Like a scene straight out of a movie, on the day superstar Michael (Louis Khoo) is to marry his actress sweetheart Yuan Yuan, a coal miner shows up and runs off with the bride.
While dodging the paparazzi, Michael inadvertently boards a truck driven by Sue (Sammi Cheng) and ends up in Shangri-la.
Sue is the innkeeper of a local inn and allows the rather depressed Michael to stay and get his life back together. During his stay, Michael finds out Sue is a die-hard fan and Michael’s movies are the links of Sue’s marriage. Unfortunately, her husband, Tian, disappeared 7 years ago near the inn and hasn’t been found ever since.
Year after year, the rescue team looks for Tian and Sue hasn’t given up either. But when hope turns into despair, Sue commits suicide and Michael rescues her. As time goes by, Michael nurses Sue back to health and encourages her to put Tian behind her. When they both sense love is in the air, Sue gets word Tian’s body has been found. Unable to forget her husband, Sue turns Michael down.
In memory of this magical journey, Michael turns it into a movie and personally persuades Yuan Yuan to star in the leading role of his film, “Romancing Into Thin Air”…
Following his directorial debut with the 1980 period martial arts fantasy The Enigmatic Case, To’s career came to something of an apex in the late 1980s thanks to such memorable action films as The Big Heat and tender, personal dramas like All About Ah-Long (the latter of which landed star Chow Yun-Fat a Best Actor award at the 1990 Hong Kong Film Awards). After taking the helm for such memorable action films as The Heroic Trio and directing Stephen Chow in such films as Justice, My Foot and Mad Monk in the early ‘90s, To moved into producing with the creation of independent film company Milky Way Films, a company which yielded such popular Hong Kong action efforts as Nai-hoi Yau’s The Longest Nite and Expect the Unexpected. Though To’s production company was indeed a success, his career behind the camera was in need of some rejuvenation, an issue which he readily addressed with the release of his highly praised 1999 crime drama The Mission.
Utilizing convention as a springboard… read more
Its a rare opportunity to see an artist tell you everything about life and about his art-form To is now both the symbol and the image and has seemed to reach a place where he can do and say anything and you may not even bat an eye its so in place. It seems like cinema has reached a singularity as other users have pointed out in the post below but to see "OUR" film on that screen after all the scenes before this for me and this is personal as stunning as the monolith as the film has met itself short of existence. And somehow To made this all simple the greatest movie ever made boy I'm blown away.
Almost Hong-like in outward hearsay, yet reminiscent of late T. Scott: refraction of images through multiple mediums; amplified tragedy from voyeurism and obsession. The reflections continue in the symmetric movements of the two leads, and their common abandonment, amidst the oasis of Shangri-La - between which To’s familiar kineticism and darkness comes benediction, allowing the reflective boundaries between life and art to be all but cathartically, joyously erased. Fascinatingly choreographed; also: lovely.
To finds the midpoint between The Purple Rose of Cairo and the work of Abel Ferrara, in which the blurring of diegetic reality is an equal source of escapist pleasure and darker manipulations. The influence of art on life and vice versa is slowly compounded but never tangled thanks to To's elegance and paradoxically subtle ostentation. This is a major work, folks, don't let anyone tell you different.
Adam is correct. The way life and cinema bleed into each other, manipulate and form each other, is remarkable. This isn't a sentimental weepy. The dead husband used the film image to woo, the film director used life's images to shape a woman's feeling for him. This manipulation of the images of reality and cinema, the line between them so blurred as to be nonexistent, allow for one of the sharpest examinations of cinema in the 21st century.
On one of the unsung, under-seen, great films of 2012—a formalist exploration of the image-swapping between reality & cinema.
Film Comment’s best of the year, Raya Martin & Mark Peranson in Mexico, James Gray on American cinema, and an unexpected Guillaume sighting.