I had the opportunity come along to see Wong Kar-Wai's first English language film, My Blueberry Nights, and despite knowing it was of some dubious origin, I took it. In one way, I worried this would ruin the ultimate experience, but then I remembered that I had first seen 2046 dubbed into Mandarin for the Chinese mainland, and that had not hurt my love of that film in the long run, so with that in mind, there was nothing to bolster my resistance.
I will reserve my full judgment until such a time as I can see the movie in its intended glory (it appears that it will start a limited run in the U.S. next month), but I will say now that I do like it. I think in the long run, when the full history of Wong Kar-Wai is written, it will likely be a stop-gap falling somewhere in the middle of his ultimate canon, but I can't say I would totally fault him for playing it somewhat safe for his transition movie.
Because the first thing that will strike you about My Blueberry Nights is how very Wong Kar-Wai it is--and that comes off as very strange for the first half hour or so. If you had played it for me and told me that some Hollywood studio had tried to remake Chungking Express and Fallen Angels as one feature, I'd have believed you. The tell-tale signs and obsessions are all there: cafes and bars, waitresses and cops, jukeboxes and video tapes, the persistence of memory, broken hearts, being stuck on one song just like you'd be stuck on one relationship. It's just this time it's recognizable "name" actors (Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, David Staithairn) speaking in my language. He even lifts a pop singer who hadn't formally acted before up to a starring role. Norah Jones is actually pretty good as the dream-adled ingenue. Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power, is even noteworthy in her one scene, playing the appropriately named Katya, the woman who has Jude Law's Jeremy in such an in-between state.
Once I settled in, somewhere around Memphis on the route Elizabeth (Jones) has put herself on, taking a journey toward forgetting, I really started to enjoy the movie. It's got the youthful hopefulness that was missing from 2046, the curse of ill-fated love affairs having been lifted. While my own journey makes me wish Kar-Wai had kept going for that, I don't mind him returning to his Greatest Hits. It's kind of like seeing your favorite band go off the brink and making their dark epic, only to come back bigger and brighter and poppier than ever. After all, Suede made Coming Up after Dog Man Star, after they had lost an important collaborator and had been counted out. In those terms, My Blueberry Nights is actually more like the bright wake-up call of A New Morning than it is a glitter rock masterpiece, but that ain't something to malign.
Yeah, I know that analogy made sense to only five people out there, but whatever. Put it this way: My Blueberry Nights is meant to sound fresh and easy, but it's also meant to be familiar and accessible. One can only guess what comes after, but there are worse things an artist can do than to go back to try to find the source of what makes him tick and cast it in a new light.
In all honesty, I kind of want to start the film over from the beginning and watch it again. I'm almost betting that by and large folks are going to call me crazy (I haven't read any reviews, but I've heard some vague flutters), but what the hell, I've been crazy before.
It's actually bitterly cold in Portland, so much so that my heater is turning itself on, the temperature is dropping below whatever temperature comes immediately after "Off." So, it was nice to snuggle up with the cat and watch a movie from under the covers. I'm actually feeling a little achey, meaning the cold I've been staving off for weeks might be making ground. I also twisted my ankle or something, my left foot hurts to bend or put weight on. I'm a wreck. So, that too could speak to the warm feeling I am having for the film. Wong Kar-Wai=comfort food.
Here is one of several trailers out there. I'll warn you, they somehow make the movie look far more ordinary than it is. You'd be forgiven for thinking this a generic Hollywood film of no great import.
Current Soundtrack: My Blueberry Nights soundtrack
Current Mood: aches & pains
e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon
All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich