Herman Yau and Erica Li
-So, as another NYAFF peters out, I'm once again wholly amazed as to how it was pulled off and fully satisfied by my experience. I usually get over-hyped about the fest upon seeing the schedule and buy way to many tickets than shows I can actually make it to. Wishful thinking, I guess, but this year was no different. I planned on seeing about a dozen or so movies and only wound up actually seeing about half of that, opting to skip a few of the Taiwanese 'black films' that I had already seen and jumping ship on getting to meet Andrew Lau as it was on the 4th of July and fatty BBQ'ed food was calling my name. Baloney tits trumps YOUNG AND DANGEROUS. But, who I did meet........
The backs of Herman and Erica's noggins
I took my wife to see IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT, with the legendary director Herman Yau and the films writer, Erica Li, in attendance. Kismet would have it that my wife and I sat directly behind Herman and Erica!
After seeing Yau's previous Ip Man effort, THE LEGEND IS BORN-IP MAN, and not really caring much for it, I wasn't sure what to expect with his newest incarnation but I was entirely surprised as the film turned out to be quite good. More of a 'slice of life' story that includes a little martial arts action for the fans. Anthony Wong, an exceptional practitioner of martial arts, is what I believe the actual Ip Man to closely resemble rather than super stud Donnie Yen or artsy handsome Tony Leung Chiu-wai.
Erica Li's autograph on my NYAFF program.
Herman Yau's autograph on my TAXI HUNTER LD.
I also saw the HK horror anthology TALES OF THE DARK: PART 1, that sees Simon Yam making his directorial debut alongside Fruit Chan and Lee Chi-ngai. This was a bit of a disappointment as Yam's section of the film, the first, starts us off with our heads up our backsides and flounders around creepily before concluding in a supposedly chilling manner. It was a good looking debut, but that was about it. The middle section of the film, directed by Lee Chi-ngai was the most enjoyable . Tony Leung Ka-fai and Kelly Chen are just outstanding as they try to uncover the 'mystery of the drowned girl'. Giddy and fun, the only drawback is, as with the light nature of the piece, the scares are gone. Not so much a dark tale. The final piece by Fruit Chan really imbues the space with lore and makes things spooky and evil as heck, especially when seen in a contemporary HK setting. Fruit tells the story in a round-about way as if to just try and fill time before getting to the goods. Some fine stuff abounds, and, like Yam's section of the film, this section looks great, but it ultimately fails as it appears to just end up as a tired old ghost story.
-My final day at the fest was a loooong one. It was almost entirely Taiwanese laden as 4 out of the 5 movies screening that day were, well, Taiwanese. The last one was from HK, with Dada "Yummy Yummy" Chan in attendance. But before we plunge down Dada's neckline, the main order of the day was Taiwan black films. Screening, in order, were TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES, WOMEN REVENGER aka THE NUDE BODY CASE IN TOKYO, WHEN A WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP, and NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT aka THE FIRST ERROR STEP. The screenings had directors Hou Chi-jan and the godfather of Taiwanese black cinema, Tsai Yang-ming in attendance and for Q&A's. I was also invited to attend a special reception for the directors that was held as the film WHEN A WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP unreeled. American 'Taiwanese food' was served but sadly there was no stinky tofu.
Q&A with Hou Chi-jan and TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES producer Kelly Yang
Tsai Yang-ming. The Godfather.
Tsai Yang-ming was the coolest dude in the room and after seeing his 1981 black film, WOMAN REVENGER, sat in on a Q&A along side TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES director Hou Chi-jan. He told wonderful stories about filming during this era and, if time wasn't a concern, would probably still be speaking! WOMAN REVENGER was aces to see on the big screen. A nice, fairly clean print and finally.....ENGLISH SUBTITLES. Specially made for the NYAFF. These festival guys know how to please. And I don't even have to give them a reach around!
Tsai Yang-ming and Hou Chi-jan
Smoochie Woochie. Yang-ming and the award need a room.
On to what was to be the most exciting film for me, as it has never had a home video release, and thus, I've never seen it. NEVER TO LATE TO REPENT. A bit of a misstep by the fest crew as after introing the film and turning things over to the screen, the soundtrack became intermittent, really bothering the audience. After a few minutes, some folks unfortunately bailed on the movie, as others went to see what the heck was what? Martial Arts film fan and audience member, Ric Meyers, came back into the auditorium after inquiring about the sound and loudly relayed to the audience that, in a nutshell, because of poor film preservation, only two copies of the film were recovered. One having a an awful image and partial soundtrack, and the other, having a respectable image and absolutely no soundtrack. So, the two films became one, the nicer print and the partial soundtrack merged with brand new subs created just for this festival. Unfortunately for film history, the film is peppered with silent parts, as well as unsubbed areas. The good news being that really no exposition is lost and the film flows wonderfully, even saddled with silence. An amazing film going experience anyway.
