one of the world's most
KAR-WAl's latest, Happy Together, shifts the actio from neon-soaked Hong Kong to Buenos Aires. Words: Beth Williams
Relying heavily on chance coincidence, Wong characteristically builds his ﬁlms
films — such as arthouse
— happen when characters
ﬁlms themselves are affected by Setting off for intending to shoot a thriller base
to change his plans drastically.
strikes.’ he explains. ‘and so original story seem impossible.
this very simple — two gay guys Hong Kong just trying to start
side of the world.
movie and move to another ci complete the ﬁlm in time.’
audience and because I wanted them to appear equal. The theme of the ﬁlm is about their relationship, which is based on routine. They just live together. they break up. they get back together, and they break up.’
So although the ﬁlm has a gay theme. that’s incidental in . creating an equality between the
sex just so that there is no conﬁi women.’
Using this virtually identical blank canvas on which to paint
24 THE LIST 16—30 Apr 1998
Celebrated everywhere as
exciting filmmakers, WONG
Kar-Wai very organic way. The stories in his Chungking Express and Fallen Angels destined to meet, and similarly the Buenos Aires.
the story of a cop searching for his long-lost father. Wong found he had
‘When we got to Buenos Aires. we had problems in production. problems with the union and international
schedule for the actors made my changed it and thought. let’s make life again somewhere on the other
If we have problems in Buenos Aires. then we can make it a road
Wong cast two well known Hong Kong actors — Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung — for the male leads. conscious of their similarity in appearance.
‘I wanted the men in the ﬁlm to look almost the same.’ he admits. ‘especially for the Western
always say this film is not a gay film.’ is Wong’s viewpoint. ‘lt is about people. and there’s only one
then allowed himself to be influenced by events
‘When we were editing the ﬁlm in our office. a
and in a hits are fate.
our So I
ty, and so on. and
«M’s: i. ’ ’% «a at:
Wong Kar-Wai: the oriental godfather of cool
friend called to say that Deng Xiao Ping had died. so we tttrned on the TV and saw the news repeated all
night,’ he says. ‘When we left our office in the
’I always say this film is not a gay film. There’s only one sex
just so that there is no conflict
between men and women.’ Wong Kar-Wai voiceover.’
two protagonists. ‘l
ct between men and
sounds to make them 5
morning. we realised that this was the end of an era and the beginning of another. so we also included this in the film to symbolise events.’
It is this tweaking of ordinary events. images and ignificant which characterises
Wong Kar-Wei’s distinctive style. Nothing is as obvious as it first seems. ‘Voiceover is something I always use in my films to make them much easier to understand. and people treat voiceovers as something very true.’ he says by way of example. ‘But one day I will lie through the
Happy Together won Wong the Best Director Palme at Cannes in 1997. cementing his arrival as a major new international talent. Not that he’ll now slip
into doing the expected. There is no telling how fate
character base as a
his signature. Wong straightforward.
will affect his next project. but it won’t be
Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 24 Apr. Edinburgh
Filmhouse from Fri 1 May.
The column that puts you in the picture.
FORGET COPS, LAWYERS, secret agents and cowboys, the latest screen hero is the humble postman. Not in his overblown, pseudo- mythic Hollywood incarnation of the recent ’blink and you'll miss it’ epic The Postman, but as a down- trodden everyday bloke hassled by snarling dogs.
Norwegian black comedy thriller Junk Mail has been garnering rave reviews around the festival circuit (including the Edinburgh International Film Festival) and, on its UK cinema release, it's being joined on screen with Bite, a Scottish short made as part of the Prime Cuts scheme by MTP/ Imagine Films. David Tennant stars as Alistair, the proverbial worm who turns when his wife commits adultery and he's savaged by a dog on his delivery route.
Bite and Junk Mail can be seen at the Cameo in Edinburgh from Friday 17 April and at the Glasgow Film Theatre from Friday 1 May. They're also being shown in London, Sheffield, Cambridge, Bristol and Brighton. Hats off to distributors Metro Tartan for showing commitment to short filmmaking.
Elsewhere this fortnight. other Scottish shorts getting the big screen treatment include David Mackenzie’s drug paranoia comedy California Sunshine, which precedes Woody Allen‘s Deconstructing Harry at the GET from Friday 17 until Thursday 23 April. Its spot is taken over from Friday 24 by Candy Floss, a fairground romance by Hannah Robinson.
FLEAPIT FILM CLUB has its second screening at King Tut's in Glasgow on Monday 20 April. In black comedy Harold And Maude, a death-obsessed rich kid finds intimate comfort with an 80-year- old woman. Tickets are available from the venue (221 5279) and information on further happenings can be gleaned from Fleapit, PO Box 4711, Glasgow, G12 8YF or by e-mail (fleapitGdial.pipex.com).
Post war: David Tennant in Bite