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Fantasia 2008: press release

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It's this time of the year again... Earlier than other years, by a week or two, I think. Here is the English version of the press release for the Asian programming of the festival, directed by Mi-Jeong Lee.

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July 3-21, 2008

UBISOFT PRÉSENTS FANTASIA 2008

A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON ASIAN CINEMA IN NORTH AMERICA

Asian Fever is about to rock Montrealers!

The Fantasia International Film Festival presents a huge variety of Asian feature films in 2008, over 70 in fact, from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. They are nothing less than outstanding, groundbreaking, hilarious, and emotionally gripping!

Since its inception in 1996, Fantasia has provided a unique opportunity for the mainstream and the underground filmgoers alike to share the experience of Asia's action, fantasy, martial arts, horror, historical epic, surrealist hybrid and guerrilla films. Since then, Fantasia's success and reputation have snowballed to become internationally recognized and acclaimed as having a wildly diverse sense of what Asian cinema is and has the potential to be.

The original, peculiar cultural flavor and cinematic qualities of Asian films has not been lost on Hollywood. Asian films are considered to be the hottest films on the world market today. Their inventiveness, authentic humor and surprising cultural perspectives, combined with their outstanding aesthetic accomplishments, are copied but never duplicated.

At Fantasia 2008, new works will be screened by such internationally acclaimed directors as Japan's Takashi Miike (SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO) and Hideo Nakata (L: CHANGE THE WORLD); Hong Kong's Johnnie To (MAD DETECTIVE, SPARROW, TRIANGLE) and Oxide Pang (THE DETECTIVE); and South Korea's Kwak Kyung-taek (A LOVE). Also, not to be missed are the ambitious, fresh and entertaining debut films of first-time directors, such as those from that current hotspot of Asian film production, South Korea. Film enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the many debut films from directors such as Yang Hea-hoon (WHO'S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR?), Kim Mee-jung (SHADOWS IN THE PALACE), Ra Hee-chan (GOING BY THE BOOK) and Lee Kyoo-man (WIDE AWAKE). Watch also for the Hong Kong upstart Derek Kwok (THE PYE-DOG).

The splendid line-up of invited guests is getting longer as the opening of Fantasia 2008 approaches. Hong Kong's Kung Fu icon, Gordon Liu, will grace Fantasia with his presence during the opening weekend as he presents a restored 35mm ShawScope print of the Shaw Brothers classic DISCIPLES OF 36TH CHAMBER. The Japanese actress Eihi Shiina, star of Miike's infamous Audition, will be in Montreal with her new film, TOKYO GORE POLICE, along with the film's director, Yoshihiro Nishimura. The Japanese actor, director and action choreographer Tak Sakaguchi will also be in Montreal, to present in person his film BE A MAN! SAMURAI SCHOOL. Moreover, Thai directors Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom, Yongyoot Thongkongtoon and Gunn Purijitpanya will also be in town for the screening of their omnibus films 4BIA. Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom will also be pleased to present their film ALONE.

From among the most renowned Asian film industry professionals, we highlight two guests from CJ Entertainment (CJ): Kini Seong-Eun Kim, Vice-President of International Sales and Heejeon Kim, Director for Festivals will attend the festival. CJ is the largest production and distribution company in Korea, with an enviable international reputation in managing Asian Cinema. CJ will seek for opportunities for Canadian marketing development while presenting SHADOW IN THE PALACE, and five other films at Fantasia 2008.

Fantasia, a pioneering festival in the world of Asian genre film, is ready to meet its audience! Through this cinematic adventure, Montrealers will discover a wide range of films grouped according to themes for greater access than ever before, such as Singular Successes, Converging Visions, Uncanny Investigators, Leading Ladies of Asia, From Mangas to Movies, First Films from Korea and Strange Loves. We also highlight the Nikkatsu Action Film spotlight, and a variety of loose films that simply demand to be noticed!

Enjoy the Festival!

Mi-Jeong Lee

Director, Asian Programming

Short & Male

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Short & Male

Omg! But then again, the South Chinese average is lesser than world standards. Moreover, my brother is kinda tall, and so are uncles and my paternal grandfather (apparently, it jumped a generation or more with my father, and myself). (youtube video)

Yung Chang

Last Friday, I published an interview with Yung Chang on Comme les Chinois, whose documentary movie Up the Yangtze, following the lives of people whose home was flooded by the Three Gorges Dam project, came out at the AMC. The French version of the film comes out at Quartier Latin this coming Friday. It was a very relax interview, even if it was the first interviewee in the news on the same week that I was doing. I did not know Yung beforehand, except for bumping into him at the Nouveau Cinema festival, where his film premiered. We then realized that we had a bunch of acquaintances/friends in common... Perhaps the circle of artistically-inclined CBCs of a certain age is really small?

We talked a lot about food, or lack of real good Chinese food in Montreal... And then there was the obligatory questions about the film. While perhaps running the risk of sounding too all over the place, I chose not to ask the obvious questions already heard on The Hour and all of Montreal's free weeklies. I find random, boring questions almost more interesting. Like I was discussing with a previous guest, they always seem to let you discover new things about your guests.

When interviewing people for a short-lived weekly student newspaper (because it was during the last semester of cegep - and that was almost 10 years ago), I thought that interviews always certainly allowed for something new to come out of the interaction between two people, the interviewer and his guest. It is maybe the starting point for awesome ideas like L'autre midi à la table d'à côté, a special radio feature on Radio-Canada's La Première Chaîne.

New York's Chinatown in Montreal

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One Way

Upon reading Chris' article about Montreal Chinatown's sudden metamorphosis for a movie called "Baja" (say the signs, but Chris mentions it is something called "The Punisher" instead), I was obliged to go take a look for myself. Indeed, the change is very amusing, as most store names remained the same, except for a brand new dim sum place called "Imperial". It was like an alternate reality where Quebec language laws did not exist!

At the corner of the virtual Eldridge & Grand (De la Gauchetière & St-Laurent) stood a newsstand typical of New York City. It turns out that one of my favourite eats in NYC, one random dirt-cheap dumplings house, is within a block of the real Eldridge and Grand.

They also shot at Église St-Pierre-Apôtre, corner of La Visitation and René-Lévesque, shining huge projector lights into the church's stained glass windows.

Wah Fung / Pho Cali
The "City of New York" pole marks where reality starts and ends

Flickr set http://www.flickr.com/photos/smurfmatic/sets/72157603446335603/

John Hsu's Real Online

This Thursday, Friday and Saturday was Input II at Radio-Canada, an event that captures the best of the great pilgrimage of public television, Input (in Lugano, Switzerland, this year), and retransmits it to its Montreal-based artisans. One of the sessions on Friday was on fiction, and the meat of it was a 77" piece by John Hsu, that was originally aired by the Taiwan Public Television Service (English site). It is called "Real Online" or 請登入線實 in Chinese.

Real Online would probably sell better to a Fantasia 2008 audience than one of television buffs, but provided fodder to an animated post-screening discussion. Real Online introduces us to a cast of six main characters who lead real lives in Taipei, Taiwan, and online lives in the "Real Online" game (or 理想Online, which translates literally instead to "Wishes Online").

