HKMDB Daily News

May 19, 2013

American Dreams in China (Variety review)

American Dreams in China

5/18/2013
Maggie Lee

An aspirational drama about how three deadbeat college chums built a business empire by teaching English, Peter Chan Ho-sun’s “American Dreams in China” is attractively packaged and moderately enjoyable, but nonetheless comes across as ersatz and indulgently retro. On one level, this wry look at entrepreneurial drive and the toll it takes on friendship can be viewed as the Chinese version of “The Social Network.” However, notwithstanding some insight into China’s love-hate sentiments toward the U.S., Peter Chan Ho-sun’s account of the country’s three-decade rags-to-riches history is so obviously drawn from his own coming-of-age in ’80s Hong Kong that the film lacks a contempo pulse.

With new president Xi Jinping’s political slogan “Chinese Dream” becoming a global media catchphrase, some China watchers in the West may pay attention to how the film’s commercial dreams translate Stateside. Local B.O. has been strong so far, with opening-day returns totaling $3 million.

Born in Hong Kong and educated in Thailand and the U.S., Chan captured the zeitgeist of Hong Kong at the cusp of its handover in 1997′s “Comrades, Almost a Love Story,” and he again juxtaposes his characters’ rising fortunes with landmark historical events here. Yet his perspective on China remains that of an outsider, observing without much genuine personal experience or affection.

It begins in 1985, during China’s national study-abroad craze, a time when undergraduates are infatuated with America and believe it’s their only hope of a good future. Three close buddies at Beijing’s prestigious Yanjing U. — Cheng Dongqing (Huang Xiaoming), Wang Yang (Tong Dawei) and Meng Xiaojun (Deng Chao) — have comical yet fateful interviews with U.S. immigration officials. Naive country boy Cheng’s visa applications are repeatedly rejected; cinephile/ladykiller Wang foregoes his application to stay home with his American g.f., Lucy (Claire Quirk); and golden boy Meng coasts through his interview and takes off for New York, hoping to land on the cover of Time magazine.

Cheng sleepwalks through a college post teaching English, while his high-flying g.f., Su Mei (supermodel Du Juan, exquisitely unapproachable), gets the coveted visa. When he’s fired for moonlighting as a private tutor, Cheng starts coaching students for their SAT and GRE exams. Eventually he reunites and teams up with Wang and Meng, and their out-of-the-box yet accessible English-teaching curriculum becomes a lucrative national franchise called New Dream. Yet success also breeds dissent, and their partnership is endangered when Meng insists on getting their company publicly listed, against Cheng’s wishes.

“American Dreams in China” marks Chan’s return to contempo character drama following a string of historical blockbusters he either directed (“The Warlords,” “Dragon”) or produced (“Bodyguards and Assassins,” “The Guillotines”). In a manner reminiscent of his cheesy, breezy 1993 dramedy “Tom, Dick and Hairy,” an undue proportion of “Dreams” is set on campus, where the characters bond over their shared zeal for learning English (Cheng recites from not one but several editions of English dictionaries), a zeal fueled by everyone’s urgent belief that English opens doors to untold opportunities in an age of economic reform.

While mainland scribes Zhou Zhiyong and Zhang Ji provide cheeky, period-specific colloquial dialogue, the weak chemistry and considerable age difference among the leads are all too apparent; their relationships exude neither convincing camaraderie nor the giddy excitement of youth. Even the romantic interludes are flimsily drawn, and there’s a missed opportunity in the case of Wang and Lucy’s affair, as the film fails to explore East-West cultural exchange in a more intimate context.

The film’s second half gets racier with an eye-opening, almost fairy-tale-like take on how ad-hoc ideas in China can spin off into national enterprises, if catering to the right market. Intentionally or not, the subject has a real-life model in education mogul Li Yang, whose unconventional methods of mixing English lessons with self-help philosophy and strident nationalism were captured in Sixth Generation helmer Zhang Yuan’s 2003 docu “Crazy English.” Even the way Cheng, Wang and Meng exploit their individual histories in the classroom have roots in Li’s own larger-than-life personality and teaching strategies.

Chan could have attempted a more flamboyant and satirical approach; instead, each of his characters has an earnest personal vision, making their growing conflict more dramatically engaging as the story progresses. This is in keeping with the paradigm shift observed here: from striving to master English in order to find success overseas, to seeing the lingua franca as a means to level the global economic playing field.

As in “The Social Network,” legal proceedings frame the drama, as New Dream is sued by U.S. educational authorities for helping Chinese students cheat on entry exams. It’s here that Chan succumbs to crowd pleasing tactics, devising a jingoistic climax for the protags to score a victory against their American plaintiffs, who are presented as stereotypically arrogant, self-interested and prejudiced.

