HKMDB Daily News

September 19, 2012

Caught in the Web (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 10:21 am

Caught in the Web
9/17/2012 by Deborah Young

Chinese master Chen Kaige returns to a contemporary setting with top actors Gao Yuanyuan, Chen Hong, Mark Chao and Yao Chen.

In Caught in the Web, director Chen Kaige updates the high-energy brushstrokes of his sweeping historical epics like Farewell My Concubine to describe the modern intrigues of Internet rumor-mongering and office politics. In this fast-moving, densely plotted black dramedy, a faux scandal raised by an ambitious web TV editor comes close to destroying a number of lives, offering a masterful panorama on urban, middle class China. Toronto should be just the first port of call on a long festival voyage, with some crossover into the niches.

The popularity and dangers of Internet discussion boards hardly seems like the kind of thing that would spark the interest of the master of Asian costume dramas set in yesteryear. Yet in his third film with a contemporary setting, Chen effortlessly spins out his familiar themes of scandal, love, power, role-playing and betrayal in a society now dominated by the media and technology. In this sleek modern China, everyone’s out to get something from somebody, selfishness is the rule and “only the mentally ill tell the truth.” The screenplay, co-written with Tang Danian (Beijing Bicycle), is intricate but never confusing and filled with complexly drawn characters, particularly women. Its only real misstep is the dark, sentimental ending, which doesn’t hit quite the right note.

One morning in a big city, a young woman learns she has lymphatic cancer and must be operated on within a week. Shocked by the news, Lanqiu (Gao Yuanyuan) is so preoccupied that on her way to work she refuses to give up her bus seat to an old man and reacts rudely to protests from the other passengers. Unknown to her, cub TV reporter Jiaqi (May Wang) is filming the scene on her cell phone. She proudly presents it to her editor Ruoxi (Yao Chen), who knows a good thing when she sees it, and sends it viral on the net, igniting what comes to be known as “the Sunglasses Girl scandal.” Thanks to a jealous, ambitious co-worker, Lanqiu’s identity is revealed on the web and she is forced to go into hiding. Even the company she works for suffers, as the whole country moralistically shakes its head over her shameless arrogance on the bus.

In truth, Lanqiu is the reserved executive secretary of Mr. Shen (Wang Xueqi), the wily old company president. Uncharacteristically, she bursts into tears in his private office while asking for a loan (for the operation), just as Shen’s wife Mo Xiaoyu (actress and producer Chen Hong) walks in. She misreads the scene entirely and decides to take revenge on the two “lovers”, as subtly and cruelly as a poisoning at court. Still, she has her own backstory and a terrifying master-slave relationship with Shen that partly exonerates her.

She gets in touch with Ruoxi, who is a ruthless and stupidly ambitious young woman, yet also sports a human side. Ruoxi is dating Jiaqi’s hot brother Shoucheng (Mark Chao) and the three of them share a rented apartment, while Ruoxi dreams of making it big so they can buy a bigger place to live.

Shoucheng is a photographer who still has some ethics intact. When his path crosses Lanqiu’s, she offers to hire him for one week, basically to protect her from herself. He cautiously agrees, knowing she’s the victim of an outrageous Internet smear campaign that could lead her to suicide, but not knowing that she’s ill. Naturally, he has to hide the gig from his girlfriend, Ruoxi. She finds out.

Only a top-drawer cast could individualize all these characters. In the main role, the ethereal Gao Yuanyuan (City of Life and Death) is so noble and refined she’s almost a fantasy figure, though she’s unpredictable enough to keep the appealing Chao guessing as her temp bodyguard. He gets to kick up his heels in a playful martial arts fight; she terrifies him in a mini-car chase. They’re cute characters and their inevitable romance has all the more impact for being handled delicately.

The other notable acting pair is the rich Mr. Shen and his trophy wife, always at each other’s throats. Wang Xueqi’s Shen is delightfully cunning and cynical, though he’s a tyrant to his wife. She gets pay-back when she calls Ruoxi for a private chat, but in the last scenes, Chen Hong’s dignity earns respect.
Fast-paced and beautifully shot by Yang Shu, the story is told in theatrical spaces, through curtains and doorways, and inside soaring glass and stone buildings in which all traces of the past have been erased. Meng Ke and Ma Shangyou’s score is varied and touching.

Venue: Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 10, 2012.
A New Classics Media presentation of a 21 Century Shengkai Film production in association with Ningbo Radio & TV.
Cast: Gao Yuanyuan, Yao Chen, Mark Chao, Chen Hong, Wang Xueqi, Wang Luodan, Chen Ran, Zhang Yi, May Wang
Director: Chen Kaige
Screenwriters: Chen Kaige, Tang Danian
Producer: Chen Hong
Executive producers: Cao Huayi, Chen Hong, Wang Ziwen
Director of photography: Yang Shu
Production designers: Gao Yiguang, Tu Nan
Costumes: Sawataishi Kazuhiro
Editor: Li Dianshi
Music: Meng Ke, Ma Shangyou
Sales Agent: Moonstone Entertainment
No rating, 121 minutes.
THR

July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]


FBA: Caught in the Web review

Chen Kaige’s superbly crafted drama about internet and media abuse has a cast at the top of its game.

