Days Of Being Wild (Wong Kar-Wai). 94 minutes. Subtitled. At Cinematheque February 25-25 and March 1, see Indie & Rep Film, page 91. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
The shot that I remember from Days Of Being Wild is actually from another Wong Kar-Wai film, which is not surprising really. Wong's characters often reappear from one film to another and are often afflicted with memory loss.
Yuddy ( Leslie Cheung ), the shiftless anti-hero of Days Of Being Wild, claims not to remember Tide ( Andy Lau ). He later reveals that he does, and the significance of his memory "loss" and of an early travelling shot of rainforest, both initially incomprehensible, become devastatingly clear.
Yuddy and Tide are connected incidentally - as everything is in Wong's films - by a beautiful young woman, Su Lizhen ( Maggie Cheung ). The film, originally released in 1991 and the first of a trilogy completed by In The Mood For Love and 2046 (coming soon to Canada, but already making audiences swoon when I was in the UK this winter), could be summarized as "cherchez et évitez la femme," as playboy Yuddy searches for his biological mother and serially woos and dumps Su Lizhen and Lulu ( Carina Lau ).
Nothing much else happens as the characters drift through Wong's now trademark but still strikingly original filmscape of 60s pop, affectless poses, half-remembered stories, intense close-ups and Coke-bottle-green light.
Cinematographer Chris Doyle made his stylistic mark on the Wong brand for the first time on this film. His camera work, alternately careening and caressing, is exemplified by the film's extraordinary last shot, which introduces sharp-suited gambler Chow ( Tony Leung ) - a scene only explained 14 years later in the film 2046.
Although Days Of Being Wild was the first Wong film that caught Quentin Tarantino's attention - perhaps because of the stylishly balletic violence that erupts - he wound up distributing Wong's later Chungking Express, a frothier and sunnier film.
Cinematheque ups the stakes on the Wong DVDs released at Christmas with a newly struck print of Days Of Being Wild.
Like the rainforest shot, the film grows richer in retrospect, creating intense memories of the films that follow it.