If you're feeling overwhelmed, but still want to squeeze a film into your daily routine, this list is made for…
Kei (Simon Yam) is the experienced leader of a team of pickpockets — also known as "Sparrows" in HK slang. He enjoys a carefree lifestyle taking photos. One day a dashing beauty, Chun-Lei (Kelly Lin), suddenly appears in Kei's viewfinder. Kei is mesmerized. But behind Chun-Lei's attractive facade lies a mysterious past and a mission to set herself free.
Brothers on a bike
Snatching as a serenade.
Chasers become chased
A girl is the ultimate con.
Umbrellas of To-Berg.
If Exiled characterizes its sense of brotherhood through our awareness of the past, Sparrow builds it through the present—something tangible in the everyday presence of reality. The second sequence in the film, as we see the four men work the street, is something closer to watching Gene Kelly work his way through a crowd: elegant, calculated, and always with a smile. All of To’s gangster films have comedy in them (Exiled’s interlude in the desert, Drug War’s HAHA!), and his comedies have suspense as well, but separates Sparrow from your run-of-the-mill American comedy is every joke is also in service…
The lightest, most graceful Johnnie To film. This time around I was enraptured by the jaunty shape-shifting score by Xavier Jamaux and Fred Avril. There's some Michel Legrand pop-jazz, Morricone vocalizations, and light bossa nova. It floats away with the movie.
Plus Simon Yam can wear the shit out of a linen suit.
It doesn't really get any better than the umbrella sequence.
So, I brought this project forward by a few days after having to abandon the 30 Countries one - and almost immediately wished that I hadn't bothered.
Starting with an amazingly awful opening scene where Simon Lam befriends the titular bird with some of the worst silent acting I've ever seen, it really gets no better after that. Half an hour later I was asleep and when I awoke I found myself really thankful that I had missed the rest of it.
I did consider restarting it today but I get the distinct impression this one isn't going to win me over. This is my third attempt at a Johnnie To film and so…
wow, this had almost everything i've ever wanted in a movie: simon yam, petty crime, gambling, bold colors, neat staircases, umbrellas in the rain, a couple sharing a cigarette in slow motion, gags involving injured men, bicycles, fish tanks, lots of gestures and glances, and a light jazz soundtrack that prominently features xylophones and flutes.
basically a movie that reminds me how much i love movies.
Birds of a feather.
To's breeziest and yet most formal work. The amount of detail in every frame in accordance with movement is simply jaw dropping, something only a master who's honed his craft over the span of 20 years could accomplish. Some influences I put down:
To's TO CATCH A THIEF, with Simon Yam in full Cary Grant mode.
To's CITY LIGHTS, with Gordon Lam as a pitiful tramp.
To's PLAYTIME, with the city as a giant chess board.
To's LOLA, with Kelly Lin as an object of desire.
an artistic dance form performed to music using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures.
Johnnie To's Sparrow is a symphony of a city, a musical without songs and a gangster movie without guns. It is a celebration of movement and space, as light on its feet as dancer and as spry and cunning as the pickpockets it depicts, with red and blues bleeding into the screen, more concerned with the rhythmic possibilities of high heels on pavement and visual dynamics of rain flung from umbrellas and razor blades through pockets than plot or character. The central love story is essentially a misdirect as the true love is between the Sparrows themselves, struggling to fit on that bike all together, a team in the most quintessential way, the mission, whatever it may be, is tackled in unison. What a lovely, funny, odd little film this is.
"She'll return to the cage herself."
Emotional filmmaking, expressed entirely through movement.
This movie means more to me than the entirety of the French New Wave.
Ein sehr Stilvoller Film mit starker Musik und schönen Bildern, der leider vergisst Rücksicht auf die Logik zu nehmen.
Rewatch confirmed what I suspected: Sparrow is a perfect movie. Every scene--every second--oozes with magic. The kind of magic that can only be made through film. Dialogue is sparse and unnecessary, To and the actors telling their story and developing their characters through small gestures (when about to be attacked, the leader of the pickpockets subtly shields his camera) and little details blown up to become massive (lipstick on a cigarette, the space between two in an elevator). The music rules, it's a perfect length, it tackles love in every form without ever becoming weighty...there not a single thing here that isn't absolutely, overwhelmingly wonderful.
Breezy, funny, but also thrilling and heartbreaking. Simon Yam is the embodiment of cool and the umbrella setpiece is pure cinema, reducing pickpocketing to a dance of prolonged gestures and looks, because the core of the conflict is emotional, and not just an oportunity for Yam to showcase his badass skills. And the rain is not only an excuse to provide more movement and texture in the scene (well it is that as well) but also a simple visualization of a catharsis for several characters. Simple, but it works.
Whimsical and fun with some good performances. The lack of dialogue and unique soundtrack lend the film a dreamlike quality. The story is thin at best and the lack of tension kept me from becoming too invested in anything that was happening. A nice one time watch.
Step One: Go to www.random.org.
Step Two: Pick a Number.
Step Three: GET WEIRD!
Film I'm most looking forward to...