Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 16 News List



BY Martin Williams  /  STAFF REPORTER



Good notices for this movie about a bunch of kids who enter a high school rock band competition were not enough to make money in the US. Some blamed poor marketing, but whatever the case, here is a show with attractive young folks who make the most of their differences and pull off something special. Shares a star with High School Musical, but don’t let that make you reach for the cable guide. Aimed at youngsters, but informed by a love of rock music new and old, Bandslam is sure to grow on audiences.

The Milk of Sorrow

A Spanish-Peruvian co-production, this is a strange slice of contemporary neurosis and historical burden in present-day Lima. A dying woman sings of her molestation by terrorists, and after she departs her traumatized daughter is found to have lodged a potato in her private parts to protect her chastity. Later, the daughter works her way back into the world — courtesy of new friendships and a beautiful singing voice. The title refers to the breast milk of a persecuted mother that by legend harms a daughter’s psychological well-being; the original Spanish title, La Teta Asustada (“the frightened breast”), is rather more direct. The film won several festival awards, including the Golden Bear.

First Snow

If you crave a mixture of squeaky-clean inter-ethnic teen romance and family drama, there’s no beating First Snow (also known as, ahem, Virgin Snow). Korean immigrant Lee Jun-ki bumps into incredibly sweet Aoi Miyazaki a couple of times and they fall in love. The real drama of the flick comes from the latter’s wretched home life, which leads to the question: Why do aberrant movie families always produce daughters who are as pure as the driven snow? Set in Kyoto, which doesn’t hurt.

Overheard (竊聽風雲)

Infernal Affairs (無間道) co-writer-director Alan Mak (麥兆輝) and co-writer Felix Chong (莊文強) return with another tale of crime and compromise. Stalwart leading man Sean Lau (劉青雲) joins Louis Koo (古天樂) and Daniel Wu (吳彥祖) as intel agents who cross to the dark side, but their plan to make a quick profit leads to a nightmare of cover-ups and murder. This flick is notable for securing a release in China without having its ethical gray zone excised. More importantly, the public and critical response in Hong Kong was very positive. Koo also stars in the other, much more lowbrow Hong Kong release of the week, namely ...

On His Majesty’s Secret Service (大內密探靈靈狗)

The Chinese title suggests a follow-up to the 1996 Hong Kong costume court comedy Forbidden City Cop (大內密探零零發, retitled 鹿鼎大帝 for its Taiwan release) featuring superstar Steven Chow (周星馳) at the beginning of his directorial career and the delightful Carina Lau (劉嘉玲). Sadly, critics said this Wong Jing (王晶) production lacks star power and momentum and could do with more technical smarts. Louis Koo is an imperial guard who gets caught up in a competition to marry off the emperor’s daughter; farce follows. For the faithful there are movie references, anachronistic and gay panic gags, silly stunts and clunky props. The cast includes Taiwan’s Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛, better known as 大S) in the Carina Lau role.

The Code

A Japanese nightclub singer in Shanghai has a tattoo that contains the code to a stash of treasure left behind by the Japanese during the war, and the heroic Detective Office 5 and its debonair staff must recover the treasure, led by enterprising Detective 507 (Kikunosuke Onoe, Kaidan). Handsome to watch, but Variety moaned about unnecessary complexity and sobriety, while IMDb lists no less than seven directors.

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