HKMDB Daily News

October 1, 2012

Life of Pi (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 6:01 pm

Life of Pi

A 20th Century Fox release of a Fox 2000 Pictures presentation in association with Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Media of a Haishang Films/Gil Netter production in association with Big Screen Prods. and Ingenious Film Partners. Produced by Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark. Executive producer, Dean Georgaris. Co-producer, David Lee. Directed by Ang Lee. Screenplay, David Magee, based on the novel by Yann Martel.

Pi Patel - Suraj Sharma
Adult Pi Patel - Irrfan Khan
Gita Patel - Tabu
Writer - Rafe Spall
Cook - Gerard Depardieu

A literal crouching tiger is merely one of many visual wonders in Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” a gently transporting work of all-ages entertainment that melds a harrowing high-seas adventure with a dreamy meditation on the very nature of storytelling. Summoning the most advanced digital-filmmaking technology to deliver the most old-fashioned kind of audience satisfaction, this exquisitely beautiful adaptation of Yann Martel’s castaway saga has a sui generis quality that’s never less than beguiling, even if its fable-like construction and impeccable artistry come up a bit short in terms of truly gripping, elemental drama.

Following its opening-night world premiere at the New York Film Festival, the Nov. 21-slated Fox release should find itself in exceedingly friendly B.O. waters at home and abroad. That the film was lensed in 3D should further boost its prospects, and discerning viewers will be pleased to note that the format has been used here to artistically as well as commercially productive ends.

Published in 2001, Martel’s Booker Prize-winning bestseller was widely deemed unfilmable due to its allegorical thrust and, more crucially, its prolonged focus on a teenage boy and a tiger spending 227 days adrift in the Pacific. Fortunately, Lee and scribe David Magee (”Finding Neverland”) have extracted the book’s inherently cinematic qualities, turning Martel’s vivid wildlife descriptions into a feast for the eyes; the film’s sheer beauty is so overwhelming, so vibrant in its use of color, as to become almost cloying at times.

The visual lushness is apparent from the opening shots of Pondicherry, India, a former French colony where Santosh Patel (Adil Hussain) and his wife (Tabu) operate a zoo. The younger of their two sons is Piscine (played by Gautam Belur and Ayush Tandon at ages 5 and 11, respectively), a bright, curious child whose sense of mischief is tempered by his unusual reverence for God.

The humorous highlights of the boy’s upbringing — how he wisely shortens his name to Pi and becomes a devout Hindu, Christian and Muslim — are recounted by his middle-aged, modern-day counterpart (Irrfan Khan). Dreamlike dissolves help ease the script’s shifts between past and present, which feel clunky and prosaic even as they lay the groundwork for the slippery metaphysical questions that will arise later.

Fortunately, the framing device disappears almost entirely at the 40-minute mark, as the story proper starts and the picture truly begins to cast a spell. Having decided to sell the zoo and move to Canada, the Patels find themselves, along with a few remaining animals, aboard a Japanese freighter that swiftly capsizes in a thunderstorm, leaving 17-year-old Pi (Suraj Sharma) the sole human survivor as he manages to climb into a lifeboat.

It’s an astonishing sequence, rendered all the more so by the lucidity of the direction; rather than resorting to herky-jerky lensing and editing, Lee uses relatively long takes, smooth cuts and seamlessly integrated f/x to navigate the viewer through the action. Even as the waves heave and roll (to especially fearsome effect in 3D), the film finds room for isolated moments of haunting poetry, such as the sight of the ship’s ghostly white lights descending into the abyss.

Once the storm retreats, Pi realizes a few zoo denizens have made it onto the lifeboat, although the food chain soon dictates that the only remaining animal onboard is a ferocious 450-pound Bengal tiger, incongruously named Richard Parker. Pi realizes he’s going to have to tame the tiger, a thinly veiled metaphor for his own inner beast, and as the days stretch into weeks and months, the relationship between these two unlikely companions shifts movingly, and almost imperceptibly, from mutual wariness into something as close to love as the laws of interspecies friendship can allow.

Despite such severe dramatic limitations, there’s no shortage of incident and surprise, even when Lee isn’t rattling the audience with shots of the tiger lunging at the camera. The film’s engrossing, often amusing midsection amounts to a practical illustration of survival-at-sea strategies, as Pi constructs a raft that provides some physical distance and protection from Richard Parker and finds ways to supplement his dwindling store of water and rations. Sharma, a non-pro making a terrifically engaging screen debut, underwent considerable weight fluctuations for the role, and he compellingly manifests Pi’s physical sufferings while maintaining a persuasive rapport with his four-legged co-star (achieved almost entirely through CGI and modeled after four actual Bengal tigers).

Lee and d.p. Claudio Miranda approach the technical challenges with similarly intense commitment. Shooting in the world’s largest self-generating wave tank (with a capacity of 1.7 million gallons), they turn their visual restrictions into virtues. The nimbly circling camera is forever finding compelling angles on the action, sometimes bobbing gently above and below the water’s surface, conveying a sense of perpetual motion that might test some of the more sensitive stomachs in the audience. Yet the images just as often have a classical stillness and grandeur, as in a scene of bioluminescent fish illuminating the water at night, or an otherworldly shot of the boat gliding atop the ocean’s smooth, glassy surface.

In these moments, “Life of Pi” embodies its protagonist’s spiritual devotion, infusing a tale of peril, isolation and loss with a genuine sense of grace and awe at the majesty of creation. The overall effect of such exalted yet artificially achieved visuals is to loose the boundaries of conventional realism and steer the picture into a magically heightened realm, immersing the viewer in the story without losing sight of the fact that a story, in fact, is all it is.

For all the splendor of the craftsmanship on display, from David Gropman’s eye-popping production design to Mychael Danna’s Indian-inflected score, what’s missing is a certain in-the-moment urgency. Compressing nearly eight months into roughly 75 minutes of screentime is a tricky task, and one never gets a sense of the agonizing duration of Pi’s experience, especially since the film tastefully sidesteps most of the raw, physically extreme details that made the novel so visceral. As much as it teems with color and creativity, “Life of Pi” could have used a bit more grit, substance and a touch of the grotesque. Even its warm-hearted plea for religious faith feels, in the end, like so much pantheistic fairy dust.

The film was reviewed from an unfinished print (identical to the version that will play NYFF) with complete end credits and excellent sound and picture quality, apart from some infrequent aspect-ratio disparities that will likely be finessed before release.

Camera (Deluxe color, 3D), Claudio Miranda; editor, Tim Squyres; music, Mychael Danna; production designer, David Gropman; supervising art director, Dan Webster; art directors, Al Hobbs, James F. Truesdale; set designers, Easton Smith, Sarah Contant, Huei Chen, Huei-li Liao, James Hewitt; set decorator, Anna Pinnock; sound (Dolby/Datasat/SDDS), Drew Kunin; sound designer, Eugene Gearty; supervising sound editors, Gearty, Philip Stockton; re-recording mixers, D.M. Hemphill, Ron Barlett; visual effects producer, Susan MacLeod; visual effects, Rhythm & Hues Studios, MPC, BUF Compagnie, Crazy Horse Effects, Lola VFX; survival/marine consultant, Steve Callahan; tiger trainer/consultant, Thierry Le Portier; stunt coordinator, Charlie Croughwell; associate producers, Michael J. Malone, Kevin Buxbaum; assistant directors, William M. Connor, Cliff Lanning. Reviewed at 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, Sept. 27, 2012. (In New York Film Festival — opener.) Running time: 125 MIN.

October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Mavis Fan and Li Yuchun (Chris Lee) have joined the cast of Tsui Hark’s 3D Flying Swords of Dragon Gate.

Li Yuchun

Mavis Fan


CRI: Li Yuchun, Mavis Fan Join Cast of Tsui Hark’s 3-D Film

FBA:  Tsui has fun with Catching Monkey

Tsui Hark has secretly made a movie in 3-D, which will be pitched for sale at next month’s American Film Market in Santa Monica.

CRI: Horror Movie ‘Lost in Panic Room’ Set for Halloween Release (previously Hidden Chamber of Secrets, here)

Pace Wu and Yuan Chengjie are reportedly planning on skipping the premiere in anger over the ‘assistant gaffer’ (lighting assistant) nude scene leakage threats. (Xinhua)

CRI: Ang Lee Gets Male Lead for His First 3-D Work

Seventeen-year-old Indian boy Suraj Sharma has been chosen by director Ang Lee to star in his 3-D film. The movie is an adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel “Life of Pi”.

FBA: Lee brings Pi to Taiwan and India

“Under the Hawthorn Tree” actor Shawn Dou Xiao will play Qu Qiubai in a biopic to be directed by Huo Jianqi.

Chrissie Chau - Vampire Warriors

With director Dennis Law distributing limited edition vampire dolls in Mongkok (Xinhua)

Director Alexi Tan

Liu Ye

Yao Chen

Color Me Love launches official website


October 7, 2009

October 7, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 1:05 pm

Time: Reshooting History in China’s The Founding of a Republic

Film brings fame to bar “Four Sisters Izakaya”

Film director Feng Xiaogang shot parts of his film “If You Are The One” at Hamakko Izakaya in Kushiro City in 2008 and fabricated a new name Four Sisters Izakaya and used the advertisement with a picture of four girls.

Singapore: Blue Mansion steals the show from real life cast

Singapore director Glen Goei’s latest film “The Blue Mansion” revolves around the quirky story of an eccentric extended family in the middle of a murder mystery.

Taking on Lee Ang/Ang Lee

ESWN: Jackie Chan Babbles On CCTV Show

THR: Clara Law’s ‘Dream’ leads Golden Horse nominations

Macau-born director Clara Law’s “Like a Dream” leads Taiwan’s 2009 Golden Horse Awards nominations with nods in nine categories, closely followed by Taiwan’s chosen Oscar best foreign-language film contender “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti” with eight, and war comedy “Cow” with seven nominations, the Taipei Golden Horse Festival announced on Wednesday.


Best Feature Film
“No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti”
“Crazy Racer”
“Like a Dream”

Best Director
Leon Dai, “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti”
Guan Hu “Cow”
Tsai Ming-liang, “Face”
Clara Law, “Like a Dream”

Best Leading Actress
Sandrine Pinna, “Yang Yang”
Yolanda Yuan, “Like a Dream”
Zhou Xun, “The Message”
Li Bingbing, “The Message”

Best Leading Actor
Chen Wen-pin, “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti”
Nick Cheung, “The Beast Stalker”
Huang Bo, “Cow”
Daniel Wu, “Like a Dream”

Best Supporting Actress
Liou Yiin-shang, “Sleeping with Her”
Lu Yi-ching, “A Place of One’s Own”
Wai Ying-hung “At the End of Daybreak”
Zhang Ziyi, “Forever Enthralled”

Best Supporting Actor
Cai Zhen-nan, “Ending Cut”
Huang Chien-wei, “Yang Yang”
Zhang Han-yu, “The Equation of Love and Death”
Wang Xueqi, “Forever Enthralled”

October 1, 2009

October 1, 2009a

Variety: Ghost Town review

Zhao Dayong’s magisterial docu “Ghost Town” minutely examines the day-to-day doings in the dying town of Zhiziluo, in the mountains of China’s Yunan province. At a leisurely 172 minutes, the pic takes on the desultory rhythms of rural stagnation, its rigorous compositions imparting aesthetic weight and meditative scope to everything in its purview…

Jiang Wen, Shuji Iwai, Maggie Q, Shu Qi

Golden Week Film Recap (slide show)

Films screening during National Day holidays:

The Warrior and The Wolf, Earthshaking, Royal Tattoo, Copy Cat, Happy Running (animation), Fei Chang Zhu Bo, My Fair Gentleman, Wheat, The Message, Shenbing Kids (animation), Prequel: Monkey King (3D),  The King of Milu Deer (3D), The Founding of a Republic

Hong Kong premiere of Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock

Tony Leung sans wife Carina Lau

Karena Lam

Chin Kar-Lok


Vivian Chow

Vivian and husband Joe Nieh attending the stage drama Wild Rose

October 1, 2009

‘Informed sources’ report that Zhang Ziyi has indeed been retained to play Tony Leung’s wife in Wong Kar-Wai’s First Generation Master. Zhang Ziyi, through her manager, denied the rumor yesterday. Elsewhere, it’s been reported that Wong Kar-Wai is under a lot of pressure as Ip Man was a big box office success and will now compete against Ip Man 2. The casting of Zhang Ziyi is viewed as a counterstrike. Ip Man’s son was asked about the pair, he said, ‘Both Lynn Xiong and Zhang Ziyi are very thin. My mother was similiar in build (?). I have not seen Zhang Ziyi’s acting but Lynn Xiong in Ip Man was pretty good.’

Brigitte Lin reportedly turned down a role because it was not tailor-made for her. Chang Chen is said to play Bruce Lee. Filming is now slated to commence in November.


Barbie Hsu and Nic Tse

Nic and Barbie shoot a special effects scene in the studio for Hot Summer Days. Today, Nic is flying to Beijing to perform in the National Day celebration. (

Mike He, Li Xiaolu

Alfred Cheung’s new film 7 Days To Fall in Love With You opens Nov.3. Lead actress Li Xiaolu recommends spending the National Day Holiday to find a new boyfriend or girlfriend. (

Korea Times: ‘Rain’ Falls on Summer-Battered Hearts

Would you give love a second chance? In his fifth feature “A Good Rain Knows,” (aka Season of Good Rain) melodrama maestro Hur Jin-ho says “yes,” orchestrating another romance that seeps into the viewers’ hearts with a graceful andante tempo.

Korea Times: Jang Dong-kun makes a comeback onscreen as a character not unlike himself ― an eligible bachelor ― in “Good Morning President.”

NYTimes: Indie Filmmakers: China’s New Guerrillas

Like independent filmmakers everywhere, Mr. Zhao worked with no guarantee of an audience, or even a place to show his work. By his estimates only a few thousand people have seen “Ghost Town” in China since he finished it last year. Several hundred more are scheduled to see it Sunday afternoon when the film has its international premiere at the New York Film Festival.

Ang Lee says he’s baffled by ‘Woodstock’ results

The Message hits theaters for National Day

The movie was directed by Gao Qunshu from the mainland and Chen Kuofu from Taiwan. According to Chen, the movie was filmed to tell the destinies of people involved in China’s Anti-Japanese Aggression War (1937-1945)…

The plot of the film was inspired after a murder mystery game, in which one tries to guess who is “killing” the others in the group. However, the film is more solemn than the game, as heroes and heroines in the movie are tortured both physically and spiritually in a bid to fulfill their purposes.

August 3, 2009

August 3, 2009

Michelle Ye in Cheang Pou-Soi’s Accident (formerly Assassins)

Hong Kong art-house director Stanley Kwan tackles science fiction film

Zhang Yimou’s Three Guns story summary
The comedy-thriller is about the owner of a Chinese noodle shop whose plan to kill his cheating wife and her lover “spins out of control after the introduction of a gun into the lives of characters more accustomed to knives and swords,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement sent to The Associated Press late Friday.

Hong Kong cartoon piglet debuts - McDull
CCTV video in English

Nick Cheung – a late bloomer
CCTV video version (English)

Tangshan Earthquake represented on big screen
CCTV video in English
 Huayi Bro. Denies ‘If You Are the One’ Sequel in the Pipeline
Feng Xiaogang has decided that following his current project “The Tangshan Earthquake”(formerly named “Aftershock”), he will film a comedy but he has yet to choose a story.

