Fallen Angels Reviews
Fallen Angels is the story of a professional killer in Hong Kong. It follows the in's and out's of his job and his partner in crime who he rarely sees. After 3 years of working together, he wants out. Another sub-plot is about a mute (caused by eating expired cans of pineapples for a month, after he was heart broken) who breaks into restaurants, cafés and ice-cream trucks at night and forces people to buy his goods!
Wong Kar Wai?s fifth directorial film in 1995 and which was originally meant to be part of Chung King Express was a good film but not great. For me it seems incoherent and the characters just don?t seem to be able to hold the narrative well as I thought. There great parts of the movie are as follows; the stunning cinematography done by frequent collaborator, Christopher Doyle really captures the mood of Hong Kong well and the themes brought up in the film. Such as alienation from others, which I believed that was shown well.
Once again, Wai leaves hints of trademarks around the mise-en-scne. For instance during the film, there are constant references to the weather, and how it?s raining. Which has been featured in Chungking, In The Mood For Love, Happy Together amongst his work. There are also subtle hints in the background, through radio and TV, which reflects Hong Kong?s news, which is currently going on. What is done well is the usage of language, we see the news in English, French and Mandarin of course- that reflects well the era in which it was done in. The camerawork is something, which I haven?t seen in his work before. The close-up camera work is effective and does make the audience understand the characters well and their thoughts and feelings. However, what also this creates is a colastrophic atmosphere that these alienated characters are finding themselves in most of the time and you do feel like you are intruding in their lives at times.
The narrative, as I stated before, is a little confusing. However the narrative with He Zhiwu I was able to understand. Once amusing scene was when he was massaging a pig, which probably fitted well with his character?s personality. He was a mute, but I felt more sympathy for him that the other characters within Fallen Angels. Perhaps the camera-work made the film, for me, seem a little slow-paced and out of sorts.
Overall, Fallen Angels is worth the watch but is not of of his better movies. For me Chungking, its predecessor is far superior and has that quirkiness about it, which you cannot not like. This, perhaps, is a darker versions of that and delves deeper into what really is going on in these disillusioned people. If you haven?t watch Wai?s excellent work, start with his most recent work as it?s far better. Fallen Angels is superior to Days of Being Wild and As Tears Go By
It really feels like he's doing him own thing and the films are his vision through and through.
I would have liked to see more of Michele Reis though.
Almost like a fashion magazine commercial directed with MTV in mind version of "In the Mood for Love", the film is about a longing that cannot or must not be fulfilled. The problem is that the longing here is unearned, the characters are a series of actions, as opposed to the individuals who perform them, and the writing, while occasionally strong, is not very helpful. If in "Chungking Express" the manic energy served to propel the film, here it IS the film. This is not so much a case of style over substance as it is a case of style AS substance. The final product ends up being a series of loosely connected scenes involving four characters. Some of the scenes are very good, some are perfunctury, some contradict the characters and others seem to be there just because the director liked them. The whole film has the feel of a student art-project that was expanded to feature length.
That said, the film does succeed in generating a very specific mood. It is sometimes touching to see these characters reaching out, futilely trying to create some kind of contact with another human being. The photography, while sometimes annoying and needlessly showie, is very beautiful and the use of music is, for the most part, sublime.
Out of all the Wong Kar-Wai films I've seen, however (and they haven't been many) this is the first time he seemed to buy into his own hype, the first time he tried to be "cool" for the sake of being "cool". quirky for the sake of being quirky, "hip" for the sake of being "hip". The film seems to reflect more a man intent on making the coolest, trippiest, hippest succession of shots and strung-together sequences than a true overarching work of art.
Another beautifully photographed Wong Kar Wai film that tells two intertwined tales of loneliness, longing and love. Set in and around Chungking Mansions hotel, it follows the tales of a hitman and his female partner who cleans up after him, as well as an ex-con who makes a meager living breaking into different businesses and forcing passersby to pay him for unwanted goods or services and a strange young woman he meets and falls for.