director famously goes into production without a complete script, often with just a glimmer of an idea, following his gut instincts in composing a scene and framing the narrative, and trusts that his actors and collaborators would have enough faith in him to follow his lead into uncharted territory. And then he labors in the editing room, in the piecing together of all the elements in post-production, often taking forever to shape a film into something coherent. [The completed print of 2046 famously arrived very, very late at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, forcing the organizers to issue a rare apology.] You could say Wong Kar-Wai embodies filmmaking as something to be lived dangerously, and much of that spirit seeps into his films as fluid energy, and as poetry. This 2000 contemporary classic is the definitive Wong Kar-Wai, and its influence since then has been considerable. It has made recent important cinephile lists as one of the greatest films ever made, cementing its now iconic stature. I cannot disagree with its current critical assessment, since there is so much about the film that truly remains memorable. Consider its use of Shigeru Umebayashi's "Yumeji's Theme" in its soundtrack, or Maggie Cheung's array of beautiful and fashionable qipao, or the embracing nostalgia for 1960s Hong Kong captured by the camera of Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping Bin. They all serve so well the drama at its core. It is as if Wong Kar-Wai -- in following the story of a man and a woman, neighbours in a crowded Hong Kong tenement brought together by the apparent infidelity of their respective spouses to each other -- has managed to distill the raw and brilliant emotionality of slowly falling in love even amidst despair. Never has film been this delicious and bracing. I saw this in 2000, when I was just starting out on adult living immediately post-college, in that sliver of time I'd recognize now as my last days of innocence just right before the shattering shocks of September 11 and its aftermath. What it offered me was a view of adulthood as a quagmire of compromises and heartbreaks, but still pungent with poetry if you cared to look for it. Just hearing a measure of Umebayashi's score today takes me back to those heady days, nostalgic for it as the film itself is nostalgic for a lost time. What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich