HKMDB Daily News

May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010

No Kidding poster

Probably not a film coming to your local art house

A group of rich farmers decide to make their own film but must overcome difficulties. The Henan dialect comedy has been a big success making 1M yuan its first month since opening March 12 and has been given a 40 day run where most films are released for only 15-20 days. The movie opens in Beijing June 10. (Sina)2

Bai Ling


Bai Ling attended the Taipei premiere of Wu Tsung-Te’s black comedy Comedy Makes You Cry (lit. Spring Auction) yesterday. Fellow cast members Bai Ping-Ping, Lai Lin-En and others also joined the director. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Wong Jing

Wong Jing  is Huang Yi’s fan!

Huang Yi, Nicholas Tse

Nicholas Tse, Nick Cheung

Huang Yi

Wong Jing’s costume comedy action film God of Fortune Inn held a production launch event yesterday in Beijing. Cast members Nick Cheung, Liu Yang, and Tong Dawei joined Wong Jing   (Sina)2

Vivian Hsu


(Taiwan) Vivian Hsu attended the premiere of her film The Star and the Sea (formerly The Musician) which kicked off the 2nd Annual Cross-Straits Film Festival. Her mother bought 100 tickets for her friends and relatives, while 50 fans from Hong Kong and Taiwan also attended. (Sina)

CRI: Jay Chou Sings Theme Song for “Ocean Heaven”

Dubbed as Jet Li’s first non-action work in his career, the movie tells a touching story between a father and his only son. When the father finds out that he is terminally ill, he decides to teach his only son, who is autistic, to live on his own.

CRI: Zhao Wei to Judge Golden Goblet Awards

Zhao Wei, also known as Vicki Zhao, was confirmed on Thursday to be one of the seven judges for the Golden Goblet Awards at the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF).

CRI: Actress Kelly Chan and Baby Son

May 27, 2010

Outrage (Japan)(Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 12:41 pm

Bottom Line: A bona fide yakuza film.
By Maggie Lee

CANNES — As violent, amoral and misanthropic as a Jacobean play, “Outrage” is Takeshi Kitano’s first yakuza flick since “Brother” (2000), and arguably his best film in a decade. Cleansed of his pretentious navel-gazing in recent years, it burst with the direct cinematic power of his early works (”A Violent Cop,” “Sonatine”), though his style is less minimalist and characters less taciturn. In fact, his representation of internecine gang rivalry and imploding power structure stands up to Kinji Fukasaku’s seminal “Battle Without Honor” series in complexity and unsentimental attitude, with humor as mean and dry as a straight-up martini.

Commercially, the screenplay’s sprawling structure and absence of traditional, balletic showdowns might not satisfy mainstream appetites. However, individual nerve-tingling scenes of violence will make the film reach beyond Kitano’s art house admirers to lovers of genre and noir films.

“Outrage” opens with a traditional Japanese banquet held by the Sanno-kai crime syndicate, with guests in neat black suits and waiters in white track suits serving them. This emblematic exhibition of hierarchy and order is but an illusion, and the finale ironically stages a beach barbecue where everyone gets fried.

Underboss Kato (Tomokazu Miura) ticks off subsidiary boss Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura) for being too close with lesser, outsider gang, Murase. Since Ikemoto has made a pact of brotherhood with Murase, he asks another subsidiary head Otomo (Kitano, aka Beat Takeshi) to do the dirty work of roughing up Murase. Their actions trigger a vicious circle of vendettas and turf wars that also implicate a corrupt cop and an African ambassador.

The double-crossings are convoluted beyond description, but the film is forceful in its simplicity and clarity of vision — personal interest trumps any ties or pledges in the yakuza creed. Finger cutting occurs at every other scene, but they have lost their worth as rituals of honorable apology whereas the real violence is ignominious and each execution outdoes itself in cruelty. Kitano provokes viewers by designing violence that makes us giggle out of nervousness, like a scene in a dentist’s chair that parodies “The Marathon Man.” But the cyclical conflicts gives the narrative a flat tempo with no high point or catharsis

The veteran members of the ensemble cast who seldom appear in yakuza roles (except Renji Ishibashi) are distinct yet impersonal. Ryo Kase, who usually plays the mellow guy next door forges a new image as a cocky gangster with comic timing for wisecracks in English.

Kitano’s own editing is elaborate yet precise at the same time. Costume design achieves a matching effect with combinations of black, white, gray achieving an epitome of cool.

Venue: Festival de Cannes — Competition
Sales: Celluloid Dreams
Production companies: Bandai Visual, TV Tokyo, Omnibus Japan, Office Kitano
Cast: Beat Takeshi, Kippei Shina, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Tetta Sugimoto
Director-screenwriter-editor: Takeshi Kitano
Producers: Masayuki Mori, Yoshinori Takeda
Director of photography: Katsumi Yanagijima
Production designer: Norihiro Isoda
Music: Keiichi Suzuki
Costume designer: Kazuko Kurosawa
Editor: Yoshinori Ota
No rating, 110 minutes

May 26, 2010

May 26, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: — dleedlee @ 1:35 pm

Gallants poster

Veteran co-star Chen Kuan-Tai (Chan Koon-Tai)

Chen Kuan-Tai

(photos and poster from Derek Kwok’s micro-blog)

CRI: ‘Ip Man’ Director to Remake ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’

The cast has not been decided yet, according to Yip, who told reporters not to trust unauthorized sources. Previous reports have claimed that stars Yu Shaoqun and Liu Yifei were selected as the leading actor and actress.

CRI: Michelle Yeoh to Voice “Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom”

Michelle Yeoh will voice the soothsayer in the film, while Jean-Claude Van Damme will be Master Croc, and Master Thundering Rhino will be dubbed by Victor Garber.

Huang Yi apologizes to fans, and admits that she is/was married. Response was very brief.  Articles also mention that the marriage lasted one day but does not explain or provide any details. (Sina)(Xinhua)

Ethan Ruan’s girlfriend rebuts rumours and stands by himScandal-hit Esther Lau breaks down

Is Miss Hong Kong a transsexual?

Senior media practitioner Stephen Siu sent Hong Kong media into a frenzy recently when he claimed that there was once a transsexual who emerged as one of the top three in the Miss Hong Kong pageant.

May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 4:08 pm

Welcome to Shamatown poster features Sun Honglei


Variety: I Wish I Knew

Treasurable images from Chinese cinema and moving personal histories from the people of Shanghai lend potent human and aesthetic dimensions to “I Wish I Knew,” Jia Zhangke’s lengthy survey of the city’s eventful past and ever-changing present.

CRI: ‘Chongqing Blues’ Set for June 8 Release

CRI: “If You Are the One 2″ to Be Shot in Sanya

The sequel’s story continues from “If You Are the One” (2008). Renowned Chinese mainland actor Ge You and Hong Kong actress Fanny Shu [Qi] will co-star the new film as they did in the previous one. [Elsewhere, Shu Qi has said she would not participate due to a schedule conflict with filming Andrew Lau's Beautiful Life.]

Wind Blast poster unveiled (Sina)


A two and a half hour rough cut edit has been completed. Of the four, Wu Jing’s character is that of  ’speed king’, Ni Dahong is the sharpshooter, Zhang Li and Duan Yihong are strength and wisdom, respectively.  Xia Yu and Francis Ng are slated to appear at the next press conference. (Xinhua)(HunanTV)

Eric Tsang has been filming Seven Little Lohans, a Chinese version of Home Alone, at the Shaolin Temple. Actually, there are eighteen little martial artists. Each one has a different personality and shortcoming which plays into the comedy. The movie will be released this summer.


CRI: Jackie Chan and the Karate Kid

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith attended “The Karate Kid” screening in Miami, Florida on Monday.

Cecilia’s mother (Sina)

Lucas and grandma, Ceci’s mother - 2008 (Xinhua)

Hong Kong media claimed Deborah is preventing Cecilia from meeting her Chinese-British mother due to the Cheungs’ complicated background.

This year, she will take her [mother] on a two-week cruise vacation in Northern Europe. For that, Mrs Leon Lai is expected to miss out on engagements which could have brought in an estimated income amounting to a seven-figure sum.

