Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vengeance


"And the Oscar goes to... Cheng Siu-keung."

"And the Oscar goes to... Wai Ka-fai."

"And the Oscar goes to... Johnny Hallyday."

"And the Oscar goes to... Johnnie To."

"And the Oscar goes to...
Vengeance, Milkyway Image."


Vengeance / Fuk sau by Johnnie To, 2009:



I overheard a conversation tonight / A husband telling his wife: " 'R.E.D.' stands for 'Retired Extreme Danger'." / Every person alive on this earth who likes movies, from my Aunt Beverley to Yuri Tsivian, from Olivia Munn to Milton M. Levine, should extol the name "Johnnie To" / All three syllables should be recited over the loudspeaker during homeroom / This would be a great victory, symbolic, as when the class rebel has finally succeeded in commandeering the control-board, and swapped out Whitney Houston's 1991 rendition of the national anthem for "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes / Johnnie To is a man who has an oeuvre five times the size of Sergio Leone's / He is a man who, with Wai Ka-fai at his side, will someday stage a paranoiac, electrifying, moral, scene, handlers present for a giraffe / His movies would bewitch a mass, global public / If only there were protesters against our state television............... / The film begins with the reflection, backwards-Cocteau, of a killer in a window, on the other side of things, the flip of the Three Men and a Baby ghost / Shots of hands and fingernails, Francis Costello (Johnny Hallyday), this stitched-together entity, marker-ing "VENGEANCE" on post-mortem photos / The 'black market arms dealer' who lives in a triage junk-camp / Confronting the killers in the family-reunion-ready picnic-ground at night amid the smoke (of course) and illumination from Kliegs, the three assassins — same as Hallyday's hired three, also paid assassins — eat Pringles with their hot wives — and these assassins have children, same as the two grandchildren of Francis Costello they murdered / Costello's restaurant is called "Les Frères" — brothers and brothers... / When the hitmen's families go home, the shootout begins, leaves fluttering from the trees throughout / Slow-motion, extended, dreamlike, you take a shot, and you just stand there in your own red mist, still loading your gun / As he's being operated on, Costello reveals that a bullet lodged in his brain from a previous shooting will, according to his doctors, result in eventual total-memory-loss — thus he must take revenge before it's too late — hence the photographs snatched at the crime scene, and of his accomplices / Classic To/Wai ingenuity of pacing, shape, structure — withhold this plot-point till nearly an hour in, make the waves on the whip increase frequency / Pursuers in black ponchos / Losing them: the amazing scene where Costello gets separated from his cohorts and stands in the rain trying to match Polaroids to faces... / Bullets are a way of connecting one shot to another, this piece of space and movement to that one / The picture culminates in an exceptional tableau / Common-law wife / All her children are mixed / Francis Costello, a man out of Paris who one day just appears, then stays in paradise, it's like his arrival was out of paradise, man in a suit, with plate and cutlery, mama has another baby-bump

Vengeance / Fuk sau by Johnnie To, 2009:










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