SAG HARBOR CINEMA PRESENTS
WORLD OF WONG KAR WAI
Rediscover the Hong Kong masters’ greatest films in our virtual cinema, through Janus Film’s seven brand-new 4K restorations. During the month of January we will present In the Mood for Love, As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, The Hand, and Happy Together.
Before the handover to China, in 1997, Hong Kong was known for its thriving film industry – in what is now considered its golden age, between the 1970s and 1990s, the former British colony was the world’s largest film exporter after Hollywood. Directors like Wong Kar Wai, John Woo, Ringo Lam, Ann Hui, Clara Law, and Tsui Hark – along with action stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li – are among the revolutionary artists that emerged out of that most prolific time.
Their groundbreaking styles, striking energy and dynamic storytelling influenced an entire generation of Hollywood filmmakers: Sofia Coppola, The Wachowskis, Quentin Tarantino, and Barry Jenkins have all acknowledged the profound impact Hong Kong cinema has had on their own work.
Jenkins, who uses Chungking Express as a reference for his Oscar-winning Moonlight, said, “Stylistically it was made in a way that was different from any film I’d seen before … I like how much freedom there is in how [Wong Kar Wai] juxtaposes images.” Coppola, too, thanked Wong’s In the Mood for Love in her Oscar acceptance speech for Lost in Translation. As for Tarantino, Wong’s inspiration shows up in nearly every one of his works.
Sag Harbor Cinema is proud to pay tribute to Hong Kong cinema and to one of its most brilliant filmmakers through this retrospective, made possible by Janus Films and the Criterion Collection in close collaboration with Wong Kar Wai. The films will be available in our virtual cinema until the end of February. Tickets are $12 if bought individually or $70 as a package for the entire series.
In the Mood for Love (available from January 8th)
Hong Kong (2000; 99 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
The film’s love story, or anti-love story, is set against the backdrop of 1962 Hong Kong. Chow Mo-Wan and Su Li-Zhen move into neighboring apartments on the same day. Their encounters are formal and polite—until a discovery about their spouses creates a bond. At once delicately mannered and visually extravagant, In the Mood for Love is a masterful evocation of romantic longing and fleeting moments.
As Tears Go By (available from January 15th)
Hong Kong (1988; 102 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
The highest-grossing film in Hong Kong until 2013, Wong Kar Wai’s scintillating debut feature As Tears Go By is a kinetic, hypercool crime thriller graced with flashes of the impressionistic, daydream visual style for which he would become renowned. Set amid Hong Kong’s ruthless, neon-lit gangland underworld, this operatic saga of ambition, honor, and revenge stars Andy Lau as a small-time mob enforcer who finds himself torn between a burgeoning romance with his ailing cousin (Maggie Cheung, in the first of her iconic collaborations with the director) and loyalty to his loose-cannon partner in crime (Jacky Cheung).
Days of Being Wild (available from January 15th)
Hong Kong (1990; 94 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
Wong Kar Wai’s breakthrough feature represents the first full flowering of his swooning signature style. The first film in a loosely connected, ongoing cycle that includes In the Mood for Love and 2046, this ravishing existential reverie is a dreamlike drift through the Hong Kong of the 1960s in which a band of wayward twentysomethings— including a disaffected playboy (Leslie Cheung) searching for his birth mother, a lovelorn woman (Maggie Cheung) hopelessly enamored with him, and a policeman (Andy Lau). The director’s inaugural collaboration with both cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who lends the film its gorgeously gauzy, hallucinatory texture, and actor Tony Leung, who appears briefly in a tantalizing teaser for a never-realized sequel, Days of Being Wild is an exhilarating expression of Wong’s trademark themes of time, longing, dislocation, and the restless search for human connection.
Chungking Express (available from January 22nd)
Hong Kong (1994; 102 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
The whiplash, double-pronged Chungking Express is one of the defining works of 1990s cinema and the film that made Wong Kar Wai an instant icon. Two heartsick Hong Kong cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung), both jilted by ex-lovers, cross paths at the Midnight Express take-out restaurant stand, where the ethereal pixie waitress Faye (Faye Wong) works. Anything goes in Wong’s gloriously shot and utterly unexpected charmer, which cemented the sex appeal of its gorgeous stars and forever turned canned pineapple and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” into tokens of romantic longing.
Fallen Angels (available from January 22nd)
Hong Kong (1995; 99 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
Lost souls reach out for human connection amid a glimmering Hong Kong in Wong Kar Wai’s hallucinatory, neon-soaked nocturne. Originally conceived as a segment of Chungking Express only to spin off on its own axis, Fallen Angels plays like the dark, moody flip side of its iconic predecessor as it charts the subtly interlacing fates of a handful of urban loners. Swinging between hard-boiled noir and slapstick lunacy with giddy abandon, the film is both a dizzying, dazzling city symphony and a poignant meditation on love, loss, and longing in a metropolis that never sleeps.
Happy Together (available from January 29th)
Hong Kong (1997; 96 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
One of the most searing romances of the 1990s, Wong Kar Wai’s emotionally raw, lushly stylized portrait of a relationship in breakdown casts Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung as a couple traveling through Argentina and locked in a turbulent cycle of infatuation and destructive jealousy as they break up, make up, and fall apart again and again. Setting out to depict the dynamics of a queer relationship with empathy and complexity on the cusp of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong—when the country’s LGBT community suddenly faced an uncertain future—Wong crafts a feverish look at the life cycle of a love affair that is by turns devastating and deliriously romantic.
The Hand (available from January 29th)
Hong Kong (2004; 56 mins; in Cantonese w/ English Subtitles)
Like In the Mood for Love, The Hand is set in the hazy Hong Kong of the 1960s, but its characters couldn’t be more different from the earlier film’s restrained, haunted lovers. Originally conceived for the omnibus film Eros, the film—presented in this retrospective for the first time in its extended cut—tells the tale of Zhang (Chang Chen), a shy tailor’s assistant enraptured by a mysterious client, Miss Hua (Gong Li). A hypnotic tale of obsession, repression, and class divisions, The Hand finds Wong Kar Wai continuing to transition from the frenetic, energized style of his earlier films into a register that is lush with romantic grandeur.