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Review Chungking Express (1994)

By Wong Kar-Wai | Hong Kong
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Circa mid 1990s, Quentin Tarantino introduces his love and fascination for filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai in a UCLA screening for the film “Chungking Express”. The video made its way to the late great film critic Roger Ebert’s review on the film itself. He pointed out a statement Tarantino made about his experience of watching Chungking : “I just started crying,” he said. But as Ebert made clear, Quentin didn’t cry because the film is inherently sad, instead it is because “I’m just so happy to love a movie this much.” You see, as Ebert puts it, “Chungking Express” is one of those film that transcends its own media, and instead acts as a love letter to its artform. It is a film made by someone who adored film for people who adored film, in the same way the French New Wave (an apparent inspiration for Kar-Wai) is a statement of that love. Yet to me, Chungking works even beyond that. Saying that it exclusively appeals to those with prior love of cinema would be a diservice. For at the end, it ultimately becomes a film made for people who feel love. Love and loss.
Through his heavily stylized direction (the appeal for the filmmakers side of the audience) Wong Kar-Wai gave us a kaleidoscopic look on his exploration of love. With two seperate stories we witness love and the different people struck or depleted by it entangled in a series of coincidental miracles and the cruelty of reality. These back and forth essentially become the crux of the film’s soul. As if the picture itself become the embodiment of the character’s conflicting feelings. And as we witness all of this unravels we started to question ourselves of the same questions that haunts our two cops, blonde drug dealer, and sandwich maker. A question that has never been made clear and will never will be. A question that leaves us wide awake at the middle of every lonely saturday nights; wondering what can it be. Should I love or should I hate? Should I hold on to what I long for or should I let go to welcome the new? Am I living in reality or am I simply sleepwalking through my days dreamin’ of California?
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“Chungking Express” is Wong Kar-Wai’s testament to the believe that those who love cinema, can make great cinema. That formalities and restrictions society has made about film is a rule we shouldn’t be bounded with. And at the same time it states also the same principles in regards to love. How easy it is to do fall for it and to break out of it. So long as we love the act of loving and everything that goes with it. Heartbreaks, loneliness, and delusions, they’re all only parts of the same wheel that keeps on turning. A cog in the everlasting journey of finding love, aboard the rails of the chungking express.
This was a request from someone but I can’t seem to find the account who submitted it. Whoever it is you are out there, thank you for excellent request!
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