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Nick Alexander

2046

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Saw this Saturday.

Very interesting. Visually, it shifts from 60's retro ("In the Mood for Love") to a sparse, lonely future (almost entirely CGI sequences). It's about the relationships a 60's writer has, and how he inserts his loves into his futuristic sci-fi stories. A dreamscape of a movie.

And is it only me, or are there only six actors/actresses in all of Asian cinema? Most of this cast was reunited from _Hero_, in which much of the cast was reunited from _In the Mood for Love_, Kar Wai Wong's earlier film.

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I liked 2046 much more than "In the Mood for Love." Both are

incredibly beautiful to watch, but about 20 minutes too long. I

enjoy the storyline, though. . . completely different message than

you will find in American cinema. I probably need to see it again

to fit all the pieces together. I imagine it will be several months

before I feel up to that =0)

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opus   

My review of 2046 is here.

Personally, I prefer In The Mood For Love. The storyline feels more solid to me, and the characters are much more sympathetic (especially, Tony Leung's character). But 2046 is certainly gorgeous in its own right, and as a "sequel" (kind of) to In The Mood For Love, it's an interesting one.

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opus   

FWIW, some discussion of 2046 has also occurred in the House Of Flying Daggers thread (of all places).

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MattPage   

Kind of enjoyed it at the time, but on reflection I have no desire to add to my original comments posted in the thread listed to above, or even look them up. Niether film really does much for me unfortunately.

Matt

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Is anyone else here planning on publishing reviews of this film in the near future?

I'd love to include it in Film Forum and celebrate the film's arrival, but the only "Christian film review" I can find outside of Opus's blog entry is a Movieguide review.

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This film opened in Vancouver ten days ago and left six days later. I hear it's a sequel to In the Mood for Love, though, and as I haven't seen that film, I didn't think I should go out of my way to see this one. FWIW, a local critic who is a really hardcore international cinephile told me this was a "lousy masterpiece", with equal emphasis on both words.

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MattPage   
Is anyone else here planning on publishing reviews of this film in the near future?

I'd love to include it in Film Forum and celebrate the film's arrival, but the only "Christian film review" I can find outside of Opus's blog entry is a Movieguide review.

I'll have a think and see if I get any ideas...

When would you need it by?

Matt

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For this week's column, I'd need the link by tomorrow afternoon.

For next week's, I'd need it by the following Tuesday afternoon.

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opus   
This film opened in Vancouver ten days ago and left six days later.  I hear it's a sequel to In the Mood for Love, though, and as I haven't seen that film, I didn't think I should go out of my way to see this one.  FWIW, a local critic who is a really hardcore international cinephile told me this was a "lousy masterpiece", with equal emphasis on both words.

It is a sequel, but only in the loosest sense of the world. There's one or two flashbacks that might not make sense if you haven't seen In The Mood For Love, but other than that, the film stands on its own. If you haven't seen In The Mood For Love, I don't think it will be that big a deal, though it might help to put certain events in 2046 in a better context.

That being said, you really should see In The Mood For Love. smile.gif

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MattPage   

Jeffrey,

I've given it some thought, and I just don't have anything worthwhile to say about the film. And I'm really really busy at the moment. So I've decided not to review it. I thought I'd let you know so you knew where you stand.

Sorry

Matt

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2046 demands to be seen if only because no film (at least, no film *I've* ever seen) revels in the beauty and elegance of the female form more than this one. In a take-your-breath-away, aren't-women-confoundingly-fantastic? kind of way. And few offer as much attention to color and texture.

A precaution: There are a few sex scenes (filmed without explicit nudity, the film is not pornographic or inappropriate.) It's for viewers who aren't led astray by art that is about sexual relationships.

Ziyi Zhang is a revelation in this film. I liked her before, especially in The Road Home, but here she nudges her way into Juliette Binoche/Audrey Hepburn territory. It's hard to believe she's real.

Tony Leung gives a suave, understated performance, and I can't imagine anyone else in this role.

