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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:15 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
Regarding the differences between the Cannes work-in-progress edit of 2046 and the final version, I'm afraid I'm not going to be of much use to anyone. Having only seen the Cannes cut the once, of course, now about eleven years ago, I just went on a hunt for my notes, the press notes, old writings of mine, and whatever else I could get my hands on to refresh my memory. I attended Cannes as a member of the press 2004-7, but not before or since, and when I was trying to find my materials just now it bordered on comical--I could find 2005-7, but not 2004, the year I needed. Well, I did find the original press kit for the film, as well as the Cannes program it appeared in, but no notes of mine, nothing really useful in the regard of what's different between the two versions. I couldn't even find a runtime for the Cannes cut. (The same thing happened a few years back when I was looking for materials regarding the three-hour version of the 1914 Cabiria that screened in 2006. While I've moved some six times since 2004, and therefore all of my files are in desperate need of sorting through and reorganizing, my Cannes materials have a special talent of hiding when I'm looking for them.)

So, I apologize both for taking so long to reply to the request for elaboration, and my current inability to do so. Really, the thing that sticks out in my memory the strongest regarding the Cannes cut was the more frequent use of "The Christmas Song," as I previously mentioned. And while I initially compared it to the use of "California Dreamin'" in Chungking Express, of course frequent use of one track, often a pop song, is a commonality between many of Wong's films--look at "Yumeji's Theme" (and, to a lesser extent, "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas," "Te Queiro Dijiste," and "Aquellos Ojos Verdes") in In the Mood for Love, or "Chunga's Revenge" and "I Have Been in You" from Happy Together, etc.

(Side note: I made a wkw playlist in my iTunes, which I just love. It's amazing how well the songs he uses in all of his films complement one another--Frank Zappa to Cat Power to Dennis Brown to Ry Cooder to Nat King Cole, with Shigeru Umebayashi and Michael Galasso thrown in; doesn't seem like it would work as well as it does.)

Apart from that, I have a vague recollection of the sci-fi segments taking up a little more of the overall runtime than they did in the final edit, but I don't 100% trust my memory on that one--I also attended the press conference for 2046 at Cannes 2004, and it seemed like the majority of the press there were brought in by the presence of Takuya Kimura, with most questions being directed at either him or Wong, with pretty much everyone else being passed over. So that might be feeding into it, the fact that at the press conference undue attention was paid to Kimura and his sections of the film.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 2:39 am 
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Variety reviewed both versions, and the second review (viewable here) discusses some of the changes. There are some other changes I've found discussed on Chinese websites (here, here, and here). Put them all together and it seems like the following covers most of the changes:

1) The Cannes version had unfinished CGI shots in black and white.
2) The Cannes version used "The Christmas Song" five times. The release version uses it twice.
3) The Cannes version had only one brief shot of Maggie Cheung. The release version has three.
4) The release version adds some more footage of Dong Jie, though not much more (she supposedly only appears in three shots).
5) The Cannes version only had Kimura in the sci-fi scenes. The release version gives him a brief appearance as the Japanese boyfriend in the Wang Jingwen (Faye Wong) storyline.
6) The Cannes version had the Wang Jingwen storyline less evenly distributed throughout the movie.
7) The Cannes version added some more footage of Carina Lau. The Variety review seemingly implies her appearance as a android in the sci-fi section was added to the release version, something also suggested by the credits in their review of the Cannes version (which only list Lau as Lulu/Mimi).
8) The release version adds more narration to the Gong Li subplot, providing more explicit references to her black glove, her gambling partnership with Chow, and the naming coincidence (i.e. her character having the same name as Maggie Cheung's in In the Mood for Love).
9) The release version somehow restructures the sci-fi scenes so they have more connection to what's going on in the rest of the film. In the Cannes version they were apparently more abstracted and had a much hazier through line. In fact one of the Chinese sources says the sci-fi scenes had "no apparent plot" in the Cannes version.
10) The Cannes version had a more saturated color scheme. Presumably this (like the unfinished CGI) was down to time constraints and not an instance of Wong changing his mind after the premiere.
11) The Cannes version ran 123 minutes (per Variety), versus 129 for the release version.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:12 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:21 am
Thanks - this is great to know. Though this is unlikely, I'd like to see the Cannes version included on a future, definitive Blu (or whatever format comes after Blu) - sounds great, and possibly better than the regular release version of 2046...


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:01 pm 
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WKW: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai is coming from Rizzoli next fall, co-authored by the man himself.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
JAP wrote:
WKW: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai is coming from Rizzoli next fall, co-authored by the man himself.

Thanks for the heads up; that's great news. I've read about all of the English-language critical analyses of Wong I can get my hands on, and have found most of them somewhat lacking. The BFI-published, Stephen Teo-authored one is probably the best I've yet come across. (Anything BFI-published on the subject has been above average, come to think of it, but Teo's is the most complete, anyway.)


