Question: What is Cat Power’s film debut?

Answer: My Blueberry Nights, where she appears in a bit part as Katya, a Russian chick with a penchant for using keys in her philosophical musings.

Blueberry Nights is of course, Wong Kar Wai’s English language directorial debut. It’s sort of like Chungking Express goes on a road trip to the US really. Norah Jones makes her acting debut as well, playing one of the lead roles as Elizabeth. She’s the one that takes the road trip and in fact, her character is sort of similar to Faye Wong’s in CE just less quirky, more demure. If you compared their music, you’d get it. Their characters are just like the music they play. Jude Law stars opposite Jones as the reincarnation of Tony Leung, replete with cigarette scenes and a fucking cafe. Rachel Weisz appears as the new Lin Ching Hsia. David Strathairn plays the cop character who loves her. And Natalie Portman shines as a sassy gambler who suffers from a distance with her father. Pretty big names huh.

Their lines are awful though and its all badly written, something certain critics point out all too obviously. C’mon, this is WKW we’re talking about. What script? What plot? Its a WKW movie fer godssakes. It does start out particularly horribly though. Jones’ tries her best to emote her way as a lovefool whilst Law’s cafe owner appears to be a really bad self help book author instead. Thankfully, it picks up soon enough when Elizabeth leaves New York for Memphis then Vegas, along the way, picking up on more stories about love and loss.

Every single shot shows off Wong’s polish in his ability to bend time on film. His classic slow-ish motion sequences seem to suspend characters going through that barrage of emotional distance. Clocks are everywhere. Trains flash past. You almost sort of think HK suddenly got uprooted and dropped in the US and all the neon signs had the languages babelfished. Its pretty, as expected.

However, it seems to lack a certain newness to it. I mean, his movies are always about the same shit, whether its Ashes of Time or 2046. Its the same type of characters replanted into different places and times. Still, Blueberry seems too similar, too been there, too familiar. You know what’s going to happen. You already see the all visual tricks he uses to relate to his characters and the urban environment they live in but it just lacks a certain flow I feel.

In CE, the music was engaging and in complete concordance with the film. In Blueberry, its like vintage Americana through Wong’s eyes. Ry Cooder scores it quite beautifully and generally, I feel the music works well. A coupla tracks are stolen off In The Mood For Love though, which throws me off a bit. That film was the perfect slow burner. All the music was slow, grand and beautiful. The slow music in Blueberry just didn’t seem to have quite the same effect but the bluesy, jazzy vibe was still quite lovely.

I have to say, I had to watch Blueberry in spits and spurts though. Largely due to the fact that I had a lack of sleep and was quite tired but also, it was sometimes, a little too much longing. Still, I was quite charmed by the time I made it to Portman’s part, the 3rd short story within the story.

My favorite bit in the film is probably the final scene, shown above, when Jude Law kisses Norah Jones in a very tender moment. Going through the whole film, with its slow tortuousness was reminiscent of my recent Cat Power concert, although not half that bad. You really get to appreciate the little things when you see the bigger picture.

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