WHO is he?

Hong Kong film director, producer and scenarist who has made over 20 feature and short films since his debut in the late eighties. Wong is notorious for his long shooting schedules and improvised scripts, which has often posed problems for his actors and producers. He won the Best Director prize at Cannes Film Festival for Happy Together (1997).

WHAT are his films about?

Themes

The majority of Wong’s films are set in Hong Kong and, directly or indirectly, deal with the impossibility and transitory nature of love in this vast, impersonal space. The protagonists in these films are chronic loners, inured to their isolation and solitude, and attempt to cotton onto any modicum of warmth they get in this commercial Mecca. Like Nicholas Ray’s films, Wong’s movies are obsessed with youth and present it with all its vitality, foolishness and quirkiness.

Style

Wong’s cinema could be described by what the French called the Cinema of Look — a pop-culture influenced, ornately stylised, primarily ‘visual’ style of filmmaking. The principal characteristic of Wong’s style of filmmaking is the intuitive, impressionistic cinematography — often helmed by Christopher Doyle — that attempts to represent the most fleeting impressions and emotions using wide-angle, handheld, slow-motion, low-frame rate shots. Other features include the use of a mixture of music from around the world, jump cuts, location shooting, accentuated primary colours, improvised scenes and voiceovers.

WHY is he of interest?

Wong’s is among the most visually distinctive body of work in contemporary cinema and his extremely stylised brand of filmmaking has enjoyed a widespread popularity, even in India. A true scion of the French New Wave, Wong’s cinema retains the free spiritedness and flamboyance of the movement while refracting them through the director’s eccentric yet truthful vision of life in contemporary Hong Kong, which might well stand for any automated metropolis in the world.

WHERE to discover him?

At once the most restrained Wong Kar-Wai film and his most profound, In The Mood For Love (2000) is set in a conservative 1960s Hong Kong milieu and revolves around a man and woman who discover that their spouses are cheating on them. Admittedly influenced by Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), Wong’s sumptuously shot and scored film posits the centrality of performance and playacting in any relationship and captures the fragility and ephemerality of love.