FYI :Rules of the Netflix List Blitz
- I’ll watch and write about every movie currently on my list. Pretty simple first rule there.
- I’m not obligated to finish a movie. I can’t think of any movie I’ve ever seen that started off horribly for more than twenty minutes and then ended up being worth the watch. A slow start or lull is fine, but if I get a sense what I’m watching is truly bad–in a completely uninteresting way–I reserve the right to abandon flick.
- I’m only watching movies on my list, not television series. Bates Motel, you’ll have to wait.
- I’m going in order of the current state of the list. Which, for the purposes of any smattering of readers who may start following along, is going to make this list appear quite random.
- I’m strictly going to write what I feel. Some entries may be in depth, some may focus less on the movie itself than on some outside thoughts the movie planted in my head, and some may entries may be improbably brief. (Given my propensity for longwindedness, don’t bet too much on that last one.)
“I don’t have GPS on this phone.”
This is what Ruby–our leading lady–says to her unseen friends via said phone in the opening scene of Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong. Her friends are trying to give her directions, you see, but Ruby, a Chinese-American toy designer from Los Angeles, is struggling to keep up with the directions they’re giving her as she’s not especially familiar with Hong Kong. Also, her phone doesn’t have GPS.
This movie was made in 2015. This young, successful woman has a modern smartphone and is traveling abroad in one of the world’s busiest and biggest cities / independent territories, and she has, perhaps for the unreasonable challenge of doing so, brought with her one of the only touchscreen phones on the planet that apparently doesn’t come equipped with GPS.
Note that she doesn’t say, “My phone’s GPS is being an asshole right now.” That I could believe. There are occasions when my phone goes haywire trying to pinpoint my location, or which direction I’m facing, or what part of town I’m on. I’m guessing many people could relate to that. Would it be a contrivance for Ruby’s phone to start acting up right when she needs it to guide her to where she needs to go? Sure, but it’s still more plausible than the idea that she’s out here in the world, in a foreign land with a layout she’s apparently quite ignorant of and made little effort to learn about (the place she’s trying to get to, Lan Kwai Fong, is apparently a fairly popular place in Hong Kong), with an iFone 6 – Sans GPS Edition.
At this point, a mere three minutes into its runtime, Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong was already facing an uphill battle to win me over.
A handsome young American expat business-dude, Josh, overhears Ruby’s plight and instead of saying, “Your phone doesn’t have GPS? What kind of wild nonsense is that?”, he offers to walk her to the place where she’d meet her friends. So there’s our “meet cute” moment, brought to us courtesy of Ruby’s inexplicably inadequate phone purchasing decisions.
From there, the movie sort of condenses the plots of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Josh and Ruby roam the lovely city, chatting and getting to know one another, doing another couple the favor of taking their picture before getting their own picture taken in kind. Pleasant, budding romance stuff. This goes well until Josh reveals he actually has a girlfriend whom he’s very freshly unhappy with. As in, he left her back at a bar during her own birthday party because she was flirting with other dudes so he could basically get passive aggressive revenge by flirting with Ruby and getting drinks with her at another bar. Ruby, agitated but taking things better than you might imagine, jabs Josh before leaving him at the bar, saying, “I feel sorry for your girlfriend.”
To which Josh replies, “Oh yeah, well… none of this would have happened if your phone wasn’t ludicrous bullshit!”
And I mean, yes, he’s a somewhat deceitful prick, but his logic there is pretty inarguable.
Cut to a year later, Josh–having quit his job to become a writer, freeing himself to be beardy and disheveled–runs into Ruby by chance on a ferry. She has now moved to Hong Kong for work. Josh is still with his girlfriend, and Ruby has a boyfriend of her own. So of course–of course–these two lovely people get all walk-around-flirty again. The Cantonese-fluent Josh helps Ruby not get screwed over by a mildly shady tailor making a suit for her boyfriend and Ruby is overly impressed that a guy who’s lived in and done business in Hong Kong for several years “speaks Chinese.” Ruby and Josh then have their fifth “Well, I should get going, bye / Wait, actually let’s stay together and hang out some more” moment in the film. We are barely thirty minutes in.
At this point, as silly as I’m finding much of this, and as much as the overly witty, too-cute and/or on-the-nose dialogue and too-earnest soundtrack is wearing on me, I’m actually starting to like these actors enough to sort of root for these characters. Then again, as I believe I’ve mentioned before on another write-up, I’m kind of a romantic sucker. The idea of strolling about a beautiful big city and building on an attraction you feel to someone you barely know will always be appealing to me, even when it involves two characters being unfaithful pricks to their others waiting for them at home.
I feel it’s worth noting, though, that during one conversation, Ruby brings up a couple that works in her office. The man is white, the woman is Chinese, and they initially had a language barrier to overcome when they started dating, so they brought a translator–an actual human being, not an app–along on their first few dates. And as she describes this couple I’m thinking, “Why can’t I see that movie? That sounds like the quirky, feel good, interracial romantic comedy of the year!”
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is passable fare. I’ve certainly seen better, and I’ve seen much worse. The acting is fine, and the views are often lovely. Our characters are brought together in a contrived in a careless, unnecessary way that gives you an early heads up as to value placed on the writing in this movie, but if you’re into this sort of romantic flick, it’s not a waste of time.
Up Next: A (presumably) significant change-up with the film adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s Cold in July