Monday, October 26, 2009

Johnnie To's "Vengeance" (2009)

Vengeance was my first Johnnie To in 35mm.

If you take things for granted, it is a mechanical film that drives its plot to more and more action scenes. But if you look carefully, there's something about the obsessive way everybody in the film is obsessed. "What do your primary instincts mean when you've lost all your memory?" is a question To asks, but doesn't delve on much. Vengeance doesn't delve on anything much except the consistently imaginative frames, compositions and the puzzling lighting.

There are many hints of a great vision, but I have to say the film isn't consistent in this. Which is why it's not ranked so highly in my best of 2009 list.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Johnnie To's "Breaking News" (2004)

Breaking News is the first Johnnie To film I saw. It's got wonderful rhythm and a very fluid camera. The film somehow grows, in style and meaning, as it progresses.

I think the big mistake people make about Breaking News is that they try to find the content in the whole issue with the media, etc. (and I agree, he doesn't have anything very original to say there) while the true story lies in the characters, their relations, and the very architecture-aware cutting...

In an interview on Breaking News, Johnnie To says:
Hong Kong, with its particularities, is different than all the countries of Southeast Asia. The dissimilarity with Europe is even more striking. You find very interesting aspects to discover in Hong Kong. It's a rich place in terms of paradoxes. Ultra-modern buildings contrast with the very old houses... the too clean, even sterilized, neighborhoods with very dirty corners. Hong Kong is a city of two extremes, interesting to film, like New York. In Hong Kong you find buildings with such narrow corridors that you can't carry furniture. There is nothing like this in France or Europe.

My filmography abounds in action films. My films are about the relations between men, through the conflict between cops and criminals, questions of Life and Death, loyalty, and masculine heroism. I adore that universe.

If you haven't been introduced to Johnnie To before, you can begin by reading this. I hope to see more by him and I'd really appreciate if anybody has any suggestions.

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