Monday, April 25, 2016

Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled Preoccupied Preposterous (2015)

A scene from Christopher Doyle's HONG KONG TRILOGY: PRESCHOOLED PREOCCUPIED PREPOSTEROUS playing at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 - May 5,2016. Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society
WHO: Christopher Doyle is known as the cantankerous but visionary cinematographer behind the camera for Zhang Yimou's Hero, Gus Van Sant's Psycho, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe, Fruit Chan's Dumplings and the majority of Wong Kar-Wai's directorial oeuvre. But he's also a director in his own right. On this film he's credited as cinematographer, director and writer.

WHAT: I haven't seen this one yet so I'll excerpt a chunk of critic Michael Sicinski's Cinema Scope review from when it screened at last Fall's Toronto Film Festival:
This experimental nonfiction film—one can’t really call it a documentary, for various reasons—is easily Doyle’s finest work as an auteur, probably because he hasn’t saddled himself with the laborious task of following a narrative. Instead, Hong Kong Trilogy is an impressionistic consideration of three different contemporary populations in HK.
The first part allows a loosely knit group of children to speak of their interests, dreams and fears (bullying, animals, hip hop, Jesus, etc.) Part two is a somewhat more focused look at the Umbrella Movement, Hong Kong’s iteration of Occupy. Not only was it unusually successful, but the participants were much more invested in creating an alternate vision of a working society than other, more anarchist versions of the movement. (This is partly due to Hong Kongers having one clear rallying point: full voting rights.) The final section deals with the elderly, in particular a speed-dating service. This permits Doyle to cast a glance at the city’s more active seniors, providing a youth-to-old-age structural arc.
WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight only at 6:45 at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, presented by the San Francisco International Film Festival.

WHY: I don't usually like to dwell on films I wish SFIFF had decided to bring, but seeing Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled Preoccupied Preposterous on today's schedule reminds me of the most glaring omission from their line-up, given its absence from Frisco Bay screens up until now. It's Portuguese director Miguel Gomes's tripartite adaptation of Arabian Nights, and I'm not so surprised the festival deigned not to show it, as its structure and length (3 two-hour-plus movies that run a total of 382 minutes) would likely mean it'd have to take the place of three other programs in the festival. I just hope it finds its way to some local screen, and thought SFIFF was a good bet as it had shown a previous Gomes feature Our Beloved Month of August back in 2009. Doyle's triptych will have to suffice as a substitute for my desire for a three-part cinema experience.

HOW: Digital projection.

OTHER SFIFF OPTIONS: It's a comparatively light day for festival screenings, with BAMPFA closed as a venue and much of the staff preoccupied with the Film Society Awards Night at Fort Mason. But tonight is the final showing of Italian veteran Marco Bellochio's Blood of My Blood, of the Brazilian prizewinner Neon Bull, and of political documentary Weiner.

NON-SFIFF OPTION: Purple Rain screens at the Castro Theatre twice tonight, at 7PM & 9:30. With the untimely passing of Prince, everyone seems to want to see this film on the big screen right now, with screenings selling out this past weekend at the Roxie and this week at the New Parkway. But the Castro has 1400 seats so you may have a shot at getting into this one.

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