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Wong Kar Wai

Wong Kar Wai

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2046 DVD In this follow-up to his 2000 "In the Mood for Love," writer-director Kar Wai... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Wang Gu Wei, Wong Kar-Wai, Wohng Ga Waih, Wang Jiawei Died:
Born: July 17, 1958 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Shanghai, CN Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, assistant director, production assistant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Wong Kar-wai was a rare commodity within the Hong Kong film industry - a maker of "art" films. Moreover, he made these films with studio backing and all-star casts, with some of these projects even making money. In an entertainment arena dominated by over-the-top actioners, florid melodramas, and broad comedies, this was no small achievement. For Wong, genre merely provided a template through which he worked out his ongoing thematic preoccupations, such as the transitory nature of experience, the importance of memory, the influence of pop culture, and the lasting sting of rejection. His bold stylistic signature - slow-motion action scenes blurred and pixilated by step-printing; huge, distorting close-ups and compacted fight sequences shot from disorienting angles - had tended to overwhelm most conventional generic concerns. But what distinguished Wong most of all, was his not ever using a script - like Miles Davis with Kind of Blue, Wong sketched basic ideas and trusted those around him, particularly the actors, to help him improvise his films - a stunning achievement, given the difficulty of making even a descent movie from the best of scripts.

Wong Kar-wai was a rare commodity within the Hong Kong film industry - a maker of "art" films. Moreover, he made these films with studio backing and all-star casts, with some of these projects even making money. In an entertainment arena dominated by over-the-top actioners, florid melodramas, and broad comedies, this was no small achievement. For Wong, genre merely provided a template through which he worked out his ongoing thematic preoccupations, such as the transitory nature of experience, the importance of memory, the influence of pop culture, and the lasting sting of rejection. His bold stylistic signature - slow-motion action scenes blurred and pixilated by step-printing; huge, distorting close-ups and compacted fight sequences shot from disorienting angles - had tended to overwhelm most conventional generic concerns. But what distinguished Wong most of all, was his not ever using a script - like Miles Davis with Kind of Blue, Wong sketched basic ideas and trusted those around him, particularly the actors, to help him improvise his films - a stunning achievement, given the difficulty of making even a descent movie from the best of scripts.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

4.
  Eros (2004) Director ("The Hand")
5.
  In the Mood for Love (2000) Director
6.
  Motorola (1998) Director
7.
  Happy Together (1997) Director
8.
  Fallen Angels (1995) Director
9.
  Chungking Express (1994) Director
10.
  Ashes Of Time (1994) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Words In Progress (2004) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1963:
At age five, moved from Shanghai to Hong Kong with his mother; the Cultural Revolution broke out a month later, trapping his father, sister and brother on the mainland
:
Studied graphic design at a technical school but was more interested in photography
1980:
Quit school during his second year and enrolled in a training program at Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited
:
Began working as a production assistant on several dramatic serials
:
Became an assistant director at the station
1981:
Scripted the thriller-soap "Don't Look Now"
1982:
Left Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited
1982:
Credited with about ten scripts; wrote and produced
1986:
Conceived the plot for "As Tears Go By" while working on helmer Patrick Tam's "The Final Victory" as a writer
1989:
Feature debut as writer/director, "As Tears Go By"; received nine nominations for the Hong Kong Film Awards
1991:
Wrote and directed "Days of Being Wild"; film was a financial failure
1994:
Feature debut as a producer, "Chungking Express"; was the first feature to be released through Rolling Thunder, the specialty distribution label at Miramax created by writer/director Quentin Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender (released in the US in 1996)
1997:
Directed the well received, "Happy Together"
2000:
Helmed "In the Mood for Love," a period romance set in 1962 Hong Kong
2001:
Directed the short, "The Follow"; one of five film advertisements for BMW shown over the Internet at bmwfilms.com
2004:
Filmed "2046," the third chapter of a shared story that began with "Days of Being Wild" and continued with "In the Mood for Love"
2006:
Became the first Chinese director to preside the jury at the Cannes Film Festival
2007:
Helmed first full English-language film, "My Blueberry Nights"; featured singer-songwriter Norah Jones in her acting debut
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hong Kong Polytechnic College: - 1980

Notes

"'I'm fascinated by video,' Wong admits. 'The way it blurs and flattens real life, the way it never looks like you thought it would when you play it back. And so my films, which always deal with memory, start taking on the quality of video--a form of physicalized memory that can be experienced again and again, or recorded over, or screened until it literally falls apart, until it pixilates right in front of you.'" --From "Wong's World" by Gemma Files, EYE WEEKLY, January 25, 1996.

MC: Your film ['As Tears Go By', 1988] is inspired by 'Mean Streets'. How do you see the relationship between the movie of Scorsese and the society of Hong Kong?

WKW: I think the Italians have a lot of similarities with the Chinese: their values, their sense of friendship, their mob/Mafia, their pasta, their attachment to their mother. When I saw 'Mean Streets' for the first time, I was shocked, because I had the idea that the story easily could have happened in Hong Kong.

--From an interview with Wong Kar-wai conducted by Michel Ciment in POSITIF, No 410, April 1995 (freely translated from French by Neil Gouw on the World Wide Web).

"Far and away Wong's zestiest work, 'Chungking Express' is an infectious piece of brightly lit, blithely intoxicating bubblegum cinema. At once a catchy come-on jingle and its own snappy answer-song, the film's flipside pairing of two briefly interknit stories, about jilted cops and their inappropriate rebound choices, rings in the brain with a kind of jukebox magic. Swinging on its characters' haphazard proximities and vamping with an irresistibly vivacious visual wit, it's like a catchier Kieslowski, a hipster's O Henry: melodies merge, harmonies collide, and though its lovers barely meet, they find ways to sail their devotions on a breeze across the divide." --From "Time Pieces: Wong Kar Wai and the Perspective of Memory" by Chuck Stephens, FILM COMMENT, vol. 32, no. 1.

"I've never done a costume film. I always think costume films are great fun. You can really be wild. Though in fact it's really hard work. So I find an easy way out: I make everything contemporary, and I sideline things like hierarchy and seniority. Actually costume films are very formalistic. Different social strata have different etiquette, conventions and ways of living. But it's ridiculous to sweat over research on their lifestyles. Because it doesn't matter how you do it, in the end it's all a sham. Even if you got things like sipping tea and eating rice down to their last details, so what? You still don't know if they are real or not." --From Wong Kar-wai's comments on "Ashes of Time" in the HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 1995 CATALOGUE

"Usually I find that genre conventions get in the way of dealing with certain areas of character psychology, but one of my inspirations for 'Ashes [of Time]' was 'The Searchers'--a film which suggests how you can get inside an apparently opaque protagonist. In Ford's film, I've always been extremely touched by the relationship between the John Wayne character and his sister-in-law, which you see only in the way she passes him a cloth. It must amount to about three seconds of screen time but the hint is enough." --Wong Kar-wai quoted in "Poet of Time" by Tony Rayns, SIGHT AND SOUND (September 1995).

". . . Before I start to film a movie, I take a lot of drugs, the time for my interpretations and me to find a single rhythm. Of course, I'm very careful with the number of dosages." --From POSITIF, No 410, April 1995

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"Wong Kar-Wai"

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