Actually by “statement” I meant what the films themselves were saying about there themes.
I got it. But a film should bring something new to the table, and I guess we can legitimately debate whether 2046 has done that or not.
So what is it that he is suggesting that Wong should have done? Not make any more films?
Yeah, Doyle does get tangled up a bit, and I don’t really want to do the untangling for him.
“It’s a sequel to “In the Mood For Love” but quite different in tone. Whereas “Mood” was a melancholy romance — with jamesian overtones — this is a film about a randy womanizer who only has himself to blame for missing a chance at real love.”
You could argue that ItMfL communicates that Chow is to blame for not being more assertive. (It’s one of the reasons the film works as a tragedy, I think). And maybe what 2046 brings, in that regard, isn’t much. Personally, I liked the idea of seeing Chow as a womanizer—which was so different from the character in ItMfL. In the process, we see through Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi’s character) falling in love with someone who is already in love with someone else, which creates an appealing tragedy. I also like the fact that Chow’s “womanizing” is in the context of having lost his true love. These are all reasons that make the film worth watching for me, but I can still understand Doyle’s criticism….think of the idea of speaking into the tree and being haunted or trapped by one’s memory of a lost love. That’s very prominent part of both films. Does 2046 do enough to expand or add to these idea? I think you could make a case either way (although, as I mentioned, I liked the film—indeed, it’s the film I nominated for the best of 2000s project I’m working on; seeing the film again hasn’t changed my mind, either.)
but it delves into the characters mimd more jazz. think of that novel he is writing and what that suggests about his situation and his attitude towards the opposite sex.
2046 is the film that made me change my mind about W.K.W. his other films often feel a little too thin for my tastes. therebis a lot going on in 2046. it is quite enigmatic and itsbhis most formally satisfying imo.
one of the standout visual experiences of the last decade imo.
but it delves into the characters mimd more jazz.
It does. Don’t get me wrong, I like the film and think it’s among the best of the decade. However, the argument from the other side isn’t completely without merit. Do we learn significantly more about the character or the themes from delving into the character’s mind? I’m not sure that’s the case. At the same time, as I said, I did enjoy that exploration, and it was worth the movie for me.
his other films often feel a little too thin for my tastes. therebis a lot going on in 2046. it is quite enigmatic and itsbhis most formally satisfying imo.
There is a lot going on—especially with the film’s use of multiple characters reflecting aspects of Chow and the themes in the film. IfMfL focuses on two characters, so it doesn’t have the same type of complexity, but it is complex and layered in its own way. The fact that it is focused on the two characters makes it better than 2046. I also prefer the formal qualities in that film, although I have spent more time analyzing it than 2046. Basically, I think ItMfL is better—and I’d say its Wong’s best film.
“However, the argument from the other side isn’t completely without merit.”
It isn’t, I guess, but it goes against the notion of auteurist criticism, where the whole point is to appreciate a director exerting her distinct style again and again over a body of work. ( . . . it’s also kind of a weird one to be coming from Doyle, whose own work is extremely distinctive from film to film, so one could level criticism of his work on similar grounds [but it sort of sounds like he might have been a little drunk during that interview, so . . . ).
But “exerting a distinct style again and again,” doesn’t mean covering the same subject over and over again, right? And when an auteur goes over the same idea or themes, I tend to think the films with merit are the ones that bring something new to the table. Now, what constitutes “new” is going to be the sticking point, but that’s how it goes. This is not unlike arguments about a work being too derivative or original. Different people will draw the line at different places. Does 2046 bring something new to the table that warrants the film? That makes it interesting? These are valid questions, especially since this is a sequel.
“But “exerting a distinct style again and again,” doesn’t mean covering the same subject over and over again, right? "
It might, as reducing a film down to a mere “subject” might be taking away more of the film than it leaves behind. As I said before, one love story can’t possibly hope to cover it all—this is why there are so many.
“Does 2046 bring something new to the table that warrants the film?”
I thought David’s comparison had kind of covered that, but . . .
In his review of the film in Film Comment, Nathan Lee: ""is a ghost story haunted by the absence of Su Li Zhen."