Lust, Caution

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So, we went to see Lust, Caution on Friday, and the movie was long, but surprisingly captivating from beginning to end. A complex story, it is set in WWII China, mostly Shanghai, but with its beginning happening in Hong Kong. Some scenes were shot at Hong Kong University, and I feel like there was some confusion in the translation, as I did not notice once the mention of HK's most renowned university (they talked about a Lingnan University), but it may've referred to another plot information). Roland Soong's blog reposts a SCMP article about himself, and this HKU connection with the movie.

Up The Yangtze, a documentary by Chinese Canadian director Yung Chang, had its Montreal premiere at the Nouveau Cinéma Festival. The Facebook group indicates that today's screening and tomorrow's are in fact sold out, but there may be an extra screening, and the movie would see a theatrical release in early 2008.

The visual part is stunning (and reminiscent of the Yangtze cruise part of my parents' trip to China last month), and the story, even if a little "arrangé avec le gars des vues", is a good-enough pretext to show off China, its contradictions, its beautiful natural and man-made landscapes.

The first feature film by Jean Leclerc (formerly known as Jean Leloup) was shown at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma tonight in premiere, but also as the premiere of the Temps Zéro section (as said in the press release and by Claude Chamberland tonight in the clip, but not in the actual program). A lot of beet juice was used during the shooting of this movie, which seems to have been entirely done in Vietnam. Some of Jean Leloup's pieces from La Vallée des Reputations were played on the van that took us back from our mini-trip back from Dalat, when I visited my aunt, uncle and cousin in Saigon back in May 2005. "Je suis parti", at that time, seemed to fit my mood completely, as I called Hong Kong home, and swirled across East Asia...

Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2007

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FNC

Press release actually came out today, as I was just blogging about it yesterday. Not enough time to describe the movies at the FNC this year, but here we go with a non-exhaustive list of stuff to see...

  • Ploy, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Thaïlande),
  • Sperm, Taweewat Wantha (Thaïlande),
  • Eye in the Sky, Nai-Hoi Yau (Hong Kong) (has Simon Yam!),
  • Dainipponjin, Hitoshi Matsumoto (Japon) (has UA),
  • I'm a cyborg but that's ok, Park Chan-Wook (Corée du Sud),
  • Sur le Yangzi, Yung Chang (Québec/Canada) (probably the movie I want to see the most, from a personal pov, as the director is a Chinese-Canadian, who went back to China to make a film about his country of origin, namely the Three Gorges Dam and the people that its construction has affected.),
  • Ice Cream, Jean (Leloup) Leclerc (Québec/Canada) (intriguing!),
  • Yi Yi, Edward Yang (Taïwan) (tribute to Edward Yang - while Yi Yi is fun, I believe that the movie that made Yang, A Brighter Summer Day, is like Yi Yi without the happy romance - it is supposedly un-findable, b/c of Yang's odd behaviour wrt commercialization of his movies).

Preview preview... The festival is the most likeable of Montreal, after Fantasia, and press release are slowly being released. One of the movies to be shown is a NFB film called Up The Yangtze. We hope that besides anticipated Lust, Caution, there's going to be another Japanese anime in avant-première.

In a very Web 2.0 fashion, the movie Up The Yangtze comes with Google Earth pinpoints!

Festival du Nouveau Cinéma

EastSouthWestNorth and Lust, Caution

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As some of you may know, Ang Lee's latest film Lust, Caution, premiered at Venice, and was also shown at Toronto (and then, we hope, at Montreal's next film festival of the season, the Nouveau Cinema Festival). The side story that we might be interested in is that the book on which the movie was based on was written by Eileen Chang, who is a family friend of Roland Soong, otherwise known as the blogger behind the ever excellent EastSouthWestNorth. Lust, Caution comes out in less than a week, and Soong happens to be the administrator of the Eileen Chang literary estate, strangely enough reposted Chinese-only articles on the possibility that Chang based her story on real people, and real world circumstances. Also, a translated review of Lust, Caution, and perhaps its inspiration.

Asian film fest in Montreal?

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I do find it a little illogical to bundle Asian films with fantastic films, into something called "genre", but with a limited market for Asian films in Montreal, there does not seem to be an alternative way.

A quick search on the Internet indicates that Toronto has a Toronto Reel Asian International Film Fest since 2002 (with After This Our Exile as North American premiere on opening night), whereas Vancouver has a Vancouver Asian Film Festival since 1996, which are both relatively smaller festivals than Fantasia, in terms of movies shown (80-90 and 40-50, respectively, versus Fantasia's 200+).

In a sense, it's absolutely fine like this, because the end result is still the screening of recent high-quality Asian/Chinese films in theatres for a ridiculously low price ($6.50) which no mainstream cinema is able to match. Besides, my movie list never ever matches those of the fantastic/horror film seekers... Whereas I was not attracted to last year's festival premiere The Descent, they probably were not towards this year's Tekkon Kinkreet. I suppose that we eventually meet at (the rather cheap) The Matrimony, but not at (the movie-award gatherer) After This Our Exile.

Fantasia 2007: preview

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It's once again this time of the year, that of Montreal's Fantasia film festival, starting on July 5th to 23rd, with more than 125 feature films instead of just a mere hundred last year, thanks to money from the provincial level. I definitely going to hit the East Asian films first, although I've also tried European horror flicks and American sci-fi movies in the past. Fantasia is also adding an extra venue, Théâtre DB Clarke, which is a 380-seat room (the one that we call the Hall is 700-seat), home of Concordia University's Department of Theatre, at the basement level of the Hall Building.

This year's installment will celebrate Russian cinema with seven films spanning the 30s and 80s, as well as five others exploring the theme of urban apocalypse (see special events).

From Hong Kong, you have the winner of like all HK movie awards of this year (three of them: Best Actor, Best New Actor, and Best Director), After This Our Exile, not to be confused with the excellent-looking 200g Johnnie To Exiled. The latter was also nominated in the best film category, and both Isabella and Dog Bite Dog each had a Best Actress/Actor nomination at HK's movie awards (nominees list - you have to guess the best ones, b/c they don't seem to consolidate them on one page). There is also an Oxide Pang movie called Diary.

Too many to parse through right now, but this year's lineup also includes a bunch of "oddities", like documentaries on animated film director Hayao Miyazaki or cinematographer Christopher Doyle. And as usual, the animes, the Japanese horror flicks, and a couple of Korean commercial films, like 200 Pounds Beauty.

Curse of the Golden Flower

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I am no longer surprised by the sort of the ending crazed egomaniac director can feed their audiences at career-end. Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower was more than good for the first half of it. I thought, all this preemptive worrying that it would be like House of the Flying Daggers was perhaps not justified? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. It wasn't the type of What The Hell that makes me regret paying for my entrance ticket - more the sort that you laugh out loud with your partners in crime. Yes, that's it. Just like why Seven Swords is meant for a genre and localized crowd to appreciate.

