Eastern Standard Time

While Western art cinema draws the flashbulbs at Cannes, contemplative works from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong leave the festival glowing in klieg lights from the East

So many choices, so little time. Every cut and every camera move in the film seem to draw the director, his characters, and his audience into a kind of shared lament for the infinitesimal decision that has just been made, and can never be made again. No wonder Leung's character is a newspaper editor: His career is predicated on making choices that can never be reversed once the copy goes to press. And how understandable it is that Wong found it so difficult to finish this project. Not since the most ambitious work of Kubrick and Scorsese have the theme and style of a film so strongly matched its maker's hyperobsessive methods.

Not wanting to let its own brief moment of opportunity slip away, the American art-film distributor USA Films purchased In the Mood for Love several days ago, sight unseen--which means that it will likely show up in theaters sometime this winter, in time to qualify for year-end awards. As for whether the movie will attract a larger stateside audience than the director's Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, it seems unlikely--and unlikely to matter much in the context of Wong's sizable international reputation as a genius.

Still, the desire to catapult the filmmaker to the proverbial "next level" is palpable: During the roundtable interview, one writer asks Wong whether he'd consider making a movie in Hollywood.

"Well, it has to be mutual," he replies. "I'm not sure that a producer in the West would like to work with a guy who has no script, who has no schedule. So even though I want to, it's not easy. I'd better continue to work in my own way. Hollywood has certain requirements. To work in Hollywood, you have to be Hollywood, you know? It's not that you have to be American, but you have to be Hollywood--you have to speak that language."

And in the end, this sentiment may be what best defines the year at Cannes. For while the currency of international film--the greenback--spoke loudly as usual, directors such as Wong, Yang, and Jiang insisted on communicating in that richer language of cinema.

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