Dada sees me. I better put it back in my pants.
Ok. I skipped a major, and most unforgettable, part of the day, but after Dada I'll get back to it. So, in between shows I overheard a few festival guys grumbling that Dada wasn't feeling well and was going to forgo the Q&A at the conclusion of the final film of the day, HARDCORE COMEDY. So, along with the crap news that little miss was all tuckered out from a day of banging about the big city, Dada at the very least came out to intro the film. Ok. I got a few snap shots and I'm more than satisfied with that. She doesn't appear to be the next coming of Maggie Cheung, so, easy come easy get the heck outta here.
HARDCORE COMEDY was a big letdown. With a title that includes the word 'hardcore' I expected a little more in the t&a area than what was offered. Am I wrong (or just a dirty little man) in thinking that? In typical HK film style, 3 stories are told to make up a whole film. The first section was promising and provided some vulgar hilarity AND some t&a. The next 2 sections fell entirely flat, at least to this audience, as it appeared the dialogue took on a HK colloquial slant that was mostly lost on us and became only mildly amusing. A shame because the first story had such fun energy before shutting down and putting people to sleep.
I see you! Zip up, you perv!
As the lobby became shoulder to shoulder cluttered, people began to turn their attention to the poster. "Ooooohs", and "Holy shit! Where did you get that?" could be heard here and there as random people inquired about the poster and asked if they could take a picture of the poster. "Of course you can!" So, as theater goers were fawning over my poster, out from the theater came a few of Yang-ming's entourage. Seeing my poster, mouths agape, in wonder. "Waaaaaaahhhhhhh!?!?!?!" Looking at me, "is this yours?" "How....where...did you get it?" A conversation was started with, at that time unknown to me, Kelly Yang, producer of TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES. She was bowled over. I was sweating profusely and so overwhelmed and nervous at all of the attention I was getting. It felt like ALL eyes were on me. Well, the poster, but me as well. I had mentioned to Kelly that I was hoping to get Yang-ming to sign the poster. She said, "hold on," and left to go find Yang-ming, who was taking pictures with fans in another part of the lobby.
More onlookers came by to stop and chat for a bit and ask for a picture of the poster. It was really great. And then up came Kelly with director Yang-ming trailing behind her. As Kelly peeled off next to me, presenting the poster to Yang-ming, the look on his face....mouth wide open.....in absolute wonder..... I thought I was going to pass out. Or he was going to. He held his hand out to shake mine. Mouth still wide open as he looked at the poster. He spoke to Kelly and she translated for him but I was in such a state of tunnel vision and tunnel hearing, I couldn't tell you what was said? He may have well just been speaking to me directly in Mandarin. He then, I assume, asked Kelly if she could take a picture. Now, I should mention that our entire interaction, Yang-ming and I, this whole scene, was happening in front of a few dozen onlookers and looki loos. Tunnel vision firmly planted, Yang-ming and I picked up the poster and held it for the few dozen paparazzi. I held one end and he held the other. His hand gripped around my waist and mine his back. He was so damn giddy with excitement that he playfully kept pulling me in, squeezing my love handles, and laughing as the cameras flashed. ROCK STAR!!!!!.....
My hastily framed, signed, WOMAN REVENGER poster.
After the paparazzi session he signed my poster and we spoke, through Kelly, for a bit. As he was pulled away by other fans looking for pics and autographs, Kelly and I spoke for a few. On my iPhone, I keep pictures of ALL of my movie posters and I showed her 2 more Tsai Yang-ming movie posters that I had. She was bowled over. After a while, amid the frenzy, she asked to swap emails so we could send each other posters and pictures related to Yang-ming and Taiwanese films. She gave me her iPhone and I plugged my info in. I gave her my iPhone and she plugged in hers. Upon hearing that my wife was Taiwanese and that we had recently been to Taiwan, a most generous offer to, "Please let me know when you come to Taiwan! We must visit!" was offered. And I just might take her up on it! Rock stardom over. Back to being a regular Joe Schmo. But not without becoming A FB friend with Kelly. And, really, isn't that what it's all about in the real world? hahaha Ahhhhhh, but what a memorable time. NYAFF 2013. End.
And now onto something....just a tad different. Today! Yes. TODAY starts the Wong Kar Wai film retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image. And, would you believe, I have never been? I've been a MOMI member for about a year and have finally found an incredible reason to go. So.....
So, If you want to check out the full catalogue of WKW's oeuvre, go here. MOMI doesn't have on-line ticket sales so call them and get your tix now. Will I see you there???