C Cinema At Cannes

There are a few C/HK must-see this year in showing.  I am shallow, they have my crushes (but some of them should be truly amazing…)

I can’t wait to see A Touch of Sin 天註定 by 賈樟柯 Jia Zhangke, in competition for Palme d’Or the trailer looks so intriguing, ‘based on true events’ indeed.  Well versed in mainland current events will see Jia as an auteur with an unique stroke mixing documentary and cinema, some of the scenes in the movie are almost straight out of ‘harmonized’ headlines.   The young filmmaker’s works are never boring, this is his 7th ‘film’, always daring, delving into sensitive scandals and social stigma.  This will be a slew of violence-packed events retelling 4 stories, somewhat new direction for him as this is touted as a modern revision of 侠义’xia yi’/chivalry, a modern fable of wuxia?  Early buzz is this is styled like a Quentin, the actors are all terrific, 姜武 Jiang Wu (like his better known brother Jiang Wen) has never disappointed me.  王宝强 Wang BoQiang is also someone who has been absolutely scene-stealing in everything he’s in.  Lost in Journey/Lost in Thailand may be his highest grossing movies, most massive hits but he has been steadily working in meatier stuff through the years.   张嘉译/ Zhang Jiayi (Dwelling Narrowness, Cliff) is also playing a supporting role.

A HK cinema showing is 掃毒/The White Storm.  I can not look away from a 劉青雲/Sean Lau film, that is all.  I’m not a fan of Benny Chan, not a fan of Louis Koo, I do not mind Nick Cheung but I also find him showy of his technique on screen and this looks like every other decent HK genre film with pretty action sequences thrown in, rinse, wash and repeat.  But it has 劉!青!雲!

Un Certain Regard: 過界Bends is the first film of HK director Flora Lau.  The script is said to go under 18 revisions before it convinced executive producer Shi Nansun on board.  She brought along William Chang SukPing and Christopher Doyle, the trusted team behind WKW films for production design and cinematography.  <- My eyes can’t look away from THAT team.  Story is of a chauffeur and a socialite, different ends of the pond, keeping each other afloat.  It looks very my thing.

OH CHEN KUN!!!!! Y SO DASHING!!!  Gosh those slivering raindrops are doing wonders to him and only him, his arm candy (and vice versa) is the director Flora Lau, très chic herself.

I do feel horrible for Carina, sometimes, her husband is 3 years her senior but not matter how many more wrinkles he gets he still manages to look slightly over 30, for TWENTY years now!  See, as much as I like ChenKun, and hopefully he’s awesome in this, I’ll be so much more excited if the chauffeur is played by Tony.  I have been wanting to see him and Carina pairing up  in something arthouse.

Johnny To’s Blind Detective is also showing at Cannes.  Starring Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng.  Tbvh, not terribly exciting from the ~1 min trailer to me, I see Andy…POSING. ><  But at least it’s not Johnny+Andy+Sammi full on romcom, that is just not my cup of tea and imo not their forte.

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21 thoughts on “C Cinema At Cannes

  1. wow… thanks for letting me know about these movies. i agree… blind detective’s not really my thing… it looks… very commercialized.

    A Touch of Sin looks insane (the good way) though Zhao Tao’s mad, stabby look seems a bit OTT at first glance.

    But gosh… Bend’s trailer… just the atmosphere of the scenes where Chen Kun is struggling to get by with his wife (??)– they somehow elicit emotions of “I’ve felt this way before”… it felt eerily real. Definitely going to look for that one~

    1. and for White Storm, movies of undercover cops and massive drug enterprise storylines drive me craycray i don’t really like them… Though good grief… I don’t think I’ve seen a HK movie that screams HIGH-BUDGET to this degree before XP

      1. I’m not against the theme, but this has been done 542631520345times already and I don’t see anything new offering here. Benny Chan has no depth in his storytelling, it would be amazing stunts and explosions piled on a simple bare-thread plot. It can’t hold my attention for 90, 100 mins.

        1. EXACTLY that’s why it’d drive me craycray… like… AGAIN??? actors that try to hard to be crude gangsters

    2. It looks like a copycat of Mad Detective with a…pompous actor in place of Sean Lau. :X
      I’m pretty sure out of these few, A Touch of Sin is da bomb. Jia has talent.
      Mdm Shi/Mrs Tsui Hark said Bends is a difficult movie to sell in this climate and it takes tenacity and full on passion which Flora Lau shows, she said it reminds her of discovering WKW. I do not know how much more a promising compliment one can give a new director.

