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Archive for October 17th, 2009

The Golden Rock - Hong Kong Asian Film Festival Edition - Part 1

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It’s October, which means it’s time for the Asian Film Festival again. This year, I’m watching 22 films:

Thirst
Crows Zero II
The Housemaid
Ain’t No Tomorrows
Be Sure to Share
Talentime
Flower of Kim Jong-Il
Bicycle Sighs
Finding Her
Summer Wars
How Are You, Dad
Her Dear Old House
Old Partner
Asian Shorts 3
(including Edmund Yeo’s Kingyo. Sorry, I couldn’t make time for Woman on Fire Looks For Water)
Mother
Air Doll
Dark Harbour
Beijing is Coming
Pastry
Rabun
At the End of Daybreak
Seven 2 One

I’ve already watched two, including opening film Thirst. But before the movies, there were some pre-screening activities.

First: A talk at the University of Hong Kong featuring Tian Zhuangzhuang and Park Chan-Wook, directors of the festival’s two opening films, The Warrior and the Wolf and Thirst.

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From left to right: Tian’s translator (a grad student at HKU who seemed to be very nervous), Tian Zhuangzhuang, Moderator representing the HKU Comparative Literature Department, Park Chan-Wook, and his translator. 

With everyone needing translation, there wasn’t as much enlightening information from neither of the directors. Also, the chaos of people surrounding the directors after the talk meant I almost got my Thirst ticket signed by Park.

Almost means no.

After dinner, it was off to IFC to check out the opening ceremony, which took place between the two opening film screenings:

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Charlie Yeung, the “ambassador” of the film festival, showed up on time for some media interview. “On time” in this case meant early, because the ceremony started 20 minutes late.

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Every shot I took of Jo Odagiri has a flash on his face. He also stood alone on the stage with that expression the entire time.

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People I recognize: Ann Hui (left, and doesn’t recognize me, despite doing an entire profile on her), Jo Odagiri (left 2), Tian Zhuangzhuang (left 3), and Lawrence Lau (right)

With the ceremony running late, it also meant that the film started 20 minutes late as well. At least it was finally time for the movies!

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For the inflated ticket price, at least I got to see Park Chan-Wook (again) and got a extra small size t-shirt. I’m definitely not an extra small.

And now, for the movies I’ve seen so far:

Thirst (2009, Korea, Dir: Park Chan-Wook): After a slight stumble with I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, Park makes a glorious return to extreme cinema with this surprisingly fun (and funny) fantasy about a priest that turns into a vampire. Park’s signature musical and camera style is here, and they’re impressive as always. The violence is a little much at times, but all in all, the most “fun” Park film since Oldboy. It’s not a perfect film, but nevertheless a great cinematic experience. Kim Ok-Vin is a new name to watch out for.

Crows Zero II (2009, Japan, Dir: Takashi Miike): A sequel that’s a little too conscious of its status, Miike and his writers amp up the drama here in an attempt for a grander follow-up to their wildly fun predecessor. The result is a little underwhelming, as they wait until the very end to give the fans what they want. The fun does finally arrive at the end, but the road there can be sluggish at times.

And that’s it for now. This weekend is the Korean classic The Housemaid, Sion Sono’s Be Sure to Share (with a talk with Sion Sono in attendence), and the Japanese indie film Ain’t No Tomorrows.

Until then, let me know if you plan to stalk me at the cinemas. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. I’ll need some anyway.

 
 
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