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Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • Director Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong, 2000.
  • In Cantonese and Shanghainese with English subtitles.
  • 35mm, Dolby Digital sound; TRT: 98 min.
  • Rated "PG"
  • USA Release: February, 2001.
  • Production: Block 2 Pictures (Hong Kong), Paradis-Orly Films (France).

  • W H E N :

  • Tuesday November 11
  • Wednesday November 12

  • Doors open at 6:30 pm, film starts at 7:00 pm.

    W H E R E :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
    953 Eden Park Dr, Eden Park/Mt. Adams.
  • Easy Access, Free Parking
    click for Directions & Map

  • T I C K E T S :

  • Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for Art Museum members, ETA/Start members, military families and students with valid ID.

    $7 tickets are ONLY available online, by phone, at the Museum, and at the door subject to availability.


  • tollfree 1-877-548-3237
  • visit or call the Art Museum (513 721 ARTS)

  • ...and at these locations
    ($9 tix only, cash only),
    click each link below for a map:

  • Clifton - Ludlow Ave. -
    Sitwell's Coffee House
    513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
    Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

    513 871 8626

  • Downtown Cincinnati -
    Coffee Emporium
    513 651 5483

  • Dinner-and-a-Movie

    OFFER -
    50% Discount


    To celebrate a year of collaboration, Andy's Mediterranean Grill is offering a 50% discount to CWC patrons!!!

    That's right, 50% on food AND beverages.

    Here's how it works: On Tuesday November 11 and Wednesday November 12, CWC patrons can purchase dinner for two persons and receive a 50% discount on the total. And this includes your drinks! Simply visit Andy's BEFORE or AFTER the film on either night to take advantage of this terrific offer.

    Conveniently located just a few blocks from the Art Museum at 906 Nassau Street near Gilbert Avenue, Andy's features great Lebanese meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian specialities, including Kabobs, Shwarma, Lebanese Pizza, Baba Ghannouj, Labneh, Falafel, Hummus with Tahini, etc.

    Pre-film reservations suggested, call 513.281.9791. Click here for directions, menu and general info and click here for a map.

    Thank you Andy & Majid !!

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    In the Mood for Love

    "Breathtakingly Gorgeous" ~ The New York Times

    "Brilliant" ~ Roger Ebert         "Visually Ravishing" ~ The Los Angeles Times

    "Possibly the most beautiful contemporary film, and certainly the most romantic..."
    ~ The Economist

    In the Mood for Love

    "One of the best Chinese films so far in this new century ... from Wong Kar-Wai, one of that country's most prolific, highly regarded filmmakers"
      ~ Larry Thomas, WVXU

    WVXU film review   >>> Listen to the complete WVXU film review by Larry Thomas.

    CityBeat film review    >>>  Read the Jason Gargano
    review in CITYBEAT Recommends.


    FEW SUBJECTS HAVE DRIVEN the creation of great art as much as the concept of longing. Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, et.al., have expressed this emotion so well that their readers understand the pain that informed their art. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is similar in this regard, as one of the things that makes it a great film is its understanding of the complexity of emotional longing.

    A COMMON ATTRIBUTE of fictional cinema is that it takes viewers out of the routine of their own lives by providing an escape from reality. Rarely, do we see excellent films that offer more - insights into real people and real lives, thereby encouraging audiences to learn more about themselves. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is such a film - a poetic and emotional love story that will quietly and softly touch your heart.

    THIS FILM WAS MADE without having to cater to American audiences that demand happy endings. As a result, Wong was able to create an ending for the film that is more powerful and affecting than most anything of its type that has come out of Hollywood. The end result impressed film festival audiences and juries, academies and critics circles, in the U.S. and around the world, winning 32 awards with nominations for another 24.

    Critics and writers have also been fascinated with this film, producing no fewer than 150 reviews and essays. That said, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE was underexposed in the U.S., released in the shadow of the blockbuster Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which captured $128 Million in U.S. gross receipts.

    IF YOU DO NOTHING MORE than watch the trailer, read or listen to the review (links are above), you will enjoy this film.  Your experience will be enhanced if you know about some key elements and things to look for as well as the historical background and production values discussed in the "Behind the Screen" section in the panel below.


