It has now been ten years, since The Grandmaster (2013), that Wong Kar-wai has left us without news, the shadow of the great Hong Kong stylist hovering quietly over world cinema – a new feature film and a series are reportedly in progress production, but we know the stagnation to which the filmmaker is now accustomed.
Three of his most vibrant films, Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995) and Happy Together (1997), are re-released in restored versions, which take us back to his golden decade, the 1990s. adds new material, namely the extended montage lasting almost an hour of The Hand , an independent segment of the sketch film Eros produced in 2004 by Stéphane Tchalgadjieff in homage to Michelangelo Antonioni.
The 1990s, an era of mannerisms of all kinds, marked a wavering in the geography of cinema, seeing, under the influence of young Asian signatures, the aesthetic initiative move to the Far East. Chungking Express was precisely one of the spearheads of this, as the boundless energy of this small occasional film, shot while work on Ashes of Time (1994) was at a standstill, made a strong impression.
Wong Kar-wai drew a sophisticated story, a fine intertwining of blind and hazardous trajectories, in the bustling Lan Kwai Fong district, in Hong Kong. Two romantic elopements follow one another for a quartet of lost people (two cops, a gangster, a waitress), who, like comets, only cross paths fleetingly, in the hustle and bustle of the big city, only to miss each other more easily.
Above all, we remember an incredible formal expenditure: between accelerations and jerks, suspensions and shifts, on-board camera and nocturnal lighting, Wong Kar-wai seems to push time off its hinges – with of course the help of his virtuoso directors of photography, Christopher Doyle and Andrew Law.
Atrabilary green reflections
Codicil of Chungking Express , The Fallen Angels , released from the same writing stream, resumes its crossover of solitudes, but from another group of characters (a hitman, his partner, a small crook, a prostitute) and pushing the formal experience very far, to the limit of the glacis. The wide-angle images stretch the perspectives, distending the silhouettes. The street takes on an atrabilary green reflection, people exhale their silent pain to the haunting return of languorous music.
In Wong Kar-wai’s work, love stories are lived at a distance and out of tune, in out-of-tune pas de deux. So it is with Happy Together (1997), which the filmmaker went to shoot with his team in Argentina, the antipodes of Hong Kong, the year the territory was handed over to China. And it is precisely a separation that the film chronicles, stormily, between two men (Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai, sculptural and tortured), a couple of Taiwanese tourists stranded in Buenos Aires, incapable of loving each other without each other. rip. Without a penny to leave, one becomes a tout, the other a gigolo. Exile quickly appears to be their last common refuge. Astor Piazzola’s tangos punctuate this heartbreaking relationship of self-sufficiency at the end of the world, where homosexuality is not a “subject” for a second, but on the contrary tends towards the universal.
You have 30% of this article left to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.