Friday, October 10, 2008

Wong Kar-Wai and Christopher Doyle at the Apple Store

Wong Kar-Wai and Christopher Doyle at the Apple Store

Last weekend, I went to see Wong Kar-Wai give a talk about the use of music in his films at the Apple Store in Soho. I was surprised when they announced that Christopher Doyle would be there as well. WKW’s films are so impressionistic, so centered around the moment and emotion that I think it’s hard for him to talk about them in a way that’s particularly revelatory. It’s like talking about how beautiful a sunset is, you can’t really add anything to what the sunset is. The language barrier probably doesn’t help as well.

But, it’s still always fun to hear him speak. His process is very intuitive, very in the moment, and it sounds like he and Doyle had some crazy times on set. Doyle claimed that they were very guerilla with their style, just running around and shooting. The mythology of their relationship is that Doyle and WKW worked together the most on Chungking Express, Fallen Angels and Happy Together, then drifted apart on In the Mood for Love. The frantic energy of those three films is largely about their in the moment capturing of city life, it’s very different than the more mannered approach of WKW’s more recent work.

I consider Fallen Angels the most well shot film of all time, full of shots that just burn themselves into your memory, and one of the examples they showed here was the final moments of the film, when “Only You” plays and the camera zooms along with a motorcycle then drifts off into a smoke filled sky. It’s a perfect fusion of visual and emotion. Doyle seemed like a crazed homeless man at times, it’s hard to connect him with the visuals he manages to capture, but I suppose that’s the paradox of art. David Lynch seems like a nice, normal guy, but his movies are crazy. I think it’s hard for some people to imagine a normal person making a movie as crazy as his stuff, but it makes sense to me. For me, making movies is about a journey through the subconscious, the process of writing is a matter of finding the ideas that stick in my brain, so strange things are always going to filter through to the stories, even if they don’t filter to the outside world.

I’m hoping that WKW and Doyle’s appearance here indicates Doyle’s return for the next WKW movie. My Blueberry Nights dragged a bit on the rewatch, it has great moments, but lacks the energy and life of the best WKW movies. I think he’s at a crossroads after 2046, which was a perfect summation of everything he’d done before. My Blueberry Nights added American actors and setting, but where will he go next? What will his next era of films be?

Either way, I’m eager to see Ashes of Time: Redux this weekend. I love the original, even after seeing it on the worst DVD I’ve ever watched. It needed to be restored, and will hopefully dazzle on the big screen. Expect a review after the screening.