Sunday, February 03, 2019


So, here's something fun: Looking up to see what is opening over the weekend, seeing a movie you've never heard of, and then digging around and finding it's made by a director you really like and stars a bunch of people you've really liked in his films. I was ready to see it Thursday night, but for whatever reason the AMC app showed it as sold out as soon as it showed up. Which seems unlikely, as I was the only person there until a few minutes before it started on Saturday, but maybe all of Chinatown was there the night before.

Did it quite live up to my hopes? Maybe not quite; I was kind of hoping for another Vulgaria, but that's a lot to ask for. Plus, for all I know this is one of those Cantonese comedies where a lot gets lost in translation; I always remember the time I was seeing a Hong Kong comedy at Fantasia and one of the people there for the Q&A was very proud that they translated the swear-words more accurately than usual for the subtitles. Maybe there was a lot of Cantonese wordplay that I just didn't get.

Still, I liked it, and recommend people who like screwy comedies even if they've got subtitles. Pang Ho-cheung is, as mentioned, a favorite of mine, and it's worth noting that this was apparently made very quickly (shot in 14 days), and atypical for a Hong Kong Chinese New Year comedy in that they're usually pretty family friendly ensemble pieces, while this gets pretty crude. There's a scene or two involving people speaking English that makes me feel a little better about not being completely lost on an upcoming trip.

Anyway, speaking of Chinese New Year movies, it looks like what's playing the Boston area has been shuffled around; Crazy Alien is no longer playing Boston Common or Revere starting Tuesday, but The Wandering Earth will be taking its slot, playing in Imax 3D through Thursday before it's previously-scheduled regular opening. And, yes, I waited until I'd reserved my tickets to post this.

Gong Hei Pat Poh (Misbehavior)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 1 February 2019 in AMC Boston Common #6 (first-run, DCP)

With the amount of text people deal with on phones, signs, and what have you, it can be hard for those distributing movies in foreign markets to subtitle absolutely everything that may need it, which is why my notes for this movie had a certain character named "Bitch" until about three-quarters of the way through. She's actually named "May", it turns out, part of a group of friends that call each other that and have the group chat on their phones labeled as such, something a person who can read Chinese probably picks up a couple minutes in. It's an affectation that fits right into a Pang Ho-cheung comedy, where he goes for the casually vulgar and gets more than a few big laughs.

May (Gigi Leung Wing-kei) is a police officer walking her beat with some trainees, only to run into onetime friend Isabel (Isabel Chan Yat-ning) - "onetime" because, while she insists she only slept with May's ex-boyfriend after they broke up, why else would Isabel's Wi-fi network already be on his phone? - who says she wouldn't ask if it weren't to help their friend June (June Lam Siu-ha), whose demanding boss (Isabella Leung) will likely fire her if she discovers that the breast milk she had left in the office refrigerator is gone. This is not something either can help with, nor can their impressively-endowed friend Rosalin (Dada Chan Ching). But maybe Rosalin's former street-music partner "Minibus" (Yanki Din), or gay couple Boris (Tan Han-jin) and Frank (Chui Tien-you) might know someone.

Truth be told, the plot of Missbehavior kind of seems like something that would just be a funny sequence in a raunchy comedy, but maybe not the whole thing. Maybe it's just harder to push boundaries in the same way it once was, but once the film has introduced Boris & Frank teaching a beginner's BDSM class and having it seem cute, the quest for some replacement breast milk plays as a little crazy, but not exactly so far out that the sheer weirdness can carry the movie when a joke doesn't quite work on its own. It seems like it should be about midway through the escalation of how these ladies have things go nuts, rather than the whole thing. Moments that feel like they should be envelope-pushing are just kind of odd, like the script has been in development for a few years only to be left behind by movies like Pang's own Vulgaria.

Full review at EFC.

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