Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Wai’

GIRL$ [NAM NAM | 囡囡]

2010/11/11

HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Kenneth Bi Produced by: Kin Hung Ng  Cast: Michelle Wai, Seli Xian, Minyi Wang, Una Lin, Deep Ng, kwok Cheung Tsang, Eric Tse

It’s not the first time youth prostitution is the subject of a movie, and it’s also not the first time that it’s hard to say how serious or exploitative the result is. Is it a film about prostitution, is it a film with prostitution as a mere canvas, is it a film against prostitution, or is it actually just a T&A show?

To be fair, GIRL$ doesn’t fall into the good old CATIII category because of its exploitative nature. As it turns out, GIRL$ is a halfway serious attempt of halfway serious filmmaking. The story follows four girls who turn to paid “dating” for reasons that are not always entirely clear, but are in any case superficial. Expensive handbags or sheer boredom are hardly good reasons to sleep with someone for money. Or is it just one of the choices that is within easy reach in our multi-options-society? Maybe it’s the internet’s fault: technological advancement makes prostitution so damn easy.

When I mentioned “reasons” before, I believe that wasn’t precise enough. The reason, the goal, might be obvious, but what’s missing is a motivation. You might want that handbag, but that doesn’t tell much about the fact that you choose to pimp out yourself to the highest bidder in order to get it. So what the movie does is primarily dealing with objectives, and showing us that for these girls prostitution is a way to get there. What GIRL$ doesn’t explain is why the handbag is so important that the means to the end are completely out of proportion.

Mr. Bi is not explaining to the audience what’s really going on. GIRL$ is much more like a report on an extreme lifestyle than an essay on morals and declining standards of society. There is little context here, it’s a black-and-white world: you turn to prostitution for some pocket-money or you don’t. As is the case with the girl who bids on an internet auction. Mr. Bi makes it seem as if there are only two choices: not to have the money to pay up for the goods or to go on a paid date.

And I think that is where GIRL$ is just wrong: instead of touching on the decision-making process, the motivation behind, the question of right and wrong or at least somewhat conscious actions, the film is presenting reality as a pre-determined road to perdition with a predictable outcome: sooner or later you will be a prostitute. So it’s all not so much a matter of why you become a prostitute, it’s only a matter of when.

Great films like Masato Harada’s BOUNCE CO GALS have proven a long time ago that contemporary cinema can deal with the harsh reality out there and make it all mean something, without being a boring discourse on changing times. That doesn’t require a huge budget or funny tricks, all it requires is real insight and detailed observation. Something Mr. Bi doesn’t prove to have: GIRL$ has probably been written with a couple of newspaper articles as source material and a bit of he said she said that he said that she told him gossip.

GIRL$ could have been an insightful film providing us with a proper learning curve about what makes the youth tick, what they really want and what their state of mind is. Instead it turns out feeling like a “desk job”: a case made up more or less well, without ever reaching the depth you’d achieve if you had ever left that desk in the first place.

J.

 

 

 

 

 


Advertisements

DIM SUM: GIRL$ [NAM NAM | 囡囡]

2010/09/10

UPDATE: READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE! – – – – – – – – – – – Kenneth Bi’s youth prostitution drama has just screened at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and now it’s our turn to catch it. Most of the story sounds familiar and we have probably seen it all before, but Kenneth Bi has cast some very promising actresses and paid attention to character development, so GIRL$ might turn out to be a good effort, made in Hong Kong.

The movie stars Michelle Wai, Bonnie Xian, Una Lin, Venus Wong, Deep Ng Ho-Hong, Derek Tsang Kwok-Cheung, Karson Lok and Eric Tse Hoi-Wing.

J.

HOT SUMMER DAYS [CHUEN SING YIT LUEN – YIT LAT LAT | 全城热恋热辣辣]

2010/08/14

http://movie.foxmovies.com.tw/

HONG KONG / CHINA / USA 2010  Directed by: Tony Chan, Wing Shya Written by: Wing Shya Produced by: Fruit Chan, Paul Cheng  Cinematography by: Sion Michel  Editing by: Wenders Li  Music by: Eddie Chung Yan-Tai Cast: Nicholas Tse, Jacky Cheung, Rene Liu, Vivian Hsu, Barbie Hsu, Yihong Duan, Xinbo Fu, Angela Baby, Daniel Wu, Boran Jing, Zhuoyan He, Conroy Chan Fruit Chan, Phat Chan, Maggie Cheung, Jan Lamb, Michelle Wai, Shawn Yue, Joey Yung

Nothing beats HOT SUMMER DAYS in terms of star appeal, and few movies manage to put a star-studded cast like this to good use. The comedy / satire / romance is about, surprise, hot summer days in the Chinese territories, when temperatures rise to the boiling point and people go nuts. Not nuts like in FALLING DOWN, but for everyone in HOT SUMMER DAYS the period of exceptional heat seems to throw their lives off the regular track.

In the center of the story are ex-driver Wah and unsuccessful pianist Li Yan who have an SMS-relationship but never met personally. Both struggle with their careers, working McJobs to survive instead of doing what they were destined to do. Then there’s an air conditioner repair guy who’s interested in a crazy biker chick, and a sushi master who tries to get his relationship worked out with writer Wasabi; plus many other romantic or dramatic stories that take place during this one-of-a-kind heat wave.

HOT SUMMER DAYS is a classic omnibus movie with many different stories going on at the same time. However, these are mostly not related like in other films but are only connected through the locations and the heat wave scenario. The concept works very well and trying to complicate the various plot threads would have probably diverted our attention (and probably that of the writers) unnecessarily. HOT SUMMER DAYS concentrates mostly on the characters, and that makes for charming feel-good entertainment.

It is noteworthy that HOT SUMMER DAYS is not just a bland star vehicle like most of the Chinese New Year movies that have everything except a story to tell. Despite being a romantic comedy by genre HOT SUMMER DAYS is a serious movie indeed; whether or not all the stories have the depth you expect is a question everyone has to answer for her-/himself. But overall the movie is an example of discerning entertainment – maybe that isn’t too surprising after all, seeing one of the “heroes” of the independent Hong Kong cinema involved in the production, Fruit Chan of MADE IN HONG KONG / LITTLE CHEUNG / DURIAN DURIAN fame).

HOT SUMMER DAYS is spot-on mainstream cinema that at the same time is indie enough to satisfy true film buffs. While nothing’s perfect, the movie knows very well how to balance black humor, serious moments and the lightness of being. HOT SUMMER DAYS is enjoyable from beginning to end, proving that it all comes down to a big idea, good story and a non-fuzzy way to tell it.

J.