I’m a pretty huge fan of his work with the exceptions being Ashes of Time and My Blueberry Nights. His section from Eros is the only reason worth watching that film and I think it’s one of his better works. I’m just curious to see what you guys think about him overall and why you like/dislike his work.
I’ve only recently started getting into his stuff. It’s beautiful and poetic. I consider him a master and a visionary.
My favorite of his is In the Mood For Love.
Love Chungking Express. Found Ashes of Time unfathomable. Didn’t care for My Blueberry Nights-found it dull. Have never seen In the Mood For Love.
A big fan. Chungking Express is one of my all time favorites
Loved “In the Mood For Love” and “Chungking Express,” liked “2046” (although I need to see it again…when I watched the DVD for the first time I was distracted with work). And while “My Blueberry Nights” was kind of a failure I still enjoyed watching it…Wong Kar-Wai at his worst is still better than most. Still haven’t seen “Ashes of Time.”
I think Wong Kar-Wai is of a rare filmmaker breed. The comparisons to Godard undermine what he really brings to cinema. Sure, they both experiment quite a bit and might have some similar techniques, but I think they are actually quite different.
WKW is a sensual filmmaker. His lighting, motion effects, color palette, and camera angles are all innovative and additive to his atmospheres. Almodovar could learn a thing or two from him. Along with his style, his narrative technique and content are broadening cinema’s horizons.
-Days of Being Wild displays film music and rich, lush cinematography at their finest.
-Happy Together was Brokeback Mountain ten years prior and I’d be seriously suprised if Ang Lee hasn’t seen it.
-2046’s use of inter-titles and special effects (though maybe cheesy) could be a discussion topic of its own.
-Fallen Angels is a whirlwind of experiments.
-In the Mood for Love may be one of the most melancholy films I’ve ever seen (which is a compliment). The music here rivals Scorsese in its enhancing effect; the slow motion and rhythm are matched by maybe only Gus Van Sant among contemporary filmmakers.
-I think My Blueberry Nights suffered from the acting. (Norah Jones?) The technique and risks were there, but without Maggie Cheung or Tony Leung to anchor the film, it just kind of floated away.
Definitely worth watching and exploring the body of work.
My introduction to his work, and still my favorite of his films, was Fallen Angels. The cinematography and editing blew me away. I told my friend with whom I was watching it that it “is pure cinematic sex.” When I say that, I mean that it is sexy like when someone says a car is sexy, not in reference to sexual content. I just felt that it was so forceful, and yet subtle, with excellent performances all around. Basically, it was like some god had taken a strip of celluloid and breathed “cinema” into it.
I know these reasons are all very abstract and floaty, but for some reason I have a very hard time pinning down this particular film with concrete examples and arguments. Maybe that’s why I love it so much?
It was also interesting in that I recognized a lot of elements, especially of shot composition, that had obviously influenced Kill Bill.
I emailed Kino about six months ago, and they told me they’d be releasing Fallen Angels on BR by the end of the year, but it hasn’t happened. I hope it’s still in the works.
I enjoyed Chungking Express quite a bit as well, and I’m very excited about the Criterion Blu-Ray release. In the Mood for Love and 2046 were both interesting, but not my favorites. I think I need to watch In the Mood for Love again, as I don’t think I was In the Mood for Love when I watched it. I’ve seen Days of Being Wild as well, but it kind of gets mixed up in my head with Chungking Express, so I can’t really remember it very clearly.
Agreed. I’m still waiting to see some writing on the relationship between Chungking Express and Fallen Angels. I love how those two films mirror each other and connect.
In the Mood for Love is one of my favorites, but i hated my blueberry nights.
May of you have already said something along the same lines, but I have to say that I thought “My Blueberry Nights” was terrible. Acting had a lot to do with it, but I also though the camerawork was nowhere near the level of “In the Mood for Love”. I love that film, as well as “Chungking Express”.
sacredchao, I love your line of a God breathing cinema into celluloid, such a vivid image.
I was wondering what some of the compositions you recognized, especially in Kill Bill which I consider very formal and mannered compared to Fallen Angels free form jazz-camera.
I thought CHUNGKING EXPRESS was a revelation, and enjoyed ITMFL and 2046. All three will need repeat viewings before I can tell if they will stand the test of time or not, though I feel at least ITMFL will.
Interestingly, I was at a bar with a couple of 30 somethings last night, and they seemed to know plenty about quality cinema and talked about WK-W as an auteur, but neither of them had heard of Resnais or Antonioni or Godard or knew much at all of any cinema from before the seventies. Maybe 1970 is as far into the past as they could imagine enjoying film, but I was struck by their lack of knowledge of some of the giants of cinema.
An impressionistic Master.
Chunking Express is probably his best as most will say. Fallen Angels I thought was really good. A lot of his earlier stuff around Chunking has a certain style that really illustrates what kind of filmmaker he is.
no one seems able to express longing and desire like Wong Kar-wai. But if someone’s got any examples i’d love to sample them.
I’ve only seen a few of his films—and I loved them—but sometimes I think they’re more Christopher Doyle’s than they are his, because of how visual they are. That is not to say that Chungking Express was not one of the most poignant movies I’ve ever seen, though.
Chungking Express was one of the major film experiences for me – saw it without hardly a blink at 4am when I was 13 and going through the shift from viewing movies as great entertainment to recognizing film as an art form. The following week I saw Vivre sa vie and fell in love with Anna Karina.. oh, those were days :P
I’ve only seen a few of his films—and I loved them—but sometimes I think they’re more Christopher Doyle’s than they are his, because of how visual they are.