As the nebbishy loser crowned “Godfather of Foreign Study,” despite having never gone abroad, Chinese heartthrob Huang (“The Guillotines,” “The Last Tycoon”) gives a likable if superficial performance as the story’s most human character, falling short on gravitas even as his Cheng gains in moral stature and confidence. Tong (“The Flowers of War”) offers the most subdued presence, but also the most solid, and Deng (“Assembly”) is adequate in an often unflattering role. The real problem is that none of the thesps can pronounce intelligible English to save his life.

Christopher Doyle’s mellow lensing doesn’t leave any stylistic impression, while the art direction and costumes are so meticulous as to look artificial, rather than recreating the mood of changing times. Overall, tech credits are pro; the original title means “Chinese Partners.”

Reviewed at Olympian City, Hong Kong, May 8, 2013. Running time: 110 MIN. Original title: “Zhongguo hehuoren”
Production
(Hong Kong-China) An Edko Films (in Hong Kong)/China Film Group Co. (in China) release of a China Film Group, We Pictures presentation of a We Pictures production in association with Stellar Mega Films, Media Asia Film Prod., Yunnan Film Group, Edko Films, Beijing Jiu Yang Sheng He Science and Technology. (International sales: We Distribution, Hong Kong.) Produced by Peter Ho-sun Chan, Jojo Hui Yuet-chun. General Executive producer, Han Xiaoli. Co-executive producers, Qin Hong, Peter Lam, Zhang Lun, Bill Kong, Ma Ku-ho.
Crew
Directed by Peter Chan Ho-sun. Screenplay, Zhou Zhiyong, Zhang Ji, Aubrey Lam. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Christopher Doyle; editor, Qiao Yang; music, Peter Kam; Sun Li; costume designer, Dora Ng; sound (Dolby Digital 5.1).
With
Huang Xiaoming, Deng Chao, Tong Dawei, Du Juan, Daniel Berkey, Claire Quirk, Wang Zhen. (Mandarin, English dialogue)
Variety

Bends (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:38 am

Bends

5/18/2013
Maggie Lee

“Driving Miss Daisy” this ain’t, but a wealthy Hong Kong woman and her mainland Chinese chauffeur do make a small, indefinable connection as they go through their own financial meltdowns in “Bends,” Hong Kong helmer Flora Lau’s observation of China-H.K. relations. Aesthetically, Lau’s debut is beautifully assembled by a top-pedigree production crew, but it remains a modest accomplishment in scope and impact. Although the film radiates festival appeal, its lack of strong dramatic incident will hinder it from making a dent in the domestic market, even with A-list leads Aloys Chen Kun and Carina Lau onboard.

Fai (Chen) is a mainland Chinese immigrant who has obtained Hong Kong citizenship. Due to the intricacies of Hong Kong law, however, his pregnant wife, Tingting (Tian Yuan), has no right of abode; she cannot live with him and is ineligible for healthcare. She and their young daughter, Haihai, shuttle secretly between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. As Tingting’s delivery draws near, she and Fai find themselves between a rock and a hard place, threatened by a hefty penalty for forfeiting the one-child policy in their homeland, yet unable to afford hospital fees in Hong Kong.

Fai’s employer, Anna (Lau), is the bored, pampered wife of rich businessman Leo (Lawrence Cheng), who one day disappears without a trace. Beginning with suspended credits cards, frozen bank accounts, her daughter’s unpaid boarding-school tuition, and finally the sale of their tony apartment without her knowledge, Anna falls into a downward spiral (made frighteningly real by Lau) that serves as a suggestive allegory of the city’s surface glitter and shaky foundations.

Anna’s attempts to make ends meet are deliberately paralleled by Fai’s scramble to finance his wife’s delivery through an illegal birthing service in China. Anna sells stocks, spiritual charms and antiques, while Fai hawks spare parts from Leo’s Mercedes and has them secretly replaced with cheap Chinese knockoffs. A more experienced helmer might have jazzed up the narrative with a bit of black humor or developed more meaningful exchanges between the two protags before building up to the moment when their fates finally intersect.

Although she’s been given little character depth or personal background to play, Lau exudes pathos and grace, whether in her insistence at keeping up appearances with her high-society friends, or in her pathetic superstitions. Gorgeously bejeweled and outfitted by Miriam Chan, with style advice from William Chang, she’s impossible to take your eyes off. As a result, her pain registers more acutely than that of Fai’s, even though his situation is more dire; Chinese heartthrob Chen never quite convinces as the meek working-class lad, and Tian likewise projects only moods, without a trace of personality.

Christopher Doyle’s luminous, fluid lensing offers visions of spacious rooms and empty highways rarely seen in crowded, bustling Hong Kong, reinforcing Anna and Tingting’s loneliness and isolation. Sparse dialogue and haunting music lend an alienating effect; other craft contributions are also excellent. The original Cantonese title translates as “Crossing the Border,” with the implied double meaning of “Crossing the Line.”

