If one is to search for designated auteurs in the modern era (and we have precious few in an increasingly arid well), there are a few names that routinely pop up, but chances are that Wong Kar-wai is right up there. Kar-wai’s films are classicist dramas, worldly and weary and aware of their universal status in their almost mythic exploration of sighing human loneliness and the passing moments of connection that counterpoint but only further contour that loneliness. His films reflect an old-school filmmaking mentality seldom seen today, but they are uniquely primed for modern-day China, works equally comfortable with their intimate world in a specific locale and the wide-reaching humanity they dance with and caress in their very specificity. He’s a maker of masterpieces, he is, and if you want to discuss Kar-wai’s intricate perfectionism and impressionist color-as-emotion collages that are at once judiciously composed and free-flowing, you really must begin with the man’s all-time masterpiece among masterpieces, and the best work of cinematic art produced in the still-young century to this day: 2000’s In the Mood for Love. Continue reading
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s fifth film as a single director saw him win a shiny new award out of some ramshackle little French town somewhere, and moving up from the lil’ independents to the big ones across major US cities (for once outside of festival strongholds LA and New York) and even the much-dreaded small town release tour. We might take this to mean it is his best film, or his most “artsy”. Then again, even Cannes isn’t exactly running over itself to get to Guy Maddin, and David Lynch only gets us there these days because he’s American (and even then Cannes hasn’t been his buddy in a while, although there is a sense that even David Lynch is not David Lynch’s buddy properly). Weerasethakul’s earlier films were, if anything, too idiosyncratic and iconoclast for even a festival like Cannes to fall in love with, and Uncle Boonmee sanded off the edges just enough to get him there.