Monday, October 25th, 2010
The Hong Kong Asian Film Festival is now in full swing for its first weekend. There’s at least two more weekends of all-day movie watching, but let’s just get through this first day of three-or-more screening days:
Perfect Blue (1997, Japan, director: Satoshi Kon): Animated or otherwise, PERFECT BLUE is an interesting psychological thriller about the price of celebrity, especially in the Asian pop world (I’m looking at you, too, Korean pop). The layers of real and unreal and all those in between keeps the audience riveted, and the directorial tricks will keep people going back to watch it. The violence is a little much (doubt it would’ve made it to live-action), but it’s a rewarding ride to sit through that also broke the types of storytelling that could be done on the animation format.
Villain (Akunin) (2010, Japan, director: Lee Sang-Il): This emotionally intense drama from the director of HULA GIRL feels like two films: A great ensemble drama about the fallout from a crime with an exceptional supporting cast, and a ho-hum love story. While the core is the journey of the film’s protagonists - a murderer and his new girlfriend - the parts that really worked is the side stories with the older supporting actors, especially Kirin Kiki as the murderer’s grandmother. Lee’s point of exposing all kinds of villainy in the world really drives the film thematically. Overlong at 139 minutes, but surprisingly involving for its duration.
The Drunkard (2010, Hong Kong, director: Freddie Wong): The writings of novelist Liu Yi-Chang inspired Wong Kar Wai for IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and 2046, and it’s quite obvious from film critic/festival curator Freddie Wong’s directorial debut THE DRUNKARD. It includes a writer in 1960s Hong Kong heading for career self-destruction and makes it up with alcohol, smoke, and women. Similar themes - especially about professional compromises - have been seen in 2046 with better production values. While episodic in structure with stilted dialogue and problematic acting, THE DRUNKARD really serves more as an intellectual curiosity than a real film. Fans of the novel are apparently pleased with how closely it stuck to the novel (which I haven’t read), but I found it too self-important.
Tomorrow: Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Mark Lee documentary, and Aloys Chen & fans.