HKMDB Daily News

February 21, 2010

February 21, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 11:45 am

Screen Daily: About Her Brother (Otouto)(Japan)

Family melodrama has rarely been as shamelessly tear-jerking, nor as insipid, as in About Her Brother,a featherweight offering from veteran Japanese director Yoji Yamada.

Erhu soloist added heartfelt tone to ‘Up in the Air’

Wang Quan’an

(Xinhua)

CRI: “Tuan Yuan” (Apart Together) Wins Silver Bear for Best Screenplay

Aarif Lee, Alex Law, Mabel Cheung (gov.hk)

“Echoes of the Rainbow”, directed by Alex Law and produced by Mabel Cheung, won the Crystal Bear for the Best Feature Film in the Generation section of the 60th Berlinale 2010, as announced at the award ceremony of Generation section of Berlinale this afternoon (February 20, 2010, German time).It is the first time that a Hong Kong film wins the award. (Source)

Berlin Film Festival Winners

Hong Kong premiere of Little Big Soldier, Albert Yeung and Jackie Chan (Sina)

(Sina)

Lin Peng and Jackie Chan at Little Big Soldier premiere in Tsimshatsui (Sina)

72 Tenants of Prosperity - Jacky Cheung, Anita Yuen, Eric Tsang

Jacky Cheung, Eric Tsang

Linda Chung

Bosco Wong (Xinhua)

Cherrie Ying, grandmother and Jordan Chan

Cherrie Ying

Jordan Chan, Cherrie Ying and Eric Tsang (Xinhua)

Michelle Yim (Mai Suet), Wan Chi-Keung’s nephew Edmond Leung

Wan Chi-Keung was cremated yesterday in a low key ceremony due to the Chinese New Year. (Xinhua)

“Kowloon Noir,” is a homage to Hong Kong film maker Johnnie To and more particularly the movie, The Mission (1999). The theme is a tip to film noir with a dramatic undercurrent. Nate Radley on guitar and Ratliff on trumpet give the track a dark visage that is upped by the languorous lines of Michael Attias on alto saxophone and Beth Schenck on soprano saxophone. The spell is riveting and nails the feeling marvelously. (Source)

February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 11:58 am

HK Magazine: Hot Summer Days

I’ll tell you why the film is really enjoyable: Angelababy.

THR: Apart Together (Tuan Yuan)

Bottom Line: Drama about a family separated by civil war has universal resonance but skims over deeper historical and psychological trauma.

Screen Daily: Little Big Soldier

Compared with Jackie Chan’s usual frenetic extravaganzas, Little Big Soldier is almost low-key, a reflection on the pointlessness of war, even though reflections have not traditionally been action star Chan’s strong point.

Variety: Little Big Soldier

An “Odd Couple”-cum-martial-arts-road movie set some 2,000 years ago during the end of China’s chaotic Warring States prior to unification, “Little Big Soldier” is a Jackie Chan vehicle without any surprises.

Variety: Au Revoir Taipei

Far from the closeted capital of Asian anomie so often portrayed in Taiwanese fest fare, Taipei becomes a warm, romantic city, peopled with likeable oddballs, in Boston-born American Chinese Arvin Chen’s immensely likable feature debut, “Au Revoir Taipei.”

Formosa Betrayed: New movie ties Taiwan’s messy politics to a Bay Area murder

Jay Chou can be an action star: Yuen Woo-ping

CRI: Jackie Chan Brings ‘Soldier’ to Berlin

Taipei Times: ‘Monga’ wins special incentives

Monga grossed more than NT$200 million at the box office during its first two weeks of release in Taiwan, entitling its producers to hefty incentives, said Chen Chih-kuan, director of the Government Information Office’s (GIO’s) Department of Motion Pictures, at a GIO reception in Berlin.

Chen said that under the government’s program of special incentives for the film industry, any locally produced movie with box office receipts exceeding NT$50 million entitles its makers to receive 20 percent of its revenues as a subsidy for the company’s next production.

HK Magazine: Paula Tsui interview

Actress Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee kicked out of boyfriend’s home after split

The reason for their separation is rumoured to be Cheung’s bad temper. Many said Tsang could not put up with Cheung’s behaviour and ended their relationship.

Cheung’s close friend claimed Cheung’s bad temper could have been the result of the rare Grave’s Disease which Cheung contracted five years ago. The autoimmune disease can result in an overactive thyroid which makes the sufferer irritable.