May 24, 2010

I Wish I Knew (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 8:14 pm

I Wish I Knew
Shanghai chuanqi

(Documentary — China) A Shanghai Film Group Corp., Xstream Pictures, NCU Group, Star Art Vision and Bojie Media presentation. (International sales: MK2, Paris.) Produced by Wang Tianyun, Yu Likwai, Meg Jin, Lin Ye, Xiong Yong. Executive producers, Ren Zhonglun, Chow Keung, An Gang, Li Peng, Li Peng. Co-producer, Xu Jie. Co-executive producer, Zhu Yonglei. Directed by Jia Zhangke.

With: Zhao Tao, Lim Giong, Chen Danqing, Yang Xiaofo, Zhang Yuansun, Du Mei-ru, Wang Peimin, Wang Toon, Chang Ling-yun, Lee Chia-tung, Chang Hsin-i, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Zhu Qiansheng, Huang Baomei, Wei Ran, Wei Wei, Barbara Fei, Rebecca Pan, Yang Huaiding, Han Han.

Treasurable images from Chinese cinema and moving personal histories from the people of Shanghai lend potent human and aesthetic dimensions to “I Wish I Knew,” Jia Zhangke’s lengthy survey of the city’s eventful past and ever-changing present. Originally commissioned to open the Shanghai World Expo before post-production delays put it on course for Cannes, this beautifully lensed work reps a shift from the docudrama experimentation of 2008’s “24 City” into a purer nonfiction vein. Despite some structural lapses, the result is Jia at perhaps his most accessible, boasting especially rich incentives for Asian film buffs on the fest circuit.

The signing of the Treaty of Nanking first opened Shanghai to international trade in 1842. Today, it’s China’s largest metropolis and most important cultural and commercial center, a fact Jia quietly sidesteps in favor of a rich if hardly comprehensive appreciation of the city’s history — specifically, the centrality of Shanghai to such painful passages as the second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War and the Cultural Revolution.

Thus, some knowledge of the history is essential for proper appreciation of the film, especially since the interviews follow no strict chronology. But the emotion expressed by some of the 18 individuals featured here is universal enough to lend “I Wish I Knew” a human interest and impact not always as immediately available in his other work.

The specter of parental death looms over a number of the stories, including that of Wang Peimin, who describes how her communist father was executed by the nationalist Kuomintang in 1948, only eight months before his party came to power. The rise of communism spurred thousands of Shanghai citizens to flee to Hong Kong and Taiwan, among them actress Wei Wei and director Wang Tung, who recount their experiences here.

As the interviews progress, a portrait emerges of Shanghai as a seat of significant political, criminal and artistic activity. It’s the latter aspect of the city that seems to most interest Jia, who fills the second half with testimony from additional film bizzers, accompanied by clips of their key Shanghai-set films: Taiwanese helmer Hou Hsiao-hsien (”Flowers of Shanghai”); actress Barbara Fei (daughter of “Spring in a Small Town” helmer Fei Mu); and Zhu Qiansheng, a crew member on Antonioni’s “Chung Kuo — Cina.” (Oddly, while Shanghainese actress Rebecca Pan discusses her role in Wong Kar Wai’s “Days of Being Wild,” Wong himself, the world’s most famous living Shanghai-born director, is glaringly absent.)

Pic feels as though it could have been edited down (as it may yet be for broadcast purposes) or continued indefinitely. Easily excisable is a recurring strand of footage in which Jia’s regular muse, Zhao Tao — presumably a living embodiment of the spirit of Shanghai — silently wanders the city’s streets (this becomes unintentionally amusing when it starts to rain, making Zhao’s white shirt virtually see-through). It feels like a distracting attempt by Jia to place his authorial signature on the film, which, apart from these interstitial indulgences, plays like a straightforward documentary.

The city’s grandeur is ably conveyed in the film’s pristine images (lensed on 35mm by Yu Likwai instead of the ultra-sharp HD the helmer usually favors) of the sprawling metropolis, which often looks awe-inspiring but never exactly picturesque. Throughout, Jia’s shot choices — focusing especially on slums and construction zones — implicitly question the human toll exacted by such splendor. (Shanghainese, Mandarin, Taiwanese dialogue)

Camera (color, widescreen), Yu Likwai; editor, Zhang Jia; music, Lim Giong; art director, Zhang Xiaobing; assistant directors, Dai Xiaolu, Xu Li; sound, Ren Jiajia, Li Danfeng; sound designer, Zhang Yang; line producer, Wendy Chan; associate producers, Xu Wei, Zhang Dong, Maria Jin, Li Jingyi, Liu Xiaodong. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 16, 2010. Running time: 136 MIN.


May 24, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 12:43 pm

IndieWire: Hong Sangsoo Tops Un Certain Regard

The new film by Hong Sangsoo, “Ha Ha Ha”, won the top prize for a film in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section tonight in France.

IndieWire: Impenetrable Fantasy: “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”

Palme d’Or Winner

THR: Q&A: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

CRI: Two 2010 Cannes Awards Go to Asian Films

CRI: “Shanghai” to Premiere on June 10

Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom will bring his international cast - including actor John Cusack, Chinese-born Singaporean actress Gong Li, Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-fat and Japanese “Batman Begins” actor Ken Watanabe - to the opening ceremony to promote the film.

CRI: Lu Chuan onboard ‘Shanghai, I Love You’

Chinese fans of the 2009 romantic movie “New York, I Love You” will soon be able to enjoy a similar film set in one of their own cities - Shanghai.

CRI: First Trailer of Film “Driverless” [Unmanned] Released

Director Zhang stated that this movie is an updated version of his 1997 film “Spicy Love Soup”. It deals with several relationship issues, including the infamous seven year itch, reuniting with a first love, one night stands, an old husband with a young wife, and extramarital affairs.

Guei Lun-Mei plays a clown in Jet Li’s Ocean Paradise (21cn)

More confirmation being sought for these next two items:

Zhang Ziyi to star and co-produce 3D Mulan? According to a Sing Tao Daily report, a listing was spotted in Cannes promotional material for a film called ‘Mulan: The Woman Warrior of Legend’ a US co-production including Zhang Ziyi’s name as one of the producers. Charles Russell (Scorpion King, Mask) is listed as director. (Sina)(cri)

Martial arts actor, director Frankie Chan Fan-Kei is reportedly planning a film adapted from the classic Shaw Brothers The 14 Amazons. The film will be a joint production by Xian Film Studio and Shanghai Film Group among others with U$$20 million budget. A December 2010 launch in Inner Mongolia is scheduled. Andy Lau, Fan Bingbing, Siqin Gaowa and Michelle Yeoh are attached while Jaycee Chan and Yu Shaoqun are also invited. (Sina)(mtime)

Raymond Yip Wai-Man presented Lost on Journey in Wuhan

Huang Xiaolei, Xu Zheng (Sina)

Fan Bingbing - Cannes Closing Ceremony

Li Fei-er (Chongqing Blues) Cannes Closing Ceremony

Wang Xueqi, Fan Bingbing

Fan Bingbing, Wang Xueqi, Li Fei-Er, Zi Yi (Sina)(Zimbio)

CRI: ‘Dragon’ Queen Spits Fire in Style

Actress Qin Hailu has been making a name for herself (and not a good one) by criticizing fellow thespian Fan Bingbing, who wore a “dragon gown” for the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival last week.

On her micro-blog (China’s version of Twitter) Qin claimed Fan demonstrated her overweening ambition by wearing the impressive dress at the French film event. The implication was that Fan was positioning herself as China’s leading lady by wearing the typically Chinese creation on international stage.

How you, too, can walk the red carpet at Cannes

Anthony Wong and his 13 year-old son at the premiere of the musical Chicago

Anthony’s son does not want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Rather, he wants to become a plastic surgeon. (Sina)23

Anthony Wong

The last episode of the TV series Secret History of Imperial Concubine Yang airs tonight. (Sina)

Betty Sun Li turned away

May 22, 2010

May 22, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 4:11 pm

Feng Xiaogang released the international editon of the poster for Aftershock (After Shock).

The film marks the inaugural effort of the Huayi Brothers-IMAX distribution partnership. (Xinhua)

CRI: Stills of “Lost on Journey” Released

Jiang Wen, Carina Lau, Feng Xiaogang

Presales of Let the Bullets Fly at Cannes has been good with 11 countries having picked it up in 3 days.


Lam Suet is currently filming The Jade and the Pearl in the grasslands outside of Beijing

I don’t know who the actor on the left is.

Anthony Wong, Kara Hui and Irene Wan Pik-Ha attended a charity event for needy students. Wong who began studying calligraphy six months ago donated a work for fundraising. He avoided comparisons to the talented Andy Lau. Kara Hui contributed custom-made jewelry from the US and Wan gave an abstract painting by her husband. Celebs such as Simon Yam, Chow Yun-Fat, Eric Tsang, Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng donated autographed photos inscribed with, “Care for other’s children as one’s own.”

Anthony Wong

Kara Hui

Irene Wan Pik-Ha


Fan Bingbing, still at Cannes, at the annual amfAR dinner

Host Harvey Weinstein (Xinhua)

Leo Ku is promoting his upcoming 3D concert in Las Vegas on the 29th


May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 3:18 pm

Two concept posters for Felix Chong and Alan Mak’s The Lost Bladesman were released at Cannes. The character for ‘righteousness’ is seen on the blade. (Sina)

THR: Shanghai festival unveils line-up

In keeping with past years, SIFF programmers appear again to have had trouble attracting major world premiere titles to the event, which falls right on the heels of the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Hong Kong Chinese director John Woo will lead the SIFF’s main jury, which also includes Hong Kong actress Charlie Yeung,

Organizers promised China’s A-list movie-world regulars would walk the event’s red carpet — from actresses such as Fan Bingbing and Yu Nan to directors Chen Kaige, Feng Xiaogang and 2010 Cannes competitor Wang Xiaoshuai.

THR: HK producer to revisit ‘Sex’ in 3D

Sex and Zen redux

  • Stereoscopic 3D has lured veteran producer and screenwriter Stephen Siu to return to filmmaking, with a reinvention of his 1991 Chinese erotic classic “Sex and Zen,” and an upcoming 3D film adaptation of the beloved Ming dynasty Chinese fantasy “The Investiture of the Gods” (”Fengshen Yanyi”).
  • “Local Category III erotica had been in decline since the proliferation of the Internet; confined by the ratings systems, Category III films could not compete with the material available online for free,” Siu told The Hollywood Reporter. “But 3-D and IMAX versions are a different story, the audience has to go into the cinema to get the full experience. The realistic rendering of the environment and the action makes it perfect for genres that appeal to the senses. 3D has turned Category III erotica from a dead genre to a possible genre.”

New comedy from Raymond Yip Wai-Man

The story takes place in the period before Spring Festival Eve when China’s national railway system is overloaded with people rushing back home. It is extremely hard for many people to get a ticket back, let alone a comfortable seat.

Wang Baoqiang stars as a dairy worker who loses his job before Spring Festival, while Xu Zheng plays a businessman who’s in trouble with his wife and mistress.

The two characters meet while travelling to their hometown to spend Spring Festival with relatives. Funny things happen between the two men and with the people they encounter on their way home.

Ocean Heaven (Ocean Paradise) web launch event

Director Xue Xiaolu, Wen Zhang, Guei Lun-Mei

Wen Zhang

Guei Lun-Mei (Xinhua)

Fan Bingbing - Zhao’s Orphan

Back from Cannes, on the set of Zhao’s Orphan, Fan Bingbing carries her own umbrella! (HunanTV)

Pretend Couple, a comedy, launched in Yunnan

Huang Bo (Cow), Jiang Yiyan (City of Life and Death)

This is Jiang Yiyan’s first try at comedy. (HunanTV)

Gallants advert on side of bus

Co-director Derek Kwok

Qin Hao (Chongqing Blues) in front of Spring Fever poster

Qin Hao went to Paris to visit the set of Lou Ye’s film ‘Bitch’. By chance, his film ‘Spring Fever’ is currently screening. (Sina)

Sammi Cheng

Sammi Cheng appeared on a Taiwan radio program to share her experience with depression. (Sina)

Edison was in Beijing for a brand event stopped for a photo session (Sina)

Ole Scheeren, Maggie Cheung breakup rumors dispelled when the couple was seen at a public event together yesterday.


