Monthly Archives: August 2001

Happy Together

A star vehicle, not only because its leads were two of the hottest stars in Hong Kong cinema (Tony Leung and the late Leslie Cheung) and a Taiwanese pop star (Chang Chen, who played the 14-year-old hero of Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day), but also because writer-director Wong Kar-wai is something of a star himself. In fact his aggressive mannerist stylethe use of different characters as narrators, the variable speed of Chris Doyle’s frenetic cinematography, the shifts between color and black and whiteforms the core of this 1997 story of doomed love between two men in Buenos Aires, one of whom befriends a straight Taiwanese youth in the same city. Structurally and dramatically this is all over the place, but stylistically it’s gripping, and thematically it suggests an oblique response to the end of Hong Kong’s colonial rule. Incidentally, a friend of mine from Buenos Aires tells me that this film captures that city better than any other. In Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish with subtitles. 97 min. (JR) Read more

King Of The Children

Chen Kaige’s seldom screened third feature (1987), about the experiences of an uneducated young man who’s assigned to teach at a village school in Yunnan and gets fired after he throws out the Maoist textbook and gains his students’ confidence. It sounds well worth checking out. (JR) Read more

Jazz On A Summer’s Day

Bert Stern’s film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival (1960; his only film) features Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Eric Dolphy, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, Mahalia Jackson, Anita O’Day, Gerry Mulligan, Chico Hamilton, and many others. Shot in gorgeous color, it’s probably the best feature-length jazz concert movie ever made. Despite some distracting cutaways to boats in the opening sections, it eventually buckles down to an intense concentration on the music and the audience’s rapport with it as afternoon turns into evening. Jackson’s rendition of The Lord Read more