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In the Mood for Love [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec:  Multilingual Cantonese/Shanghainese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 98 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 3, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 film In the Mood for Love is the second of a loose trilogy or triptych of films that began with his 1990 film Days of Being Wild and ended with 1994’s sequel to In the Mood for Love, 2046. The Hong Kong-based filmmaker known for crafting nearly psychedelic dreamscapes that explore the love and relationships, with In the Mood for Love, Wong again crafts a lush, sumptuous, visually stunning film that is romantic and sexy, without a moment of actual sex in it.

The two highly photogenic leading actors, Tony Leung Chiu-wai (Chow Mo-wan) and Maggie Cheung Man-yuk (Su Li-zhen), play two unsuspecting people who move into neighboring apartments in a tiny Shanghainese enclave of Hong Kong in 1962. It isn’t long before they each realize that both of their spouses are often away on business trips a lot at the same time and come to the realization that they are having an affair. Searching for the reasons why and how it happened, Chow and Su begin a relationship of their own, acting out possible scenarios of the beginnings of their adulterous spouses’ clandestine affair, but never taking it to the next level. “We’ll never be like them,” they promise each other. Even when they get a hotel room together it isn’t for prurient reasons, but to work on a martial arts serial that Chow has begun writing for his newspaper, to continue their fleshing out of the affair and to work through their own guilt and shame. Perhaps, inevitably, all of this closeness brings them to the brink of doing the very thing they have been condemning their spouses for, however, and their flirtation with adultery and the gossip that it brings begins to become too much for the pair to bear.

Wong’s film is a dance. An intertwining of music, light, and color that saturates every frame. It is this nuanced interplay of disciplines that makes In the Mood for Love so engagingly romantic and sexy, even without any overtly sexualized scenes. A lightly brushed arm here, the glance of an eye there as the close-up camera work, vividly glowing colors, winding alleyways, and halls of this tiny area of Hong Kong, and perfectly selected musical selections all play on our senses. Mostly, though, it is the very idea that we are feeling the anguish inside these two forbidden lovers forever banished into a world of lust and unrequited love,  knowing that they may never indulge in what they so desire most that makes the film so painfully romantic.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Supervised by director of photography Mark Lee Ping-bin, this new high definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit 2K Datacine from a 35mm interpositive. Image Systems Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise management, and flicker reduction, while MTI’s DRS was used to clean up dirt, debris, and scratches and to fix splices, warps, and jitter.’

Criterion’s transfer to Blu-ray is a beautiful one, offering a clean, film-like image with strong, textural layers of detail abundant in the natural grain that is present throughout. Colors, especially primaries, “pop” nicely. Reds stand out in particular, as one can see in the colors of the drapes from the hotel where Chow and Su have their rendezvous. Contrast is strong and shadows offer up plenty of nuance.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic master. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation.

The subtle variances in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) track are what make it so enjoyable. Whether it is during moments where there’s nothing but dialogue to catch our attention, or the gentle din of Chow’s newspaper office surrounding us from all channels with the ring of a distant phone, the clamor of a typewriter or the traffic from through a window, this mix feels and sounds just right. Even the music is balanced in perfectly with lots of air around instrumentation, warmth, and natural dynamics.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

As Criterion is wont to do, they have provided In the Mood for Love with a strong supplemental package all worthy of watching, reading, and listening to.

The supplements:

  • @ “In the Mood for Love” (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i; 00:51:12) – Created by Jet Tone Films, this documentary follows Wong Kar-wai and his cast and crew through the production of In the Mood for Love. It offers a unique look at Wong’s creative process, as he hones ideas, abandons footage, and fleshes out the visual styles, characters and stories to bring his work to life.
  • Deleted Scenes w/ optional commentary by director Wong Kar-wai (1.85:1; up-scaled 1080i):
    • Room 2046
    • Postcards
    • The Seventies
    • A Last Encounter
  • Hua Yang De Nian Hua (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i) – This 2000 short film by Wong Kar-wai was made entirely out of print elements discovered in a California warehouse. It is set to Zhou Xuan’s song “Hua yang nian hua.”
  • Wong Kar-wai – Presented here are an interview with the director conducted by film critic Michel Ciment and filmmaker Hubert Niogret, and a “cinema lesson” given by Wong at the Cannes Film Festival.:
  • Interview (1.78:1; up-scaled 1080i; 00:22:15)
  • Cinema Lesson (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i; 00:15:52)
  • Toronto International Film Festival (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i; 00:43:33) – This press conference took place after the screening of In the Mood for Love at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival. It features the film’s two lead actors, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk and Tony Leung Chiu-wai, and is moderated by Robert Gray.
  • On In the Mood for Love (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:23:49) – In this interview, conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2012, critic Tony Rayns offers his perspective on the style and content of In the Mood for Love and his evaluation of the film’s place in director Wong Kar-wai’s career.
  • The Soundtrack (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:08:03) – In this interview, conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2012, critic Tony Rayns looks at the unique musical collage of In the Mood for Love‘s soundtrack. Selected cues from the soundtrack can be played via the index.
  • TV Spots and Trailers:
    • Hong Kong TV Spot (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i)
    • Hong Kong Trailer (1.78:1; up-scaled 1080i)
    • U.S. TV Spot (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i)
    • U.S. Trailer (1.78:1; up-scaled 1080i)
    • French TV Spot (1.78:1; up-scaled 1080i)
    • French Trailer (1.78:1; up-scaled 1080i)
  • Booklet: The booklet offers a revealing essay on the film by critic Steve Erickson and the original story by Liu Yi-chang that served as Wong Kar-wai’s inspiration for In the Mood for Love.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

In the Mood for Love is a triumph of site, sound, and spirit. A turn of the century earmark that set the bar rather high not only for Wong, but for the rest of the world, this dazzling, multilayered cinematic piece is one that allows for multiple viewings without the risk of growing stale.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase In the Mood for Love [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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[amazon-product]B008MPQ0R2[/amazon-product]

Purchase In the Mood for Love [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]



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