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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Blueberry Nights


This Wong Kar-wai movie is at the same time different and similar to his movies. His first English speaking language movie has many scenes with his codes and style, like the crossing trains, the neon lights, the dream like settings, the camera angles, the framing, close-ups, and the use of color codes which makes it similar to all his movies. But I think that he wasn’t able to translate his style to a different culture and make an interesting and mesmerizing movie as he always does.

I had a hard time watching this movie. I even stop it and try to see it another day. Finally yesterday I was able to see it until the end. This has never happen before to me with a Wong Kar-wai movie.

The movie tells the story of Elizabeth (Norah Jones) that after a romance breakup leaves NYC to travel around the USA in a road trip that allows her to meet some characters and in the end she comes back to NYC to close her soul-searching journey. In each place she stops there is a story happening where she seems to be more an observer -that learns something along the way- than a participator and makes these two stories more like segments than integral part of the total story. But this is not new to Kar-wai movies as there are a few intertwined or not trilogies.

Most critics mention that it was inspired/related to In the Mood For Love, but according to Wong Kar-wai is inspired in a 2000 short that he thought to integrate to In The Mood for Love but he didn’t. He says than more than a (short) remake is a continuation where the short became the beginning of My Blueberry Nights and the story was developed to become a road movie from NYC into Memphis and across the USA.

I tried to imagine this movie with Chinese actors and settings and obviously the movie became more what I’m used to see from this director and I was able to see it until the end. Think that using so many well-known actors didn’t help; perhaps the end product would have look different if he worked with more non-actors or less known UK and American actors.

The acting was okay even from Norah Jones, as I believe she got her character well (remember that most non-American cinema directors do use a lot of known or unknown non-actors with good and great results, so this is nothing unusual or special); Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman are okay too. The problem to me is not the acting, is using a movie code and style that does not fit well with American “culture” as makes the movie sound and feel banal and most of all, not credible.

Have to say that what I found most unusual is the “happy” ending, as most of his movies do not end like this one. But I understand the idea behind and see it as closing the circle and in a way, finishing the “love” story side of the movie. Then I can’t avoid to think that he did it just because most of his target group audience –for an English speaking movie- will expect a happy ending.

The movie was premiered as an Official Selection of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Most general audiences will be attracted to this movie because of the actors and I feel that they will be totally lost with the movie. You have to know who Wong Kar-wai is and have seen his movies to at least appreciate this side of the movie. Then I suggest using your imagination to imagine Chinese actors (Tony Leung, Gong Li, etc) and settings, perhaps then you will be able to see it and enjoy it a little more.

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