HKMDB Daily News

July 11, 2011

July 11, 2011

THR: Love For Life review

An incurably sentimental and didactic take on China’s AIDS patients.

Revenge: A Love Story review (FBA)

An effective enough exploitation movie dressed up in apocalyptic clothes.

Chinese movie director on ‘absurdity’

Chinese movie director Jiang Wen used a key word Saturday to tell Taiwan movie lovers what he tries to express in his works:

Tsui Hark: Bringing a Wealth of Cinematic Knowledge to the Screen in 3-D (NYTimes)

In November, he will begin filming “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.” He has begun to write the screenplay for another “Detective Dee” movie.

CRI: Cecilia Cheung Featured in ‘Lion Roars 2′ Posters

CF: Tang Wei Promotes Romance Film “Late Autumn” in Taipei

Mysterious Island poster featuring Jordan Chan

Yang Mi with strange smile

Anya tortured (Sina)

Latest poster for Coming Back

Simon Yam

Qi Wei

The film’s producer denied rumored reports that Qi Wei’s scenes were deleted due to her breaking unspoken rules. Speculating that it was self-promotion by the actress, he said that the editing was due to normal requirements of filmmaking. She can be seen in the latest trailer released. (Sina)2

Qi Wei dropped after refusing sex

Promotional stills from Beach Spike

Chrissie Chau

Jessica C (Sina)

Summer Love

Romantic comedy features pseudo-models and raging hormones, on the beach

Alex Fong Lik-Sun, Zhang Xinyu (Viann Zhang)

Liu Yuqi, Terence Tsui (Xiao Fei) (Sina)

Peter Chan, Jimmy Wang Yu

Peter Chan visited Jimmy Wang Yu in Taiwan while doing publicity for Wu Xia. The director brought fruit and chicken and felt a little more at ease after seeing Wang Yu in person. Wang Yu is rehabilitating after suffering a stroke last month. Besides watching his diet and giving up wine, Wang Yu has been exercising his left arm and walking the stairs at home. Even going so far as threatening to drive with one hand to the rehab center, Wang Yu said he scared the wits out of his assistants. He promised director Chan that he would attend the Taiwan and  Hong Kong premieres on July 20 and July 26.

Both Donnie Yen and Peter Chan grew up admiring and imitating the legendary Wang Yu

Young Donnie Yen

Young Peter Chan

(Sina)2

Nic Tse hires ex-FBI agent

Nicholas Tse hired a former FBI agent to dish out the dirt on former wife Cecilia Cheung and to fight for the custody of his two sons…Cecilia is not one to be taken lightly though. MSN: Deborah Li on the verge of breaking down

Nicholas Tse and Cecilia Cheung’s marriage woes has taken a toll on the actor’s mother Deborah Li.MSN: Michelle Yim exploited for a scam

Ariel Lin bids farewell to showbiz

Boston gets a nonreality show

CBS broadcasts impossible views of 4th fireworks

[Remind anyone of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony?]

Chinese fans are putty in Potter’s hands(CRI)

Emma Watson, the lead actress in the Harry Potter films, opened a Weibo account, the Chinese version of Twitter, on Friday and had more than 30,000 fans in six hours.

February 24, 2011

February 24, 2011

A truth that’s stranger than fiction - Jiang Wen

“Let The Bullet Fly” boosts tourism in S China watchtowers

35th Hong Kong Int’l Film Festival to open in March

AP: Johnnie To romance, short films to open HK fest

Poster for March 1 Beijing University screening of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Wai Ka-Fai and Johnnie To will meet students and answer questions. (Sina)

Gao Yuanyuan - Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

(Sina-gallery)

SF International Asian American Film Festival Takes Place March 10-20

Li Yapeng: ‘Love is not something you can preserve’ (CNNGo)

First-time producer Li Yapeng talks about the challenges of product placement in his new movie, “Eternal Moment,” Faye Wong and their “Six One” clique

CNNGo: Huayi Brothers annouces East Asia’s largest film and TV studio

GlobalTimes: Onward, Christian actors

Lu Liping and Sun Haiying are a rare mainland couple

Underdog Knight 2 - Liu Ye, Liu Hailong

Vincent Chiao

Steve Yoo Seung-Jun

Underdog Knight 2 opens April 1 (Sina)

Seediq Bale poster

Director Wei Te-Sheng (dayoo)

Seediq Bale director Wei Te-Sheng has secured additional funding from investors to complete his epic film. Part 1 is scheduled to be released on September 9 with part 2 to be released on September 30.. (Sina)

The first part, scheduled to be shown on Sept. 9, will center on the portrayal of the major characters and the atmosphere of the distinctive era. The second part, to be released on Sept. 30, would revolve around the uprising of the Seediq tribe and its suppression by the Japanese army. (Taipei Times)

Posters for The Law of Attraction (lit. Gravity or Gravitation)

Starring Karen Mok, Leon Dai, Zhang Jingchu and Guo Tao, the film is a series of interlocking love stories.

Guo Tao, Zhang Jingchu (Sina)2

Ann Hui, Andy Lau and Deanie Ip - Miss Peach (Peach Sister)

Bona Pictures boss Don Yu Dong flew to Hong Kong to visit the set and lend support (Sina-gallery)

CRI: Andy Lau and Deanie Yip Rejoin in ‘Tao Jie’

CRI: First Stills from ‘Mr. and Mrs. Single’

CRI: Liu Yifei Cites ‘Up’ as Her Influence for New Film

MSN: Kelly Lin rumoured to wed on Mar 20

MSN: Selina Jen’s injuries take a turn for the worse

The helpless singer ended her entry with the sentence, “Can I be a girl who is not brave and cries a lot tonight?” S.H.E’s Selina Jen laments fresh blisters on injured legs

CNA: Barbie Hsu puts film career on hold to focus on family

February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011

THR: Fox, Huayi Brothers, Sundream Team for ‘Love in Space’

Lost in Space is a model of Huayi Brothers’s three-pronged strategy in developing its production slate, including expanding into different genres. “At the beginning, everyone was making historical epics and action films, but female audiences support romantic comedies, which are less costly to make. This genre can become part of the mainstream films,” Huayi Brothers Media Corp. president James Wang told The Hollywood Reporter.

THR: Top-Earning Chinese Director Cites Martin Scorsese as His Only Influence

Jiang Wen met ‘The Departed’ director in New York in 1980, according to English-language newspaper China Daily.

HK Film Archive’s March “Morning Matinee” to feature city comedies starring Ting Ying

Hong Kong Film Archive’s (HKFA) “Morning Matinee” next month will screen four “city comedies” by renowned comedy director Mok Hong-si, starring popular 1960s actress Ting Ying.

FBA: Overheard receives welcome echo

Production is underway on Overheard 2 , a sequel to the cop thriller Overheard

Variety: Together review

“Together” demonstrates how badly China needs a documentary to help address discrimination toward its growing HIV-positive population.

CRI: Mainland Box Office Top 10 (Feb. 14-20, 2011)

Eternal Moment #1

Qin Lan - Mr. and Mrs. Single

Qin Lan costars in Patrick Kong’s Mr. and Mrs. Single, a comedy about urban couples keeping their marriages secret to get better jobs and higher income. Eason Chan, Rene Liu, Harlem Yu and Bai Bing are among the cast members. [Sounds strikingly similar to the 1962 Happy Couples in the Ting Ying article above.] The film opens in April.

Eason Chan (Sina)2

Beijing - Kara Hui, Liu Yifei, Wilson Yip hold press conference for A Chinese Fairy Tale (Feb.23)

Wang Danyi Li, Kara Hui, Liu Yifei

Liu Yifei, Gong Xinliang, Wang Danyi Li

Kara Hui, Lin Peng

(Sina)23

Deanie Ip and Andy Lau have begun work on Ann Hui’s latest film (Miss Peach/Peach Sister).

Deanie plays a servant to Andy’s master (Sina)(Sohu)

Cambodia - Michelle Yeoh continues to promote road safety as UN Make Roads Safe Global Ambassador (Xinhua)

MSN: Jackie Chan kissed Jane Xu Jinglei in drunken stupor (Xinhua-gallery)

CNA: Faye Wong garners praise for posting au naturel photo (Xinhua)

CNA: Selina Jen’s wedding “delayed indefinitely” says fiance

CRI: Kobe Bryant Works with Jay Chou in New Song

MSN: Jay Chou films commercial with Kobe Bryant

All-Star debut for Chinese shoe company

January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011

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

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster’ (LATimes)

Opening Jan. 28

THR: ‘Let the Bullets Fly’ Is China’s New Homegrown Box Office Champion

The 1920s Eastern Western has passed ‘Aftershock’s’ $9.8 million take.

