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CANNES 2007 Competition

Asia in French spotlight with Wong Kar-Wai


Asia in French spotlight with Wong Kar-Wai

Back on the Croisette one year after his role as jury president, Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai opened the official competition of the 60th Cannes Film Festival this afternoon with My Blueberry Nights [+see also:
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, his first English-language film shot in the US.

Starring singer Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman and David Strathairn, the feature received a respectful but half-hearted reception, similar to that of the director’s previous films. The film – which has a rich, fascinating aestheticism that uses a wide range of visual effects (slow motion, fast motion, filtering, with cinematography by Darius Khondji) – was co-written by the director and Lawrence Block and is the story of a young woman with a broken heart (Jones) who takes a journey across the US.

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Elizabeth leaves New York, where she starts a romance with a barman (Law), then travels to Memphis, where she crosses paths with a divided and destructive couple (Weisz and Strathairn in the best part of the film), before heading to Nevada and the world of gambling along with a high roller (Portman).

Using voice-overs of Law’s character and the postcards he writes the traveller, My Blueberry Nights depicts variations of romantic intoxication and explores the world at night, creating a cross between a photo-novel and psychological road movie, a sort of “middle ground” Wong Kar-Wai took in making his “American film."

Taking on a Western setting and Western actors for the first time, the director draws them into his personal universe ("the stories are always the same," says one of the characters) and continues his subtle exploration of the artifices of cinema, made up of a strange mix of deep emotions filtered through a detached oriental sensibility. The film has already attracted French outfit StudioCanal, who co-produced the film and is also selling it internationally (with much success already in terms of pre-sales).

With Celluloid Dreams co-production of Mogari No Mori by Japanese director Naomi Kawase (another title in competition at Cannes this year) also expected to do well, it seems as if the interest of French international sales agents in Asian directors is currently in vogue.

TF1 International announced today its acquisition of the thriller I Come With the Rain by Tran Anh Hung (The Scent of Green Papaya). Produced by Central Films and Jean Cazès, the project, which begins shooting in July with Josh Hartnett, also received backing from Canal+ and British fund Aramid.

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(Translated from French)

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