I saw two films last week at the Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival.
Many of you know I am hardly Mr. Indie Film. I’m a tough customer for films that tend to be deliberate, pensive, and lack things like explosions and car chases.
As I told
Kit Hui, I cannot watch Ingmar Bergman films, because I’ll have an aneurysm. She took this rather personally (odd, she doesn’t look Swedish), which almost made me feel bad, but I told her what I’ll tell you. *****I’m not saying Bergman is bad. He’s just bad for me.*
I have the attention span of an Australian hand grenade, and slow movies don’t do it for me. Wong Kar Wai bores me to tears.
But that’s just me. Obviously, lots of people love these kinds of films.
Better them than me, though.
The other thing many of you know is that I tend to be more than slightly…
aspersive in my reviews.
I’ve been known to go after movies I dislike in much the same manner as Attila the Hun.
This is, according to some I have met, the best part of my reviews. Of course, the only people that say that are viewers.
Actors have, on occasion, expressed trepidation that one day they, or one of their films, may run afoul of my keyboard, so to speak.
Terence Yinhas mentioned this to me more than once, and with some of the films in his resume, I can see why he may be nervous.
When I headed to Elements last weekend to watch two independent films starring or involving people I would consider my friends,
Because A), I’m not generally an indie film fan and B), I didn’t want to have to say bad things about my friends.
So with these caveats,let’s get to the heart of the matter…
Fogwas the opening film of the HKAIFF 2010.
Kit Hui directed Terence Yin in this film about a man who has lost his memory and struggles to regain some understanding of his life and identity. He slowly pieces the puzzle back together, but we come to understand that even before his amnesia, the puzle was still missing some pieces.
Let me admit almost immediately that I liked the film.
While I can’t say I’m joking about these things contributing to my enjoyment of the film, let me say that there are many other and larger reasons why I enjoyed
The pacing of the film was what I call
deliberate. Some might find it slow, but I didn’t. The story moved at its own pace, and it allowed time for reflection and thought, which the film not only invited but necessitated.
Big points for a film that encourages thoughtand
has Cantonese dialogue. Nowhere near enough of that around here.
I enjoyed the matter-of-fact nature of much of the film; the degree of normalcy on display was very high compared to your average Cantonese language (i.e. local) film, and I appreciated that. It’s nice to see a story about (more or less) normal people doing normal things both good and bad.
I also enjoyed the very human nature of many of the characters; they were as flawed as they were virtuous.
It struck me as funny that a man who needs to literally rediscover who he is, and in so doing overcome mental trauma, spends almost all his time drunk, high, or both.
Any similarity between actor and character is purely incidental. Terence’s lawyers told me so.
Some of the dialogue seems, at times, a bit stilted, but that’s one of the problems you face in making movies. Movies are usually based in or driven by unusual people or circumstances, and within those boundaries, people often do or say things that are new to them.
What I mean to say is that the next time you find yourself in an unusual and uncomfortable setting (like talking to an unliked ex you run into), see how smooth and normalyou
The ending of the film struck me as slightly jarring, coming rather unexpectedly. But on one hand, that’s often how indie films are; they don’t fit the mainstream mold and so they violate our expectations.
Upon further reflection, I realized that the film’s ending was jarring by necessity; the last scene sets up a narrative arc within which it would be difficult to find an egress. So if the end seemed abrupt, it was more because any ending point would be abrupt, not just this one.
I pleasantly suprised myself with
Fog: I was afraid I wouldn’t like it, but I did. That’s a testament to the film, since I certainly haven’t changed as a viewer. It’s a good alternative to local cinema as well as a part of it. It’s thoughtful, interesting, and I hope more people get to see it.
As a festival film, let me just say it kicks the living dogsh*t out of last year’s opening film,