September 21, 2015

TIFF 15: Tony Jaa Has More Than One Use For a Length of Chain

From past years, have I learned the lesson of programming the last Sunday first, so that it’s loaded with treats for the brain-weary festival-goer? Why, yes, I have. Here’s what I saw on the final day of TIFF 15.

Hong Kong Trilogy [HK, Christopher Doyle, 4] Hong Kong residents from grade schoolers to Umbrella Movement activists to seniors share their thoughts and aspirations against a series of gorgeous vignettes, some whimsical, others melancholy. Moving non-narrative feature captures the spirit of the city and the evanescence of life.

There should be a poster of Christopher Doyle that says "You must be this magical to make a non-narrative film about everyday life."

Girls Lost [Sweden, Alexandra-Therese Keining, 4] Trio of girls who get bullied at school for looking like they might be lesbians drink the sap of a mysterious plant and gain the power to transform into boys. Uses fantasy premise to explore the intersection between teen drama and gender identity.

A Tale of Three Cities [HK, Mabel Cheung, 4] The turbulence of China in the 30s to 50s tests the love between a Nationalist spy (Lau Ching-Wan) and a tough-minded young widow (Tang Wei.) Glossy, star-driven romantic epic based on the lives of Jackie Chan's parents.

Research for this film largely consisted of the director drinking with Jackie Chan's dad.

In Hong Kong movies there's sometimes that moment. The moment when you find yourself thinking, "Oh no! Not the montage of the happy times! Not the montage!" (Don't worry, not actually a spoiler.)

SPL2: A Time For Consequences [HK, Soi Cheang, 4] HK cop (Wu Jing) thrown into a Bangkok prison by organ traffickers has no way of knowing that he is the one bone marrow donor who can save the leukemia-stricken daughter of its one honest guard (Tony Jaa.) Baroque fight flick is best enjoyed by setting aside the thought that it will bear any resemblance whatsoever to SPL.

My Big Night [Spain, Alex de la Iglesia, 4] Grueling taping of a New Year’s Eve TV extravaganza devolves into chaos. Explosion of comic energy from beginning to end.

Full capsule review round-up coming tomorrow.

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