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:30 pm 
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It's merely speculative, but given the publisher and the book's format I wouldn't expect much in terms of critical insights. OTOH, count me in for the (hopefully) lavish page spreads.
And Amazon.uk is pointing to a June 6 release.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:19 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
JAP wrote:
It's merely speculative, but given the publisher and the book's format I wouldn't expect much in terms of critical insights. OTOH, count me in for the (hopefully) lavish page spreads.


Oh, yeah, I figured as much. All the same I'm looking forward to it; the mention of a new wkw book just made me think how disappointing most that have come before are, though you're absolutely right that this one appears to be going for something else entirely.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:37 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
The new issue of Film Comment has an ad for a book on Mr. Wong that I haven't yet encountered: The Sensuous Cinema of Wong Kar-wai. Has anyone read this? What's it like?


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:40 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
I apologize for essentially talking to myself here (only losers make three posts in a thread in a row!), but, inspired by a conversation going on in the In the Mood for Love thread, I've been wondering. The Tony Rayns-edited WKW on WKW book never came to fruition (though Rayns is writing a BFI Modern Classics guide to In the Mood, as noted in the other thread), and the Rizzoli-published book referenced several posts up has mysteriously disappeared from their website. I get the impression that both of these books were pretty far along in their production when they were put in indefinite limbo--I wonder if either of them made it to galley form? A search of rare book sites and the like doesn't come up with anything, but it doesn't seem all that improbable, either.

Meanwhile, I wonder what happened to that Rizzoli book--maybe it's still forthcoming?


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:47 pm 
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Amazon indicates the the Rizzoli book's release has been pushed back to April 19th, 2016. I suppose that, given the significant delay, it is the publisher's preference not to advertise it until closer to its release.

That being said, such a delay may put the eventual release of the book into question, especially with the ultimate (or is it?) fate of the Rayns book.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:50 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
FakeBonanza wrote:
Amazon indicates the the Rizzoli book's release has been pushed back to April 19th, 2016. I suppose that, given the significant delay, it is the publisher's preference not to advertise it until closer to its release.

That being said, such a delay may put the eventual release of the book into question, especially with the ultimate (or is it?) fate of the Rayns book.


Oh weird, I hadn't caught that. Amazon.co.uk just has the "Currently Unavailable" epitaph on it, not the later release date.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:21 pm 
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In terms of Ashes of Time and Ashes of Time Redux, the wiki entry says:

Quote:
Due to the original prints being lost Wong re-edited and re-scored the film in 2008 for future theater, DVD and Blu-ray releases under the title Ashes of Time Redux. The film was reduced from 100 to 93 minutes. Both the original and Redux versions can still be found on Asian markets, while only the Redux version is available to western markets. Several criticisms of the Redux version have been noted, such as poor image quality and color mastering from the source material, cropping and removal of portions of the bottom image, poor English translations, and the re-scoring.


What is the story on the "prints" being lost? Were negatives lost? Seems hard to believe that a film made in the modern era would suffer this kind of problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
Trees wrote:

What is the story on the "prints" being lost? Were negatives lost? Seems hard to believe that a film made in the modern era would suffer this kind of problem.

Sadly, the negatives likely did deteriorate or go missing. This is a very common fate of many films from Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan, as film preservation in that region is a relatively recent development, and numerous works from even the 90's are simply not available in high quality celluloid presentations anymore.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:43 pm 
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At the time the news was always that the negatives were damaged. The wiki entry is most likely not correctly worded.


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:46 am 
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Wong Kar-Wai to direct an 18 part online series


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 Post subject: Re: Wong Kar-wai
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 2:29 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:48 pm
Last night I finished reading WKW: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai, the new coffee table book co-authored by John Powers and Mr. Wong. It's 300 pages long, and I'd estimate that 200 or so are text, with the remaining 100 being stills from films, behind the scenes photos, some of WKW's family photos, and the like.

I'm very pleased with the book. After a semi-lengthy introduction ("37 Views on Wong Kar Wai"), Powers guides Wong through a career-spanning interview. This interview has the approximate tone and rigorousness of something you'd expect to see in Sight & Sound, or else Paul Cronin's works with Werner Herzog, or something along those lines. Powers seems to "get" Wong much more than most writers who have written about him do (I'd argue probably even more so than Tony Rayns, whose recently-released BFI Modern Classics book on In the Mood for Love was a real letdown), and while the interviews stay positive, plenty of useful insights and background information arise naturally. Nothing earth-shaking, but in general I'd say that this is the most useful text on Wong to date. Not that that's a major distinction at this point, as like I said in an earlier post, only Stephen Teo's book is really any good in the first place, until now.

