Streets of Mean
No better one day film school can be found in watching “Mean Streets” and then this.
Superficially they seem the same and Kar-Wai has told us that he patterned this, his first feature after Scorsese’s first.
Here’s the lesson: Scorsese belongs to a school of thinking where actors create characters, real extreme and powerful characters. These characters literally create the situations around them. The filmmaker’s job is to attach the camera to the characters. Nearly all Italian and Italian-American filmmakers believe this. This is fine if you can live on espresso, but most of us in a film life need something to sustain us.
Kar-Wai in his later films is clearly in another camp. He literally starts with no script. He creates a cinematic tone. Into that tone is spun a place and his actors are expected to find their way within it. Only then do we see characters, and the camera is never, ever glued to personalities.
It is a world of difference, as different as people who can talk only about other people contrasted to those who can create another world in a conversation.
Sooner or later, all lucid watchers must make a choice about how big their film universe can be. This was Kar-Wai’s beginning. It is hard to see unless you know his later stuff. But it is there, like the pollen in the air.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.