Midnight Madness Blog

- 2008
- 2007

Madness, Regret

It was 2007 and I was still innocent, sure that TIFF would screen at least one, if not two Johnnie To movies from now till the end of time. Now Grady Hendrix reports that since finishing Sparrow, Johnnie To is taking a break. (Todd Brown has found conflicting evidence). One of the things I like best about To is his ability to riff on other directors and play with genre. Johnnie To isn't a Midnight Madness director, but he's been a good friend to MM fans with movies like The Mission, its Western “sequel” Exiled, PTU (run, Lam Suet, run!)  Election 1 & Election 2, Throwdown and, most recently, Mad Detective.

So last year, I was way over excited at the chance to see Lau Ching- Wan (Running Out Of Time) star in Mad Detective with both Johnnie To and screenwriter/co-director/Milky Way Productions collaborator Wai Ka-Fai in attendance. 

Wai Ka-Fai and Johnnie To at another festival.

The highpoint of the Q & A was Wai Ka-Fai explaining he'd gotten the idea for Mad Detective after seeing the painting Starry Night and wondering what Vincent Van Gogh would be like as a detective.


"Look at this pipe! I would be a fantastic detective!"

I said it last year and I'll say it again. We are lucky to live in a world where Johnnie To is making movies. We are even luckier to live in a world where he's working with Wai Ka-Fai and actors like Lau Ching-Wan. But here's where my regret comes in, all sad-eyes, lowered tail and having a helluva time getting out of bed.

William Wegman's "Cinderella" represents my regret (and impending madness)

After the screening, I wandered out of the Elgin, pondering how all Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai movies could be so effortlessly good. As my friends and I came out a side exit, there was a black SUV with the passenger side window rolled down. Leaning out of the window was Johnnie To, signing autographs for a few fans.

And I just walked by. I had a notebook. I knew I'd regret it if I didn't tell him how much I enjoy his films. But I walked by and I still couldn't say why. It's the kind of thing that would the be the crux of a chilling psychological portrait.  But the important part is:  Don't be like me. Doomed to wander the earth, alone, empty notebook in hand.

regret. pain. doom.

Whoa Whoa Whoa... Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai *ARE* Midnight Madness Directors! They did 2001's Fulltime Killer (Starring Andy Lau). That movie was off the f'in hook.
Comment By Sanjay Rajput At 30/08/2021 10:57 PM
THE MISSION was also a Midnight Madness selection.

HK film fans take note that Wong Kar-Wai and Anthony Wong (!!!!!!!!) are going to be at TIFF this year. WKW for ASHES OF TIME and Wong for PLASTIC CITY, which co-stars Jo Odagiri.
Comment By Sister Gomez At 31/08/2021 2:52 PM
Very excited about both Ashes of Time and Plastic City!

I haven't forgotten either The Mission or Fulltime Killer. There'll always be a place at the Midnight Madness table but nowadays I've seen Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai hanging out in chi-chi Contemporary World Cinema circles. I expect soon enough they'll be over at the Masters table.
Comment By Carol Borden At 31/08/2021 5:54 PM
Once a MM director, always a MM director. :)
Comment By Sanjay Rajput At 31/08/2021 11:38 PM
you know that Miike was in the audience for THE MISSION? he thought it was too slow for a MM film!
Comment By greatsilence At 03/09/2021 2:42 PM
Not enough blood for Miike either I bet :)
Comment By Veronica Wright At 03/09/2021 10:22 PM
Well, Johnny To Kei-Fung isn't a Midnight Madness director this year, anyway - and I'm not sure if he will be returning to Midnight Madness now that he's getting recognized as a brilliant director of World Cinema.

But I can see both sides of the argument about 'Midnight Madness Directors', and we certainly wouldn't want to dis-own a director just because he's made it big and received prestigious awards.

However, I think about Peter Jackson (featured Meet the Feebles in 1990 and Braindead in 1992), and while he certainly was a Midnight Madness director, I'm not really sure if I'd say he still is a Midnight Madness director. Maybe Johnny To's on a similar vector towards respectability...
Comment By DaveBOTN At 10/09/2021 10:59 PM
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