Both the ICA and the BFI offer 8 of Wong Kar Wai’s films to view online in the UK… and more of his titles are scheduled for their CINEMA SCREENS for a later date…
Many people who get a taste for Asian cinema witness Chinese or Hong Kong films first.
This may be simply a film they took a chance on or perhaps the appeal of a certain genre and/or martial arts.
Either way, for many they’re fortunate enough to have seen – and surely definitely heard of! – “In The Mood For Love” by acclaimed director, Wong Kar-Wai.
Here at Mini Mini Mansions, it’s unclear exactly when our encounter with his films and/or that title was but it was probably around a decade ago.
That said, it wasn’t until fairly recently MMM had the chance to witness the ‘loose sequel’ to it, “2046” and the probably ‘lesser’ & ‘Hollywoody’ [or simply “Woody” ?!] “Blueberry Nights” (and another chance to see “In The Mood…”) – these viewings were thanks to the wonderful MUBI.com…
However, it’s also unclear as to whether Mr. MMM has witnessed many or any of Wong Kar-Wai’s other films and/or masterpieces – and yes, that even includes the much revered “Chungking Express“!
Well… it doesn’t really matter, because there is some very GOOD NEWS which has been brought to MMM’s attention.
The ICA, a place frequented by yours truly for many years has always offered, accommodated or hosted events and seasons for films which appeal to a wide audience. Of course, as their name suggests [ICA = Institute of Contemporary Art] a lot of screenings, exhibitions, music events or perhaps even the books in the bookshop part of their establishment display the more arty side. Then again, film should be ART even if some of the ‘rubbish’ made these days can not really be classed as such!
Not only has it been a haven or even a chapel for this writer at MMM for the last decade or more, its membership has always started at a modest price. In fact, I recall when, out of all the 6 cinematic venue memberships I held one year the ICA one seemed to be the best value for money, and for the lowest outlay of money – you were even offered at least one FREE and decent film screening each month of the year.
In fact, even without a membership, a lot of their film screenings were still offered to the public at a generous price.
Before MMM gets into the juicy WKW / WK-W news – which, in part is brought to us thanks to the ICA – I should also pre-empt that with the following information.
In more recent times, the ICA’s membership has changed shape and structure, and even more so due to the current C-word/s / ‘viral’ situation and as such I believe their lowest value membership, the BLUE one is just £20 for the year – and this now INCLUDES FREE access to their new online CINEMA 3 screenings!
So, that’s the Prologue out of the way and now… On With The Show, Screenings AND News…
EIGHT FILMS by Won Kar-Wai are part of a World of Wong Kar-Wai retrospective at the ICA, the majority of which have had 4K restorations! MMM states “the majority” as the ICA’s blurb, which you’ll find below mentions 7 of them but yours truly could only find this detail on 6 of the titles – Mr MMM may be wrong… It has been known.
The aforementioned online Cinema 3 online platform is where these 8 films are to be found.
Every day for 8 days, the ICA and that Cinema 3 element will release ONE film of Wong’s and each movie will be available to stream for FOURTEEN days – a fortnight/two weeks, if you prefer – and, unsurprisingly Wong’s 1988 debut “As Tears Go By” kicks the mini-season or retrospective off [1st February 2021].
“This 4K digital restoration was undertaken from the 35 mm original camera negative by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with L’Immagine Ritrovata and Jet Tone” is what’s stated for each of the restored films on the ICA website. It would seem that at least 5 of the 8 films have been supervised and approved, or overseen by Wong Kar Wai himself, according to the BFI website – more on the BFI later…
The ICA site also confirms that…
“…Fallen Angels is newly presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, a format that Wong had originally envisioned for the film.”
“The restoration provides the opportunity to realize our artistic intention that we couldn’t have achieved technically twenty-five years ago” – Wong Kar Wai
…this collection of films also includes a NEW VERSION of Wong’s “The Hand“, a Director’s Cut or ‘Redux’ – Concerning this film, the ICA tell us that the film was originally conceived for the omnibus film “Eros” and that it’s presented in this retrospective for the first time in its extended cut.
Please note that this article and somewhat ‘BREAKING NEWS’ is not ALL about the ICA but the BFI too and this is covered further down the article.
For now, this is what the ICA themselves have to say:
“Explore the beguiling world of Wong Kar Wai first on Cinema 3. The ICA, in partnership with Janus Films and the BFI, presents The World of Wong Kar Wai – a retrospective of the Hong Kongese director. Broadly characterised by his warm and sensual aesthetics, bold soundtracks, and soulful romanticism, Wong Kar Wai has established himself as one of the most defined auteurs of contemporary cinema. This retrospective of his work includes seven new 4K restorations overseen by Wong Kar Wai in person. Whether tragically romantic, soaked in blood, or quirkily comedic, the films presented as part of this retrospective are an invitation into the unique and wistful world of a deeply influential artist, whose work reminds us of the beauty inherent to all situations, including the most desperate ones.
Details of credits for the new 4K restorations can be found on each film’s page, and a director’s statement on the restorations is also available.
The latter 8 words [well, 10 if you instead include ‘British Film Institute;)…] bring us to the latter acronym (BFI).
Anyhow, from an EIGHT film announcement, to blurb about EIGHT words, and now on to a date, the EIGHTH of February.
Well, this beautiful retrospective ‘extends’ to the BFI Player from 8th February – this also being the 8th and final release day on the ICA platform (even though, as mentioned before each film has a 14 day window before it leaves). The BFI Player is another [hopefully to many] affordable platform to view brilliant films. Not only is it £4.99 per month – and cancellable at any time – the BFI Player also offers a FREE TRIAL.
Therefore, whichever website or platform you prefer or already perhaps subscribe to, you’re in for a treat… And if this isn’t enough, it sounds like a couple of his other films will be included – along with the 8 already mentioned – in the ICA and BFI Southbank‘s respective seasons, or ‘seasonal retrospectives’ once they’ve reopened.
In other words, when the UK starts to get back to some kind of normality, such venues can open again… once this not-so-Great Britain has finally got a grip on things!
What? You detect some angst or disgruntled thoughts from MMM?! Maybe. I’ll just use that, or a ‘C-word’ again…
For now, enjoy some beautifully shot films and light, in these dark and cold times.
At the time of going to press, there are many days left to catch any of these 8 films… and that’s just taking the ICA platform into account!
Update – 8th February 2021…
Rather than mislead any readers, we should now point out that the Wong Kar Wai films [now] on the BFI Player – and still on the ICA platform – are available individually via a ‘pay-per-view’ fee. This is something we were not aware of when writing this article. Now, whether or not they come down in price OR indeed become FREE to view that we can not confirm.
Therefore, at this point in time the ICA deal is MUCH better!
That said, it also seems that the film list differs slightly currently, with “The Grandmaster” being available on BFI Player and not via the ICA, and “The Hand” (Director’s Cut) is only currently available via the ICA and bot BFI Player…
Mr MMM hopes this helps!
Here are some links: