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A Wong Kar-Wai primer

Why you should check out ”Chungking Express,” ”Happy Together,” ”In the Mood for Love,” and ”2046”

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Chungking Express (1996)
Full of Wong’s signature blurred slo-mo, this playful charmer interweaves two story lines involving lovelorn cops, a mysterious blonde, and an impish fast-food worker (adorable Asian pop star Faye Wong) who redecorates a customer’s flat — without his knowing.

Happy Together (1997)
Tony Leung (Wong’s frequent collaborator) broods brilliantly as half of a troubled gay couple who travel to Argentina to re-create bliss long gone. Tango master Astor Piazzolla’s wistful soundtrack enriches this moody meditation on impossible love and isolation.

In the Mood for Love (2001)
Maggie Cheung and Leung, perfectly understated, fall in love after learning their spouses are having an affair. Sensuous cinematography and another haunting score (this one from Shigeru Umebayashi) make Love a masterpiece of palpable heartache.

2046 (2005)
Wong calls this nonlinear saga ”a summary of all my movies.” Here, Leung’s Love character, now a womanizer, writes about a future where the heartbroken can recapture lost memories. Packed with Asian superstars (Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li), 2046 is Wong at his most epic.