Masters of Modern Cinema : Wong Kar Wai

                             Hailing from Hong Kong's highly commercial film industry, Wong Kar Wai is one of the most important contemporary film-maker, who has managed to attract the attention of the international film festival circuit with his visual style and fragmented narrative. Wong Kar-wai, over the last ten years has brought us images of modern living, urban alienation, and forlorn love in a dazzlingly intimate, fluid, and poetic manner.

                            Rather than considering movie genres and story conventions, as most of his colleagues do, Wong defies audience expectations. He likes to keep his talent in the dark about their roles, preferring to make up the script as he shoots, and letting actors develop their characters during production. 
  • Wong Kar Wai was born on July 17 1956. At the age of five, Wong and his parents moved from Shangai to Hong Kong. Since he could not speak the local dialect(cantonese, his few years were spent going to movie houses, which later became his obsession.
  • Upon graduating from Hong Kong polytechnic, where he studied graphic design, he joined TVB, the most popular local TV production and broadcasting channel at the time, becoming a scriptwriter for the TV drama series.The popular TV soap opera series "Don't Look Now," of which Wong was one of the major writers attracted quite a bit of attention at the time because of its unusual story.
  • Wong started his film career as a scriptwriter, making his directorial debut with 'As Tears Go By' in 1988. The movie was shown during the critics week at the Cannes film festival in 1989. It was unique in its untraditional narrative structure and visual style. 
  • His second film 'Days of Being Wild'(1991), marked the beginning of his long-term partnership with cinematographer Christopher Doyle. The movie is set in the 1960s, a period that continued to attract Wong in his later films. Although Days won five Hong Kong film awards, including for best film and best director, its unfamiliar style and story led to its box-office failure. 
  • Four years later Wong tried his hand at a martial arts genre film, Ashes of Time. During a break from the frustrating production of this film, Wong made a quick project, Chungking Express. The movie is essentially a prank of two consecutive love stories which no one seems to get it right. The film, which was endorsed by Quentin Tarantino and distributed by Miramax, soon became a cult film in the United States and Europe and it raised Wong to auteur status.
  • Trade Mark : Often casts Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung in his films. Abstract, abrupt and ambiguous endings with the characters left with ambivalent feelings at the end, leaving the outcome "post-ending" to the viewer's choice and interpretation. Quick freeze-frames to emphasize the specific important moments in the middle of some scenes.

Experiencing Wong Kar Wai Films

                In the Mood for Love was one of the most praised Wong's film. It is a film with a lush visuality, one in which decor takes off from story and even takes it over. By these means, the film impels the spectator to look, to see the film immediately and predominantly as a formal experience. There is intense nostalgia in the film, but it is a nostalgia set against the impositions and transitions of modernity. In the Mood for Love reminds us that post-modernity is not only a style but a way of living concrete issues of our modernity.
               Chungking Express started life as a Chinese art-house noir and went on to become both a Tarantino video and the inspiration for a Tarantino movie. After Tarantino, it has dribbled into the consciousness of a thousand actual and would be filmmakers some not a million miles away. Wong Kar-wai  makes the coolest, most enigmatic love story in which so little actually happens that the audience spends its time wondering whether what they are seeing or have seen actually took place at all either on screen or off.

                In Chungking Express, a sense of detachment is generated by the mere fact that not all the characters are given names. There is a detachment of emotion, a sense of the characters being simply another set of elements amongst the visual array of urbanity. Wong always has the luxury to endlessly recreate the work until a final version appears. He seems to have been able to film and refilm, think and rethink, before he has pronounced the film, for the moment, at an end. 

                 What makes Wong's movies even more remarkable is that they come out of the Hong Kong film industry, which discourages such a sensationally subversive cinema. Although Hong Kong cinema carry their own potentially subversive texts, their primary function is to make a return on their investment by pleasing as large audience as possible. 

                 They say no man is an island, but in Wong’s work everyone is a self-contained universe, governed by its own laws of desire and following its own eccentric path. The emotions and the intensities shown by Wong are the unique elements of his films. They show a film's narrative melting away, leaving us with a cinema of pure feeling. Wong's position is the star of the Hong Kong-global nexus as well as a postmodern exemplar of world cinema.

Wong Kar Wai - Imdb
Wong Kar Wai - Wikipedia

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