Hollywood Reporter: Meat Grinder — Film Review
Thanks to “Meat Grinder,” Thai cinema now boasts its own Sweeney Todd in the form of a female psychopath who grinds her victims into meatballs for noodle soup

NY Times: Chasing Society’s Hidden Dragons - Ang Lee

Venice Launches 3D Film Prize, Ang Lee Heads Jury Panel

‘Talentime’, Yasmin’s final masterpiece?
[Related note: iTunes Store has three free podcasts available with interviews/discussions with Yasmin Ahmad and Sharifah Amani]

Actress Lee Sinje bags beauty ambassador role
Lee Sinje in Singapore as SK-II beauty ambassador - photos

Andy LauGong Li
Patrick TseKelly Lin, Simon Yam
Kenny BeeJordan ChanAndy On, Jennifer TseJet LiLau Ching Wan
Stars open Lan Kwai Fong Hotel in Macau promote child adoption - photos

More photos

Aaron Kwok Taipei concert

Photo gallery

SCMP: Gillian Chung interview with subtitles
Plays Carmen Mok in remake of Neil Simon’s I Ought To Be in Pictures

May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009

cyborg300Kungfu Cyborg advert

South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook’s vampire romance “Thirst” shared the festival’s jury prize, the third-place award.

The directing award went to Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza for “Kinatay,” a harsh story centered on police inflicting bloody retribution on a prostitute who crossed them.

Chinese director Lou Ye’s “Spring Fever,” a tale of forbidden romance involving homosexual relationships, won the screenplay award for writer Feng Mei.
Cannes awards
All three of the Asian kudos drew heavy booing from the assembled press corps. Biggest scorn was reserved for the director prize for Filipino Brillante Mendoza’s rape-and-dismemberment drama “Kinatay” (of which even admiring jury member Hanif Kureishi admitted, “I don’t ever want to see it again, myself”), followed by jeers for “Thirst” and mainland Chinese director Lou Ye’s “Spring Fever,” which copped screenplay (generally seen as its weakest element).
Korea Times: ‘Thirst’ Wins Jury Prize
Korea Times:’Thirst’ Gets Jury Prize in Cannes

From HKTopTen, now available in blog format (see blogroll, right):
Josephine Siao Thanks Stephen Chow

NYTimes: Showing the Glimmer of Humanity Amid the Atrocities of War - Lu Chuan

Also from HKTopTen, on The City of Life and Death’s lead actress, Jiang Yiyan:

Jiang Yiyan - Why, you're talking about little ol' me?

(May 14) THE CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH premiered last week. Lead actress Jiang Yiyan came to Hong Kong to promote with director Lu Chuan. This new star from the Beijing Film Academy appeared on TVB, Cable and other media interviews. Everyone was surprised that Jiang Yiyan who played a heroic prostitute in this film was very mild mannered and quiet. RTHK Radio 5’s film program host Sze Kai Keung and Lau Shek Yin said that Jiang Yiyan opened the entire station’s men and described her as having Fan Bingbing’s feminine charm, Li Bingbing’s quick wit, Gao Yuanyuan’s sweet looks, Vicki Zhao Wei’s cleverness, and Xu Jinglei’s power of making men’s hearts pound without any word or movement. Four days after the show aired, the station received nearly 50 letters from male listeners who told Sze Kai Keung that they saw Jiang Yiyan on television and were completely under her spell. They wanted to form a fan club through RTHK Radio 5 and invite Jiang Yiyan to appear in Hong Kong again. Sze kai Keung responded that they were very busy with radio and did not have time to organize them. They could only relay their good intention to Jiang Yiyan’s manager Wang Jinghua.

Jiang Yiyan
Jiang Yiyan

Dark documentary on China underbelly chills Cannes
“Petition” documents the plight of China’s judicial “petitioners” — people from across the land who gather in Beijing in the hope of righting legal wrongs suffered back home.

Lush images, audience walk-outs as Cannes winds up
Tsai Ming-Liang

‘Kinatay’ draws raves, rants in Cannes
Roger Ebert: What were they thinking of?
Q&A: Brillante Mendoza

‘Sophie’s Revenge’ nabs buyers
Zhang Ziyi stars in Eva Jin’s romantic comedy

Ang Lee Partnership Gives Him Broad Film Focus

Cannes closing ceremony
Zhang ZiyiShu Qi
Zhang Ziyi slide show
Shu Qi slide show

Vanishing history `robs city of movie magic’

May 20, 2009

May 20, 2009

Retired Actress Brigitte Lin Returns to Martial-Arts Film

Cast Promotes “Mulan” at Cannes

Fox in Chinese production with ‘King’s Ransom’
John Woo, Terence Chang also get first-look deal

Old [South Korean] Films Return With Foreign Dubbing
‘Know’: Hong’s Realm of Comic Realism
New in local theaters and currently showing in the out-of-competition section of the Cannes Film Festival is Hong Sang-soo’s latest feature “Like You Know It All.”

Won Bin’s ‘Second Life’ With ‘Mother’

Korea, China team up for 3D action flick “Legend of the Magic Bell”

Cannes Spends a ‘Taiwan Night’

Ang Lee’s 10-minute standing ovation

Ang Lee is `Taking Woodstock’
Michelle Ye Enjoys Cannes
Johnnie To leads Asian charge at Cannes

Anthony Wong, Michelle Ye, Johnny Hallyday - Cannes

‘Red Cliff’ to Hit North America

Qi Yuwu training for new action film (14 Blades)
Jackie Chan takes on media “toughies”
Jackie Chan to Volunteer in Tongyeong for 3 Days
Private part exposed during concert? Surely that was no Kwok!

Korea’s Showbox bucks pre-sales trend on Sword With No Name
Korea’s CJ closes deals on Thirst and Mother
H’wood has ‘Thirst’ for films by Park
Vampire tale generates buzz over remake rights

Fan Bingbing - East Wind and Rain
Fan Bingbing, Liu Yunlong - East Wind and Rain

Andy Lau (left) and double
Andy Lau’s double in Detective Dee

Yvonne Yung Hung
The Biography of Sun Zi

Li Bingbing, Zhou Xun
Big budget production of The Message confirmed to be shut down due to financial difficulties

Joey Wang and mother
Joey Wang living in seclusion in Vancouver the last seven years

Louis Koo
Louis Koo promotes Pepsi in Beijing

Carina Lau, Charlene Choi ribbon cutting ceremony in Shanghai - photo gallery

Miriam Yeung engaged to be married

Fan Bingbing, Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Patty Hou - fashion event photo gallery
Fan Bingbing
Actress Fan Bingbing Graces Elle Magazine

Zhou Xun
“Guest Editor in Chief” Zhou Xun

Air stewardess complains about Zhang Ziyi’s arrogance
“Ziyi does not eat instant noodles.”

Mong Kok clue hunt proves to be acid test for detectives
Acid attack spy cameras to be kept hush-hush
$300,000 price on acid fiend

Nina’s $10m for Chan a `trivial sum’

February 28, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 10:42 am

Gillian Chung reveals face, people shout: Naïve Jiao!

The Cecilia Cheung Interview On iCable (video)

Cecilia Cheung lashes out at Edison Chen over sex photos
Cecilia Cheung Talks about Her Sex Photo Scandal on TV

Cecilia Cheung

So fake and didnt even say sorry, Cecilia Cheung scolded that Edison Chen is a hypocrite

Edison dons schoolboy look for Carl’s Jr appearance in Singapore
Responds to Cecilia’s interview: “From beginning to end it’s my mistake. I understand
she has her pressure. If she scolds me and it relieves her pain, I am willing to endure more.”
Asked about future plan, Edison is not clear but future earnings in entertainment will go to charity.
Today’s earnings will go to Jet Li’s One Fund.

No plans to return to showbiz for now, says HK actor Edison Chen
Reopening the Edison Files
A look back at the Edison Chen sex photo scandal and how it impacted all those involved

Ang Lee to head Venice film festival jury

Jackie Chan blasts sale of looted statues
“It was looting yesterday. It is still looting today.”
Plans new movie about the theft of cultural relics
How much are those bronze heads really worth?
Christie’s auction hurt the feelings of the Chinese people

Michelle Yeoh Presides 3rd Asian Film Awards

Hong Kong films aim for Mainland
Chinese business thrives despite economy

Andy Lau’s bride-to-be Carol Chu at 19

‘Sufei’s Diary’ a hit in China
Interactive online program captures audience

Miss Hong Kong 2008 Edelweiss Cheung dubbed “laziest in history”

Car giant Mitsubishi signs up for electric trials

February 19, 2009

February 19, 2009 (Dev #1)

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 1:22 pm
Netizens produce Zhao Wei/Mulan illustrations

Powered by WordPress