Faye Wong (Chungking Express) gets to play both a writer AND a Blade-Runner-style pleasure-android, and few actresses could play an android so convincingly. Gorgeous, in a way, and yet unnervingly plastic. She also gets to wear the coolest shoes I've ever seen in a film.

Did I mention that Gong Li deserves praise too?

It's a film that is open to a thousand interpretations.

To me, at first viewing, it's about our longing for heaven, for a state of unchanging love and contentment, that elusive experience with the divine that happens in romantic love only in fleeting moments. It's about how, in this life, most of us experience the frustration of relationships that are exciting but not perfect, that seem to be puzzles missing a piece. Mr. Chow is involved with several women over the course of the film, seducing them, being seduced, manipulating them, being manipulated, occasionally bedding them, breaking up with them, being abandoned. (After the show, mrmando compared it to Dangerous Liaisons, and he's right on--it's like Dangerous Liaisons meets Blade Runner in the aesthetic of In the Mood For Love.) Each time Mr. Chow engages with a woman, or mourns her departure, we become increasingly aware that, at the core of these messed up relationships, he's longing for the "one that got away." (You can probably guess who that is, and yes, she does appear, but only briefly.) At the same time, he's writing a sci-fi novel about a time and a place that is said to be unchangeably wonderful...

2046 (is it a year? an address? a room number? a state of being? nirvana? heaven? Or all of the above) seems to be a destination that he can't get to... or perhaps can't escape. People who reach it never return... and thus no one's sure if, indeed, it's all it's cracked up to be.

In spite of his longing for transcendance, Chow seems cursed to never reach what he desires, because he can't get over himself. For all of his affairs, he holds on to the right to manipulate, leave, break promises, and do whatever the heck he wants. He's an arrogant @#$%@$!, but that's not to say we can't learn from observing his mistakes.

I was enthralled. It does start to wear out its welcome with redundancies near the end (some day 20 minutes too long, I say maybe 10) but that didn't bother me as much as some of the others in the crowd. I'm so caught up in Wong Kar Wai's mastery of style and form, and Christopher Doyle's cinematography, that the story is a secondary aspect of the film for me. I come away feeling as if I've been served an extravagant meal, and that I enjoyed it so much that I ate a few platefuls too many.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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(I've edited that last post. Somehow I disordered the sentences in the first couple of paragraphs while I was formatting.)

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mrmando   

Thematically, 2046 also seems preoccupied with the idea of fate. Chow is a prolific newspaper hack who writes breezy stories about sex, but when Faye Wong's character invites him to write a different ending to their story, he experiences his first case of writer's block. His pen hangs, poised just above the paper, for an entire day and night, or so the lighting and captions would have us believe. After he rejects Bai Ling (Ziyi Zhang's character), Chow seems to lose the ability even to imagine that his relationships might turn out any better.

Technically, there's probably a lot to be gleaned from an analysis of the director's use of leitmotif. I remarked afterward that the film was "a short day at the office for the music supervisor," as there are only eight or nine musical themes that keep repeating. Closer attention to when and how they are used would probably yield some further insight (aside from the obvious, like Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" every time Christmas Eve comes around). Visual motifs (especially black pumps or high heels) undoubtedly have something to tell us as well.

As I told Jeffrey, I get impatient with films about women falling in love with men who treat them like prostitutes (I HATED The Piano, for example). So I thought 2046 was more like a half hour too long, rather than 10 minutes.

Edited by mrmando

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As I told Jeffrey, I get impatient with films about women falling in love with men who treat them like prostitutes (I HATED The Piano, for example). So I thought 2046 was more like a half hour too long, rather than 10 minutes.

She was a prostitute. (Or "taxi-dancer", but that's my understanding of the profession in that time and place.) It was a little on the long side, but I tend to be forgiving when I'm watching a film that has such beautiful photography.

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Anders   

Just saw this one tonight, as it finally arrived at the UVic Cinecenta and I was curious to check it out.

