First up was 2046. (Watched: 09-10-2023)
The night after I awoke to a bunch of kindly provided recommendations I decided to start with the top of a list of 10 movies that @exodus provided as a sort of “movie type” sampler menu.
I watched it on a particularly hot and humid sunny Sunday September morning. The summer slowly fading away, we have a handful of these awful sticky hot days due to our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, this was one of them.
After taking my dog for a short walk. I began the film feeling way too hot and not particularly comfortable. The AC and a dog who finds said AC to be a bit cold – and thus wanting to cuddle, provided enough to rectify that fairly quickly.
So I signed up for a 7 day free trial on The Criterion Channel (mentioned frequently in the podcast) and got ready to cast it to my TV.
Not ideal watching conditions, being early in the morning and exceptionally bright, but I was ready to give this a shot.
Impressions are tagged in spoilers below!
First up, I was immediately surprised at the frame rate the movie was shot in. It seemed like certain segments of it were shot at a much lower frame rate than others. While I was watching, I was trying to understand the significance of this. I thought “are these flashbacks or something?” but I never really understood if that was the case or not.
I immediately got the sense that there was some fairly significant time skipping going on, but I did have a hard time pinning down exactly where the main character (Chow) was in time, even though there were dates explicitly shown on black cuts during the film (Again, ADHD here makes this tricky.) But I gathered that there were at least 3 (Originally I thought the future train segments were real until it was revealed later on it was the plot of a story the main character was writing.).
I didn’t really understand the significance of Lulu (I afterwards understood that Chow lived in either the same apartment, or a different one with the same room number – 2046 in the past, potentially with Lulu?) but I didn’t think that particular point mattered a whole lot in understanding what was going on with the plot, though I did miss it entirely.
The main body of the film I followed fairly easily, enjoying the somewhat quirky but ultimately brief relationships the Chow has with various partners throughout the mid to late 1960s in Hong Kong. I appreciated the intertwining of political/activist events, though not covered in significant detail, as it’s something that’s a bit of a blind spot for me, and it lead me to do some reading on the events in 1966 and 1967 in the afternoon after finishing the movie.
The repetitive semi-self destructive cycle of new relationships that Chow refuses to develop into more serious connections, mixed with frequent flashbacks to his time with Su Li-Zhen make it fairly clear that at least part of the plot is about being nostalgic for that past relationship or time and being unwilling or unable to get back to it – or maybe more significantly to move on from it.
While watching, I was trying to under the significance of the movies title – 2046, (and also the number 2047?).
To me it seemed that it was representative of that time or mental state that Chow was in back with Su Li-Zhen in Singapore.
I think there are a few connections there, with him staying next door in 2047 even though he wanted to go back to 2046 due to renovations, that he wouldn’t spend the night with some of the women he was seeing who stayed in room 2046, and finally his sci-fi story.
It seemed to me that the plot of his story was about 2046 being some utopia people don’t come back from except for his stand in. I felt that was more or less just Chow writing about how most people always look back at those nostalgic and beautiful memories and never let them go, holding them back from finding new love or happiness.
There was something about there being two Su Li-Zhen’s but I never really understood that.
In a lot of the future sequences there’s parts where the main character is asking the androids and the train conductor about whether they’d leave with him, I never really understood the significance of that either. I suppose it could be something to do with no one else being willing to leave behind their nostalgic experiences of love or their memories? I was confused on it.
The ending I didn’t fully understand, but it just seemed like Chow was saying to Bai Ling that there’s one thing he’ll never do, which is allowing anyone to replace that part of his memory (His old relationship with Su Li-Zhen).
From a production perspective, I really appreciated the camera work inside the apartment building in all of the time periods. It’s a very tight space and a lot of the shots felt very intimate to me. The setting being 60s Hong Kong is very aesthetically pleasing to me as well, and a few shots – like the ones where it’s raining outside were really stunning to me. I always just want to be outside in the rain at night, especially when there’s lots of neon and metal for rain to hit.
I also very much enjoyed the parts of the movie where Jing-wen and Chow are writing together. It’s very cute and I wanted more of that as well
Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It felt a bit hard to follow given my relative inexperience with such movies, but I liked it enough to maybe watch it again and attempt to understand it better.
Onto “The Warriors”!