    For his first film since the 1997 Hong Kong handover, auteur filmmaker Wong Kar-wai directs this moody period drama about unrequited love that, like his earlier work, swoons with romantic melancholy. Set in a Shanghaiese enclave in Hong Kong in 1962, the film centers on two young couples who rent adjacent rooms in a cramped and crowded tenement.

    Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) works as a secretary in an export company while her husband's job at a Japanese multinational keeps him away on extended business trips. Across the hall, Chow (Tony Leung) works as a newspaper editor and is married to a woman who is also frequently out of town. Neither respective spouse is ever shown in full, instead they are shot from the back or obscured by walls and furniture.

    Li-zhen and Chow soon strike up a cordial, if tentative, friendship. Chow begins to suspect that his wife's long absences are not entirely business related when he stops in unannounced at her office to discover that she is not there. Later, a colleague tells him that he saw his wife with another man. The icing on the cake comes when Chow notices that Li-zhen's handbag is identical to his wife's while Li-zhen discovers that Chow is wearing a tie that she gave her husband; it doesn't take long for them to realize that their spouses are sleeping together.

    Drawn together by shame and anger, Chow and Li-zhen reveal nothing of their discoveries to their partners. While working through their guilt by imagining how their adulterous spouses first hooked up and rehearsing interrogations, the pair slowly fall in love in spite of their determination to uphold their end of their marital vows. In the Mood for Love, which was screened in competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival [and won three awards], barely made it to the fest's final slot; Wong Kar-Wai was reportedly shooting scenes in Cambodia a week prior to the festival.
    ~ Jonathan Crow, AMG


    Discussion Leader:  Dr. Chenliang Sheng,
    Tuesday, November 11

    Dr. Sheng is Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University, where he also teaches Chinese. A native of China, he is familiar with the Chinese migration from Shanghai to Hong Kong, which is central to the setting of In The Mood For Love.

    With a PhD in American Literature and MA in British Literature, both from the University of Maryland and BA in English as a Foreign Language from Anhui University, Professor Sheng's teaching and research interest include Chinese and American literature, drama, and short fiction. He also finds time to participate as a member of the Chinese American Council and the Cincinnati Chinese Music Society.


    Costume Design
    TOPICS (click to pick):
    Setting & Background  |  About the Director  |  Cinematography  |  Key Elements ~ Things to Look For  |  Awards & Nominations  | 

    The Setting & Historic Background

    is placed in the world of Hong Kong in the 1960s, where immigrants from China, in this case families from Shanghai, still retained their own customs and local identities -- dialects, food, popular music, and traditional operatic forms. Many believed Hong Kong to be a transient home away from China.

    Common to the immigrant experience in Asia, the U.S. and elsewhere, the film has the nostalgia and melancholy of uprooted people, as Wong Kar-Wai returns to the Shangainese enclave of his childhood where neighbors still knew and cared for each other but also were eager to gossip about anything going on.

    "I think it's because of my background," Mr. Wong said in an interview at the opening of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE at the New York Film Festival. He was born in Shanghai in 1958 and moved with his parents to Hong Kong when he was 5, joining a wave of immigrants fleeing Communist China. "In 1997, just before Hong Kong's hand-over to China, we had to reregister our identity cards," he said. "And I realized that though I've been living in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, it still feels like a permanent vacation, a transition that lasts forever. It's weird and fun. We were always prepared, as kids, that we would move on, to somewhere else or back to Shanghai. There was no sense that you belonged to this place or city."

    Hong Kong has been both a destination and a point of departure for the Chinese people during the 20th Century; Dr. Chenliang Sheng will pursue this topic in greater detail as part of the post-film discussion on Tuesday evening.

    About the Director

    There may be no more sensual director in the world today than Hong Kong's Wong Kar-Wai. His best films, "Chungking Express" (1994) "Ashes of Time"(1994), "In the Mood for Love" (2000), are rich in unconsummated affairs. The delicate shadow dances of would-be lovers and flirtatious courtships of couples that only fleetingly make contact are like a post-modern vision of a 1940s Hollywood film-noir shot in splintered glimpses and burning color.

    In the past two decades, Mr. Wong, now 50, has emerged as Hong Kong's leading auteur. His features, from "As Tears Go By" (1988) to "My Blueberry Nights" (2007) and now, "Ashes of Time Redux (2008) blend sophisticated cinematography and editing, pop cultural references, urban anomie, and a surreal visual sense.

