Picks and Pans Review: Chungking Express

updated 03/18/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/18/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

Brigitte Lin Chin-Hsia, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

The hero of the second of the two stories in this Hong Kong-made film chats regularly with his bathroom soap. As the bar heads rapidly toward sliverdom, he counsels it against letting its sadness cause it to wither away. He also talks to his dish towels, and when his apartment floods one day, he wonders, "Did I leave the tap on, or is my apartment getting more tearful?"

Welcome to the goofy world of Wong Kar-Wai, director and screenwriter of Chungking. While other auteurs in the lucrative Hong Kong film industry are turning out chop-socky spectacles, Wong pursues a more personal vision, particularly with these two fractured tales of cops pining for old girlfriends. It's a slapdash, neon-glazed effort, shot mostly at night and with a handheld camera—no wonder Quentin Tarantino was so struck by it that he's releasing it under his new Rolling Thunder imprimatur.

Neither of the movie's two stories makes complete sense, but that hardly matters. This is like being inside a pin-' ball machine with a toddler at the controls. (PG-13)

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