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

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

December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: Treasure Hunt review

An okay kid’s adventure comedy, shot in China, from the Wong Jing factory.

FBA: The Pretending Lovers review

Chinese take on My Sassy Girl is wafer-thin but gets by on its two leads’ charm.

FBA: 72 Martyrs review

Initially promising drama of a 1911 China uprising let down by a weaker second half.

FBA: I Phone You review

Given the amount of time the audience is to spend with Jiang [Yiyan]’s stranded Ling, the script wisely spends a good 20 minutes building her character at home with her job (a bubbly flower-girl) and easygoing girl friends. By the time she arrives in Berlin, the viewer already knows she’s a typical young Chongqing woman — practical, determined, life-loving, chance-taking. So, as she tries to survive 48 hours in a foreign city with just a mobile phone but no passport, money or a word of German, there’s at least a semi-believable element to the story.

CF: Gunfight of “Flowers of War” Unveiled

The teaser features the beginning of the movie when about 20 Chinese soldiers fight a large number of Japanese invaders to save a group of schoolgirls.

Dynamic version of international poster

New “Allure of Tears” poster featuring the cast of the second story released

The cast includes Dennis Chan, writer Lawrence Cheng and Jung Hsiang in addition to Gigi Leung and Richie Jen

(Sina)

In a Beijing press conference yesterday, Louis Fan Siu-Wong was introduced as one of the villains of Tsui Hark’s “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate in 3D”.

Tsui Hark, Louis Fan (Sina),(Sina-gallery)

Chen Kaige’s micro film “Searching” wrapped up shooting in Ningbo.

Yao Chen, Deng Chao (Sina-gallery)

Fans designed their own posters for Johnnie To’s “Romancing in Thin Air” based on recently released concept poster and publicity stills. The impressive fan posters were themed to represent the four seasons.

Original concept poster

Fan made posters

Spring

Summer

Autumn

Official publicity still (Sina-gallery)(CNYahoo)

(Dec.5) Beijing press conference for Derek Yee’s “The Great Magician” opening January 12.

Zhou Xun, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

Wu Gang, Yan Ni, Zhou Xun, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

Zhou Xun, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Sina-gallery)

Posters for “No Liar, No Cry” a comedy about gold fever set in the Gobi Desert.

Cherrie Ying

Wu Gang

Yue Xiuqing

Zhang Xinyu (Sina) (Review)

MSN: Vicki Zhao acquires winery in France

MSN: Miriam Yeung put on one-month bed rest

MSN: Benny Chan’s wife and daughter discharge from hospital

Lately, it was said that Rose’s master Master Sin is currently the target of triads.[!]

A1: Triads get involved in Rose Chan’s sexual harassment scandal(WorldJournal)

Sin Chew Daily reported that the sexual harassment scandal involving Hong Kong actress Rose Chan and two senior actors had escalated…Police, who got wind of the assassination attempt, arrested four people and seized three toy guns.

A1: Bruce Lee’s kung fu style draws new generation

Many credit wing chun’s renewed popularity to a series of films about Yip Man, one of the art’s greatest “sifus”, or teachers, and most famously the man who turned Lee from street fighter to martial arts legend.

October 19, 2011

October 19, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:24 pm

FBA: The Lady review

Bitty biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi is too much hagiography, too little big-screen drama.

Good-looking production values and noble intentions aren’t enough to makeThe Lady speak as either a human or political drama.

Variety: Inseparable review

Taiwanese-born, Stateside-reared, Beijing-based helmer Dayyan Eng makes a clear if uneven attempt to craft a pic that’s both China- and America-friendly with “Inseparable,” a comic examination of a man’s turning-30 crisis.

CF: Chen Kaige Takes on Online ‘Human Flesh Searches’

Chen said at the press conference that the reason for him to choose this subject was because there are few movie projects in China that focus on the problems that are accompanying the development of modern Chinese society.

CF: ”The Glory Days” Starts Filming

Set in the last years of Qing dynasty, the movie tells the tale of a court that is facing domestic strife and foreign aggression. In order to suppress the rebellion, a ton of gold is raised by the local government to purchase military supplies. Unexpectedly, the gold is stolen, so the court dispatches military forces to investigate. Thus two factions are formed, which are set to inevitably clash.

CF: ‘Loser’ Team of “Speechless Fashion”

Cast members of the inspirational comedy, “Speechless Fashion,” shoot a batch of new photos named “Loser” in the run up to its release on October 21

Joey Yung’s sacrifice

Hong Kong’s singer-actress Joey Yung was reportedly willing to turn down an eight figure job offer, so that she could take on a new challenge in Heiward Mak’s latest film, “Diva”.

Scary Market press event in Beijing yesterday

Cheung Tat-Ming

Theme song singer Tan Weiwei, Cheung Tat-Ming, Liao Jian (Sina)

Photos from the Shanghai premiere of “Love on Credit” today.

Lin Chi-Ling, Chen Kun

Li Bingbing posts a pic from her first day on the set of “Resident Evil 5″ (near Toronto?). She says that it very exciting with lots of gunfire and fight scenes.

Simon Yam recently bought a small island in Indonesia. He said he plans to build a two-story house that opens underground to the sea where the coral can be seen.

Simon Yam and Qi Qi last night at store opening event

Simon recently shot an underwater advert for Omega as celebrity ambassador to protect marine ecosystem.

(Sina)2

MSN: Did Jay Chou and Hannah Quinlivan get married in Europe?

(Sina)

MSN: Faye Wong dismisses pregnancy rumour on microblog

MSN: Cecilia Cheung’s mother criticises Deborah Li

Cecilia’s mother (Sina)

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