Wong Kar Wai's English-language debut is a home run, thanks to his superior craft and thanks to the remarkable group of individuals he has brought together, from his star-studded cast to Ry Cooder on lead guitar and Darius Khondji as director of photography. Khondji is the lonesome lens man who made Pollack, Allen, Fincher, Boyle, Polanski, and Bertolucci look so fine, and he is at the top of his game as he makes Wong Kar Wai's trademark layered look shine like never before. Singer-songwriter Norah Jones' acting debut is impressive, as is Rachel Weisz' performance in the part of the Southern Belle, keeping the dialect coaches busy. Natalie Portman, cast against type, may be the prettiest face in Hollywood, but she tries very hard and, predictably, fails to come across as a trashy gambler. She even slips out of her fake accent twice: Once when she wakes up in bed with Norah Jones (understandable) and again when they split ("You're hopeless"). Similarly, Jude Law is unconvincing in the part of the philosophical bartender. I know everybody loves him, but I just don't see what they see. My money is on David Strathairn and his touching portrayal of Arnie, the quiet drunk. I wish they had kept his tab open a little longer and cut the lame Las Vegas leg of the script.