The still images are nice, too; given that this book has the look and feel of a coffee table book, the paper stock and colors are suitable for replicating Wong's frames. I have some of the books that accompanied Chris Doyle's gallery showings over the years (Cloud in Trousers, There is a Crack in Everything), and the stills here probably look better than the stills in those, though I guess that's somewhat debatable.

Also, it might be worth mentioning that the copy of the book I read, a first printing, has a fairly glaring number of typos. It's mostly just dropped punctuation and things like that, though at one point it says 'Hong King' where it should say 'Hong Kong.' I'd expect this stuff to be cleaned up in later printings, though I have no idea if/when they'll sell through the first printing and get to a point where they can correct these small errors in the text.

And while I'm here, it might be worth pointing out that at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival they did a 25th anniversary tribute to Wong's production company Jet Tone, and they released a companion book to go along with the retrospective. Unlike most HKIFF publications, the Jet Tone book is not bilingual (i.e. it's only in Chinese), and an article in Variety about this implies that information between the Powers book and the HKIFF book may be somewhat duplicative.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:49 pm 
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dwk wrote:
According to this twitter exchange between Aaron Stewart-Ahn and C. Mason Wells, Criterion/Janus "basically have all of" Wong Kar-wai's films. Since In the Mood for Love was added to Janus Films' site, I've suspected that they had everything from Chungking Express to In the Mood for Love or, if Sony's rights have expired, 2046 (Although Criterion would have no problem licensing it from Sony if they still have it.) For what they don't have, the two post-2046 films are still with the Weinsteins, and I've not seen any clues about the status of As Tears Go By and Days of Being Wild


Nothing said there about Ashes of Time, right? The original cut of that will probably never see the light of day again.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:57 pm 
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feihong wrote:
dwk wrote:
According to this twitter exchange between Aaron Stewart-Ahn and C. Mason Wells, Criterion/Janus "basically have all of" Wong Kar-wai's films. Since In the Mood for Love was added to Janus Films' site, I've suspected that they had everything from Chungking Express to In the Mood for Love or, if Sony's rights have expired, 2046 (Although Criterion would have no problem licensing it from Sony if they still have it.) For what they don't have, the two post-2046 films are still with the Weinsteins, and I've not seen any clues about the status of As Tears Go By and Days of Being Wild


Nothing said there about Ashes of Time, right? The original cut of that will probably never see the light of day again.

As I vaguely recall from the Redux publicity, the original cut doesn't actually exist in any usable form any more. Maybe a battered release print, if one could be tracked down.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:27 pm 
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I had read that too, but I think that statement was...probably not wholly incorrect, but only part of the story? The Redux is a substantially different beast, really informed by the later-era Wong Kar-Wai's newfound level of elegance––the elegance on display in In the Mood for Love and 2046, and in The Grandmaster. Whereas the original cut of Ashes of Time has a lot in common with Chungking Express and Fallen Angels. I think the Redux was the result of Wong consciously recontextualizing his earlier work in relation to the more refined tone of his breakout international films, and the narrative Jet Tone presented to the press reflected that. It might be wishful thinking on my part to believe there is a way to reclaim the original cut of the film––it's more than likely a lost cause. But it is interesting to see the film being sort of edited out of Wong's filmography in terms of popular opinion. The Redux didn't really catch on with fans and the unavailability of the original cut has been a detriment to its reputation as well. And I suppose the subject matter of the film doesn't travel as lightly as Wong's more famous films.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:14 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
zedz wrote:
feihong wrote:
dwk wrote:

Nothing said there about Ashes of Time, right? The original cut of that will probably never see the light of day again.

As I vaguely recall from the Redux publicity, the original cut doesn't actually exist in any usable form any more. Maybe a battered release print, if one could be tracked down.



The original cut just screened in 35mm at the Metrograph in NYC as part of its Maggie Cheung series


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:29 pm 
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Wow. I wonder how it looked?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:36 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 1:11 am
beamish13 wrote:
The original cut just screened in 35mm at the Metrograph in NYC as part of its Maggie Cheung series


Are you sure about that? From the website, it looks like they showed Redux: http://metrograph.com/film/film/486/ashes-of-time-redux


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
JonoQ wrote:
beamish13 wrote:
The original cut just screened in 35mm at the Metrograph in NYC as part of its Maggie Cheung series


Are you sure about that? From the website, it looks like they showed Redux: http://metrograph.com/film/film/486/ashes-of-time-redux


Huh. They'd probably listed the original cut by mistake and revised it.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:00 pm 
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Similarly, the MFA in Boston had a Wong Karwai series a few years back in which they advertised Ashes of Time with the original runtime, but the print was just the redux. I fear a lot of repertories (or interns filling in program details off imdb) just aren't aware of the differences.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:05 pm 
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What do movie studios do with trims nowadays if a movie is shot on film? I sincerely hope that, even to this day, studios don't just throw out/destroy film like they did in the fifties and sixties.


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