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Interview with Director Wong Kar Wai

Posted March. 04, 2008 09:52,   


“Days of Being Wild (1990)”, “Chungking Express (1994)”, “Happy Together (1997)”

“In the Mood for Love (2000)”…

In the 1990s, almost every young person admired film director Wong Kar Wai. Although he directed several films in the 2000s, such as “2046 (2004)”, his name still seems to belong in the 1990s. Wong was a stylist who expressed a sense of emptiness that can be felt from a couple who fail in their love despite their hunger for each other, with melancholic, yet dreamy imagery and music. Many people grew up along with the characters of his films and their love, separation and wounds.

Prior to the release of “My Blueberry Nights” (PG-12) on March 6, a film that will make us experience director Wong’s 1990s style once again, he talked about his new film through an e-mail interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. “My Blueberry Nights,” which was screened as the opening film at the 2007 Cannes International Film Festival, is Wong’s Hollywood debut film made in English. This film is also Norah Jones’ big screen debut. She is a pop star known for her hit song, “Don’t Know Why.” A great deal of attention has been paid to the film, thanks to the great line-up of actors, including Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz.

“The system of Hong Kong and that of the U.S. are completely different. While making this Hollywood film, I had to follow a great many rules because all of its staff and crew belong to a union.”

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Elizabeth (starring Norah Jones) visits the café that she used to go with her former boyfriend. Café owner Jeremy (starring Jude Law) offers her an unsold blueberry pie and gradually starts to fall in love with her. Elizabeth goes on a trip in order to heal the wounds of separation. During her journey, she meets people who suffer from love, including Leslie (starring Natalie Portman).

“I met Jones two years ago in New York. At the beginning, I wanted to ask her (to sing) theme songs, but I was captivated by her cinematic voice. Though she did not have acting experience, I instinctively knew that she could act naturally in front of a camera,” Wong said.

It is a road movie centered on a trip to various U.S. cities, including New York and Memphis, which is Wong’s most favorite city.

“Memphis is a place which has everything that I like, It has Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley, blues and...mosquitoes.”

However, he stressed that the movie is not about a woman’s journey, but about streets where people run a marathon in order to find their love.

Cinematographer Darius Khondji, who is known for his outstanding work in “Seven,” participated in the film, instead of Wong’s long partner Christopher Doyle. Yet, Wong’s signature style of poetic and dreamy cinematography prevails in the film. When it was screened at the Cannes, however, critics gave a discouraging response. Some said that the film was boring or worse than his previous films, while many pointed out that it reminded them of “Chungking Express.”

“Whether it draws a positive or negative response, I think it is a part of the film. I still cannot forget disappointed Korean fans who threw their beer cans to the screen after watching `Days of Being Wild,`” Wong said.

He thinks My Blueberry Nights is no different from a dessert.

“Although a film is based on reality, I hope it fills something missing in our lives as if a dessert fills the sweetness that lacks in a meal. I hope my film will become the dessert of the audiences` lives.” The beautiful kiss scene where Jeremy and Elizabeth face each other upside down at the end of the film is certainly a dessert that will never be forgotten.