End of the Spear
The Taipei Times ran a review for this on Sept. 14 just as the local distributor postponed its release. It finally opens today. Most critics were unimpressed by the underlying message in this drama, in which missionaries set about pacifying a ferocious tribe in Ecuador responsible for killing their colleagues. The Village Voice called it "coy crypto-Christian claptrap masquerading as feel-good ethnography" and a "Bush-era evangelical screed." Just the ticket during a campaign.
The Last Mistress
Veteran director Catherine Breillat bounces back from a stroke she had three years ago with this sumptuous tale of 19th-century aristocrats in France and the pleasures of a mistress' flesh that distract a man after he marries. Breillat recently directed feminist missiles such as Anatomy of Hell, Romance (1999) and Fat Girl that pushed audiences to the limit, but this one is her take on a more conventional art house scenario. Former Variety critic David Stratton calls it her best film in a 30-year career.
This will go down in Hong Kong film history as the movie that Beijing promoted during 10-year celebrations of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule. Gigi Leung (梁詠琪) stars as a professional woman beset by post-handover historical events. She makes an impression, but the film has been attacked by its detractors as materialistic and suffering from amnesia - but you guessed that already. Director Barbara Wong's (黃真真) pseudo-feminist postcard to product placement is screening exclusively at the Baixue grindhouse in Ximending, which, ironically yet appropriately, is usually a porn theater.