Donnie Yen’s wife admits to ectopic pregnancy

A-Mei rages at baseless accusations of her partying lifestyle

Jaycee with Glove

This is the coolest gift ever sent by my dad

Jackie Chan pays US$250,000 for Michael Jackson glove

Ken Lo fired by Chan’s wife

Pics of the Day - from random micro-blogs

Vivian Hsu in Japan to record her album

Vivian Hsu

Stephen Fung’s Mother’s Day post

May 20, 2010

May 20, 2010

Variety: Poetry (Sourth Korea) Latest film from Lee Chang-Dong

A woman takes up writing poems as a means of coping with her difficult grandson and the onset of Alzheimer’s — a description that conveys little hint of the subtle intelligence at work in Lee Chang-dong’s quietly haunting new picture. Calmer and less shattering than his masterly psychodrama “Secret Sunshine” (2007), “Poetry” is a deceptively gentle tale with a tender ache at its center, as well as a performance from Yun Jung-hee that lingers long in the memory.

CRI:Movie Guide: ‘Gallants’

Although the story is set in present-day Hong Kong, the film’s trailer easily conjures up the Shaw Brothers movies of the 1970s and ’80s. The background music is familiar, and text in old-school fonts is deliberately printed from right to left. A cast of ’80s stars also adds to the retro feeling.

“Gallants” will open on the Chinese mainland on June 4 without a Mandarin version, unlike most Hong Kong movies, which usually are released in an additional Mandarin version to cater to mainland audiences.

CRI: Chinese Crime Thriller ‘Wind Blast’ Unveils Trailer, Poster (Previously, Fierce West Wind here)

September 2 release date.

Lam Suet, Huang Yi - Legend is Born

To Yu-Hang - Legend is Born

CRI: ‘The Legend Is Born - Ip Man’ Set for Release in June

CRI: Jet Li’s Father-Son Film Competes in Shanghai

Jet Li’s first non-action drama, “Ocean Heaven” [Ocean Paradise], is among the 16 films competing for the top Golden Goblet award at this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival, the organizer announced Thursday.

Guei Lun-Mei’s pole dance scene was, regrettably, deleted

Wen Zhang, Guei Lun-Mei - Ocean Paradise (HunanTV)

(May 18) Jeff Lau’s Fantastic Water Babes began its publicity tour in Changsha, Hunan. A July 9 release is planned.

Jeff Lau, Alex Fong Lik-Sun, Gillian Choi, Stephen Fung

Gillian Chung

Jeff Lau

Stephen Fung, Alex Fong (HunanTV)

Jiang Wen is busy in Cannes promoting Let the Bullets Fly (Xinhua)

CNNGo: Complete guide to the best Hong Kong movie experiences

[I'm guessing the Fanling Theatre is the one that's often seen in the old Connie Chan films.]

THR: Bangkok cinemas burned by rioters

Multiplexes, classic theater destroyed by arsonists

The classic Siam Theater nearby was gutted by fire. The 1,000-seat, single-screen cinema opened in the 1960s, and was considered a Bangkok landmark, especially among film fans.

The fires were sure to slow the boxoffice of Tony Jaa’s newest martial arts release, “Ong Bak 3,” released May 5.

Wang Xueqi

Wang Xueqi, lead actor in Chongqing Blues, missed the Cannes red carpet due to problems obtaining a visa. He is hoping to join the rest of the cast and crew before the closing ceremony and also get in some sightseeing. In 1998, he won the Special Grand Jury Prize at the Montreal Film Festival for Sun Bird a film that he co-directed. It’s also reported that the crew has been asked to stay in Cannes, a hint and usual indicator that the film may collect a prize or two. (HunanTV)2

Andy On Chi-Kit’s birthday

Andy On, Donnie Yen

Cast and crew conspired to surprise Andy On with two large birthday cakes on the set of Felix Chong’s and Andy Mak’s Guan Yun Chang (Lost Bladesman) (Sina)

Sammi Cheng gets a (temporary) tattoo for a cause

July 7 (7.7) is MSF (Doctors Without Borders) 2010 Day

Sammi is donating part of her album royalties as Action Ambassador for MSF (Sina)

Fan Bingbing, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele of Chopard

Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele is the co-president of luxury watch and jewelry brand Chopard. Chopard redesigned Cannes’ highest award the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or) in 1998. (Sina)

Poetry (South Korea)(Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 8:30 am

(South Korea) A UniKorea presentation, in association with Diaphana Distribution, NEW, KTB Capital and KT Capital, of a Pinehouse Film production. (International sales: Finecut, Seoul.) Produced by Lee Joon-dong. Executive producers, Youm Tae-soon, Choi Seong-min. Co-producer, Lee Dong-ha. Co-executive producers, Michel Saint-Jean, Jung Myung-soo, Lee Seung-ho, Lee Jang-ho. Directed, written by Lee Chang-dong.

