Added Ann Hui's A Simple Life (Hong Kong) ****/****
Surprised that Ebert reviewed this actually. He doesn't do many Hong Kong films as we can tell by this list. I wonder if he will be interested and look at older Ann Hui movies. It kind of sucks that critics get to see films many times before fans do.
Thanks for the link. Nice review.
In fairness, some fans were able to see this before the Critics, or at least with
them, as it premiered at TIFF last September, but obviously film fests are limited-availability affairs. Most mainstream critics (including Ebert) see a ton of movies at these festivals and then bank the reviews until an official release rolls around. Maybe Ebert caught this one in Toronto as well? I saw it here and agree wholeheartedly with his review. While he doesn't bring a lot of context related to copious Hong Kong cinema viewing to the table, he clearly enjoyed the film on the emotion level intended by Hui, and rightly noticed some of the social subtext it carries about modern Chinese families (spread around the globe) and Hong Kong's elder care system (which, like he says, is neither depicted as dire nor wonderful, just somewhere in between). I think a movie like this will resonate most powerfully with those who are elderly themselves (such as Roger Ebert) of those who have elderly parents (such as most of us here, I suspect), even though the film's central relationship is that of caregiver and charge.
One of my bigger disappointments at TIFF last year was the HUGE delay in starting A SIMPLE LIFE caused by some brilliant sluggo loading a different Hong Kong picture into the projector (one I'd seen only the day before). The resulting 30+ minute delay (!) while they swapped films — presumably with another cinema somewhere in the city (yay!) — forced the Q&A with Ann Hui to be held in the crowded, unbearably noisy lobby of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, where it amounted to little more than a receiving line of people shaking her hand and telling her what a great movie it was, but no real Q&A. This was especially frustrating because she's known for being quite generous and open during her sessions at film festivals. I almost hope she has something at this year's event, but so far only one film with Hong Kong connections has been announced, Soi Cheang's, MOTORWAY.
I'm surely repeating myself, but I still wish more supposed "fans" of Hong Kong cinema would make the effort to buy/see the films like A SIMPLE LIFE rather than just blindly cherry-picking (and reviewing) only the action movies and martial arts films that have come to all but define Hong Kong cinema in the west, largely thanks to their efforts and the narrow tastes of American distributors (talk about a vicious circle!). Maybe if they did, we'd see fewer of these bogus reports that Hong Kong cinema is in its death throes (after, what, a decade now? - that's a long throe, man) and more realization at just how varied their output — though smaller than it's northern neighbour — still is.
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:RE: Ann Hui: I noticed he reviewed Shadow Magic but I don't think this can be considered a Hong Kong film or even coproduction.
That movie's by a different Ann, actually: Ann Hu, who seems to have vaporized after her second film in 2005. IMDB lists it as a China-Germany-Taiwan-USA co-production. Not sure that's accurate, but is certainly seems more reliable than HKMDB, which just says China, because at that site, a film can only be produced by a single country.