27 July 2013

Spoiled Leftovers

My Blueberry Nights
2007, France/Hong Kong/China
Wong Kar-wai

Though I didn't have any fond memories from my first viewing, I gave Wong Kar-wai's English-language debut My Blueberry Nights another go when I saw it airing on HBO. It was even worse than I remembered and not because of singer Norah Jones' non-presence as the film's protagonist; that was actually a welcome relief from the tedious overacting and scene-chewing from the rest of the cast, comprised of what one might consider "legitimate thespians." The film's only satisfying moment comes in an exchange between Jude Law's character and an old flame of his, played by Chan Marshall (whose music as Cat Power is featured prominently on the soundtrack), who drops by his New York City diner.

Normally, I would be quick to dismiss a scene that involves characters smoking cigarettes while talking about smoking cigarettes as a bad film school cliché, but the scene—shot mostly through the front window of the diner—is so luminous that I overlooked that bit of dialogue. Marshall's presence ignites something onscreen that both cinematographer Darius Khondji, who appears to be just imitating Christopher Doyle, and Wong Kar-wai, who appears to be imitating himself, fail to bring to life elsewhere in My Blueberry Nights. That moment makes you wish some director would give Marshall a leading role in the future, provided it isn't Wong Kar-wai.

I previously wrote about My Blueberry Nights here.

With: Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Chan Marshall, Frankie Faison, Adriane Lenox, Benjamin Kanes, Michael May

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