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 18, 2013. Running time: 95 MIN. Original title: “Guo jie”
Production
(Hong Kong) A Shadow Puppet Prod., Film Development Fund of Hong Kong, A Priori Image, Bago Pictures, Love Streams Agnes B. Prod., Post Production Office presentation of a Bends production. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris. Asian sales: Gaga, Tokyo.) Produced by Nansun Shi, Yu Tsang. Executive producer, Albert Tong.
Crew
Directed, written by Flora Lau. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Christopher Doyle; editor, Lau, Alexis Dos Santos, Aq Lee; music, Patrick Jonsson; music supervisor, Shin Yasui; art director/set decorator, Jean Tsoi; costume designer, Miriam Chan; sound (Dolby Digital).
With
Carina Lau, Aloys Chen Kun, Tian Yuan, Lawrence Cheng, Stephanie Che. (Cantonese, Mandarin, English dialogue)
Variety

May 18, 2013

Bends (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 4:15 pm

Bends

5/18/2013 by David Rooney

Carina Lau and Chen Kun star in Flora Lau’s melancholy drama about a Real Housewife of Hong Kong and her personal driver, both facing crises.

Writer-director Flora Lau’s debut feature Bends is a slow-moving but ultimately affecting mood piece about two people at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, each navigating difficult crossroads. Distinguished by understated lead performances from Carina Lau and Chen Kun, and by the coolly elegant visuals of cinematographer Christopher Doyle, this is a quiet film that reflects in human terms the uneasy symbiosis of Hong Kong with mainland China.

The action takes place on either side of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. Anna Li (Lau) is a stylish housewife who has put her humble roots behind her, living in luxury since marrying a powerful businessman. With her daughter away at boarding school, she spends her time lunching with other well-heeled wives or organizing charity events. But the precariousness of that existence is exposed when her husband disappears under a cloud, unhelpfully canceling her credit cards.

Across the border in a shabby Shenzhen housing block, Anna’s driver Fai (Chen) faces a dilemma as his pregnant wife Ting (Tian Yuan) nears the birth of their second child. Rather than risk heavy fines for violating China’s One-Child Policy, Ting is forced to hide in the apartment out of sight of their neighbors, while Fai struggles to find financial and logistic solutions to get his wife across to Hong Kong and into one of the overbooked maternity hospitals.

Director Lau’s storytelling sense sometimes lacks clarity, making the audience do more guesswork than perhaps is necessary. But the parallel situations of the two protagonists are effectively balanced, each of them intuiting something of the other’s distress without ever articulating it.

As Ting turns sullen with cabin fever, Fai grows more desperate. He tries his luck at gambling and then starts selling off parts from his employer’s Mercedes, substituting them with cheap replacements. Anna resorts to superstition, hiring a feng shui consultant to rearrange the apartment in the hope that it will bring order to her house. Gradually, she is forced to face reality and begin cashing in her valuables.

The scenario could easily have turned schematic, but the director handles it with delicacy, and her two main actors convey a lot in performances with remarkably few outward displays of emotion. The ever-magnetic Carina Lau is particularly lovely. Anna puts a brave face on things in her chic dresses and expensive accessories, but her designer shades can’t mask the fear and humiliation in her eyes as the façade crumbles.
While it bears little resemblance in tone or subject matter to his work, Bends is perhaps influenced by Wong Kar-wai in its languorous rhythms and in the prowling grace of Doyle’s crisp camerawork. A prominent credit thanking Wong’s regular production designer William Chang indicates that he likely had a hand in shaping the look of the film, with its sharp distinctions between the two worlds.

Venue: Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard)
Cast: Carina Lau, Chen Kun, Tian Yuan
Production companies: Shadow Puppet Productions, Film Development Fund of Hong Kong, in association with A Priori Image, Bago Pictures, Love Streams Agnes B. Productions, Post Production Office, Tomson International Entertainment Distribution
Director-screenwriter: Flora Lau
Producers: Nansun Shi, Yu Tsang, Melissa Lee, Ken Hui
Executive producer: Albert Tong
Director of photography: Christopher Doyle
Production designer: Jean Tsoi
Music: Patrick Jonsson
Costume designer: Miriam Chan
Editors: Flora Lau, Alexis Dos Santos, Aq Lee
Sales: Distribution Workshop, Hong Kong
No rating, 97 minutes.
THR

Bends (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 4:08 pm

Bends
8 May, 2013
By Tim Grierson

Delicately rendered but thin dramatically, Bends brings together two characters from different economic backgrounds who share emotional similarities that neither one of them realses. The feature directorial debut from Hong Kong filmmaker Flora Lau engages our sympathies even if it never quite evolves beyond a simple, heartfelt message about our dependence on one another, no matter our station in life.

Bends will cater to art houses and film festivals, relying on both positive reviews and audience interest in the movie’s exploration of the relationship between Hong Kong and China, which is dramatised through its central characters. The presence of acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle may also help boost the movie’s international profile.

