Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Time Waits For No One

Sometimes I base a Blu-ray cover design on a memorable moment in the film, or a collage of key actors and elements. In this case, it was more an overall impression. But not an impression from seeing the film. Nope. An impression from seeing the trailer. Marketing based on marketing. I’ll explain.

In a perfect situation I would be very familiar with the film or product I’m designing a package for. In the case of a film, the client may usually provide a screener for reference if I haven’t seen it.

But, I can’t remember the last “perfect” situation I’ve experienced. As everyone knows, we are NOT living in “normal” times. You simply have to be flexible. And in this unusual instance, I had long resisted all opportunities to view this specific film due to indifference. Who knew I would be asked to design a cover for it one day.

And frankly, this indifference to the movie seemed odd even to me. Because the film in question, TIME AND TIDE, was directed by the man, Tsui Hark,  responsible for my favorite film, the genre-bending 1986 masterpiece, PEKING OPERA BLUES. And of course his name is connected to dozens of bonafide Hong Kong cinema classics, including THE KILLER, A CHINESE GHOST STORY, ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA. (And even lesser known pleasures such as I LOVE MARIA and WEB OF DECEPTION.)

But much like filmmaker, James Cameron, whose work I usually enjoy, I similarly have zero interest in watching his TITANIC film. It just did not interest me. I rather liked A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, the 1958 retelling of the story of the sinking. So I have no objection to the basic premise of the story, but rather the trappings. Spending three hours with Kate Winslet and pretty boy Leonardo DiCaprio on a sinking ship to the tune Celine Dion? Nah, pass. I still have never watched it to this day. No offence to anyone who likes it. I just would rather watch Ray Harryhausen’s THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD for the umpteenth time instead. To each their own.

The end of the 90s was a declining time for the HK film industry. By 1996, my wife and I had shuttered VIDEO CITY—our Chinese video rental store in Maryland. In the few years leading up the Chinese 'handover' in 1997, there had been a mass exodus of talent leaving HK for attempts at greener (or at more free) pastures in America. Or just retiring from show business in general. Even Hark himself got caught up in the “migration”, trying his hand at helming two lackluster American-produced Jean-Claude Van Damme films.

So Hark, like the industry in general at the time, was in a bit of a slump. And not being a big fan of pretty boy Nicholas Tse, especially coupled with the whole “totally-extreme-surf-the-neon-net-double-barreled-dutch-angled-Matrix-style-action” that was so current then. That bored me. So I skipped it. Every chance I got, I skipped it.

So being tasked with designing the cover, I relied on my memory of my general “impression” of this film I never saw. That, and a low resolution trailer I found on YouTube. I hope I did justice to it’s “Year 2000-ness”. Not sure. I’ve still never seen it.

Below is my cover design for the accompanying booklet.

I should give it a spin one day. Co-star Anthony Wong is a solid character actor. (I actually ran into him a couple times on the streets of Hong Kong the year this film came out.) And Tse has been pretty good in more recent Benny Chan films such as INVISIBLE TARGET and RAGING FIRE. Even DiCaprio has matured into a respected actor and I do enjoy his work sometimes now.

So maybe, perhaps it’s time… for me to give it another chance?

I dunno, that THIS IS SUPERMARIONATION documentary is just screaming my name. It’s soooo shiny!

"STAND BY FOR ACTION!" Damn, foiled again.

Next time... accidents will happen.