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Archive for October 23rd, 2009

The Golden Rock - 2009 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival - Part 2

I spent my last weekend at this place:


This is the Broadway Cinematheque, one of the three venues for the Asian Film Festival. I saw a total of three films on Saturday and Sunday here.

One of them featured a Q&A with this man:


That would be director Sion Sono, whose Love Exposure is easily one of the great cinematic achievements of 2009, and the subject of this year’s HKAFF retrospective.

That brings us to the latest set of reviews:

The Housemaid (1960, South Korea, Dir: Kim Ki-Young): Certainly seeming dated almost 50 years, this deliciously trashy classic melodrama did earn some laughs at the screening, but that doesn’t discount the power of director Kim Ki-Young in creating this beautifully shot and often unpredictable femme fatale thriller about the worst housemaid in the world.

Ain’t No Tomorrows (2008, Japan, Dir: Yuki Tanada): Pure love this ain’t. Yuki Tanada’s adaptation of the manga about three high school boys’ first trip into sex is light an enjoyable exploration into the minds of reckless youth. Running a brisk 75 minutes, the stories are told in the most basic fashion, and it’s also the most effective. A great antithesis to those youth pure love stories on Japanese TV.

Be Sure to Share (2009, Japan, Dir: Sion Sono): Sono’s follow-up to Love Exposure takes almost a complete 180, dealing with the death of Sono’s father. A gentle mediation about family and death, Sono’s fans may find this a little dry, but one can’t help but admire his almost primitive expression of his love for his father in the film. An interesting addition to his filmography, but it won’t be his most memorable.

Note: I was asleep for a large part of the first half because of allergy medicine, not the quality of the film.

Talentime (2009, Malaysia, Dir: Yasmin Ahmad): The surprise of the festival for me, this delightful and touching film about contestants of a school talent contest and their families is an entertaining exploration of the myriad of religious and ethnic presence in the country, as well as young love. The sometimes heavy melodrama is balanced by Ahmad’s naturalistic handling. Too bad there was less than 20 people at the screening.

Flower of Kim Jong-Il (2008, South Korea/USA/France, Dir: NC Helkin): This documentary about human rights violationby North Korea as told by those who experienced them has some chilling testimonies that shed light on the horrors in the most isolated country in the world, but Helkin’s use of interpretative dance throughout distract from the focus. It almost undermined the testimonies themselves, making it not a very good documentary.

Bicycle Sighs (1990, Japan, Dir: Sion Sono): Sadly, this may be the only Pia Scholarship film that I don’t like. I’ve never fell asleep at a movie, only to wake up and find the audience as confused as I was. Sono fills the film with metaphors and strange behaviors, but I must’ve been too shallow to be able to decode them all. Besides, it should’ve ended 30 minutes before it really did. A truly strange feature debut for Sono.

Coming up: Taiwanese films Finding Her and How Are You Dad, as well as Summer Wars and Old Partner. It’s going to be a busy weekend. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen