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The Reeler Blog

Wong Kar-wai Tries Foreplay in NYC

The Sunday Times featured a couple of nifty reads yesterday, but Dennis Lim had the only home run of the game with his glimpse behind the scenes of Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights. While the rest of us had to settle for photographs from across the street as WKW shot on location in NYC (or for the big black curtain the filmmaker jammed in front of his Grand Street café location the day after said photos appeared online), Lim played it cool enough to just walk in and get the scoop about the set-up for one of Wong's typically complex screen kisses:

Wong turn: After escaping New York, the filmmaker headed West for his American road movie My Blueberry Nights (Photo: Macall Polay / Jet Tone Films)

The cafe location had only been minimally altered. There were hand-painted inscriptions on the glass windows and a new sign outside with Cyrillic lettering. (Production designer William) Chang had also installed a pair of columns to break up the tiny space and mounted mirrors to maximize the angles.
That night (cinematographer Darius) Khondji was working out a complex shot that required him to pan, track and shoot the Kiss through a vase, a cake dish and some beer bottles on the countertop.
After a few takes Mr. Wong asked if the shot would work better if (Jude) Law, before swooping in for the smooch, extended his hand to touch (Norah) Jones’s face. Or, as he put it, “Foreplay or no foreplay?” A vote was taken among those present; the former prevailed. Mr. Law incorporated the maneuver into the remaining takes.
Later Mr. Wong jokingly explained: “I had to ask because in America, sometimes they prefer things macho. I wasn’t sure if it should be too tender. In Hong Kong I don’t have to ask. I know what a guy would do.”

Tenderness would have been easy enough; "OK, Jude, so pretend Norah is your nanny." Done. Not that it matters -- you just know the guy's gonna reshoot the whole thing in six months anyway.

Posted at November 20, 2006 10:42 AM

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