55 SelfConscious Cinema

Fu and Desser look at postmodernism in Hong Kong cinema in terms of self-consciousness as well. They call it "self-conscious cinema". Now we see that quite clearly in Infernal Affairs. When we note that there is a certain erosion, if you will, of the boundary between the self-consciousness usually associated with art cinema and popular culture. So we have references in the film, quite clearly, to elements of Hong Kong New Wave Cinema, or even more specifically, the Second Wave, associated with directors like Wong Kar Wai. In the making of the film you have to keep in mind that Andrew Lau worked early in Wong Kar Wai's career with him as a cinematographer, and that he's very good friends with Wong Kar Wai's other cinematographer, long-time cinematographer Christopher Doyle. And that Christopher Doyle was also a consultant on Infernal Affairs. So we get an element, a feeling, of a kind of stylishness associated with the new wave, and some of the experimentation often looked at as more of a factor in art cinema than it is in commercial cinema. So we see the use of jump cuts in the film, we see unusual camera angles, we see a use of a color palette that is not always what we would see in the everyday, mainstream crime genre film. Desser and Fu also talk about Hong Kong cinema in relationship to the concept of self-reflexivity. Now this is the referring to or discussing of its own creation within the film itself. We see this in the fact that the scriptwriters decided to make Mary also a writer. In fact, she bases her character in her own story on the fictional character of Lau. Well, we see clearly that as she ruminates over whether Lau is a good guy or a bad guy, it must parallel the scriptwriters discussing whether or not Lau himself should be a good guy or a bad guy, a good policeman or a bad policeman.

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