Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - Page 18 News List


▲Compiled by Martin Williams


A Russian rethinking of 12 Angry Men, this was nominated for best foreign film at this year’s Academy Awards and is directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, whose Burnt by the Sun won the same award in 1995. In this version, a young Chechen is on trial for the murder of his adoptive father, a Russian. The film thus grafts the classic story of a volatile jury that sways in every direction onto the incendiary, savage reality of modern-day Russia. Variety magazine could not praise this film highly enough.

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The Haunted Samurai

This warrior just can’t get a break. An unusual blackish comedy from Japan sees a low-status samurai failing to make much of an impact despite reasonable talent, before losing his family and resorting to a drunken appeal to the gods after suffering the ultimate indignity: moving in with his brother’s family. Unfortunately for him, he prays at the wrong shrine and the three inauspicious gods that answer his prayers are about to make things even worse — or are they? Based on the novel by bestselling author Jiro Asada. Japanese title: Tsukigami.

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The Night Before Final Exam,Today

Next up is an obscure sequel to a reasonably well received Italian teen comedy that never saw the light of a projector in Taiwan. Part 2 ups the T&A and sex quotient, which is probably the only reason it’s getting a release here. The title betrays most of the plot. One of those “teen” sex comedies that follows the dubious, global tradition (possibly started by Porky’s in 1982) of casting actors who are around 10 years too old for their roles.

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One Way Ticket to Mombasa

This Finnish flick from 2002 opened last week with no advertising but deserves a quick mention. Two ill young men skip hospital to go on a last road trip before cancer claims them. A simple story, with a healthy message and peerless Finnish scenery. Similar to the recent American film The Bucket List in some respects, and by most reports it’s much better. But be quick: It finishes on Sunday at the Scholar theater complex in Taipei.

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Ocean Butterfly

A young Thai woman who has mermaid-like abilities and aquatic communication skills when she is in contact with sea creatures falls in love with a photographer, who has his own surprise in store. This broad comic-fantasy combines interesting and sometimes sinister special effects with moments of utter stupidity and goofiness. Originally pegged as a grindhouse release in the backblocks of Ximending, Ocean Butterfly will now enjoy screenings in more reputable theaters in Taipei and Taichung. Starts tomorrow.

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