HKMDB Daily News

March 30, 2011

March 30, 2011

MSN: Alan Tang dies in his sleep

Actor and director Alan Tang, who’s often known as one of the “big brothers” in Hong Kong showbiz, passed away yesterday, after suffering a stroke in the middle of the night.

Alan Tang (Sina)

HKStandard: Entertainment giant Tang found dead at home

Tang rose to fame after starring in the Cantonese movie Student Prince in 1963, after which he went on to make 63 films. (Sina)(Xinhua)

Eery, as it comes on the heels of yesterday’s Twitter hoax about Jackie Chan’s death by heart attack.] (Sina)

Death report a hoax (Sina)

THR: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart review

The Bottom Line

A calculated female wish-fulfillment romance with a touch of “Rear Window” irony.

AP: Oscar winner Ruby Yang sees boom in Chinese documentaries

Yang, who edited the feature films “Xiu Xiu, The Sent Down Girl” and “Autumn in New York,” both directed by actress Joan Chen, said she next plans to make short films about Chinese activists and also hopes to direct a feature film.

The film uses four separate stories to explore different aspects of love. It will be released on April 8.

The 140-minute film features A-list actors fleshing out a long list of historical figures, among them Chow Yun-Fat (as Yuan Shikai), Chen Kun (as Zhou Enlai), Chang Chen (as Chiang Kai-shek), Dong Jie (as Soong Ching-ling), Andy Lau (as Cai E), and Tang Wei (as Tao Yi).

Compared to the film “The Founding of a Republic”, Han’s 2009 extravaganza which also featured a similar cast scale, the co-director said that the new film would be “much better” in terms of plots and scenes.

Carina Lau, Kate Moss and Vivian Chow appeared for a ribbon-cutting event for French brand Longchamp in Hong Kong.

Kate Moss left after ten minutes and did not stay for the champagne toasting ceremony

Meanwhile, Vivian Chow’s husband raised eyebrows when he was spotted dining with a young woman that was a Charlene Choi look-a-like. (Sina)(Xinhua-gallery)

He elaborated that he often walked around dressed in a singlet and shorts in his house, and because of this his parents found it hard to invite friends over. His parents have told him more than once that they would like to have “space” away from him. (RazorTV video)

Kelly Lin, Chris Young

While Shu Qi did not say much, her wedding card spoke volumes of her thoughts on her best friend’s nuptials.

“I really can’t bear to let you spend the rest of your life with another person.

“You must know that I am holding back tears and putting up with the pain to leave you in the hands of someone who loves you even more,” wrote the actress, who took three flights from her filming location just to attend Lin’s wedding.

Before flying back to Shenzhen, Shu Qi reminded the groom of “wives rules”, to help wash Lei-Lei’s (Kelly) underwear, sweep, mop, cook, to greet her every morning; and if Lei-Lei is cold at night, to keep her warm. Chris replied, Yes, sir! But isn’t underwear machine washable? (Sina)

“881 The Musical” sees Tan playing Yan Yan, the loud Papaya Sister who is a bit of a delinquent, with co-star Dong taking on the role of Min Min, the gentler of the two.

Hospitalite (Japan)(Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 11:07 am


A Wa Entertainment, Seinendan production. (International sales: Wa Entertainment, Fujisawa, Japan.) Produced by Kiki Sugino, Koji Fukada. Executive producers, Osamu Matsubara, Makoto Dachi, Kousuke Ono, Mikiyo Miyata, Tatsuya Iwakura. Co-executive producer, Norio Enomoto. Directed, written, edited by Koji Fukada.

With: Kenji Yamauchi, Kiki Sugino, Kanji Furutachi, Bryerly Long, Eriko Ono, Kumi Hyodo. (Japanese, English dialogue)

In Koji Fukada’s gleeful farce “Hospitalite,” a quiet, low-key Tokyo family is inexorably invaded by a horde of uninvited houseguests, to the horror of the neighbors. Initially, the Kobayashis display a restrained politeness and unruffled calm worthy of classical Japanese cinema (complete with references to Ozu). But a single defection — that of the family parakeet — opens the door to dissolution and chaos, as Fukada maintains a marvelous tension between a prim comedy of manners and unbridled slapstick. Ironically, the recent global concern for Japan could extend to this sly sendup of Nipponese xenophobia.

Most of the pic’s action transpires within the claustrophobic confines of the downtown duplex that houses the Kobayashis upstairs and the family’s small printing company downstairs. Undistinguished middle-aged paterfamilias Mikio (Kenji Yamauchi) shares the space with his nubile second wife, Natsuki (Kiki Sugino); his newly divorced sister, Seiko (Kumi Hyodo); and Eriko (Eriko Ono), his young daughter by his ex-wife. Into this tranquil if not exactly joyous unit comes the energetic, enterprising acquaintance Kagawa (a marvelously self-assured Kanji Furutachi), waving a poster of Eriko’s missing bird, which he claims to have spotted.

Subbing for a sick employee in the printing shop, Kagawa boldly moves into a room upstairs, and Mikio and Natsuki are too polite and momentarily flummoxed to stop him. Soon, Kagawa’s tall, curvaceous blonde “wife,” Annabelle (Bryerly Long), arrives, presented as alternately Brazilian or Bosnian but speaking unaccented English.

The Kagawas soon blow their hosts’ simple routines to smithereens. Sounds of their loud lovemaking are heard at all hours. Annabelle sunbathes nude on the balcony and seduces Mikio, and Natsuki witnesses their coupling. Discovering that Natsuki is being blackmailed by a disgraced half-brother, Kagawa brings the black sheep into the now-crowded fold as his assistant.

Without explanation, more and more people start showing up, as scruffy, homeless Japanese and partying young Europeans and Americans crowd into the little house, living up to the worst paranoid fears of an officious neighborhood watch group.

Closely associated with the Seinenden theater troupe (which co-produced), Fukada has cast his film with many of the company’s members, whose deadpan double-takes and precision timing lend a welcome crispness to the characters’ antics. Fukada takes full advantage of the limited, almost stagelike duplex setting to create a very cinematic reinterpretation of the spatial patterns usually associated with pure farce, and showing how repression leads to explosive, inevitable release.

Camera (color, HD), Kenichi Negishi; music, Kumiko Yabu, Yusuke Kataoka; production designer, Kensuke Suzuki; art director, Oriza Hirata; sound, Ippei Shingaki. Reviewed at Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 17, 2011. (In New Directors/New Films; Rotterdam Film Festival; 2010 Tokyo Film Festival.) Running time: 95 MIN.

March 29, 2011

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 8:13 pm

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
by Maggie Lee

The Bottom Line
A calculated female wish-fulfillment romance with a touch of “Rear Window” irony.

Hong Kong’s Johnnie To aims for a mainstream audience in his first romantic drama since 2008.
HONG KONG — A love story that plays out extensively via window panes and cell phone videos, Johnnie To’s first romantic drama since Linger (2008) may conceal a dark and neurotic subtext about the existential distances between urban men and women behind its gleaming, crowd-pleasing surfaces. For the most part though, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’s Cinderella tale about an ordinary girl caught between two adamant admirers is VIP-class escapism. Like a magician (a motif signifying the film’s ongoing male rivalry), To dazzles with non-stop filmmaking tricks, so many will be happy to forget the disingenuousness of the creative premise, especially the kind of romance it manufactures.
Except for collectivists, few overseas disciples of To’s cool action films would go the extra mile to see this very different product, aimed squarely at mainland audiences with a bit of Asian-region circulation as bonus. There’ll be more activity in Asian-centric ancillary.

Female protagonist Zixin (Gao Yuanyuan) is a mainland Chinese working as a financial analyst in Hong Kong. One day, an unpleasant encounter with her ex-boyfriend (Terence Yin) sends her into such a fluster that she nearly gets run over in the chaotic traffic. A drunken tramp Fang Qihong (Daniel Wu) comes to her aid in the nick of time. Back at work, she is being surveyed longingly by finance wunderkind Cheung Shen Ran (Louis Koo) from his window in a neighboring office block.

