Je T’ aime, Lydia. HKFA. Ichikawa

News are mostly by nature bad. Today, Lydia Sum, affectionately known to us who grew up with her as Fei Fei (“fat fat”), passed away. Who could forget her laughters, the joy that she brought to the TV screens? This follows the news of the death of Kon Ichikawa. Amid the news of so many deaths happening all around the world, the screwed up weather in China, Darfur, bird flu in Jakarta, etc. one wonders in what kind of world we are living in. The fact is, ironically, people have been dying all these while. Disasters happen. It is just that the digital age has enabled the distribution of news more widely and rapidly. Because of this, we feel that “there is so many bad news”. There are bad news in older times too, just that those didn’t reach us. Now that I have subscribed to the Malaysia Kini and The Star SMS news alert, my SMS has been going off every other hour, sometime every other minute.

I don’t think I really need so many news.

PARIS JE T’AIME is going up in the GSC International Screens soon and this will be followed by the Iranian Film Festival. It is a good thing that we at least have international screens although the fact is that it pales in embarrassing comparison to say, Singapore or Hong Kong or even now Indonesia. The Blitz network of cineplexes in Jakarta is doing a pretty good job at bringing a more diversified movie experience to the citizens there. In Fact, PARIS JE T’AIME was shown there last year and of course the DVD of the movie is everywhere. One wonders what GSC is thinking releasing the movie so late, PLUS the fact that they have completely missed the Valentine’s day promotion opportunities.

I love the movie which comprises of 18 shorts about love in Paris. Each one of them is very well made and shows a different aspect of love. It reminded me of my trip to Paris and it made me yearn to return to that city. My favourites among the 18 shorts are Quais de Seine, Bastille, Parc Monceau, Place des fêtes, and 14e arrondissement.

Re the Hong Kong Film Awards, someone asked me on how I would rank the 5 nominated films. Well, here it is in order of preference:

1. MAD DETECTIVE
2. THE WARLORDS
3. PROTEGE
4. THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT
5. EYE IN THE SKY

Re MAD DETECTIVE, yes I am aware that there isn’t really much of a story in the movie and the style is stale from an overdose of recent Johnnie To movies but I really thought that the idea of showing the different personalities very smart, especially so having different actors acting out the different personalities. There are cool moments like 7 guys walking down the same path and funny moments when all of them are cramped in the car. The execution is great and I love the whole look and feel of the movie.

However, I do feel that THE WARLORDS is a better made movie on all fronts, from the story (which was based on history, anyways) to the acting, art direction, camera works, CG, etc. Everything seemed perfect and I watched this movie 3 times in the cinema. I liked it that much. But ultimately, it is a huge budget movie with stellar stars and talent behind them. Hey, they are supposed to deliver, no? But did they exceed expectations? For me, it exceeded a bit, but did not really far exceed. It also did not excite me as much as MAD DETECTIVE.

PROTEGE was stored long behind in my memory but several scenes stuck in my mind for a very long time. I remember it as a very good movie, with great performances from the stars, especially from Zhang Jingchu. The story idea is quite fresh and found some “copycat” in AMERICAN GANGSTER, and personally I felt it was better executed in PROTEGE (am referring to the personal drug farm tour and drug making process etc). There are some flaws here and there – some relationships doesn’t really make sense, some overacting especially from Louis Koo but in general, it is a good movie.

THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT – perhaps the greatest bad about this movie is that it is promoted as a comedy, from the trailers to key art but is in fact a damn hardcore drama. Beautiful art direction although do not look very fresh to me – countless directors have played with colours, say Wisit Sasanatieng, Yon Fan, etc. – but I have great admiration for the acting of Siqin Gaowa and Chow Yun Fat. There isn’t much story except that it tells of the life of an aunt, a good aunt but got cheated over and over again and when the credit rolls, I feel that my heart was so heavy, I didn’t feel like eating.

EYE IN THE SKY, I went to watch this movie with very high expectations and when it started, I remembered I was glued to the screen. The pacing was great and the screenplay very good. However, as the film progresses, it loses steam and starts to become rather predictable and for us who is on a heavy diet of Johnnie To’s films, it started to feel that this is not it. Of course it is not! It is not a Johnnie To film although is produced by him but is a directorial debut of his longtime writer. So the story felt like a Johnnie To film but the visuals does not correspond. It is a weird feeling and although a good movie with a strong screenplay, will have to give this a pass.

Next up, the Oscars! Coming next Monday, I have seen all the nominated best films except for THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Hopefully can watch it in the next few days, then will comment on it. So far, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is my running favourite.

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