Michael Miu admits there was a ‘third party’ during marriage

Aaron Kwok

Aaron Kwok attended New Year’s festivities at Harbour City yesterday. (Sina)

Jimmy Lai interviewed on CNN about animated news

February 17, 2010

Apart Together (Hollywood Reporter review)

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

Apart Together
Bottom Line: Drama about a family separated by civil war has universal resonance but skims over deeper historical and psychological trauma.
By Maggie Lee

BERLIN — Wang Quan’an’s fifth film “Apart Together” is another variation of his recurrent set-up of one woman flirting with two husbands (or boyfriends), torn between obligation and love (or attraction). Small in scope but tightly structured, gracefully acted and directed, it opens up deep historical wounds and generational traumas created by China’s civil war, but does not press on them, exploring instead more universal human dilemmas lightened by scrumptious culinary episodes.

Generally engaging but moving at an even-keeled, slightly flat pace, it probably cannot repeat the international market buzz of Wang’s Golden Bear winner “Tuya’s Marriage,” but should still get respectable fest-play and niche release.

Set in the late ’80s, when Taiwan first organized tours for retired Nationalist (KMT) army soldiers to visit their families in mainland China, it follows old veteran Liu Yangsheng (Ling Feng)’s return to Shanghai to find his wife Yu-e (Lisu Lu) whom he lost at the pier during the chaotic retreat to Taiwan in 1949. The Chinese title “Tuan Yuan,” which means ‘happy reunion,’ is meant ironically, as his visit causes discord among Yu-e’s adult children and turns into an awkward threesome with her current husband Lu Shanming (Xu Caigen), also an ex-soldier, but on the Communist side.

Lu appears exceedingly courteous and accommodating, agreeing to let Yu-e follow Liu back to Taiwan, despite the children’s disapproval or demand for financial compensation. However, things do not work out as planned. In a droll scene, Lu and Yu-e, who are common-law partners, have to get married and pose for their virgin wedding photo before they could get a divorce. Then, Lu has a stroke, giving Yu-e second thoughts.

Liu’s story could speak for a million other Taiwan war veterans but Wang tactfully does not push his complex relationship with Lu as a political allegory of PRC-Taiwan division. If Wang had played up the two men’s rivalries especially their emotional blackmail in the mirrored scenes, when Lu reveals his bitterness after getting drunk at dinner, while Lu brings up his share of lifetime miseries at another meal, the film would have more dramatic intensity and the characters more human depth.

Even though major plot developments are all timed around meals, “Apart Together” is a subversion of epicurean films celebrating food’s healing power. Despite the delicious feasts on display, nobody touches the dishes. The dinner table becomes the film’s most powerful battleground and symbol for family politics.

Wang’s regular D.O.P. Lutz Reitermeier captures Shanghai in a state of flux that reflects Liu’s estranged status (reinforced also by his use of Mandarin while Yu-e’s family natter away in Shanghainese). His somber and meticulous compositions encapsulate the three characters’ shifting intimacies and distances in portrait style close-ups against crowd-scenes in more natural medium shots.

Wang eschews a music score but pregnant moments are interspersed with songs full of personal significance and political nuance. The most lyrical of which is Yu-e humming the ’30s song “Night-time Shanghai” as she and Liu sit in their own home, now converted into a hotel, and the last trailing notes are heard as the camera pans across the tiled rooftops of ’30s buildings, nestled within high rises. Or when Liu sings a song expressing his home-sickness in Taiwan dialect, symbolizing his cultural displacement.

It is a rare treat to see elderly and highly distinguished actors hold the fort with calibrated performances that only come with age. However, as a result, their children are pushed to the periphery of the narrative and leave little impression — especially Liu’s sullen and resentful son and Yu-e’s grand-daughter Na-na, who could have enriched the film were they more fleshed-out. Instead, the script indulges in too many neat parallels, like Liu and Lu reversing roles as cooks, or the decision of Na-na’s fiance to study abroad.

Venue: Berlin International Film Festival — opening film, competition
Sales: Celluloid Dreams
Production: Lightshades Filmproductions Ltd.

Cast: Lisa Lu, Ling Feng, Xu Caigen
Director-screenwriter-producer: Wang Quan’an
Screenwriter: Na Jin
General executive producer: Wang Jun
Producers: Wang Le, Du Daning, Wang Zhangliang, Ouwen, Ruan Yusheng
Executive producers: Ma Rui, Sun Yian
Director of photography: Lutz Reitermeier
Costume designer: Zhang Min
Music: Ma Peng
Editor: Wu Yixiang
No rating, 93 minutes
THR

February 12, 2010

Apart Together (Tuan Yuan)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 11:17 am

Apart Together
Tuanyuan
(Shanghainese, Mandarin dialogue) A Lightshades Film Prods., Xi’an Movie & TV Prod., Jiuzhou Audio Publishing Co., Western Movie Group Co. production. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Wang Quanan, Wang Le, Du Daning, Wang Zhanliang, Ou Wen, Ruan Yusheng. Directed by Wang Quanan. Executive director, Li Qi. Screenplay, Wang, Na Jin.

