Sat, Nov 29, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's News Watch: Can Taiwan create a Dark Knight?

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

The question that intrigues me is what the GIO will do when Beijing finally liberalizes its film market and inaugurates a half-credible Chinese-language awards structure.

Not very much, one suspects. Specifically, the Golden Horse management should get used to being pissed on from a great height as Big China movie moguls turn their attention to the motherland. Which is why I suggest the Horses ditch their Civil War-era appellation and retool themselves as the Golden Showers (“A Night of Golden Statuettes ... Showered On Celebrities Who Can’t Get a China Visa!”).

In the meantime, the GIO promotes movies that it likes.

It came as no surprise that the GIO should jump rather indelicately at the opportunity of promoting 1895, a potboiler featuring Hakka (a solid KMT voter base) and token Aboriginal (a solid token KMT voter base) characters doing battle with those pesky Japanese (by the way — spoiler alert — the Japs conquer Taiwan in the end, so it must be a tragedy).

But given that this is a Taiwanese production, I was surprised to find that the heroes were not a collective of chronically depressed lesbians who, when not resisting the Japanese menace, struggle to overcome existential angst by having sex, loathing it, then doing nothing other than staring glumly at expanses of water, pouting and occasionally shrieking at the sky.

Then there’s Cape No. 7, which has been a monster hit, and almost all through word of mouth. In this movie, a Japanese woman is a sympathetic character who represents something more humane in Japan’s dealings in Taiwan all those decades ago.

Those of you mischievous types wondering if there’s a subtext to all this blossoming romance between Japanese and Taiwanese will be delighted to hear there’s a new movie on the way that takes it one step further. It’s called Sumimasen, Love and opens in Taiwan on Jan. 9. Bound to outrage Beijing-leaning Children of the Dragon all over again, this movie stars the scrumptious Chie Tanaka from Cape No. 7. Yep, she’s back and falling in love with yet another mournful young Taiwanese fella, which should bring hot-blooded young men to the multiplexes — preferably without their girlfriends. You can hear the GIO gritting its teeth.

Is there something in Taiwan’s colonial history that’s reaching into the future and wanting to be touched? Or do you reckon it’s all the Japanese porn?

Anyway, I notice that they’re not making mass market films about the road to romance for hopelessly single, aging Taiwanese men searching the backblocks of Hunan and Hebei for an exportable, fertile female who won’t nag them too much in front of the parents. Not much box office there … I can’t imagine why.

I like a movie that sets things on fire, takes risks and makes people see life anew. Something like the Borat movie, which brought out the worst in production crew and onscreen victims.

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