  2. Wiliam Chang + Christopher Doyle?! I am so so down. Just listening to the post-rock soundtrack of the Bends trailer sends shivers up my spine. Definitely way up my alley.
    I’m not familiar with Chinese directors (sadly ><) but A Touch of Sin looks extremely intriguing and potentially epic. It really seems to capture how China feels like, which makes me slightly sad.

    1. I do not know enough of CN directors either, but Jia is truly one of the talented ones. He will be lost in a pure commercial popcorn, that is for sure. He is not terribly prolific, you should check some of his movies out. He has such a unique sharpness to tell a story on the evolving CN society, presenting it with authenticity but balancing with the human element. I’ve only seen Still Life 三峡好人 http://video.sina.com.cn/m/sxhr_61098717.html, 24 City二十四城, I Wish I Knew海上传奇.

  3. Never heard of Jia Ziangke before but damn that trailer for A Touch of Sin is powerful. I’ve always been fascinated by the transitional years of recent Chinese history and the modern “soulless” sort of state of things right now. I would really like to see 24 City, some of the shots in the trailer looks so familiar despite me never having been to China…But the greyness, the old cement roads and houses, the poverty in every corner and yet people trying to make something out of it, kids playing in makeshift playgrounds, so very like the Russian town I grew up in. I founds Still Life with subs though so I’m looking forward to watching that.

    1. Oh I think Still Life will be so your thing. Jia’s narration is very loose, I rem sitting through ~30 mins of the movie with not much plot nor clear characterization to grasp, he just gives us the opportunity to immerse in the world he wants to tell a story about by our own, watching this film feels like looking at an exhibition, when I’m watching it, and it’s slightly underwhelming at first in the storytelling, something just sticks and I can read as much or as little in it and still there is some rippling in me I didn’t even need to put an effort to analyze. But something you might miss or perhaps just impossible to grasp is the music, some super well known cantopop/mandopop I can’t escape and it’s still one of the extremely effective use of music I’ve ever experienced in cinema. A lot of foreign critics prefer its Chinese title ‘Good/Decent Men of 3 Gorges’ but I actually prefer Still Life. I feel Jia is so assured just by setting his camera there, with careful but minimalistic manipulation and the environ, those broken cement, those exposed rusty pipes, the murkiest of water and greys, the new snazzy construction, its people, the sum of it has enough to converse with us without any obvious commentary, and he is right. He has a very tender, caressing, nonjudgmental almost nonexistent presence, somehow I get this is all possible because he loves his home state ShanXi so much and it’s not something he needs waxing poetic about, it may be just those grey decrepit old factories, some meaningless dirt and rocks, even the soot and pollution everywhere and to these characters and to us all somehow it means so much, it is as innate as the human condition.

      It feels like he gives us a window, an invite into his story which in essence is about his home home, his country, and we can go wander in it, and it’s not fancy, there are so much to tell of the marginalized in this evershifting world there need no embellishment. And just like my impression of a trip to one of the poorest province of CN, and to one of its most remote village in the mountains, they have so little, but they make so much out of it, with a contentment an almost simpliest form of joie de vivre: I’m surviving, I’m making ends meet, I’m making some meaning, something worthwhile, however little out of my existence and that’s good enough. And that can also be applied to how I think Jia approaches film-making.

      To put it in much fewer words I think Jia and WKW are at the opposite of the spectrum as to how they approach that most passionate love of their hometown, where their heart’s at.

      1. Can you elaborate on what you mean by “Jia and WKW are at the opposite of the spectrum as to how they approach that most passionate love of their hometown, where their heart’s at”? 🙂

        1. I just mean WKW is best known to stylized his every frame to such a meticulous richness. Jia almost leaves his scenes unmeddled, yet somehow both of them r brimming with this passionate lament for their evolving shifting hometown/homeland. They express it by very different ends of style and texture.

          They both essayed thematically on the unattainable object of desire of their homeland but while WKW filled every frame with the color, the mood, the want for the desire most desperately, the past, the lost in time. Jia approaches it more endearingly if I can put it so, you can sense this intrinsic yearning for home, for the way things were, but he did not romanticize it to a desirable degree, does not occupy every fiber of the characters in his stories…it serves both of their world perfectly. Jia’s world is of the marginalized rural mass undergoing the social paradigm shift, the future is unknown, the past was not exactly rainbows and unicorns, WKW is of the bourgeois of HK bombarded by the tides of time.

      2. You put into words exactly what I was feeling while watching the trailer for 24 City and great that you mention the music too because that’s what caught my attention in the trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34-aVx6Qa_8) – juxtaposition of the propagandistic hymn with the mandopop tune later on. I don’t know how much of that is in the actual movie though.

        somehow I get this is all possible because he loves his home state ShanXi so much and it’s not something he needs waxing poetic about, it may be just those grey decrepit old factories, some meaningless dirt and rocks, even the soot and pollution everywhere and to these characters and to us all somehow it means so much, it is as innate as the human condition.

