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Wong Kar-Wai Apparently Does Take Off His Sunglasses Sometimes

Wong at last night’s premiere.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Don’t get us wrong. We love Wong Kar-Wai, the mastermind behind all those lush and atmospheric Hong Kong films (In the Mood for Love, anyone?) and now My Blueberry Nights, his long-awaited road-trip movie set in the States, but the guy’s method sounds like it can be a challenge to work with. At the Cinema Society premiere of Blueberry last night, fellow director Ang Lee recalled visiting Wong on set years ago. “Nothing happens, for hours. It’s just the way he shoots. Nobody knows what’s happening, not even the actors.”

One of those actors, David Strathairn, insisted he hadn’t felt confused or put off by Wong’s method: “It’s the kind of hard investigation that I like.” (Very Edward R. Murrow!) He did, however, concede that “a lot of people may not cotton to the way he works. It’s very intense and very focused. He’s crafting what’s happening in the frame like a painter, but he’s also hunting for something. And when he finds it, he knows it.” Singer turned star Norah Jones admitted she’d never heard of Wong before he asked her to star in the film. “I learned nothing about the role before I said yes, and I learned a little about the role before we started shooting … there was no script until just before the start of the shoot.”

Finally, at the Soho Grand after-party, we approached Wong himself. He was standing in the back of the room, wearing the same dark glasses he’d had on all night. We asked him what his artistic goals had been in recutting the film after Cannes, where it got mixed reviews. “Just make it shorter,” he answered. Tell us about filming in New York, we asked. “The night and day in New York is very different,” he replied. Now just what the heck is that supposed to — well, at least now we know he sometimes takes his shades off. —Darrell Hartman

Wong Kar-Wai Apparently Does Take Off His Sunglasses Sometimes