Friday, February 25, 2011

Links: In the Mood for Love

Roger Ebert once again knows what's what in his review of the film back in 2000, noting both the unique dramatics and the beautiful imagery in Wong's film:

"In his other films, like "Chungking Express," his characters sometimes just barely miss connecting, and here again key things are said in the wrong way at the wrong time. Instead of asking us to identify with this couple, as an American film would, Wong asks us to empathize with them; that is a higher and more complex assignment, with greater rewards.

The movie is physically lush. The deep colors of film noir saturate the scenes: Reds, yellows, browns, deep shadows. One scene opens with only a coil of cigarette smoke, and then reveals its characters. In the hallway outside the two apartments, the camera slides back and forth, emphasizing not their nearness but that there are two apartments, not one."

Stephen Hunter, though does not.  He even makes a nice and sensible comparison to the great Alain Resnais film Hiroshima, mon amour, but apparently he thinks being compared to that masterpiece is a bad thing:

"The affair itself is more like a slow-motion dance than a consummation of the sweaty flesh, consisting of a whole symphony of gestures and longing looks, chance encounters in the rain, almost-knocked-on doors, telephones unanswered, a general sense of groping but not gripping.

I wish I could report that a feverish erotic tension builds, but it really doesn't. In fact at times the film plays like Alain Resnais' notoriously elliptical "Hiroshima, Mon Amour," in which possibilities are suggested but physical and emotional clarity is not certain."

On a more academic front, Stephen Teo wrote about the film for Senses of Cinema back in 2001.  He situates the film historically both in the tradition of Chinese melodrama, including a comparison to the great 1948 film Spring in a Small Town, and within Wong's career as a underratedly literary director, including the fact that the film is an unofficial adaptation of a novel by Liu Yichang, whose The Drunkard was adapted into a fine film by Freddie Wong which I saw at last year's Vancouver Film Festival.

Finally, you can find all kinds of cool stuff about the film, including pictures and music at its official website.

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