I don't know about you, but I generally loathe romances and love stories in Hollywood movies, especially current ones. It's probably because of the way in which they present love as this simple, neat little package life drops in our laps from time to time rather than the complex, messy, often painful beast that it really is. Whenever I see a film that captures it's true nature - which happens rarely - I'm genuinely impressed.

Well, last night my girlfriend and I watched such a film, Kar Wai Wong's "In the Mood For Love", a delicately mannered drama in the same vein as Scorcesse's "The Age of Innocence", the story of two neighbors in 1960's Hong Kong whose spouses are having an affair with one another. The two of them form a fast friendship that blossoms into something much deeper, but they ultimately agree to avoid the dishonor of breaking their marriage vows. Short on plot, the primary focus of the film is on the character's turbulent emotions, brilliantly evoked through sumptuous imagery and tenderly wrought performances from the two leads (the always terrific Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung).
The cinematography and imagery in this movie are just to die for. This is one of those rare films that makes you feel like you're watching a moving painting, like you could literally take any single frame and throw up on your wall. There are images of loneliness and desolation in this film that will stay with you long after the end credits have rolled. Maybe even forever.
All of this left me wondering:
Why can't *we* (by we I mean America) make movies like this? Is it that our sensibilities are too naive? Or is it the opposite - because we're too jaded? I dunno, but it seems like every time my darling and I are in the mood for a romantic movie it seems like the one I end up throwing into the DVD player is in Cantonese or Mandarin with English subtitles? Why can't *we* make movies with this kind of poetic beauty, depth and maturity?
It's a shame that when a truly special film like this (which I'm not going to avoid calling a classic) gets made that it flies in under the radar here. Don't get me wrong - I think it's great that Hong Kong movies are finally getting mainstream theatrical releases here, it's just a shame that they all have to have Kung Fu in them.
Anyway, enough of my bitching. If you haven't seen this sparkling emerald of a movie, put it on your list. I can't guarantee you'll like it, but I can guarantee you'll never forget it.
Cheers,
B
Now you're talking!
ITMFL is one of my all-time favourite films. I caught it again last weekend, and each time it breaks my heart a little more. Breathtaking, heart-wrenching performances from Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, astounding cinematography from Chris Doyle (with Pin Bing Lee). The most beautiful film I have ever seen.
Btw - there's a sequel/remake/reimagining/reworking... sort of thing.. called 2046. The best film of the year so far. Catch it if you get the opportunity.
The cinematography and imagery in this movie are just to die for. This is one of those rare films that makes you feel like you're watching a moving painting, like you could literally take any single frame and throw up on your wall.

I'm confused. Did you like this movie or did it make you want to vomit?

-smartass
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The cinematography and imagery in this movie are just to ... take any single frame and throw up on your wall.

I'm confused. Did you like this movie or did it make you want to vomit?

Hey man, I'm nursing the *** of all colds right now and am flying high on perscription cold medicine right now. Actually, looking back on my previous message I'm shocked it's coherent at all!

Yours Truly theWalking Snot Factory,
B
I'm confused. Did you like this movie or did it make you want to vomit?

Hey man, I'm nursing the *** of all colds right now and am flying high on perscription cold medicine right now.

Gee, did you think that last message was a little redundant redundant? };)
Piece,
B
Why can't we* (by we I mean America) make movies like this? Is it that our sensibilities are too naive? ... Cantonese or Mandarin with English subtitles? Why can't *we make movies with this kind of poetic beauty, depth and maturity?

I loved "In the Mood...," but I don't know if this is a we vs. us thing.

Wong isn't in any way a typical Hong Kong filmmaker. It's not, usually, that "they" do this, and "we" do that. Wong Kar Wai is just one of those unique talents - and it's not like every film he makes is as good as "In the Mood for Love." That film's a masterpiece.

Whereas recently "we" have produced "Lost in Translation," "Before Sunset," "Garden State," "Finding Neverland," "About a Boy." etc. I'm not saying you should love (or even like) all of those films, but they're all unique, interesting voices at work.
Maybe there are certain vibes that certain cultures are more attuned to - I can't imagine an American doing "Look at Me" as that well. And "Un Coeur en Hiver" captures a feeling that I've never seen captured in an American film.
I don't think the Chinese have any special affinity for depicting romance; heck, on the contrary, I thought that there were some "romantic" moments in "House of Flying Daggers" which were downright silly (although I enjoyed the film overall.) Some of it may be that we're more tolerant of certain things in foreign films; I know more than one person, who, after seeing both "Vanilla Sky" and "Open Your Eyes" - the spanish original - said, "Maybe you just are willing to forgive more clunkiness in a foreign film."
Heck, I know I love some of Amodovar's films but nobody would be calling "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!" deep or even serious if it was an American movie.
Maybe, on the other hand, a people get the cinema they deserve. Not enough people, near as I can tell, went to see "Un Coeur en Hiver" in this country for anyone to be willing to put it out on DVD here. So maybe you're right maybe we just don't get it.
-Ron
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All of this left me wondering: Why can't we* (by we I mean America) make movies like this? Is it ... Cantonese or Mandarin with English subtitles? Why can't *we make movies with this kind of poetic beauty, depth and maturity?

Because, going by sheer volume, we are a nation of immature, no-context twits. Seriously, I'm so annoyed at my fellow U.S. citizen being after two weeks of the SF film festival, where I've had to listen to MORONIC yakking, fidgeting, and "I didn't get that thing with the feather, was she an angel or not?" type comments. GRR.
Or, when we do make emotionally complex films, they do sucky box office or are given X ratings. It's in no one's financial interest for the American public to raise its average emotional IQ. How could we be sold endless versions of those goddamned reality shows if we did?

smurf,
Mysti
Why can't *we* (by we I mean America) make movies ... movies with this kind of poetic beauty, depth and maturity?

I loved "In the Mood...," but I don't know if this is a we vs. us thing. Wong isn't in any way a typical Hong Kong filmmaker.

He follows in the tradition of King Hu, does he not?

It's not,
usually, that "they" do this, and "we" do that. Wong Kar Wai is just one of those unique talents - ... not saying you should love (or even like) all of those films, but they're all unique, interesting voices at work.

"we" only wrote 3 of those. And Garden State, while I loved it, is not as complex or mature as the last WKW movie I saw...or even as complex as the first Malaysian film I saw at the fest Emotion: smile
Mysti
Now you're talking! ITMFL is one of my all-time favourite films. I caught it again last weekend, and each time ... sort of thing.. called 2046. The best film of the year so far. Catch it if you get the opportunity.

Just ordered a copy. I have to say, that the premise (which evidently has some Science Fiction elements!) sounds quite odd and dreamlike. I look forward to seeing it.
Cheers,
B
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