得闲炒饭 | All About Love

All About Love

A sharp and funny exploration of the complex world of adult relationships, All About Love takes a rare look at the lives of queer women and their specific challenges when it comes to creating a family. Known for her cleverly observed societal dramas, Ann Hui is one of Hong Kong’s most respected filmmakers. Here, she balances the serious themes of motherhood, sexuality and discrimination – topics rarely addressed in Hong Kong cinema – with wit, humour and compassion. Macy, a bisexual lawyer with a fear of commitment, is frustrated by the judgemental attitudes of lesbians, but wants to get back in the female dating game. Urged by her good friends and their life partners to settle down, Macy runs into Anita, an ex-girlfriend who is pregnant after a one-night stand with Mike. Macy, who is also unexpectedly pregnant with her neighbour Robert, rekindles her romance with Anita, but her fear of commitment threatens to derail their plans to start a family together. Anita is devastated when her co-workers ostracize her after discovering that she’ll be a single mother, and this intensifies her thoughts of giving up the baby. Chow, who returns to the big screen after a fourteen year absence, is radiant as Anita, developing irresistible chemistry with Sandra Ng, who brings her great comic and dramatic timing to her performance. While All About Love is structured as a commercial romantic comedy, its themes are radical in scope. By presenting queer relationships as the norm and deconstructing the idea of a nuclear family, Hui has expertly crafted a film that dispels stereotypes on what constitutes a family. Hong Kong, for all its modernity is, at its core, still extremely conservative and traditional in terms of gender roles and family values, with no civil rights for same-sex couples. Hui subtly challenges such ideas and reminds the audience that the most important aspects of any relationship are not gender and convention, but love and commitment.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, Vivian Chow, William Chan Wai-Ting, Siu-Fai Cheung, Jo Kuk | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

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复仇 | Vengeance

Vengeance

What is vengeance if you can’t remember who it is you’re avenging? Isn’t memory what vengeance is all about? Vengeance is always personal, and usually results in at least a few more deaths than originally intended, many of them more than a little mordantly ironic. That’s part of what makes a revenge thriller thrilling, and Johnnie To’s terrific, slow-burn triad actioner Vengeance, adds a memory glitch to those thrills. Vengeance is a rich, fragrant reduction of To’s favorite themes (male bonding and codes of loyalty, the triad underworld, vengeance) trademarks (slow-motion clouds of blood, unforgettable set-pieces, impossibly sleek cinematography, brooding men, black humor) and actors. One splendid difference: Vengeance stars French actor and singer Johnny Hallyday (adding a nice tip of the chapeau to the French noirs of the ‘60s, when Hallyday had his rock and roll heyday). Hallyday plays François Costello, a Parisian restaurant owner who is in Macau at the request of his daughter—to avenge a savage attack on her family. Costello crosses paths with a crack team of triad hit men, whom he then hires to carry out his own revenge plan—a plan growing increasingly hazy due to his deteriorating memory. The craggy, lived-in face of Hallyday is as riveting as To’s mad scenes of mayhem, which include a fierce nighttime shootout as clouds pass over the full moon and—shootouts being To’s stock in trade—an epic battle in a junkyard that has to be seen to be believed. Vengeance, indeed, is a dish best served by Johnnie To.

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ka Tung Lam, Simon Yam, Suet Lam | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Oldenburg Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival

神探 | Mad Detective

Mad Detective

2007’s largest grossing film at the Hong Kong box office – Mad Detective – is one of the freshest and most satisfying films from that country in a decade. The traditional Hong Kong police film is turned on its head: the imaginative twist being our hero – Detective Bun – who has the ability to ‘see’ people’s inner personalities or “hidden ghosts”. Breaking new ground and establishing new cinematic rules, Johnnie To’s latest giddily entertaining collaboration with Wai Ka Fai radically raises the level of storytelling in modern film. Detective Bun was recognised as a talented criminal profiler until he sliced off his right ear to offer as a gift at his chief’s farewell party. Branded as ‘mad’ and discharged from the force, he has lived in seclusion with his beloved wife May ever since. Strangely, Bun has the ability to ‘see’ a person’s inner personality, their subconscious desires, emotions, and mental state. When a missing police gun is linked to several heists and murders, hotshot Inspector Ho calls on the valuable skills of his former mentor Bun to help unlock the killer’s identity. However, Bun’s unorthodox methods point to a fellow detective and take a schizophrenic turn for the worse…

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Ching Wan Lau, Andy On, Ka Tung Lam, Kelly Lin, Kwok-Lun Lee | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, Maine Film Festival

细路祥 | Little Cheung

Little Cheung

A nine-year old boy confronts the heady complexities of the adult world, its violence, guilt and loss, with comic and tragic consequences. After school, Little Cheung helps out in his father’s restaurant, working in the kitchen and delivering food to neighbourhood gambling dens, funeral parlours and brothels. He is cute, well-liked, always handsomely tipped. Little Cheung’s father hides a warm heart beneath a cold, hard shell. His mother looks after business, whilst his house-bound grandmother, silent but loving, nurses a secret sorrow. His older brother was lost to the gangland underworld years ago. Little Cheung befriends Fan, a street-smart girl his age and together they run a strange delivery business with the local mafia. Cheung splits the commission with her and steals cakes from his father’s restaurant. He is brutally punished by his father and runs away on his grandmother’s birthday. Fan reveals his hiding place, then disappears. Uneasily reunited with his family, from the balcony where Grandma always sat, he sees Fan in the street. Little Cheung runs to greet her, but their reunion is short-lived. Fan and her family are arrested and hauled into a police van. Illegal immigrants, they will be deported to Mainland China. Little Cheung is alone.

Directed by Fruit Chan | Starring : Yuet-Ming Yiu, Wai-Fan Mak, Yuet-Man Mak, Robby Cheung, Gary Lai | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, London Film Festival, Gijón Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival

心动 | Tempting Heart

Tempting Heart

Modern-day director Cheryl sets out to tell a tale of teen love that fizzled and was then reignited in adulthood. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Gigi Leung Wing-Kei are the on-and-off-again lovers. Their relationship begins in high school in the 1970’s and continues in separate episodes into the 1980’s and ‘90’s. Karen Mok Man-Wai forms the third part of a strangely intersecting love triangle. This romantic drama reveals a tangled web of meaning in the relationship between the three friends and is likely to leave a deep impression upon the viewer The beautiful look of the film can be credited to cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bin and the award-winning art director Man Lim-Chung.

Directed by Sylvia Chang | Starring : Takeshi Kaneshiro, Gigi Leung, Karen Mok, Sylvia Chang, Leon Dai | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival