My Blueberry Nights (2007)

17 02 2008

As eyebrow-raising as it’s announcement was, Wong Kar-Wai’s latest quickly faded into obscurity and it’s easy to understand why. No question, it’s a complete lapse of logic on his part. His technical graces still intact, everything else feels stilted and bordering on self-parody. Maybe he wants some extra money, or wants a larger fanbase, but still why these people? Why make a film so simplistic and built around the superficial? This isn’t really Wong selling his soul because he retains a lot of what makes him great, but maybe it’s just the work of someone pondering such a transaction – let’s hope he’s gotten it out of his system.

The film begins with a Norah Jones song that proclaims that the story has been told before, and it’s fitting since nearly every narrative plot point is derivative of Wong’s previous features. The most obvious case is Chungking Express: the Norah Jones / Jude Law relationship being a take on the Tony Leung / Faye Wong one. Jones’ character, Elizabeth, starts this relationship (in a rather forced way, I should add) with Jeremy and then leaves for some reason. She then begins working at a bar in Memphis and becomes friends with a drunkard named Arine, whose in the middle of a rough relationship with Sue Lynne. Elizabeth then leaves them behind and stumbles upon Leslie, who leads her into Las Vegas. Then, Elizabeth returns to Jeremy.

IMDB lists the film with a running time of 111 minutes, while the new HK disc has a running time of 90 minutes. Hopefully, this explains why the film feels so simple and undeveloped. Characters get tossed aside and thrown in with little regard. Everyone has bizarre, exaggerated personalities which compliments their exaggerated physical appearance. Calling the film inconsequential would a compliment. “Nonsensical” is a more accurate term and it specifically applies to Wong’s own cinematic mind.

I’ll basically stop talking about the characters; simply stated, they are of no interest. What is of interest (at least to me) is the aesthetic progressions from 2046 to this. Putting it up against Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus may have affected my view but it seems quite clear, that after making his most meticulous feature, Wong has retreated back to more energetic camera movement / editing. At times, Blueberry Nights feels like a Wong film that has been filtered through David Fincher’s editing sensibility. Harsh, no doubt, but one should eventually get use to to it and then, have no problem focusing on the very shallow character depictions.

There’s no denying that this a step back for Wong Kar-Wai, but on the bright side, maybe he got some overly-sentimental Hollywood crap out of his system. It’s hard for any director to continue making great films, so maybe Wong’s “golden years” are over but at least he’ll continue to progress his visual style. No matter how hallow it is inside, you got to attempt that it does look pretty fantastic on the outside. He certainly doesn’t have any problem establishing that “Doyle” look even working without Christopher Doyle. At this point, the voice-overs, speed-manipulation, repetition of music, saturated colors, and so on might just be getting a little bit old. Hopefully, he’ll prove this theory wrong.

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One response

17 02 2008
wkw

I agree 100%. This is basically a bad parody of Wong’s films.

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