Last night I had grand plans to attend the opening night of Chicago’s annual Hong Kong film fest with my 14 year-old son, Jake. I even scored two passes to the opening reception.
But as evening approached, my husband called to say he was still at work. We couldn’t leave until he came home to stay with our two youngest kids. I was upset we’d miss the reception, but couldn’t very well tell him to leave his sick patients. I kicked myself for not hiring a babysitter, but Tom had been leaving work on time all week and thought he’d be able to do the same yesterday.
An hour later he called to say he might not even make it home before the start of the movie.
It was time to call a sitter. I frantically texted and called a friend and her daughter, and as always, they came through. Jake and I left 15 minutes later when the sitter arrived, and made it downtown in record time. I was still down about not making the reception and told Jake that the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office would never invite me back. We grabbed a quick dinner at an Asian fast food place where we ate baozi and jiaozi (buns and dumplings).
When we arrived at the theater, people were still in the reception. And there on a table near the front door were our name tags.
As it turned out, we still could have made the reception even though we were late. All that anxiety for nothing! The theater was crowded, but not packed. I spotted a couple of friends, so we quickly grabbed seats next to them. It was fun to catch up before the movie started.
We saw Johnnie To’s 2011 masterpiece, Life Without Principle. It centered around three greedy people in Hong Kong at the time of the 2008 financial collapse: a retail banker, a housewife who wants to buy an expensive apartment, and a gangster. I love how Johnnie To so effortlessly mixed in humor with his message about greed.
The film was set mainly in Kowloon, my favorite part of Hong Kong. Lau Ching-wan played the main gangster character (photo below). He was in many of the Hong Kong movies I watched when I lived there in the 90s. In Life Without Principle, he didn’t disappoint, and played a bumbling henchman who wore an assortment of sandals, cropped pants, and orange and magenta shirts.
And at the end of the film, I no longer felt stressed out that the evening hadn’t gone as planned. Jake and I both loved the film and had a very enjoyable night out.
The Hong Kong film festival is running in Chicago through December 5th. I’ll be back that evening to see one of my favorite movies, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love.