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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Under the Radar: Chungking Express

This early nineties film by Wong Kar-Wai is a brilliant Movie that not alot of people have seen. The film has been in obscurity for about a decade everywhere accept Asia. Though it is now widely available after being re released by Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Pictures. 
The movie takes place in a Hong Kong Take out joint where we meet an assortment of interesting heartbroken and lovestruck characters. It's in the same style as Clerks, Dazed & Confused, and Grandma's Boy in the fact that there really is no plot. There is no driving story, we are just kind of hanging out with these characters. The entertainment comes from the characters and dialogue more than a plot. I believe this style is harder to write and involves much more skill in character development, style, and conversation. But when it's done well it makes for a great movie like Chungking Express. 
This movie is about relationships and love but covers it in a much different non-conventional way. A heartbroken man won't eat anything that expires after the date that his girlfriend left him, in hopes that she'll return before then. A girl who works at the take-out develops a crush on a older policeman and sneaks into his house on a daily basis to clean and rummage through his belongings. This movie isn't about boy meets girl, this movie is about how you want to get to know someone, the feelings that make you like them to begin with.
The whole film feels very natural and authentic. You feel more like your dropping in on random lives than you do watching a scripted production. It IS subtitled. You tell some people a movie has subtitles and they run for the hills. For me, it didn't take anything away from it. 
This movie isn't for everyone. It's not a comedy but it's not heavily dramatic. If you need fast paced excitement or constant punch-lines, then this may not be your movie. This movie is about life and plays out like life, some moments are exciting and some are slow and dull, but if you look hard enough and see between the lines. You can find beauty in all of it.
And good luck getting "California Dreaming" out of your head afterwards. 

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