The Time Traveler’s Wife
Judiciously released on Chinese Valentine’s Day, this film stars Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, a loving couple cursed (or blessed?) by the latter’s uncontrollable trips through time and space. As with the temporal hoppers in The Terminator, Bana slips in and out of the space-time continuum absolutely starkers, which proves to be more humorous here than dangerous. Will true love prevail in the end (or the beginning)? Critics saw through the holes immediately, but uncritical, lovelorn audiences might have a heartwarming time, especially because the leads are winning.
Let’s Fall in Love (尋情歷險記)
Also making use of Chinese Valentine’s Day is this up-close-and-personal Taiwanese documentary enjoying a proper release with a new promotional campaign. Twenty-odd married couples come under the spotlight with their relationship problems and weaknesses, together with the intriguing matchmaker-counselor whom all of them share. From award-winning director Wuna Wu (吳汰紝), who had to solicit hundreds of small investors to get this film into theaters.
The Forbidden Legend: Sex & Chopsticks 2 (金瓶梅2：愛的奴隸)
Sweaty and kinky sex for its own sake is a rare bird on the Taiwanese big screen these days. We haven’t had a soft porn extravaganza since, well, the original Sex & Chopsticks late last year. Japanese hardcore actresses Hikaru Wakana (with head still shaved), Kaera Uehara, Serina Hayakawa and Yui Morikawa secure another Hong Kong work visa to tell, for the umpteenth time, the misadventures of barely robed courtesans. But tableware fetishists will likely feel misled all over again; the Chinese title (“The Golden Lotus 2: Slaves of Love”) is more faithful to what’s on show.
At last, a live-action movie based on a comic book that isn’t Japanese. Largo Winch stands to inherit a fortune from a tycoon who rescued him from an orphanage. But money like that doesn’t come easily if Daddy’s ruthless business partners have designs of their own, including offing the man and preparing the same for his son. A mixture of office intrigue and globetrotting action, this French effort is something different for people who think they’ve seen everything.
And so, back to a movie based on a Japanese manga. A bunch of good-for-nothing punks regain self-respect and team spirit after their charismatic high school teacher shapes them into a formidable baseball team. This is a theatrical follow-up to a TV series based on the popular manga series Rookies. But unless you’re a baseball tragic or swoon at the sight of “bad boys” with trendy shocks of hair and perfect skin, this attempt at inspiration won’t mean a pitcher’s mound of beans. The Bad News Bears it ain’t.
A German film from 2006, Four Minutes is also an inspirational movie, but with sobriety, depth and darkness. A dangerous new prisoner (played by the much-admired Hannah Herzsprung) at a women’s correctional facility turns out to be a very talented piano player, catching the eye of the prisoners’ aging music teacher and sparking heat in different directions. The film climaxes with the minutes of the title in a killer performance. Filled with surprising brutality, poignance and energy, this is a hands-down must-see for musicians, especially piano students who feel chained to their instruments.
Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens
Made for PBS in the US as part of the series American Masters, this documentary on the iconic photographer is about three years old but could still be of interest. Packed full of celebrities, politicians and other recognizable faces, the story concentrates on Leibovitz’s craft and success rather than the controversies in her action-packed life. It’s not clear why the film would be released here now; Leibovitz is, after all, only in the news because of financial woes. Directed by the subject’s sister, who clearly likes her. Starts tomorrow.
The poster for this Hong Kong documentary says it all: a boy sitting alone in an auditorium. The boy is “KJ,” a brilliant pianist with a bright future in store, though the film covers much wider, and occasionally darker, ground, which makes it an ideal companion to Four Minutes. With respected director Ann Hui (�?�) as consultant, this study of individual genius in a society that tends to stifle it has the stamp of quality. Six years in the making, KJ is screening exclusively at the Wonderful Cinemas complex in Taichung.
Made for TV, Planet Raptor is a galactic sequel to the unscreened-in-Taiwan Raptor Island and features a bunch of heavily armed humans doing battle with various dinosaur-like creatures. Truth be told, it all looks like a video game, but it is less than six degrees of separation from Sam Raimi and the Evil Dead series. Stars Steven Bauer and Ted Raimi. Screening at the Baixue theater in Ximending.
Viggo Mortensen is a literature professor whose fictional treatment of euthanasia brings him to the attention of Nazis who need a professional apologist for breeding policies. The good professor subsequently, and reluctantly, climbs the ladder of regard and opportunity among monsters. Unlike Eastern Promises, Mortensen suffered poor reviews for his performance of a weak man succumbing to the banality of evil, as did the film generally. Based on the play.
The Lunar New Year vacation had just ended when Alice Wu began to worry about COVID-19. Not long after, on Feb. 10, Wu — who didn’t give her Chinese name to speak freely for this story — received the first of several coronavirus-related sales messages through her smartphone. The pitch came from an acquaintance who represents Amway, an American multi-level marketing (MLM) company that’s been active in Taiwan since 1982. “I’ve only met her once, and I’ve never bought from her. If her sister wasn’t one of my daughter’s teachers, I’d probably block her,” says Wu, who lives in Taichung. MLM, sometimes
June 1 to June 7 In February 1988, Robert Wu (吳清友) set aside NT$17.5 million to purchase two Henry Moore sculptures from London’s Marlborough Gallery. He never bought the pieces. Feeling slighted that the gallery manager initially looked down on him as a Taiwanese, he decided that night to use the money to open his own art space back home. “Without selling any art, that money could support the gallery for four years. If I feature one artist per month, that provides a stage for at least 100 artists,” Wu said in the book Eslite Time (誠品時光) by Lin Ching-yi (林靜宜).
For more than a century, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) has been connecting the north and south of the nation. Between 1912 and 1926, the rail network was expanded to the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung. Even though the number of people living in Taiwan has grown massively — it has more than tripled since World War II — a combination of population outflow in certain places, and a greater range of transportation options, has led to the closure of several TRA stations. One of the most-visited retired stations is in, and named for, Kaohsiung’s Cishan District (旗山). Until the late
With listicles of local attractions including Costco and numerous children’s playgrounds, I was not expecting much. Opened on Jan. 31, the Taipei MRT’s Circular Line, or Yellow Line, made life in the nation’s capital even more convenient. But judging from Internet search results, it hasn’t opened up many new tourism opportunities, unsurprising as the route mostly crosses densely populated areas and industrial parks. Places like a sports stadium with rainbow colored bleachers perfect for Instagram selfies wouldn’t do it for me either, and it’s pointless to list attractions at the connecting stops that have existed for years. As a history nerd, there