Ashes of Time Redux

Forced underground by heartbreak, a cynic’s romantic nature can flourish into a sort of private dementia. You can take my weary word for it, or you can take Wong Kar-wai’s, whose restored 1994 Ashes of Time Redux gorgeously sets up the paradox he has returned to throughout his career—romantic memory as both scourge and succor. Wong began shooting Ashes in 1992; he made his breakthrough film, Chungking Express, while still wrestling Ashes to the ground in post-production. Redux is a full-scale, color-boosted refurbishment of the little-seen original, structured over five seasons taken from the Chinese almanac. Screening through Thursday, the movie’s touchstone is Ouyang Feng (Leslie Cheung), an assassin-for-hire who runs a drifter hotel in East Buddha Nowhere while refusing to pine for the woman (Maggie Cheung) who married his brother. “The root of man’s problems is memory,” Ouyang says, a theory taken up by various barefoot, blind, lovesick men (including Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and berserk, devoted, defeated women. In a move that would become his trademark, Wong rejects the happy ending for the almost ecstatically sad. NR MICHELLE ORANGE

Oct. 24-30, 2008

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