Sunday, November 19, 2006

Capturing Time On Film

Jude Law and Nora Jones in Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry NightsWong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love) is well-known for his propensity for making movies about The Moment. NYT covers the making of Kar-wai's new film "My Blueberry Nights" with Jude Law, Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, and David Strathairn.

Of the scene that has become known as 'The Kiss', NYT reports:

On a SoHo film set last August, Jude Law and Norah Jones were getting intimate. Repeatedly intimate. To be precise, they had kissed upwards of 150 times in the past three days.

The occasion for this outbreak of passion was "My Blueberry Nights," the first English-language film by Wong Kar-wai, the maverick Hong Kong director turned avatar of cosmopolitan cool. This particular night was stifling as the crew spilled out of Palacinka, a small cafe on Grand Street that was the principal New York location, preparing for yet another take of the scene known as "the Kiss."

It's closing time, and Ms. Jones, the only remaining customer, is slumped on the counter, her eyes shut. A smudge of cream rests on her upper lip, the telltale sign of a dessert binge. Mr. Law, cleaning up behind the bar, gazes at her, slowly leans in and steals a lingering kiss. When he surfaces, the cream on her lip is gone.

On working with a director so obsessed with a single scene.

"I've never worked with someone who's put so much emphasis on a single moment," Mr. Law said between takes one night. "It's extraordinary how he'll take a moment and replay it and slice it up."

Kar-wai works in an improvisational way -- often starting production without a completed script. Of working in this manner Law says:

"I wish we had endless time and endless money," Mr. Law said. "It's not often you get to be part of something like this -- a living story that's still being decided."

On completing "My Blueberry Nights" Kar-wai says:

Over tea shortly before he left New York, Mr. Wong said he was exhausted from the grueling shoot. But far from being fazed by the sense of incompletion, he seemed invigorated: the door remained open, no alternatives had been lost, the story was still alive.

And how might "My Blueberry Nights" end? "I think there will be a second kiss," he said. "But I don't know where."

Complete story at NYT

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