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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.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.