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More on '2046'

excerpt from what i picked up today on nytimes.com:

(i'm craving for a 'wonder boys' dvd. btw, snooky is still snooky.)


Cannes, a k a Asia West


CANNES, France

IT has become something of a journalistic cliché to preface any mention of Wong Kar-Wai's "2046" with the words "long awaited." Four years have passed since "In the Mood for Love," with its elliptical story and fabulous clothes, set the critics swooning at the 53rd Cannes International Film Festival (and won its dapper male lead, Tony Leung, the award for best actor). Mr. Wong's new film was expected at the Cannes festival last spring, and then in Venice the following summer. It was not ready for either of those events. On Thursday the audience at the 57th Cannes festival, whose catalogs listed "2046" among the competitive entries, had to wait a bit longer than anticipated.

It was announced on Tuesday that the press screening of the picture, a movie so elusive that even the sales agents representing it have seen only bits and pieces, would now take place simultaneously with the gala public showing on Thursday evening, rather than on Thursday morning as had been planned. The print, apparently, would not be ready before then.

Why the delay? Some people impishly suggested that the director, who has been known to reshoot and recut his films until the last possible minute (and beyond), was still on location or in an editing room somewhere. A joke making the rounds in the cafes and hotel bars suggested that Mr. Wong was working out a deal with festival organizers whereby his next movie would be given the Palme d'Or in 2007 and shown in 2008. Or perhaps the title of "2046" referred to its projected completion date.

Such humor amused everyone except the publicists handling the film, who assured us that the print had been held up by minor problems at the developing lab in Hong Kong. Or maybe in Bangkok. Would it arrive in France in time for the rescheduled screening? "Of course," one publicist said. "Of course. Absolutely. I hope."

Two obvious scenarios suggested themselves. The reels would arrive at the Palais des Festivals just before the screening. (You could picture a frantic courier in black tie lugging them up the red-carpeted steps.) And then, on Saturday night, "2046" would win the Palme. Or else we would sit in our tuxedos and evening dresses staring at a blank screen for two hours and hope that the party hadn't been canceled as well. In either case, we would all be able to congratulate ourselves on having witnessed a legendary Cannes moment.

What we did witness was, well, a Wong Kar-Wai movie, full of lush, melancholy sensuality and swathed in light as lustrous and supple as the Shantung dresses all of the actresses seem to wear. The title, by the way, refers both to a hotel room in Hong Kong in the late 1960's and a high-speed train racing through the future, and one of the film's themes (aptly enough, given the drama surrounding its arrival) is time. The characters are always falling in and out of love too soon or too late, and the chronology glides forward and backward.

Like other work from this director, "2046" teases the boundary of incomprehensibility. It is a series of moods, nuances and gorgeous moments — seductions, couplings, tearful partings — with the usual connective tissue left out, or implied in title cards and voice-overs. After the two screenings early in the evening, quite a few viewers rushed back to see it again later Thursday night, to experience its intoxicating beauty one more time, and also to figure out what on earth it was about.

Whether or not "2046" takes the Palme, its scene-stealing provided a fitting climax to this year's festival. The dominant personalities — Michael Moore and Quentin Tarantino — may have been American, but Asia was the continent most heavily represented in competition, with 6 of the 19 entries. In addition to "2046," from Hong Kong, there were two each from South Korea and Japan and one from Thailand.

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Best described as a Murakami detox support group, we're all fans of the quirkily brilliant Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, and writing about such things as films we've seen recently and books we're reading (not to mention meandering musings on the man's work, of course) helps us to pass time while waiting for the next book from Haruki-baby.

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