“I’ve heard that there’s a kind of bird without legs that can only fly and fly, and sleep in the wind when it is tired. The bird only lands once in its life… that’s when it dies.” (Film Draft)

Days of Being Wild

I didn’t intend on selecting another Wong Kar-wai. I scooped up Chungking Express a few weeks ago and thought maybe I had already grabbed In the Mood for Love, too (I hadn’t).

And yet here I am. Even the WKW films I don’t become particularly attached to possess elements or scenes that refuse to detach themselves from me. DoBW, for example: its dreamlike, seemingly disconnected epilogue that further enriches in the context of Wong’s future works.  (Dreamlike. There’s an adjective apt to WKW’s entire body of work.)

But it’s a 90-second sequence set down a path of palm trees, an empyreal shot by Christopher Doyle (his first of many, now almost legendary collaborations w/ Wong), that urged me to make this selection. Experiencing it sends you to the clouds.

Wong’s loosely set scripts have a charm to them, certainly infused by lush, living photography and vintage pop culture conceits, however also a room to color one’s own imagination into being. If you like what Wong paints on screen, off screen castles in the air will leave you in a perpetual subdued euphoria.

Days of Being Wild (goddamn, I love that title) lifts a kind of bittersweet inflection with lead Leslie Cheung’s untimely passing several years ago.  Like the works of a Ledger or Dean, right or not, the performer’s demise lends a new, singular allure and appreciation to this and other past pieces.

Pour yourself a rum and coke some slow weekend afternoon and give it a look.

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4 Responses to “I’ve heard that there’s a kind of bird without legs that can only fly and fly, and sleep in the wind when it is tired. The bird only lands once in its life… that’s when it dies.” (Film Draft)

  1. David says:

    I forgot to mention..
    The main reason I returned to the WKW well was due to collaborating on an homage of sorts. Or at least it started as such. Slowly pulling into different territory. We shall see.

  2. Taos says:

    Interesting. You’ve definitely rounded out the foreign-film section of our little draft. Lady Vengence and more recently Princess Mononoke have soured what little interest I had in Asian cinema. I’m troubled as a film enthusiast at my lack of interest and inability to relate to Asian films. I’ve only truly enjoyed Tae Guk Gi as much or more than anything in Western cinema. In retrospect, Oldboy, although stylistically outstanding, feels outside my circle of interest.

    I wonder if, as a westerner, Asian cinema is purely of subjective tastes. Is it the cultural differences the impede me? Yet, Akira Kurasawa’s filmography remains easily accessible to those with patience in older films and/or love of Sergio Leonne flicks.

    I think I shall make a return to such cinema after a long survey of American film. I feel lacking in the area of classic American cinema. A meditation on our country’s film may bring about an appreciation for more foreign fare.

  3. David says:

    That’s understandable. In a way, it is surprising just in that we have similar tastes in regards to Western film.

    I’m not sure why I’ve so easily become immersed in Asian cinema. I think in part it is the foreign appeal, and at times lack of complete understanding of either the material being presented or directorial choices, etc.

    Speaking of Christopher Doyle–I’m not sure how much you know about him. Dude’s interesting as hell, though. If you check out his work, you may read up on him. He hails from Australia. Left there at 18, saw the world (did a little bit of everything, everywhere), and is almost exclusively self-taught. He’s quoted as saying the reason he works predominantly out of Hong Kong/Asia, essentially, is it immediacy to humanity. There is, of course, that sort of disproportionate Western sovereignty that overlooks Asia, the East. It’s like, “what is the human race, really?” and Asian cinema expresses a large part of that.

    Tae Guk Gi stands to reason. I believe Kang Je-gyu’s (who has sadly gone quiet since Brotherhood) influences stem mostly from American cinema of the last several decades. It’s only real separation is its indulgence of melodrama and unabashed sentimentality; Korea’s national cinema hasn’t yet had the longevity to have entrenched itself in the cynicism our domestic cinema has (another refreshing appeal).

    It’s funny to me that you mention Kurosawa. Finally was able to play Ikiru just last night. Didn’t live up to my lofty expectations but still very good.

    Now I’m not at all educated on Kurosawa beyond having watched a handful of his works. Having said that, Ikiru, to me, is the perfect embodiment of Kurosawa’s attempting to renegotiate traditional Japanese propriety. Tragically, he never fully succeeds as he always pays homage to its strict formalism in doing so, more often than not succumbing to it (speaking to his stylistic tropes, here). It mirrors the very dark aspects of his personal life in that he seemed a man never able to break from his shell, trapped in his cool cerebral nature. Somewhat ironically, it’s this internal conflict, he himself a classical tragic figure, that informed his storytelling and utilization of technical skill into a timeless body of work that transcends borders.

    I would say Lady Vengeance definitely represents Park’s most isolated piece of storytelling. I kind of begrudgingly liked it at first, in love with its style and dumbfounded by its narrative. Over time and with additional rewatches, I began opening myself up to it more and more, though mostly from a clinical-literary POV. Today, while bits of it are still rather off-putting, I genuinely enjoy it. I think it goes back to that whole alien allure.

    Now, as for Princess Mononoke, I’m puzzled as hell by that, haha. Ebert had it spot on with his Star Wars comparison. You need to harken back to your Native heritage and go on a soul quest or something. 🙂

    I feel you have the right idea with exploring our own trove of film history. I’ve been beating myself up for not engaging in it as much as I should. My own screenwriting would greatly benefit from that, I’ve recently decided. Also, there’s no denying the outstanding/prolific output of both classic/renegade American writers-directors throughout Hollywood’s many eras as well as within the independent scene.

  4. David says:

    additional notes:

    -I will often scribble out ‘Days of Being Wild’ onto my hand or a sheet of paper. I love looking at it, sounding it out. It lends me an immediate spark if I’m ever lacking motivation. (I’m seriously diseased.)

    -When the day comes you decide to voyage back to Asian cinema, begin with Chungking Express. I can’t guarantee you’ll dig the first section, but past the 30-min mark or so, once Tony Leung and Faye Wong hit the scene, you’ll fall hard for it. I hope. (spirit walk. do it!)

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