Some people behind laughed when Jay Chou, who does a Taiwanese pop/rap singer for daytime job, appeared on the screen, with a goatee, and soldier equipment on him. There were a lot of Asian people, and probably Chinese people, from the language spoken in the theater before the movie started; I expected a mostly White arthouse crowd, but man, I was so wrong. I should've known after Zhang Yimou's latest movies, which all sort of fit in the action/wushu genre. The audience was young and Asiaphile, just like us. I didn't recognize Chow Yun-fat, in the role of the emperor, for about two and a half scenes he was in, perhaps because I didn't know he did such a natural Mandarin or because of the goatee too.

Jay Chou - Ju Hua Tai

The first half of the movie is a display of wealth, and I thought, gee, is that to say that anyone in today's China can live like an Emperor? And then, suffer all the consequences of greed and backstabbing-mania, with chrysanthemum as silent (and trampled) witness, and happy Jay music to cheer us up in the midst of all this bleakness. If Zhang Yimou meant it as a critique of today's capitalistic chacun-pour-soi China, then, bravo, you are a master indeed!

Dragon Boys, part I

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Yeah, so it was aired tonight. Not going to be the talk of the town over, b/c of our tiny tiny Chinese population, but according to Google, it did stir a little discussion over on the West Coast. For one thing, it was interesting to see HK stars (Eric Tsang, Lawrence Chou) on the small screen, the CBC, no less. Tsang does the gangster boss again, which he played memorably well in Infernal Affairs (even reprising his own role in parody Love is a Many Stupid Thing, shamelessly helping to milk the Infernal Affairs cow).

The TV adaptation of John Woo's Once A Thief on CTV was the last Canadian series I could remember involving Chinese people and topic, as more than one cast member. Incidentally, it was also about gangsters (being based on John Woo's work). I particularly liked the tirade between Inspector Jiang and his Scottish-descended colleague, where they speak about why he chooses to identify himself as Chinese, while his colleague long-forgot that he was of Scottish origin. Canadianess will never be just an abstract set of values. The part where the colleague shows off his Cantonese skills is also sweet. Generally, I wasn't offended by the portrayal of Chinese people, and a Chinese version of The Little Mosque In The Prairie would be intriguing, yet irrelevant to a Canadian audience. I look forward to Part II.

SPL the movie

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AKA "Killzone" in the US, which my father rent from mainstream video store. Is a HK flick of the 80s without popstars and a plot that goes out the window before the end of the first half of the movie, and basically a motivation for gratuitous gore. Will never be remembered for its cinematographic qualities, but Saat Po Lang succeeds in what it advertises itself to be: a cool action movie.

The fact that Sammo Hung played the role of a triad boss is absolutely worth the entrance price (or rental price), as he is most famously known for starring in those bon-enfant comedic kung fu flicks à la Dunken Master. It's like, only if Jackie Chan would play a triad boss would the universe shudder a little more due to the momentary incoherence.

Also, even if I have not been a big follower of the triad genre, I thought that the inclusion of wushu in the movie, a bit like if it were a classic 1970s wushu flick transposed to the late 1990s, was perhaps what made this movie a little less banal than it would otherwise be. Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and Wu Jing probably looked as if they are ancient master fighters reincarnated in an era where noone else knows kung fu (whereas in classic films, any main character would know kung fu by default). I was very amused by the two ending fights, but at that point already, I would have been laughing my head off between fighting choreographies, if with friends to watch it - just like for Seven Swords (which is a bad if you watch it alone, and funny with other people). Please check out brain at entrance.

The Sun

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Makes me think that I could use a Japanese militaristic era top hat, and the suit that goes with it. With all the stuff it implicates.

MacArthur, Hirohito, MacArthur, and Hirohito again.

Paprika - etc

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Paprika was just a very very entertaining film. A bit like anything Satoshi Kon made, one's never sure whether reality or dream don't intersect. Perhaps not how I conceive the universe, but it's great to inject some mysticism into your life.

Sometimes came across as the episode of an anime ("The adventures of Paprika, the secret agent of your dreams"), but the storyline certainly had the body of a full-length feature worth premiering and being part of the official competition at the Venice Biennale (of course, I'm sure it helps to be backed by Sony Pictures). The movie was a Canadian premiere at the Nouveau Cinema festival. Crowd was perhaps a bit less fanboy/girl than I'd expect, and a bit general cinephiles with eclectic tastes. You really had to look hard to know that this movie was going to be shown, b/c there's no mention of it in any of the news items on the fest that I've read. I suppose that it's simply b/c it isn't Fantasia.

(Probably noteworthy that Megumi Hayashibara does the main character of the movie...)

Paprika

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Blew me away.

(I updated the links since this was posted. They now point to the festival's official website. Already, I won't be able to see Invisible Waves or Peter Pan Formula, b/c of work. With one showing only, I think Paprika will indeed be a grab.)

- Paprika (Satoshi Kon).
- Invisible Waves (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang). Which is sort of interesting, b/c it has the same cast/crew than Last Life In The Universe.
- Tachigui : the amazing lives of the Fast-food grifters (Mamoru Oshii).
- Linda, Linda, Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita).
- I don’t want to sleep alone (Tsai Ming-liang). And I'm probably a masochist, if I go see this.
- The Peter Pan Formula (Chang-ho Cho).

Six ticks for $50 ($8.33 per tick, versus the $9 student rate, or $12 adult rate). Tickets on sale next Saturday.

Satoshi Kon's Paprika

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Yesterday, we talked about Perfect Blue, and how it was shown at one of the first Fantasia fests (1997, maybe). The new movie, Paprika is coming out at various film festivals, and I'd hope at Montreal's Nouveau Cinema. It looks great. I see images that look familiar after seeing Spirited Away (I venture a guess that it's all inspired from Japanese folk stories). Now, I feel like watching Paranoia Agent again, the only anime series I watched in its entirety.

Edit, one min later: zomg, yes, the definite programme is not even out yet, but according to this press release, Paprika is coming to Mtl! And also, the new Mamoru Oshii.

Tonight, by Radio-Canada's website, I was reminded that it was the Nouveau Cinema festival time of the year. I don't recall if I went last year... hmm, wait a second, yeah, I did (I went to see, um, Lie With Me - in 2004, it was the infamous Nine Songs, and also the FFVII "extended trailer").

In any case, I've never been to the second event, but the premise sounds interesting: a multimedia art competition + video games, and apparently "CD-ROM and DVD" too. I know that the SAT frequently organizes montages and exhibits, but it's always a tad intimidating. Du 13 au 15 octobre.

More notably, the Nouveau Cinema film festival. The website is not up yet, but at least *they* know where they're putting their money (in good looks - design for the Nouveau Cinema has always been superior, or at least more appealing to types like me). I've found something whilst doing URL guessing, but at this stage, it's still using last year's contents. 35th anniversary? Du 18 au 28 octobre.

FFM 2006: Taiyo no Uta

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Don't go see it. It reminded me of a review I read of Mizu no Onna (Woman of Water), that movie starring UA with Tadanobu Asano on the side, in which it described the movie as a moving image version of an idoru photobook. It was that which kept me annoyed from ten minutes into the movie down to the 120th or so minute that it took to end. At least I could fast-forward Mizu no Onna.