With: Lisa Lu, Ling Feng, Xu Caigen, Monica Mok, Ma Xiaoqing, Jin Na, Yu Baiyang, Xue Guoping, Leila Wei.

By DEREK ELLEY
A well-played, light family drama that references major historical and political issues beneath a low-key front, “Apart Together” continues a quality career course for mainland Chinese writer-director Wang Quanan (”Weaving Girl,” Berlin Golden Bear winner “Tuya’s Marriage”) without significantly advancing it or springing any surprises. Certainly the most modest Berlinale opener in recent memory, Wang’s fifth feature looks set for a solid fest run and some upscale niche business in Asian-friendly salles.
Referred to in the pic’s English title, but not in its original Chinese one (literally, “The Delegation Member”), the underlying Big Issue here is China-Taiwan reunification, over which the two sides have been squabbling for 60 years. Though politics are never referenced even through the allegory of divided lovers trying to reunite after more than half a century, Wang and co-writer Na Jin are already walking on eggshells.

While many nuances may escape most Western viewers (but not Chinese auds), the general story is easily accessible. It’s a tribute to present-day Chinese filmmaking that “Apart Together” managed to get made at all; the subject has been referenced in other productions but never as directly as it has here.

In 1987, some 20 years after the civil war won by the communists that sent the nationalists fleeing to Taiwan, an agreement was finally reached that allowed veterans to return to China once a year to visit relatives.

In the early 21st century (the exact time is never specified), Shanghaier Qiao Yu’e (Lisa Lu) receives a letter from the one-time love of her life, Liu Yansheng (Ling Feng), who half a century earlier had left her stranded when he fled as a nationalist soldier to Taiwan.

While apologizing for never contacting her in that time, Yan-sheng’s letter announces that, as his wife died three years ago and he’s now in the late autumn of his life, he is coming back to Shanghai as a member of a veterans delegation and hopes to see her.

The letter is read in front of the whole of Yu’e’s family, including her husband, Lu Shenmin (Xu Caigen), son Jianguo (Yu Baiyang), elder daughter Aihua (Ma Xiaoqing), younger daughter Xinhua (Jin Na) and granddaughter Nana (Monica Mok). Yansheng’s existence is no secret to the family, but initial reaction to his visit is mixed. Yu’e’s husband is surprisingly relaxed, whereas the children are more unsettled. “What if his wife hadn’t died?” asks one daughter.

After an uneasy welcoming meal at the family’s modest backstreet home, Yansheng is invited to stay at their house rather than in a hotel. He, Yu’e and Nana spend time seeing the modern sights of Shanghai, now virtually unrecognizable to Liu. He then privately reveals to Yu’e his true agenda: to take her with him back to Taiwan so they can enjoy the last years of their lives together in a house in Hualien.

To this point, there’s been a barely visible strain of humor in the nervous family relations and the whole shebang of “welcoming back” to the city he once fled. His proposal is hardly even questioned by Yu’e, and some Western auds may have an initial problem accepting the very practical way in which the proposition is discussed by them — and by the family as a whole — and is supported by, of all people, Yu’e’s husband.

The humor becomes briefly more explicit as unforeseen bureaucratic complications arise — already treated more satirically in Huang Jianxin’s 2001 “The Marriage Certificate” — before the initial low-key atmosphere returns.

Plot resolves itself in a way that’s both 100% Chinese and has resonances that could continue into the future, as young Nana (in a barely developed plot thread) also makes a major personal decision.

Though there are deep emotional currents supporting the central story, Wang adopts a typically restrained approach emphasized by regular German d.p. Lutz Reit-e-meier’s cool, late-winter lensing of steely Shanghai. Formal family meetings (largely shot in group master shots) stress the communal basis on which decisions have to be reached, and also the social formalities hiding personal feelings that rarely surface.

Though the story is, on the face of it, centered on Yansheng and Yu’e, both Ling and Chinese-American actress Lu are given the most emotionally closeted roles, with Ling’s Yansheng remaining pretty much an enigma until the very end. Despite its content, “Apart Together” is most definitely not a romantic/divided-country meller, offering few direct emotional hooks for viewers.