Bends stars Carina Lau as Anna, a wealthy housewife living in Hong Kong whose driver Fai (Chen Kun) lives in Shenzhen in China. Anna doesn’t know much about Fai’s life, consumed as she is with hiding any evidence from the outside world that her absent husband has refused to get in contact and that her finances are quickly evaporating. Meanwhile, Fai has very different problems: His wife (Tian Yuan) is pregnant with their second child, but he can’t take her across the border to a good hospital in Hong Kong for the delivery because she’s a Chinese citizen.

Working with Doyle (a frequent lenser for Wong Kar-Wai), Lau has crafted a drama that’s both visually and emotionally lovely. Incorporating an understated, gentle tone, the filmmaker clearly cares about her two characters, opting not to portray Anna as a spoiled, aloof villain but, rather, as a woman only slowly coming to the realisation that her lavish lifestyle is fleeting. Much of the poignancy in Anna’s story comes from her unwillingness to let on to anyone that she’s in financial trouble, making it difficult to know if her brave face is a calculated act or a genuine denial of her situation.

As for Fai, he doesn’t resent Anna for her wealth — she actually treats him rather well — but his need to arrange for a hospital bed in Hong Kong for his wife requires him to raise money any way that he can, even if it means from underneath his employer’s nose. Still, Lau never tips her hand regarding which of these people we should be rooting for. In fact, the film’s generosity is such that the writer-director subtly argues that neither of these people needs to suffer — and that perhaps if they helped one another, both would be better off.

The parallel storylines going on in Bends would seem to be a metaphor for Hong Kong’s uneasy connection to China, a union fraught with tension. But despite the movie’s hopeful tone, the story’s underlying problem is that it works more as a metaphor than as a gripping piece of cinema.

There’s a drawn-out, repetitious quality to both Fai’s and Anna’s dilemma, with little surprise or escalation of the stakes. Granted, major plot twists might have clashed with the movie’s generally tranquil, melancholy tone, but Bends never quite builds — it simply arrives at its climactic moment, which is the question of whether Fai can sneak his wife into Hong Kong to give birth.

While there isn’t much of a narrative here, the two leads are effortless at portraying worried souls who, through no real fault of their own, find themselves in very different binds. Carina Lau is impressively composed despite the growing chaos in Anna’s personal life, while Kun radiates a calm assurance no matter how dire Fai’s home life becomes.

Through their equally compassionate performances, they underline the film’s strongest point: Both of these characters are perhaps too wrapped up in their own woes to recognise and appreciate the agonies experienced by the other person, even though they spend so much time together. That sentiment isn’t quite enough to make for an engrossing film experience, but it suggests a filmmaker capable of deep emotional sensitivity.

Production companies: Shadow Puppet Productions Limited, Film Development Fund of Hong Kong, A Priori Image, Bago Pictures, Love Streams Agnes B. Productions, Post Production Office, Tomlinson International Entertainment Distribution LTD, Bends Limited

International sales: Distribution Workshop, dw@distributionworkshop.com

Producers: Nansun Shi, Yu Tsang, Melissa Lee, Ken Hui

Executive producer: Albert Tong

Cinematography: Christopher Doyle

Production designer: Jean Tsoi

Editors: Flora Lau, Alexis Dos Santos, Aq lee

Music: Patrick Jonsson

Main cast: Carina Lau, Chen Kun, Tian Yuan
ScreenDaily

Americian Dreams in China (Hollywood Reporter review)

Americian Dreams in China

5/17/2013 by Elizabeth Kerr

Veteran Hong Kong director Peter Chan returns with a familiar rags to riches story spanning 30 years and beginning in 1980s China.

Ever since he burst onto the Hong Kong film scene in 1994 with He’s a Woman She’s a Man and later Comrades: Almost a Love Story, producer-director Peter Chan has been one of the industry’s most identifiable voices. While not as issue-driven as Herman Yau or possessed of Johnnie To’s urban cool, the more romantic Chan has been a constant in an industry in flux. Chan’s latest film, American Dreams in China, is a carefully modulated and calculated film by a veteran with an eye firmly toward cracking the burgeoning mainland cinema market, which he started dabbling in back in 2005 with the romantic musical Perhaps Love.

It also embodies what everyone was concerned about when it was learned Iron Man 3 would bend to Chinese media rules and regulations and include four specially produced minutes—and tailoring creativity for special markets in general. American Dreams is a film purely for Chinese audiences, but how it plays there remains to be seen. It strokes the right egos and sends the right messages, but whether that’s enough to make it a hit is anyone’s guess. Mainland audiences aren’t quite that easy to “speak” to, as the negative reaction to the bonus material in the aforementioned Iron Man attests. More to the point they won’t be pandered to.

American Dreams in China has little in the way of marketability outside Mainland China. Though Chan’s name is likely to generate interest in overseas festivals, its pedestrian filmmaking (you would never know Christopher Doyle was cinematographer) and heavy handedness with its subject matter could keep it out of more than a few. Limited release in Asia could come on the back of regional familiarity with ubiquitous cram schools and language centers.

The film begins during the period of sweeping economic reforms in China in the 1980s. The bookish farm boy Cheng Dongqing (Huang Xiaoming, Ip Man 2), the ambitious, self-assured Meng Xiaojun (Deng Chao, The Four) and the slightly flaky, poetic Wang Yang (Tong Dawei, Lost in Beijing, Red Cliff), are three friends studying at university in Beijing and simultaneously prepping for American visa interviews. Wang is the first to be granted one but forfeits it to stay with his Western girlfriend, and Cheng is repeatedly denied one. Only Meng actually gets a study visa, and as he’s leaving he tells his friends he has no intention of returning to China.

The film then heads into standard rags to riches territory, following Cheng and Wang as they build a massively successful school, New Dream, from the ashes of Cheng’s misfortune (his girlfriend got a visa too, and Cheng lost his university teaching job for tutoring on the side) and Wang’s innate ability to connect with students, often through Hollywood movies. Across the Pacific, Meng is having little success living the America dream and is reduced to bussing tables to makes ends meet. Despondent, he goes home and joins his friends at New Dream. And as films like this go, the trio’s relationship frays, fractures and finally reforms under the weight of the men’s disparate goals and motivations.

American Dreams spans almost 30 years, so while all this is happening, Chan inserts references to major moments in contemporary Chinese history into the story: Beijing’s first KFC in 1992 becomes Cheng’s first classroom; the 1999 bombing of Chinese embassy in Belgrade sees the trio forced to defend themselves against angry mob charges of being traitors for running an English (meaning American) school; New Dream really enters the competitive big leagues around the same time Beijing is awarded the Olympic Games in 2000. Conspicuous in its absence is the Tiananmen Square protests/massacre of 1989.

Chan has managed some pithy observations about the perceptions commonly held among Chinese of Americans and vice versa, but take away the revisionist history and the preaching, however, and American Dreams is simply another quasi-coming-of-age story (albeit about adults) who see their bond tested by power, money and ambition. That it is allegedly based on a true story (of the Beijing New Oriental School) doesn’t make it any more interesting; the language education industry doesn’t exactly reek of thrilling corporate espionage and there are countless equally amazing business success stories in the new China, though admittedly not one quite as widely known. And the film’s lingering whiff of propaganda adds a bit of texture to the film, but in the end it’s not didactic enough to be a (more engaging) polemic. Chan has played down almost everything.

So it comes down to how compelling Huang, Deng and Tong are and how well their dynamic carries the story. Tong fares best as the sensitive guy stuck in the middle of an increasingly hostile relationship between his friends. The moderator is often the weak link, but Tong does a respectable job of conveying frustration and weariness. Huang and Deng have less luck though. Huang’s transformation from mealy-mouthed “loser” to board room tyrant doesn’t quite ring true, and Deng’s insecurity masked as arrogance make him shrill and demanding, not complex.

To’s Drug War and Leung Lok-man and Luk Kim-ching’s Cold War proved filmmakers could adhere to China’s rules and still make a film with a voice, however subtle. American Dreams in China proves Chan has a handle on what he needs to do to get a coveted Mainland release, but it also hints at a one or the other creative process.

Producer: Peter Chan, Jojo Hui
Director: Peter Chan
Cast: Huang Xiaoming, Deng Chao, Tong Dawei, Du Juan, Wang Zhen
Screenwriter: Zhou Zhiyong, Zhang Ji
Executive producer: Han Sanping
Director of Photography: Christopher Doyle
Production Designer: Sun Li
Music: Peter Kam
Costume designer: Dora Ng
Editor: Qiao Yang
Sales: We Pictures
Production company: China Film Co., We Pictures, Stellar Mega, Media Asia, Yunnan Film Group, Edko Films
No rating, 110minutes
THR

April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011

CRI: Lynn Xiong Rumored to Have Brain Tumor

According to Next Magazine, Lynn Xiong (Hung Doi Lam) was reported to have been secretly hospitalized last week and diagnosed with a 2.5cm brain tumor last week after suffering from a persistent headache. Aaron Kwok rushed back to Hong Kong after his April 17th concert in Shanghai. Lynn’s manager denied the report saying that she only went to the hospital for a stomach ache. The article reports that Lynn was overheard talking on the phone about worries of brain surgery. Doctors recommended that she stay in the hospital for observation but she was too anxious to remain and returned home. (Xinhua)2

FBA: Kara Hui is engaged for Wedding Diary

FBA: Huayi’s Resistance comes to a halt

CRI: ’The Lost Bladesman’ Opens Beijing Film Panorama

CF: Jackie Chan’s Cinema Opens in NE China

Christopher Doyle

From Los Angeles, Doyle discusses Chungking Express, the revitalization of Asian cinema and the appeal of revisiting a masterwork.

