Johnnie To isn’t what you’d call a household name in the states, although genre buff Quentin Tarantino has professed a love for his stripped-down, hard-boiled gangster flicks. He’s more popular in his native land of Hong Kong, although ardent cinephiles are sure to have seen at least a To film or two.
One of the most impressive things about To as a director is how many different kinds of movies he’s made: martial arts films, caper pictures, psychological horror, straight melodrama and, of course, the nasty, bloody, body-littered Triad crime films for which he is most well-known. And now To can add another notch to his belt of genres undertaken: musicals.
That’s right, folks: “Office,” his crazy-looking new picture, is a straight-up, unapologetic musical, all filtered through that distinct Johnnie To lens. And it’s… about the financial crisis of 2008? And it’s in… wait, it’s in 3D? Don’t take my word for it: a new trailer has just landed online, so feel free to check it out for yourself.
Chow Yun-Fat, who’s starred in many of To’s other pictures, takes the role of Ho Chung-Ping, the fast-talking, smooth-as-silk CEO of Jones & Sunn. To give too much more away would be redundant, since “Office” appears to be a primarily visual, sensual experience. The interiors in the trailer have a lavish, go-for-broke opulence and the kinetic, caffeinated movements of the camera promise the audience, if nothing else, a pointedly singular moviegoing experience. It will be interesting to see To branch out in yet another unprecedented direction, and it sounds as though the results may have paid off: Cinema Scope’s Shelly Kraicer praised the film, writing “…To stages the complex romantic and financial-scheme-devising interactions of his stellar cast with a fluency that dazzles.” Sounds good to me.