Compiled by Martin Williams
|Bangkok Love Story
This might have been called “Bangkok Crime Story” had the hitman not fallen in love with his target. Earnest gay-themed movie almost plays like an underworld Brokeback Mountain as the two young men face the consequences of their unexpected pairing. The film might find a market here if Taiwanese audiences can tolerate the privileging of longing over sexual fireworks (as evidenced by its lower censorship classification). But when are we going to be rid of train-as-phallus metaphors?
|Sky of Love
Based on a cellphone serial that was later converted into a book, this Japanese romance has a delightful schoolgirl fall in love with a hunk student with a shock of bleached hair, only for the pair to face serious challenges: the “first time,” gang rape, a predatory former girlfriend, parental folly, pregnancy and so on ... and there’s even a secret in store. Sounds like an ordeal, but Variety praised this film for its closely observed portrayal of teen intimacy — and it’s not as overbearing as it sounds. Expect lots of first dates in theaters here (and still more train-as-phallus metaphors). Japanese title: Koizora
|In Love With the Dead (塚愛)
Yet another movie with “love” in the title, which also suggests the sinister direction this Hong Kong genre-bender will take. A young man (Shawn Yue, 余文樂) supporting his cancer-stricken girlfriend (Stephy Tang, 鄧麗欣) gets it on with another woman; bizarre events follow as the unfaithful fellow’s world begins to unhinge. This is the latest entry from Hong Kong’s Pang brothers, Danny (彭發) and Oxide (彭順). The former twin, who edited the Infernal Affairs trilogy, directed this unusual effort.
|Aliens of the Deep
Director James Cameron (Aliens, The Abyss) combines his fictional interests in this 3D documentary from 2005 made in IMAX format in conjunction with NASA. Combining spectacular underwater footage with computer graphics, audiences are shown creatures along the massive Mid-Ocean Ridge that will fascinate and amuse. Screening from tomorrow at the Miramar in Dazhi (大直), Taipei City. Note: The film is 47 minutes in length; the Taiwan release has Mandarin dialogue and no subtitles.
Why would this downbeat South Korean tale of infidelity be getting a release after nine years? There are some impactful sex scenes, which these days are a lot less likely to be cut for Taiwanese audiences. But the real reason is Jeon Do-yeon, who won Best Actress at Cannes last year for Secret Sunshine and is starting to turn heads all over the world. In this well-received, emotionally complex drama, Jeon’s husband realizes that something is afoot — with awful consequences. Showing at the Baixue theater in Ximending.
|Hui Buh: The Castle Ghost
Here’s some family-oriented fare from Germany. The ghost Hui Buh (pronounced “boo”) is an animated character set among live action actors. Originally a series of radio plays and books dating back to 1969, this is the first film version of the franchise and is based on the first radio play, in which a king wishes to propose to his beloved in a castle that has been spooked by the title specter for 500 years. Screening at the Caesar theater in Ximending in projected DVD format.
It has been 26 years since Nicholas Gould hosted his last Issues and Opinions radio show for ICRT a recording studio on Roosevelt Road. He remembers the familiar ‘whoosh’ as the door to the soundproof room closes and recognizes the carpet, but the recording equipment is gone, with half of the space being used for storage. Gould is filled with nostalgia as he greets his guests, two financial writers who are here to discuss Taiwan’s post-COVID-19 economy for his new podcast, Taiwan Matters. Gould had been thinking of revisiting his old career for a while, but being allowed access to
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at
Wild Sparrow (野雀之詩) is simple and extremely slow paced, told through the eyes of Han (Kao Yu-hsia, 高於夏), an introspective, shy grade schooler who lives with his great-grandmother in the verdant countryside. Han has a fascination with sparrows, which are either flying high in the sky or trapped in cages and nets, providing a constant metaphor throughout the film. In the most ironic scene, a man catches the birds just to charge people to set them free again, taking advantage of Buddhists who engage in the ritual of “releasing” animals from captivity. Han takes a badly injured sparrow home and