Films of JOHNNIE TO
AUGUST 9 - SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
AFS AT THE MARCHESA (6226 MIDDLE FISKVILLE ROAD)
After an initial volley of brilliance in the '80s and early '90s, Hong Kong crime films, with a few very notable exceptions, had become formulaic and imitative. For this reason, and because many of his best films are still hard to see in the U.S., Johnnie To has not yet truly broken through to the kind of auteur-minded, cinephile fans who will enjoy his movies most.
In France he is seen as one of the world's most important filmmakers. In Hong Kong and mainland China he is respected as an innovator. Among those who know his work, he is seen as one of the true heirs to Sam Peckinpah, Don Siegel, Jean-Pierre Melville (especially) and other directors who have created powerful bodies of work within the sphere of crime films.
Asian Film Programmer and Scholar Grady Hendrix has called To's work "evolved" and that's just right. He has made films that evolve all the usual tropes of macho cops and robbers films into something vital, human, and satisfyingly cinematic. He's not the first to do this - there is a long and honored list of others who have done similar things within genre movies - but he is our generation's giant, and we are proud to present this selection of his films.
Friday, August 9, 8 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2 PM
Made without a shooting script, this saga of a team of bodyguards assigned to protect a triad boss is shockingly abstract in its storytelling. It is as much Raymond Carver as John Woo. Full of oddball characters and seemingly pointless but ultimately relevatory scenes, this is a shockingly abstract crime movie. To make things even stranger, it is scored like a ‘90s video game, with looping passages signifying different “levels” of the story. A masterpiece. More Info and Tickets>>
RUNNING OUT OF TIME
Friday, August 16, 8 PM
Sunday, August 18, 2 PM
Though RUNNING OUT OF TIME is shiny with the gloss of ‘90s Hong Kong, it has just as much in common with the oddball crime movies of ‘70s Hollywood like CHARLEY VARRICK and FREEBIE AND THE BEAN. The super-sleek Andy Lau plays a criminal mastermind, dying of a terminal disease, who is out to mess up the underworld’s plans. Lau Ching Wan, who made such a formidable impression in A HERO NEVER DIES, is back as the slouchy cop who is out to stop him. More Info and Tickets>>
Friday, August 23, 8 PM
Sunday, August 25, 2 PM
We are fortunate to live in the time of Johnnie To’s efflorescence. This master is at the height of his power and we are able to enjoy new Johnnie To movies every year. His newest film (as of this writing anyway) is DRUG WAR. It is To’s first movie made in mainland China but don’t expect a sell-out. It’s as tense as ever. Louis Koo (ELECTION) plays a drug kingpin apprehended by police after a car accident. He agrees to team up with them in their undercover investigation. Eat a light dinner beforehand because you’ll be dining on fingernails throughout. More Info and Tickets>>
Friday, August 30, 8 PM
Sunday, September 1, 2 PM
Like a Hong Kong GODFATHER, this gangster movie reaches for new depths in its exploration of the human beings who are also organized criminals. The premise is tremendous. The elders of a large Hong Kong Triad gather to elect their next chief. When the flashy upstart loses despite all his bribes and coercions, he refuses to accept the outcome so the elders and the rightfully elected chief (the great Simon Yam) must band together and restore order. Full of twists and fine performances, as well as To’s trademark technical perfection. This is a great crime epic. More Info and Tickets>>