Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fallen Angels (Kar-Wai Wong, 1995)

The freaks come out at night / The freaks come out at night / The freaks come out at night / (the freaks come out!) I know, everyone and their Uncle Gary's third left nut like to start off their reviews of Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels by quoting Whodini's "Freaks Come Out At Night," from their 1984 album, Escape. But I'll be damned, it sure is apt as a motherfucker. You see, the whole movie takes place at night, and I couldn't have been more pleased. Oh, sure, daytime probably still exists in this film's neon-adorned universe. But Wong Kar-Wai has no interest in what goes on during the day. And why should he? His characters are, no doubt, all asleep during the day. And like I said, I couldn't be more pleased. Think about it. Who wants to watch Michelle Reis do stuff during the day? I know I sure don't. In fact, just the mere thought of Michelle Reis doing anything during the day makes my skin crawl. (Are you sure that isn't your seborrheic dermatitis acting up again?) No, it's definitely the prospect of watching Michelle Reis, oh, I don't know, mail a letter at ten in the morning. Ugh. (So, what you're saying is, Michelle Reis looks good while doing stuff at night?) Duh. Haven't you been paying attention? Yes, Michelle... Hell, the whole cast look good while doing stuff at night. And since legendary Hong Kong cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, is filming them, they look extra good.

However, none of the cast can hold a candle... (Yeah, yeah, Michelle Reis looks amazing. We get it.) You don't seem to understand. I want her body, I want her hair, I want her wardrobe... I even want her swaggering insolence. (Wow, "swaggering insolence," eh? I think just popped a lady-boner.) Tell me about it. I'm curious. Is your lady-boner currently pressing oh-so tightly against your panties? Wait, don't answer that. I'm just going to go ahead and assume that it is and move on.

Of course, I don't know if I want her overgrown bangs and disgusting smoking habit. But then again, taking away Michelle Reis's overgrown bangs and nicotine addiction would be a little like asking Eugene Levy to trim his eyebrows or telling Beyoncé to stop being so fierce.

While I'm not a big fan of smoking, there's no denying that cigarettes make movies more... well, cinematic. Okay, imagine this. What if someone, like, oh, how 'bout those pricks George Lucas or Stephen Spielberg, decided to go back and digitally remove every cigarette from every movie in existence? Exactly. It would render all those movies unwatchable. Well, if you took away Michelle Reis's cigarettes, you would not only ruin the movie, you would radically change the temperament of her character.

As for her overgrown bangs... Actually, I shouldn't talk, as my bangs are technically overgrown as well. You know what? Forget I said anything disparaging about Michelle Reis's bangs. What's that? You already have? That's terrific.

Since I recently decided to radically change my life for, hopefully, the better, I've noticed the need to do stuff outside in full view of other people has increased. What I mean is, I can't expect things to change if I continue to avoid other people. While I've made some progress on-line and in the so-called "real world," being social is extremely difficult for me. Well, as I watched the lonely characters that populate this film's nocturnal universe, I couldn't help but relate to their struggles to connect with... other people.

The film essentially follows three characters. An assassin (Leon Lai), his partner/agent (Michelle Reis) and He Zhiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a mute doofus who pretends he works at businesses that are closed.

It would seem that Michelle Reis sets up Leon Lai's "jobs" for him, so, that when he pulls out his guns and goes all Chow Yun-Fat on his targets, things go smoothly. Though, I don't think cleaning his apartment and masturbating in his bed while wearing fishnet and fully-fashioned stockings are really necessary. Or maybe they are. What do I know?

Either way, the shots of them setting up jobs, using public transit, navigating the gleaming rain-soaked streets with a noirish elan, hanging out in bars and doing other gangster shit are gorgeous beyond belief.

The film gets a dose of romantic comedy-style whimsy when Karen Mok, sporting reddish-blonde hair, shows up and forces Leon Lai to be his girlfriend. Okay, it doesn't exactly go down like that. But there's no denying it, Karen Mok does charm the pants off Leon Lai. And it's no wonder, she's a one-woman adorable symposium. Which is what I need to start doing. (You mean be more adorable? That's impossible... you're adorable as fuck.) Yes, I mean, no, I need to start putting myself out there more. In other words, I need to start acting more like Karen Mok in Fallen Angels, and less like... (The little kid from Room?) Sure.

Things go from being romantic to downright goofy when Takeshi Kaneshiro's subplot kicks in. Playing an aimless individual, who, like I said, pretends to work at closed businesses (he forces a man with a ponytail to eat ice cream at an ice cream stand... he doesn't work at), Takeshi, like the other characters, struggles with loneliness, and tries to alleviate it by being obnoxious. I know, being obnoxious sounds like an awful plan. But is it? See all those happy people doing stuff outside. Do you really think they got where they are by not being obnoxious? Of course they didn't.

Now, I'm not saying you should take it to the level that Takeshi does. Nevertheless, a little obnoxiousness doesn't hurt. After all, Takeshi does manage to sort of woo Charlie Yeung, an attractive yet easily agitated woman.

Stylish and brimming with vitality, Fallen Angels is... (Wait, are you done?) Yeah. I'm wrapping this sucker up. (What about Michelle Reis's outfits?) Like I said, I want to wear them all. But if I could only choose one, it would definitely be the shiny black dress with the massive slit she wears when we see her cleaning Leon Lai's apartment for the very first time. I also loved her black fishnets and black rubber gloves.  Anyway, this flick is pretty fucking great.

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