Madness, Regret

POSTED: August 30, 2008 08:08 | By: Carol Borden

MMmaddetective.jpgIt 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,Throwdownand, 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.jpg

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.

van gogh.jpg

“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.


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