Doyle certainly deserves credit for his contribution to the films, but beyond the purely visual aspect, Wong has a wonderful sense of how to use rhythm, time and ellipses to create drama and also intensify the impact of the visuals.
I think 2046 is one of the most gorgeous films I’ve ever seen, and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE broke my heart (plus, I want all of Maggie Cheung’s dresses). MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS certainly isn’t on par with those two- or even CHUNGKING EXPRESS, HAPPY TOGETHER or ASHES OF TIME; but even so, mediocre Wong Kar-Wai is still not bad. By the way, I finally saw ASHES OF TIME REDUX. The DVD quality of the print I saw a few years ago was barely even watchable, so it was nice to actually be able to enjoy ASHES. Anyway, I agree… nobody does melancholy, longing and desire better than WK-W. His films can literally make me swoon.
I will say that in spite of My Blueberry Nights being a complete dud, it contains three of the most beautiful women in one film: Natalie Portman, Norah Jones, and Rachel Weisz.
I have loved everyone of Wong Kar-Wai’s films with the exception of My BlueBerry Night- with Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love being my personal favorites. He captures melancholy, as mentioned above, and seems to get excellent work from his actors and actresses.
His movies can spill over a bit- which is why I like CHUNGKUNG EXPRESS and MOOD FOR LOVE so much- the keep a certan focus. 2046 was a little mixed- but I found myself missing the visuals.
His early films captured pre-1997 Hong Kong perfectly
I’m not sure why everyone feels so negatively about My Blueberry Nights. It’s not perfect or super-daring, but it’s pretty sweet and harmless. There’s also some beautiful shots in the film. For me, the middle section doesn’t work as well, mainly because of the casting of Weisz (beautiful, yes; Southern, no) and her love interest (the actor’s name escapes me). They lacked chemistry and didn’t make their characters believable. Still, I liked Norah in this, her relationship with Law and Portman—an inspired choice that worked surprisingly well, imo. It’s a solid movie, even if it may be less unconventional.
For the record, Christopher Doyle’s accomplishments are WKW’s accomplishments. A director is responsible for channeling and supervising all of the talent working under him. WKW was trained as a graphic designer, and I’m sure he had full agency over the visual style of the film… just like in graphic design, you need a creative director to give vision to the talents of the production designers, so it’s WKW’s vision that gave shape to Doyle’s brilliant, daring cinematography.
I just saw Fallen Angels, and I’m struck by its contrast with In the Mood For Love. They evoke such opposites… ITMFL is beautifully vintage, and watching it felt like having a nostalgic flashback… everything was lush and pregnant with significance, which is a quality that memory gives to experience. Fallen Angels, on the other hand, was starkly immediate because it was so fast-paced, flashy, and fragmented. It felt like a vision of a city in some sleep-deprived haze, full of strange, disconnected turns of fortune and behavior… almost nihilistic, in a way, although very sentimental and romantic about it.
I think that’s WKW’s strength… he knows how to unite a visual style with his narrative themes in such a way that he creates very unified films.
I’ll venture out and say that I really loved Blueberry Nights. Not his best work (In the Mood for Love and Chungking have it beat by a mile), but the lush visuals and terrific music are classic Wong Kar Wai. Contrary to what Jazzaloha said though, the middle act is my favorite. I thought Strathairn and Weisz were remarkable, especially Weisz’s 3 or 4 minute monologue while sitting on the curb.
That said, as big a fan as I am, I really need to see more of his work. I’ve been very lazy lately.
Some of the HK people I know find his voice-overs really clunky and when Blueberry nights released they said now we all know what its like. I still love WKW though and although Blueberry Nights wasn’t very good it wasn’t the turd that I was expecting from the venom.
“Happy Together” is my favorite.
“I think that’s WKW’s strength… he knows how to unite a visual style with his narrative themes in such a way that he creates very unified films.”
So true. WKW is a very sensual filmmaker but in every film he approaches this sensuality from a different angle. In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express are masterpieces that everyone should see. I still have to see Happy Together and Days of Being Wild.
Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, and Fallen Angels I found all immensely good. Happy Together I’d also probably enjoy a lot. In The Mood For Love, on the other hand…did absolutely nothing for me. The way it was shot and edited really undercut the narrative for me rather than strengthened it. It feels like the kind of movie a person would watch just to remark on the how good all the shots and the editing are, because that’s all I was really thinking about when watching it. It seemed kind of like the idea of a really good movie, but instead it was just excessive and unnecessarily obscured. I sort of have a feeling WKW just went further in this direction with 2046 (and apparently he started flat-out sucking with My Blueberry Nights), so I don’t know if I’ll have much interest in seeing that.
I’ve seen everything by WKW, and most more than once, and Days of Being Wild is in my opinion by far his best film. Chungking Express isn’t a masterpiece per se, but it is an incredibly fun guileless film, a genuine breath of fresh air. I, too, feel that he has really jumped the proverbial shark with 2046. It has certain moments, but I’m inclined to believe that it’s really a piece of rather self-indulgent design porn. My Blueberry Nights is a piece of shit. Jude Law may have become a global icon for being a good-looking dude, but this guy has the charisma of a literal douchebag. One can see how instrumental actors like Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, and Leslie Cheung were integral to the success of WKW’s earlier films.
i have seen all his work from as tears go by up to the commercial he shot for motorola (?). he has a very strong body of works. his visual style has been very influential to a lot of filmmakers. but what i like about him is his obsession with unrequited love, a recurring theme of all of his films which was fully manifested in in the mood for the love.