I came out of the film trying to piece together what I had just seen. It was remarkably beautiful, and despite the fact I don't think I understand it all (It's been a long week and I'm fairly tired, which I think didn't help my comprehension), it was worth seeing merely for the cinematography and performances. Tony Leung was great. Zhang Ziyi is as breaktakingly gorgeous as people have claimed (looking forward to seeing Memoirs of a Geisha). The ideas put forth in the film take a little bit of chewing, but I think, for me, it was a worthwhile filmgoing experience.

The idea of 2046 and all the ambiguities it entails was interesting (year, room number, etc.). It's also interesting that this is the second film I've seen this week in which characters talk about themselves as being "substitutes" for someone/thing else. The other was Elizabethtown.

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I liked 2046 much more than "In the Mood for Love." Both are

incredibly beautiful to watch, but about 20 minutes too long. I

enjoy the storyline, though. . . completely different message than

you will find in American cinema. I probably need to see it again

to fit all the pieces together. I imagine it will be several months

before I feel up to that =0)

Personally, I prefer In The Mood For Love.

What a hypnotic, beautiful film. But if anyone has the Cliff's Notes, please pass them to me.

I'm in Jenny's camp. I watched it in two chunks, interrupted by a night's sleep, but found it much more engrossing and complex than In the Mood for Love, although I really do need to revisit Mood again.

Oddly (?), the film 2046 most reminded me of was Stalker.

So, Jeffrey, it was Doyle who did the magnificent cinematography here? I was trying to find his name on the DVD box (I didn't watch all of the end credits) and couldn't make it out anywhere in the microscopic type. He did In the Mood for Love, I think, so he would have been (and I guess, was) the natural choice here.

Edited by Christian

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Yes, Doyle worked on 2046, although I believe there were multiple cinematographers throughout the course of the project (with Doyle being the primary one throughout).

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I recently went through the entire DAYS OF BEING WILD trilogy and am still reeling from the experience. These are three very extraordinary films and they deserve greater attention than they have so far received. But 2046, its conclusion, is my favorite of the bunch, and one of my favorite films, period. In looking over essays on the films, over at Strictly Film School, I found a fairly compelling write-up on this film and thought I'd share it:

In an early episode in 2046, Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) - the international correspondent and aspiring wuxia novelist of Wong's preceding film,
(and now a struggling journalist and pulp writer of erotic serials) encounters a former acquaintance from Singapore named Lulu (Carina Lau) at a seedy nightclub on Christmas Eve, 1964. Now preferring to be called Mimi, she seems indifferent to their reunion, unable to recall any of Mo-wan's referential anecdotes until he notes that their brief moment of connection occurred over the memory of her former lover, a Chinese Filipino who had died young, and from whose death she has never emotionally recovered. It is a momentary reference to the ill-fated love affair between Mimi (also played by Lau) and Yuddy (Leslie Cheung) in Wong's second feature,
(in which Leung briefly - and inexplicably - appears in an unexplored vignette). Escorting the visibly shattered Lulu home, Mo-wan discovers that her apartment coincidentally bears the fateful number 2046 - the hotel room of Mo-wan and Su-Lizhen's (Maggie Cheung) encounter in In the Mood for Love - an unresolved memory that inspires him to take up residence in the neighboring room at the hotel and begin working on a time travel science fiction novel set in the year 2046, a destination where lost memories are recaptured and relived in perpetuity, but from which there seems no escape (an idea that similarly resonates through Andrei Tarkovsky's
and Alain Resnais'
). Deriving inspiration from an eclectic assortment of characters whose paths he has momentarily crossed, including his landlord Mr. Wang (Wang Sum), Wang's eldest daughter Jing Wen (Faye Wong), Jing-Wen's Japanese boyfriend Tak (Takuya Kimura), an attractive hostess named Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi), and an enigmatic professional gambler named Su-Lizhen (Li Gong), Mo-wan's novel inevitably betrays his own sentimental inertia, articulating a haunted and bittersweet chronicle of missed opportunity and unrequited desire.

