There was never much doubt that I was going to watch the other Wong Kar Wai film tonight. It’s also on the Top 100 list from TIME OUT. I may as well get the full dose of Wong Kar Wai and keep putting off Godard until tomorrow.
Chow Mo-wan is still in search of love. He’s been resting in a land – or a space – known as 2046 where there is no pain or sadness. He returns however to present time and embarks on a series of sexual adventures which all seem to be headed the same place: nowhere. He’s cruel and selfish and careless now in his treatment of woman. He doesn’t even seem to be searching for most of the film. Just doing. It’s exquisite, with some of the most visually beautifully costumes I’ve ever seen a woman wear, I wonder what else it has to say about life and love that Days of Being Wild (1990), In the Mood for Love (1999) and Chungking Express (1994) didn’t already observe. I predict that there will be a fourth film if there already hasn’t been. The first was a story of the wild days of youth, the second of finding the right one but it not being right, the third about resenting all women, and I think the fourth will be about Chow Mo-wan finding that his hardened heart can be softened by the right woman with whom he will be happy. If not, then Wong is the complete love-cynic.
Wong Kar Wai in 2046 tells the same kind of story about how men see love, the search for love and the point where they stop seeking love anymore, a story that he has told in several of his previous films. The difference is that he is now telling the same story but his main character is someone who observes more than he speaks. More about Chow watching, observing and learning from a distance than using his handsome appearance and his innate charisma to bed women without responsibility, attachment or respect.
However, as (several) great (and subsequently regarded as important) filmmakers develop, I’ve noticed a tendency to move away from a spoken language to a film language. In a few cases the dialogue becomes as sparse as cards in silent movies which need to inform the audience of things they can’t see, understand and comprehend on the screen through images alone.
Particularly I’ve observed this in Bresson, Bergman, Kubrick and Antonioni. They started stripping dialogue out of their films and composing images to enable the moving photograph – not a thousand words – to illustrate and reveal several levels of meaning.
To be specific about identifying the films where a director does this, succeeding – in my opinion – brilliantly:
Bresson with A Man Escaped, Au Hasard Balthazar and Mouchette.
Kubrick with 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange and to a lesser degree Barry Lyndon (where narration become the title cards of silent films).
Antonioni with L’eclisse, Blow-up and Zabriskie Point.
Bergman (with the films either side of The Silence, and then) with Persona, creates a film which repudiates God and then merges the main character within the mind – psyche – of the director, revealing what a world without God looks like. How beautiful and touching that his perceived world without God makes Bergman make a film that is ostentatiously a film without God, enabling him to focus on the fact that there are terrible things happening in our life, which we all can observe, which are so unspeakable as to make us mute.
Bergman’s silence that that film in the Faith Trilogy refers to, The Silence, is the silence from God. He’s silent because he doesn’t exist. This is my favourite of all Bergman’s works in spite of the fact that he presents a silent God, who I believe is in fact a very vocal God. It is the film where Bergman – in my mind – stops trying to describe or work through his feelings about embracing or rejecting Christianity, where he ultimately concludes that the God of his own biological father is a God that doesn’t actually exist.
Lady Bird 2017 + Molly’s Game 2017
Today, another double-header at the movies to catch two more of the films in the 2018 Oscar race. Sixty-minutes with the psychologist, then two hundred and forty five minutes with the unpsychologist.
Lady Bird is good. It’s very good. It’s very well done. It tells the story of a kid growing up in a family where she’s got a tough mum who loves her but finds it difficult to say the words. In fact, difficult to say anything encouraging at all. ‘Lady Bird’ is Christine’s preferred title when addressed. It’s who she sees herself as being. It’s probably meant to represent the fact she’s uncomfortable with being Christine – her given name – because Christine is often in trouble, mostly unloved, and is poor and unpopular. Her journey is from being uncomfortable with who she is to a point where she is accept for being someone she clearly isn’t – but by popular kids – only to find that her real place in the world is with those who value her for who she is, not for who she’s not. Lady Bird captures a realism that has the ring of truth to the family and the friends and how the interactions would play out in real life. It’s good. It’s very very good. What more can I say? Teenage angst is well expressed even if it is well-disguised within a join-the-dots version of that tale.
Molly’s Game is very good. Sometimes brilliant. It tells the story of a kid growing up in a family where she’s got a tough dad who loves her but finds it difficult to say the words. In fact, difficult to say anything encouraging at all. However, exactly like Tonya (in I Tonya), she’s brilliant at what she does. In fact, unlike Tonya, Molly is brilliant no matter what she does. But she doesn’t make a lot of good choices. She skirts the two circles which make a figure-eight. If one circle was legal and the other was illegal, for many years she skates – or skiis – around the line that joins the circles. One day a foot encroaches by a sliver into the bad circle and her life spirals upwards very quickly and downward even more quickly. Everything is well-expressed, well-written and well-directed (with only one or two brief moments of it not being so well[-done]).