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Acclaimed Hong Kong New Wave director Wong Kar-Wai presents a kinetic, offbeat look at his city in these two stories. The first concerns a... Read More
Acclaimed Hong Kong New Wave director Wong Kar-Wai presents a kinetic, offbeat look at his city in these two stories. The first concerns a young woman (Brigitte Lin) who has been double-crossed in a heroin deal and her budding romance with a lovelorn cop (Takeshi Kaneshiro). The second deals with another officer (Tony Leung) whose girlfriend has left him and the young waitress (Faye Wong) who tries to help him without his knowledge. Minimize
18 Reviews from Epinions.com
Mar 31, 2001
All The Leaves Are Brown, And The Sky Is Gray
Pros: Freakish masterpiece; a lovely, sad, goofy movie about love and bad habits
Cons: Not for beginners - "arty" style may put off the uninitiated
The Bottom Line:
An eccentric, one-of-a-kind masterpiece from Wong Kar-wai. See it because there's nothing else quite like it.
When I first saw Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express a year ago, on video, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Seeing again recently on the big screen, a midnight showing of a badly scratched print at Seattle's Egyptian Theatre, didn't really help much - but both times, I enjoyed it immensely. It's not a film that readily yields itself to easy interpretation, and the story follows no narrative conventions I'm aware of. But it's a mad masterpiece, a heady and stylish mixture of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, odd cinematographic effects, some rather arch metaphysical content, and also a celebration of the fringe, of melancholy, and of what fools we are made by love.
It's comprised of two vaguely similar but only tangentially connected stories, set in Hong Kong, each featuring a cop and a lonely girl. Takishi Kaneshiro plays the first cop - he's just been dumped by his girlfriend May on April 1st, and he's buying tins of pineapple with an expiration date of May 1st - his birthday, the day he'll decide she really meant it, that it wasn't an April Fool's Day joke. She loved pineapple. The girl in question is not his ex-, but a heroin dealer (Brigitte Lin) smuggling her score out of the country on and in a half dozen immigrants. She's hauntingly beautiful, has a noir-ish blonde wig, and wears a raincoat and sunglasses (in voiceover, she tells us that one can never be sure when it'll rain, and when it'll be sunny). Two disastrous things occur: it becomes May 1st, and the immigrants disappear with her heroin. After the cop eats all his tins of pineapple, and the girl exacts revenge on her betrayers, they meet for the first time in a local bar. She wants to be left alone, he wants her. Neither gets what they want.
The second story introduces us to an employee of the Midnight Express, a food stand that the previous cop frequented (mostly to use the phone and get sympathy from the stand's owner). The officer this time is merely "Cop 663," and he is played by the star actor Tony Leung and frequent Kar-wai collaborator (In the Mood For Love, Happy Together). His romantic life is up in the air - he's having an affair with a flight attendant, who may or may not be returning to see him. He's also slightly mad (he talks to his household objects, and I mean he literally talks to his household objects, like has conversations with them, his soap, his towel, and his stuffed polar bear), which is fortunate because the slightly mad (actually, more Goldie Hawnishly kooky than mad) Faye (Faye Wong), who works at the stand, develops a crush on him. When the flight attendant drops off a message for him at the stand, in an envelope with his extra set of keys inside, and he isn't willing to take it right away, Faye gets a wild idea: she'll steal into his apartment while he's on duty and clean the place up. The lapses in logic in this segment (doesn't he notice he has new stuff?) are compensated by a story that's more affecting than the one told in the first half - I think I'll never forget the look on Leung's face, an expression of delayed shock and slow recognition, when, a year later, a flight attendant walks in on him renovating the ubiquitous food stand, and also the scene where Faye can hardly contain her happiness while serving customers and running out of cups.
If you're a stranger to bizarre approaches to cinematic narratives, you're probably still reading this review because you're not presently speeding down the road to your local video store to rent this film. Admittedly, it's doubtful that anything in the preceding synopses will do anything for the average moviegoer to light them on fire about Wong Kar-wai. But if you're looking for something new, something made with plenty of heart and even a touch of madness, if you want a break from the same old stuff, Wong Kar-wai may have just the thing for you: Chungking Express.
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