Office (2016) - Johnnie To
Johnnie To's latest film, Office, continues the filmmakers' legacy of being one of the most eclectic and singular talents working in contemporary cinema, a stylish 3D musical set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis. Set almost entirely in a lavish corporate high-rise, Office follows two new assistants, Lee Xiang and Kat, who have just joined the successful team of financial firm Jones & Sun. Lee Xiang is young and naive, entering the workplace with noble intentions, while Kat is much more reserved and mysterious, hiding a secret. The two young assistants start at Jones & Sunn right when the CEO plans to take the company public, but when a company audit exposes a great deal of corruption, individual bonuses become threatened and the darker underbelly of capitalism which is propelled by greed is exposed. Johnnie To's Office is a film that doesn't completely work as an indictment of capitalism due largely to a script that never comes together, lacking the nuance and stakes necessary for its satirical wings to truly fly. While this is unfortunate it almost doesn't matter in the end, as Johnnie To's Office is one of the most impressive visual experiences in recent years, a film that features To's visual flair and kinetic camera, but also some of the most impressive production design in recent memory. The art & production design of Office would make Jacques Tati blush, featuring extravagant office designs that are grandiose and excessive, much like the world of high finance and humanities' penchant for luxury and greed. The set designs visually captures the themes of the story, even becoming dare I say, Kaufka-esque in nature when things begin to collapse for some of our financial advisors . The cinematography has so much flair, energy, and style, with the musical element fitting right into To's stylish directorial style, making Office a film that must be seen. Even if a modern day musical set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis isn't your thing, there is simply no denying that Johnnie To continues to be one of the few master craftsman in contemporary cinema, an artist who marches to the beat of his own drum.
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