*It might, as reducing a film down to a mere “subject” might be taking away more of the film than it leaves behind. *
My point was that an auteur can use the same style, but cover different subjects and ideas.
As I said before, one love story can’t possibly hope to cover it all—this is why there are so many.
Right, but you would agree that each of these love stories have to bring something fresh or interesting—that makes it distinct, even if that distinction is subtle. (What I find interesting is that this doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue for you, as it is for me. I get the sense that you rarely have a lukewarm or negative reaction because the film feels stale. How about Hollywood genre films? For example, I frequently feel this way towards action films.)
I said, “Does 2046 bring something new to the table that warrants the film?”
I’m sorry, I was asking this rhetorically. My point was that I think this is a legitimate question.
Ah! Now I follow.
(Aside: Here’s another example of how difficult it can be to communicate on an internet forum. Take away: let’s be slow to jump to conclusions and assume that we understand the person clearly. Indeed, let’s assume that there is a misunderstanding due to difficulties of communication online. Note: This isn’t specifically directed at Matt.)
Uh, I’m afraid to ask….
OK. How ’bout this then?
OK, I think I got it.
2046 is by far my favorite Wong Kar-Wai film and it could not be any more different from In the Mood for Love.
I feel that way. I think you have to move on.
Moving on (and the inability to) is exactly what the film is about. Doyle is notoriously cantankerous so I’d take anything he says with a grain of salt.
…and it could not be any more different from In the Mood for Love.
Clearly there are differences, but how about discussing some of the differences that would make the film meaningfully different, if you know what I mean.
Doyle is notoriously cantankerous so I’d take anything he says with a grain of salt.
Honestly, I’m not giving credence to the claim just because Doyle made it. I honestly think there is some merit to the claim (although I’m not too sympathetic with that view).
If the end of ITMFL was about Chow finally letting go of the love he never consummated 2046 is about his attempts and failures at leaving that particular state of mind. It is a continuation of ITMFL, not a repetition, and it could almost work perfectly as a stand alone film. I don’t see enough similarities between them, honestly, to make a discussion about their differences worthwhile.
If the end of ITMFL was about Chow finally letting go of the love he never consummated…
Does he really “let go,” though? (I’m honestly not sure.) I’m pretty sure that’s not the impression the film left with me. Chow speaks into the walls of a Buddhist temple (not a tree) and the camera moves around the temple, through it’s halls, viewing it from the outside, as the film ends. This created a lingering, haunting vibe—suggesting that Chow wasn’t going to be over this. That seems to be one of the main themes in 2046_. We could say that the film expands this theme to suggest that people don’t get together because one of them is in love with another person—_that is something that is significantly different from ItMfL.
But then there’s the tragedy of not getting someone because you weren’t persistent enough. Jing-wen (Faye Wong) marries the Japanese guy because she doesn’t give up. Chow might have gotten Su Li-zhen if he persisted. One could argue that ItMfL gives us enough to deduce this—or that Jing-wen’s situation isn’t that necessary.
However, to be honest, at this point, the films are blending together, so I don’t know how much stock I’d put into my comments.
He tries to let go. Su has seemingly moved on leaving him with no choice but to attempt to do the same. Of course it doesn’t happen instantaneously and 2046 is about the (decades long?) process of trying to leave (and failing and partially succeeding and failing and so on) the state of mind she left him under.
I don’t think lack of persistence was Chow’s problem. He made the conscious decision not to pursue a physical affair with Su and rationalized it as a moral choice. Everything else (all the doubts from both parties, missed opportunities, etc) stemmed from that initial choice to have the moral high ground over their spouses, as I recall (been a while since I’ve seen ITMFL). That choice is what he keeps punishing himself for.
lets not be too silly here. it is obvious that to a large extent 2046 is a summation of W.K.W style and thematic.preoccupations. it all comes down to whether one accepts the film as an elegant summation, an elegant summation-extension, or simply a less effective rehash of what came before.
i would be more inclined to agree with Jazz.if i had more emotion invested in W.K.W earlier work.
i cant wait to see In The Mood For Love on blu-ray though
I really adore the movie!!!
