Passport Series XV: World of Wong Kar Wai

Happy Together

Opens Feb 19, 2021

One of the most searing romances of the 1990s, Wong Kar Wai's emotionally raw, lushly stylized portrait of a relationship in breakdown casts Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung as a couple traveling through Argentina and locked in a turbulent cycle of infatuation and destructive jealousy as they break up, make up, and fall apart again and again. Setting out to depict the dynamics of a queer relationship with empathy and complexity on the cusp of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong — when the country's LGBT community suddenly faced an uncertain future — Wong crafts a feverish look at the life cycle of a love affair that's by turns devastating and deliriously romantic. Shot by ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle in both luminous monochrome and luscious saturated color, Happy Together is an intoxicating exploration of displacement and desire that swoons with the ache and exhilaration of love at its heart-tearing extremes.

Happy Together runs February 19-25 (with Chungking Express)



PASSPORT XV: WORLD OF WONG KAR WAI

With his lush and sensual visuals, pitch-perfect soundtracks, and soulful romanticism, Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai has established himself as one of the defining auteurs of contemporary cinema. Joined by such key collaborators as British cinematographer Christopher Doyle; editor and production and costume designer William Chang Suk Ping; and actors Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung Man Yuk, Wong has written and directed films that have enraptured audiences and critics worldwide and inspired countless other filmmakers with their poetic moods and music, narrative and stylistic daring, and potent themes of alienation and memory. Whether they're tragically romantic, soaked in blood, or quirkily comedic, the seven films collected here are an invitation into the unique and wistful world of a deeply influential artist.


We present these films in concert with one another, both chronologically (over nearly two decades), and thematically, as the pieces play off of one another. Held together by a unified yearning for emotional connection, Wong's films span generations, as we ping-pong between a hazy nostalgia for the 1960s — Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and, for the first time in its original, extended cut, The Hand — and the turbulent nervous-energy of impending change in the 1990s (on the cusp of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong) — with the whiplash fever dreams of Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, and Happy Together.


Chungking Express, and In the Mood for Love provide the most potent points of entry as their influence is painted all over the last 15 years of cinema. It is Wong's debut feature, 1988's As Tears Go By, a hyper-cool, hard-boiled crime thriller, that best serves to bridge these two styles, while also sticking out as the black sheep of the oeuvre. Fallen Angels returns, however tangentially, to these same Hong Kong Noir roots, while simultaneously forming a singular, hallucinatory slapstick city-symphony and neon-nocturne. Happy Together finds its focus on a complex and empathetic queer relationship as stars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung traverse Argentina in a shifting visual slate as In the Mood for Love-cinematographer, Christopher Doyle casts the film in stark monochrome and screaming color.


Ultimately, the world of Wong Kar Wai is a luscious, sketchy, digressive, exhilarating and intoxicating one — driven by a universal, tangible yearning for sincere connection.


Restorations provided by Janus Films.