21 August 2005

2046, starring tony leung, zhang ziyi, and faye wong, directed by wong kar-wai.

the number in the title might be a year; it might be a place; it might be a number. if you've seen in the mood for love, which you should have, but don't really need to if you're going to see its semi-sequel, you'll know which it is; after seeing 2046, you'll know that it doesn't really matter. at the close of citizen kane, thompson says, "i don't think any word can explain a man's life. no, i guess rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle." 2046 is a jigsaw puzzle, to be sure--also, a romance, a detective story, and a science fiction spectacle, with a tenuous grip on time--and one that is missing its last piece. normally, this causes some degree of frustration, but in wong's hands, it is a rapturous experience, and the enjoyment comes from turning the box upside down, searching the floor carefully, trying to find that last piece. wong takes the ephemera of a doomed relationship and makes it ring like the number of the place first shared w/ one's lover or a locale hallowed by a first glance. if in the mood for love was brief encounter and casablanca, 2046 is part kane, part (tarkovsky's) solaris, part vertigo, yet wholly wong.

2046 two-fer!
vincenzo bellini, "casta diva" (from the opera norma, available for purchase here)
after schubert, you all should be ready for some opera. this aria from norma is used often in the film, mostly to drown out a particular family quarrel. wong's use of music--opera, xavier cugat, connie francis, dean martin's "sway," nat king cole's "the christmas song"--is as essential as the images themselves in establishing the dreamlike tone of the film.

danny chung, "happy together" (from the happy together ost, available for purchase as an import here)
when wong made happy together, my favorite of his films, he was unable to license one song: frank zappa's cover of "happy together," from fillmore east -- june 1971. so, he did what many companies do today when they can't get rights: he commissioned a soundalike, but one that, i think, trumps the original cover.

No comments: