It has been a little while since I have posted, but I have been devouring movies at quite a rate. In order to get everything down, I have decided to do this as a selection of mini-reviews, but as always, I reserve the right to revisit these again.
“Go Lala Go” should really be my least favourite. When I think about it, there are so many things I dislike about the film. Based on a best-selling novel, it tells the story of Du Lala, a young Chinese woman who rises up the corporate ladder at a large US Companies Bejing Office. What were my problems with it? Well the rather basic and somewhat unrealistic depiction of corporate culture, the crazy amount of product placement, the trouble I had in believing the central romantic relationship and the overall message all caused me concerns. But I was oddly captivated by the film, drawn in by the acting and direction of Xu Jinglei. Showing herself to be far more than a pretty face, she shows a good command of the camera, equally at home with the Office environment and the lush locations of Thailand. She is equally at home in front of the camera, which makes it such a shame that her co-stars (Karen Mok aside) really cannot live with her. If you liked “Sophies Revenge”, then I think you will find a lot to admire here. Recommended.
And by utter coincidence, Xu Jinglei was also very good in “Confession of Pain”. Bought to you by the team behind “Infernal Affairs”, this is a glossy, high class thriller, that is notable mostly for the chance to see Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro share some screen time. It succeeds on many levels, but oddly fails in the story execution. The “twist” is revealed so early on in the movie that things are somewhat spoilt. Of course we get to see various characters and motivations uncovered, but the climax of the film is somewhat spoiled because the viewer is so far ahead of the characters. Recommended though.
Speaking of movies that put their twist in the wrong place, “49 Days” really drops the ball. A bit of a mess all round, it never really quite knows what it wants to be, clumsily mixing some quite dark scenes with some bumbling comedy. Pacing is a huge issue with the film, and the “twist” is revealed at a strange point in the film. The real tragedy is that there is actually a rather decent film hiding in here somewhere. Whole chunks of narrative seem wasted, and worse, even though the film relies on characters TELLING us what is going on, a couple of story points are left in the hands of the audience. Maybe it is because I am not Chinese and not really aware of the significance of 49 days and Rhinoceros Horn, but I just ended up feeling Unsatisfied. The most mild of recommendations, Only one for us Gillian Cheung completists.
“Double Tap” on the other hand is a rather excellent little movie that I only watched to scratch my Leslie Cheung itch. It is a film about guns and gunplay, and lets us see a unusual side to Cheung – as a bad guy. It is breathlessly paced, but whilst other films in this post I have criticised for their structure, I really liked the way that this one was put together. The first 30 minutes of the film could easily have been a pre-credit sequence, and it never really bothers with the police procedural side of things. Really interesting with a couple of super set-pieces. Highly recommended.
Finishing off is “Kidnap”. Karena Lam plays against type as a woman driven to kidnap the child of a millionaire in order to fund her husband’s cancer treatment. She unfortunately captures the wrong child. To say too much more would ruin it, but very nicely played all round, especially Rene Liu as the Police Chief caught up in the shenanigans. It works really nicely, and only fails due to an awful bit of CGI in the closing moments that really takes the viewer out of the film in a horribly clumsy way. I also struggled a little with some of the character development which seemed to take place off camera. However, it is a lot of fun, and for the performances alone, this one gets Highly Recommended too.