Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 16 News List

OTHER RELEASES

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Beverly Hills Chihuahua

This is the latest in a lengthening line of live-action “talking animal” movies that started with Babe. The plot starts with the title: a prissy, pampered but charming Chihuahua (Drew Barrymore) is taken south of the border by her owner’s niece, where she gets lost and runs into all sorts of trouble, not unlike the misadventure depicted in Babe: Pig in the City. There are stars galore in this canine caper, but the biggest question is why celebrated Hispanic actor/director/activist Edward James Olmos would contribute his voice to Disney fluff that paints Mexico as a place gone to the dogs.

Wushu 武術

The title and promotional literature scream “Hong Kong action flick” but this one is a little out of the ordinary and rates a wider audience. Described as a coming of age drama in martial clothing, Wushu charts friendships among students who eventually use their fighting skills and sense of righteousness to tackle a sinister organization targeting children. Stars the incomparable Sammo Hung (洪金寶) as the father of brothers who get in the thick of the action, as well as several young, real-life martial arts champions. Directed by one-time Australian stuntman and wushu practitioner Antony Szeto and executive produced by Jackie Chan (成龍).

Tokyo!

A French production, Tokyo! offers three off-kilter portraits of the city by directors Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind), Leos Carax (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf) and Bong Joon-ho (The Host). Gondry’s segment has a Japanese couple arriving in the city and finding the going quite tough — before a surreal change takes place. The Carax short is anarchic and confrontational: a grisly creature emerges from nowhere to insult and cajole Tokyosiders. Bong finishes the trilogy with a love story whose hero is agoraphobic but who still tries to get the girl (his Cupid turns out to be an earthquake). Don’t be put off by the bland, congenial poster and ads in the newspapers; this is a quality urban ode with attitude and real teeth.

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

A top earner at home and billed as South Korea’s most expensive production, this hybrid of Sergio Leone and Korean quirkiness reimagines the spaghetti western in Chinese desert locales and serves up grand entertainment. The three titular characters get caught up in a race for ancient loot in prewar Manchuria as the Japanese tighten their grip on the area, a contest that triggers elaborate fights and stunts. Critically acclaimed, this is a film that deserves to be seen in a big theater. Directed by Kim Jee-woon, who made the formidable psychological thriller A Tale of Two Sisters.

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