Double feature: In the mood to spend time with some quirky characters? I know – “quirky” is a tired word that means different things to different people, but I’m pretty sure the protagonists of “Amélie” and “Chungking Express” would meet your definition of the term.
They engage with the outside world via inwardly-devised tests of fate. They develop relationships with others – chosen from afar – through games of the imagination. They wage doe-eyed seductions by means of physical absence rather than presence. They superimpose whimsy on the winding, practical-minded streets of their neighborhoods. They like using pay phones.
Both films use “mature” elements – nudity and violence that don’t do much to advance the plot, and may feel jarring in context – to cut their sweetness and inject some air into their carefully curated interiors.
Both should leave you with a silly, exhilarated smile on your face, and perhaps a refreshed sense of the tired adjective mentioned above.
For a marathon: Explore some of the possible origins of “Amélie”‘s pacing, rhythm, and narration by taking in a few of Jean Painlevé’s early nature shorts (collected in “Science is Fiction,”) and Francois Truffaut’s “Jules et Jim.”
To continue on the path of “Chungking Express,” consider “In the Mood for Love” for a more elegant look at romance, food, and evocative oldies set in Hong Kong. Or try “Grosse Pointe Blank” for a similar mixture of action, imaginative courtship, and time spent in convenience stores.
(Creative Commons licensed images courtesy of “Machine is Organic” and “Rak’s passion boy” at Flickr)