Love and Neon: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai

Film, Film festivals
Actors kissing in the film As Tears Go By
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Film Festival As Tears Go By (1988)

Time Out says

Eleven movies by Hong Kong’s master filmmaker will put you in the mood for love at the Art Gallery of NSW and Dendy Newtown in January and February

High up on many people’s lists of the greatest films of all time, In the Mood for Love has cast a spell over audiences since its release in 2000. A story of unrequited love set in 1960s Hong Kong, it’s memorable for its neon-soaked, East-meets-West visual style, its addictive mood of longing, and its palpable eroticism.

Filmmakers including Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) have paid homage to its influence on their work, and the film is even said to have inspired the founder of MUBI to launch the film streaming platform when he couldn’t find it to watch on the internet anywhere.

This summer, Sydney Film Festival and ACMI in Melbourne are joining forces to bring In the Mood for Love and ten other films directed by Wong Kar Wai back to the big screen, where they can exercise their full impact. The retrospective covers the Hong Kong filmmaker’s 30-year career with prints lovingly restored in 4K.

Highlights include his stylish 1988 debut As Tears Go By starring Maggie Cheung and Andy Lau; Chungking Express (1994), a two-part comedic drama inspired by Haruki Murakami’s short story; its spiritual sequel Fallen Angels (1995), showcasing the romance of Hong Kong at night; and classic queer story Happy Together (1997).

Wong has also made grand historical films: a lone swordsman’s tale of love, revenge and honour in Ashes of Time (1994 and revised in 2008); and The Grandmaster (2013), about the life of Bruce Lee’s legendary teacher, Ip Man.

This is a rare opportunity to see a major director’s oeuvre the way it was meant to be seen. Screenings take place at the Domain Theatre at the Art Gallery of NSW and at Dendy Newtown, and tickets are on sale now.

By: Nick Dent

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