The Day the Earth Stood Still
It’s a big budget film with big name actors but no press previews, worryingly enough. Keanu Reeves plays an alien who falls to Earth with a cryptic message of friendship and a warning for the leaders of the world, but only a scientist (Jennifer Connelly) and her stepchild seem to take him seriously, which spells planetary destruction even faster than global warming. A remake of the classic from 1951 and co-starring Kathy Bates, John Cleese and Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) as Connelly’s child, this is also screening in IMAX format.
Dan in Real Life
Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche lead a fun and witty cast in this comedy from last year that privileges characterization over raunch. Newspaper columnist Carell, a widower, takes his three daughters to a family reunion and begins to fall for a woman (Binoche) he meets in a bookstore. Problem is, she’s his brother’s girlfriend. A number of critics of late have decried the dreadful state of the American film comedy, but this is one that bucks the trend. Little wonder that Variety likened it to a European film.
All About Women (女人不壞)
The output of master Hong Kong director Tsui Hark (徐克) has sadly declined with the Hong Kong film industry. Critics are also lamenting the films he has made back home since his unsuccessful excursion to Hollywood, and this one may not break the mold: Its resemblance to Sex and the City and being set in Beijing were never good omens. Three women of various means are contrasted and compared: the corporate employee, the scientist and the alternative lifestyler. The women are played by Zhou Xun (周迅) from Perhaps Love, relative newbie Kitty Zhang (張雨綺) from Shaolin Girl and Taiwan’s Kwai Lun-mei (桂綸美) from Parking. If only the reviews were as glowing as the posters. Also known as Not All Women are Bad, a clumsy rendering of the Chinese title.
The Forbidden Legend: Sex & Chopsticks (金瓶梅)
It’s been an eternity since the last Hong Kong period sex flick. This time, the idiotic title is trying to trade on the successful Sex & Zen series, and this has the production values, color and acrobatic scenes of copulation to match. But the story is just another retread of The Golden Lotus — as the Chinese title indicates. Jaded male audiences and those too young to remember the last erotic sanjipian (三級片, restricted film in Hong Kong) might be sold on the gimmick of casting Japanese porn actresses Hikaru Wakana (with head shaved), Kaera Uehara, Serina Hayakawa and Yui Morikawa against their male Cantonese counterparts. For Wakana and Co, making this film must have been like taking a holiday — with and without costume.
Don’t Laugh at My Romance
A willing Japanese college student (Kenichi Matsuyama, who played “L” in the Death Note series) is seduced by a much older lithography teacher (Hiromi Nagasaku). Like Dan in Real Life, the complications that ensue are treated affectionately rather than exploited for crude punchlines and moralizing. Directed by Nami Iguchi, a woman who has a strong feel for credible characters — she’s a name to watch. The jaded male audiences hoping to see Japanese pornstars imitate Chinese courtesans in Sex & Chopsticks should see this much more relevant and quietly subversive movie if they can tolerate a lower lust quotient. The fantasy potential is far richer, for starters. Also known as Sex is No Laughing Matter.