Category Archives: Movies

Not as Wild

In my continuing love of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, I watched his 1991 breakthrough Days of Being Wild last night.

First, I will say that Wong Kar-Wai has risen to the status of “one of my favorite directors” faster than anyone else. I saw Happy Together and knew that he was awesome and that I needed to see and learn about as many as his films as possible. Following Happy Together I watched In the Mood for Love and his segment of the recent film Eros. So what I’m trying to preface this with is: 1. I love his films and think he’s an awesome director; 2. I only recently came into love with his films and haven’t seen all that many.

Also, I should add, that it’s been a pain-and-a-half getting this movie. When I first added it to my my Netflix queue, it came pretty quick (unlike Happy Together which had a “Very long wait” and 2046 which has had a “Very long wait” for over a month now). When I got the disc, however, it was cracked. Per the Netflix instructions, I filled out a form on the website and sent it back. I requested that they send a replacement copy. Lucky for me, that replacement came within three days… oh, but it was cracked, also. Oh, and I didn’t realize this until after I invited my friend Troy over to watch it with me. I felt stupid. Anyway, I returned the second broken disc and attached a Post-it that said “This one is broken.” The third time I got the DVD, it was in one piece. Yay.

York and Mimi/Lulu

On to the movie:

Like other Wong Kar-Wai movies, this movie, to some extent, revolves around the ideas of love and chance encounters. The main character, York, seduces and dumps two women: one is the quiet Su Lizhen and the other is the more spunky Lulu (a.k.a. Mimi). Eventually, York’s friend falls for Lulu and a random police office has a chance encounter with Su Lizhen. Neither of the women seem to be enough over York to acknowledge the men who may actually love them… and in the end, of course, it all goes to hell.

Similar to the way relationships develop in Happy Together, we don’t really see how “good” things are during these relationships — there is none of that cheesy spending-every-moment-together and having-super-happy-fun-carefree-times-together stuff that makes me ill in so many American romantic movies (e.g. The Notebook) — instead, we see things when they are bad. We see York reject Su Lizhen’s suggestion that they get married and live together kick Lulu/Mimi out of the apartment they share after she suggests that he might be “her boy.”

Despite these troubled relationships, however, Kar-Wai manages to capture love at it’s purest. I know I’m pretty cynical and jaded when it comes to love, but Kar-Wai seems to agree, somewhat, with my world view. Love is painful and hurtful and insane… it happens when you don’t anticipate it with people from which you don’t expect it.

Like I said, Days of Being Wild definitely touches on themes that I think become much more prominent in Kar-Wai’s later work (well, based on the recent stuff I’ve seen). The ideas of being trapped and isolated (by cramped, hot, sweaty apartments with fans) in life and relationships becomes a major theme in Happy Together, while the strange excitement of relationships that come from nowhere becomes the one of the underlying issues of In the Mood for Love.

Days of Being Wild also contains what I would call (and remember, this is only after seeing four of his movies) “trademarks” of Kar-Wai films: cramped apartment hallways, pouring rain, Latin/Spanish music, missed encounters, chance encounters, and shaky camera work.

So why do I hesitate to rave about this film as much as Happy Together or In the Mood for Love? The primary reason would be super high expectations. Had I seen this film before either of those, I would probably think more highly of it. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to see how far Kar-Wai has come and I genuinely do like it when directors find similar themes that they explore to death. Yeah, it may be a little repetitive and playing it safe, but it also gives one a chance to really explore something interesting and worthwhile. And I think Kar-Wai’s take on the themes of love and chance and fate make for fascinating film.

A Cine-ful city

Jessica Alba in 'Sin City'

So like every other hip and cool person, I saw Sin City and loved it. Ever since I saw Robert Rodriguez‘s Once Upon a Time in Mexico and the special feature where Rodriguez demonstrated how simple it was to do special effects, I figured he was an interesting and smart director.

More than anything, Sin City reminded me of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow — both were extremely stylized and had “ironic” acting (which is a term I made up to mean “forced, yet good; cheesy, yet self-aware; overdramatic, yet simple)… plus they both made extensive use of green screen technology and, of course, I loved them both.

I guess a lot has been said about the violence of the film, but honestly, I didn’t think it was too intense. The thing about Sin City is that since it is so stylized, the entire world and situation doesn’t feel real, and I think that made the violence feel less real and less “offensive” or whatever. I mean, the film wasn’t even in color and the blood was often white. Yes, I know I’m already desensitived toward violence, but I don’t think Sin City made things any worse for me.

I also loved the whole film-noir aspect of the film. Maybe it’s from all my psychoanalytic reading, but there is something about shady, tormented characters (i.e. every male character in the film) and sexy femme fatales (i.e. every female character in the film) that totally captures my attention.

If I had to say anything bad about the film (which I don’t, but I will anyway), I will admit that at times it did drag on a little for me. I’m not sure whether it was because there were so many stories or because the movie was in black and white, or what… nonetheless, it did get a bit boring at times. And really, I am almost embarassed to admit that I got bored because, if nothing else, I should’ve been enthralled by the stunning visuals or something. Oh well. It’s more a fault of mine than the movie, I think.