In a wild change of pace, Hong Kong director Johnnie To delivers an all-singing, occasionally-dancing adaptation of Sylvia Chang’s successful stage play, Design for Living. While the script has undergone numerous changes along the way, and boasts brand new musical numbers from Dayo Lu and Lin Xi, Office still charts the in-house dealings of billion-dollar company Jones & Sunn as they prepare to go public on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. To covered similar territory previously – and better – in 2011’s Life Without Principle, but his film does display a keen understanding of Hong Kong’s workplace environment and rituals.
This week, three big directors have new films out. I talk to Phil about Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian, starring Matt Damon, Woody Allen’s Irrational Man with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone, and finally I say a few words about Johnnie To’s new musical, Office.
Chow Yun Fat returns for a second helping of comedic hijinks in the follow-up to Wong Jing’s 2014 holiday blockbuster From Vegas To Macau (released in mainland China as The Man From Macau). A bankable supporting cast and exotic locations should prove an attractive combination over the Lunar New Year break, but beyond Chow’s perennial popularity, sloppy plotting and colloquial humour will likely see From Vegas To Macau II have limited international appeal.
This week we look at Rithy Panh’s Academy Award nominated The Missing Picture, Fernando starts his Woody Allen series with Take The Money And Run and James introduces us to Wong Jing’s From Vegas To Macau – Chow Yun Fat’s first Cantonese language role in two decades.
Screening as part of the Film Archive’s 100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies, this is a delightful romantic comedy from 1987, starring Chow Yun Fat and Cherie Chung, and filmed in New York City. Innocent young stuent Jennifer (Chung) moves to NYC to study and be close to her boyfriend, staying with a distant relative she’s never met, Figgy (Chow Yun Fat). No sooner has Jennifer arrived in the big scary city she discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her and is forced to fend for herself. While he pretends not to care, Figgy is only too happy to take care of the sweet and beautiful girl, and slowly romance begins to blossom between them.
Director Mabel Cheung paints a conflicted portrait of New York, on the one hand dirty, hostile and dangerous, but also filled with gorgeous landmarks, stunning scenery and a wealth of promises and opportunities. Chow’s chain-smoking, foul-mouthed chancer is a lovable rogue and a superb role for the actor’s unique charms, while Chung’s beautiful girl-next-door manages to play helpless without being irritating. Together they create wonderful onscreen chemistry and while the story rarely surprises, it nevertheless finds new and appealing ways to spin its tale of romance. I also have it on good authority that Figgy and his friends’ incessant foul-mouthed banter is responsible for a number of catchphrases and slang expressions that are still commonly used around Hong Kong to this day.