    An in-depth discussion of Mr. Wong and his films could fill entire websites (and have!). Go here for a brief bio and filmography, plus links to interviews and articles. Go here to visit the Wong Kar Wai forum, with more than 15,000 entries.


    This is the sixth collaboration between director Wong Kar Wai and Australian-born cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who have, as the N.Y. Times writes, "invented a much copied visual shorthand for romantic alienation, a mix of neon-smudged kinesis and slow-motion contemplation."

    Considered one of the best living cinematographers, Doyle has worked with directorial greats Gus Van Sant, James Ivory, Zhang Yuan, Philip Noyce, Zhang Yimou, Edward Yang, Barry Levinson, Clair Devers and Chen Kaige; on outstanding films such as "Rabbit-Proof Fence," "Infernal Affairs," "The Quiet Amerian," "Temptress Moon," "Noir et Blanc," "Days of Being Wild," "Chungking Express" and "Happy Together."

    Born in Taiwan, the award-winning cinematographer Pin Bing Lee stepped in to complete the final scenes of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, when the film ran into a second year of shooting and Chris Doyle had to honor other commitments. Together, Doyle and Pin won the Technical Grand Prize at Cannes for their cinematography for IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE.

    Sometimes working under the name Mark Li Ping-Bing, he has shot over 40 films in Taiwan and Hong Kong, including Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Dust in the Wind," "The Puppetmaster;" An Hui's "Summer Snow;" and Tran Anh Hung's "The Vertical Ray of the Sun."

    Wong's subtlety and Doyle's camera skill are evident throughout the film; here are three examples:

    In one scene, Chow and Li-zhen sit in a cafe, discussing their respective spouses' indiscretion even as the bond between them has already shown itself to be filament fine and strong. The lovers are shown to us mostly in profile, which means each actor has only half the usual available resources to work with: one eye and half a smile apiece. But they telegraph their desire beautifully and perfectly, and the fact that their faces are partially hidden from us enhances the sense of intimacy between them. They're two halves of one exceptional whole, prevented by circumstance from ever coming into the open.

    In another scene, in a mirror we glimpse Li-zhen as she smiles at an unobservant Chow. The camera then pans to Chow, who sneaks an unnoticed peek at Li-zhen. The film's speed is slowed to guarantee nothing is missed.

    In one astonishingly subtle sequence Chow descends some the stairs to the strains of Michael Galasso's intoxicating score and exits screen left. Several seconds pass as the camera lingers on the empty staircase, until Li-zhen suddenly appears from the same direction and we are left to wonder whether they spoke or touched when they passed one another off-screen.

       >>>   Key Elements & Things to Look For

    The film has a strong "noir" feel, thanks to elegant use of directional lighting, shadows and densely packed city scenes, and the subject is the same - love and betrayal. But instead of the sense of doom or impending violence that so frequently comes from noir films, here it is the nostalgia of missed chances, as a title card in the film says, "like looking through a dusty window pane."

    You should know up front that Wong Kar Wai does not walk the expected path -- there is no precise linear direction and the film does not progress along a tight (and obvious) plot line, but instead spirals lazily around the characters like the smoke wafting upward from Chow's ever-present cigarette.

    This may initially frustrate or confuse viewers expecting a strong "Hollywood" story and a clean narrative line, but will exhilarate those open to Wong's cinematic textures of visuals and sounds. Wong is famous for starting shooting without a finished script. Instead, the characters, dialogue and story evolve in response to actors and locations. As a result, the film is sketched almost entirely in suggestion, letting the viewer reply upon cinematic nuance to appreciate the story.

    One of the things that makes IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE a great film is its understanding and portrayal of the complexity of emotional longing -- there are few lonelier feelings than that of knowing that there is someone who is right for you, who makes you feel complete, coupled with the knowledge that you can never have them, perhaps never even see them again.

    Love, betrayal, longing and lonliness is not conveyed in a simple linear fashion. Rather, we watch breathlessly and join Chow and Li-zhen as they proceed on an emotional roller coaster. As the two characters grow closer and closer, the film explores countless aspects of their relationship. Their feelings of simultaneous betrayal, love, lust, and ultimately despair, intertwine and dance around each other. For anyone who has fallen in love with someone who was supposed to be only a friend, or who has had to say goodbye forever to the person who they are closer to than anyone else, this film will hit painfully close to home.

