Archive for August 2nd, 2012

by Allan Fish

(Hong Kong 2011 118m) DVD1/2

Aka. Tao Jie

No road to the magic mountain

p  Roger Lee, Andy Lau, Ann Hui  d  Ann Hui  w  Roger Lee, Susan Chan  ph  Nelson Yu Lik-Wai  ed  Chi-Leung Kwong, Manda Wai  m  Wing-fai Law  art  Albert Poon

Deannie Ip (Ah Tao), Andy Lau (Roger Lee), Paul Chun (Uncle Kin), Hui Pink Kee (Aunt Kam), Hui So-ying (Mui), Suet-Fa Kong (receptionist), Tin Leung (headmaster), Hailu Qin (Ms Choi), Wang Fuli (Roger’s mother), Sammo Hung Kan-Bo (director Hung), Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (grasshopper), Eman Lam (Carmen), Tsui Hark,

Some films are a pleasure to write about.  You can just come to the keyboard and right away know what you want to say, how to say it and it just flows like taking copy from a Dictaphone.  A Simple Life is not one of those films, not one of those films you can make mental notes on while watching because before you know it, the film’s over and you have no idea how to begin your piece.  It’s the sort of film that makes suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – or the Hollywood mainstream c.2011 – worth all the pain.  You come out, whether from the cinema or your front room, feeling ennobled, uplifted and put through the emotional wringer, all the more so because the film makes absolutely no effort to do so.  Even as I type, I imagine the Hollywood version and it’s a horrifying thought.

Roger – based on the real life experience of producer and writer Roger Lee – is a film producer who lives and works in Hong Kong.  Most of his family are now abroad, either on the Chinese mainland or in the US, and he lives with his seventy-something maid Ah Tao, who has looked after members of his family for six decades.  One day, after making him his favourite dish, she collapses with a stroke.  Visiting her in hospital she tells him, in her typical altruistic manner, that she wants to go into an old people’s home.  He finds her one and there she gets to know some of the fellow inmates, but Roger comes to see her as often as filming and meeting schedules permit, even takes her to his film premiere, but it becomes clear that her condition isn’t going to get better.  (more…)

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