Jiang Wen: If you don’t understand my films, you’re ’silly’ (CNNGo)

FBA: Bullets, Confessions head AFA nominations

It’s a wrap for Michelle Yeoh and The Lady

After three months of hard work, playing Myanmar freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady, our very own Michelle Yeoh could finally take a breather as filming of the biopic was wrapped up on Jan 18.

CRI: Batman’s China Role Hints of Future Co-op in Sino-U.S. Film Industries

Reports from media previews of Benny Chan’s Shaolin indicate that the film is quite bloody and children are recommended to be accompanied by parents. Women audibly gasped at certain scenes. Jackie Chan’s humourous appearances lightened the tone in contrast. In addition, the burning of Shaolin Temple is said to not look very realistic.

Poster for What Women Want released (Sina)

All’s Well Ends Well 2011 poster (Sina)

RZA’s The Man With the Iron Fists

The cast: Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Daniel Wu, MMA fighter Cung Le, and what’s really exciting as well, a huge Alive Not Dead contingent!!! Andrew Lin, Terence Yin, Osric Chau, Darren Scott, Celina Jade, Byron Mann, MC Jin, Brian Yang & Andrew Ng are all cast in this project. The whole combo makes for a movie that will definitely kickass!

Action director Corey Yuen and Grace Huang

Fan Bingbing

Director Li Yu, Fan Bingbing, Wilson Chen Bo-Lin promote Buddha Mountain in Beijing

Buddha Mountain opens March 4 (Sina)

Teddy Robin posted a picture on Weibo from a scene shot for the 1964 film Student Prince that featured Alan Tang Kwong-Wing in his film debut. Unfortunately, the scene with Teddy playing with his first band The Striplings was deleted from the final cut.

CRI: Faye Wong Arrives in Taipei for Upcoming Concert

MSN: Selina Jen could return to stage after a year of therapy

Pop star Selina finally discharged from hospital

MSN: Carina Lau and Tony Leung write love letters to each other

Carina Lau reveals secret to keeping the romance alive

“I can also find out if he delivers on his promises [in his letters],” she joked.

The guest list to last night’s White House state dinner guest list (CNN)

Notable names include Jackie Chan (of Beverly Hills, CA!), Michelle Kwan, Yo Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Tung Chee-Wah (former Chief Executive of Hong Kong), Maya Lin. and Jean Quan (newly elected mayor of Oakland — the first Asian American female mayor of a major US city ;D )

JackieChan.com

January 13, 2011

January 13, 2011

THR: Let the Bullets Fly

A rollicking Chinese western directed with cinematic gumption.

THR: Ip Man 2

A smashing martial arts extravaganza dented by crude nationalism. [Look for a theatrical release in the US this month.]

THR: Sacrifice

A classical historical drama of grand passions and humanity.

Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet” reinvents the retro vigilante, delivering the goods for a punchy 3D breakout.

CNN: China’s Woody Allen on turning a disaster into a hit

Film director Feng Xiaogang may have made China’s biggest box office hit, the disaster movie, “Aftershock”, but he built his reputation in comedies, comparing himself to American director, Woody Allen.

Fox International Productions and China Lion Film Distribution said Wednesday they will release the Mandarin-language martial arts film The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman on March 17 in North America, Australia and New Zealand, simultaneously with its premiere in China.

THR: Chinese Delegation Touring Hollywood in Search of Box-Office Success

Five Chinese film veterans and ambitious newcomers are seeking to hire Hollywood help to achieve their goal: exportable movies.

