How quickly they turn. Indie movie lovers are acting as if Wong Kar-Wai is as big a Judas to them as Bill Richardson is to James Carville. Wong's latest, My Blueberry Nights, is a first for him: It's in English and it stars American singer turned actress Norah Jones. The reviews have been less than polite -- it has a 44% Tomatometer rating -- but the tone of many of them seem to be "how dare our indie darling, the guy who makes movies that are like watching really pretty looking paint dry, but which symbolize so much to our boring critic lives, how dare he make an American movie with the woman whose music accompanies my screams of pain at the dentist?!" Jones is being treated as if she's the only singer in history whose acting was subpar (cough cough, Elvis! Hack! Madonna. Ah-choo, Britney Spears). Her co-star, Jude Law, isn't fairing much better, which means some critics will be getting an angry visit from Sean Penn.
It seems that when an independent or foreign film maker wants to get out of his comfort zone, the natives get restless. However, by all accounts, Wong is doing what he has always done in his movies, that is, crafting gorgeous imagery and a dreamlike pace that probably mean absolutely nothing yet conjures up Masters theses on blogs. Not every movie can be In The Mood For Love, the ne plus ultra of Wong's style and ground zero for the aforementioned theses. Many reviewers point out Wong's repetition, but they opt instead to make Jones suffer for the sins of her director. Whenever someone casts an actor who cannot act, shouldn't we blame the director too?
Either the indie-lovers feel betrayed, or they're out to find meaning in every crevice of My Blueberry Nights. It's fun reading the attempts to justify and/or find meaning in every shot composed by Wong and lensed by Seven cin-togger Darius Khonji. One person compared a porn movie style close-up shot of a triangle of blueberry pie a la mode to a beating heart. Another finds rapture and meaning in a shot of Jude Law kissing crumbs of blueberry pie off Jones' face. (Couldn't that cheap bastard get his own piece of pie?) Why does every image-heavy movie have to mean something other than "hey that's a really pretty shot and I want it in my movie?" And why do these directors have to make movies that mean something specifically to you?
To paraphrase Freud: Sometimes a piece of pie is just a piece of pie. But if it's cherry pie, it's a coochie.