The epitome and apotheosis of art-house romance in the 90s, Wong Kar-wai developed a style like no other director —though, as his renown grew beyond China, dozens tried. It is atmosphere used to create the most fleeting or lasting emotion, a mix of longing gazes, swirling cigarette smoke, double-printed slo-mo images and the Colony’s most gorgeous actors. Wong might have gone higher with the Eastern Western Ashes of Time, and deeper with that aching epic 2046, but we’ll choose the more lighthearted Chungking Express as an admirable starter set. It’s a set because the film tells two stories: one of young Takeshi Kaneshiro falling for ageless Brigitte Lin, the other pairing Hong Kong cop Tony Leung Chiu-wai with the elfin beauty Faye Wong. With his two essential collaborators, cinematographer Christopher Doyle and designer William Chang, Wong weaves a tapestry of longing and seduction that puts both the characters and the audience in the mood for love. The love story is a genre inexplicably ignored by both art-house and commercial directors. Isn’t it lovely, then, that Wong Kar-wai is always in that mood?
Next Citizen Kane