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The cinema of Wong Kar-Wai and myself.

March 30, 2021

By Óscar Alfonso Díaz


My mind has been a terrible mess lately, covered entirely with bittersweet memories of a past, I have become pathetic and a hopeless romantic at such a young age, the past, as I've mentioned in many older blog posts, has not given me too much happiness until very recently, but I do remember certain passages of it very fondly, the small pleasures of life, the beautiful and small moments were nothing is said, magical especially because of my inability to communicate things verbally, however, because of this inability, I've grown as a hermetic being, unable to communicate correctly many of the things I feel, specifically because I don't seem to know the words of it, and books, even in their continuous glorified stance, are pretty complicated for me to understand, it is because of this and many reasons why I always find such pleasure in cinema, the only medium that seems to be accessible to such an illiterate person as me, but so deep and capable of communicating everything I feel.

But where does the cinema of Wong appear in this landscape? Exactly in this space, in this mindset, a cinematographic landscape that seems to work in favor of the public emotions, the yearning, the desire, and ultimately, the nostalgia. Recently, I was fortunate enough to go and watch Wong's "In the mood for love" on a cinema screen, one of the biggest pleasures I could have given myself especially after an entire year of not visiting a cinema (Except for last November when I watched "La Ciudad y Los Perros"), this, my third time seeing the film, found me in a particular mindset, where I found so much of myself in it.

"In the mood for love", for those who haven't seen it, is the story about a man, and a woman, who find out that their partners are on an unfaithful relationship, somehow, a relationship is born between these and, in the intense solitude this couple feels in the abandonment by their partners, they find solace in each other, a refuge in the middle of the storm with just the company of the other one (Perhaps, being one of the most visual metaphors in the entire film).

This film, the same way as much of the cinema of Wong does, is served in favor of these emotions, the love, the yearning, and finally, the nostalgia, the desire to go back in time. The colors, the dialogue, the music, works for the continuous rain of these feelings, in the same way, they reappear over and over again in Wong Kar-Wai's filmography, from his earliest to his latest.

What a difficult thing are relationships, always enclosed within small timeframes, when every second is leading us closer to the end of it, in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, a great film to which Coppola attributes much inspiration from Wong Kar-Wai, Coppola explores the feeling of isolation, and how this feeling can sometimes help us to connect in such perfectly-timed ways with other people, in relationships only meant for that moment, a product of how we feel. Something that we recognize over and over, relationships, despite their many hardships, do not stop working because people stop loving each other, but because they're in different moments of their life, they have many different occupations and things on their mind that can come in the way.

We see this more clearly in works such a Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, Happy Together, 2046, and My Blueberry Nights, where Wong makes perfectly clear that these are relationships that could only happen for that specific moment, this is also true for In The Mood For Love (And for Lost in Translation as well), a film where our characters can only coincide because of the conditions they're living in, if their partners weren't cheating, maybe their relationship would have never flourished.

I like the example of 2046, not only because Wong takes a more stylish approach to the subject, but also because in this one we have a few relationships that can't become real, and the reasons are clear, they're simply not compatible, not because of personalities or beliefs, but because they're just living very different moments in their lives.

I would not deny that is a very simplistic way of observing these relationships, but sometimes it's just what these things are, sometimes we just feel destined to be with another person because we coincide in a certain spiritual situation, a spiritual connection.

Finally, we have the yearning, a yearning that appears when we can't return to where we were before because we are not in the same space spiritually or mentally. After all, simply, that's not our place to be anymore, we are not the same anymore, we are not going through the same, but the love, the things we know we felt are there, burning aching, a secret only us can know, a feeling that nobody else but ourselves can understand and has the right to know, even if we can't remember anymore.

The work of Wong Kar-Wai is masterful, and it has marked me forever, not specifically in his so notorious rejection of the North American cinematographic style, but because his work and his approach validate the mere concept of art for many, a centering on emotions, beyond just what a work says, or represents, or the ability of its creators, but the things it makes us feel as the consumers of the work. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, especially since a long generation of young creators (Mainly women and queer authors) are starting to find value in their own stories of more 'meaningless' events, and the profound effects they only have at a personal level, like that of Isabel Sandoval, in whose 'Lingua Franca' we may not find a very nuanced or overtly political story, but a work that centers around emotions, love, fear, and worry, as I did in this document, we may interpret from that as much as we want, because as second-wave feminist said, the personal is political and the political personal.

I will post soon about the work of Isabel Sandoval soon, I'm already writing about it.


Posted on Film

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