To gives a shining example of how gimmicks turn into art if you know how and when to use them, and there are enough in the screenplay (by To’s longtime collaborator Wai Ka Fai, among others) to spawn several chick flicks. The matchup between Fang and Cheung to win over Zixin takes its cue from the gamesmanship (between a criminal-mastermind and a dogged detective) in To’s Running Out of Time series. Interestingly, as if incapable of direct communication, they mime their love across office windows (post-its never looked so flirtatious.) This builds to an operatic finale when they compete in high-tech and high wattage pyrotechnics of courtship across two skyscrapers, one still under construction.

Given that To’s action films are hit-or-miss with China’s censorship, a romance with the lighthearted air of his earlier Needing You has a better shot. As a result, this film’s outlook has bought into the unapologetically materialistic values of Go, Lala, Go! (a mainland style-bible modeled on Sex and the City) syndrome.

Like a modern Alice, Zixin finds herself in a wonderland of eligible bachelors who are impossibly rich, handsome, talented and athletic. Despite being a Peeping Tom and serial womanizer, much comic ado is devised around the cunning way Cheung buys Zixin a Maserati, a luxury house and even the company she works for. Fang also turns out to be no ordinary tramp, but a Canadian-born, award winning architect and butch hockey player.

The improbable setups draw attention to their own artifice and consciously belie the true love which the protagonists keep professing. For example, Zixin has never been physically together with either suitor for more than a day or two. Her indecision echoes a similar romantic dilemma in screenwriter Wai’s The Shopaholics. As well, it mirrors a more profound confusion (symbolized by nuanced contrasts of day and night) of values in a fast-changing urban jungle. The film’s underlying cynicism is implied in an oft-repeated wisecrack “Nine out of ten men sleep around; the tenth one is considering it.” Fang, who happens to be the 11th man, is called a “Martian.”

Shot mostly in Hong Kong with the final leg taking place in Suzhou, more Mandarin is spoken than Cantonese (another concession to mainland market). The sights of Hong Kong captured are less atmospheric (soulless yuppie restaurants and placidly voguish home interiors are usual locations) than To’s gangster flicks, which render Hong Kong’s or Macau’s seamier quarters stylishly shady and nocturnal. To gives the production what it needs in terms of technical competence, especially cinematography and dramatic movement, which are as fluid as in his action films. Performances of all three leads are enthusiastic but over-earnest.

Venue: Hong Kong International Film Festival (opening film)
Sales: Media Asia Distribution.
Media Asia Films, China Film Media Asia present a Milkyway Image Production
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan, Lam Suet, Selena Li, JJ Jia, Terence Yin
Director: Johnnie To
Screenwriters: Wai Ka Fai, Yau Nai Hoi, Ryker Chan, Jevons Au
Producer: Wai Ka Fai
Executive producer: John Chong
Director of photography: Cheng Siu Keung
Production designer: Bruce Yu
Costume: Stephanie Wong
Supervising editor: David Richardson
Music: Xavier Jamaux
No rating, 114 minutes

March 29, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 6:27 pm

OT: In Japan, disaster coverage is measured, not breathless (WPost)

Nice article in yesterday’s paper on NHK’s coverage

For the past two weeks, NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, has covered a triple disaster, appraising the damage with the help of 14 helicopters, 67 broadcasting vans and virtually no adjectives…And another

OT: In China, microblogging sites become free-speech platform (WPost)

In a country where most media are controlled by the state, information is heavily censored and free-flowing opinions are sharply constricted, Chinese have turned to a new platform to openly exchange unfettered news and views: microblogs, similar to Twitter…

A1: Japan relief album tops iTunes charts in 18 nations

THR: New NYU Shanghai Campus to Offer Film, Acting Classes

CRI: Stanley Huang Joins Xu Jinglei Again for New Film

Anthony Wong plays a blind boss of a bar in Andrew Lau’s Beautiful Life

He also plays a matchmaker to Shu Qi and Liu Ye


Jing Tian sings the theme song in the MV for Warring States


MSN: Kelly Lin lost sleep before wedding

During the wedding ceremony, Kelly wore a specially-designed toga wedding dress. Good friend Shu Qi helped to hold her long skirt, take photos and even dry Kelly’s tears.

Kelly Lin, Chris Young (Yang Chen)

The media notes the groom’s resemblance to Michael Wong

Kelly, Shu Qi

Friends, relatives, Shu Qi


MSN: Gaile Lok acknowledges pregnancy

Gaile appeared more plump than usual. When reporters asked if she was pregnant, the usually truthful Gaile replied, “I wouldn’t answer you this time,” hinting that she is already pregnant.


In a recent interview, Selina’s fiancé Richard Chang revealed that the singer’s assistant had filmed the entire ordeal.

He was filming his latest movie Reversal War in Jordan with Hong Kong actor Nicholas Tse when current instability in Libya halted filming. The movie is said to have moved its set to Malaysia.

March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011

FBA: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart review (6/10)

An entertaining but shallow rom-com from Johnnie To that doesn’t really engage the emotions.

Movie preview: ‘3D Sex and Zen’ is all about abstinence (CNNGo)

Soft porn in 3D leaves us with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The wholesome kind

It’s all naughty good fun and there isn’t a single boring scene. From the moment the first pair of jiggly 3D breasts appears — prompting the male audience members to collectively gasp — through to the fight scenes with 3D daggers thrown at the audience, this is 3D movie magic at its low-brow erotic best.

Feng Xiaogang is in Chongqing to prepare for his upcoming film (Wen Gu 1942). Shu Qi, Betty Sun Li and Jiang Wenli are expected to be joining the cast. Feng visited the General Stillwell Museum, the general’s war time residence in Chongqing. He also inspected the Botanical Gardens and the many old foreign embassy buildings. (Sina)

Training Day’ Director to Tell Chinese Love Story

Ancient Chinese beauty Yang Guifei will be the protagonist of American director Antoine Fuqua’s new film.

New Deadly Will poster

Guo Tao, Han Xue camp horror comedy resembles a Republican era Sherlock Holmes story involving a bizarre murder. (Sina)23

Simon Yam’s latest film is generating online controversy. With the release of The Man Behind the Courtyard House, netizens are posting opinions such as this one, “[The film] tests the water is too bold for the first time, many areas are not in line with the habit of domestic films, including the shooting style, narrative structure of these macro aspects people have to try to figure out viewing the process of reasoning. And although the plot of the film, after carefully pondering the idea is reasonable, but somewhat incompatible with the logic of ordinary people.”

However, there are opposite views too, “the film has a lot of innovation, whether temporarily or not mature, this spirit to be encouraged. And the innovative effects of the film did not live up to the expectations of the audience, the kind of shock is very enjoyable audio-visual stimulation. especially the large-scale plot is very hot, they can bring the audience’s emotions. and the film itself is able to mobilize the audience thinking, along with the advancement of all branches of the film appears interwoven stories, characters relations are complicated, the vital need for the audience slowly into the role of scrutiny, is a test of logical reasoning ability is also a kind of exercise. you can say [Courtyard] is the rare movie IQ. “ (Sina)

More than a hundred Hong Kong celebrities will come together on 1 April at a Jackie Chan-organised charity concert in a bid to raise donations for the earthquake, tsunami and radiation relief efforts in Japan, according to Chinese media reports.

CRI: A Dream of Red Mansions

CRI’s Tom McGregor reviews “A Dream of Red Mansions” (”Hong Lou Meng”), a masterpiece in Chinese literature

A netizen allegedly witnessed the heated exchange

Chen Chao Yang, CEO of, who is currently being sued by Barbie and Xiaofei for the live broadcast of their wedding, was also present at the wedding.

CNA: Barbie Hsu warns errant wedding guest, Chinese CEO refuses to apologise

Wang Xiao Fei: I really regret inviting Mr Zhang to my wedding

Taiwan media in particular criticised Hsu for her perceived favouritism towards the Chinese media and even speculated that she had been bribed, resulting in a call among Taiwan media outlets to shut her out of the Taiwan media completely.

