Sunday, July 11, 2021

True Story of a Hooligan / Days of Being Wild

Five for Deposit

A film set in 1960/61 that looks like it could have taken place in 1990, and been shot yesterday, Wong Kar-wai's Aa fei zing zyun [True Story of a Hooligan] / Days of Being Wild [1990] is slippery with time and place — Hong Kong, but the Philippines; three o'clock "one-minute friends" — yet might leave an ineradicable marker (or in 2020s parlance, pin-drop) for the viewer of the first time he or she saw the picture. Slippery, and dealing in quantities — money, minutes, hours, days — as though each moment were fleeting, rushing, ultimately unseizable. Portions of the story give way to longer threads in a kind of narrative hand-off. One significant series of episodes involving Leslie Cheung and Carina Lau segues into a mini-movie starring Maggie Cheung and a policeman; in any other film what might act as a simple scene change here carries the force of a rupture, and even folds up with its own discrete ending. ("Soon after that, my mother passed away, and I became a sailor.") There are near-subliminal cuts (one in particular provides us a sole glimpse of the guard on the bottom floor of the apartment building), and strange almost extra-diegetic pieces of shorthand (Yuddy [Leslie Cheung] violently opening a set of sliding doors cuts onto his auntie on the deck of a ship headed toward the States). And the strangest moment of all: the finale which is not an epilogue, but the beginning of a new story altogether: Tony Leung's poverty-playboy in his single room readying himself for a night out — a prologue of sorts for In the Mood for Love and 2046 ten and fourteen years later in 'our' time. (In Days of Being Wild, an apartment door carries the number "204.") As Tears Go By can be seen as a prologue; Days of Being Wild is the 'first' WKW.


Other writing about Wong Kar-wai at Cinemasparagus:


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