The love story had as much tension as congee, and the characters were so unbelievably plain and single-dimensioned. I don't know, but everything except the beautiful photography, annoyed the hell out of me. It's like a promotional video for YUI that people pay to see, but in the West, it passes for an art house film. I should have known better, b/c, seriously, it's not the first time.

Well, Kamakura was nice, and I even recognized quite a few places, like the beach, and the train station. It wasn't written anywhere that it was shot in Kamakura, and the director (who was present, b/c the movie is actually part of the first-time directors competition - he spoke English fluently) just pointed it out at the beginning of the film, so it was probably one of the plus point going towards the movie (YUI is cute, but her character, who's "determined to live", seriously lacks plausibility). Otherwise, a waste of my Macdonalds and time.

Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez

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Jeudi, 20h30, sur l'Esplanade de la Place des Arts. Be z'ere or be square'z.

FFM 2006: Daisy

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Met up with astrael for Daisy, a Korean flick by a HK director shot entirely in the Netherlands. Had this concept going since Fantasia that I'd talk about anything but the movie, b/c I don't trust in my movie critiquing skills - so far, I can say stuff such as "this movie lacks rhythm" or "yeah, it kinda does rip off that other film". So yeah.

Today was an extremely beautiful day. While I only probably sat my whole day indoors, it was really really nice, I thought, to be downtown for once (we have a new client, and they happen to have their offices downtown). I will probably take full days downtown - which seriously diversifies my work experience. All is so very positive.

And then the movie, that plays in normal Korean drama levels, even if I've never watched an actual single Korean drama. Some people sitting to our front right kept laughing at particularly indeed laughable scenes. A person even went talking on his/her cell phone during the freakin' movie. It was not bad... but if you've seen Infernal Affairs, and are familiar with Korean teargas films, then you've actually already seen Daisy. Jun Ji-hyun is very very plastic-surgically cute. After coming home and sitting down to write this, I think she and male protagonists were seriously hitting on my nerves, which can explain why I kept on grimacing near the end of the movie (it suffered from what Spielberg's A.I. notoriously suffered of, I think).

Go see it, b/c it's pan-Asian (Putonghua-speaking Netherlands-based gangsters!), and has pretty faces. Plays again, this Saturday (Imperial - 2:00PM) and Sunday (Quartier Latin - 12:20PM). And their website still sucks very much.

Notes: Movie score by Shigeru Umebayashi, of 2046 / In The Mood For Love. I believe it was a Canadian premiere.

FFM 2006 (1)

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Well well, one does see things better with a schedule in paper. I took down a number of films, including many of which are free screenings on the Place des Arts esplanade...

Zazie dans le Metro (France, 1960): I actually saw it in cegep, for the last class of our French literature course. It's based on Raymond Queneau's novel, and is delightfully 60s, feel-good and remarkably nonsensical. A lot of people I know would be pleased to discover this pearl of retro cinema. [Monday at 8:30PM, on the Esplanade]

Daisy (South Korea, 2006): But the cineast is HK-based, and is probably best remembered for Infernal Affairs, although I am told that he made quite a bunch of blockbusters. It's rather romantic, and is the story of a young woman in Amsterdam meeting two men attracted to her, but each respectively hiding something from her. Umm, so the action happens in the Netherlands, but the cast is all Asian? [Aug 25, 26 and 27]

Taiyo no Uta / Midnight Sun (Japan, 2006?): Sounds like one of those minor-ish Japanese films I've been putting under my belt at Fantasia, the FFM, and the Nouveau Cinema fest (and whatever other reason they show minorish Japanese films in Mtl). Another romantic filck - the story of a young woman with a rare skin disease that forces her to hide from the sun. She meets a boy student who will change her life, blabla. [Aug 31, Sept 2 and 3]

Les Filles Du Botaniste (France-Canada, 2006): Another Dai Sijie film. One probably knows him for Balzac and the Little Seamstress (with Zhou Xun casted as the seamstress). And I'm not sure whether to appreciate the intro to China, or despise the extremely romanticized of China for Westerners. 'Cause, you know, Dai Sijie is probably more famous in France, and the West than he'll ever be in China? At least, that seems to be the impression I'm getting, that he is not genuine Chinese, like Francois Cheng, and every other Chinese author writing in French (so, why is every Chinese author going to France? I connected the dots... Mao and the others studied in France, duh). But Les Filles Du Botaniste is probably more controversial b/c it's a story on lesbian love in communist China. And if you scan the FFM schedule looking for ambiguous / potential lesbian stories, you will find aplenty (but then, there are probably more than 100 films showing this year...).

À Bout De Souffle (France, 1959): La Nouvelle Vague. I am a fan of Wong Kar-Wai, but have failed to go watch what inspired him, and seen too many LJ icons to think of missing this chance. XD This one has J-P Belmondo, Jean Seberg, and is directed/written by Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, so I immediately assume it borders on the classic of classics. [Sept 2 (a Saturday), 10:30PM, Esplanade]

In The Mood For Love (HK, 2000): Ok, no comments. [Sept 1, 10:30PM, Esplanade]

FFM 2006

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Daisy - Korean flick by Andrew Lau of Infernal Affairs fame! I was surprised to see his name in the South Korea section, but eh. Three showings, all during this coming weekend. Part of the official competition, woaw.

(The website sucks so much that two days before the event, you still can't search for movies in English, and have to rely on hacking the urls from the French site...)

Sheesh, there's a bunch of them... So, tomorrow, I'll actually go fetch myself a schedule.

Ha-ha, I knew I would make that sort of mistake.

It said "Making" on the Yesasia page, and so it was a making-of DVD... I mean, who the fuck sells making-of DVD without the real movie nowadays. Well, the Japanese do!

So, I'm stuck with a Japanese-language-exclusive DVD of Funky Forest (Nice no Mori). Who wants it for, umm, $20 negotiable? :P

Actually, I am the stupid one, b/c I misunderstood (obviously) that the release date (2006/03/25) was for *cinemas*, not on DVD.

As far as I know, HK's window of time for cinema release to DVD release is about the quickest, with about a month and a half.

At least there's Durian Durian. My boss passed me a DVD of The Corporation.

... Re-actually, I really really don't know what I'm talking about, b/c this implies it came out before Aug 2005?

Proper film DVD is nowhere to be found.

Fantasia '06 (Re-Cycle)

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Can't help but spoilerize.

Hmm. Not a bad movie at all. In fact, if you come into the theatre w/o prior knowledge of the plot, besides, oh, it's got plenty of CG stuff, and it's about somehow exploring one's imagination, then you're really really up for a happy moment as soon as the ride begins. Approved.

Last Fantasia movie, unless they draw a bunny from their hats like it happened in past years. There is actually a decent-sounding last-minute addition (albeit diagonally read review), but clearly for students, and a limited number of students, as it is shown at friggin' 3PM tomorrow at JA De Seve. Yeah, and I'll probably catch a few ones at Cinema Du Parc before it closes down forever. Man, I've seen this cinema since I've been a young kid whose grandma lives nearby.

Mindless entertainment. Probably like The NeverEnding Story mixed with Godzilla, and crack. It is so appealing after a day spent outside doing stuff.

Actually quite familiar themes, if one has seen Miyazaki's movies (especially Mononoke Hime, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, Laputa or Nausicaa - the ones that are particularly nature-themed, not necessarily on growing up).