MSN: Kelly Lin to wed today at the Maldives

Kelly Lin’s guests water house (Sina)2(Xinhua)

Shu Qi

Kelly’s good friend, Shu Qi, posted photos from the Malidives on her weibo (Xinhua)

MSN: Pan Shuang Shuang’s past exposed

MSN; Andy Hui and Sammi Cheng teased by good friends

When the reporters told Sammi, netizens are calling Andy ‘Pig Trotter On’, she replied: “Am I Ox Tongue Man then?”

A1: Wang Lee Hom wins 6 Astro awards

Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow (South Korea)(Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 11:13 am

Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow

A CJ Entertainment (in U.S.)/Mediaplex, Showbox (in South Korea) release of a Generation Blue Films production. (International sales: Showbox, Seoul.) Produced by Kim-jo Gwang-soo, Lee Sun-mi. Co-producers, Choi Jae-won, Choi Jong-ho, Jo Yoon-jan. Directed by Kim Suk-yoon. Screenplay, Lee Choon-hyung, Lee Nam-kyu, based on the novel “Yulnyumoonui bimil” by Kim Tak-hwan.

With: Kim Myung-min, Oh Dal-su, Han Ji-min, Lee Jae-Yong, Kim Tae-hun, Ye Soo-jung, Nam Sung-jin, Jeong In-gi.

An 18th-century murder investigation provides frequent laughs in “Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow.” Adapted from a recent popular novel, this enjoyable, easygoing period mystery features a charming performance by Kim Myung-min (”Closer to Heaven”) that strikes the right comedic balance between self-importance and deflated pride. Co-star and Park Chan-wook regular Oh Dal-su reps a vital, commercial ingredient as the detective’s sometimes silly, sometimes smart foil, and boffo results so far ($35.2 million) validate the producers’ optimistic inclusion of sequel options in the script. Pic has been playing limited theatrical runs in North America since March 4.

A 1782-set prologue declares that the titular detective (Kim) is a favorite of reigning Korean monarch King Jeong-jo (Nam Sung-jin). Displaying amazing powers of deduction, the aristocratic detective seems to be 90% Sherlock Holmes but also 10% Inspector Clouseau. (It’s a far cry from the Lou Gehrig’s disease patient Kim played in 2009’s “Closer to Heaven.”)

After managing to frame himself for the murder of a man killed by a thin iron needle and scarred by wolfbane, the detective lands in jail alongside imprisoned dog thief Han Seo-phil (Oh). Han slides easily into the role of the pompous hero’s insolent, wisecracking Sancho Panza, and their interplay hits the funny bone with unerring accuracy.

Having embarrassed the king, the detective is “punished” by being sent to report on the suicide of a noblewoman in Jeok-seong, the wolfbane-growing region he had earlier suggested as being key to the initial murder investigation. For narrative convenience and consistency of laughs, Han decides to tag along. Upon arriving in Jeok-seong, the two begin to unravel the tangled connections involving the initial outbreak of murders, the victimization of Christians by the dominant Confucian ruling class, and the alluring woman (Han Ji-min) who acts as a front for an all-powerful but reclusive government minister.

The male leads’ breezy repartee recalls that of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby “Road” movies, and one-liners abound as the script underscores that the detective is not always as smart as he thinks he is, just as the dog thief is not as stupid as he pretends to be. Better known for their dramatic work, both Kim and Oh take to comedy with ease; while Detective K is ripe for a franchise, the involvement of both thesps will be crucial to the success of any sequels. Han Ji-min is mainly cheesecake, but nevertheless shows a flair for lascivious humor.

Korean auds, though well amused by the pic’s humor, may also note period references — to topics such as the impact of Confucianism on their nation’s progress, or government proposals to move the capital — as direct riffs on modern-day debates. Contempo themes are complemented by an anachronistic electro-pop score that knows how to punctuate a joke as well as augment suspense and chase scenes.

Helmer Kim maintains pace with the fast-moving script. Red camera lensing is well handled and continues the high standard set by Korean productions in the celluloid era.

Camera (color, widescreen, HD-to-35mm), Jang Nam-chul; editor, Kim Sun-min; music, Kim Han-jo, Eom Gi-yeop; art director, Chae Kyung-sun; costume designer, Lim Jung-hee; sound (Dolby Digital), Lee Seung-chul, Lee Sung-jin. Reviewed on DVD, Hong Kong, March 24, 2008. (In Hong Kong Filmart; Berlin Film Festival — market.) Running time: 115 MIN.

March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011

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CRI: HK Entertainers to Raise Fund for Quake Victims

It’s been confirmed that Hong Kong artists will hold a three-hour charity concert titled “311 Love beyond Borders” to raise funds for victims of Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

THR: Jackie Chan, Hong Kong Stars Set Japan Charity Concert

The group has recorded the song “Succmb Not to Sorrow” which is based on a Japanese poem and serves as the theme for the concert. (Xinhua)


Japan live blog: More than 27,000 dead, missing (CNN)

Breach suspected at troubled Japanese power plant (Yahoo)


March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011

AP Interview: ‘Farewell My Concubine’ director denies he traded artistic integrity for success

Chen [Kaige] said “Sacrifice” will be released in the U.S. in the second half of the year. Its Japanese release, originally scheduled for May, will likely be delayed by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

FBA: Golden age forecast for China business (Nasdaq: Bona)

CRI: ’Hawthorn Tree’ Girl to Lead Stanley Kwan’s Film

Zhou Dongyu, the starlet in Zhang Yimou’s drama “Under the Hawthorn Tree”, has been cast as a lead for Stanley Kwan’s upcoming romantic film, “Ta De Guo” (”His Kingdom”), according to the Guangzhou Daily.

CRI: Liu Ye Promotes ‘He-Man’ Premiere

Chinese actor Liu Ye, who has portrayed a Forrest Gump-like character in the action-crime film “The Underdog Knight” and its sequel, says he’d like to continue the role as long as he can.

Liu Ye, Zhang Zilin


The Man in the Courtyard House

Now a psychological crime drama?


Law of Attraction poster - Rainbow edition (Sina)

Mo Xiaoqi, Harlem Yu

Mo Xiaoqi (Monica Mok)

Mo Xiaoqi and Harlem Yu costar with Eason Chan and Rene Liu in Mr. and Mrs. Single (Sina)

The sequel to Ang Lee’s Eat Drink, Man Woman will feature Blue Lan, Huo Siyan and Rose Kuei (Gua Ah-Lei) it was announced this week in Hong Kong. Taiwanese filmmaker Tsao Jui-yuan (Love’s Lone Flower, 2005) will direct the $3m (RMB20m) drama which, like the original, centers on an old master chef and the love stories of his three daughters.This time, the chef is a mainland Chinese chef based in Hangzhou City in East China [played by Kenneth Tsang]. Shooting will start in Hangzhou on April 6 and will shift to Taipei starting in early May. The film should open in Taiwan and the mainland in Nov. (ScreenDaily)

Blue Lan

Huo Siyan, Blue Lan (Sina)2

Former Olympic diver Tian Liang

Tian Liang plays Liu Ye’s autistic brother in Beautiful Life (Sina)

MSN: Wang Xiaofei: Make a wish for our daughter

The Chinese millionaire’s words at the wedding fuelled yet another round of pregnancy rumours

The journalists had been restless since yesterday when they lost the scoop to Hsu’s wedding guests, who gave a virtual ‘live telecast’ of the event with their camera phones and micro-blog posts. (Xinhua)

MSN: Gaile Lok rumoured to be pregnant again

Gaile Lok at a recent spring/summer fashion show in HK


MSN: Raymond Lam rumoured to have proposed to girlfriendCNA: Raymond Lam lied about breakup?

A1: Raymond Lam’s ex Mavis Pan is married

According to a netizen, she wed a Caucasian man known only as John in 2009, and their relationship got started with the help of Malaysian singer-songwriter, Eric Moo. (Related article)

Mavis Pan Shuang Shuang, John and his son (Xinhua)

HKStandard: Mansion comes back to life in name of people

The building has been featured in several films and TV series over the years. In Enter the Dragon, it can be seen both on the black and white composite photo used to represent Han’s Island during Lee’s briefing with Braithewaite, and as a long shot as Lee enters Han’s island. (Wikipedia)

March 23, 2011

March 23, 2011

ScreenDaily: Forever (SG) review

The film poses the question whether Joey’s relentless drive to snag the man of her dreams will succeed despite the almost stalker-like behaviour.

Xu Tong’s 157-minute docu concerns a badly crippled fortuneteller with a severely impaired wife, driven from pillar to post by police crackdowns. If the central figure, Li Baicheng, were any less oddly charismatic, the film might register only as an exhaustive case history on the marginalization of the poor and disabled under Chinese capitalism. Yet Li maintains a remarkable level of equanimity, as Xu’s camera becomes a kind of companion to whom he confides his thoughts.

Stylish “The Piano in a Factory” offers fitful entertainment value but little narrative cohesion or momentum, playing like a series of disconnected setpieces in search of context. Chinese writer-director Zhang Meng’s sophomore feature (following 2007’s “Lucky Dog”) centers on a humble musician’s attempt to hold onto his music-prodigy daughter by securing her a piano by hook or by crook. Melancholic comedy demonstrates considerable flair for camera movement and use of music, but is too fragmentary to realize its crowdpleasing goal. Film Movement plans a limited U.S. theatrical run this summer, simultaneous with VOD release.

TVB favorite and multi-hyphenate Eric Tsang is producing four titles, including cop thriller Fatal Connections with director Herman Yau, the first among the titles to go into production. He will also produce The Three Wise Guys, a Chinese vampire academy comedy for this summer where he reunites with his I Love HK director Chung Shue-kai; Jiang-hu Yi (tentative title), an original epic about Hong Kong triads before the handover in 1997, with director Daniel Chan; and Hunt for Love, co-directing with his protégé Heiward Mak on the original story by media personality/writerMichelle Lo…

Nansun Shi, the executive director of Film Workshop, said that demand for Asian co-production is actually declining as foreign producers now want to make a film in China on their own.

“There are a lot of investors, but nobody knows who is who,” she added.

FBA: The coproduction conundrum

THR: Mixed Results for Chinese Entertainment Firms Following IPOs

FBA: HAF favours edgy films

The 9th Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum presented six prizes this afternoon, 23 March, including the newly launched Chinese Script Development Fund.

FBA:Beautiful life heads to USA

Media Asia closed a deal on Andrew Lau’s film A Beautiful Life for North America, Australia and New Zealand with new distributor China Lion.

Only some six months back Chinese films began getting day-and-date releases in North America thanks to the establishment of a new distribution concern China Lion Films and the participation of AMC, the US’s second largest film exhibition group.

CRI: Trailer Released for Zhang Ziyi’s New Film

A new trailer has been released for the AIDS-themed film “Till Death Do Us Part”

Poster for comedy thriller Deadly Will (Sina)

A document found by the media  revealed that Zhou Dongyu was born in 1991, not 1992 as listed on her blog. (Xinhua) Zhou Dongyu is reportedly signed to Stanley Kwan’s My KingdomFan Bingbing had been considered earlier but deemed not a good match for the character. (Sina)

Yang Mi, Jordan Chan at the Mysterious Island press conference (Sina)

Shu Qi has a bit of fun with herself on her weibo, even admits to pimples, muscle aches and foot pain.

Shu Qi

Beautiful Life with Liu Ye (Xinhua)

Zhao Wei

At an appearance in Shanghai for HSBC, Zhao Wei said that she would work on her delayed graduate film for Beijing Film Academy in September after finishing Painted Skin 2 and Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains. (Xinhua)(Xinhua-gallery)

The Man Behind the Courtyard House starring Simon Yam has been toned down for both sexy and violent scenes prior to its release according to a media report. The film was previewed yesterday in Guangzhou. Pre-release publicity teased a suspenseful thriller and bloody violence, including Simon Yam committing homicide by hammering a nail into a man’s brain. The film has spent four months in review and revision and the end result left the crew surprised. Also, a Cantonese version is planned for release in Guangdong area audiences. (21cn)(Sina)2

Director Huang Jianxin, in an interview at Filmart, denied earlier reports that all of Tang Wei’s scenes had been deleted from The Founding of a Party. He admitted that many scenes were cut to get the 3 hour film down to 2 hours. (Sina)

The Piano in a Factory (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 10:57 am

The Piano in a Factory

A Film Movement (in U.S.) release of an Etoile Pictures and Liaoning Film Studios production. Produced by Jessica Kam, Choi Gwang-suk. Executive producer, Kwak Jae-young. Directed, written by Zhang Meng.

With: Wang Qian-yuan, Qin Hai-lu, Jang Shin-yeong, Liu Xing-yu, Liu Qian, Luo Er-yang, Tian-yu, Guo Yong-zhen. (Mandarin dialogue)

Stylish “The Piano in a Factory” offers fitful entertainment value but little narrative cohesion or momentum, playing like a series of disconnected setpieces in search of context. Chinese writer-director Zhang Meng’s sophomore feature (following 2007’s “Lucky Dog”) centers on a humble musician’s attempt to hold onto his music-prodigy daughter by securing her a piano by hook or by crook. Melancholic comedy demonstrates considerable flair for camera movement and use of music, but is too fragmentary to realize its crowdpleasing goal. Film Movement plans a limited U.S. theatrical run this summer, simultaneous with VOD release.

The economic liberalization boon is still far from reaching the northeastern city of Anshan in pic’s ill-defined early 1990s setting. Protag Chen Guilin (Wang Qian-yuan) is just one more erstwhile steelworker scraping by; he’s the accordionist in a band that plays weddings, funerals and any other gig they can get. Singer Shu Xian (Qin Hai-lu) is his on-again, off-again girlfriend.

But Chen’s main focus is on wee daughter Xiao Yuan (Liu Xing-yu), whose musical promise enables him to live out his own deferred dreams. She lacks a piano to practice on, which becomes even more of a problem when Chen’s wife, Xiao Ju (Jang Shin-yeong), returns to town. Like many residents, she moved away for a better life, finding it in a prosperous new mate.

Now she wants to divorce her “loser” husband, who reluctantly assents, but is less amenable to demands for Xiao Yuan’s custody. The tyke decides she’ll go with whichever parent can provide her with the musical instrument she needs.

Various misadventures ensue, from Chen’s fruitless attempts to borrow funds to the abortive theft of a schoolhouse piano. Finally, he decides he’ll build a grand himself, enlisting the shuttered steel factory’s resources as well as various pals to scavenge materials and construct the complicated instrument.

Treading formulaic waters a la “The Full Monty” and myriad other tales about scrappy misfits uniting for an impossible cause, pic has the essential elements for widely translatable appeal. But Meng’s screenplay seems barely there, sublimated to a directorial style that can’t compensate for lack of basic coherence and character development.

The most important relationship here, between Chen and daughter, is relegated to a few stilted scenes. Instead, Meng focuses on ornate setpieces that are pretty in a late-Fellini, self-consciously theatrical way, but play as empty pictorialism.

Pic was reportedly up to 17 minutes longer at its Toronto premiere last fall, and the subsequent paring down may have done more harm than good. Certainly there are moments here that feel completely arbitrary, especially blackout-framed glimpses of scenes that may have been better developed originally. Meng’s eventual decisions involving the piano’s completion and child custody come out of nowhere.

Adult perfs are solid if compromised by one-dimensional writing; by contrast, tech and design contributions are fussed to a fault. One witty idea utilizes Cold War-era Soviet pop as a satirical soundtrack motif.

Camera (color), Shu Chou; editor, Gao Bo; music, Oh Young-mook; sound (Dolby Digital), Lee Sang-wook; sound designer, Jung Ji-yung; re-recording mixer, Lee Sung-jun. Reviewed at San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival (competing), March 13, 2011. (Also in Rotterdam, Adelaide film festivals; 2010 Toronto, Tokyo, Dubai film festivals.) Running time: 107 MIN.

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