A personal assistant pines for the professional killer whose room she cleans while he’s away on assignment–when she isn’t getting herself off there.The killer, who expresses his ambivalence about his work and his assistant in voice-over, seems depressed yet uncynical. When a hyperactive woman approaches him at McDonald’s, they hurtle into a compulsive, melodramatic relationship that’s as exhaustingly realistic as it is stylized. Meanwhile a silent, roving shop clerk bullies people into accepting goods and services, until a just-jilted woman demands phone change from him; he’s smitten–she’s as belligerent as he is. Writer-director Wong Kar-wai makes these five self-consciously idiosyncratic types–often seen through distorting lenses in cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s somber, garish Hong Kong–fully and instantly believable. Their encounters seem accidental but have a poetic logic that reverberates in some lovely jukebox pop. I could have watched this movie’s surreal, energizing plots and subplots unfurl and fold into one another indefinitely. With Michele Reis, Leon Lai, Karen Mok, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Charlie Young (1995). Music Box, Friday through Thursday, June 19 through 25. –Lisa Alspector
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.