    On screen, one of the first things you will notice is the intentional absence of Li-zhen's (Maggie Cheung) and Chow's (Tony Leung) spouses. What glimpses you get are from behind, from the side, through doorways, etc. This ties with the story construct that has them traveling extensively and tending to their own love affairs with each other.

    Throughout the film, the framing, use of space and use of motion have a huge effect on the emotional impact, and understanding, of the story. During the first half of the film, for example, Wong emphasizes the couple's emotional distance by refusing to frame them in the same shot during conversations.

    With fluid, slow camera movements and shots on stairways, through windows and doorways, the cinematography and pacing are mesmerizing, offering the lingering gaze of the camera on a half-obscured shoulder, cigarette smoke spiraling in the air, streetlights through the rain, reflections from a wet street or puddle. Wong shoots the film from around corners, under tables, through doorways and windows, eavesdropping on a life.

    "There's no direct contact with the characters. We're looking at things from afar," says Wong. "It gives you space to think and feel rather than just identifying with the actors." It also lends the whole film an aura of recollection as slivers of scenes dissolve into one another as time is lost to mood and emotion.

    Slow motion is used to accentuate the sensuality and emotional depth of selected scenes and dialogue is often replaced by long and dazzling shots accompanied by lovely music. -- making it exceptionally clear that you are not watching a formulaic Hollywood film. But this is what makes the film particularly beautiful.

    As the story develops, we are shown only the two key characters in close up so that we absorb the essence of their relationship. In other shots, the contrasting use of space brings us the sights and sounds of high-density Hong Kong - narrow stairways, alleys and streets, crowded apartments and restaurants, etc.



    Best Actor, Cannes Film Festival
    Grand Prize, Cannes Film Festival:
     Technical (Cinematography, Production Design, Lighting & Sound)
    Best Foreign Film, (CESAR), French Academy of Cinema
    Best Foreign Film, German Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, British Independent Film Awards
    Intl Screen Award, European Academy of Film Awards
    Best Actress, Golden Horse Film Awards
    Best Cinematography, Golden Horse Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, National Society of Film Critics
    Best Cinematography, National Society of Film Critics
    Best Foreign Film, New York Film Critics Circle
    Best Cinematography, New York Film Critics Circle
    Best Foreign Film, Cinema Writers Circle Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, Los Angeles Film Critics Assoc
    Best Cinematography, Los Angeles Film Critics Assoc
    Best Feature Film, Montreal Festival of New Cinema
    Best Cinematography, Asia-Pacific Film Festival
    Best Editing, Asia-Pacific Film Festival
    Best Director, Hong Kong Film Critics Association
    Best Actor, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Actress, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Art Direction, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Costume & Make Up, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Film Editing, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Film of Merit, Hong Kong Film Critics Association
    Best Film, Chlotrudis Film Awards
    Best Cinematography, Chlotrudis Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, Argentinean Film Critics Assoc
    Best Cinematography, Golden Bauhinia Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, Fotogramas de Platas Film Awards
    Best Film, Uruguayan Film Critics Association
    Best Film, Valdivia International Film Festival


    Palm D'Or (Best Film), Cannes Film Festival
    Best Foreign Film, British Academy of Film (BAFTA)
    Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
    Best Picture, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Director, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Cinematography, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best New Performer, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Original Film Score, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Screenplay, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Supporting Actress, Hong Kong Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, London Film Critics Circle
    Best Foreign Film, Australian Film Institute
    Grand Prix, Flanders International Film Festival
    Best Foreign Film, Broadcast Film Critics Association
    Best Actor, Chlotrudis Film Awards
    Best Actress, Chlotrudis Film Awards
    Best Director, Chlotrudis Film Awards
    Best Screenplay, Chlotrudis Film Awards
    Best Foreign Film, Donatello Awards
    Best Foreign Film, Chicago Film Critics Association
    Best Cinematography, Chicago Film Critics Association
    Best Original Score, Chicago Film Critics Association
    Best Foreign Film, Online Film Critics Society
    Best Film, Bodil Awards

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