With: Yun Jung-hee, Lee David, Kim Hira.

A woman takes up writing poems as a means of coping with her difficult grandson and the onset of Alzheimer’s — a description that conveys little hint of the subtle intelligence at work in Lee Chang-dong’s quietly haunting new picture. Calmer and less shattering than his masterly psychodrama “Secret Sunshine” (2007), “Poetry” is a deceptively gentle tale with a tender ache at its center, as well as a performance from Yun Jung-hee that lingers long in the memory. Solidifying Lee’s rep as one of South Korea’s most gifted writing-directing talents, pic will lean heavily on critical kudos to secure offshore sales.

After a prologue of unsettling stillness in which we see a body floating down the Han River, the film introduces Yang Mija (Yun), a beautiful woman in her 60s whose warm, open demeanor finds expression in the bright-colored floral prints and cute white hat she likes to wear. D.p. Kim Hyun-seok’s mobile camera follows Mija through a series of routines and errands around her suburban town: cleaning house for an elderly man whom she also bathes, to his evident pleasure; visiting a doctor who’s concerned by her recent memory lapses; taking care of her sullen, unresponsive grandson, Wook (Lee David); and, on a whim, signing up for a poetry class at the local community center.

As in “Secret Sunshine,” all this leisurely scene-setting lulls the viewer into a sense of security that’s ruptured by a sudden twist, one that explains the meaning of that earlier corpse. With Wook and five of his friends implicated in a monstrous crime, Mija is in desperate need of cash for a legal settlement — a mission she undertakes with no particular urgency, instead spending most of her time in search of the poetic inspiration that, she freely and touchingly admits, doesn’t come naturally to her.

Given the abundant potential for missteps into sappiness with this sort of premise, what’s notable here is the lack of sentimentality in Lee’s approach. At no point does “Poetry” devolve into a terminal-illness melodrama or a tale of intergenerational bonding; Wook remains a wretchedly ungrateful cipher, and his horrific actions are left chillingly unexplained. Mija looks and looks intently for the everyday beauty that will unlock her hidden talents, but Lee won’t let her or the viewer escape the ugliness that’s all around.

In his past films, including “Peppermint Candy” and “Oasis,” Lee has established himself as a fearless social critic and sympathetic observer of characters who, due to mental/physical disabilities or emotional/spiritual trauma, find themselves on the margins. “Poetry” presents a patriarchal society that, under a smiling veneer of concern, tries to contain its problems by throwing money at them. Mija — who has no money to give, only compassion — has no place in this culture. Repeatedly, she behaves in ways that inspire one’s embarrassed pity: opening her mouth at the wrong moment to ask an ignorant question, or abandoning a conversation to look at some nearby flowers. By film’s end, it’s clear she’s the sanest, healthiest person in town.

The use of poetry as both text and subtext makes the film feel a bit more prosaic and less cinematic than some of Lee’s recent efforts, somewhat betraying the novelist-turned-filmmaker’s literary origins. There are longueurs here — particularly the direct-address interviews with Mija’s poetry classmates — that could be trimmed, though overall this absorbing film feels considerably shorter than its 139 minutes.

Looking fabulous in her flamboyant wardrobe (designed by Lee Choong-yeon), Yun winningly embodies that pleasant, loopy, slightly-too-talkative grandmother everyone’s either encountered or been related to, imbuing the old woman with an uncloying joie de vivre and simple desire for human connection that cuts to the heart; in sadder moments, she does most of her acting with her eyes, which can make her look terribly vulnerable and alone. The graceful final passage, which comes close to fulfilling the promise of the title, is all the more poignant for the fact that the central character is heard but not seen.

Camera (color), Kim Hyun-seok; editor, Kim Hyun; production designer, Sihn Jeom-hui; costume designer, Lee Choong-yeon; sound (Dolby SRD), Lee Seung-chul; assistant director, Park Jung-bum. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 19, 2010. Running time: 139 MIN.

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