Thanks to the kind folks at ARCH, the second installment of movie nights at ARCH is going to be this Thursday, and the movie we will be showing is Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai’s (王家卫) Happy Together, starring Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung as gay lovers in Buenos Aires. If you’ve never witnessed what happens when you cross Christopher Doyle’s cinematography with Wong’s cinematic sensibilities, we could point you to numerous writings on it. Fans of Wong probably know that there have been critical scholarly books written about this movie as well as full-length auteurist studies of his corpus to date.
The person we watched Happy Together with back in ’97 or ’98 said, as soon as the credits stopped rolling and the theater lights came back on, “that was fucking poetry!” Even after all the other Wong movies we’ve seen and even after all the books and articles we’ve read about Wong, we find this to be the most succinct and accurate appraisal of this movie we’ve yet heard. That was our gut reaction then, and even now, eight years later, upon buying the DVD and watching it again, we still feel more or less the same way.
This film is a classic example of the Wong/Doyle working style: the bare outlines of a script (Tony Leung read a fake script before signing on), looking for inspiration in the actors’ improvisations and in whatever music they were listening to at the time. Like many a Wong film, the film’s unique structure and rhythms are created by leaving vast swaths of footage on the cutting room floor.
To say this movie is “gay-themed” is not altogether false—the two main characters are gay lovers—but in Wong’s hands, the story is a universal one about lovers breaking up, trying to get back together and failing miserably. Through Doyle’s lens, Buenos Aires appears as an old grand dame in a dilapidated house. Super-saturated and skewed color schemes, alternating with grainy black and white scenes. While not as “polished” as the other work that Doyle does in Hollywood or for Zhang Yimou, this is the work that defined his style and made his reputation.
And if that’s not incentive enough to come out on Thursday night, there’s a 20% off all drinks special for people who come to watch the movie. See you in the basement of ARCH in two days!
Happy Together 《春光乍泄》, Time: 7:30 pm, Address: ARCH, 439 Wukang Lu, Phone: 64660807, Drinks: 20% off all drinks for movie-goers.