| 13 Aug 2014 | 12:30

    When I interviewed director Wong Kar Wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle at the Apple Store's event, "Music in the Films of Wong Kar Wai," in Soho, it was Doyle who gave the best justification for this week's release of re-mastered and re-scored Ashes of Time Redux. "I don't think of it as a remaster," Doyle declared. "I think of it as a re-invigoration!" That doesn't change the fact that Wong's new edit of the 1994 film, adding new music by Yo Yo Ma, seriously screws with the world's cultural memory of that earlier masterpiece. Wong's Redux isn't a total waste like Coppola's Apocalypse Now Redux. New generations are often suckered into over-appreciating these fiddled-with, always-unnecessary second thoughts, but the general public had scant chance to see Ashes of Time in the first place. At least this incarnation of Wong's martial-arts romance is in sharp colors. It should not replace the original; consider it a sparkling synopsis. Some of Wong and Doyle's most fantastic imagery remains: Metaphorical deserts as dream states. Scenes of combat and desire that convey its characters' passions, acts of vengeance that are also acts of love. Wong and Doyle abstract the martial arts genre into poetry and emotion beyond simplistic Crouching Tiger storytelling. The fighting is kitsch, but the longing and weeping are rich and real. Its story about a blind lovelorn mercenary ironically poeticizes vision and memory. Ashes of Time has such emotional, aesthetic intensity that its title-one of the greatest in movie history-is fulfilled. It recalls Peter Bogdanovich quoting Jimmy Stewart on the essence of cinema as "Pieces of Time." Wong and Doyle make time-capturing art incendiary. Ashes is a movie-movie in the French New Wave sense, but Wong and Doyle make Godardian formalism psychedelic. Justifiably proud of their collaboration, Doyle defended their creations against the onslaught of art directors and fashion-mag editors who repeatedly steal from them. Doyle gave them a deserved salute: "F___ you very much!" -- Ashes of Time Redux Directed by Wong Kar Wai, at Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Center, Running Time: 93 min. --