4 min read

Wong Kar wai

bciff team

June 15, 2021 4 min read

As the controversy regarding Wong Kar Wai’s 4k restoration project for his films heats up. Here are the films of the director, known for his iconic and vivid cinematography and non-linear narrative, you must watch :

In the mood for Love : Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and Su Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung Man Yuk) move in an apartment as neighbours the same day. Their meetings are formal and full of politeness—until a certain discovery about their respective spouses spurs an intimate bond between them. The movie is at once delicately mannered and visually extravagant. Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love is an evocation of romantic longing and ephemeral moments. The agonising soundtrack and exquisitely abstract cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping Bing, the film still casts a stylistic influence on the past two decades of cinema. It is a milestone in Wong’s career.

Chungking Express : Chungking Express is one of the defining works of 1990s cinema. It is the film that made Wong Kar Wai a cinematic icon for the ages to come . Two heartsick Hong Kong cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung Chiu Wai), both plagued by the memories of their ex-lovers, cross paths at the Midnight Express food stand, where the waitress Faye (Faye Wong) works. A number of perplexing yet mundane occurrences dominate the narrative in Wong’s gloriously shot and exquisite masterpiece, Chungking Express.

Days of being wild : The debut feature by Wong Kar Wai presented the first glimpses of his swooning signature style. The ravishing existential reverie is a dreamlike drift through the Hong Kong of the 1960s in which a group of wayward individuals—including a disaffected playboy (Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing) searching for his birth mother, a lovelorn woman (Maggie Cheung Man Yuk) hopelessly enamored with him, and a policeman (Andy Lau Tak Wah) are caught in the middle of their turbulent relationship—are pulled together and pushed apart in a dance of frustrated desire. The director’s inaugural collaboration with both cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who lends the film its hallucinatory texture, and actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai, who appears briefly in the film. Days of Being Wild is an exhilarating expression of Wong’s trademark themes of time, longing, dislocation, and the relentless search for human connection.

Happy Together : An enchanting romance of the 1990s, Wong Kar Wai’s raw, lushly stylized portrait of a relationship in breakdown casts Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing as a couple traveling through Argentina and locked in a disturbing cycle of infatuation and jealousy leads to their breakup and subsequent patch up. Setting out to depict the dynamics of a queer relationship with empathy and complexity on the cusp of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong—when the country’s LGBTQ community suddenly faced an uncertain future—Wong Kar Wai crafts a look at the life cycle of a love affair that is by turns devastating and bafflingly romantic. Shot by ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle in both luminous monochrome and luscious saturated colour, Happy Together is an intoxicating exploration of displacement and desire that swoons with the ache and exhilaration of love at its heart-tearing extremes.

2046 : Wong Kar Wai’s sequel to In the Mood for Love combines the previous film’s air of romantic longing with a befuddling time-hopping structure and avant-garde twist. Tony Leung Chiu Wai reprises his role as the writer Chow Mo-Wan, whose multiple failed relationships with women who drift in and out of his life (and the one who goes in and out of room 2046, down the hall from his apartment) inspire the delirious futuristic love story he later writes. 2046’s fantasy sequences give the director and two of his collaborators—cinematographer Christopher Doyle and editor/costume designer/production designer William Chang Suk Ping—license to let their imaginations run wild, propelling the sumptuous visuals and operatic emotions skyward toward the transcendental sublime.

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