Turning 22 seconds into an eternity

A film fanboy gushes…

http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/221-how-wong-kar-wai-turned-22-seconds-into-an-eternit/

Time is elastic in Wong Kar-Wai’s movies. As in The Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” it keeps on slippin’, slippin, slippin’. The first of Chungking Express’ twin stories involves a countdown: Cop 223’s girlfriend has dumped him, but he isn’t yet ready to accept that she’s gone, so he contrives a monthlong waiting/mourning period that gives their already-dead relationship an expiration date. The film’s second story ultimately pivots on a hand-drawn boarding pass good for a date one year in the future. Wong’s characters almost never fully exist in the present moment. Some part of them is forever looking forward or backward, either anticipating or remembering. Often, paradoxically, both at once.

The notable exception to this rule in Chungking Express is one of my favorite shots in all of cinema.

It occurs in the second story, just a little past the halfway point of the film as a whole. The shot lasts 22 seconds, and nothing whatsoever happens during that time. Cop 663 (Tony Leung) drinks a cup of coffee, and Faye (Faye Wong) watches him. That’s it. The coffee isn’t poisoned, and there’s no narrative value to be found elsewhere in the frame. The shot could be cut without impeding the story in any way. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most fervently romantic interludes of all time—22 seconds of pure rapture. As a demonstration of what movies at their best do that no other medium can, it’s hard to beat.

22_seconds_cop663_faye_coffee

22_seconds_cop663_faye_coffee

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Hope I don’t end up talking to and consoling thinning bars of soap and limp crying towels:
梁朝偉在家的獨白(重慶森林)
Tony Leung – Home Alone Monologue (Chungking Express)

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And I don’t want to be Pinned:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYS9Cj96C3U#t=125

hurt_by_a_pin_大头丁

hurt_by_a_pin_大头丁


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Hai… Loving and losing air stewardesses… Who hadn’t been through that.

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Third Chances, Rip Van Winkle, and Wong Kar-Wai

In the business of life, every tiny episode is a test, every human encounter a lesson.  Look and learn. One day you might achieve all that I have.  But time is sprinting past you, faster than you think.  You’re already playing catch-up, even as you read this.  Fortunately you do get a second chance.  My advice to you is: take it.  A third rarely comes your way.

-F.S.B.

Facile words. But am feeling them rather acutely. I am Rip Van Winkle, slumbering and sleepwalking as the world moves on around me. Or worse, an awkward stilted character in a 90’s WKW film, stop-motion-ing my movement and actions as everyone and everything sprints past me in a blur:

[stop-motion starts 1:15]


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Have let a million second chances pass me by. But I just need a singular third.

IN-VALID [Gattaca, in real life and coming soon]

[An old draft written and left un-posted. Inopportune time, I thought then. Need it to be the right time now.]
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Gattaca_IN-VALID

Gattaca_IN-VALID

Gattaca_VALID

Gattaca_VALID

Gattaca (1997):

Akan Datang.
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http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/07/genetics-of-iq/

Why Are Some People So Smart? The Answer Could Spawn a Generation of Superbabies

[…]

Assuming Zhao and his team succeed, there are implications that will trouble many people. Hsu is confident that through embryo screening during IVF, any genetic markers for intelligence that their team discovered would inevitably be used to select for more intelligent babies. Children tend to fall within a spread of 13 IQ points above and below the average IQ of their parents. But sometimes the apple can fall twice as far from the tree—that is, two parents with 100 IQs producing a child with an IQ of 126. Hsu puts the chance of such a positive outlier at around 2 or 3 percent, and it depends mostly on which sperm meets which egg.

If parents use IVF to conceive, then a genetic test—an extension of the screening tests for genetic diseases that are already routinely done on embryos—could let them pick the smartest genome from a batch of, say, 20 embryos. “It’s almost like there are 20 parallel universes,” Hsu says. “These are all really your kids.” You’re just choosing the ones with the greatest genetic potential for intelligence. But effectively, you could be giving an unborn child a boost in IQ above their parents. As Hsu sees it, this is no Faustian bargain. “Aren’t we doing them a great service?” Over the long term, he proclaims, this would “improve the average IQ of the species by quite a bit.” He hopes governments will even provide it for free; Singapore, he predicts, would be the first to sign up.

[…]

“Singapore, he predicts, would be the first to sign up.”
Heh.
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Memorable lines and scenes:

One of my favourite and most memorable films of my life, accentuated by seeing it under somber and trying life circumstances.

One of those films I watched only one time, but so affected me that I could never bear to watch it again. But with scenes and lines which had always stayed with me, like this one:

“You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton… I never saved anything for the swim back…”

-Vincent, the self-validated IN-VALID

“I never saved anything for the swim back”:

The line whispered at the edges of my mind and haunted my life for years. With each dream given-up, path un-pursued, opportunity mutely lapsed, the tremulous passion exhorted from these words lashed at me pitilessly, reproaching and holding me to task:
Have I ever really taken the plunge? To not save anything for the swim back, but rather, give it all I’ve got and strike out into the dark waves and unfathomable depths for the other side…
And worst still, how much of born “wit and lucky looks” had I wasted…

IN-VALID am I.
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[Sigh, such lovely sepia tones, bare materiality and clean lines, space and architectonics, from the film. Just a hint of Tadao Endo. Timeless machine aesthetics and utilitarian dystopia.

Have Space Suit — Will Travel, indeed.
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For whom the bell tolls [No man is an island]

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

I know, but I did not want to know. Probably I still don’t.
It tolls for me.

Donne was wrongly diagnosed of the plague and lying on what he thought was to be his death-bed, listening drearily to the church bells toll for yet another cloddish man-body succumbing to the black death, when he wrote the above.

What’s my excuse?
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Original text:
http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/meditation17.php

The Homing Sentiment [more old lines]

[Probably from early 2009]:
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Sigh.

This shrinking island already has lovers of solitude backed up against the edge. Am prepared to retreat eastwards all the way to sleepy changi village; but even there the rumbling of development and dreadful crowds can be heard…

If the powers that be do raise us up to Population X or 6 million spores, that gentle splash you hear, may just be me falling into the eastern seas, pushed off changi coast by the relentless encroaching crowds…

Living in tents out in the country sounds mighty fine. But am sure you are aware that in giving up the social contract, you gain wonderful space and breath, but lose the benefits of modern communities.
Having pondered and weighed severely the crucial pros & cons of the migration issue myself, I concluded that my need of kopi-tiam teh-tarik done-just-right, far outweighs any mundane ecclesiastical yearning for personal peace and enlightenment.

Seriously, jesting aside, the solitary call of the natural man (or woman) is plainly heard and keenly felt. But herein lays the knotty dichotomy of the recluse trader who wishes for nothing other than to trade in the quiet seclusion of his hermitage –
there on his multiple screens the roar of a thousand battles rages, where multitudinous armies gather in hosts of formations, boldly arrayed under colourful flags and pennants, drawing breaking and redrawing again countless battle lines, in an endless cycle of thrusting and withdrawing.

Mayhap some ancient words can shed some light:

“You should know that the great sages/recluses live in the cities and towns; why stay still and alone deep in the mountains?”

-Chang Po-Tuan, on integrating illumination, Understanding Reality

Admittedly, sagacious words can seem too remote; a more modern perspective may provide some poetic balance:

“This is the most beautiful place on earth.

There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome – there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.

-Edward Abbey, opening paragraph, Desert Solitaire

Incidentally, Abbey’s domus of choice is the red, dusty canyonlands and lonely sky of Arches National Park, Utah, outside his trailer door.