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August 25, 2009

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Peter Nellhaus

I saw "Sparrow" last January. Along with John Woo's two "Red Cliff" films, which I would love to see in Blu-ray, these are my favorite films seen in 2009.

OMAR AHMED

The final moments in the rain are To's tribute to Singin in the Rain; it's a beatnik film, too cool for me, closest that To has come to the cinema of Godard. He shot the film over three number years but it wasn't evident on screen. In terms of genre, 'Sparrow' like 'Mad Detective' is an oddball of a movie, drawing on multiple cinematic references and celebrating the lexicon of To's favourite Hollywood genres like the musical, film noir and melodrama. The narrative is an inspired one as we enter the world of a group of ingenious and charismatic pickpockets who spend their time leisurely roaming the streets of Hong Kong, proving to one another of their invaluable and immeasurably confident skills. The band of lovable rouges is led by Kei who is played by a To regular, Simon Yam, who has now joined the ranks of an illustrious series of East Asian actors like Tony Leung, Anthony Wong and Andy Lau that have remained vital to the appeal of Asian cinema to Western sensibilities. This film deserves to find a wider audience.

Steve

I'm surprised that this never got released in America. I keep hoping that To will eventually find an audience here (of his recent films, EXILED was probably his best bet, as it's closest to American stereotypes of Hong Kong cinema), but for the moment, distributors seem to have given up on him. I'm looking forward to seeing VENGEANCE in Toronto.

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