It’s actually character actor Xu, as Yu’e’s easygoing, practical husband, who mirrors the movie’s essential soul of tolerance and practicality in a performance that turns into the pic’s one likable, showpiece role. He’s mirrored on a younger level, repping China’s younger, free-minded generation, by Mok (”Ocean Flame”), who registers a strong physical presence.

Tech package is simple and unvarnished, with the cool lensing and bare-bones editing neither glamorizing nor exoticizing Shanghai. Majority of the dialogue is in the Shanghainese dialect, with Ling’s character speaking in Mandarin.

Camera (color), Lutz Reitemeier; editor, Wu Yixiang; music, Ma Peng; production designers, Yu Baiyang, He Xufeng; supervising art director, Wang Zhijian; costumes, Zhang Min; makeup, Xu Guangrui; sound (Dolby Digital), Li Shuo, Shen Jianqin; assistant director, Zhang Chong. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (opener, competing), Feb. 11, 2010. Running time: 96 MIN.
Variety

Apart Together (Tuan Yuan) (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 11:07 am

By Dan Fainaru

Dir: Wang Quan’an. China. 2010. 93mins.

An original choice to open Berlin on its 60th anniversary, this modest family melodrama turns out to be a thin – if kindly – bittersweet autumnal romance. Whatever political intentions may have been buried in Apart Together’s script, which follows a Kuomintang solder’s attempted reunion with the woman he left behind in Shanghai forty years previously, there is little trace of them left onscreen.

KMT soldier Liu Yangsheng (Ling Feng), retreated with the Nationalists to Taiwan – temporarily, they thought – as the Communists marched across China, leaving his pregnant lover, Yu-e, behind in Shanghai. Now, as played by Ling Feng, comes back to his native city to find her (Lisa Lu).

It turns out that after he left, she married another man, Lu Shenmin (Xu Caigen), who willingly adopted her baby, and is now a grandmother, surrounded by an affectionate family. They all welcome the visitor, not realising that he intends to ask Yu-e to leave everything behind and join him in Taiwan. But she turns out to be willing to make the jump, saying the passion went out of her life when he left.

Lu, when told about it, agrees to let her go in an amazing act of kindness which in other films would have generated satirical hints (could he have had enough of her?) but here is taken at face value. Her children, however, are less accommodating, whether because they fear losing face or because they are dissatisfied with the financial arrangements Liu proposes in order to placate them.

But the major obstacle is Chinese bureaucracy: it seems that Lu and Yu-e never took out an official marriage licence, so how can they divorce if they have never been legally married?

The plot moves easily from one classic cliché to the next, at a leisurely pace that belies the 93-minute running time. Carefully avoiding the political arena, Apart Together is awash with nostalgia from both the Taiwanese and mainland perspective, coupled with a sense of loss over warm old Shanghai which has been replaced with a cold new skyline. Though the subject almost begs for it, no attempt has been made to turn Apart Together into a travelogue – to the point where a tourist bus trip across Shanghai is shot entirely inside the bus.

Setting the story in early spring allows DoP Lutz Reitemeier to bathe the images in an unflattering grey, murky light, as if to underline the impending gloom of old age. The entire picture consists mostly of intimate shots of the family and its guests, often sitting at a table covered with Chinese delicacies.

The principals’ combined age is an impressive 230 years. Lisa Lu, 82, is a legend of the glory days of Shanghai’s cinema. Here she plays a woman who expects, after a lifetime devoted to her family, to be granted the last years of her life to live as she pleases. 72-year-old Ling Feng gets a chance to display his singing gifts towards the end, but Xu Caigen, 76, turns in a boisterous performance, stealing scenes from both of them.

Production company
Lightshades Film Production

Producers
Wang Quan’an
Wang Le
Du Daning
Wang Zhangliang
Ouwen
Ruan Yusheng

International sales
Celluloid Dreams
(33) 1 49 70 03 70

Screenplay
Wang Quan’an
Na Jin

Cinematography
Lutz Reitemeier

Production design
Yu Baiyang
He Xufeng

Editor
Wu Yuxiang

Music
Na Peng

Maincast
Lisa Lu
Ling Feng
Xu Caigen
Monica Mo
Ma Xiaoqing
Jin Na
Baiyang
Xue Guoping
Screen Daily

February 12, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:00 am

CRI: Berlin Film Festival Opens with Chinese Movie

CRI: [Photo Gallery] Berlinale Opening Day

Star-crossed lovers in China, Taiwan open Berlin film fest

In this film we see geographical distance but there’s also the question of time, a temporal distance, which gives rise to a rift between people,” he told reporters.

