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Summary: Best romantic comedy ever
Comment: I’ve rated over 1700 movies. Only 49 of them got 5 stars. Chungking Express is the only romantic comedy in that group. If you don’t fall in love after watching this flick, you’re just creepy, and possibly a Klingon.
Summary: An Enduring Dream
Comment: Fortunately we Europeans don’t have to bear with Tarantino’s smirking. But don’t let the cover fool you: this is the real thing from a true visual mind, a film-maker that does in the long run make a dent in the universe. Wong is our modern Kurosawa, Tarkovsky and Welles all packed into one, if you are fond of such grand exclamations and tag lines. Shortly put, he is the one that will make a difference.
We who have grown with him have learned to expect the highest of visual inventiveness. His camera is the most exemplary that wanders, that experiences, that grows from the vision of the film-maker (you could call this the deep structure if you will). He comes from a screenwriting background and obviosly knows that bulk that creates a film, storywise. But he isn’t a literary guy thinking in literary terms, but possesses an actively visual imagination and understands what we expect to see, thus giving us something that looks like that recognizable cinematic thing, an image or a phrase (a scene) of the story, but instead folds it and gives it back to us anew. We know that his thinking is radical from his recent endeavours, but also from “Ashes of Time”, the one film he was in post-production with when he decided to shoot this film in a mere two weeks’ time.
Another thing that is of perfunctory in the Wong cinema is the huge energy that occupies the frame. This is high art, to keep the energy there throughout the film, and his films always have this continuity. We dwell in this universe and it can be life-altering at its best. You might argue that the films of Michael Bay and Tony Scott, not necessarily canonical works of high cinematic art, are elaborately energetic. What is the difference, then, other than just holding Wong in higher regard in the first place? I think the difference is in the elegance and how that energy is channeled: think of the hectic elements of a Michael Bay film and you find yourselves from the middle of a rock concert: the energy is there, but there is extralimital noise constantly pushing in, feedback that is the direct result of that energy. It is not a sign of mastery but of technical knowledge, to build walls of sounds upon each other from distorted guitar riffs. But think of Wong’s approach to this energy as that which is released, but which, instead of irritating feedback, carries over an echo, a reflection of that which has just been revealed, a phrase that goes beyond the image and ties the whole of our world under gravity, this gravity bringing us the coherence. So we constantly live in two worlds. You could go even further and add spheres that contain all this. Wong does eventually transcend the whole method, and Ridley Scott is the Western master of exploring this energy and even referring to its different containers (the feedback vs. the echo) in an ironic manner.
But if you just don’t see the point of this, isn’t part of this alluded to by including two half-stories making one whole? And this whole story, where does it begin and end, and how? Which scene is the real seam of the whole thing, and can it be understood in conventional terms? I find it cyclical, kind of like sharing a deep structure (you know, the rather Chomskian linguistic idea concerning a theoretical construct or a framework that seeks to unify several related structures by showing a common root; sort of like finding a same root form for two verbs that contain partially the same meaning and from which they are derivable). My point is that the sum of the parts is larger than the sum of the two parts, that the real “story” is projected somewhere in our subconscious. This is the way of dreams and these films are the dreams that make our own dreams come to life.
The idea is wonderful, and you can feel the sense of discovery as Wong and Doyle march through all sorts of film-school clich�s and theories and conquer them all, in much the same way Kurosawa used to do forty years earlier. Say what you will about neither of them – Wong or Doyle – having studied in film school other than Wong’s screenwriter’s program if you want to count it as that, but real studying of cinema is actually making it. Isn’t this the real way of taking chances: you recognize something you can’t fully understand and then make a film about it, either being defeated or conquering? This is the hard way, but this is what separates the masters from those who go on making films based on past glory.
There are the necessary ties within the stories as passing time: expiration dates, pine apples, water, the songs, the policemen visiting the same place when the shift occurs, etc., but the shift is bigger than that, evincing something that’s quite impossible to fully comprehend. But we can sense it, and project our own vision of it either through our own experiences or through Wong’s body of work, most likely through the essential Ashes of Time. Here, as others have noted, Hong Kong glitters in the background as its own organic self, a personality that breathes as much as any other cinematically vibrant city. Of course the title is a compound of two concepts: although we do not spend much time in the labyrinth of low-budget hotels and guesthouses, “the scent of Kowloon’s Walled City”, save for the first half. Curiously there was a third story, ultimately axed because of it growing in size and ambition and shaped to be a film on its own, “Chungking Express”. These films make up for the Middle Canon of Wong’s work, a separation between the old and new, “Happy Together” being the transition to the 21st century.
I don’t like putting Wong into any kind of a particular order as his films are, as he has said somewhere, different chapters of the same book, that is, of the same love for exploring the immense possibilities of cinema. I do not wan to to my way to call this a minor experiment, but I do not see it containing the multitudes that fit inside “Mood” and “2046” (Haven’t seen “My Blueberry Nights” yet) But this is more than a worthy film, something lovely and sad, warm and ambivalent, revealing and mystic. But nevertheless, genius.
With best regards,
Summary: One of the best foreign language romantic comedies ever!
Comment: What can you say, Wong Kar Wai is a genius and this is his most light hearted and funniest movie. It may seem a little dated but the characters are classic and the situations in which they meet all seem so plausible minus the whole drug connection thing. Leaves you with a smile long after the movie is over.
Summary: chungking express
Comment: This is a good clean 16×9 transfer of chunking express. I would love to see a good pal version for even better resolution.
Only other drawback is QT name all over it.
Summary: 2 for the price of 1
Comment: I have loved this movie for over a decade. I first saw it back in 1997 before it was a “Quentin Taratino Presents”.
The two story lines seem absolutely out of place but they connect in one place. I like the music, the layout, pretty much everything. This and Eat Drink Man Woman are two films I love watching over and over.