Friday: In the Mood for Wong Kar-waiProgrammed by Michelle Chow
One of the most beloved and influential filmmakers globally, Wong Kar-wai is known for moody, dazzling masterpieces. This retrospective takes the avid theater-goer through a tour of eight of Wong’s ten feature films. From his debut and his most recent feature, it spans a quarter-century of one of the greatest careers in contemporary cinema.
His body of work ranges widely (from crime thriller to wuxia to romantic drama), but when presented together, his films cohere into a comprehensive, multi-faceted whole; Wong has described his oeuvre as "different episodes of one movie." This consistency is in part thematic–few directors have so perfectly distilled yearning on the big screen, and a sense of wistful, doomed romanticism stretches throughout his works. (As he puts it, “we love what we can't have, and we can't have what we love.”)
Wong’s long relationships with his collaborators also give his films their sense of cohesion. Viewers will see the same names pop up in the credits of his films–cinematographer Christopher Doyle lends heartbreakingly beautiful visuals and swooning camerawork to six of the films in this series, and several actors (such as Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) make repeat appearances.
When Wong was asked for his thoughts on the future of film, he replied, "I'm tired of all this ‘cinema is dead’ shit. People enjoy watching movies, period.” With that, we hope you’re in the mood for Wong Kar-wai!
In the Mood for Love (2000)
4/1/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 98m
In 1962, Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) and Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) rent neighboring apartments on the same day. In the claustrophobic world of their building, the two married strangers come to bond over their mutual loneliness. What follows is one of the greatest romances ever put on screen, an achingly gorgeous study in yearning and doomed love. Acclaimed by critics, In the Mood for Love won two awards at Cannes and was nominated for a Palme d'Or.
Chungking Express (1994)
4/8/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 97m
In this energetic and unpredictable '90s romp, two lovesick cops pursue new love while drenched in dazzlingly fluorescent lights, canned pineapple, and the wistful strains of California Dreamin.' One officer (Takeshi Kaneshiro) falls for a mysterious blond-wigged woman (Brigitte Lin) in the popular Bottoms Up Club, while the other one (Tony Leung) gradually falls for a charming noodle vendor (Faye Wong) following his breakup with a flight attendant.
Happy Together (1997)
4/15/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 96m
In this film inspired by The Turtles' 1967 hit of the same name, the lovers in Happy Together are anything but. With hopes of rehabilitating their turbulent relationship yet again, Lai (Tony Leung) and his boyfriend Ho (Leslie Cheung) travel to Buenos Aires, but their romantic woes come right along with them. Released just before the 1997 Hong Kong handover from the UK to China, this searing, painful romance telegraphs anxiety over queer futures.
The Grandmaster (2013)
4/22/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 130m
Wong Kar-wai puts his spin on the life story of Bruce Lee’s mentor, the martial arts master Ip Man (Tony Leung). Zhang Ziyi wows as challenger Gong Er, the daughter of the previous grandmaster. A sprawling Kung Fu epic with a strongly poetic bent, The Grandmaster features visually stunning fight scenes and gorgeous camerawork in a story spanning decades of a tumultuous era in Chinese history. This film is Wong's only work to be nominated for an Oscar.
4/29/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | 35mm | 104m
This anthology brings together three short films with themes of love, sex, and desire. Set in the 60s, Wong Kar-wai’s contribution, The Hand, a glamorous sex worker (Gong Li) who begins an affair with her tailor (Chang Chen). Steven Soderbergh’s Equilibrium stars Robert Downey Jr. as an advertising exec tormented by recurring erotic dreams, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Dangerous Thread of Things follows a wealthy couple on vacation in Italy.
As Tears Go By (1988)
5/6/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 102m
Set in the gritty Hong Kong underworld, Wong Kar-wai’s debut film grippingly portrays the story of a small-time gangster Wah (Andy Lau), caught between a budding romance with his cousin Ngor (Maggie Cheung) and his troublemaking partner-in-crime, Fly (Jacky Cheung). Taking inspiration from Scorsese’s American gangster classic Mean Streets, this crime thriller was a box office hit that showed early hints of the director's signature style.
Days of Being Wild (1990)
5/13/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 94m
In Wong’s fragmentary, rain-soaked sophomore feature, the lives of restless twenty-somethings entwine in an unrequited love pentagon. Leslie Cheung stars as heartbreaker Yuddy, drifting through a series of love affairs with shop-girl (Maggie Cheung) and dancer (Carina Lau) as he searches for his birth mother. This film marks Wong’s first collaboration with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and forms a loose trilogy with In the Mood for Love and 2046.
Ashes of Time Redux (1994)
5/20/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | 35mm | 93m
A shockingly beautiful fever dream of a wuxia film, this dizzying period piece was described by Wong as Shakespeare meets Sergio Leone in Chinese. It’s surprisingly low on swordplay — but not on epic longing, phantasmagoric colors, and star power (Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Brigitte Lin, and both Tony Leung Ka Fai and Tony Leung Chiu Wai). The film also features a score by Frankie Chan and numerous cello solos by the famous Yo-Yo Ma.
Fallen Angels (1995)
5/27/22 @ 7:00 PM
Wong Kar-wai | DCP | 99m
A story centering around a hitman trying to escape his partner and a mute delinquent building a life after escaping prison, Fallen Angels is a neon-noir crime thriller that follows two loosely-interlocked narratives in an exhilarating, disorienting homage to Hong Kong at night. The plot was initially set as the third narrative in Chungking Express, but was expanded into its own movie to showcase the real character of these two films: Hong Kong itself.