Monday, March 30, 2009

HKIFF 3 - Final

My quick trip to the HKIFF is over with only some ten films in the bag and five of those were old classics. I had wanted to spend more time wandering about HK this time but the sun did an Infernal Affairs on me by staying undercover the whole time. Never saw it - not even a peek or a wink. But it's still Hong Kong and even in drab damp charcoal grays it feels like no other place on earth. I spent way too much time in the Photo Shop and came away with a load of pictures to scan in some day when I am able to. I still only got through perhaps 35% of his offerings but I was surprised to find lots of new ones of some of my old favorites. For those who appreciate the likes of Veronica Yip, Anita Mui, Chingmy, Ada Choi and Maggie I picked up quite a few. And lots of others in smaller bunches. None this time around of Little Tony and Leslie I am afraid - I just ran out of time and money.

I also made a stop by the Tsui Hark/Workshop Exhibit that they have in conjunction with their screening many of his films. For me and many others, Tsui Hark is the greatest living director/producer around with so many classic films to his credit - so one might have expected the HKIFF to really go to town honoring him. Instead though, his films were shown primarily during the afternoons of weekdays in small theaters with smaller screens. Really shameful. And then this Exhibit was a big let down - primarily just posters of many of his films - I could have done nearly the same thing with my own posters. I had really expected much more. Maybe in 25 years they will do it right. Or maybe by then the HK Film Archives will do it as they know how to do these things.

This time around the HK Film Archives was shining the spotlight on Evan Yang, one of the top directors for Cathay. Their exhibit of him was well thought out and informative. I caught two of his films - both which I had previously seen on DVD and reviewed - but seeing Mambo Girl on the big screen was really wonderful - Grace Chang is glorious. It is such an old fashioned story of familial love that you might expect to find that today's audience would find it laughable - but at least this audience didn't and I could hear sniffling all around me and the 20-something next to me was crying so hard I wanted to put my arm around her to comfort her - but thought better of it! Beginnging the festival with Shanghai Blues and ending it with Mambo Girl felt just right.

The only other film I caught was Lonely Tunes of Tehran, another film from Iran but not nearly as interesting I thought as The Book of Law. It follows a Mice and Men duo on the fringes of Iranian society. One is a slow witted large lunk of a man while his friend is a constantly talking eyes bulging gnomish midget. They illegally trudge around Tehran putting up satellite TV hook-ups for people to be able to see channels from America, Europe and the Middle East. This is against the law and they have to keep a wary eye out for the authorities as well as the landlord trying to collect back rent. But the film isn't political really - it's about friendship in hard times with next to nothing going for you and little hope that it ever will. It is a slice of life tale with no dramatic twists - just two guys trying to eke out a living.

As usual I get to the airport too early and so have time to wander around a while before going through passport control - and in Terminal 1 I come across a Media Asia Hollywood exhibit - but I was too cheap to buy a ticket though I did snap a picture or two from outside. Has anybody gone into it? And then there was this cool game room to kill some time. Where else but Hong Kong would have this?

A very few pictures of my time in HK here.


Anonymous said...

OMG! That shop is insane. It's even more chaotic than I imagined.

sbk said...

Thanks and I love the photos. The shop outdoes my husband's office for
piles of stuff all over the place.

eliza bennet said...

The shop is a mess!

But I can imagine that it must be enjoyable for a star photo enthusiast to hunt for photos in there :)

Cardboard cutout acting - hahahahaaaaaaaaa you are hillarious!

YTSL said...

Hi Brian --

Believe it or not, the sun came out over here after you went! Still, there have been way too many foggy/polluted days for my liking recently.

Re Tsui Hark: Did you happen to get the Film Workshop program catalogue? Hope so as it looks like quite the bumper work (to add to my two other already good books about Tsui!).

One last thing: What are your ratings for the films you saw at the HKIFF??

Brian said...

The Photo Shop has become insane - I feel like I should wear a pith helmet when I go in. Two years ago it was fairly well organized but its gotten away from him and he tells me that he doesn't have the time to clean it. Just throwing out all the newspapers on the floor would be a good start! I'd love to take a week and just get it back in order again.

Didn't even see the Tsui Hark program catalogue - where was that?

I guess these would be my ratings for the new films I saw:

Beast Stalker - 8.0 - every character in this film no matter how small their role had depth - even the parapeligic wife had more substance with no more than a moving finger and expressive eyes than did all the characters in . . .

The Sniper - 6.0 and my opinion of it gets worse the more I think about it

The Book of Law - 8.0 - delightful in every way.

Talentime - 7.5 - I think we agree that the dramatic elements were very moving but the comic ones felt kind of rote and shallow - fortunately the drama takes over at about the mid-way point and the film ends very powerfully.

Lonely Tunes of Tehran - 6.0 - interesting on one level for its slice of life portrayal of Tehran at the street level but the story just felt kind of flimsy. This got a theatrical run in Bangkok so I was expecting something with more substance I think.

YTSL said...

Hi again Brian --

Interesting. I don't think our ratings of the films that we have both viewed are all that different.

Re the Tsui Hark catalogue: it was on sale at the HKIFF offices and, as of March 30, over at a table they have over the Hong Kong Cultural Centre foyer.

ewaffle said...


Love the pictures of the Photo Shop--it looks like the kind of place where one would run out of time (or patience) before running out of money.

The Media Asia exhibit looks very interesting. The couple wearing helmets and holding hands look like they might be part of the exhibit. I might be brainwashed from dealing with the mercurial TSA security people in the US but a helmet seems inappropriate to wear in an airport.

© Deliria said...

Did You come across any shop that was selling VHS ex-rentals?There must be a warehouse somewhere full of tapes/laserdisc.Or they just dumped all of them into the harbour...

Brian said...

EW - yes that was part of the exhibit - no idea from what movie that came from. I am not sure why I felt so cheap at the moment - HKD20 to get in - so no idea what else is in there.

Deliria -in HK they call it landfill - much of HK Island may be sitting on old laser discs and tapes! I remember years ago as the dvd came to prominance shops in the NYC Chinatown were selling LDs for next to nothing. Oddly a lot of those movies on LD never made it to DVD.