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'Chungking Express' - Screening @ deciBel

Chungking Express was the film that made Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai (In the mood for love, 2046, Happy together) known to American and Western audiences, thanks also to the support of Quentin Tarantino (what is with Tarantino and being the godfather of Asian directors?), who, it has been said, fell deeply in love with Wong’s cinematic style. 

It was 1994, Wong Kar Wai had already made two memorable films - As Tears Go By and Days of Being Wild; during the lengthy post-production phase of his wuxia film, Ashes of Time, he decided to occupy his time with Chungking Express. The film was made in only two months, Wong was writing the script during the day and shooting at night, apparently he did not even have a clear view of how the story would unfold; he was just following his instincts.

Spontaneity is probably what makes ‘Express’ so different from his other films. Its fast-cut editing, the main use of hand camera that flashes over the neon signs of Hong Kong’s shops, running so erratically fast through the streets and the people that you cannot see them distinctly but you can feel them; make ‘Express’ light, dynamic and moreover very much about Hong Kong. 

The film is divided in two stories about two lonely, lovesick policemen, played by Takeshi Kaneshiro (The House of Flying Daggers) and Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love, Infernal Affairs), who try to come to terms with the end of their love affairs, at times with very quirky rituals (Kaneshiro decided to eat 30 cans of pineapple that will expire exactly 30 days after his girlfriend left him; Leung talks with staffed toys, kitchen towels and hand soaps in his flat which are meant to mirror what he is actually feeling).

All the actors are perfectly cast for their roles, but the most surprising was singer-turned-actress, Faye Wong, who plays the no non-sense, dreamy, fast-food worker. Before Amelie there was Faye.

‘Express’ is not simply about two love stories, it is also about weird encounters (Kaneshiro’s only true human connection happens with a mysterious blonde-wigged Gina Rowland’s look-alike that he meets for one night only), it shows loneliness in a frenetic city like Hong Kong and it touches glimpses of Asians’ obsessions for American pop culture (the songs Things in Life and California Dreamin’ are repeated on a loop throughout the film).

Chungking Express swallows you up into another world with its distinct cinematic look, thanks also to photographer Christopher Doyle; its cosmopolitan yet intimate approach and the seemingly ordinary characters that, like most people, are waiting for something to happen in their lives to make them happy, while it is right in front of their own eyes all along. 

(English and Vietnamese subtitles available)

Entrance fee: FREE


Wednesday, 13 November


Decibel | 79 Phan Kế Bính, Đa Kao, Quận 1