CRI: Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan Promote New Film (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart/Single Men and Women)

CRI: Stanley Kwan to Put Han Han’s Novel on Big Screen

CRI: Jiang Wen Plays Cao Cao in New Film (Lost Bladesman)

(Sina-gallery)

Fan Bingbing

Fan Bingbing’s first foreign film has been released in France this week. The all-English language film, Stretch, is directed by Charles de Meaux and required Fan to cram to learn English. This is the same production that David Carradine was shooting in Thailand when he died. (Xinhua)

Li Yuchun, Andrew Lau

(Jan.12) Andrew Lau directed and co-starred with Li Yuchun in a 15-minute musical film called ‘Prologue’. The premiere event was held in Beijing with screenings planned for Chengdu, Changsha, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Lau praised Li as a ‘female version of Jay Chou’. (Sina)

Videos: Making of Shaolin (8) (YouTube) (Thanks, to Valerie)

MSN: Aaron Kwok denies his engagement with Lynn Hung

MSN: Selina Jen to return home for Lunar New Year

The S.H.E member will host a media conference to thank the people who showed concern for her during the ordeal

MSN: Overworked Jolin Tsai spotted with receding hairline

SG: Chinese pop diva Faye Wong to come out with new album soon (?)

August 18, 2010

August 18, 2010

CRI: 3D “The Legend of Silk Boy” to be Released on August.20

Jackie Chan is the voice of the hero, Xu Rongcun, while the film’s director, David Liu, also worked on “Star Trek”, “Transformer” and “Toy Story”.

The cast also includes Li Bingbing, Li Yang and comedian Zhou Libo, who speaks in a Shanghainese dialect for his character.

FBA: Toronto unleashes Butcher in madness

The 35th Toronto International Film Festival (9-19 Sep 2010) will host the world premiere of Wu Ershan’s anarchic action-comedy The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman [ previously Legend of the Kitchen Knife here] in its Midnight Madness section.

The film is the first feature from Daniel Yu’s Beijing-based production company First Cut Features, founded in June 2008. Yu previously produced the Focus First Cuts series, including Crazy Stone.

In Butcher, a lowly pork vendor tries to steal the heart of a top courtesan, a mute learns how to cook to avenge the death of his father and a warrior attempts to become the world’s number one, all with the help of a magical blade.

The martial-arts comedy stars Ando Masanobu, Ben Chang You and Kitty Zhang.

Karena Lam

Don Quixote poster featuring Karena Lam

CRI: Karena Lam Announces Retirement from Entertainment Industry

HK actress Karena Lam quit showbiz?

With the expiration of her eight year contract with Filmko last year, Karena Lam has effectively withdrawn from the movie business. She has declined to appear for publicity events for her most recent film Don Quixote which she worked on under a tacit agreement. According to friends, Karena has been studying photography, ceramics and architecture in Canada and France. After the expiration of her contract, she rarely appeared in public and last month she dismissed her assistant of many years. Even though Filmko was willing to extend her contract, Karena was unmoved. Now 31 years old, Karena grew up in Canada and at the age of 15 signed a 5 year development contract in Taiwan as a singer against her parents wishes. After being put on ice after a falling out, she went to Hong Kong in 2001 where she made her first film, July Rhapsody, and won Best Supporting Actress. Karena made twenty films in 5 years but her career subsequently stalled. (Xinhua)(21cn)

Guangzhou premiere press conference for Stool Pigeon

Guei Lun-Mei

Miao Pu, Nick Cheung

Liu Kai-Chi

Liu Kai-Chi

Audience favorite, Liu Kai-Chi won HKFA’s Best Supporting Actor in 1993 for his role in Cagemen and was nominated three more times for Internal Affairs 2, SPL and Beast Stalker. (Sina)2

Liu Ye as young Mao Zedong

Li Qin

Li Qin plays Mao’s second wife, Yang Kaihui

Liu Ye and Li Qin

The Founding of a Party (tentative title) held a low key opening lens ceremony. Filming is scheduled for 5 months with a 2011 release. (Sina)2

Jiang Wen and Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro recently visited the Shanghai World Expo and was unnoticed by the public. Later, De Niro visited Jiang Wen in Beijing and watched an early preview of Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly. Afterward, even though the special effects and music has not been completed, De Niro praised the film as thrilling, funny and fantastic. He offered his own people to provide the subtitling because if he wanted to attract American audiences native English speakers would be preferable. The following day, in honor of De Niro’s 67th birthday, Jiang Wen held a banquet complete with the Godfather theme. He also gave De Niro a handwritten scroll with the character ‘Warrior’. (Sina)

Poster for Cheer Chen’s Sept. 4 Guangzhou ‘Summer Etude’ concert (21cn)

CRI: Tsai Chin to Start New Concert Tour

SG: Jay Chou late for Lee Hom’s Love In Disguise opening

SG: Andy Hui fesses up

SG: Huang Xiaoming rails at AngelaBaby in public

SG: Lucas Tse’s Disney birthday bash

Lucas

Lucas and Quintus

(Xinhua)(Sina-slide show)

Aaron Kwok says no to cohabitation

The 44-year-old star who graced the opening of a fitness centre in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok district on Tuesday revealed that he was dead against cohabitation.

February 28, 2010

February 28, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 3:06 pm

What will happen in Hong Kong’s entertainment scene this year?

More problems for Chen Kaige’s Zhao’s Orphan. Lead actress Song Hye-Kyo will not be starring in the film as previously announced. Prior to the announcement, Song Hye-Kyo denied participation in the film. It turns out her performance fee was never agreed to. This leaves Chen in a bit of an embarrassing predicament. (Xinhua)

Jiang Wen

Jiang Wen is revealed to be in the cast of Snow Flower and The Secret Fan. He plays a butcher and later Jeon Ji-Hyun’s husband. (Xinhua)

Book Features Korean Film Renaissance

“South Korean Film Renaissance: Local Hit Makers, Global Provocateurs” written by Choi Jin-hee in English probes how the Korean film industry turned an economic crisis into a cinematic renaissance through globalization based on historical reviews of the industry.


Josephine Siao Fong Fong most trusted Hong Kong celebrity

In a survey commissioned by Ming Pao last October, Josephine Siao was ranked #1 as the most trusted celebrity out of 80 candidates. Chinese University of Hong Kong Vice Chancellor Joseph Sung came in second. Siao is the founder and president of the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation. Chief Executive Donald Tsang was fourth from the bottom and Jackie Chan placed last. Rating was based on trust and credibility. A professor of Applied Social Sciences said that the results showed that Hong Kong people have a high degree of trust for those who serve the community. Firefighters as a profession topped the list while fortune tellers ranked last. (Sina) (bbc)

Happy Birthday to AngelaBaby who turns 21 (Feb.28)

Looking forward to going to Las Vegas casinos, she was turned away when she was 18.

Celebrating the ‘A-Z’ Chocolate Art Fair’

(Sina) (Xinhua)

Nic Tse endorsing sunglasses in Shanghai

Nic with two models (Xinhua)

Oops, Coco Lee and Lynn Xiong appeared at the Africa themed Hong Kong Cancer Foundation Charity Ball wearing the same dress.

(Xinhua) (Sina)

Twins attend Emperor reception and dinner at Macau’s The Venetian

Gillian Chung

Charlene Choi

Nic Tse

Joey Yung (Xinhua)

Hong Kong Football Association held a ‘Wan Chi-Keung Memorial Cup’ match in front of a crowd of 3000. A memorial service is planned for Mar.9 at Hong Kong Stadium.

Aaron Kwok

Nat Chan

Lee San-San (Sina)

November 17, 2009

November 17, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 2:56 pm

CRI: First Timer Li Yuchun Fights like A Kung Fu Panda

Singer-turned-actress Li Yuchun believes her role in “Bodyguards and Assassins” corresponds to Po.

Jiang Wen aims for commercial success (Let The Bullets Fly)

I will make a film that everybody understands,” he said at a Beijing press conference last week.

Danwei: Tian Zhuangzhuang: The film world as mafia and commerical models of film

Taiwan’s Lam[Lin] Chi-ling stars in new film

Taiwan’s top model-turned-actress Lam Chi-ling stars in “The Treasure Hunter”, due for release next month. Another one of her films will be released next summer. In that film, she plays opposite mainland actor, Sun Honglei.

Jay Chou’s Pandaman estimated to rack in S$50 million

Chen Kun

Chen Kun, Luo Haiqiong

New Huayi Brothers TV series set in Republican era. Cast includes Chen Kun and Cheng Pei Pei

(Cri.cn)

Taipei Times: Empire of the rising sun ‘

‘Pattenrai’ tells the story of the Japanese engineer whose projects turned an arid wilderness into one of Taiwan’s most important agricultural regions

Taipei Times: Pop Stop

Rainie Yang, Terri Kwan, A-Mei, Jay Chou making news and more…

Carol Chu, a prisoner of fame?

HONG Kong superstar Andy Lau has barred his Malaysian wife Carol Chu from going out, Sin Chew Daily has reported.

Secret spouses

October 4, 2009

New York, I Love You (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 11:37 am

New York, I Love You
Dirs: Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Kapur, Natalie Portman, Fatih Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer. US. 2009. 104 mins.

The second film in the “Cities Of Love” series which began with Paris je t’aime, New York, I Love You isn’t as consistently beguiling as its predecessor, but the novelty of the omnibus concept allows filmmakers of very different stripes to explore their distinctive visions of modern courtship. Predictably, not all of these 11 short films fully connect, but after a few early duds, New York’s stronger sequences present themselves, making this an affair to remember if not quite cherish.

Opening domestically October 16, New York, I Love You should charm the same upscale audiences who enjoyed Paris Je T’Aime ($17.3m worldwide). In terms of star wattage, New York boasts a higher-profile cast than Paris – including Shia LaBeouf, Bradley Cooper, Orlando Bloom and Hayden Christensen – but this small-scale release with an unconventional narrative structure probably won’t transcend the art-house market.

New York, I Love You traces the seemingly unrelated stories of people living in the Big Apple, many of whom are struggling with issues of love and relationships. Characters include a retired opera singer (Julie Christie), an elderly married couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman), an aspiring film composer (Bloom) and a smooth-talking author (Ethan Hawke).

The “Cities Of Love” series plans to continue creating anthology films inspired by and located in major world cities – the next film will be based in Shanghai – and while New York, I Love You demonstrates the durability of the concept, this romantic comedy-drama lacks some of the freshness and inspiration that made Paris je t’aime such a lark.

Perhaps not wanting a repeat of Paris, the producers have been more ambitious with New York, doing away with the director title cards between each segment and thereby creating more of a coherent through-line between the different shorts. Sometimes characters from one short bump into those from another, enhancing the impression that these disconnected individuals are subliminally linked because of the city they inhabit and their shared romantic preoccupations. Still, though, New York, I Love You’s doesn’t have the cumulative comedic and dramatic power of Parisje t’aime’s nimbler films.

One of New York, I Love You’s considerable pleasures comes from watching accomplished feature directors work in a more concise storytelling format. Of course, the downside can be that these eight-minute shorts end up being too slight or self-indulgent, but after Jiang Wen’s awkward pickpocket romance (starring a wooden Christensen) and Mira Nair’s drab cross-cultural drama (featuring Portman), New York, I Love You finds its footing with several shorts that examine love from unique angles.

Among the highlights, Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes brothers) sensually captures the excitement and worry that linger after a passionate one-night stand, while Portman impresses behind the camera directing a poignant short about divorced parents and the children trapped in the middle.

But Shekhar Kapur, working from a script by the late Anthony Minghella, delivers the most memorable segment with a ghostly meditation on aging and regret highlighted by Christie’s melancholy performance. Interestingly, it’s one of two shorts to focus on issues of mortality. In the other, Joshua Marston affectionately observes Wallach and Leachman’s long-bickering elderly couple, which ends the movie on a note of delicate grace, accentuating New York, I Love You’s overall theme of love’s maddening, mysterious impermanence.
http://www.screendaily.com/reviews/new-york-i-love-you/5006320.article

October 1, 2009

New York, I Love You (Variety review)

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 9:37 am

New York, I Love You
A Vivendi Entertainment release of an Emmanuel Benbihy and Marina Grasic production, in association with Sherezade Films, Benaroya Pictures, Grosvenor Park Media, Ever So Close, Visitor Pictures, Plum Pictures, 2008NY5 and Grand Army Entertainment. (International sales: QED Intl., Los Angeles.) Produced by Benbihy, Grasic. Executive producers, Michael Benaroya, Glenn Stewart, Marianne Maddalena, Taylor Kephart, Bradford W. Smith, Claus Clausen, Jan Korbelin, Steffen Aumueller, Pamela Hirsch, Celine Rattray, Susanne Bohnet. Co-producer, Parker Bennett.

