The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love / 2046 (2000, 2004) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love / 2046 (2000, 2004)

Wong Kar-wai imbues everything the West regards as film cliché with new glamour and conviction.

At the turn of the 21st century, Wong Kar-wai was the most exciting director in the world, and In the Mood for Love is his greatest movie. Following the late-‘80s/early-‘90s wave of Hong Kong directors led by John Woo and Tsui Hark, Wong was a wave unto himself, and if people in his pictures don’t skip across lakes or pirouette midair amid a hail of bullets, like his compatriots Wong imbues everything the West regards as film cliché with new glamour and conviction. Sharing next door apartments, a newspaper man and an executive secretary notice their respective spouses always are out of town at the same time, and soon these forsaken partners of two adulterers flirt with the possibility of their own affair; rehearsing illicit overtures and responses in winding streets and throbbing corridors and pulsing stairways—as ravishingly shot by Christopher Doyle and Mark Li Ping-bin—the two are no more sure than we whose desire is being played out.

The number of the hotel room where the two would-be lovers meet, 2046, also is the year when Hong Kong will finish its transition from British to Chinese rule, as well as the title of Wong’s sequel to Mood in which the heartbroken journalist, now a drinker and gambler as detached as he is debauched, has become involved with an escort who now occupies the same room and happens to share the name of the earlier woman. A Hong Kong that seems to exist outside years, with blazing bullet trains departing and arriving not just spatial stations but temporal ones, emerges as a character unto itself, and completists and obsessives may want to tack 1991’s Days of Being Wild onto the beginning of these two films to create a “Hong Kong Trilogy” about love in the city of the betwixt and between—the vortex of a dying century draining into one being born.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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