Fallen Angels

on January 21, 1998 by Karen Achenbach
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A Kino release. Drama. Cantonese-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 96 minutes
   This fifth collaboration between writer-director Wong Kar-Wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle creates a spectacular visual surface accompanied by an equally pleasing soundtrack (Chinese rappers included). "Fallen Angels" boasts fast editing, varying film speeds, fish eye lenses, extreme angles and a frame often split foreground and background into two or more separate scenes.
   Running through Hong Kong without lights and overexposing film stock to get exposures (a technique which burns away the detail in an image), Doyle and Wong obtained wild colors from neon signs and an unsurpassed sense of location. Unfortunately, only the locations resonate with meaning; like Wong's film stock, whose meager latitude won't let the eye deep into the image, Wong's characters, all 20-something slackers and grotesques, have the same lack of depth. The hit man, his female manager, a mute bully and two whining girls are farcical and merely decorative. It's the colors and shapes of neighborhoods and the interiors that deliver value. Starring Leon Lai, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Charlie Young. Directed and written by Wong Kar-Wai. Produced by Wong Kar-Wai and Jeff Lau.
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