This list is without me having seen My Blueberry Nights, which I should be watching very soon.
The thing is, Wong has made some stunning films, and then some confounding, while still very interesting, films. I don’t think I’ve ever been annoyed watching one of his movies, and, to be honest, this list is all pretty high, and then it drops a bit with the last two, specifically with Fallen Angels. Still, I don’t find his films dull, and if he continues to impress me the way he has… well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’ll do something! :D
1. My admiration for Chungking Express is incredibly high. It was the first Wong movie I had seen, and I was pretty blown away. Not that it had the impact on me of, say, Breaking the Waves, or something like that, but I remembered it well. It did seem to meander a bit the first time, but it’s possible that I wasn’t entirely aware of what Wong was doing at the time. About a year later, I finally re-watched it, and I saw what a masterpiece it truly was. The complete joy on screen, the fleeting motion of life, everything about it just came across in such a beautiful fashion. Since then, I have virtually watched it once a month, and I can’t wait to pick it up on Bluray one of these days.
2. Happy Together is one that really can hurt to watch, in that it’s just such a painfully realistic look at relationships of any kind, even if it uses gay Chinese men to get the point across. The film really made a massive impact on first viewing, and my subsequent watches have only more secured its place on this list. The way the story unfolds is so almost non-filmic, while still managing to keep us engaged. This is not a stage play we’re watching, and nor is it a book, even if it unfolds like one. The way Wong builds everything together into such a poignant tapestry of life and love is something I’ll never be able to get over.
3. In the Mood for Love caught me at first with it’s music and visuals, and then with its story, another nearly painful tale of love that just doesn’t quite work because of social conventions and true honor among people. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung will almost always be these characters in my mind, as they fully embody these lonely souls whose spouses cheat with each other. While some have commented that the visual look of the film detracts from its point, I can only disagree, stating that Wong’s style here seems to complement the dream-like world they wish they could inhabit together, but which they cannot. Truly a wonderful movie.
4. Seeing 2046 after hearing incredibly mixed praise for it was quite an interesting thing. In my original impression of the film, I understood that there was more of the “future” storyline, but I am pleased to say that this was not the focus of the film, and, where it was the focus, I was still incredibly intrigued. Really, I loved it. I loved the tone, the atmosphere, and that sense of longing and desire that Wong seems to capture so well. The performances were all remarkable, and, while maybe it did have it’s flaws here and there, I still thought this was a rather fantastic film to see, and one that you are probably not likely to see told my any other filmmaker in this way. I think it’s a astounding, original film, one that I hope Sony decides to release on Bluray in the near future.
5. I saw Days of Being Wild not long ago, and it did not hit me in the way some of his other films have. That being said, the film has stuck with me. It’s overall tone, and the way Leslie Cheung really makes this oddball character into a very true human, flawed and all, is incredibly remarkable. It is as if Wong, with this film, had jumped the gun and progressed directly to the way he’d end up making In the Mood for Love, before going elsewhere for Ashes of Time. It is one I cannot wait to revisit, to see if my rating might, perhaps, go up to five stars. While it is also another dreary film to watch, one that does not show, like Chungking, the exuberance of life, I cannot say I’ve really seen almost anything like it.
6. Wong’s segment of Eros, The Hand, is my favorite of the film’s three segments, and I think it is a beautiful display of another type of love that we haven’t really seen from Wong. Not usually in many movies (unless that film is about a Cougar) do we have a young man who goes after an older woman, but here we do, and the way Wong puts everything together, and the growth of these two incredibly different individuals together is incredibly fun to watch, while being tragic at the same time. The way Chang Chen hardly ever speaks to the woman, but loves her just the same without ever knowing if the love is reciprocated is great. It’s one I cannot wait to watch again.
7. As Tears Go By was one that I was iffy on while watching it, most notably because of the soundtrack. As the film went on, though, I realized that, while it DID feel more like standard Hong Kong fare (and like nothing Wong would ever do again), there was something there that I hadn’t seen before in movies like that, and that is the incredibly strong senses of brotherhood, loyalty, and desire. I mean, even if those are heavily all over Hong Kong flicks, the thing is, they were handled carefully and wisely in this film, and I was very pleased to see that. take away that soundtrack, and, while it might not feel like a Wong film, you’ll still have a damn good movie!
8. Ashes of Time confounds me a bit. I don’t really know what it’s about. I mean, I know WHAT it’s about, but I don’t understand the point of it all. That being said, I think it’s a nice ride for at least one time, and that it was quite beautiful to look at. Also, it had an all-star cast, even if I wasn’t sure what everyone was doing all the time. It’s one I might need to revisit in the future.
9. Oh, Fallen Angels… This was the Wong film I was most excited to see after Chungking Express, and it was the one I was most disappointed with. Many scenes in the film go on for way too long; for instance, there is a lulling scene in which Michelle Reis stands at a jukebox listening to a song, and the camera moves around her. Stuff similar to that happened in Chungking Express, but here Wong never changes the scene until the song ends, and by the time we’ve gotten the point about a dozen times, and we are ready to move on. Yes, the film was supposed to be the third part of Chungking, but I’m glad it was not, because it just does not seem to work as a whole by itself. That being said, I do plan on seeing it again sometime in the near future.