        I think you can only love it if you are confined to it. I admire Jia for being able to still love his home. Maybe because I’ve moved away when I was pretty young but I have a very complicated feeling about my hometown. Whatever nostalgia I felt for it has been completely eradicated by a trip a few years ago (and also I realized that most of that nostalgia was for my childhood and not the actual place/city/people). I wish there could be any hope or light but I haven’t managed to find it yet (Jia found his by weaving stories, it seems).

  4. Thank you for the summary! I have watched Still Live of Jia Ziangke and liked it a lot.
    Am I the only one who likes old uncle Benny? I guess so. I love his explosions (and the way he shows a single one multiple times) and Sean Lau and Lois Koo are both actors I like so this one looks to me the most exciting of the bunch. As for Nick Cheung, he can dissappear today and I’ll not miss him in the least. He just doesn’t do it for and never did.

    Now Andy and Sammi – sigh. I love love love Needing You and despite being a Tony Leung CW fan I like Sammi with Andy too. Now their last film together was a major let down but apparently not enough for me to get cold about this one. I feel excited for this couple – and c’mon Andy usually mugs when he is not shouting with all his veins popping.

    Chen Kun is great (and I think a decent actor too) but the thing is I LOVE WKW but for some reason do not like WKW inspired directors. I’ll be cautious with this one.

    1. It’s mostly just me, Uncle Benny is an expert in explosions and exciting action sequence, it’s just that I’ve never been excited by action in movie not provoking deeper thoughts. I just never really engage with any of his movies that much.

      Sorry, I totally miss how Tony Leung CW had anything to do with Needing You and Andy and Sammi. I’m just one of the hugest nonfan of Andy when he’s not playing himself who can still appreciate his adonis looks. Not a fan of Sammi the actress myself, just another case of she’s fine in commercial stuff selling her brand of charmisma, but that is not what acting curtails in my book.

      Who else are the ‘WKW inspired directors’ though? There is a difference btn inspired (originating the creativity…could fail miserably) and in this case where M. Shi NanSin commented Miss director (I did not read Lau mentioning WKW is her inspiration) reminding her of a young WKW(which is more an impression an assessment of her work by a third party, no?) VERY different.

  5. “Sorry, I totally miss how Tony Leung CW had anything to do with Needing You and Andy and Sammi.”

    Nothing except for the fact that I’m a TLCW fan but I liked Andy in that one with Sammi (us Tony fans don’t usually care for Andy for some reason). I love Sammi as a rom com heroine although I like her earlier stuff best (she completely lost it for in Magic Kitchen)

    Directors inspired by WKW – Sophia Coppola comes to mind, and Tom Ford (but to be honest I liked his film) I remember some seriously awful film (I think directed by Eric Kot) using WKW crew…. Those came to mind when I typed that comment.
    Yes assessment by a third party makes all the difference but still for some reason, it is a turn off for me. Maybe I like WKW too much and became biased 😦

    I wish the best for Fiona and hope that her film is good.

    1. Again I dun see how inspired by WKW has anything to do with WKW, Coppola was ok in some of her work,

      haha I still do not get your logic at all how being a biased WKW fan and someone accessed to be ‘like’ a young WKW is any turn off. A young WKW is not equal to a WKW now, it takes his own honing and evolving. Plus, I welcome any young director with WKW’s talent and his work ethics with the widest of arms.

      As for Andy and TLCW, they are so different actors I have never seen anyone comparing them or mentioning them in one breath hahaha. I love Andy being Andy and in his 90s comedies he’s so charming. I do not care for Needing You, but they have chemistry and Andy has chemistry with a lot of his costars. It’s just hit me from the Lt field random why that has anything to do with TLCW because he does not fare well in popcorn romance, esp with much lesser actress like Miriam or LinChiLing.

  6. Yeah that part of my comments would probably be better understood in TLCW forums 🙂 Sorry about the confusion.
    For some reason, other than A Single Man, any film that was presented to me as “inspired by WKW, similar to WKW, looks like a young WKW” turned out to be not as good. My bias is probably due to liking every single WKW film very much (yeah including My Blueberry Night) and have the expectation to like the film promoted (either by the third parties or critics or film maker owning up to the inspiration) any resemblence to WKW and was dissapointed that it has developed into an unwanted (and totally unnecessary) Pavlov effect.

    Now, I know that rom coms are not Tony’s usual forté but I still like him in them. His Sound of Colours with Miriam was not very good but I love My Lucky Star 🙂

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