– The following is the fifth of ten planned online discussions between MATCH CUTS and THE FILMIST regarding the best films of the 2000’s. These transcriptions have been slightly edited due to length, but the published content remains exactly as written.
THE FILMIST: The Brothers’ Coen’s 2007 release, No Country For Old Men, is a film that, beyond the basic attraction of “hey, it’s a Coen Brothers movie!,” didn’t catch my eye all that well on first viewing, as a few of the other films on my list have done. But, then I watched it again, a year later – after seeing Burn After Reading, coincidently – and, it really began to warm up to me. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been in the right mood for it grab me beforehand, I don’t know. We Irish are a strange folk – but, that next time, it really took me by the collar. Everything just began to jump out – the cinematography, the use and disuse of silence and music respectively. Everything that you’d think I’d have noticed on first viewing, but for some reason just flew right past me.
MATCH CUTS: That’s interesting, I’ve also gone through a roller coaster ride with this film. I watched it twice in the theaters, the first time being blown away by it’s technical prowess and cynical nature, and when the second time I felt like I had gotten everything there is to get, which invariably lessoned my opinion of it since I love films to grow and grow upon multiple screenings…but watching it again on Blu Ray for this project, I was once again sucked into this disparate world. I think Deakins’ visuals and the Coen’s tactical direction create this complete overarching menace that I absolutely love. The way the violence suddenly occurs, then drops offscreen, then just pure quiet. I’ve always admired the Coen’s ability to pace a film, but this might be there finest use of mise-en-scene ever. Continue reading
– “The Best of the Decade Project” is an ongoing series of essays written by Match Cuts and The Filmist concerning the finest films of the last ten years.
How did it start between them? Slowly. How did it end between them? It never will. There are only the shared restless moments in the middle, two people wading through time, longing for each other, pressurizing every glance, every gaze, every touch, until the heart can’t take it anymore. So they separate and die a little bit, but still inhabit the same spaces, if not a moment after the other departs. All that’s left are the secrets that shouldn’t be secrets, the memories that shouldn’t be memories. Continue reading
Watching Chungking Express some odd years ago I remember dismissing it as overrated, overdone, and overstuffed with style, second-rate “mainstream” compared to masterpieces In the Mood For Love and Happy Together. A second glance at Wong’s beautiful and mesmerizing duo of intersecting love stories (on Criterion’s Blu ray no less) definitely adds perspective and clarity toward the importance of movement in the film, and not only the kinetic slow motion either.
Chungking Express contains a magnitude of grace within its twisting mise-en-scene, maybe as much as In the Mood For Love, a surprising fact considering this film seems to be so popular for its hyper-cool aesthetic. Aside from the overwhelming visuals, Wong injects silence into the moments of exchange between his pairs, their eyes locked together by fate, battling every inclination to reveal the hopeless romantic inside.
Wong obviously went back to the Chungking Express well during his ending for My Blueberry Nights, another destiny-infused meeting at a food establishment that elaborates on the hidden pleasures within the frame. However, Chungking Express feels more original today for these universal reasons, a rambling quest to allure, reveal, and hypnotize the one that got away before time runs out.
Despite its flaws, My Blueberry Nights manages to create a brilliant emotional hyperspace tapped from the pain of forlorn, heartbroken characters. Every dive bar, back alley, and desolate highway visually exaggerate the slow passage of time, where painful memories linger no matter the locale. Director Wong Kar Wai, working for the first time in English, envisions a heightened brand of Americana connected by wet pavements and small towns, spaces oozing with color and movement populated by characters never satisfied with their fate but unable to fully admit their failures in love and life. My Blueberry Night certainly falters in it’s patchwork second half, becoming a fragmentary road film at precisely the wrong moment. But the flame has been lit, and its lovely melancholy remains long after the final, subdued kiss between its long gestating romantics.