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The Sensuous Cinema of Wong Kar-waiFilm Poetics and the Aesthetic of Disturbance$
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Gary Bettinson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139293

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139293.001.0001

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Visual Style and the Aesthetic of Disturbance

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The Sensuous Cinema of Wong Kar-wai

Gary Bettinson

Hong Kong University Press

Wong Kar-wai’s visual style has brought him renown as a master film stylist, but what constitutes Wong’s stylistic trademark? To what extent does a “Wong Kar-wai” style exist, when commentators justifiably identify Wong as a “pluralistic” filmmaker, flaunting a range of different stylistic techniques? This chapter gets at the heart of Wong’s authorial visual style. It challenges the notion that Wong’s films are exercises in style over substance, and posits the concept of “motivated sensuousness,” which dissolves the dualism between story and style. With a focus on Happy Together and My Blueberry Nights, the chapter argues that all Wong’s films harness their strategies of visual design to the concepts of motivated sensuousness and the aesthetic of disturbance.

Keywords:   Social allegory, Transnationalism, parametric form, motivated sensuousness, visual narration, POV editing, Abstraction, spectator passivity

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