The way that I always took it is that 2046 shows us the broken man after the event of IitMfL. He is a womanizer, but only because he’s given up on everything. The theme of time is necessary as well. That’s why there’s a tie in to the loneliness of the sc-fi portion that he’s writing. That’s why we get endless renditions of the Christmas song (which I think comes off better than the irritating “California Dreaming” renditions in Chungking Express).
It’s his most striking film visually, whether or not it is empty at the core is not really something that I convince its detractors of. But, I’ve always looked at his films as a sensual visual poem. They are filled with romance that seems to come in from every frame. The romance is different in each film. Here, its seems to hang in a haze almost like the aftermath of a series of one night stands.
I’ve always tried to trace how his characters intersect his other films. Could the Li Gong character end up as Miss Hua from his segment in Eros? Not at face value perhaps, but it is a logical progression.
What did you guys think of “The Hand” portion from Eros by the way?
Lush film. Enjoyed it far too much to remember what it was about.
Joks said, * it all comes down to whether one accepts the film as an elegant summation, an elegant summation-extension, or simply a less effective rehash of what came before.*
That’s basically what I’ve been saying. And I’ve been trying to hear arguments on either side.
He tries to let go. Su has seemingly moved on leaving him with no choice but to attempt to do the same.
I don’t think that’s Su necessarily moved on, either. Remember when she goes the Mrs. Suan’s apartment, the place Su lived in? She looks out the window and chokes up. But more than that, the ending left me with a haunting feeling. Matt referred to a quote that described 2046 as a ghost story. Well, IfMfL leaves us with that feeling. Does showing us how Chow is haunted and dogged by this past relationship warrant another film? Personally, I liked 2046, so I’m inclined to say yes, but I can also see the other side.
I don’t think lack of persistence was Chow’s problem. He made the conscious decision not to pursue a physical affair with Su and rationalized it as a moral choice.
But what you’re saying is all related. He didn’t pursue the relationship because of moral reasons—whether this was a rationalization or genuine, it doesn’t matter, does it? The fact is, he didn’t pursue the relationship as much as he could.
In 2046, the film underscores this point. Chow talks about how if you don’t take non for an answer you sometimes get what you want. This is after he sees Lulu/Mimi arguing with another woman, and he says that’s what he got out of her. Then we also know that Jin-win eventually marries her lover—mostly likely because she doesn’t allow the set-backs to stop her.
It’s his most striking film visually, whether or not it is empty at the core is not really something that I convince its detractors of.
FWIW, I don’t think the criticism is that it’s empty—just that the terrain was covered sufficiently in ItMfL. Again, while I can understand this position, I don’t feel the same way.
Haven’t seen it.
A friend described this as WKW doing his first serious work on a Tarkovsky calibre. I don’t necessarily agree, as I’m quite fond of several previous efforts and Ashes of Time is a masterpiece to me, but that’s something to talk about. To me, this is the second part of Vertigo, where it really gets interesting.
It’s Mood that seemed empty and unfinished to me.. maybe a revisit is in order.
I don’t think that’s Su necessarily moved on, either. Remember when she goes the Mrs. Suan’s apartment, the place Su lived in? She looks out the window and chokes up. But more than that, the ending left me with a haunting feeling.
Hence why I said seemingly. The point is he thinks she has and so is forced to, once again, make a decision. This time he chooses to (attempt to) move on. Whether he will be able to or not is another story but he has at least decided to take the first step, something that he would previously have considered the deepest of betrayals.
Well, IfMfL leaves us with that feeling. Does showing us how Chow is haunted and dogged by this past relationship warrant another film?
2046 would work almost as well as a stand-alone film. We don’t really need to know precisely what happened to Chow or why. The fact that he is haunted by a previous relationship and punishes himself over it is enough. Except for a few references (the film’s title included) there is no narrative reason to watch ITMFL beforehand. I think it is a far deeper and more involving film that can be seen as a natural continuation, if one so chooses, but most definitely not a rehash.
