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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岁月神偷 | Echoes of the Rainbow

Echoes of the Rainbow

Told through the eyes of sticky-fingered eight-year-old boy Big Ears, Echoes of the Rainbow takes place in a close-knit grassroots community in 1960s Hong Kong. Big Ears’ mother and father run the neighborhood shoe store, and his older brother Desmond  is every family’s dream son – an outstanding athlete with grades worthy of Hong Kong’s best school. Their lives aren’t always happy, but the family sticks together through all the rough times, no matter how bad it gets.

Directed by Alex Law | Starring : Simon Yam, Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, Buzz Chung, Aarif Rahman, Paul Chun | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Changchun Film Festival

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

天水围的夜与雾 | Night and Fog

Night and Fog

Ann Hui’s darkly realistic Night and Fog starts at the end of the story: a man murders his wife and, based on statements by unreliable witnesses, the film goes on to investigate how things could have got this far and what kind of man was able to kill his family; questions that almost inevitably remain unanswered. Night and Fog, named after Nuit et brouillard (1955), Alain Resnais’ documentary about concentration camps, looks at the difficult problem of domestic violence. An elderly man from Hong Kong takes a wife from outside the city and goes on to neglect and abuse the woman. Ann Hui’s cool registering camera is juxtaposed with flashbacks within flashbacks and dream sequences, just as in her earlier film, Song of the Exile.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Simon Yam, Wai Keung Law, Amy Chum, Kenneth Cheung | Presented at Hong Kong Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Transilvania Film Festival

一半海水一半火焰 | Ocean Flame

Ocean Flame

Wong Yiu was a very shameless person and a blackmailer until one day he met a waitress named Ni Chen. He thought Ni Chen was like any other girls that could be controlled by him, but her stubbornness was way beyond his imagination. As time goes by, they both lost their ways and losing themselves in the process. He was not as free as he once was. Insanity causes him to end her life. Eight years later, Wong Yiu stepped out from the jail. He carried a gun and went to look for Ni Chen’s mother at her home wishing to fulfill his own will.

Directed by Fendou Liu | Starring : Fan Liao, Monica Mok, Simon Yam, Suet Lam, Shiu Hung Hui | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Bratislava Film Festival

文雀 | Sparrow

Sparrow

From the acclaimed director of The Mission, Election, and Exiled, Johnnie To. “Sparrow’ is a common word used in Hong Kong street slang for pickpocket. The term refers to the special dexterity needed to pluck people’s wallets from their pockets… and possibly also to the necessity of having to flutter away quickly should one be discovered. Kei is one such ‘sparrow’ – and a very professional one at that. He and his three partners earn a good living from digging deep into the pockets of oblivious passers-by moving along the crowded urban canyons of Hong Kong. As far as Kei’s concerned, it’s all he needs to live a carefree life. Whenever he is not going about his business he loves to ride about the city on his bicycle photographing street scenes with his Rolleiflex camera. One day the gorgeous Chun Lei comes into his sights. Kei is fascinated. But behind Chun Lei’s good looks lurks a mysterious past. Kei falls in love with her – and he is not the only one. After having managed to turn the heads of his three colleagues, she reveals her true intentions: the sparrows must steal something of great importance to her.

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Ka Tung Lam, Hoi-Pang Lo, Suet Lam | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival

出埃及记 | Exodus

Exodus

After the artistic breakthrough and acclaim of Isabella, maverick director Edmond Pang Ho Cheung returns to black comedy territory with his new film Exodus. From Men Suddenly in Black, Beyond Our Ken, You shoot I shoot, Pang’s films often spin gender issues into wry commentary, and he takes this “battle of the sexes” concept to the next level with Exodus. Black comedy, suspense thriller, and male mid-life crisis drama all rolled into one, Exodus throws out a seemingly ridiculous premise – women are conspiring to kill men! – and challenges both the protagonist and the audience into amused belief. A low-ranking cop often relegated to desk duty, middle-aged Tsim Kin Yip lives a stable, mundane life with his young yoga instructor wife Ann. The monotony is broken one day when he interrogates Kwan Ping Man, a nervous, profanity-spouting man caught spying in the women’s bathroom. Kwan, who seems to have more than a few screws loose, confides to Tsim a shocking secret: a ring of women conspiring to murder men. Everyday, plans are whispered in restrooms and deaths are carefully engineered, so that men die unnoticeable from “accidents” that are anything but. Tsim initially dismisses Kwan’s conspiracy theory, but then clues crop up suggesting there is something fishy at work. Both his marriage and life could be at stake as Tsim becomes increasingly obsessed with cracking the case.

Directed by Ho-Cheung Pang | Starring : Simon Yam, Annie Liu, Nick Cheung, Irene Wan, Maggie Siu | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival