HKMDB Daily News

September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010

NPR: ’Noodle Shop’: A Coen Brothers Tale Goes East

Relocated from flat and empty Texas to hilly and vacant China, Zhang’s film has a lot of fun with the original material, along with some smiles at the expense of the director’s own style. But the pacing is too deliberate, and much of the humor doesn’t translate; the result is a would-be farce that’s more droll than uproarious.

NPR: A Family Torn Asunder Takes The ‘Last Train Home’

Frequently moving and quietly enlightening, Last Train Home is about love and exploitation, sacrifice and endurance.

NYTimes: Last Train Home

FBA: Showtime (用心跳) (2/10)

Incoherent, wannabe musical drama fumbles the ball at every level.

Resisting his long-time penchant for dazzling, picture-perfect visual effects and dropping the political edge in his early movies, top Chinese film director Zhang Yimou has recreated a pure love story on the silver screen in a simple and direct way.

WSJ: Hong Kong: A Love Story - All About Love

“I make films because I really want to find out what Hong Kong is like at the moment,” says the 63-year-old Ms. Hui.

THR: Contagion’ spreads to Hong Kong - Soderbergh film to feature Josie Ho

Ho, who met Soderbergh in Hong Kong in July, said she would draw on her own memories of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak to play her role in “Contagion.”

“It was a very sad time when we were all scared and nobody knew where to turn for help,” Ho said. “I really respect all the doctors and nurses who saved us. They are heroes.”

FBA: Asian stars join Soderbergh’s Contagion

CRI: ‘The Piano in a Factory’ to Compete at Tokyo Film Festival (formerly Steel Piano, here)

(Sina-gallery)

FBA: Tang Wei invited back to Party

Malaysian hit film Ice Kacang Puppy Love featuring Angelica Lee opens Sept. 9 in China.  (Sina)

New stills from Legend of the Fist released

(Sina-slide show)

Promises, promises

Jackie Chan brewing up another donation-gate? Inquiries have revealed that Jackie’s 2009 promise to donate funds from Little Big Soldier box office for the reconstruction of a Beichuan Middle School destroyed by the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan has so far been not met. Jackie Chan and Li Yuchan visited Beichuan on the first anniversary of the earthquake and made his pledge then. A search of the online website listing donors turned up nothing for Jackie Chan or his various other names, Sing Long, Chan Kong, etc. Jackie Chan’s Charitable Foundation confirmed that no record of a donation to Beichuan has been made. (Xinhua)

Louis Koo’s agent tried to clarify earlier reports that the star would be out of commission for 9-12 months. He said that the actor would not completely suspend working after surgery for that length of time, more likely one month for rest and recovery. (Sina)

Chen Kun and Zhao Wei in Chengdu appearing for luxury brand LV.

(Xinhua-gallery)

SG: Beautiful voice runs in Faye Wong’s family

SG: Vicki Zhao thanks hubby

August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010

LATimes: Zhang Yimou remakes the Coen brothers’ ‘Blood Simple’

The result is the lush, slapstick ‘A Women, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.’ The film highlights the rise of Chinese cinema.

FBA: Woo to wage war in wide screen

John Woo will prepare his long in-development WWII epic Flying Tigers to be screened in the IMAX wide screen format.

Variety: Woo lives to make movies

Now if only someone would let him make a musical

Wang Lee Hom’s first attempt at writing and directing a feature film, Love In Disguise, drew mixed reviews from critics but raves from fans.

CRI: Jackie Chan, Li Bingbing to Play Couple in New Film

Jackie Chan and Li Bingbing will play a couple in the upcoming historical film “The 1911 Revolution” (aka Xinhai Revolution).

New stills released of Detective Dee and The Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Carina Lau

Andy Lau

Li Bingbing

Deng Chao (Sina)(Xinhua-gallery)

(m1905.com)

Reporters learned that Zhang Yimou invited a group of friends into a small television editing room to watch a preview of Romance Under the Hawthorn Tree. Though the original novel brought numerous tears to readers, the film was described as touching but not overly sentimental. In addtion, much has been made of the young actress playing Quiet Autumn, Zhou Dongyu, but praise was lavished on the young boy played by Dou Xiao. According to one viewer, ‘His performace was fine, pure, natural and simple. After the movie release, he will become a hit with young schoolgirls and thousands will fall in love with him.’ (Sina)

Cast of A Chinese Ghost Story press conference at Changchun Film Festival

Liu Yifei, Yu Shaoqun

Kara Hui

Louis Fan Siu-Wong, Wang Danyi Li

Following Ip Man 2’s May release this year, Wilson Yip is planning on a May 2011 release for A Chinese Ghost Story. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Anthony Wong has no opinion on Jackie’s remarks

(Xinhua)

(Aug.28) Alan Tam, Hacken Lee, Raymond Lam, Wang Leehom and Twins performed in a concert to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Macau Venetian.

Twins

Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi

Wang Leehom (Xinhua-slide show)

Faye Wong, daughter Dou Jing Tong

Dou Jing Tong, Li Yapeng

Faye Wong’s 13 year-old daughter is said to have inherited her mother’s genes after she sang in public for the first time. Dou Jing Tong sang a song, I Need You, in English beginning a little tentatively at first but gaining strength as she continued. The occasion  was part of the ‘Angel Fund Tour’.  Stepfather Li Yapeng and Dou Jing Tong and volunteers of the medical team of the Angel Fund to benefit children with free surgery to correct cleft lips were visiting a school in the town of Chifeng. After a day’s activity and a few glasses of wine, the students performed singing and dancing around a bonfire party to welcome the distinguished guests. Then, Li Yapeng introduced Dou Jing Tong, ‘Now I introduce to you a guest, she is my eldest daughter, Tong Tong. She will sing a song on stage for everyone, please give her a little applause.’  Afterwards, volunteers said her voice was crisp and sounded very much like her mother’s. Li Yapeng said that three years ago Tong Tong asked for a set of electronic drums and he approved. Tong Tong is active in the orchestra and choir at school. (Xinhua)2

Francis Ng spotted alone at Beijing airport

(Xinhua-gallery)

Aug.29 - Zhang Ziyi attending a celebrity dinner and auction organizned jointly by the Shanghai Love Foundation and Beijing Foundation for Disabled Persons.

Other guests included Huang Xiaoming, Pau Gasol, Jiang Wenli, Huang Yi, Gong Beibi, Liu Qian, Chen Luyu and many others.

Zhang Ziyi looks to have gained a little healthy weight

Pau Gasol

Huang Yi, Huang Xiaoming

Lin Miaoke (the Olympic girl), Sun Ming Ming

Magician Liu Qian

Liu Yan (the classical dancer who was paralyzed after a fall during a rehearsal for the Olympic Opening Ceremony) (Sina)(Xinhua)

Global Times: Jackie Chan’s twitter arouses haters in Hong Kong

Jackie Chan apologises for ‘disrespectful’ bus hijacking tweets

Some felt there was nothing wrong with his tweets and expressed disappointment that he caved to pressure and apologised while others felt he should have been more careful with his words in the first place.

April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 2:57 pm

Poster for Love in a Puff

Love in a Puff has little hope to be screened in the mainland due to its Cat.III rating. It has a limited release in Hong Kong. Director Pang Ho-Cheung said that he did not originally expect a Cat.III rating. On his upcoming Dream Home, there are a large number of bloody scenes and mutilated bodies, so it might also face difficulty to introduce in the mainland. Said Pang, he did not intentionally give up the mainland market but just wants to make his own films. (Sina)

Derek Yee’s Triple Tap poster

Derek Yee, Daniel Wu, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Chin Ka-Lok

Charlene Choi, Louis Koo

Derek Yee fears June 30 scheduled release will run up against World Cup matches (Sina)

Taipei Times: A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

The joke’s on Zhang Yimou‘A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop’ translates the Coen brothers’ ‘Blood Simple’ into slapstick, but the comedy backfires.

CRI: “A Tale of Two Donkeys” Wins Laughter in CSFF

Hong Kong honors kung fu director with award

The Hong Kong Film Awards have honored veteran kung fu film director and choreographer Lau Kar-leung with its lifetime achievement prize.

Maggie Cheung, Jiang Qiong Er

Maggie Cheung is rumored to have split with her younger German boyfriend architect Ole Scheeren. According to Hong Kong’s Next Weekly Ole is smitten with Chinese designer Jiang Qiong Er. In the past six months Maggie has been seen travelling alone and unaccompanied to public events. When asked about her boyfriend recently Maggie seemed embarrassed. Jiang Qiong Er is an internation jewelry, furniture and clothing designer starting her own brand. (Xinhua)

Taipei Times: Pop Stop

Ethan Ruan dodging miltary service? Shu Qi Happy Online Farmer?

Shu Qi posts a photo of herself on her micro-blog

Shu Qi’s online farm (Xinhua)

Zhang Jingchu promoting a fragrance brand

(Xinhua)(Sina)

April 8, 2010

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (Taipei Times review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:55 pm

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop’ translates the Coen brothers’ ‘Blood Simple’ into slapstick, but the comedy backfires.

By Ho Yi

Gone are the swordsmen, heroes and women crushed by a pernicious patriarchal system. Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), the once powerful auteur, has turned his hand to slapstick comedy in A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (三槍拍案驚奇) (previously titled A Simple Noodle Story in English), a remake of the Coen brothers’ 1984 Blood Simple.

In Zhang’s garish adaptation, the Coens’ bleak and noirish treatment of human nature is lost amid boisterous and boorish regional humor.

The film is aimed at neither the international market nor fans of Zhang’s earlier works, but the masses of China, who reportedly paid some US$32.4 million to see the movie within three weeks of it opening there in December.

The Texan bar in Blood Simple becomes a noodle shop in the vast deserts of Shaanxi.

At the roadside mom-and-pop operation lives miserly owner Wang Mazi (Ni Dahong, 倪大紅), his young wife (Yan Ni, 閻妮), her paramour Li Si (Xiao Shenyang, 小沈陽), an apprentice, and two dim-witted servants, Zhao (Cheng Ye, 程野) and Chen (Mao Mao, 毛毛).

In the film’s farcical opening, a Persian merchant stops by and sells a gun to the wife, who has had enough of her abusive husband. Meanwhile, corrupt police deputy Zhang San (Sun Honglei, 孫紅雷) secretly approaches the cuckold Wang to inform him of his wife’s ongoing affair with Li. The husband is furious and hires the stone-faced Zhang to murder the adulterers.

But the plot takes an unexpected turn and the A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop moves to darker territory as the killer’s hidden agenda surfaces, leading to a string of misunderstandings, double-crossings and the age-old problem of how to dispose of a corpse. The film abruptly changes tempo and style when, with a nod to the thriller genre, the murderer executes his crime with precision.

As Coen fans may notice, the plot closely follows the original, but the film is quintessentially Chinese, crammed with comical brawls and gags borrowed from the tradition of errenzhuan (二人轉), a folk art form from northeast China that involves storytelling, singing, dancing and clowning about.

Zhang calls on errenzhuan stage actors Xiao Shenyang (a showbiz sensation after his appearance on China Central Television last year), Mao Mao and Cheng Ye to elicit wows and laughs with tongue-twisting wordplay and acrobatic feats.

Sadly, the comical segments are farcical farragoes cooked up by the cast’s flamboyant acting, silly dialogue and crude humor. Even the cameo by celebrated comedian Zhao Benshan (趙本山) as a boggle-eyed police chief is nothing more than a gimmick for cheap laughs.

It’s as if Zhang couldn’t care less about the discord that arises from panoramic shots of awe-inspiring barren landscapes (recalling the director’s Hero (英雄)) populated by buffoons in gaudy costumes.

The film’s highlight may be the cast’s hip-hop routine, accompanied by Zhang rapping in his native Shaanxi dialect, during the end credits.
Taipei Times

February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

Restored treasure “Confucius” on screen during International Film Festival

Screenings of director Fei Mu’s lost classic, “Confucius”, in its initial phase of restoration last year met with overwhelming response. The film in its second phase of restoration will be unveiled in the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) together with other works of the great director, including the masterpiece “Spring in a Small Town”. As a contribution to the HKIFF, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) has organised a retrospective “Fei Mu, Film Poet” to showcase the work of one of the greatest filmmakers of Chinese cinema. (Original article, NYTimes)

CRI: “Little Big Soldier” Makes Over 100 Million Yuan at Box Office

Review: ‘Little Big Soldier’ Innovative for Chan

Chan’s new movie also shows that it’s possible to be creative within the often-soulless genre of the big-budget Chinese epic that has come to dominate the local industry.

CRI: “Mulan” Nominated in Hong Kong Film Awards

No mere copy: A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop

Sometimes the punchlines were culturally specific and were delivered very quickly. They do not translate well and result in hard-to-catch subtitles. The quick fire comedic exchange between Wang’s staff for instance, left non-Chinese speakers puzzled as the subtitles zoomed by.


Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience opens Apr.1

Leon Lai plays a hot, violent detective, Richie Ren/Jen a gentle anti-drug cop

(HunanTV)

Jacky Cheung

Crossing Hennessy will be opening film at this year’s HKIFF.

Amphetamine from Taiwan will be the closing film.

(Sina) (HunanTV)

CRI: ‘Hennessy’ to Open HK Int’l Film Festival

Connie Chan and mother, Gung Fan-Hung (Sina)

Gung Fan-Hung (c) with Lydia Shum, Nancy Sit, Connie Chan

Connie Chan’s adoptive mother and mentor Gung Fan-Hung died after suffering chest pains while attending Connie Chan’s concert at Hong Kong Coliseum on the evening of Feb.24. She was 98 years old. In 1953, Gung and her husband Chan Fai-Lung opened the Hong Kong Cantonese Opera Academy and nurtured talent such as Ng Kwan-Lai. (Sina)

Connie Chan performed last night despite her grief. She was greeted with warm applause by fans.

Earlier, Connie told the media, ‘Mommy, since childhood, taught me everyone should play their part and perform their duties.’ (Sina)

Connie Chan held a brief press conference and said she would announce funeral plans after completing work.

(Sina) (2)

New Swordsman from Yuen Wo-Ping featuring Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun, Li Bingbing, Huang Xiaoming? (Xinhua)

Zhou Xun and Huang Xiaoming are also rumored to be leaving Huayi Brothers when their contracts expire to join Peter Lam’s Media Asia. (Xinhua)

HK singer Gigi Leung’s family disapprove of her beau

Cherie Chung

Cherie Chung shot new photo adverts for a collagen center promoting the ’secret of youth’ (!)

(Sina) (15)(Sina) (Xinhua)

Jennifer Tse Ting-Ting’s new slimming advert (Sina)

February 15, 2010

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 4:53 pm

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
San qiang pai’an jingqi

(Mandarin dialogue; international version) A Sony Pictures Classics (in U.S.) release of a Beijing New Picture Film Co. (China)/Film Partner (2009) Intl. (H.K.) production. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Zhang Weiping, Bill Kong, Gu Hao. Executive producer, Zhang Zhenyan. Directed by Zhang Yimou. Screenplay, Xu Zhengchao, Shi Jianquan, based on the 1984 film “Blood Simple.”

With: Sun Honglei, Xiao Shenyang, Yan Ni, Ni Dahong, Cheng Ye, Mao Mao, Zhao Benshan, Julien Gaudfroy.

By DEREK ELLEY
Four years (and several Olympics duties) after “Curse of the Golden Flower,” mainland Chinese helmer Zhang Yimou returns with the much more ascetic, chamber-like dramedy “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.” A pretty close adaptation of the Coen brothers’ 1984 “Blood Simple” but relocated from the flatlands of contempo Texas to the hilly deserts of Shaanxi in Ancient China, pic is spiced up with some pratfall humor (trimmed in Sony’s international version screened at the Berlinale) and visually enhanced by saturated lensing of the dusty red landscapes that slightly recalls Zhang’s earlier “Hero.” Modest specialized biz looks likely.

In China, where it was released mid-December (with the English title “A Simple Noodle Story”), pic took a tasty 261 million yuan ($38 million) in six weeks, more than recouping its sizable reported budget of around $12 million. Though way less spectacular than Zhang’s recent movies like “Curse,” “House of Flying Daggers” and “Hero,” the casting of popular local comics in several roles — including hot new name Xiao Shenyang as the young lead — was a contributory factor.

Plot adheres to the essentials (and even whole scenes) of the Coens’ script, though culturally the movie is utterly Chinese in its characterizations and occasional references to Beijing Opera (notably “San cha kou,” with its multiple double-crossing in an inn). Western auds familiar with “Blood Simple” will get a kick out of the reinventions — and the script by Xu Zhengchao and Shi Jianquan actually tightens up the original’s rather digressive second half prior to its final shootout.

In the middle of a vast empty desert, bisected by dusty gullies, stands a solitary roadside inn run by grouchy old skinflint Wang (Ni Dahong) and his vampy young wife of 10 years (Yan Ni). For the past couple of months, the wife has been canoodling with sappy young cook Li (Xiao). The only other staff are a bozo waiter, Zhao (Cheng Ye), and equally dim waitress, Chen (Mao Mao), who haven’t been paid for some time.

Zippy opening sets up pic’s comic element as a flamboyant Persian trader (Julien Gaudfroy) comes by and demonstrates the new western invention of guns, finally selling a three-barreled model (along with three bullets) to Wang’s wife, who’s just about had it up here with her old man’s ill treatment. The gun, with its three avaliable shots (referred to in pic’s Chinese title), will play a crucial role in the chicanery to come.

Alerted by the noise of the Persian’s demonstration of his wares (including a large cannon), the local police force drops by and the staff whip up a meal of noodles preceded by an impressive display of culinary kung-fu (this version’s only crowdpleasing action sequence). In local terms, the scene is mainly a showcase for a cameo by comedian Zhao Benshan as the police chief.

Some time later, however, the chief’s deputy, Zhang (Sun Honglei), drops by alone and tells Wang that his wife is having an affair with Li. Wang hires Zhang to murder the couple and bury them in the desert; when Zhang returns with “proof” of the dirty deed, he collects his money and shoots Wang with the wife’s gun.

Coen aficionados won’t be surprised by any of the subsequent twists in the tale, and general auds will be pleasantly amused, as Zhang tries to manipulate events for his own purposes (the small fortune in Wang’s office safe), the bozo employees also try to muscle in, and the bodies start to pile up.

Though helmer Zhang frequently lingers over this or that cloudscape, landscape or sound effect, and the utter isolation of the inn is frequently stressed, “Noodle” has none of the simmering, badlands atmosphere of “Simple,” with Sun (in the M. Emmet Walsh role) a taciturn, poker-faced cop with a procedural attitude to his crimes.

Apart from Cheng and Mao Mao, who provide most of the effective humor as the two dumb employees, it’s Yan (so good in her small role in Guan Hu’s recent “Cow”) who provides most of the color, from her duds to her temper. Xiao is OK but in a colorless role.

The exact era is never specified, and some design elements (such as the blue-black outfits of the police) are there simply for visual contrast, especially when set against the red-streaked, rusty landscape. P.d. Han Chung’s inn interiors are immensely detailed, with the borderline ramshackle look reflecting Wang’s meanness.

For the record, pic’s international version is four minutes shorter than that released in China and Hong Kong.

Camera (Technicolor, widescreen, DV-to-35mm), Zhao Xiaoding; editor, Meng Peicong; music, Zhao Lin; production designer, Han Zhong; costume designer, Huang Qiuping; sound (Dolby Digital), Steve Burgess, He Wei; sound designer, Tao Jing; story consultant, Zhou Xiaofeng; stunt co-ordinators, Cao Hua, Gao Xiang; special effects co-ordinator, Chung Do-ahn; visual effects producer, Jiang Yanming; assistant director, Zang Qiwu. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 14, 2010. Running time: 90 MIN.
Variety

A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop (A Simple Noodle Story)(Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 4:51 pm

A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop (San Qiang Pai, An Jing Qi)
By Dan Fainaru
Dir: Zhang Yimou. China-Hong Kong. 2009. 95mins.

Playing more like a slapstick version of the Coen brothers’ classic Blood Simple than a remake, Zhang Yimou’s latest moves the action back a few hundred years and switches location to the spectacular Yellow Earth landscapes of Northern China. Aimed primarily at local audiences – where it was a hit over the New Year – Zhang’s adaptation is multiplex matinee fare. Audiences oversees might miss the black humour of the original, though, while finding A Woman lacks the flamboyance of Zhang’s earlier films (House Of Flying Daggers, Hero).

Zhang Yimou’s broad version of Blood Simple is heavy on pratfalls and overacting and light on tension and black humour but is always a visual treat

The plot itself remains basically unchanged. Greedy old Wang (Ni Dahong) owns a noodle shop in the middle of nowhere. In the opening scene, his embittered wife (Yang Ni) buys a gun from a wandering Persian merchant and demands that her lover, Li (Xiao Shenyang), one of the noodle shop’s cooks, use it to kill her husband. Wang, suspecting his wife’s affair, hires policeman Zhang (Sun Honglei) to murder them both. Zhang pretends to kill the wife, and then shoots Wang, intending to rob him of his money.

The plot thickens, of course, with Li convinced that his lover is the murderer, the staff getting involved, all the principals developing an interest in the contents of Wang’s safe, and the bodies quickly piling up.

The Coen brothers drew every bit of tension, terror and irony they could muster out of their clever, cold-blooded portrait of human greed. Zhang opts to play it broadly, however, although initially A Woman… looks like it might be one of his bravura pieces, with the Persian merchant displaying his merchandise at the inn followed by a dazzling demonstration of flying dough being turned into Chinese noodles. Zhang then takes his camera out of the inn for a stunning look at the local scenery, the colours obviously enhanced for greater effect.

But once this prologue has finished, A Woman… moves into pratfalls and overacting, with the stage directions reminiscent of comic stances in Chinese opera. The characters quickly turn into caricatures whose fate seems inconsequential, and Zhang fails to convey the immediacy of the original film, when it seemed as if even the most far-fetched developments couldn’t have happened any other way.

With the local audience in mind, Zhang has cast mainly Chinese TV stars in A Woman…, with the exception of Sun Honglei (The Road Home, Forever Enthralled), who gives the crooked policeman a welcome dose of chilly sarcasm. Visuals, as always with a Zhang Yimou film, are enticing, courtesy of DoP Zhao Xiaoding.

Production companies
Beijing New Picture Film Co
Film Partner (2009) International

International sales
Wild Bunch
(33) 1 53 01 50 20

Producers
Zhang Weiping
Bill Kong
Gu Hao

Screenplay
Xu Zhengchao
Shi Jianquan
Based on Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple

Cinematography
Zhao Xiaoding

Production design
Han Zhong

Editor
Meng Peicong

Music
Zhao Lin

Main cast
Sun Honglei
Xiao Shenyang
Yan Ni
Ni Dahong
Cheng Ye
Mao Mao
Zhao Benshan
Screen Daily

February 15, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:47 am

Growing pains of China’s animation movie

Chop Socky Chooks: Volume One

Playing more like a slapstick version of the Coen brothers’ classic Blood Simple than a remake, Zhang Yimou’s latest moves the action back a few hundred years and switches location to the spectacularYellow Earth landscapes of Northern China.

Variety: A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

For the record, pic’s international version is four minutes shorter than that released in China and Hong Kong.

Chinese remake of Coen brothers classic screens in Berlin

Screen Daily: Au Revoir Taipei

Asian-American director Arvin Chen’s boy-meets-girl romance coasts along on sheer goofy sweetness. A brightly-coloured Before Sunrise in Taiwanese screwball sauce with just a pinch ofUmbrellas Of Cherbourg thrown in, it does little except charm, seduce and mildly amuse. But it does so with enough grace and storytelling skill to keep most audiences hooked though to the end, even though the sugar-rush wears off pretty soon after leaving the cinema.

It’s the kind of larger-spanned movie that Taiwan should be attempting if the island’s industry is ever to get back on its feet again. Niu’s gamble looks to be repaid — at least locally — with “Monga” strong-arming a brawny $1.6 million in its first week since bowing Feb. 5.

Variety: The Actresses (South Korea)

Six movie stars — playing themselves — gather for a Vogue photo shoot in a Seoul studio in “The Actresses,” a talky but involving fakumentary that continually plays with the thin dividing line between reality and fiction. Hardly the catfight it’s expected to be, this cheekiest outing yet from writer-director E J-yong is a funny, sometimes surprisingly touching exploration of the role of actresses in South Korea’s still socially proscribed film world, though considerable knowledge of local showbiz and the thesps themselves is necessary to get the most from the movie. Asia-friendly fests should extend invites to these broads.

Variety: I’m In Trouble (South Korea)

Korean Academy of Film Arts alum So Sang-min makes a promising feature debut with “I’m in Trouble!,” a charmingly modest talking-eating-drinking movie — carved from the same rockface as helmers like Hong Sang-soo, Emmanuel Mouret and Woody Allen — in which a bunch of likable, indecisive losers endlessly repeat the same emotional mistakes.

Based on a novel by one of Japan’s most acclaimed fiction writers of the 20th century, ‘Villon’s Wife’ possesses a cinematic presence rarely achieved by literary adaptations

All’s Well Ends Well Too 2010

Ronald Cheng, Raymond Wong, Louis Koo, Sandra Ng

Raymond Wong

Sandra Ng

Ronald Cheng, Louis Koo (Xinhua)

Jacky Cheung

Jacky Cheung promoting his new CD Private Corner on a TV program (Xinhua)

Chrissie Chau

Chrissie Chau will celebrate Valentine’s Day with boyfriend Avis (Sina)

Liza Wang, Law Kar-Ying (Sina)

AngelaBaby

James Parry, AngelaBaby (Sina)

Donnie Yen (Sina)

Rainie Yang (Sina)

Donnie Yen: I’m good in bedroom kungfu

Sandra Ng has no time to go online

Jackie Chan backs Vivian Hsu’s Jap comeback

Zhang Ziyi - Chinese art of reveling in another’s pain

With so many in Taiwan’s celebrity firmament embroiled in scandals over the past few years, 2010 may turn out to be the year when some turn to religion to change their evil ways. But don’t count on it.

Shannon Lee at Hollywood Madame Tussauds

January 4, 2010

A Simple Noodle Story (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 9:49 pm

A Simple Noodle Story
By Maggie Lee

Bottom Line: An American Mid-west noir thriller gets a regional Chinese comic treatment.

HONG KONG — “A Simple Noodle Story” is Zhang Yimou’s remake of the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple” as a Chinese period thriller-farce in a desert setting. A high-rolling but garish production with untranslatable regional ribald humor, it is aimed squarely at the China market where the genre of “ejiao” (comic brawls and rascally hijinks) is all the rage. In less than three weeks, it has racked up $32.4 million from domestic cinemas.

You’d probably savor this more if you have some affinity with Northwestern Chinese culture than if you’re a Coen or Zhang aficionado. To promote the film, Sony Pictures Classics, which owns distribution rights in some continents including USA, could highlight the novelty of this cultural crossover and the film’s gung-ho energy.

The Texan bar in “Blood Simple” is transposed to a noodle shop in the desert of Shaanxi province, run by Wang Mazi (Ni Dahong). His shrewish wife (Yan Ni) buys a gun from Persian traveling salesmen, raising a cloud of suspicion among the staff.

When the Persians test fire a canon, it causes the local brigade to raid the shop. The brigade chief’s aide Zhang San (Sun Honglei) privately approaches Wang to tell on his wife’s affair with apprentice Li Si (Xiao Shenyang). Wang hires Zhang to murder the adulterers. More double-crossings and crossed purposes ensue when Zhang’s hidden agenda surfaces.

Although key plot points are taken lock, stock and barrel from the original, pacing is much more frenetic with characters and cameras in restless motion. The intervals are crammed with exotic sight gags and colloquial word play, such as a dough-making scene choreographed like a plate-spinning acrobatic show, or the group hip-hop dance routine accompanied by Zhang Yimou’s rap song in his native Shaanxi dialect.

Much of the film’s tone of is set by Wang’s servants Zhao Liu (Cheng Ye) and Chen Qi (Mao Mao), who function as hick Chinese versions of the leads in “Dumb and Dumber.” When they debate whether to bust Wang’s vault, they recite a chunk of tongue-twisting dialogue in one take — an instance when technical showmanship shines through even if the parody is lost in translation.

These elements and the deliberate use of anachronistic contemporary slang give the film its quintessentially Chinese character. However, their specific cultural references and the cast’s screechingly noisy acting style are what eventually wear out non-Chinese viewers.

Likewise, the Coens’ cool, noirish observations on humans’ cynical nature and mutual distrust are somewhat lost in the boisterous mood created by the stir crazy characters.

Panoramic shots of brick red sand dunes capturing the landscape’s barren beauty are juxtaposed with gaudy art direction and costume design that cockily flout the usual aesthetic sophistication in Zhang’s works, as if he has decided to dab all the separate color schemes of “Hero” onto one palette.

Opened in Hong Kong: Dec. 24
Production companies: Beijing New Picture Film Company, Edko (Beijing) Management Consultancy Co. Ltd, Sony Pictures Classics
Sales: Sony Pictures Classics, Edko Film Company
Cast: Yan Ni, Xiao Shenyang, Sun Honglei, Ni Dahong, Cheng Ye, Mao Mao
Director: Zhang Yimou
Comedy director: Shang Jing
Screenwriters: Xu Zhengchao, Shi Jianquan
Executive producers: Bill Kong, Zhang Weiping
Director of photography: Zhao Xiaoding
Art director: Han Zhong
Music: Zhao Lin
Costume designer: Wang Qiuping
Editor: Meng Peicong
No rating, 94 minutes
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/a-simple-noodle-story-film-review-1004056405.story

December 26, 2009

December 26, 2009

Treasure Hunter

Miao Pu without mask (Sina)


Taipei Times

FILM REVIEW: Bodyguards fail to save the day

CRI: “Bodyguards and Assassins” Going Strong after Debut

CRI: Will The Silver Screen Shine?

The advertisements and trailers of upcoming movies are often more eye-catching and imaginative than the films themselves.

Variety: Walking to School

Produced by Yu Rongguang

China’s Zhang Yimou back with Coen brothers remake

The 57-year-old has also called on television comedians to act in the film, and the dialogue is peppered with funny expressions made popular by the Internet…

It is a film that perfectly suits cinemas in provincial towns.”

The Hunan Daily newspaper wrote: “Apart from the attractive aspect due to the fact it is an adaptation of the Coen brothers’ film, the cultural content seems rather empty.”

And Hung Huang, a Chinese media personality, said the film was “too vulgar.”

THR: Hong Kong fest to laud Zhang Yimou

Chinese director Zhang Yimou will be given a lifetime achievement award at the upcoming Asian Film Awards in March next year.

Chi-Ling goes full time into acting

CRI: Xiao Shen Yang’s 101st Night

Taipei Times: Pop Stop

Gong Li mum about cup size

Andy Lau appears as Sammi Cheng’s guest

Sammi Cheng Love Mi Concert

Guests Eric Kot, Ekin Cheng

(Sina)

Vivian Chow lends support to non-profit veterinary association

Rosamund Kwun

(HunanTV)

Rumors have been swirling over the holidays that both Rosamund Kwun and Maggie Cheung have become engaged to their boyfriends.(Sina)

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