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Friday, July 01, 2011

Days of Being Wild (1990)

Days of Being Wild (阿飛正傳 - A Fei jingjyuhn, The True Story of a Playboy ), made in 1990 by Wong Kar-Way. It was his second feature film, the first to collaborate with cinematographer Chris Doyle, the first to follow his artistic obsessions. The movie had a great cast: Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Rebecca Pan, Jacky Cheung, all these along with Tony Leung Chiu Wai (who played in a cameo). Despite all these assets the movie started by being a commercial failure (as the director told once, in Korea the attendance even threw things at the screen). The style of Wong Kar-Wai (or the style of Chris Doyle, or both) was simply too new, too unexpected.

Years have passed and Wong Kar-Wai (along with Chris Doyle) became well-known worldwide, and each of their movies is now considered as iconic. I wouldn't get tired watching any of their movies as many times as it gets: each time I understand a nuance in more depth.

What could be told in a few words about this movie, Days of Being Wild? For Pavel Ruminov the spirit of Nabokov lives in WKW heroes' rooms. For another reviewer (tedg) this movie draws fluid tattoos on the insides of skin. For chaos-rampant this is raw and touching and real, like the best of gritnik cinema done by a romantic. And tedg again, this movie is the first project where Kar-Wai Wong found his groove with the Spanish notion of meta-story.

Well, meta-story, or meta-narrative, whatever: other stories built within the main story, each of the embedded stories with a life and a poignancy of their own, unfolding without haste, while not impeding on the main story - chapels in a cathedral. You have the sensation of being there, everything has such an immediacy that it's like it happens to you, right there during the screening. There is the main character, a womanizer dreaming to find someday his estranged mother, meanwhile seducing and then getting rid of everything he meets, abusive and careless in all his relations, with men and women alike; there are the girls, seduced and abandoned; there are the other men, witnessing all this and falling for the girls, hopelessly... and it's like you are there, in the skin of each personage, as each of the embedded stories is flowing, as the main story is flowing, you are the womanizer, leaving sentimental carnage on your way, you are each girl, enjoying your erotic accomplishment, rejected, despaired, you are each of the men, empathizing with the girls, trying to help them, longing for them, you are the substitute mother, ambiguous in your feelings for the boy you raised, you are the real mother, not showing anything which is in your heart, not even to yourself.

Peter Brunette has and admirable essay about Days of Being Wild: with this movie Wong was fully immersed in what would become his greatest themes, love and time.

Days of Being Wild is considered as the first part in a loose trilogy dealing with love and time (together with In the Mood for Love and 2046). Actually love and time (maybe better said eros and time) remained the preoccupation also in the movies following this so-called trilogy: think for instance at The Hand, WK-W's episode from Eros, made in 2004 - and the preoccupation remains also in My Blueberry Nights (which is also a meta-story, by the way).

All these movies mirroring love and time in countless ways. Time marked by the passing of histories of love replacing the passing of years, down to implosion: stories of seduction, stories of desire, stories of love just imagined, stories of longing, stories of despair. Love trying to destroy the reality of time: 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. Time as illusion, love as illusion - time has lost any significance, because it was replaced by histories of love - while love exploded and lost any meaning from the very beginning - reality as illusion: the fact is that the bird hasn't gone anywhere; it was dead from the beginning.

Days of Being Wild: Part 1/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 2/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 3/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 4/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 5/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 6/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 7/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 8/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 9/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 10/11
(video by kuraxmol)

Days of Being Wild: Part 11/11
(video by kuraxmol)

(Wong Kar-Way & Chris Doyle)

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