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Cannes, Day 7: Wong Kar-wai, redux

Posted by Ty Burr  May 19, 2008 04:12 AM

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ashesoftime09.jpg

I didn't spend yesterday just watching the new "Indiana Jones" movie and filing copy -- in the morning I caught "Gomorra," a very good Italian film about the Mafia in daily life (based on a non-fiction book that's a sensation in-country, telling tales and exposing how deeply rooted corruption is at every level of Italy). With dozens of characters bulleting around (most of them male, most of them not terribly bright, many of them dead before too long), it's not an action or crime movie so much as a pesudo-documentary on interspecies aggression. With rich, real characters. Sort of like if Robert Altman had directed "The Godfather." (And I mean sort of). I haven't read the book, but Glenn Kenny has, and he says the scene in the film where the exploited tailor (Salvatore Cantalupo, weary and terrific) sees the dress he made being worn by Scarlett Johansson on TV was in reality the Dolce & Gabbana dress Angelina Jolie wore to the Oscars.

After Indy, I schlepped to "Ashes of Time Redux," Wong Kar-wai's remix (photo, above) of one of his earliest films and certainly his only martial arts movie. The original 1994 "Ashes," which I haven't seen (it's available in a poorly done DVD version) apparently didn't make much sense, and it certainly doesn't now, but, lord, is it a vision to behold -- a wu xia film turned into an abstract expressionist action painting. I believe the only redux-ing that has been done is a digital clean up, some trimming, and a new score with cello solos by Yo-yo Ma. In that case, what Wong and cinematographer Cristopher Doyle (who were present at the screening, along with the cast) created 14 years ago is either a masterpiece of in-camera wizardry or a triumph of lab work. After all the Indiana Jones madness, I felt like I was tripping. Ended up sleeping through my morning screening, too.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

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