In my weekly trawl of the internet I’ve managed to come across both a trailer and some pieces of music which may be of interest to my faithful readers. Johnnie To is one of the best directors working out of Hong Kong at the moment and the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year played host to the trailer for his latest work Sparrow. Telling the story of a band of pickpockets who find themselves working for a mysterious lady the film seems to contain To’s usual breezy sense of style and a remarkable soundtrack.
To my infinite shame I only have a cursory knowledge of the cinema of Johnnie To. I’ve always intended to see more of his films, but for whatever reason Hong Kong’s current auteur has been ridiculously poorly represented in this country. Despite wide spread acclaim for his films, it was only until recently that you could obtain any of his films in this country aside from his duelling assassins movie Fulltime Killer which was in relation to the rest of his work a creative nadir.
I first encountered the work To when one of his films was shown on British television at some ridiculous hour in the morning. The movie in question would be The Mission, a film which still doesn’t have a proper DVD release (either in Europe or in Hong Kong) despite nearly a decade having passed since it was released. I went into The Mission expecting the usual over the top gunplay and histrionics, what I got was a film that was serene, quiet and intent on character interaction. I’ve been a To fan ever since and I’ve made a distinct effort to track down his work.
To films are easy to characterise by their breezy style and visual depth, even when he’s working on fairly trite material he brings a certain style and charm to proceedings. Sparrow represents a film that To has been diligently working on for three years and the results, just from the trailer alone, look absolutely magnificent. Sure it’s a film about a bunch of guys robbing people, but it looks like a lot of fun doesn’t it? And you have to admit that gorgeous soundtrack certainly helps the film look like a lot of fun.
The soundtrack is the work of Xavier Jamux and Fred Avril and combines classical jazz elements with traditional Chinese instruments and the effect is stunning. Even if you have no interest in the film it is worth heading over to the MySpace page and just listening to a few tracks they’ve graciously uploaded. If you like what you hear then why not check out the trailer embedded just below?