CRI: Caught in the Web reviewCF

FBA: Full Circle review

Comedy-drama about rebellious oldies is a beautifully played heartwarmer.

FBA: The Locked Door review

Well-composed but dramatically bloodless drama centred on a small-town single mother.

FBA: Meet in Pyongyang

Glossy China-North Korea co-production is intriguing but short on human drama.

Hong Kong filmmaker Peter Ho-sun Chan has started shooting his next directorial project following Wu Xia, a drama entitled American Dreams In China.

The film is described as a tale of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, following three university graduates who build a multi-billion dollar tutorial empire. Their rise and fall plays out against the backdrop of historical events in China spanning three decades from the beginning of economic reforms to the present day.

“This type of film allows almost anyone to be a director,” veteran mainland Chinese filmmaker and Academy Award nominee Gu Changwei, 54, told AFP.

“I can see feedback right after people have watched and I am able to know what is good, and what can be improved,” said Gu. “Micro films present a real, direct communication between the director and the audience”.

Hong Kong films will have better access to the mainland China market following a revision of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between China and its Special Administrative Area.

Huayi Brothers’ “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” easily hold on the top spot for another week with a strong $36.33 million over this past week, while it has hauled in $83.76 million as of last Sunday. Renowned director Kaige Chen’s “Caught in the Web” debuted at number two at the weekly boxoffice chart in mainland China with a decent $7.14 million over its first three days in release. Martial art flick “Wu Dang” started with a not bad performance, sitting at third place with $3.18 million during its first three-day theatrical run.

It is understood that there will be one scene showing girls fighting in a bathhouse. Informed sources said Chinese actor Jiang Yi-Yan will be showing her bare back in that scene.

Regarding this, Jiang said she completed all the bareback scenes without a body double. She told the reporter that she was willing to sacrifice for the film.

However, China Press reported that the scene will be completely removed in Malaysia due to the strict censorship set by the local censorship board.

Li Yu’s “Double Xposure” opens Sept. 29.

Fan Bingbing

Feng Shaofeng

Huo Siyan

Fan Bingbing (Sina)

Teaser for “Double Xposure”

Posters for the comedy “Happy Hotel” directed by Wang Yuelan. Cast includes Jiang Wu, Ning Jing, Lam Tsz-Chung and cameos by Liu Ye, Huang Yi

Jiang Wu

Du Haitao

Ning Jing

Trailer

(Sina-gallery)2

The actress-model discusses her reel-romances and thoughts about her career so far

She discusses her experience of being a mother in her first interview after giving birth

The late actress remains positive in a video filmed before her death

MSN: Shu Qi and Stephen Fung return from Tokyo together

Pictures surfaced of the two together, sparking questions of why they would meet

The actress reportedly requested for HK$80 million from her ex-husband after running into cash-flow difficulties

May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

CF/THR: Dangerous Liaisons: Cannes Review

An interesting twist on a classic plot, Dangerous Liaisons is essentially a deluxe soap opera. But with its beautiful cast and gorgeous production design, it is still a highly enjoyable way to waste two hours.

CF: China Lion Eyes U.S. Market With Cannes Pickups

… it has a deal with AMC Entertainment to screen up to 15 titles a year, include the raunchy Hong Kong comedy Vulgaria, Taiwanese romantic comedies Girlfriend Boyfriend and When A Wolf Falls In Love With A Sheep, warlord actioner The Bullet Vanishes and Thai martial arts pic Rebirth.

CF: Release Date for “Nightmare” Announced

The production company for the upcoming thriller “Nightmare”, which is directed by Herman Yau and starring Fiona Sit, Huang Xuan and Zhou Chuchu, announced its July 6th mainland release date yesterday.

CF: Character Posters of “Caught in the Web” Released

Chen Kaige, known for his top award-winning film at Cannes “Farewell to My Concubine,” has turned his focus to ordinary people and hot topics in modern times in his latest film.

The film revolves around the problems caused by internet violence and “flesh searches” in modern society.

A few of the character posters for “Caught in the Web”

Yao Chen

Gao Yuanyuan

Wang Xueqi

Wang Luodan (Sina)

CF: Lu Chuan’s First Micro Film Releases Poster

Director Lu Chuan’s first micro film “The Way of the Heart” releases its poster.

In more micro film news, actress Huang Yi is directing her first micro film, “Exchange”, based on a true incident in which a female university student inspired by the ‘paperclip for a villa’ (see links below) exchanged two rings and in four months after three more exchanges built a classroom building. Huang Yi developed an interest in micro films when she was invited to act in another micro film earlier. This time, she was invited by the Shanghai International Film Festival’s director of micro film projects to direct and Huang readily accepted.

Huang Yi

Huang Yi and young actors (Sina)

Student barters rings to build school in Guizhou

From paper-clip to house, in 14 trades

Vicki Zhao’s directorial debut “To Our Past Youth” finished shooting in Nanjing and Shanghai, and the cast and crew are in the midst of their shoot at the Huangguoshu Waterfall, a famous scenic spot in Guizhou Province.

Another June edition of L’Officiel, with Huang Yi on the cover this time.

The Hong Kong actor is said to have become more caring and cheerful after officially ending his marriage recently

Zhang Ziyi, as ambassador of the event, was all smiles at the 12th Chinese Film Media Awards last night

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