Segment Directed by Jiang Wen
With: Hayden Christensen, Andy Garcia, Rachel Bilson.
Segment Directed by Mira Nair
With: Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan.
Segment Directed by Shunji Iwai
With: Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci.
Segment Directed by Yvan Attal
With: Maggie Q, Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright Penn.
Segment Directed by Brett Ratner
With: Anton Yelchin, James Caan, Olivia Thirlby, Blake Lively.
Segment Directed by Allen Hughes
With: Drea De Matteo, Bradley Cooper.
Segment Directed by Shekhar Kapur
With: Julie Christie, John Hurt, Shia LaBeouf.
Segment Directed by Natalie Portman
With: Taylor Geare, Carlos Acosta, Jacinda Barrett.
Segment Directed by Fatih Akin
With: Ugur Yucel, Shu Qi, Burt Young.
Segment Directed by Joshua Marston
With: Eli Wallach, Cloris Leachman.
Transitions Directed by Randy Balsmeyer
With: Emilie Ohana, Eva Amurri, Justin Bartha.

By JAY WEISSBERG
The “Cities of Love” franchise begun with “Paris, je t’aime” discards originality for uniformity in its disappointing second installment, “New York, I Love You.” Ten helmers were given a formula for shooting a Gotham-based love story: Lensing had to last no more than two days and editing just one week, connected by transitions shot by one more director. The results are, well, formulaic, hobbled by weak dialogue and absent any sense of texture. The city itself comes off characterless and blandly gentrified, making the Oct. 16 Vivendi Entertainment release unlikely to catch on with targeted romantic arthouse sophisticates.

Whether it can appeal to the multiplex set will depend entirely on marketers pulling in crowds who don’t see much difference between Las Vegas’ “New York New York” and the real thing. In particular, Gothamites will wonder what happened to their city, devoid of grit, and where blacks are mere extras and Hispanics apparently nonexistent. Producer Emmanuel Benbihy (who also produced “Paris, je t’aime” and is credited with the feature-film concept here) presumably favored quick turnarounds because they’re cheaper and foster an off-the-cuff urgency, but the talented directors assembled here seem to have felt uninspired or apathetic.

Segments last around eight minutes each, and none are titled, in keeping with Benbihy’s stated goal of avoiding the sense of a collection of shorts. Despite the push for giving it all a feature feel (Scarlett Johansson’s directorial debut, shot in black-and-white, was cut because it didn’t conform to the overall look), there’s no getting around the fact that this is indeed a collection of shorts, which in itself wouldn’t be a bad thing if the components were more incisive.

Some segments do hold up nicely: Mira Nair’s entry stars Natalie Portman as a Chassidic woman in the Diamond District whose strictly business relationship with a Jain gem merchant (Irrfan Khan) takes a surprising turn. While several of the films deal with cross-cultural meetings and clashes, Nair avoids the expected and invests her entry with real emotional tenderness.

Completely different, and working well because of it, is Brett Ratner’s segment about a high schooler (Anton Yelchin) suckered by a pharmacist (James Caan) into taking his wheelchair-bound daughter (Olivia Thirlby) to the prom. Again, expectation is upended, and there’s a piquant sense of humor to the piece, though the voiceover is unnecessary.

Unanticipated relationships similarly inform the episodes directed by Jiang Wen and Yvan Attal, but they lack the tight punchiness needed for such quick work. In Jiang’s piece, thief Hayden Christensen pickpockets Andy Garcia, only to fall for Garcia’s mistress (Rachel Bilson). Attal’s entry consists of two encounters, one involving fast-talker Ethan Hawke trying to pick up a coolly amused Maggie Q (one of the few thesps to make an impression), the other featuring an intense come-on between Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn.

Orlando Bloom is a musician on a tight deadline in Shunji Iwai’s segment, an OK entry made pleasant by the enticingly sweet voice of Christina Ricci as the largely unseen woman encouraging him on the phone. Darkest of the shorts is Allen Hughes’ entry, starring Drea De Matteo as a woman trying to understand why she had a one-night stand with a younger guy (Bradley Cooper), and why she wants to see him again. De Matteo rises above the material, though the flashback sex scene feels gratuitous rather than urgent.

Portman directs a wispy short about a little girl (Taylor Geare) whose male nanny (Carlos Acosta) is uncomfortable being seen as merely a child-care provider. More substantial is Fatih Akin’s piece, starring Turkish thesp Ugur Yucel as an artist obsessed with a woman (Shu Qi, so it’s understandable) in Chinatown. Though the segment works, it feels cut out from something bigger, and as with all the other shorts, even Akin’s corner of Gotham has no extratextual role.

