I think I've seen the preview for this one half a dozen times in front of Chinese movies at Boston Common, enough to be kind of surprised when it only opened up at the Apple Cinemas in Fresh Pond on a half-schedule, although I probably should have guessed why from the fact that it had a name change: It was in the eFilmCritic database as It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, but that doesn't get you to the top of the on-demand menu, does it?
I almost wonder if I'd have been better off just getting it on-demand, because they projected it off a Blu-ray and, yikes, it was worse than what we'd been seeing at the Sci-Fi Festival. $9.75 for that, compared to $6.99 to rent it on Amazon. I love the theatrical experience, I'm willing to pay a little extra for it, but you've got to make it better than what I'm getting at home, and a picture filled with artifacts does not cut it. Seriously, Gravitas, send places a DCP - as a viewer, I don't care about how much more a 35mm print costs than a DCP; if you can absorb the cost of hard drive compared to that of a disc, you shouldn't be distributing the movie.
(Makes me worry for the "Rotten to the Core" series Apple's advertising, though - I'm already worried that it will attract a crowd more looking to mock than enjoy, and I don't need The Crow looking like that!)
I really liked it, though, even though it took me a bit of a moment to warm up to the ending:
It's not as definitive as that of either Before Sunrise or Before Sunset, and it's really silly to complain that this movie isn't the same as that one, but both of them felt decisive in their own ways. It says good things about the movie that I really wanted "you're going to miss your plane"/"I know", but just stopping minutes before they make a decision seems like an unnatural amiguity.
BTW, what kind of crap is it that neither Before Sunrise or Before Sunset is available on Blu-ray? My DVDs could use an upgrade!
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
* * * (out of four)
Seen 18 February 2016 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #9 (first-run, projected Blu-ray)
Sometimes, I feel like I'm an easy mark for movies like Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong - they are basically two people flirting for an hour or two while walking around a foreign city, allowing the viewer to play tourist by proxy, and that doesn't seem like much for the pleasure they give me. On the other hand, who doesn't enjoy sightseeing and falling in love? This movie delivers that without distraction but with just enough personality that it doesn't need more.
The star-crossed couple meets outside a bar: Joshua (Bryan Greenberg) is smoking a cigarette and seems kind of annoyed, while Ruby (Jamie Chung), in the city for a business trip, is trying to meet friends at a spot across town but has an old phone without maps. Having been living in Hong Kong for ten years, Joshua offers to walk her there; she accepts, they talk, they seem to connect, but it's not the right time. The next year, they meet again on a ferry, and while it seems that not enough has changed for them to become more than friends, who knows?
Since making the movie, stars Bryan Greenberg and Jamie Chung have married, and this does seem to be a happy case of on-screen and real-life chemistry lining up. Writer/director Emily Ting had them comment on other pairings of white men and younger Asian women, but makes the way these two complement one another more specific - she's often nervous but sharp, while he's settled enough to cover his insecurities by staying in a comfort zone. They're built to draw each other not so much out of their shells but out of their ruts, engaging rather than standing back, and the pair respond to each other well. We only see them separate briefly, but putting them together generates a clear spark that is a little muted otherwise.
Full review on EFC.