Virtual Cinema | “World of Wong Kar-Wai” Brings the Thrill of the Unexpected December 21, 2020

In filmmaking circles, some directors are known for planning every shot and sticking to a careful schedule; others operate far more loosely, improvising on set and making big changes in post-production.

Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Christopher Nolan, for example, all do extensive storyboarding before shooting begins. Clint Eastwood is a favorite of studio heads because he keeps his crews to such a strict production schedule that his films often come in under budget.

Celebrated Director Wong Kar-Wai
Other filmmakers, by contrast, drive actors crazy with unfinished scripts and final cuts that look nothing like the original story. Celebrated Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai is one of the latter, notorious for dragging out production on Ashes of Time over two years, and accidentally test-screening Chungking Express without one of the reels. But because his haphazard, instinctive filmmaking somehow results in indelibly romantic films like In the Mood for Love or the Palme d’Or–winning Happy Together, actors still clamor to work with him, and Wong (born 1958) is known as a filmmaker’s filmmaker, widely cited as an influence by other directors.

Retrospective of Most-Admired Films
Now, film lovers already familiar with Wong—as well as those ready to discover his unforgettable work—have a chance to experience some of his most-admired films through the retrospective “World of Wong Kar-Wai.” The movies have been restored in 4K and in some cases with changes to aspect ratio, sound, continuity, and credits. Fallen Angels, for example, has been converted to Cinemascope, which Wong claims to have been his intended format. With another director we might call these new versions the “director’s cut,” but original intention and authoritative editions have never been a driving concern for Wong. Rather, watching a Wong Kar-Wai film is always a unique aesthetic experience.

The Wonder of Discovery
Whether you’re a longtime fan or first-time viewer, these newly restored (and slightly altered) re-releases are certain to provide the wonder of discovery and the thrill of the unexpected.

World of Wong Kar-Wai / WATCH HERE January 1–31. Your ticket to each film ($12) supports the MFAH and provides a 30-day window to finish watching. Discounted passes for the entire series are also available. SEE THE TRAILER

• As Tears Go By
• Chungking Express
• Days of Being Wild
• Fallen Angels
• The Hand (Extended Cut)
• Happy Together
• In the Mood for Love

About the Author
Karen Fang, a member of the MFAH film subcommittee, chairs the Media and Moving Image Initiative at the University of Houston and is the author of Arresting Cinema: Surveillance in Hong Kong Film.

Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lynn S. Wyatt; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.