Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ā fēi zhèng zhuàn (Days of Being Wild)

Let me share my spontaneous reaction to this Wong Kar-wai movie before I continue reading about it. When watching I had the same feeling I got when watching In The Mood of Love and 2046, and I told myself that this absolutely looks and feels like those movies. Then I relaxed and continued to enjoy this amazing movie.

Now I’m reading about this 1991 movie that most serious movie historians relate as the first installment to In The Mood of Love and 2046, with some viewers even finding relation in the dialogue to suggest that the three movies are sort of an informal trilogy and well, there are many commonalities, starting with all are set in Hong Kong of the 60’s, the fantastic music and well perhaps only for me, the presence of Tony Leung (which of course I did recognize him) even if was just for a few minutes at the end.

I tend to have very good memory and I still remember (will never forget) ITMFL and 2046 (have seen them many times) so, yes I do find them totally related; still, I will do one experiment I’ll watch the three in order and one after the other, not only will I have a very nice afternoon of excellent cinema, but will be able to confirm what I feel today.

So enough, let’s get into this movie. For those interested the literal translations is “The True Story of Ah Fei” and tells in my opinion about a man that the elder women in his life have treat him badly and consequently he seduces women to treat them badly. It is about fear of commitment but also about his indifference and how this affects the main characters of this story. But also is about the impossibility of love; about searching your own identity. Actually is about many things that I imagine the director left to viewers imagination and creativity when seeing one of his most outstanding sequence of what looks like every day life scenes of many characters that converge into encounters with one man, Yuddy (Leslie Cheung).

Starring the most popular Hong Kong stars of that moment you will find here excellent performances by Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau and of course the cameo with Tony Leung.

With the most outstanding cinematography (Wong Kar-wai was really free in this movie) this is one cinema masterpiece that every serious cinema cinephile has to see. The movie conquered most major awards at the 1991 Hong Kong Film Awards and had other awards and nominations at other Asian Awards and Festivals.

Just read this excerpt from an article about this movie.
Wong Kar-wai creates a spare and elegant film on chance, fate, and unrequited longing in Days of Being Wild. Using a meticulously crafted mise-en-scene of damp streets, soaking summer rains, green reflected city lights, and saturated blue hues of the evening sky, Wong creates a pervasive, melancholic atmosphere to reflect each characters' wandering and sense of incompletion: Yuddy's elusive search for his biological mother; Su Lizhen and Fung-Ying's continued attachment to the emotionally vacuous Yuddy; the police officer's unresolved feelings for Su Lizhen; Zeb's devotion to Mimi. The indelible repeated image of the blue tinted landscape of the Filipino countryside from a slow moving train, accompanied by a lackadaisical, tropical melody, further reinforces Yuddy's complacency and lack of direction. Inevitably, it is Yuddy's own inertia that, not only leads to his own slow self-destruction, but contaminates the soul of each passing acquaintance with a sense of unrequited longing and ache of despair.

There are many serious articles in the net about this movie and Wong Kar-wai and if you feel like reading more I suggest you check an essay by Peter Brunette that is here. Also suggest you read an article called Meditations on Loss: A Framework for the Films of Won Kar-wai an Analytical Essay by Anthony Leung that appeared on the January 1999 issue of Asian Cult Cinema and is here. I could go on and on writing about this movie, but I have to stop or this will become unreadable.

Absolutely not for all audiences, as his experimentally-conceived narrative could leave viewers dumbfounded, just as it happened when first was released in 1991 where, according to Won Kar-wai own words “the spectators even threw things at the screen”. Yes this film was a commercial failure that made producers withdraw their support for what was supposed to be the second part of this movie that will follow from the last scene with Tony Leung. I just think that those producers, if still alive, probably are regretting their short vision.

This is a must be seen movie for those that are crazy about Wong Kar-wai films (like me) and if possible, I suggest the viewing of the three movies together in a WKw marathon.


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