Fantasia '06: Sunday Seoul

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So, on Thursday, I added Sunday Seoul to my schedule, which is three short stories with recurrent non-crucial characters.

So, that makes it eight movies for this edition of Fantasia, which is probably the fewest between 2003, 2004 and this year. I think that the publicity campaign was really intense this year, as the festival celebrated its tenth year of existence. Many of the movies presented on the last evenings of the festival (i.e. this week) like Great Yokai War and Re-Cycle are sold-out (just b/c people don't normally plan for Fantasia until their friends actually start talking about it).

I usually only plan for Asian films. If I have the time (like during the last previous years), I would stray from what I consider the core of my selection plan, and go for movies from elsewhere. I remember getting a story of secret cult a la Da Vinci's Code movie from Spain, and a bunch of American film, like that stalker-ish movie where a guy would build himself a doll/girlfriend, or the short stories collection by a half Asian American who I forgot the name (it was called Robot Stories maybe).

meh (2)

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And so, I ordered the Funky Forest DVD. To get free shipping, I threw in a VCD of Fruit Chan's Durian Durian.

Fantasia '06 (intermission)

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I was going to say that The Maid was the best movie so far, but I can now say that I was far more entertained with Funky Forest (aka Nice no Mori, ナイスの森).

I have been trying to look for the soundtrack, but I can't parse Japanese, and I don't feel like doing clever searches with kanjis. The cute song sang in Chinese really really sticks to me. The electro too, but the cute Chinese song really really really sticks. It's got elements of Jamaican/Hawaiian music, with Chinese vocals. Bao zhe ni, something like that. Download the trailer, or let the webpage role for a while, and the song will be played in full. (It's 'qing qing bao bao ni')

I think I'm buying the DVD - in my Yesasia cart. Will decide tomorrow, when in a diff state of mind. Now I can't think straight anymore.

Hot and humid days make me nostalgic, obviously. Is not at all unpleasant, after you had been immunized with S'pore weather carrying a 50lbs backpack and eating full of "yeet-hei" inducing fruits.

Kamikaze Girls, first Fantasia film presented outdoors. It played last year at Fantasia, and came out in select cinemas in HK where I had so much free time in June that I should've gone to see it. I don't know why I never. It must be the 104th time I recount this personal anecdote on Kamikaze Girls.

The normal hang-outers of the Parc de la Paix must have been baffled with the presentation of this feature full of Japanese subculture, and shown in original dub (with subtitles). One must understand that Parc de la Paix, right outside of the SAT, is at the border between Chinatown and red-light district Montreal PQ, where skateborders, homeless folks like to hang out (and just two blocks away from where the Just For Laughs festival was going on strong, with peeps lining up around the corner for the Club Soda). Quite unexpected to have a Japanese movie, and such Japanese movie shown in open air like this. I am wordless, except for the occasional motorcycles vrooming around the block at exactly the same time when the in-movie-characters jumped on their scooters, fought with baddies. XD (And tomorrow, wut, they're showing Goldorak eps?)

Fantasia '06: Funky Forest

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(petronia: I didn't see you after the movie. What I needed to give back was Jae's DVD. Give me a call if you're around. I'm going to the free viewing at Parc de la Paix, 9PM.)

One of the most fucked up movies ever seen at Fantasia (it's a series of nonsensical sketches - including a 2:30min "intermission", for a movie that was actually quite long - 150mins). Of course, for a Fantasia movie to be fucked, it really needs to be fucked up. Pour la suite des choses had an interview with Marc Lamothe of Fantasia (I think I recognize him as the articulate diction dude who does intros and appeases the crowd when shit happens). He kept on interrupting the host, but still interesting. Really, the morning show at R-C is now just La Revanche des Nerdz in disguise. Don't know how I'll cope when the 50-something host comes back in the Fall.

Cinema du Parc...

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In the lineage of silly HK flicks, A Chinese Tall Story is the latest to score at Fantasia. Two years ago, there was another film called "Fantasia", which featured possessed chopsticks (played by the Twins), big green monsters related to Andy Lau, etc. Now I am missing more than half the references, caught that it made fun of Independence Day, Return of the King, and Star Wars, not to mention Spiderman, along the mish-mash of Chinese legends, and a particular HK flick that we cinema snobs like so much. Whether it was good... was Scary Movie good? ... You got your answer. XD

The computer-generated stuff is worth mentionning. There's a trend for cheap CG in HK cinema, as of late, exemplified for instance in Fantasia, or more well-known in the two most recent Stephen Chow offerings Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. It's bad, everyone watching those movies knows that. Last year, they also made a human/CG children's hybrid with characters recycled from a lost and found devel matrix of A Bug's Story. Plenty of examples to mention - just that in Western cinema, the effects are so much more well-done, that it is to wonder whether in Asia it's how it is because of low budget, or because it's just the way things are to blur the line between cartoonesque and reality. In Japan, I assume they have budgets, and they still do it.

(The Love HK Film Review)

And why is Joe Hisaishi behind the soundtrack of that sillyness of a film?

Fantasia '06: The Maid

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Singapore. Ah.

The action was happening in a house like this, oh so traditional Singapore/Southeast peninsula colonial arch. On the morning I had to catch my flight, I left my things in the lobby of the youth hostel on Joo Chiat and took a walk around Katong. Would not be surprised if the movie was actually shot in that neighborhood. I haven't been to other quarters of the city, but it would seem that many of the new areas are instead populated with square concrete residential towers that are made to house a lot of people (also shown in the movie).

I read an interview with Alessandra De Rossi, but can't figure out where. I need to find out in my newspaper archives. Maybe in the Straits Times. Vaguely, I recall reading something about maids, or someone talking about maids coming from abroad to provide much-needed help to families. It's a part of the culture over there (whether it's exclusively a Chinese practice, I don't know) to employ domestic helpers from the Philippines, Indonesia, most predominantly. You give away part of your salary to an extra hand, and spend more time at the office, etc. There is a Filipina lady who does the cleaning at our home with us, and who came to Canada with the family who employed her in Hong Kong. She worked for them for a while, and then moved on (got married, I think, but I never exactly asked) to do other things.

The Maid is an extremely recommendable (for the Singapore sightseeing too), and it plays again tomorrow (Sunday, July 9th) at 5:20PM in JA De Seve.

Fantasia '06: Tokyo Zombie

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Fantasia came a long way on the road of respectability. Its programme for the first few years were so plenty of English/French mistakes in translation that some free weeklies were mischievous enough to publish a Top 10 lists in within their pages. XD

Once, I went to see the Cowboy Bebop feature, and the movie just stopped for a few minutes at the exact moment when the monorail derails and the bad guy confronts and shoots Spike Spiegel, who falls in the water. Tonight, they did not have a 35mm version of the film, so instead used the DVD, but mislabelled the DVDs, causing us to watch up to fifteen minutes of another Japanese feature, God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand, a movie that I was hesitating to see at the benefit of seeing Funky Forest (so between creepy horror flick and bizarre comedy, I went for the latter). Noone actually reacted, until a few seconds upon seeing the other movie's title appear. I thought it might've been a long trailer, but it made sense up to then, if one didn't know Tokyo Zombie, the manga, with the salaryman during the first minute or looking quite like a faux-zombie.

