I have some amazing friends here in Singapore. The Singapore premiere of Wong Kar Wai’s new flick “2046” was last night, and we all had tickets. I liked his “In the Mood for Love”, and hoped that after the tremendous hype, the withdrawal from film festivals and “non-final” cut at Cannes that it would be tremendous. Alas, it’s not (IMHO, of course).

First, it was much too long. It started late (9:30 was the Future Attractions, then the movie started about 9:45) and went for two hours. My jet-lagged brain lost about 20 minutes in the middle from a sudden urge to close my eyes and sleep, to which urge I quickly succumbed.

There is no plot; if you hadn’t read online synopses, it would be difficult to discover what the movie’s about. This is a problem.

The movie is lush–the music’s lush, the scenery, the makeup, the cast of many who are famous Chinese and Japanese stars were turned out to perfection (most of the movie is set in the 1960’s, with costume to match). The male lead, Tony Leung (star of In the Mood for Love”, with a pencil-thin moustache for most of the film, reminded me of a Chinese Humphrey Bogart. The female leads, of whom there are several, are stunningly costumed (no pants suits for these ladies; all shimmering gowns except when they’re in bed). There’s no nudity to speak of, BTW, at least in the Singapore cut. I wonder if there will be more when it opens in Western cinemas.

But the comparison that I made immediately (about 10 minutes into the movie) was with Last Year at Marienbad. It’s a movie that is continuallly satirised, mocked, and parodied. HWMBO and I sat through it on cable and were bemused. That’s how I felt when the lights came up after 2046. I wonder if anyone else connected the two movies. I suppose you could call it “22 years in Hong Kong” or perhaps “80” if you go by the movie’s ostensible dates.

Other random factoids: the subtitles were in English and Mandarin. There was some discussion in the car afterwards about the subtitles and the Chinese speakers (everyone but me) felt that the Chinese ones weren’t accurate. There was also discussion about whether the film was shot in Cantonese rather than Mandarin. The English subtitles seemed to be OK; I only caught one grammatical error (which is good for subtitles, in my experience). Also, the media were out in force and it’s possible that Singapore TV viewers today will be surprised to see the angmoh (Hokkien slang for white person–it means red-hair, I think) standing around outside eating peanuts before the showing. I hate it when people only bother to take your picture when you have a glass at your mouth or in your hand, or are eating something.

(Some satire on angmohs and Singapore.) Also, the definition of angmoh vs gweilo is here.

Anyway, the real pleasure in last night was the wonderful Chinese meal we had–a fusion restaurant with Western-style Chinese food and Chinese-style Western food. It was great (Thanks, Leslie), and of course being able to be with HWMBO for the evening, even though while he’s here he really belongs to his parents and I only get an occasional daily look-in. We’re off to Johor Bahru (across the strait in Malaysia) for some shopping and R&R this afternoon, and off to an Indonesian resort on Thursday, returning Saturday. All expensive, but worth it to have him to myself for a couple of days.

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