LAST YEAR, the masterful Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express) was hired by Motorola to make a commercial for their cellular phones. Not surprisingly, what the company ended up with was a great short film by Wong Kar-wai. Though the Motorola logo appears in the commercial twice (the first time in a fragmented and delirious rush), the piece is not about cellular phones or new and affordable rates. You don't watch this commercial and think, "Damn! I need a Motorola cell phone now!" Instead, you watch it and marvel at Wong Kar-wai's cinematic genius.

The commercial has a small plot: A young woman, after trying to call her ex-boyfriend (on a Motorola cell phone, one gathers), recalls how they first met in a restaurant. She was the waitress, he a lonely customer. She liked him a lot; he was mildly interested her. She gave him lots of free food; he ate everything she offered. In the end they exchanged phone numbers. She then lost his number, but luckily found it in the snow. When they went out on a date, the guy paid more attention to a pinball game and his television than to her. Soon after, their affair collapsed with a big crash, and she waved goodbye.

Though the story is simple, it is -- as with all of Wong Kar-wai's films -- recounted in the most complex, obtuse way. Like memories, the film is motivated by sudden (and seemingly free) associations. Gestures (the lover's hand caressing first thin air, then her TV-absorbed lover's back) and positions (the languid lover lying on a table, on the pinball machine, on the bed) are interconnected to form a dense fugue of bright and beautiful images, occasionally disrupted by moody weather, brilliant explosions, loud and unanswered phone rings, and finally, the implosion of a big building.

I'm not exactly sure what the telecommunications giant had in mind when they hired Wong Kar-wai. I imagine they were merely after his name, and the prestige of having a commercial made by a great director. Therefore, the selling point of the commercial is this: "You should buy our products because we are cool enough to pick and pay Wong Kar-wai to produce a commercial that has almost nothing to do with our phones." If this is the case, then Hong Kong is way ahead of America in the game of advertising.

The commercial can be seen at