Saturday, April 29, 2017

Love Off the Cuff

As I mentioned in the other day’s “Next Week in Tickets” post, the weekend of Independent Film Festival Boston is the best time for me to try and see a number of Asian films that will likely be pushed off screens by a big Marvel movie next week, so I try and cram them in where possible. In this case, that means the 10:15am show on Saturday morning, but the new Pang Ho-cheung movie, and a sequel to two I liked at that, means you find a way.

I do have a few questions after watching it, though. Looking at my Love in the Buff review from 2012, I noted a ten-year age difference there, while they are described as 36 and 40 in this movie. It’s believable enough, in that Shawn Yue has filled out a bit in the last few years, but I wonder if this is a deliberate change or just a matter of different translations. I’m also kind of curious about how specific some of the pop-culture references are, especially when characters are name-dropping during a song at the end. How specifically Hong Kong is it?

Chun Kiu gau Chi Ming (Love Off the Cuff)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 29 April 2017 in AMC Boston Common #10 (first-run, DCP)

Pang Ho-cheung’s Love Off the Cuff looks like a period horror movie as it opens (especially for those of us that can’t read the Chinese opening titles), and this bit goes on long enough that a viewer might start to wonder whether the theater had ingested the wrong DCP into their projection system. It says something that, despite having paid for a romantic comedy, I’d have happily watched this monster movie; no matter what he’s doing, Pang has a sense of fun even when he’s playing something straight. That’s what makes this one pretty good when it does finally deliver the expected; Pang and his cast can make this silly while still finding something real to consider in the characters’ relationship.

For those who came in late, Jimmy Cheung (Shawn Yue Man-lok) and Cherie Yu (Miriam Yeung Chin-wah) met eight years ago when their smoke breaks coincided and started going out even though she’s a few years older than him; they split but eventually reconnected when both were transferred from Hong Kong to Beijing. Together ever since, they’re now back home, and things have been going well, although they’ve maybe fallen into a rut, despite the public indecency charges they are hit with early on. For better or worse, a couple visitors could throw things upside down: Cherie’s father (Paul Chun Pui) has arrived with his fiance Apple (Wang Xiaochen), who may be younger than the daughter, while Jimmy’s “Godmother” Flora (Jiang Meng-jie) is also younger, with that being a joke nickname given to her while they were kids in Toronto, and she’s got a big favor to ask.

This is Pang’s third visit with the couple he, Shawn Yue, and Miriam Yeung first introduced in Love in a Puff, and it’s impressive just for being the third entry in a romantic comedy series that in many ways has the same basic conflict without wrecking what made it work in the first place. Part of this is that, for all that both threads tend to remind Cherie that older men tend to seek younger women rather than vice versa, there’s not a lot of overt talk of this - it ties in with a lot of Cherie’s other fears and Jimmy’s temptations, but it’s also something that, by dint of them getting this far, it’s mostly accepted.

Full review on EFC.

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