Chungking Express worked for me. Fallen Angels doesn't. The latter started as a segment in the former, but maybe the two stories in the former were enough for Wong Kar-Wai to riff on Godard. Obviously not; he made another movie.
It's the night time companion to the daytime dreaming. There are shots in the movie that are transfixing: the final turning upward at the end from the misfits in the tunnel, the violent outbursts of night and the detachment these characters have from reality. Is it an anticipation of the modern isolation of smart phones and wireless earbuds? Now one-sided conversations passing us on the street are an everyday occurrence, everyone following their little water tubes like Donnie Darko, which is an apt comparison because it too is a movie about nothing, that feels closing your hand on so much sand draining between the gaps in your fingers.
Isolation and loneliness are a fine thing to hang your fiction on, but I guess what worked in Chungking Express was that the characters are ships circling one another. I don't get that with Fallen Angels: they are co-workers, for Christ's sake. The weird lady breaking into the cops apartment to swap his canned bean labels and sweep his floor are separate but connected. Here (because it's night!) that relationship is inverted, and it's less interesting for it. Can't these people smell each other? They're always standing at the edge of the screen, blowing smoke off frame like moody teenagers. The movie treats smoking as though its the key to these kids' detachment, but maybe it's the fact that the writing is so flaccid nobody even has a name. Yah yah, it's on purpose. And the mute can't speak, but he can view everything through a lens. It's so modern! But like Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites, the observations aren't - they're old and copied. And nothing dates quite like badly-shot VHS footage and expired pineapple. An homage, all these rebels, all these lonely individuals rugged by circumstance, they are as predictable and boring as the lines across Godard's matching shirts. Yah yah, not the point. I'm a curmudgeon. Chungking Express is better; the pineapple slices aren't expired.