Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Short Takes: ‘Overheard’ (dir. Mak and Chong)

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Film: Overheard
Year: 2009
Directors: Alan Mak and Felix Chong

I saw this Hong Kong action thriller movie as part of the 16th annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival at the Freer Gallery of Art in DC. The festival runs through August 21, 2011 with free screenings of several other Hong Kong films. They’re showing in the Meyer Auditorium at the Freer, and doors open a half-hour before each show.

I found Overheard very suspenseful, with several dramatic twists that I don’t want to spoil for you. Something that caught my attention was the amount of code-switching between Cantonese (branch of Chinese used in southern China and China’s Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau) and English that was present in the film’s dialogue. A character would say something along the lines of “Good morning sir” in English, then continue in Cantonese. This linguistic feature may be exaggerated because it is a movie, after all, but a little research on the subject shows that code-switching between the two are very common, as many Hong Kong residents are bilingual. Both Chinese and English are official languages.

A friend and I agreed that the music was overly dramatic at certain points. You know when you’re watching a film and you’re aware of the background music and precisely which mood shifts the director is trying to achieve using that music? Not a good thing. The film soundtrack is something that should blend seamlessly into each scene, not call attention to itself.

Though the film festivals that run at the Freer Gallery are free, please remember that donations help them keep these public events going.

Written by Crystal Bae

July 24th, 2011 at 10:35 pm

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