“Family unification is something that everybody in China really yearns for. These people are caught up in the flux of history and telling those stories is extremely important.”

Action director Yuen Wo Ping’s take on the legendary Beggar So comes with new elements in True Legend.

Donnie Yen aims to hone his acting chops

ESWN: Why Did Tang Wei Get Banned?

Tang Wei’s powerful enemies engineered her media ban

Lu said on his blog that there were two seldom-mentioned theories about why Tang was slapped with a media ban. The first is that the 30-year-old star had failed to attend a function by someone related to the political elite. The second is that another well-connected actress had turned party officials against Tang and engineered her ban.

CRI: 3D Kung Fu, Love and Laughs at the Movies

Bodyguards and Assassins gets 18 nods at Hong Kong Film Awards

Yu Nan, Rene Zellwegger - Opening ceremony

Berlin Film Festival (Sina)

Director Wang Quan’an, Lisa Lu, Monica Mok, Jin Na

Apart Together Red Carpet (Sina)

Yu Nan - Berlin Film Festival, Apart Together premiere

Yu Nan - actress, jury member

(Zimbio) Zimbio - premiere

Apart Together - Monica Mok (Mo Xiaoqi) (Zimbio)

Monica Mok - Opening party

(Zimbio)

Karen Mok 3rd party?

Karen Mok, Zhang Yadong

Karen Mok has recently been reported to be in a ‘close relationship’ with musician/producer Zhang Yadong who already has a girlfriend, an actress. (Xinhua) (Sina)

Vivian Hsu

Vivian Hsu formally announced her return to the concert stage in Tokyo after an absence of seven years. When asked if she still remembered her Japanese, Vivian demonstrated a series of tongue twisters and won the audience’s applause. (Xinhua)

Faye Wong dress rehearsal appearance for CCTV Spring Festival

(Xinhua)

February 9, 2010

February 9, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 12:51 pm

Zhang Jingchu

CRI: “Flirting Scholar II” Unveils Romantic Scene in the Rain (12 HD Sina)

CRI: “14 Blades” Premieres in Hong Kong

CRI: Zhang Yuqi Looks Flamboyant in New Film

CRI: Jackie Chan Attends the Preview of “Little Big Soldier” in Beijing

It was also revealed at the screening that the Jackie Chan Theater will help the new generation of Chinese directors and screenwriters show their movies in the theater at a low cost.

CRI: Jackie Chan Launches Cinema Chain

Lisa Lu, Wang Quan’an

CRI: Wang Quan’an Keeps Calm before Berlinale

“Apart Together” tells the story of a retired Kuomintang veteran who returns to Shanghai in search of his wife, from whom he had been separated for decades after he fled to Taiwan in 1949. His plans to take his wife back to Taiwan are disrupted when he finds she has already established another family.

Kevin Spacey, Daniel Wu, Gong Beibi

Beauty on Duty - Sandra Ng, Xie Na, Charlene Choi

Wong Jing’s comedy is scheduled for a April Fool’s Day release (HunanTV)

Zhang did not pocket the money she raised from a donation drive at Cannes Film Festival, her manager Ji Lingling said at an exclusive interview with China’sGuangzhou Daily on Sunday.

Today is Zhang Ziyi’s 31st birthday.

Zhao Wei, Li Bingbing, Fan Bingbing, Chen Kun release donation receipts. (Sina)

Francis Ng (Sina)

(HuanTV)

Francis Ng arrived in court with his lawyer for a hearing and pled not guilty to the assault charges in the New Year’s Day bakery incident. The judge adjourned the trial until Apr.1 and the actor posted a $5000 bond. Francis said his lawyer claimed no closed circuit video showed him beating anyone. (15) (Sina) (HunanTV)

Ekin Cheng at the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn premiere

“I’ve considered marriage too, but first let’s look at how Jordan is doing,” he laughed. “I think it’s time to think about it. Yoyo hasn’t rushed me, as we’re both busy.”

Perfect Boyfriend and Girlfriend

“I want my boyfriend to be diligent, ambitious and talented. Looks is not so important for me, as long as he looks neat and tidy and not overly hideous.”

The usually cool Charmaine Sheh abruptly stormed off midway during an interview, when questioned about the love triangle involving her and rumoured lovebirds Moses Chan and Bernice Liu..

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