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The Golden Rock at the 2011 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival - Day 10

Sorry, just one day at a time until I find the time and energy to write more:

Whores’ Glory (Austria-Germany, 2011, Dir: Michael Glawogger)


Aren’t there prostitutes in first world countries, too? Apparently, they just weren’t exotic enough for Austrian director Michael Glawogger, who has to go slumming in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico to realize that prostitutes have dignity, too. His three-part film reveals some interesting things about the prostitution industry in the three countries, but the endless use of euro minimalist music and his choice of locations just spell cultural tourism for me. The footage he gets is interesting and sometimes even revealing (especially the reveal about the characters’ respective link to religion), but parts of it (including the money shot, so to speak, showing real sex) seems a little staged for a documentary. Hey, for the sequel, maybe Mr. Glawogger can look at prostitutes from countries that aren’t, you know, poor and exotic.

Aarakshan (India, 2011, Dir: Prakash Jha)


About the Indian equivalent of affirmative action (Americans will more likely get this term), the first hour of AARAKSHAN  sets up an interesting debate about whether the disadvantaged should get a leg up by the government in education and employment. However, with the presence of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, director Prakash Jha (also known for his socially conscious films) might’ve had to keep things engaging for commercial reasons. Not only are there two very unnecessary song-and-dance sequences, Jha also shifts the focus an hour in from the reservation system debate to the struggle of an idealistic principal who loses everything due to his pride. In other words, it asks the important questions, but ends up providing answers to something else.

Nevertheless, Bachchan has a commanding presence as the respected teacher, and the film still raises a few very relevant issues that it actually does take a stance on (Hong Kong parents may identify with how education has become a business in Hong Kong). The usual bombastic sound mix will keep people awake, especially when Jha directs parts of it literally like a Hollywood action film. Even if it’s not totally effective, it’s always interesting to see a Bollywood film that’s not about being escapist entertainment.

The Killer Who Never Kills (2011, Taiwan/Hong Kong, Dir: @pple/Jimmy Wan)


This dark comedy about a rookie killer who ends up faking the deaths of all his targets is played like a light heist comedy and certainly amusing enough for the most part.  However, it’s so light that no one should be expected to remember much of it after a week. Idol contest contestant-turned-pop star Jam Hsiao is in his first starring role and ends up faring better in his debut than Jay Chou, who took stoic acting a new level in INITIAL D. Supporting cast, especially Jeff Huang as an Americanized Taiwanese gangster, really elevates the film in terms of being an effective comedy, but KILLER WHO NEVER KILLS is first and foremost pop cinema for its home audience and taiwan-philes.

Tomorrow: Some more reviews.


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