Tag Archive - Wong Kar Wai

Defining the Redux

Ashes of Time Redux
The word “redux” is Latin meaning “brought back”. In cinema this has come to mean a reworking of a previously released film, as in the case of Francis Ford Coppola’s 2001 “Apocalypse Now Redux”. By creating a “redux” of a film, the director is in essence overwriting the original version, the new cut becoming the definitive cut. It is moreover a second chance to get it right, regardless of whether or not your audience agrees.

This is, of course, different than a “Director’s Cut” which is the way that a film would have been made if the director had been granted final cut privileges. Seems simple enough until you consider that Ridley Scott released the Director’s Cut of Blade Runner ten years after the original release and then, in 2006 released Blade Runner: The Final Cut (to be fair, the 1992 Director’s Cut of the film was completed in a rush and without Scott’s full attention and therefore didn’t technically fit the criteria. There are, in fact, 7 different versions of Blade Runner in existence).

A redux is apparently also different from what George Lucas did in 2004 to the original 3 Star Wars movies. That treatment, which more or less brought the CGI effects up to par with their more recent prequels, was simply termed a “re-release” even though Lucasfilm would go on to state that the the 2004 Special Edition was now the “canonical” version of the original trilogy.

And so, with all that said, this October, Wong Kar Wai will be releasing “Ashes in Time Redux”, his “re-envisioning” of his critically acclaimed 1994 martial arts epic. So why has Kar Wai decided that his film needed to be “brought back”? From what I’ve read in the fan forums there are hardly any deleted scenes added to this new cut. Indeed, the run time is actually shorter now. The most noticeable difference is the reordering of certain scenes which makes the story tighter, more coherent. As Lee Marshall from Screen Daily states:

The first surprise about Wong Kar-wai’s revamped, re-edited and rescored version of his 1994 cult wuxia classic Ashes Of Time is just how little has been changed. The second is how much these minor tweaks still have helped clarify the Hong Kong auteur’s interpretation of Louis Cha’s historical fantasy novel The Eagle-Shooting Hero, confirming that his most poetic, experimental film belongs not in the curiosity cabinet but on the big screen.

From the looks of the trailer, the film looks to be nothing short of spectacular and in line with the other epic battle styled movies that seem to pervade today’s mainstream cinema. So perhaps “bringing back” a film has as much to do with timing as it does with how you cut it.

Wong Kar Wai Sells Out..

Wong Kar Wai - Philips Aurea
For Philips Aurea.

Wong Kar Wai - Lacoste Commercial
For Lacoste.

Wong Kar Wai - BMW MOVIE
For BMW (starring Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Adriana Lima and Forest Whitaker).

Wong Kar Wai - Lancome
For Lancome (again starring Clive Owen).

Wong Kar Wai - Dior
For Dior (starring *cough* Eva Green).

Wong Kar Wai - Softbank
For Softbank (starring Brad Pitt) here, here and here.

Ang Lee Takes His Next Chapter From the Book of Wong Kar Wai

Ang Lee's Lust Caution
Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love
Outside our local theatre tonight: a moody noire-like coming soon poster with a war-era Chinese tinge to it and actors Tony Leung and Wei Tang eyeing each other coyly from across the frame. All of which immediately made me think, “Right on, a new Wong Kar Wai flick.” But it turns out that it is in fact for Ang Lee’s film Lust, Caution.

I am certainly not the first person to have made the WKW connection. Beth Accomando over at KPBS matched up the two images above and writes in her review of the film:

“Focus Features has given the film an ad campaign that makes it look like a moody Wong Kar Wai film. Wong is the Hong Kong director who’s made the rapturously romantic films Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, 2046 and Fallen Angels among others. Lust, Caution even stars one of Wong’s favorite actors, Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu Wai, a man with deliriously sad eyes. But if the ads lure any Wong fans to the film, they will be sadly disappointed. Wong has a sure handle on what he wants his films to be and to do, there’s no artistic caution on his part. But Wong’s films are not interested in sex as much as they are interested in love. He’s interested in that giddy emotion that can consume people. Lee on the other hand, doesn’t know if he’s interested in the sex, the romance or the passion.”

“Rapturously romantic”…love that turn of phrase. Interestingly, the romance in Wai’s In the Mood for Love is hardly spoken and never consummated; and yet it is one of the most passionate and sexually charged films that you will ever see. Lee’s Lust Caution on the other hand has gained notoriety for its NC-17 rating, which suggests that in the latter film there has been far less restraint. In the end, the marketing angle has worked on its intended audience as I am pretty psyched to check this movie out when it finally makes it into our neighbourhood theatre.

Auteurs on YouTube – Part 2

Christopher Doyle Interview
Cinematographer extraordinaire, Christoper Doyle talks about his craft on the streets of Bangkok and Hong Kong PLUS a series of commercials by collaborator Wong Kar Wai over at Girl With a Movie Camera.

Auteurs on YouTube – Part 1

It is a strange juxtaposition to go hunting for clips of master filmmakers on youTube. But they are there to be found.

In the great democratization of media, a clip from Fellini’s 8 1/2 stands on even par with clips as monumental to the history of cinema as Brandon Davis and Paris Hilton’s crude comments about Lindsay Lohan’s nether regions. That any one of these great film pioneers foresaw this highly compressed small screen fate for their work is asking too much even for such visionaries.

In the end, it makes for an enjoyable evening surfing through these clips. Here are but a few. I invite you to add more via the comments.

The trailer for Godard’s Breathless (with Japanese subtitles no less).

The swing scene from Kurosawa’s Ikiru.

Two classic 60’s rock n roll moments: the Yardbirds in Antonioni’s Blow Up and a great early rendition of Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones in Godards’ One Plus One.

Film historian, Peter Cowie talking about Bergman’s “Winter Light”.

The wonderful Saul Bass title sequence and opening scene of Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

And finally, one that always gives me chills with the first strains of the violin, the French trailer for Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

Wong Kar Wai


Sony Classics has posted a new website for Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 designed by Klimate out of New York City. I love the kaleidoscopic transitions between the pages.

I rented 2046 the other night and found it to be exquisite, which is not a word that I generally throw out there to describe anything, but in this case it seems appropriate. It is the third in a trilogy that pays homage to Wong Kar Wai’s fascination with Hong Kong in the 1960’s. I am inadvertently watching these films in reverse order having rented In the Mood for Love this evening. This is an even better movie than 2046, and now having watched them both, it is curious to observe how one subtly suggests the other and yet each perfectly exists on its own.

These movies have style. It is as though the composition of the shot exists as a supporting character in every scene to such a degree that Wong Kar Wai has been accused by his critics of sacrificing substance in style’s pursuit. But there are compelling stories to be had in both films. Both are meditations on love and its various incarnations, ITMFL dealing with desire, deceit and moral restraint; while 2046 focuses on memory, regret and the passage of time.

Both are highly recommended. More info on Wong Kar Wai can be found here.