That usually signifies the end of the show, be it TV or movies. For me, right now, it means that I am departing Minneapolis and heading home to sunny Sarasota, Florida, later this morning,
While the TCFF will roll on for five more grand evenings (it closes on October 31st), I am so happy to have had an opportunity, for my personal closing night, to watch a super film called It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong.
The film was written and directed by Emily Ting. This was her first time at helming a narrative feature film. Her five other directorial credits were for Shorts, Documentaries, and Documentary Shorts.
In a nutshell, an American born and raised Chinese woman goes to Hong Kong on a business trip, In a fast and easy ‘meet cute’, she gets lost somewhere in the Midlevels – small streets, lots of people, and a tad confusing to a newbie like her. An American expat, who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for 10 years, happens to overhear her phone conversation as she’s telling another party that she’s not sure where the particular place she was to meet a group of friends is. He offers her the directions and, after a bit of hesitation offers to walk her to that place.
Of course she declines, and heads out on her own. Moments later she’s back and admits to being lost and unsure. Once again he offers to escort her there. After an initial and repeated refusal, she relents and off they go.
He’s Josh and she’s Ruby. Josh is played by Bryan Greenberg and Ruby is played by Jamie Chung. Josh works for a multinational financial services company, and Ruby designs toys. Likely there’s a lot more to each of them – but hey, they’ve just met – and he’s only helping out a person under the broad heading of How Do I Get To…
So the walk and talk begins – Hollywood Road, the Man Mo Temple, Ladder Street, the Mid Level Escalators all come into view. As Ruby and Josh do their thing, Director Ting is doing her thing which is to treat we viewers to the excitement and thrills of just walking around in Hong Kong at night.
Emily told me that she had lived in Hong Kong for five years and that she didn’t speak the local language called Guangdongwa, or Cantonese. But Hong Kong is a city that doesn’t present a language issue for English-speaking visitors. I had met with her for more than an hour before the screening, which was before she had to do the meet and greets and the red carpet and other things that filmmakers must do at a film festival.
If you’ve never been to Hong Kong, then you’re in for a treat. But if you are an old Hong Kong hand, like me, the film brought back a ton of warm memories.
Paris may be known as the City of Lights, and New York is often called The City That Never Sleeps – but Hong Kong is just like those places, only at a much higher wattage, and in far less space.
So our couple strolls along. Josh is giving Ruby a nice tour, and as that happens, they begin to grow a bit closer, or maybe I should say – they get more comfortable with each other. They stop for a drink, and truth be told, it looks like everything else about them begins to fade beneath the current excitement. There are some sparks in the air, and the chemistry between the two leads is there for all to see.
Director Ting’s script is funny, and warm, and above all realistic. And as we watch them meander, you will have to say – what a great looking couple.
I said realistic because Emily told me that much of the film, while not autobiographical, is based on a similar event that she personally experienced.
But there’s more to tell about this Part One – all of which is set on Hong Kong Island. However, instead of giving away any more, I’ll just say that there’s a Part Two that begins on the Star Ferry as it crosses the Harbor heading to the other half of Hong Kong which is called Kowloon.
The thing about Hong Kong is that the locals will all invariably, when talking about a place, add Hong Kong Side, or Kowloon Side to differentiate. Not quite a pinpoint but very much like New Yorkers having Manhattan, The Bronx, and Brooklyn has separate identifiers.
Which is neither here nor there in the context of a film review, but it may be helpful. This film is a romance, and yet, it is also about the romance between the people and the city they live in. I tell you this because, Emily Ting’s Hong Kong, at least that which we see on the screen, is presented with a beautiful palette of stunning colors, and lights.
Emily also stated that she personally had been involved in selecting the green blouse worn by Jamie in Part One, and the red top she wore in Part Two. The shape and cut of the garments is one thing – but picking out clothes for their color is another thing. Directing a film is indeed all about details.
Late in the evening, as Josh points up at one of Hong Kong’s most visual of landmarks – the forest of skyscrapers that dominate Central – he says: Those lights aren’t on for show – every office that is lit up has people working in them – even now.
So the film gets high marks for its technical side – the at times soft focus, the beautifully lighted scenes on the Star Ferry, and the spectacular views from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront which faces the Hong Kong waterfront across the harbor. Views like this are surely captivating.
Then when you have a marvelous looking couple walking and talking – Ting’s script, which is already sharp and on the mark, now has the plus of the visual eye-candy of the location.
The film runs by so quickly, it has a run time of just 78 minutes – but the reality is that when the screenwriter can get you involved, or invested in the characters, time is besides the point.
The film may indeed be a romance, on multiple levels – but there are surprises and even a twist or two which come at unexpected times. But that only adds to the fun.
I’m going to give this film an excellent rating. Four-point two five on the one-to-five scale. It’s warm, it’s funny, it’s a romance, and it all takes place in a truly romantic place. It has been said that Hong Kong is all about money, and status, and going for the gold full tilt twenty-four seven.
But when you get down to street level, and see the city with attractive people to keep your eyes on as well as with sure-handedness of a director with a great future, It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong becomes a must-see.
And speaking of that, while the film is still on the festival circuit, at least for a few weeks more – it will close out its festival run in early December in Hawaii, there is some wonderful news – A distribution deal is about to come in. The film will be released in about three and half months. It’s a romance, so you can do the math yourself as to the exact day. If you can’t get to Hong Kong, then get to the cinema.
Here’s a photo of this reviewer and Director Emily Ting taken on October 26th – mere hours ago.
Readers: Please use the link below to read about It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong – a film review AND an interview with Emily Ting by Ruth Maramis over at flixchatter.net. In full disclosure, it was Ruth who introduced me to Emily at the TCFF.