Oddest of all is the short helmed by Shekhar Kapur, who took over for the late Anthony Minghella (who scripted the episode, and to whom the entire pic is dedicated). Julie Christie plays an opera singer who checks into an elegant hotel (shot as if it’s somewhere in heaven) to kill herself. She’s intrigued by a handicapped bellboy (Shia LaBeouf, his accent slipping into unknown regions) who magically becomes associated with John Hurt. Meant to convey feelings of wistfulness and yearning, the piece merely feels ill thought-out, despite Christie’s best efforts.

The sole short not set in Manhattan belongs to Joshua Marston, who sets Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman on Coney Island; their standard old-couple shtick is redeemed by the sheer pleasure of watching these two pros radiate more personality than the dialogue provides.

It’s too much to expect the kind of New Yorkese wit spouted by Woody Allen characters in their prime, and Benbihy’s decision to hire non-Gotham helmers could have been a bold move, but the compendium’s greatest flaw is its overall homogeneous feel. Emilie Ohana, cast as a video artist casually shooting the life around her, is meant to be the connecting feature in the transitional scenes (helmed by Randy Balsmeyer), but she’s simply an empty, smiling shell, sweetly observing but never entering into the life of the film.

Perhaps because of the time constraints, tech creds are solid but featureless; lighting is especially uninspired. Music is meant to reflect the Big Apple’s multicultural mix, but none of it feels like New York.

Feature film concept, Emmanuel Benbihy, based on a premise by Tristan Carne. Main editor, Affonso Goncalves; music, Jack Livesey, Peter Nashell; music supervisor, Ed Gerrard; songs, the Budos Band; production designer, Teresa Mastropierro; costume designer, Victoria Farrell; sound, Ken Ishii, Tom Varga; re-recording mixers, Lewis Goldstein, Matthew Gough; associate producers, Pierre Asseo, Laurent Constanty, Warren T. Goz, Stewart McMichael; assistant directors, Tom C. Fatone, Adam J. Escott; casting, Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee. Reviewed at Rio de Janeiro Film Festival (Panorama), Sept. 29, 2009. (Also in Cannes Film Festival — market.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 103 MIN. Segment Directed by Jiang Wen Written by Hu Hong, Meng Yao; adaptation, Israel Horovitz.

Segment Directed by Jiang Wen
Written by Hu Hong, Meng Yao; adaptation, Israel Horovitz. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Mark Lee Ping Bing; editor, Affonso Goncalves; music, Tonino Baliardo.
Segment Directed by Mira Nair
Written by Suketu Mehta. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Declan Quinn; editor, Allyson C. Johnson; music, Mychael Danna.
Segment Directed by Shunji Iwai
Written, edited by Shunji Iwai; adaptation, Israel Horovitz. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Michael McDonough; music, Shoji Mitsui.
Segment Directed by Yvan Attal
Written by Olivier Lecot, Yvan Attal. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Benoit Debie; editor, Jennifer Auge.
Segment Directed by Brett Ratner
Written by Jeff Nathanson. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Pawel Edelman; editor, Mark Helfrich; music, Mark Mothersbaugh.
Segment Directed by Allen Hughes
Written by Xan Cassavetes, Stephen Winter. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Michael McDonough; editor, Cindy Mollo; music, Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, Claudia Sarne.
Segment Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Written by Anthony Minghella. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Benoit Debie; editor, Jacob Craycroft; music, Paul Cantelon.
Segment Directed by Natalie Portman
Written by Natalie Portman. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Jean-Louis Bompoint; editor, Tricia Cooke; music, Nicholas Britell.
Segment Directed by Fatih Akin
Written by Fatih Akin. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Mauricio Rubinstein; editor, Melody London; music, Ilhan Ersahin.
Segment Directed by Joshua Marston
Written by Joshua Marston. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Andrij Parekh; editor, Affonso Goncalves; music, Marcelo Zarvos.
Transitions Directed by Randy Balsmeyer
Written by Hall Powell, Israel Horovitz, James Strouse. Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Michael McDonough; editor, Affonso Goncalves.

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117941271.html?categoryid=31&cs=1

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