Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In the Mood for Hong Kong

Before I got to Hong Kong, I jokingly said that the city had better be just like a Wong Kar-wai film or I'd be very disappointed.

I'm not much of a cinema fan, but Wong Kar-wai's '2046' is my favourite movie and 'In The Mood For Love' is another big fave. There's not a lot of plot in either movie and the focus is always on the deeper meaning behind the ordinary interactions of daily life. It's the high style, the steeped colours, the soundtracks and the subtlety of the actors that make these two films so unforgettable.

'In The Mood For Love' features two pivotal scenes at a restaurant. The first of the scenes (here, without subtitles, sorry) is the moment when two neighbours realize their respective spouses are having an affair. The second restaurant scene is their exploration into how this affair might be playing out. I grabbed these screen captures:

In '2046', the protagonist returns to the cafe for just a few frames during montage sequences. With that distinctive lamp design, there's no question about the setting: we remember it from the earlier film.

Imagine how excited I was to discover that these restaurant scenes weren't filmed on a set but rather, at a real cafe which is still open for business!

Cafe de Goldfinch (Goldfinch Restaurant Ltd.) is at 13-15 Lan Fong Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Check out that beautiful multicolour neon sign. The arched door/faux roof tile of the exterior is fitting of the early 1960s when the restaurant opened.

My friend Kiran and I had already eaten dinner, so I was reluctant to go inside the Goldfinch when I had no intention of ordering anything. I posed for a photo on the front steps and then peered in through the window.

Cafe de Goldfinch in neon

Inside, the cafe looked just like it did in the films with the narrow booths, the textured wallpaper and the mood lighting. So cool.

Kiran talked me into going inside. I really didn't want to be a touristy nuisance to the staff. But, from the outside, the cafe looked so authentic. I couldn't walk away without a proper look. I opened the door and quietly stepped in: the staff greeted me with warm smiles and asked if I would like a photo taken in the booth which was specially decorated with a big 'In The Mood For Love' poster. The cafe staff are so used to curious Wong Kar-wai creepers that they didn't even ask if I wanted a table! And yet, the staff was not at all annoyed about taking a photo for yet another a non-customer. They must be really proud of the cafe's place in Hong Kong cinema legend. I had my own wide smile when I slid into the booth for my photo: it was another fantastic moment during a really great day. I could not get over the cafe's beautifully preserved interior or the staff's friendliness.

I didn't really expect to experience anything tangible from 'In The Mood For Love' while in Hong Kong, so this was a real treat for me. Apparently, the Goldfinch offers 'In The Mood for Love' and '2046' set menus for two. Next time, next time...


Darlin' T said...

I LOVE that movie as well. What a great story. I love your stories.

Hope you are doing well, and belated Happy Birthday!

Rob Chant said...

2046 is a great film, although I'm chagrined to admit that I've not seen In the Mood for Love. It's awesome that the cafe actually exists though!

Michelle said...

I just found your blog and have really enjoyed the stories and images.
You're helping this small town ND girl travel around the world!
I'll be back!

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