Monday, August 18, 2008
As Tears Go By
A new print of Wong Kar-wai's 1988 debut feature, As Tears Go By is making the rounds, and it's well-worth seeking out.
The critical consensus seems to be that it's mainly of interest for the brief glimmers of Wong's mature artistic style that are buried in an otherwise fairly unremarkable film, but there are other pleasures to be had as well. For me, seeing it reminded me of what I always liked about Hong Kong New Wave gangster movies. Namely, the way the narratives are stripped to the bone. Motivation, character development, exposition: all of these are virtually eliminated in favor of velocity and stylistic pizzazz.
In contrast to his later films, which constitute a genre all their own, Wong more or less play by the gangster movie rules in As Tears Go By, but those glimmers, which include some beautifully smeary step-printed action scenes, and a love scene set to a Cantonese version of "Take My Breath Away", are certainly a glimpse of what's to come.