That’s not a lack of persistence. That is a conscious decision. Persistence implies dogged effort in the face of adversity. The only adversity here was self imposed and everything else stemmed from there.
I liked it but I didn’t love it. I’m not sure I’d call it empty but unfinished perhaps. The last 30 minutes seemed incredibly rushed. That may have been the point but it also broke the hypnotic spell for me.
2046 would work almost as well as a stand-alone film.
I agree with that, but I don’t think this necessarily signifies that it isn’t a rehash. It could still have basically expressed the same themes and ideas as ItMfL.
I think you’re mincing words. We could say he consciously choose not to pursue the relationship but that can also be described as giving up or not persisting.
He also had real adversity—feeling guilty about pursuing a married woman, while being married himself, is a significant obstacle in my opinion. II wouldn’t call the dictates of one’s conscience as something “self-imposed.” Also, there are hassles from people who would frown upon such a thing.
For what it’s worth, I’d say you should watch it again. There are two characters and a bare-bones story, if you can even call it that, but it’s a lot richer and layered than one might think.
He didn’t give up. He chose not to pursue it in the first place. You can’t give up what you never start. If she had rebuffed his advances repeatedly then you could argue persistence but he never advanced in the first place. He drew a line in the sand and pretty much said “you stay on that side, I’ll stay on this side”.
He also had real adversity—feeling guilty about pursuing a married woman, while being married himself, is a significant obstacle in my opinion. II wouldn’t call the dictates of one’s conscience as something “self-imposed.”
Did he really feel guilty about it? He certainly felt no guilt about spending all those hours in close proximity with her, working with her, role-playing the other’s respective spouse as they re-enacted possible scenarios that led to the infidelity, etc. They even got a room together. About the only thing they didn’t do is physically consummate the relationship. He also tried to pursue it eventually but by then the damage of his original choice was done.
While there is certainly something to be said about social pressure I don’t think he really had any moral qualms about cheating on his unfaithful wife. It was a bit of a personal power play on his part, a form of martyrdom. See? I could cheat too but I won’t because, unlike you, I keep my vows even if it brings me suffering and despair. He never struck me as a particularly healthy man.
He doesn’t pursue the relationship initially, but at toward the end of the film, he confesses his feelings for her and doesn’t he ask her to go with him to Singapore? He’s waiting in the room 2046, but she never shows up. (There’s also an interesting alternate shot of her waiting for him.) He goes on and basically gives up. He doesn’t keep pursuing her. When he goes back to Hong Kong to give a present to the guy he lived with, he pauses by Mrs. Suan’s door, seemingly thinking to knock (and Su might have purchased the apartment from Mrs. Suan at that time), but he moves on. Another chance he could have taken up.
Did he really feel guilty about it?
I think once he falls for her (he mentions to her how feelings can creep up on someone; and mentions this line again in 2046), then he does feel guilty. But it’s a complex situation. Initially, he’s not in love with her, so he doesn’t really have any significant feelings of guilt, but as time goes on, he begins to fall in love with her. And that’s when the guilt starts creeping in, I think. Plus, he can rationalize their spending so much time together because they’re technically not doing anything illicit.
They both mention not wanting to be like their spouses, don’t they? Now, he could be saying that partly as a kind of “power play” as you say. But I also think that there is a sense of morality and decency. I also think he has a more timid personality. These are all relevant factors, imo. (I do think he’s a genuinely nice guy and that morals matter to him. You can see that by how he interacts with other people, including Su when he first meets her.)
Su also responds with reluctance or at least not enthusiastically when he confesses his love for her. But Chow essentially takes no for answer; he could have tried harder from that point on, but he doesn’t. She doesn’t show up at the hotel and he goes to Singapore and does nothing. Remember that Jin-wen’s lover goes back to Japan. They don’t see each other for six years(!), I think; but then he correspond and she gets into trouble. But eventually she goes over to Japan and gets married to him—despite the obstacles. That stands in stark contrast that to what Chow does after going to Singapore with Ping. He could have gone back and pursued her at that point (and indeed, when he goes back he had a chance, but doesn’t). But he doesn’t.