Those were the first words I uttered after finishing Ann Hui’s July Rhapsody. A sense of puzzlement, not at the film, it’s a rather simple film. No. More so under the guise of melodrama and a soap-opera-esque type plot, lied beauty noticeable upon completion. Haneke, Ophuls, Teshigahara, Schanelec, Sang-soo, just a few filmmakers I can think of who grip you and hold you to the very end. It’s an art form in and of itself.
As I write this, I’ve now seen 11 of her films. By no stretch of any living person’s imagination are they all perfect (unless you just love everything, ever). Some barely scratch my opinion of “Good.” What separates her from other filmmakers and sets her at the upper echelon of filmmakers is her undeniable use of camp/comedy/melodrama. In recent months, I’ve grown more and more open and willing to accept camp and/or melodrama. Don’t get me wrong, I will forever and ever always enjoy the visceral over the loud and verbose (note: I sat here for about five minutes thinking of an antonym to “visceral.”) Hui was easily the muffin top to my melodrama muffin. She made it whole.
Because we live in an age with this little thing called the internet, I won’t bore you with her life story, you can easily Google her and find info. I’ll give you a brief history. Born. Masters in Book Stuff. Film School in England. Back to Hong Kong. Television. Transition to film. And here we are…
July Rhapsody is quite easily one of the most endearing films I’ve ever seen. We follow Lam Yiu-Kwok (Jacky Cheung), a teacher, dead set in his morals, his beliefs, and does any and all expected of him to be the perfect all around man. When the capricious Choy-Lam (Kar Yan Lam) takes a liking to him (you know, like him like him) his world gets turned upside down. There are layers upon layers in this film. My “summary” actually does a disservice to the film, because that is but one aspect. Due to my insatiable need to view films as a marble slab, I dare not delve into much plot.
1. July Rhapsody [Laam yan sei sap] (2002)
2. Song of the Exile [Ke tu qiu hen] (1990)
3. Boat People [Tau ban no hoi] (1982)
4. The Secret [Fung gip] (1979)
5. Summer Snow [Nu ren si shi] (1995)
6. My American Grandson [Shanghai jiaqi] (1991)
7. All About Love [Duk haan chau faa] (2010)
8. The Way We Are [Tin shui wai dik yat yu ye] (2008)
9. The Postmodern Life of My Aunt [Yi ma de hou xian dai sheng huo] (2006)
10. Night and Fog [Tin shui wai dik ye yu mo] (2009)
11. The Spooky Bunch [Zhuang dao zheng] (1980)
12. Visible Secret [Youling renjian] (2001)