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Chungking Express And The Player Film Studies Essay

In movies we generally see a general plot that evolves over the course of the film, placing the movie into a genre. Some movies like to make the audience walk away with a creative new view on a subject, or a sense of artistic appreciation.

The movie Chungking Express (1996) from director Kar Wai Wong, the story drives along in tandem with an artistic expression in filmography. The movie The Player (1992), by director Robert Altman, does not come across as an artistic expression; rather it employs Hollywood “star power” and sex appeal, with a plot that seems driven by scenes seemingly created to impress movie fans (ex. creating one of the longest single take shots in film history), and by drawing on an individual who is simply not going to set any moral standard for the audience to walk away feeling his character was a justifiable individual.

In contrast Chungking Express features an amazingly artistic and well thought out story. The movie is a compilation of 2 different stories tied into the same film. A rare feat in the film industry and Kar Wai Wong pulls it off magically.

Both of these films can be said are “director’s films”, in Chungking Express, the creative thought that went into the plot and the design of some of the shots; the film is an excellent example of controlling time and space within the film narrative. The most famous of which is the shot of Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), while he drinks his coffee in seemingly slow motion while the rest of the world passes him by at a rapid speed. This shot not only reflects great control of time and space, but also sells the audience on a psychological perspective of Cop 663. In The Player, the movie plays out almost as a movie made specifically for the Hollywood director, the first giveaway to this ideal is in the plot itself, with the main character Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is in fact a film executive with a knack for axing ideas from writers. Although this position is realistic, the development of Griffin Mill’s character, and the evolution of the movie do not play out as artistically as the character development in Chungking Express. The only real visual that plays into the psychological heart of Griffin Mill’s character falling into apathy, is the dark looming figure he represents while in his office on his couch telling his girlfriend June he doesn’t have time to see her.

In that scene we see Griffin in a dark outfit, the light not reflecting very well on his body, masking his facial features slightly, and giving the impression of him being not so friendly. We also see a view of the psychological side of Griffin during his extreme close-up as he finds out. The eventual development of which Griffin turns into a corrupted figure of Hollywood, he plays as he simply wants to get what he wants, no matter the consequences to those around him. Not a typical Hollywood hero, and a hero he is not; in this regard The Player does come across as an artistic film, as it builds its main character deeply against the grain of traditional script.

The narrative of The Player can come across as a psychological study of the portrayal of fear and paranoia in a character, as he progresses into madness. Chungking Express, in both of its stories, can be viewed as a love story, the love at times is misplaced, but the film manages to create characters that the audience can feel for and appreciate.

As for continuity Chungking Express uses cross-cutting at the beginning of the film to give the audience a feel for the connection between the characters and story that eventually plays out. In The Player, the audience doesn’t get to see this kind of editing, as its story is not as designed for that kind of editing, instead The Player uses a more traditional Hollywood flow and setup through its use of editing scenes together.

In the comparison of the use of music, Chungking Express uses songs that are popular western culture songs (California Dreaming, Beach Boys) to signpost the repeated theme of the character Faye (Faye Wong) wanting to travel to California. The Player utilizes music in a less narrative driven focus; instead the music is more of a vehicle for the mood of a given scene.

Both Chungking Express and The Player have impacted the movie goer on various levels, they both stimulate an ever evolving emotional main character; on a level only a skilled psychoanalyst could truly diagnose. Although these films have very different ethos, they do a very good job of entertaining the audience and leaving them after finishing either movie, pondering the loose idealistic views of an individual’s desires and what the story could evolve to no matter their position in society, from a girl making food for passerby in Chungking Express, to a big-shot Hollywood film executive in The Player.

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