In the essay
, Jean-Marc Lalanne describes the films of Wong Kar-wai as akin to the elaborately conceived and painstaking detailed, but consequently unwieldy and disintegrating fragments of the cartographer's map in a José Luis Borges novel: a simulacrum whose fidelity approached the real so exactly that it now covered the original subject in its entirely. Within this allegorical framework, 2046 perhaps comes closest to Wong's overarching raison d'être for his evocatively fractured, yet voluptuous and lucid contemporary portraits of transitory connection, rootlessness, and unreconciled longing. From Lau's reprised appearance as Mimi to repeated mnemonics of the number 2046, to the film's elliptical structure that modulates sinuously through past, present, and (fictional) future, to the film's thematic narrative progression through successive Christmas Eves (a holiday that evokes images of birth, hope, and renewal), Wong captures the delusion and innate tragedy in the perpetuation of emotional stasis, insularity, and existential transience that lead to meaningless ritual (note that the year 2046 also signifies the end of the Chinese government's reassurance to leave Hong Kong's political and economic administration unchanged for 50 years after the British handover in 1997). Moreover, through Mo-wan's futuristic companion manuscript 2047, a story that he had penned about a Japanese traveler who sought to leave 2046 (a figurative utopian escape that seemed logically inconceivable and had never been undertaken) and his relationship with a malfunctioning android/train stewardess afflicted with delayed reaction (a character based on his assistant and occasional ghostwriter Jing Wen), Wong illustrates the desolation of failed synchronicity: the reluctant realization that romantic destiny is defined by the precise, coincidental intersection of both a physical and an emotional trajectory. It is interesting to note that the film's surreal opening sequence (of the lone Japanese traveler) is later revealed, not to be an excerpt from the serial novel 2046, but from the draft of 2047: a point of view that acknowledges the folly of resigned nostalgia and seeks to escape its moribund, seductive euphoria and blissful oblivion. It is this defiance against complacency and delusive escapism that invariably define Wong's indelible images of eternal romanticism as well: an ambitious and ennobled personal quest to resolve time, desire, connection, and destiny within the chaotic and unpredictable tide of inevitable human history.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I wasn't quite sure where to drop this. The House Next Door has an epic-length conversation about the entirety of Kar-Wai Wong's filmography, with plenty of time devoted to 2046 as a major entry in Wong's career. I would quote a part of it, but I'm having trouble pulling out a single segment. Perhaps this one, which so beautifully describes Wong's work:

The compartment metaphor suggests that Wong's oeuvre is like an apartment block, with each of his films an apartment within the larger building, a tempting construct considering Wong's fascination with urban environments and his Hong Kong-centric perspective. However, these individual rooms in the building of Wong's oeuvre aren't sealed off from one another, not by any means. Characters fluidly pass from one room to another, crossing over into the lives and stories of the Wong heroes in adjoining rooms. Such fluidity between ostensibly separate urban spaces is a thematic foundation of Wong's work, as evidenced by the parallel disintegrating marriages in the adjoining apartments of
, as well as the repeated emphasis on lovers who interact with their loved ones' apartments as stand-ins for the people they love. Wong's films often revolve around the significance of particular rooms—notably room number 2046, which appears in several different incarnations throughout his work—and in the same way the separate "rooms" of his individual films are permeable to echoes or ghosts that flow from room to room.

In this way, the interconnectivity of Wong's career becomes a metaphor for the urban interconnectivity that he explores within many of the individual films, the sense that in the neon-lit modern cities of Wong's films, no one's life is truly separate, no one is truly isolated no matter how alienated and disconnected they might feel. No matter how bleak Wong's films can sometimes seem, no matter how dark the emotions he dredges up can be, that utopian idea remains at the center of his career, the thread winding through his films and tying them together.

Edited by Ryan H.

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opus   

Wow... that article does, indeed, look epic. I don't have time to read the whole thing right now, but that excerpt you've quote has certainly piqued my curiosity.

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