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Impromptu Wong Kar-Wai festival


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For no particular reason, I've decided to watch all of Wong Kar-Wai's movies (features only, skipping shorts), in chronological order (not sure which version of Ashes of Time is best to watch), over the next . . . hmmm, two weeks.

Lifted from Wikipedia:

1988 As Tears Go By 《旺角卡門》http://www.verycd.com/topics/137969/

1991 Days of Being Wild 《阿飛正傳》http://www.verycd.com/topics/186487/

1994 Chungking Express 《重慶森林》http://www.verycd.com/topics/178707/

1994 Ashes of Time 《東邪西毒》http://www.verycd.com/topics/52529/

1995 Fallen Angels 《墮落天使》http://www.verycd.com/topics/81136/

1997 Happy Together 《春光乍洩》http://www.verycd.com/topics/168847/

2000 In the Mood for Love 《花樣年華》http://www.verycd.com/topics/6503/

2004 2046 《2046》 http://www.verycd.com/topics/24356/

2007 My Blueberry Nights 《我的藍莓夜》http://www.verycd.com/topics/236696/

2008 Ashes of Time Redux 《东邪西毒: 终极版》

So that's nine films, assuming only one version of Ashes of Time. One every couple of days for two and a bit weeks - maybe one every three days would be wiser. Anyway, doesn't need to be a strict schedule.

If anyone cares to join me on this cinematic adventure, I've added links to verycd for the first four for Emule downloading. Will add more as I work my way through. They're all listed as having Chinese and English subtitles, although they're external so you might need a plugin to use them I think.

A number of these I've seen before, some I haven't, some I'm not sure if I've seen them or not. But they'll stand up to rewatching and I think it'll be interesting to run through them in order, especially as characters recur.

Edited by roddy
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Probably the best bit about the whole idea is having an excuse to look at Faye Wong. As far as me and these films go:

As Tears Go By - don't recall ever seeing it

Days of Being Wild - I think I might have watched this in Chinese when I didn't have the Chinese to understand it.

Chungking Express - seen it of course, a couple of times. The first segment I don't think I ever really appreciated, the second is of course brilliant.

Ashes of Time - never seen it.

Fallen Angels - as Days of Being Wild.

Happy Together - never seen it

In the Mood For Love - loved it

2046 - also loved it, but did feel the sci-fi bits could have been cut out and kept for a music video

My Blueberry Nights - barely even heard of it.

Ashes of Time Redux - given that I'm already downloading the original I guess I won't watch this version unless I'm told it's essential.

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Hmm, I'll attend this festival! I have a few of these on DVD.

As Tears Go By - quite like this one (tho maybe confusing it with Days of Being Wild)

Days of Being Wild - definitely liked this one (unless I mean As Tears Go By)

Chungking Express - excellent

Ashes of Time - very very excellent, best of all (though had to watch it more than once)

Fallen Angels - quite liked it. Actually was the first I ever saw, on Channel 4 (UK TV), in the late 1990s, before I ever went to China. I remember most of all a woman with lots of make up screeching in Cantonese with the subtitles "fuck, fuck, fuck" popping up all the time.

Happy Together - quite liked it

In the Mood For Love - excellent

2046 - liked it but then felt a bit silly for liking it

My Blueberry Nights - don't know what this is

Ashes of Time Redux - never heard of this!

Wonder if I'll think differently when I see them again.

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Probably the best bit about the whole idea is having an excuse to look at Faye Wong.
We could have a Faye Wong film festival instead; she's fantastic in Chinese Odyssey 2002. :)

I'm interested in participating in the WKW fest, though I may only rewatch the ones I've only seen once. I find a lot of his work takes two or more viewings to really appreciate.

As Tears Go By - (seen only once) seemed like a typical HK "young triad" film.

Days of Being Wild - I love the cinematography, but all the people being mean to each other gets old. I'll have to see if Blu-ray makes me like the cinematography even more.

Happy Together - Need to see this a second time. Was not impressed the first time.

2046 - I think with this film WKW started repeating himself, though it was still a pretty good film.

My Blueberry Nights - Need to see this a second time. Was not impressed the first time.

Ashes of Time Redux - Disappointing shortening/remix of the original. It was nice, however, to see the footage on the big screen.

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@roddy - be sure to check out his short segment in the film "The Hire" as well:


Script by Andrew Kevin Walker. Fantastic stuff.

@character - didn't like My Blueberry Nights either. Ironic that WKW traveled to the US to make a Western at more or less the same time Ang Lee came to China to make Lust, Caution. They should have just traded projects.

