Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 18 News List

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China's Zhang Ziyi is set to team up with Hugh Grant in a forthcoming romantic comedy.

PHOTO: AP

Instead of limousines and a red carpet, there were pickup trucks and a grassy football field for the local premiere of a documentary film about a tiny farming town that suddenly became the Western White House.

About 300 people turned out on Sunday night for Crawford, which started playing at dusk on a 15m-tall inflatable outdoor screen at the football field. The Texas town itself has no movie theater.

David Modigliani’s documentary tells how small-town life changed for many of the 700 residents after US President George W. Bush, while governor, bought a 648-hectare ranch here in 1999 in the early days of his presidential campaign.

The movie shows residents’ varied reactions to the influx of tourists, the media and war protesters as the town’s economy initially boomed with new souvenir shops and other businesses.

“All those people in the movie are my friends, and it was neat to see them up there on the screen,’’ Cindy Damon said after the film. She said she’s lived in Crawford for 53 of her 54 years.

The crowd laughed Sunday night during a scene showing several elderly men playing dominoes and playfully bickering over their views on Bush.

The film spans about eight years, although Modigliani filmed in Crawford from 2004 through last fall. He also used news footage and residents’ home videos — such as when Bush spoke at the school’s high school graduation in 2000 and when the band played at his first inauguration.

British heart-throb Hugh Grant and Memoirs of a Geisha star Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) are to star in a romantic comedy set in the world of moviemaking, entertainment industry press reported on Tuesday.

Grant, 47, will play an actor who is approached for a part in a film being directed by Zhang, who plays a Chinese film-maker, Variety reported. In the film, Lost for Words, Grant’s character falls for his translator before realizing he is in love with the director.

Lost for Words is to be directed by Danish film-maker Susanne Bier, whose 2006 film After the Wedding was nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar.

Bier’s last film was drama Things We Lost in the Fire starring Halle Berry and Benicio del Toro.

Also lined up for some rom-com action are Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon and funnyman Ben Stiller. Daily Variety reported that details of the Witherspoon-Stiller comedy, which will be directed by Cameron Crowe, were being kept under wraps.

The US$80 million film The Battle of Red Cliff (赤壁之戰), which is the most expensive Asian movie ever, has been forced to suspend filming after a stuntman was killed and six people were injured in an accident on set, Variety reported on Tuesday.

The movie by John Woo (吳宇森) is adapted from China’s classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and tells the story of an epic battle waged in the year 280, in which thousands of ships decided the course of Chinese history.

According to the report, the 23-year-old stuntman was killed when a fire broke out on Monday on the set in northern Beijing after a boat rammed into the set of an ancient warship.

The accident was the latest setback to strike the movie, which was previously hampered when heavy rains washed away part of an outdoor set in Hebei in northern China and lead actor Chow Yun-fat (周潤發) left the production.

It is written as a four-hour film and will be split into two parts for Asian territories, with the first to be released in July in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. The movie will be cut to a single film of two-and-half hours for audiences outside Asia with release dates expected in December next year.

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