After a few minutes (with the fifteen minutes of the film shown - enough time to rush to the nearest videostore to rent the movies' DVD, hah!), the film was shown, and the audience given its warm milk: an hour and a half of sliced heads and martial arts and blood and gore (so, not different from Seven Swords yesterday XD).

Fantasia '06: Seven Swords

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On Thursday night, after the movie finished (a 150 minutes marathon), I jogged to Guy-Concordia metro, and near the gates, upon hearing the arriving metro, sprinted down the escalator, and entered the metro wagon head-first (the doors closed three to five seconds later). All this jogging does indeed pay off. XD I then catched the 211 by one minute, and my father graciously picked me up at the stop of the second bus (which was done for the day, as it was 1AM when I got to Beaconsfield).

There were only a handful of late movies I saw at Fantasia, non-car situation and suburban place of residency obliges. A notable film that finished well into midnight was The Eye, the 2002 hit that was premiered in Montreal at Fantasia '03, and, if I remember correctly, had only one showing during the whole festival.

It was pretty full, but far from being a full house. I remember having to squeeze between full rows of people in the middle top section. I sort of expect commercial HK movies to be fuller than usual, b/c, not only do they draw usual Fantasia fans, but they also draw people like me five years ago, who would go to Fantasia only for the occasional commercial Asian film. Similarly, I believe that My Sassy Girl @ Fantasia '03 was quite a hit too for non-genre Fantasia viewers (now, I'm having a doubt: did I dl it, or did I actually go to the theatre room, or both?).

My first Fantasia movie was in 1999, and an old Stephen Chow film. The HK flicks remain my favourite, and annual must-see. If I had been around last year, I would've certainly seen One Nite In Mongkok and Breaking News. So basically, Seven Swords did not escape that rule.

Fantasia '06: First batch

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Seven Swords, Jeudi 6 juillet, 9:30
Tokyo Zombie, Vendredi 7 juillet, 7:20
The Maid, Samedi 8 juillet, 5:10
A Chinese Tall Story, Dimanche 9 juillet, 4:45
Funky Forest, Jeudi 13 juillet, 7:20
The Great Yokai War, Samedi 22 juillet, 7:30
Re-Cycle, Dimanche 23 juillet, 7:00

We'll see if I can take more...

Thursday: Seven Swords (might catch the creepy-looking Brit film in order to kill time until 9:30, if schedule allows even one movie *at all*)
Friday: Tokyo Zombie (wanted to double-header it, with the Korean gangster flick "A Bittersweet Life")
Saturday: The Maid
Sunday: A Chinese Tall Story

So, the story behind Seven Swords was that it was totally everywhere on one the last weeks I was in HK. I'm not sure what happened, but while I had time to see things as insignificant as Howl's Moving Castle BEFORE ANYONE IN MONTREAL (and not dubbed), Eros (which I looked for for years after it was said to have had a private showing at Cannes - and which was finally released in Asia, maybe NA but I didn't care), and, err, the Wayward Cloud (gratuitous hardcore sometimes-mature pr0n with finish, and interspersed with 60s/70s cheesy lip-sync musical performances - it was Tsai Ming-liang, and there I go, absolved). Basically, I didn't see Seven Swords, and now I itch to see it, even if my friend thinks it's the worse movie of the year. I read an interview in the Sunday Morning Post Magazine with the three of the ladies in the film, Charlie Yeung, Kim So-yeon, and Zhang Jingchu. I believe the reviews were mixed, but nonetheless, it was big, and had big names. Since the Chinese program for this Fantasia is so thin, why not throw away $7.50 plus the price of popcorn?

Then, there's Tokyo Zombie, with Tadanobu Asano, Chara's husband, blabla. The poster looks interesting, and we're sort of intrigued by weird-looking movies (near future, wig, manga-based). There seems to be a trend going on with zombies this year. (I am likely to miss Death Trance, which appears to be the same actor as in Verses, that crazy crazy zombie 'n yakuza movie that played at Golitzinsky's party at Greek Easter '04.

The Maid: Singaporean movie. There was an interview with actress Alessandra De Rossi when the movie came out, either in a HK or S'pore paper. And so it's a Singapore movie - I'm really fond of Singapore, and it's worth every nostalgia-inducing cent.

A Chinese Tall Story: It's going to be cheese! It's got Charlene Choi of the Twins in it. And, while he's no Ekin Cheng, it also has the rarely-appearing Nicolas Tse. Must be noted that I'm going to be missing the World Cup final. >_>

Fantasia '06

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So I saw some posters in the metro, and it was today that the program was announced and that the site went up. Did not have the time to check up on schedule, but will likely write a preview of movies I want to see, like in previous years. Despite what I thought, the '04 preview is not a preview, and the '03 one (which I know for sure is in the '05 format) went down with its container. To be continued...

Went to see Chinese Restaurants: Three Continents, the third of five films where the producer/director Cheuk Kwan goes around the world and recounts the lives of Chinese diaspora members from the perspective of the restaurants they own. In every city, little town out of nowhere, there is a Chinese restaurant. Mr Kwan, an engineer by training, left his job ("mid-life crisis") to focus on his project, which took him to fifteen different countries.

The three countries featured in this film were Madagascar, Norway and Canada. I was particularly interested in the Madagascar one, because my dad was born there and grew up there. Many of the familiar places my father told me about are described in the episode, the very long staircase going up the hill in Tananarive and which my dad escalated twice every schoolday, and a Chinese school opened by Chinese business people (it could've been the one my grandpa helped funding - but then the one in the movie was built in the 40s).

And the colourful Jim Chow from Outlook, SK, Canada, had one of the most interesting answers when asked whether he considered himself Chinese or Canadian: "I am myself". And my own "myself" is probably in a constant state of flux, with varying amounts of pull and push, of resisting, of letting go.

A heck of a series, and if I had $100 to fork out for the DVD set, I would (if it were just half of this, I definitely would - hey, it has it all: diasporic identity, immigration stories, Chinese food - from that-which-fools-gweilo and fusion flavours!). Available at the NFB centre on St-Denis x Ste-Cath in Montreal (first time I go there - and it basically has a couple of screening rooms almost as large as Ex-Centris' smallest, and half a floor with multimedia viewing stations, and that cool robotic film selection thing).

Wong Kar-wai jewels

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Had a nth rewatch of Chungking Express last night. This time without the subtitles, since by now I know the story by heart, I can pretend to understand Takeshi Kaneshiro's bits of monologue in Mandarin. I guess that this time, I really made an effort to see all the inconsistencies that were so apparent from the fact that the movie was shot in about less than a month in the middle of shooting another movie (a wkw thing - see In The Mood For Love), like the chef pretending to cut an apple, people obviously not extras looking into the camera, and the *up* the mid-levels escalator to get to the airport ('cause, as far as I know, to get to the old Kai Tak airport from mid-levels, you take the MTR at Central or a taxi, but down the stairs). Chungking Express is by far the favourite of all wkw movies, b/c it is so feel-good and populated with delusional characters. The critics here mostly remember In The Mood For Love, and as far as I was concerned, it would seem that the foreign press just shrugged off 2046 (maybe it was because I wasn't "here" for the whole time 2046 was up and running).

