RARA-AVIS: Wong Kar-Wai and Lawrence Block?

From: DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net
Date: 13 Mar 2005

>From Lawrence Block's latest newsletter:

"From Taipei we went to Shanghai, for a firsthand look at the city where I'll be setting a film I'm going to be writing for the brilliant Hong Kong director, Wong Kar-Wai. I'm not sure how much I can tell you about this project, but I'll say this: it's set in 1937, when Shanghai was arguably the most interesting city in the world."

Now there's an intriguing collaboration. I am a big fan of Wong's work. I'm currently enjoying seeing his past films again at AFI's current showcase.

The NY Times' Caryn James described one of his early films, "Days of Being Wild," as "a disquieting mix of 'Hiroshima Mon Amour' and 'The Big Sleep.'" The "Big Sleep" comparison is a bit of a reach. Only two of Wong's films are crime films ("Days" is not one of them) -- "As Tears Goes By" is kind of an arty HK remake of "Mean Streets" and "Fallen Angels" involves a hitman -- but they are far from orthodox, certainly not mysteries. The few noir aspects are filtered through the artier side of the French New Wave. In fact, many HK film fans find his films boring for that very reason (at least one HK film guide says they are
"like watching paint dry"). Tarantino helped him finally get US distribution with "Chungking Express."

The films are populated by some very strange characters many, if not most, of them very sad over broken, or breaking, relationships. The stories are often very disjointed, with jumbled chronology. A documentary on "Happy Together" reveals just how loose Wong's storybuilding is. He went to Buenos Aires with only the vaguest story in mind. (Granted, his next film, "In the Mood for Love," is probably the most structured of his plots.) So it should be very interesting to see how he works with a script from as strong a plotter as Block.


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