Archive for August 8th, 2018

 © 2018 by James Clark

      Many folks swear by exotic travel to lift themselves out of doldrums. The duration may be as brief as a week and as long as years. By and large, the voyagers adopt a passive disposition for experiencing welcome change, particularly with the matter of igniting an avenue from which to bring their skills to bear.

Though it might seem impolite, we have to entertain the possibility that the world as such does not smile upon those intent upon letting others set the pace. Wong Kar Wai, in bringing to light his film, Happy Together (1997), about two young men from Hong Kong, Lai and Ho, looking for magic in Argentina, trains his high beams on exactly that exigency. As such there is the figure, Lai, after having been driven to distraction in the course of looking for the easy way up, who eventually gets down to business as a very non-white-collar-worker in an abattoir where you don’t disregard guts. The minutiae underway, of Lai’s odyssey on behalf of hard employment, constitute, therefore, a sort of anti-holiday none of us can do without. And, this being a Wong Kar Wai movie, those twists and turns put into play moments of sensibility not merely striking but haunting. (Although “explanations” by auteurs are usually understandable mischief, in the case of Wong’s insisting—against the narrative’s surface—that this film is not concerned with tendencies of homosexual men, a rare accuracy occurs. A degree of caressing and anal sex comes to pass; but in this vehicle Lai and Ho are under scrutiny for the honorific cool side of their tastes, not for biological imperatives.)

Soon after arriving in Buenos Ares (now having to live alone, after one of their frequent divorces) Lai takes a job as a doorman/ greeter at a tango bar, “Bar Sur” [above the norm]. We see briefly a man and a woman, in severe apparel and coiffure, demonstrating the fussy dynamics of the dance, conspicuous for its intimacy bereft of joy and affection; but flush with belaboring those in attendance with their own superiority. (Ho, we shall soon come to realize, having in his scant repertoire of skills, being adept in that dance-style, in addition to nymphomania and prostitution.) But, much more than that self-consciously risqué bohemianism, there is Lai, out on the street, being the first responder for one of many overassertive party animals and snapping photos for the ladies. His motivation, which he will soon deny, is (despite the de rigueur circus-barker tone) suave and good-natured as only Wong-stalwart, actor, Tony Leung, can mix amusement and devastation. (Ho, portrayed by Leslie Cheung, sets in relief, with his peevish peasant appetites, thereby, the aristocratic cravings of Lai simmering in such a proletarian zone.) As that shuffle of narrative overtures spins downwards, Lai takes morosely to Mickeys at the club’s entrance between visiting awesomeness and soon severs his involvement with the juvenile Sur. (more…)

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