Thursday, March 5, 2009

33rd HKIFF picks 電影節心水推介

It's the time of the year when Hong Kong cineastes go nuts (or try to go nuts, thanks to the daily constraints that is our job). I'm relieved the programme still has a lot of arthouse and world cinema, and not dumped with heartwarming drudgery as announced previously in Mingpao 明報. Though smaller in scale this year (what happened to the outdoor screenings?), there's still plenty worth watching. As always, I'll give the same advice: try something you won't normally be able to see in the cinemas. I'm clocking at 23 films right now and somehow I feel a guilty urge to downsize a bit. Hmm...

Some disappointing absences in this year's programme: Theo Angelopoulos' The Dust of Time; The Dardenne Brothers' The Silence of Lorna; acclaimed Cannes animation Waltz With Bashir; Charlie Kaufman's first- and probably last- film Synecdoche New York;
Kawase Naomi's 河瀨直美 Seven Nights (I've only seen one of her films but I was impressed with The Mourning Forest 殯の森); Swedish vampire-high school drama Let The Right One In; Argentine psychological horror The Headless Woman; and Yu Lik-wai's 余力為 Plastic City 蕩寇 (although it's rumoured to have a June release date- see 講。鏟。片's post).

One extremely annoying bit about the programme is the scheduling for the Film Workship 電影工作室 retrospective. Not all of us caught the films on the big screen, but rather on DVD or one those weekend afternoon filler slots on TV. If you genuinely want to pay tribute to this golden period and allow as many people (particularly the younger ones who aren't as film literate) to appreciate these classics, then why schedule them on weekday afternoons?!

Also, what's with the mascot, Baufa
爆花? There's the questionable case for a new logo for HKIFF Society, and now somehow we need an irrelevant mascot designed by one Jan Lamb 林海峰. Is HKIFF trying to be down with the kids- we're not dealing with the Summer Pops festival here- or to sell loads of 'limited edition' t-shirts? Duke of Aberdeen is ranting about it too.

Anyways, I'll stop ranting, and here's my picks:
  • The Shinjuku Incident 新宿事件- Now I know I said right at the beginning that you should try something different (how much more Hong Kong can you get with Jackie Chan 成龍?), and I know very well this will be out in cinemas on April 2nd. But interestingly it's a Category III cut that's shown in HKIFF, compared with the IIB cut on general release. And according to this article, we might get the added bonus of dismembermant and disembowelment. If you're into this kind of stuff...
The Shinjuku Incident trailer:

Ashes of Time Redux trailer:

24 City trailer:

Burma VJ- Reporting From a Closed Country trailer:

Mental trailer:

  • Gomorrah 我在娥摩拉的日子 and The Baader Meinhof Complex 赤色風暴- An ideal crime double-bill (sadly non-existent in Hong Kong) on April 5th: the first one, a multi-storyline thriller on the powerful Camorra mafia that won last year's Grand Prix at Cannes; the second one, an epic saga on the notorious leftist terrorist group that dominated the 70s.
Gomorrah trailer:

The Baader Meinhof Complex trailer:

  • Che 捷古華拉- Another epic (it's 270 minutes long), this time on everyone's favourite leftist rebel. Don't expect any romanticism or acting showpieces in this though. Reviews have been mixed, but this is a major movie event in this year's HKIFF. Will we see Long Hair in the audience? (If my memory is correct, he was invited to The Motorcycle Diaries 哲古華拉少年日記 premiere but didn't stay for the film.)
Che trailer:

  • Love Exposure 愛之剝脫- Another 4 hour film, but probably much more easy going. Sono Sion's 園子溫 previous films showed some promise (Noriko's Dinner Table 紀子之食桌, shown in 30th HKIFF), and this may cement his status as a cult maverick. Hell, balletic upskirt photography, references to past Japanese cult flicks, religious fervour, lesbian schoolgirls... On the other hand, this can go down badly, but reviews so far have been positive.
Love Exposure trailer:

Still Walking trailer:

All Around Us trailer:

Deep in the Valley trailer
  • The Good, The Bad, The Weird 風塵三俠決戰地獄門- Last year's HKIFF we had Miike Takeshi's 三池崇史 Spaghetti Western: Sukiyaki Western Django 日式牛仔一品鍋. Some liked it, but I felt it was an indulgent mess with plodding, heavily accented English dialogue. This time it's the Koreans' turn, and Kim Ji-woon 金知雲 (A Tale of Two Sisters 姊魅情深) makes a smart choice and goes for the all-out action thrill ride. Coupled with the amazing Song Kang-ho 宋康昊, this should be a fun to watch.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird trailer:

My Dear Enemy trailer:

Rough Cut trailer:

  • Tony Manero 周末殺人狂熱- Raul is a psychopathic fan of Saturday Night Fever 週末夜狂熱, and will do anything to give his best John Travolta impersonation. Acclaimed film has the potential to be a cult hit, a potent character study on fan fetishism, and as a allegory to life in Chile under Pinochet's dictatorship.
Tony Manero trailer:

  • J.C.V.D. 玩殘尚格雲頓- Jean-Claude Van Damme, Belgian action star that never really made it big, mocks himself and his life in this farce. It could be another Last Action Hero 幻影英雄, but the promise of a tearful monologue by stone faced Van Damme sounds...just plain weird.
J.C.V.D. teaser:

J.C.V.D. trailer:

  • Of Time and the City 城市流光 and The Beaches of Agnès 沙灘上的華妲- two essay films by two great directors: Terence Davies directs a lyrical documentary about his beloved city Liverpool (and perhaps would make a good comparison to last year's My Winnipeg 故城風雪行), and Agnès Varda ('Mother of the French New Wave') makes her autobiography joyful and whimsical.
Of Time and the City trailer:

The Beaches of Agnes trailer:

  • Hunger 大絕食- this film debut by Young British Artists member Steve McQueen won the Camera D'Or at Cannes last year. Famous for his video installations, McQueen creates a spellbinding portrait of IRA member Bobby Sands, who uses his body as a weapon of protest.
Hunger trailer:


  1. Looks like you have a terrific several days of movie viewing in front of you--I am particularly impressed with the number of documentaries. Will be looking forward to what you think of them. If Soda Kazuhiro can do with "Mental" what Wiseman did with "Titicut Follies" it will be impressive indeed.

  2. Good points made about the Film Workshop retrospective. As for your picks: we have a few in common. Hope we both get tickets to the screenings we want! :)

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