Still from Happy Together
It doesn’t seem to make much sense to rank Wong Kar Wai (or anything else :-p)… Here is my attempt though.
If I put the ending aside, In the Mood for the Love is probably his most well-balanced and perfect film.
2046 and Ashes of Time are his most ambitious films I think.
Although 2046 esthetic is close to In the Mood for Love, they share very little in common in my opinion. In the Mood of Love is all about fluidity and balance when 2046 seems to be about improvising and deconstructing. For 2046, I got the impression I was watching a Godard-inspired film with a jazzy and collage touch. I found the difference between both films was probably the most striking at the editing level, somehow hashed or carefree in 2046 when you remember In the Mood for Love.
The first version of Ashes of time might be better than the Redux one. In the first version, the story narration is literally a maze that quickly loses you, but I really liked this sensation of being captivated without having a clue about what the story was really about and were it was going to. It was a unique experience that is less palpable in the Redux one. As a side note, the new shots added in the Redux version doesn’t mesh very well with the original ones, it’s not a big deal, but it annoyed me a bit. Finally I have no strong opinion on the color grading debate (colors are very satured in the Redux version). Ditto for the redux vs original soundtrack debate.
Fallen Angels is fun :)
Chungking Express opening and first part really impressed me, but I still have mixed feelings about the second part. Frankly I find it a bit boring.
The first ten minutes in Happy Together are stunning. Editing, framing, lighting, shot composition and dialogs are so freely combined and yet blend so well together. I’m a bit less convinced by the rest of the film, but it is still worth to see… It might sound a bit exaggerated, but Happy Together gave me the feeling I had never seen a film shot with a hand-held camera and Wong Kar Wai and Christopher Doyle invented it just for this film.
As Tears Go By and Days of Being Wild are pretty good but not really groundbreaking and sometimes a bit too slow as far as I remember.
My Blueberry Nights is the one I like the less. I find the story with Jude Law weak and the cinematography was somewhat uninspired in this part. Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman saves the deal in the end, but I doubt I’m objective here. If you have no weak spots for the actors or are not a Wong Kar Wai fan, I wouldn’t recommend it.
I’d suggest you take a look at another ranking proposal (by Zachary Phillip Brailsford) to get a different perspective.Read less