Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai, 1995)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Fletch F. Fletch
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#1 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon Jun 26, 2006 4:26 pm

There's a really nice appreciation of this movie over here that got me thinking about this movie and how it is one of Wong Kar-Wai's more underappreciated films. Maybe it's the feeling that it is something akin to leftovers that didn't make it into Chungking Express or what but I really think that this film has a lot going for it. I don't know if I agree with the reviewer who claims that is almost as important as Happy Together but I do think it is one of Wong's stronger films.

Interestingly, he sets up standard gangster film stereotypes: the cool hitman, his gorgeous contact and then blends them with a slacker type and a girl who is crazy in the head and then proceeds to humanize them and explore their motivations. All the while, Wong still explores his usual thematic preoccupations while utilizing some incredibly stylish camerawork from Chris Doyle (of course).

I dunno. I've always liked this movie and watch it more than a lot of Wong's other movies (except probably Chungking and In the Mood for Love). Anybody else an admirer of this movie?

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exte
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#2 Post by exte » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:43 pm

Only for its cinematography, really. Sorry...

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#3 Post by bufordsharkley » Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:56 am

I haven't watched everything WKW's done, (only Chungking, Days of Being Wild, Fallen Angels, and In the Mood for Love,) but it still means something when I say Fallen Angels was my second-favorite of the lot. (Behind In the Mood....)

...Just a fantastic, loose, inventive, and fun film. It hits hard on the emotional register, too, relative to what else he's done. Brilliant characterizations, and a brilliant job juggling the movie's structure...

All in all, I can't praise it enough.

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#4 Post by John Cope » Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:37 am

I have always loved this film. I actually prefer it to Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. Everything bufordsharkley said is absolutely dead on. I think this may have been the first Wong I ever saw and that could account for some of my sentiment but honestly it is a fine and deeply moving piece of work. The scene where the young man screens the videos he made of his father and the final motorcycle ride never fail to hypnotize and enrapture me. The affection between and for the characters is particularly pronounced in this one, despite the fact that everyone is at sea in a world choked by nothing but pop signifiers and stylish posturing. Wong deepens our understanding of what affection can be by recognizing the importance of the superficial to many, if not most. It is this same kind of ultimately non-ironic empathy that marks the best work of Zalman King, and for which he is condemned to never receive any credit or acknowledgment. FWIW, my favorite Wong is probably Ashes of Time, though I also adore Days of Being Wild. The more fragmented the reverie the better.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#5 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:00 am

bufordsharkley wrote:...Just a fantastic, loose, inventive, and fun film. It hits hard on the emotional register, too, relative to what else he's done. Brilliant characterizations, and a brilliant job juggling the movie's structure...
Agree. I too really dig the loose, improvisational feel that is carried over from Chungking. It's like Wong took the best parts of that movie (the second story with Tony Leung and Faye Wong) and transported them into Fallen Angels.
John Cope wrote:I have always loved this film. I actually prefer it to Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. Everything bufordsharkley said is absolutely dead on. I think this may have been the first Wong I ever saw and that could account for some of my sentiment but honestly it is a fine and deeply moving piece of work. The scene where the young man screens the videos he made of his father and the final motorcycle ride never fail to hypnotize and enrapture me.
Yes, those two moments stand out for me as well. There is a real poignancy to them that resonates, I think. Chungking was my first Wong film and so it will always have a sentimental place in my heart but I saw Fallen Angels quickly afterwards and really stayed with me.

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#6 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:13 pm

Fletch F. Fletch wrote: Chungking was my first Wong film and so it will always have a sentimental place in my heart but I saw Fallen Angels quickly afterwards and really stayed with me.
First Wongs seem to always have a special place (for me it was Days of Being Wild, which was promoted as a HK genre flick in a midnight screening and came as a huge surprise). Ashes of Time is probably my all-time favourite - tackling that genre from that angle is a bold feat, and the action sequences are some of the most visionary in cinema - but he really didn't put a foot wrong in the nineties. Fallen Angels may be my least favourite of that decade, but it's still exquisite, and probably only a hair behind Chungking Express. Why not love them all?

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#7 Post by david hare » Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:19 pm

Absoloutely! Who can't love a true Romantic who crashes in on every genre imaginable from fanboy comic violence to the Western. And is one of the first great directors of women since Cukor and Sternberg.

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