Variety: Real estate to fund China films

The real estate sector is awash with cash as it’s one of the few vehicles available to Chinese private investors, who get little return from bank deposits in a time of rising inflation; where better for the real estate sector itself to invest than in the film biz, which is yielding high returns as more theaters are built and a cinemagoing culture starts to kick in. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

“The standing joke is that funding comes from coal mine owners with cash to burn [like The Warring States?], but it is a combination of wealthy individual investors, funds and traditional sources,” said Celestial Pictures CEO Ross Pollack.

Variety: Songzhuang docu fest cancelled

Beijing festival shadow falls on smaller event

A well-known Chinese indie docu fest, the Songzhuang Documentary Film Festival China, was forced to cancel its May 1-7 event, bowing to pressure ahead of the first state-run Beijing Intl. Film Festival, which opens at the weekend. Film Festival Pulls Own Plug

GlobalTimes: New film recycles Three Kingdoms story(CF)

With mainly male actors and action scenes, The Lost Bladesman is a macho film with only one female character, Qi Lan.

It is well-known historical supposition – and common sense – that Cao admired Guan’s extraordinary talents and martial-arts ability and tried to coerce him to join his side, while Guan steadfastly refused to betray his master Liu Bei. The Lost Bladesman highlights the two’s love-hate dynamic and even hints at something of a homoerotic relationship. It’s certainly a fresh angle to the tired Three Kingdoms formula Chinese audiences have long been spoon-fed.

It was reported that the film’s original print underwent an exacting digit refurbishment in the lead up to the re-release.

A not-so-scary Chinese ghost story -  review from Malaysia

What started off as a promis­ing premise turns choppy and relies very much on fast edit­ing to make the plot really pop out. While it is commendable to experiment with cameraworks, but tilting the camera again and again is just plain sick. I don’t feel any artistic twist to it every time the filmmaker does that; more like a vomit-inducing effect that I am more than please to take it off…

At times her jumpy character can be really annoying, but it’s her innocence that actually draws people to her - like it or not. And she so much reminds me of Joey Wong, when she broke into the Hong Kong entertainment industry. Not bad.

One more A Beautiful Life poster.

A May 20 simultaneous release was previously reported. (Sina)

The Peter Chan-Teddy Chen production of the martial arts film The Flying Guillotines has been delayed according to Taiwan media due to not having received necessary approvals from the mainland. Production was due to begin filming this month. Ethan Ruan returned to Taiwan from Beijing where he had been training. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Poster for Law Wing-Cheong’s Punished, scheduled for a May 5 release (Sina)

Stills featuring Gong Beibi and Aaron Kwok from The Detective 2.

With no classification system, mainland audiences are warned that this is ‘ not another teen movie’. With scenes of a tongue being cut out, rotting corpses and other horrors, the words ’see with caution’ have been added to all advertising posters, trailers, and other publicity materials in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities.. A promotional gimmick or an informal rating? (Xinhua)23 In other news, Feng Xiaogang’s cameo scene revealed in online photos in Gu Changwei’s Till Death Do We Part has been deleted.

CRI: Top Directors Play Cameo Roles in Gu’s Film

No. 32, B District poster

The Chinese-Thai co-production is called the Asian “Paranormal” and opens June 3. (Sina)

Karen Mok posted pictures of herself taken while filming on Rt. 66 outside of Los Angeles and Las Vegas while filming a micro-film for Cadillac. The road was closed for shooting with the help of the police.

Poster for Committed to Freedom

The micro-film is a follow up to the first one starring Daniel Wu entitled On the Verge filmed in Hong Kong and Shanghai. (Xinhua)23

Cherie Chung’s first TV advert in ages, directed by Lawrence Ah Mon and photographed by Cheung Man-Wa/Zhang Wenhua. [You can also look forward to seeing Cherie on the May cover of Elle.]

(Xinhua)(Sina-slideshow)

Li Bingbing promoting environmental protection in Beijing

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan will be released in July after screening a 10 minute clip at Cannes.

(Sina)

CNA:  Nicholas Tse says wife Cecilia Cheung is much more important than children

His comment took the blogosphere by storm, with come netizens even conferring upon him the title “Best Man of the Century” and expressing envy that Cheung had scored a husband whose love for her eclipsed his love for their children.

CNA: Kenny Bee’s ex-wife claims Fan Jiang abused her daughter, goes to police

CNA: Kitty Zhang marries director 21 years her senior

For those who missed Rock Records’ 30th anniversary in Taipei five months ago, its upcoming Beijing gig will offer another chance to catch up with the largest-ever line-up of Mandopop singers, responsible for 1,800 albums and 20,000 songs on Asia’s largest independent label from the 1980s.

December 1, 2010

December 1, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 2:13 pm

Sacrifice loses steam in the second half

Sacrifice could have been a masterpiece.

Ge You - “Mr Nice Guy” gets a makeover

The actor who is so loved today was never admitted to any acting school. Until 1978, he was a pig farmer in suburban Beijng, a legacy of the “cultural revolution” (1966-76). It was his role in a short skit on pig breeding that took him into a drama troupe.

