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Rental Unit: the films of Wong Kar-Wai 

"In the Mood for Love" (2000) and "2046" follow the same protagonist (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), a journalist and writer of pulp kung-fu stories, as he searches in vain for the woman of his dreams, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake. "2046" is the stronger of the two. Both are shamelessly and often flatly sentimental. But both are also refreshingly attuned to the frame as an artistic tool, capturing shots in mirrors, in the interior frames of architecture and even looking away at the appropriate moments. As in many of Wong's pictures, depth of action is secondary to depth of shot.

"Chungking Express" (1994) first brought the director to international acclaim, followed by the crime film "Fallen Angels." Both are worth checking out, especially for those with an interest in Tarantino-style narrative experimentation. Also, last year Wong contributed to a three-part endeavor called "Eros," which also featured shorts by Michelangelo Antonioni and Steven Soderbergh.

The director seems on the verge of a breakthrough with American audiences (the true gauge of so-called international success: If you make it here you've made it everywhere), perhaps a John Woo of character-driven drama. Then again, if we know Hollywood, it is much more likely to stay in the mood for kick flips and uzis than go for romantic head trips. But there's always hope. — Wayne Melton
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