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Wong Kar Wai at Lincoln Center.

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061605_2046At around 8pm, Wong Kar Wai arrived, hand in hand with a woman in a red dress, strolling past two lines of huddled crowds shivering unhappily in summer clothing on an unexpectedly frigid evening, and stopping in front of the small contingent of photographers and news cameras. We’d like to say that, having waited a year longer than the rest of the world to see "2046," three more hours was nothing, but goddamn, it was miserable. "Film Comment"’s screening started at 9pm, to a packed house, with the magazine’s editor Gavin Smith introducing WKW, who in turn introduced his film, and thanked "Film Comment" for never putting him on the cover ("2046" will actually be the cover story for the July/August issue). He’s much taller than we’d thought. The sunglasses stayed on the whole time.

As for the film, it was delicious, an impossibly dense, lush concoction that was almost too much to take in one sitting. "I’m already missing you," Gong Li‘s beautiful, tragic gambler tells Tony Leung‘s Chow Mo Wan before she says goodbye. And in the same way, by halfway through the film we wished we were watching it again. Tropes and characters from Wong’s past films emerge like old friends — certainly one of the high points of our year.

After the jump, some hasty transcriptions from the Q & A Wong did after the film screened. 

A note: these are very rough — garnered as best we could in a noisy room and through his accent. Also, the batteries on our recorder are failing…if we have time to run out and get new ones, we may add a few more on here later in the day.

On the difference between "2046" and "In The Mood for Love."

In fact, I found it very difficult to make a difference between these two films. So at certain point, one of the reasons I wanted to put the number, 2046, on that hotel room was since I wanted to consider these two films as one film in different chapters. So the way we look at "In The Mood for Love" is like observations. It’s about these two people, Maggie and Tony…. But in "2046," it’s more about this man, and Maggie in the film is not a person. She is a man’s image, an idea. He wants to compare all the women around him to that image.

On his reasons for shooting "2046" in CinemaScope.

The main reason is…I wanted to torture Chris Doyle. Chris always claimed he has shot in CinemaScope, and I know it’s not true. He claims
"Hero" was shot in CinemaScope, and it’s not true. And also, because
we’re shooting in a very small space…actually, the hotel in the film is a prison
in Hong Kong, for political prisoners, and we just dressed up the space. But
that space is so small — the room of his is only half this platform, and you
know, to shoot with real CinemaScope, that means the angle is almost 180
degrees, and there’s way he can put the lights! We were shooting with these
antique television cameras, these 1970s cameras, because they were the only
machines that were available at that time, and we wanted to capture that Shaw
brothers feeling. So is it a very big machine. So Chris and his assistant had
to squeeze in the corner of this room, trying to shoot these scenes, and,
because we’d shoot in summertime and also in wintertime, so sometimes it was
extremely hot, and it really smelled, so when you look at all the scenes, it
looks quite nice, but it smelled really bad.

About his working relationship with Chris Doyle.

Chris…we’ve worked together almost ten years, and we know
each other quite well. There are two types of cinematographers. Some of them are
like a soldier, you know, they’re disciplined and they’re stable. And some of
them are like a sailor, which [unintelligible], or they need a break. But
Chris, because, in real life, he started as a sailor, and so, he needs to move.
And in a way, I give him space. But most of the time I decide the filming, the
look. But it doesn’t mean that he works according to what I decide. There will
be a surprise. But most of the time, a good surprise.

About "2046" having more in common, stylistically with
"Days of Being Wild" than with "In The Mood for Love," and
if Tony Leung’s appearance at in the final scene of "Days" was meant
to be the same character as the one he plays in "2046."

I’m very glad you noticed that, because "Days of Being Wild" is a film I made twenty years ago, and at the end of it, we have Tony. He has only one scene, at the end of the film, because the film was supposed to have two parts, but somehow, because the part one didn’t do very well, the producer decided "never mind."

At the end, it’s only three minutes, without any dialog, it’s the introduction of Tony Leung as a gambler. And we liked this scene so much, because it’s brilliant, and it’s one of my favorite endings of all my films, We were trying to make a film about a gambler, but somehow it didn’t work out. So it’s very strange, when we were working on "2046," we shot the film with difference chronologies, in a different chronological order, We shot the part with Gong Li and Tony at the end of the production. So the film opens with Tony…he’s a gambler. The ending of "Days of Being Wild" and "2046" can happen in one night, with a time difference of twenty years, so it’s very strange. I think in "2046", actually, there’s a lot of occasions like this. It’s always like a reunion. Some characters from my previous films, they show up. And you look at them and you see how they have changed.

About the similarities between Gong Li’s character in "2046" and her character in "Eros."

We shot "Eros" first. We shot that film in just seven days. This was during SARS, and we had to let all our crew members go back to their countries. The last few days, we actually shot 48 hours straight. And after that, we thought we should work together soon, because it was a great experience. So I decided to ask Gong Li to do this film. I said, well, there’s a role which I think is quite important, but it’s not a big role. But would she want to consider that. And she said, well, "I’ll try." Because she was fascinated by the idea of a gambler. And because in "Eros," hands are very important, because the title of that film is "The Hand". And in this film, her hand is covered. So it’s a different character, but also it’s somehow related.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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