By Vivian P.Y. Lee

ISBN-10: 0230221432

ISBN-13: 9780230221437

Taking as its aspect of departure the 3 recurrent issues of nostalgia, reminiscence and native histories, this booklet is an try and map out a brand new poetics -- the post-nostalgic mind's eye -- in Hong Kong cinema within the first decade of chinese language rule.

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This happens when Chow speaks to his colleague Ping in the newsroom early in the film. A variation on this visual trick is seen in the numerous conversations in the narrow passages inside the rooming apartments. Usually, one character is seen in profile facing an opened door, the wall and door frame occupying/blocking one half of the screen so that the interlocutor remains unseen. This kind of framing has a disorienting effect on the viewer, as the speakers on-screen are seen staring into the out-of-field or some visual obstacle, or facing a direction contrary to what is suggested by the establishing shot, a far cry from the customary shot/reverse shot composition.

Intensely personal and yet subtly allegorical, Wong’s films bear the imprint of the anxieties and disorientation of the (ex-)colonial city trying to come to terms with its identity, or lack of one thereof, at a critical historical juncture. In this way they also epitomize the cinema of Hong Kong, and perhaps Hong Kong itself, as a point of intersection, between global currents and local realities, city and nation, ‘high art’ and popular culture, affections and disaffections, memory and the loss of memory.

46 This is not to say that 2046 is a political film; rather, politics is a catalyst for deeper reflections on personal and collective destiny. The internal montage of parallel times and parallel universes functions like a distorted mirror held up to the smooth surface of reality: Chow Mo Wan’s affected tranquility and nonchalance, the evasiveness and detachment of the film’s narrating/viewing present, and a mythical future stasis. Ironically, that future, like the canned pineapples in Chungking Express, has an expiry date, rendering what may happen afterwards even less promising.

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Hong Kong Cinema Since 1997: The Post-Nostalgic Imagination by Vivian P.Y. Lee


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