The romantic TV series Eternal Moment that debuted 12 years ago is to have a big screen adaptation…Shot in Beijing, Shanghai and Bordeaux, France, the film will present three endings for the viewers to choose the one they like. (CRI)

FBA: Bruce Lee lacks punch at China box office

CNNGo: Ben Sin: Going to the movies sucks in Hong Kong

We never get to see what we want to see on the big screen, because film distributors are out of touch with reality


CRI: Heroines of ‘The Yang Family’ Unveiled

Fan Bingbing is reportedly joining the cast of Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmasters in an unknown role. Fan’s agent could not confirm but said that she had been in contact with the director. (Sina)

Chow Yun-Fat and Jiang Wu in a scene from Let the Bullets Fly

(Xinhua)

Rocker Cui Jian and Christopher Doyle are collaborating on a new film, The Blue Bone, now filming in Beijing. Cui Jian summarized it as ‘one song, two generations, three stories, four styles’, a complicated story of a young man with multiple identities in love with a singer who is the boss’ lover. The cast members are relative newcomers. Singer Mao Amin will appear in a cameo role.

Cui Jian, Christopher Doyle

Ni Hongjie (Sina)

Andrew Lin announced he is getting married and that his wife is pregnant.

Andrew Lin - The Founding of a Party

Chrissie Chau featured in new ad campaign for makeup brand

More at the she.com site

MSN: Ethan Ruan clears the air on film offers

MSN: Mother urges Lin Chi-ling to get married on her 36th birthday

MSN: Wang Xiaofei still uses a supplementary card from his mother

Barbie Hsu’s mother-in-law clarifies the state of her son’s wealth

MSN: Barbie Hsu and Wang Xiaofei’s property rejection

The newly wedded couple’s option to purchase an apartment in Kunming was rejected

HK actor Adam Cheng hospitalised after four-metre fall(Xinhua)

October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010

THR: Under the Hawthorn Tree

THR: Zhang’s ‘Hawthorne’ opens Pusan

Director is guest of honor at Asia’s largest film fest

Reign of Assassins review

Famous for his script-crafting skills, Su displays his talents yet again in “Assassins” with detailed plotlines and humorous convos without trying too hard.

Interview: Man with the Iron Fist Director, Wu-Tang Impresario RZA

Christopher Doyle to shoot RZA’s The Man With the Iron Fist

CRI: Miriam Yeung Stages Concert in Hong Kong,

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CRI: Zhao Wei Releases First Music Video for Latest Album(Sina-gallery)

CRI: Fan Bingbing Shows Her Style in Paris

CRI:Chinese Film ‘Buddha Mountain’ Completes Tokyo Fest Lineup

“Buddha Mountain” and “The Piano in a Factory” by Chinese director Zhang Meng, are set to compete for six awards, including the prestigious Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix.

FBA: Detective Dee dominates box office in China

FBA: World wins Vancouver prize

Japanese film Good Morning to the World was announced today as the winner of the Dragons and Tigers Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Francis Ng

Publicity for Wind Blast which opens Oct. 28 is starting to ramp up. (Sina)

Pat Ha Man-Chik

Pat Ha and husband

45 year-old Pat Ha Man-Chik returns to show biz in Calvin Poon’s upcoming Derailed Women. Married to a Taiwan businessman, Pat Ha is the mother of three girls and was living in the US. Rumored to be now separated from her husband, Pat Ha was spotted snuggling with a young 25 year-old man in a Happy Valley apartment. He was later spotted in the laundry room washing her D&G underwear. (!)

(Sina)

Maggie Cheung, working behind the camera this time, for jewellry brand Qeelin as creative director. Model Pei Bei on right.

Maggie advising Pei Bei on posing sexy (Xinhua)2

SG: Andy Lau hands over billions to wife

SG: Andy Lau’s wife rumoured to be three months pregnant

SG: Shu Qi prepares for retirement?

Supermodel Lin Chiling ordered to pay NT$6.84m in tax case

HKStandard: Off the hook

Pals of the Philippine president who have been blamed over the Manila bus bloodbath in which eight Hongkongers were killed are to have charges against them dropped or reduced…But punishment for the media - accused of disrupting the government’s botched rescue action - will be harsh, with two reporters likely to be charged.

August 26, 2009

August 26, 2009


The Founding of a Republic features 172 stars but no guarantee of box office success



Dada’ Dance - Zhang Yuan

Story parallels Noriko Sakai’s recent drug scandal. [This is also Zhang's first film since his own drug arrest.]
[Update]
Chinese director Zhang Yuan releases first film since drug scandal
[Previous drug arrest reports]
2/1/2008
1/19/2008
1/14/2008
1/10/2008

null
The Message opens September 30


Huang Bo
Huang Bo in black comedy ‘Cow’ opens September 11

66TH ANNUAL VENICE FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP (Selective list )[Update]
COMPETITION
“Accident,” Cheang Pou-Soi (China-Hong Kong)
“Tetsuo The Bullet Man,” Shinya Tsukamoto (Japan)
“Prince of Tears,” Yonfan (Hong Kong)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“Chengdu, I Love You,” Fruit Chan, Cui Jian (China) - Closing Film
“Yona Yona Penguin,” Rintaro (Japan)
HORIZONS
“Adrift,” Bui Thac Chuyen (Vietnam)
“Cow,” Guan Hu (China)
“1428,” Du Haibin (China)
“Once Upon A Time Proletarian: 12 Tales of a Country,” Guo Xiaolu (China)
http://www.luxuryta.com/italy/venice-film-festival-announces-line-1253





