Shot a few years ago, this was barely released in the US last year, despite stars Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke, director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown) and source material by Elmore Leonard. Rourke is a hitman who takes an obnoxious apprentice (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but the pair are spotted as they go about their business by Lane and her husband (Thomas Jane). Thus the hunt begins to erase the inadvertent witnesses. Like Rourke, Lane is enjoying a late career surge, but this film won’t help much — unless the DVD takes off.
Whatever Lola Wants
Rule of thumb: If a movie is about dancing, it will be screened in Taiwan. Whatever Lola Wants is a more interesting example of the dance flick because it transports a lovesick American woman to Egypt to “find herself”; to be precise, she finds herself belly dancing and competing with the locals. Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch is enthusiastic about the possibilities of the story and has made a film that is friendly to all comers. North African tourism ministers should jump on this one.
Fit Lover (愛情左右)
Not a sex film despite the title, this Chinese romantic comedy about a reality TV show host sifting through a dozen young men with different zodiac signs has a regional cast: lead actress Karena Lam (林嘉欣, Claustrophobia) has Taiwanese connections, and her possible suitors are a mix of Chinese, Taiwanese and a Japanese. It’s all very naive and jolly; stronger material with this theme can be found in the older Taiwanese feature The Personals (徵婚啟事) starring Rene Liu (劉若英). The full Chinese title — not used for the Taiwan release — says that this is a sequel to 2007’s Call for Love (愛情呼叫轉移), but viewers won’t need to have seen it.
The movie version of the popular, sophisticated Japanese TV series pits underutilized and underpromoted ace detective Yutaka Mizutani and his youthful partner against a deadly foe who targets the Tokyo marathon after leaving a string of bodies around the capital. Like a lot of serial killers, this one leaves a code behind that challenges the cops to identify him. Fun for fans of detective stories, and helped immeasurably by the rapport between the lead sleuths.
In Asia, if you see a female specter with black hair hanging over her face and wearing a white sheet, then you would run like hell — if you don’t suffer cardiac arrest first. In the case of the 2007 Thai horror flick Ghost Mother, however, the ghost is a matronly young woman who channels her undead energies into bloody vengeance against the drug-dealing tormentors targeting her family. One central conceit borrows from The Sixth Sense. Sounds like a good ghost to have on your side.
The Best Romance
A young reporter accidentally stabs a young policeman at a South Korean night market with a wooden skewer; naturally the cop has a terrible fear of sharp implements and faints, while she milks the incident for all a journalist’s worth. What else but romance could follow (eventually)? The subplot includes drug-dealing baddies, but the main draw is the two stars, who came from almost nowhere and made a good impression with Korean audiences. This 2007 feature is also known as The Perfect Couple. Starts tomorrow at Ximending’s Baixue grindhouse.