Another night, another two movies. We're getting into the 'long slog' part of SFIFF. At least, it's a long slog when you're also holding down a regular job. When you're unemployed or take vacation for a festival, it's a breeze.
My first film of the night was COLD WAR, a Hong Kong police action-drama in the classic 80s/90s model, directed by a pair of first-time directors, Longman Leung (who has experience as an art director) and Sunny Luk (who has experience as an assistant director.) They have a high powered cast including Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Ka-fai as the leads. And as I alluded to before, it has the feel of an 80s or 90s HK police action drama (except that it explicitly takes place well after the 1997 handover to China.) Meaning it has some thrilling and inventive action scenes, a convoluted conspiracy plot that's impossible to understand, and the parts I do understand are kind of ridiculous. Hong Kong in the movie bills itself as "Asia's Safest City" and it's the police who are charged with keeping it that way. So things start bad for them right away with a bombing, followed by the kidnapping of 5 officers and a high tech van full of police equipment. A botched ransom sting and ensuing car chase leaves an officer dead and the bad guys free, but miraculously the 5 kidnapped officers are retrieved unharmed. And then it turns not into a hunt for the kidnappers but an internal drama as the anti-corruption investigators (what in America we call internal affairs) goes looking for a mole in the police department. It pits the Operations Department--under the command of deputy commissioner Lee (Tony Leung Ka-fai)--against the Management Department--under the command of deputy commissioner Lau (Aaron Kwok.) Various theories as to why either of them--or anyone in their command--might be the mole are floated, and it all kind of makes my head spin. Along the way, there are more action piece fireworks (literally, in a turn on the classic bit of trivia that gunpowder was invented in China but only used for fireworks instead of weapons, fireworks are turned into weapons.) Ridiculous and confusing, the only thing I was sure of at the end was that Hong Kong is in serious danger of losing its "Asia's Safest City" title.
And then, after a couple of beers in the festival lounge, it was time for some music, performance, and perversion with PEACHES DOES HERSELF. I vaguely knew of Peaches (not to be confused with San Francisco's own Peaches Christ) before, but I'm not anyone who can be considered a fan (not that I dislike her, I just never really followed her career.) The film itself opens with a serious looking German man reading an academic account of her career--a serious lecture in Peaches study. At least, that's what I think he's doing. It's in German with no subtitles so to me it's mostly gibberish punctuated by titles of Peaches' songs like "Diddle My Skittle", "Fatherfucker", or "Fuck the Pain Away", which elicited good laughs from the crowd. He is then quickly drowned out by "Rock Show," which leads into the rest of Peaches' weird, kinky, fun, and surprisingly moving live show. Her songs tell a story of a young girl in her room exploring her sexuality, getting more and more perverse until she meets her true love (a fully nude hermaphrodite with tits and dick on full display.) But her true love is stolen by another (Sandi Kane the Naked Cowgirl) leaving her a broken shell of a...person?
Oops, I guess I got pretty damn spoiler-y there. But that arc doesn't really capture the true draw--the sheer fun of wallowing in perversion and pushing the envelope. And, oddly, the important word in that is "fun." It's so easy to focus on the perversion and the envelope pushing and forget that it's all about having fun. It's one thing to work "labia majora" into a song, but when you rhyme it with "dance the hora" then you have my full attention.
Peaches will be doing a live show at Mezzanine tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 1.) Your ticket to either the screening last night or the second screening on Thursday at 9:15 (with Peaches in attendance) can get you into the Mezzanine show on a first-come, first-served basis (and apparently there are still some shows left.)
Total Running Time:182 minutes
My Total Minutes: 325,935