And since I had so much time between ridding our stairs of its carpet (all the nails and staples...) and doing nothing at all, I also went for a re-watch of 2046 on Monday.

Smething I can't fully realize is that CE is alredy 10 years old (12 years old, if you take into account that it was shot in 1994). HK didn't change very much - eventually, I made the link between the mid-levels escalator and the old police station in Central, and pinpointed the location of agent 633's (663?) flat, which I think now houses a Pacific Coffee on the ground floor.

I was told by relatives that 2046 was partly shot in Causeway Bay, in a flat near Lee Gardens, where the minibuses stop. That's probably unverifiable; unlike in CE, nothing currently existing is shown in 2046. As I watch 2046, I also get it more as a well-grounded movie. From reviews, and previews, I was expecting some sort of very unreal film like Fallen Angels (cold-blooded shootings out of nothing in small sleazy HK eateries...), but that wasn't it at all. Except for Chow Mo-wan's realizations at the end that were open and obscure (as you would want to be, for sake of preciousness), it was a quite normal, err, succession of sexloverelationships, where all the restraint found in In The Mood For Love suddenly gets loose in a fiesta of colors.

It's also interesting how wkw managed his cut with Takuya Kimura having left the set midway through the century-long shooting. Having Tony Leung voiceover repeated shots of Faye+Takuya while pretending to be her Japanese boyfriend, clever! Could wkw even have not "planned", if there's such thing as artistic planning in wkw's work, the late Faye-Tony flirt?

A film review on The Hand.

(While I bought the DVD of Chungking Express in HK (at HMV, shame on me), it would seem to be the American release, which is slightly different from the VCD HK version - there are deleted scenes added back in the American version, notably a longer sequence in the drug-hiding operation at the beginning of the movie.)

Stumbled on an "Asian Heritage Month Across Canada" info website from a related news post off Angry Asian Man, and found out there were going to be activities in every major Canadian city regarding it during the whole month of May.

In Montreal, the program [pdf] includes a multimedia exhibit at the Salle SAT, a photo exhibition in the Plateau, and, man, the premiere of a film by Canadian-Chinese film director Cheuk Kwan called Chinese Restaurants (in fact a series)!

(I might've participated to an Accès Asie activity, almost ten years ago, when starting college. It's a different perspective in life when you start thinking back to things you have done "Ten Years Ago".)

North American Asian movies

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One fourth into Banana Boys, a novel by Terry Woo on five Canadian-Chinese youths growing up. It is such an easy read: perhaps not the most well-written thing of all times, but the premise hits home, and the switching between points of view is an interesting literary device. Will be available for borrowing within a week's time, I think.

Isn't The Joy Luck Club such a hated movie. I saw the movie when it came out (I was 13). What I remembered the clearest from that movie was the portrayal of the Asian male player (the watermelon carving scene) and that of the unsensitive traditional Asian male (who was subsequently divorced by one of the young female protagonists). I either felt attacked in the portrayal of Asian males (we aren't paternalistically dominant in-that-way starting from my father's generation, but what society hasn't gone through an age of socio-economic austerity combined to patriarchal dominance? I tend to think that the first leads to the second - and am frequently told of China's Tang dynasty was a flourishing era for arts and gender-wise emancipation), or retained the idea that it was generally bad to be an paternalistic traditional asshole, therefore must be nice and thoughtful (and whether that is how Cedric really appears in RL is another barrel of oats), and that (et ce), even before ever hearing the assertive Banana let's-break-stereotypes (and bash on The Joy Luck Club, ironically written by a Chinese author, Amy Tan) argumentation.

What I really wanted to point out, were movies *worth* watching, and which I haven't had the chance to watch, or missed the chance to watch when they were actually in theatres. The first one is Better Luck Tomorrow, which came out in accessible and cheap cinemas in Montreal (Eaton Centre!) during the winter of 2003. John Cho, of Harold & Kumar fame (another movie that a certain friend of mine has), stars in that movie, telling the story of four young Asian males going from scam to scam until they reach the point of no return. It sounded like a hell of a movie, and a story that, as the director Justin Lin was saying, could've been told with non-Asian kids as well.

The other movie is Eve and the Fire Horse (corrected), a movie that was shown at Sundance this year, and which told the story of two sisters growing up in the suburbs of Vancouver in the 70s. I just hope it gets at least a local release in Canadian markets...

Another one would probably be Saving Face.

More suggestions? (Please don't say Charlie's Angel, or Shanghai Noon...)

Crash

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In the midst of all this racism-related talk, my brother and girlfriend and friend rented Crash, which we finished watching just now. Definitely a topic more fundamental to treat of. Forbidden loves can wait.

Saving Face

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My brother and his girlfriend wanted to see Chinese lezzies on the big screen, so bought Saving Face off eBay. :D:D It's The Joy Luck Club on crack. :D:D

On a sader note, it's the second gay movie in a month and half that makes me go -> T_T So, I'll be curling up until 3PM (start time of Habs vs Flyers).

The SCMP ran an interview with Alice Wu, the director of Saving Face, when the movie came out in Asia last Spring (not sure, but it wasn't when it came out at Sundance, since that's in January...), and it left a mark on me. Stirred things up wrt my belief (perhaps void on the topic?) that 'Chinese values' == 'Chinese traditional values'. There's a world of differences, and I'm losing face just saying it, I feel. No, probably we feel it's an 'Asian/Chinese thing' to live at home until we marry (sigh) b/c it's the Asian/Chinese tradition to do so. But hello! Mentalities are evolving in China too! (Who's the father of the widowed mother's unborn baby!?) The director thinks that Overseas Chinese might feel the need to preserve their cultural identity - but they do so by preserving values that date of half-a-century (or the time at which they emigrated), while the country they left, and the one which welcomed them, evolved with time. I feel like I'm stating the obvious, now that I'm enlightened. But thoughts in the comments box are welcomed.

In any case, the movie was not about gayness, even if the director is gay, but was more a Moliere-ish (in the denouement) satire of traditional Chinese values in America (half the dialogues are in Mandarin!). A comedy with miles to go at my house parties, if I can hold on to it, b/c bro-Dave's Mel's parents (and my parents, heck), and flist alike, want it.

(I'm on crack. The movie's not on lesbians, not on Chinese, it's on LOVE, stupid. Everyone's just looking for LOVE. In any case, just read the director's note.)

Hey! Fun fact! Will Smith, the ID4-MIB-Will-Smith, is one of the co-producers of this movie.

Brokeback Mountain

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What a depressing film. Blah.

Other notes about the movie, or relating to it... The languages I can speak proficiently don't follow the same order as the languages I've learnt during my life. Cantonese was the first thing I "spoke", then I went to preschool in English, before doing the rest of my schooling, 5 til 18, in French (and university in English). And for one thing, midwest accents sound like total gibberish to me, probably just like Le Français des Cités sounds like gibberish to those semi-bilingual Montreal Anglos (who can write, read, but will miss a few there when you slang it up in everyday talk). And the "English" of the American Heartland must work very hard before it registered. And how does an Australian actor manages to pull it off so seemingly authentically... (Do you just mumble instead of speaking?)