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I watched a lot of his movies while I was at university, since my uni happened to keep most of them on DVD in the library for the film studies kids. I think I liked "Happy Together" the most because it's just really, really different - definitely the movie leaving the most long-lasting impression on me. I also liked "Days of Being Wild" very much.

The only one I didn't really care that much for was "As Tears Go By".

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Ironic that WKW traveled to the US to make a Western at more or less the same time Ang Lee came to China to make Lust, Caution. They should have just traded projects.
We'd still be waiting for Lust, Caution to be finished. Tang Wei would have gotten pneumonia from doing certain scenes over and over.
Chinese Odyssey 2002 kinda counts as a Wong Kar Wai film, no?
He was just producer on that. How about all the films on which he was a writer, such as Flaming Brothers or Haunted Cop Shop?
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Personally I'm not expanding this anywhere beyond the above list - more than enough films already, thanks. Assuming I actually enjoy doing this though I may well be up for trying it with other directors, or themes - ie the top ten Chinese war movies, or the five best pre-1949 movies, animated features, etc. A 'good' Zhang Yimou set might be worth doing.

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Would you all be interested in a discussion with this film festival? I am in the midst of trying to catch up with all this grading so I don't know if I can join you for all the movies, but I own a few and would love to get into the films and the characters again. I had the fortune to have a friend who was a big Chinese language film fan, and a teacher at ICLP in Taibei who also happened to like film. I got talked into doing a course with them on film, and we watched all WKW's movies up to 1999. I have been a fan ever since. Maybe I can find My Blueberry Nights from Netflix...

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As Tears Go By - Watching it for this festival was my second time seeing it, having first seen it several years ago. I guess I can no longer complain about WKW repeating himself, since he borrowed heavily from this film for his second, Days of Being Wild. Maggie Cheung plays a similar innocent restaurant worker who falls in love with a bad boy. Jackie Cheung plays a similar loser "follower" of the bad boy. I'm sure there are lots more similarities, already described by some WKW scholar.

I liked it better than I thought I would this time around, but it still seems not much above the standard "young triad" films of the day. It was very interesting watching a young Maggie Cheung before she became a fine actress and before she shed her baby fat; it's like watching a different person here than in In The Mood For Love.

Edited by character
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Yay, we've started already :)

I'll watch as Tears Go By today or maybe tomorrow.

As for discussion, I'll certainly be posting about the films as I watch them. However I'm no cinema buff and my comments tend to be mainly about degree of liking.

Incidentally, if anyone can recommend a mainland-available book on, or with a decent section on, Wong Kar-Wai, let me know. There are one or two on Amazon.cn, but not with decent reviews.

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Incidentally, if anyone can recommend a mainland-available book on, or with a decent section on, Wong Kar-Wai, let me know.
I read the Stephen Teo book on WKW, but it didn't make much impression.

Perhaps just read some film reviews on the net?




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Just watched As Tears Go By. Had trouble with subtitles and ended up watching the Mandarin dubbed version, which isn't ideal and I might go back and re-watch if I can get decent English or Chinese subtitles. Loved the movie though, didn't realize Andy Lau was that good, Maggie Cheung was of course lovely. Found the brutal fight scenes a nice change from the choreographed stuff I'm more used to.

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Days of Being Wild (music samples, other reviews) -- DoBW looks like 1950-60's photos brought to life. With its period tropical setting, perfect musical choices (and minimal plot and crappy subtitles), this film is more of an emotional/sensory experience than an intellectual one. Put it on and let the waves of heat from an Asian summer long ago wash over you.

This does seem to be when Maggie Cheung really "got" acting. She's also much closer to her iconic look in this film than in As Tears Go By. Carina Lau brings her floozy character to glorious life. Leslie Cheung handles his role to perfection, as he always did.

The next time I watch it I'll have to try the Kino DVD, as the Media Asia Blu-ray continues the tradition of this film having really bad subtitles.

ETA: Rebecca Pan speaks Shanghainese for most of the movie; I had no idea it sounded so interesting/different.

Edited by character
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In the Mood for Love (some music, etc.) -- It's weird to see this on (Criterion) DVD, as I swear the version I saw in the theater was a slightly different cut, with, among other things, a brief shot of the mirror in hotel room 2046 showing Maggie and Tony making love.

Watching it this time I didn't recognize the scenes where Maggie invades Tony's apartment in Singapore a la Faye Wong in Chungking Express.

It's just great to rewatch this and see Tony and Maggie at the top of their game, in such restrained performances.

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2046 -- Is it possible to be a WKW fan and not love all his films? 2046 has some fine performances, cinematography, and music, but the movie itself feels like WKW took bits and loose ends from previous films and stuck them together in an SF framework. It's just hard for me to watch this film and not feel this was when he jumped the shark.
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