Kelly Lin and Ge You attend premiere of Gasp

Jet Li returns to Chinese film
Due to start shooting ‘Ocean Paradise’ in Chinese
Li will star with Taiwanese actress Kwai Lun-mei, last seen in Tsui Hark’s “All About Women,” in the directorial debut of Chinese screenwriter Xue Xiao-lu, titled “Ocean Paradise” in Chinese. Xue has written for director Chen Kaige, working the script for Chen’s 2002 drama “Together With You.”
Jet Li to star in first non-action drama Ocean Heaven
Christopher Doyle will handle cinematography while Hai Chung-man (Curse Of The Golden Flowers) will serve as art director of the film. The release date is set for spring 2010.

Variety: Blood Pledge (South Korea)
Variety: Missing (South Korea)
Variety: Insadong Scandal: Replicated Strokes (South Korea)
Variety: Macabre (Singapore)

Support for China animation lags
Industry fails to develop despite government backing



Donnie Yen plans to give up acting in 2013.

In an NY Times interview (see Aug 20 post), Yen said he plans to concentrate on behind the lens directing and action choreography after finishing his 2012 obligations.


Sammi Cheng reveals she once had depression

[I think the film they are referring to is Everlasting Regret]


Mike He: I’m being framed again

‘Jewel in the Palace’ star weds in US
Lee Young-ae is also known for her role in the Park Chan-wook film “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.”



Stars attend Dayo Wong’s stage show






Andy Lau and Carol Chu returning to Hong Kong from Malaysia

First public acknowledgment of their relationship
Andy Lau and girlfriend appear together publicly (English)


Yang Lijun
Article recalls the many (rumored) loves in Andy Lau’s life

Danny Poon, Idy Chan, Yue Hoh-Yan, Anita Mui, Rosamund Kwan, Yang Lijun (the crazy fan)
More airport photos, and, still, more

Andy Lau apologized on his blog for creating the chaos at the two airports and thanked fans for their concern



Andy avoided questions from media while leaving his apartment

Carina Lau
Carina Lau at Hong Kong Airport

When questioned about Tony’s injuries, Carina smiled and replied, ‘OK, la’. Article notes her HK$100k handbag, too.


Vivian Chow
Rosemary
Vivian Chow and Rosemary attend fall fashion show

Vivian is described as adopting a dishevelved, wild cat (or is it cougar?) look




Guests at Dorian Ho’s fall fashion show

Universally unimpressed with this year’s Miss Hong Kong contestants
[Reigning Miss Hong Kong Edelweiss Cheung was denied the opportunity to crown the new Miss HK. Instead, Loletta Chu, Miss Hong Kong 1977 and Henry Fok's former daughter-in-law, crowned Sandy Lau]

July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009

Aaron Kwok, Shu Qi
Aaron cools down
Aaron Kwok, Shu Qi film City Under Siege

Louis Koo gains 14kg for ‘uncle’ role in Overheard

Remind you of anyone?
Li Bingbing back to Tang Dynasty in Detective Dee

Looking for Kung Fu Girls for Andy Lau’s New Film ‘Unshakeable Military Orders’
Based on Yang Family saga

Stanley Kwan, Christopher Doyle Chase Solar Eclipse for New Film “Energy Behind the Heart”


My Interview with Francoise Yip

One of our readers, scores an interview with Francoise Yip.
She speaks to Glenn on a range of topics: working with Anthony Wong, her impressions of Anita Mui and her new film Motherland.
Motherland is directed by Doris Yeung starring Francoise Yip, Kenneth Tsang and Byron Mann.

Jeff Yang: The rise and fall — and rise? — of Hong Kong cinema

Bruce Lee Legend Remains Strong in H.K. 36 Yrs after His Death
Bruce Lee’s family OKs biopics
J.A. Media plans at least three films

Singapore’s Boku Films to co-produce The Host sequel

Chengtian reaps Golden Harvest
Name change completes takeover


Photos from opening ceremony of Lydia Shum exhibition


Vivian Chow arrived in Shanghai to view the solar eclipse - more photos

Where’s Joe?

Leon Didn’t Announce Wedding at ‘Dream Wedding” Concert

Unsuccessful Graduate Zhao Wei to Halt Career for School
Vicki Zhao delays graduation for ‘Mulan’

Denise Ho out of the Closet?
HK singer Denise Ho comes out of the closet

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