Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Festival Day 1


Unfortunately I was away during most of the first weekend of the 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival and missed out on quite a bit of viewing (fortunately I was at a bachelor party in New Orleans). So Sunday night I intended to catch 2 films after a take off to landing nap on the flight but given other logistical snags missed out on the first film. And now, with out further useless keystrokes… . (sorry) the start of 10 days of 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival reviews:

Sunday 4/6

Confession of Pain
aka: Seung Sing Hong Kong (China)/Japan 2007, 110 min

The fest is always heavy on the Asian crime genre. I like the Asian crime genre.

The first of 5 on my tentative schedule this year is Confession of Pain. Directed by the team behind Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau (also helmed the unfortunately named Legend of the Fist Master) & Alan Mak this is a cop-gone-bad story that unlike their previous landmark film chooses style over substance.

Beginning on Christmas Eve 2003 the film opens on dramatic helicopter views of Hong Kong in all its seasonal neon glory and closes in on a small (but equally colorful) holiday party with lead actors Tony Leung (aka The Man) as Chief Hei and Takeshi Kaneshiro (Jin from House of Flying Daggers) as Detective Bong, musing over booze and marriage – the two sides of the plot. A few minutes later we find that this is not festive celebration but a sting operation to capture a brutal murderer and the helicopter shots return as the whole party of cops follow the killer’s cab through the city. After the take down Bong returns home to find his wife dead from her own hand. Flash forward to 2006 and Bong is now a PI, a drunk (are there any other kinds?) and in love with a prostitute while Hei has a new wife with a rich daddy. The daddy ends up dead and the wife wants Bong to help out on the investigation. The directors choose to show us the murder up front but the investigation details the cause with all the aplomb of Mr. Magoo. The lead inspector on the case (as Hei is a suspect) is a bumbling fool, there is a too obvious red-herring stalker and we have to sit and watch 90 minutes of a drunk piece together what we already know with plotting that is anything but tight.

The acting from the leads is solid and the film is stunningly shot – especially the reenactment of the crime – but this film commits too many sins to be recommended. The connective tissue between scenes seems to be ripped out at times and there is no suspense whatsoever which would be ok if we had a deep character study but that is non-existent as well. Combine that with a score that beats you over the head with DRAMA and this is one to pass on.


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