Saturday, September 23, 2006

Faux-Bushido and "it's all Wong"

Subject: Cinema
More recommendation-action for more Wong Kar-Wai brings me to "Fallen Angels", which is considered a "sequel" to "Chunking Express". Probably because it has two disconnected-yet-connected stories, and involves mostly-psychotic babes and totally clueless dudes.

There's a bit more of a John Woo edge to this one. Well, actually, an almost outright John-Woo-ripoff at the beginning. Part of it is the overall Hong-Kong-thang that shares a common attitude amongst all the various gangster films of the 90's. But with the two-fisted gunslinging and the very same birdcage cafe from "Hard Boiled", it's hard to deny that there's at least some sort of connection between the veteran (Woo) and the newbie (Kar-Wai).

Kar-Wai misses out on the whole "violent ballet" aspect of Woo's classics, of course. Slo-mo and moody lighting doesn't make up for it in the slightest. However, once you zoom in to his characters, that's where you find the strength of his work. Simplicity for sure, and overall quite interesting. Though his women in both "Chunking" and "Fallen" tend to be a bit over-the-top psychotic. At least in "Fallen", he balances it with an over-the-top psychotic male lead as well. Though his "father dies, time to grow up" bit towards the end kind of made me wince. But I guess I'm a little sensitive to that this year. *sigh*

Another one out of the GreenCine queue was the Criterion release of "Le Samourai", a French noir classic from the year I was born (which means it's getting rather old, don'tcha know). It struck me right off that this was probably the inspiration of Jim Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai", though there's only a tiny bit in common. Otherwise, it's definitely a time capsule from another cinematic era in another cinematic culture. It gets mired in to the details of the game between police procedure and professional Parisan assassin. It's a neat enough story, though, and worth sticking with, though it's more fascinating in an historical context than it is from any modern perspective.

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