Lie With Me

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I cut through working hours to go see Lie with Me, one of those artistic porn flicks you might want to see to rinse your eyes on what hot-looking people do during their free times. In the end, it was quite stupid, and totally simplistic, happy-ending whatever. So much appeal in the feminity/masculinity contrast though, that I don't get why people like yaoi so much. That is all for today.

大事件 (Breaking News)

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Woaw! Better than the usual HK crap I thought it'd be (besides the out-of-sync "dialogues" over the phone). And I also understand the extent of my incompetence in both Cantonese and Putonghua. T_T (A pirated DVD picked up in Toronto, and the pirates did it w/o subs in the original channel only, talk about cheap quality, pff)

Currently watching:
chungking.express.jpg

The first time I saw Chungking Express was in Spring of 2001. It's hard to name one single favourite movie, but if I had a gun pointed at my head, I'd go for Chungking Express anytime.

I haven't seen it for at least a year. The last time must've been after the exams period in December 2002 or in April 2003... Woaw, that's been a while. But I meant to catch this fabulous two-for-one deal again. It's hard to describe what the movie is about, but a good start would be on Google. A lot of the why I like it involves the character played by Faye Wong. The other ingredient is probably Hong Kong. Whether there's something I liked from the movie that I wanted to find in Hong Kong too? Well... I'm not sure. For one thing, besides the old Kai Tak Airport and the Chungking Mansions, I think I know where Agent 633's (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) flat is.

hong.kong.old.police.station.jpg

Facing the old police station (see picture above), because of what seems to be the Central/Mid-Levels Escalator. That'd be in the middle of Soho, probably something like corner of Hollywood Road and Old Bailey Street... I doubt a policeman can really rent that. So yeah.

Tony Takitani

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As soon as I found out about this movie Tony Takitani based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, I decided I was going to find some time and money to return to the movie theatre. It's not affordable to go to the cinema, when the cost of the reproduction is typically so cheap. 正版VCD are in average 20HKD, and 40 for current releases. Regular DVDs are twice that price.

The movie soundtrack is a succession of soft piano solos, remindful of that played (only) during the sad moments of Amelie. The Murakami-esque elements? Tony Takitani's father is a jazz musician. The female protagonist has a strange obsession with buying clothes (but then is it really that strange, asks the author tongue-in-cheek).

The cinema room was almost full (in HK, you select the seat when you buy the tickets, like when you attend a play), and it felt kind of cool to be in a room full of potential Murakami fans, or just of strange Japanese cinema...

hong.kong.sogo.faye.poster.jpg
Unrelated. Later that night, after taking the MTR, I walked near the Sogo intersection in Causeway Bay to get to the McDonald's (Double Cheeseburgers are on special at 8HKD since the beginning of this month). Also, to be noted, a poster is on the exterior of Sogo since the beginning of June where Faye Wong promotes a skincare product (the month before, right across, Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung was also promoting a skincare product ^^;).

Out of curiosity, I went to check the schedule for FanTasia 2005, one of the foremost movie festivals, themed about Asian and Horror/Fantastic films (thus the name, duh). Of course I checked the HK column (and the Japanese/Korean/rest too), but eh, no recent releases, nor those I'd expect, like last year's Koma, or The Eye 10... There were:

  • Breaking News: I saw the VCD at the shop last week, but I instead went to see Infernal Affairs at UA Pacific Place, as they are showing the Top 10 all-time movies (shoot, it's in Chinese only...) (Some English-language press release).
  • One Nite in Mongkok: Apparently, Mong Kok is not that scary anymore after they built the Langham Place shopping mall in the middle of this young shopping district. A news report I read had security staff of the Langham Place scout the surroundings with policemen to contribute to public security. Eh? If you are looking for seedy areas, there are plenty of them on the Kowloon side (the Western part of HK Island where I live and hang out is pretty asceptisized in constrast). It has both Daniel Wu and Alex Fong, so teen girls will like this one.
  • Love Battlefield: Never heard of that movie, but I bet Faye Wong's song of the same name is on the soundtrack. Anyways, it stars Eason Chan, a well-known rocker/cantopopper who I hear is pretty angsty and rebellious. And down the list, you will also see "Carl Ng". So there were two presentations of Karen Mok's show. On Friday we had Andy Lau performing some of his songs in duet with Karen Mok. On Saturday, they had this Carl Ng performing the same act. But he doesn't sing, and all he does is dance and look pretty. Which is what he does for a living anyways, archetypical male model, plastic face, so metrosexual he *almost* looks like a Westerner...
  • Three... Extremes: Saw the VCD at the store and was sure it was going to be in FanTasia! I thought it was Leon Lai on the cover, but he doesn't act in those kinds of movies (it was Tony Leung Ka-Fai - the "other" Tony Leung). No, instead he plays in romantic flicks with Faye Wong and the rest of them, or in stuff like Fallen Angels, which is out of stock and not reprinted and only sells to Westerners on VCD for about 150HKD (that's 25CAD my dears).
  • Jewel in the Palace: Noooooooo! 大長金, or roughly, really roughly, translated to "Jewel In The Palace", is the most hit Korean TV drama in HK this year (perhaps the rest of Asia, but I didn't ask). The series finale was in April, the month I arrived in HK, and you had shopping malls emptying up on a freaking Sunday evening (despite the management showing the episode on large projection screens). No idea why it's playing at FanTasia, besides being an attempt to woo Asians who don't exactly like horror flicks. And gosh, it's being played on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in a "condensed version of three hours each"...
  • One Missed Call 2: I failed to go see that one, just because it's the sequel of a teen horror flick?
  • Kamikaze Girls: Kamikaze Girls was playing at the Broadway Cinematheque, and might still be. I should go see that one, if not for its Fabuleux Desting d'Amelie Poulain feel, at least for Kyoko Fukada?

2046

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2046 in Montreal? Hah! Google has no clue, but I already bought the DVD (for a relatively hefty 80HKD or ~14CAD) and will bring it back with me to Mtl. I saw it on Saturday, so it's really a sequel to In The Mood For Love, where Chow Mo Wan goes completely wacko. Some reaction I can feel for, for the very least. I thought it was to be a futuristic movie, but it wasn't as "fantastic" as I wanted to expect it to be. Very well-grounded in the Hong Kong of the Sixties (the one I dream to travel to someday), with the few references to 2046 in Chow Mo-Wan's head and novels, as he searches for Su Li-Zhen. Really, really, really the sort of romantic shit I'd eat every day (since there's no other reason why I like Chungking Express so much - speaking of which, I haven't even done the WKW-fan hypothetical walk around town - and wtf, I don't even realize I'm in Dreamland?).

Eros

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I went to see Eros, particularly for the segment by Wong Kar-Wai, played by Gong Li and Chang Chen. A movie about love, lust, erotism, obviously. Three short movies of 30-45 minutes on the theme of seduction and sensual pleasures, and kind of very depressing when you go by your own. But it's for the intellectual value of the experience.

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