The Men Who Stare at Goats
If it’s George Clooney, then it must be a liberal-leaning action movie or historical drama, right? In this case, it’s a bit of both. Based on a book that exposed purportedly real-life shenanigans by elements in the US Army over the years, this is a yarn that should delight fans of leads Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. Clooney is a special forces operative of mysterious purpose whose activities in Iraq turn out to be wackier than McGregor’s reporter could have dreamed ... and the fate of the titular goat is just the beginning.
20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter - Our Flag
The final installment in this manga-sourced Japanese trilogy of kiddie-induced apocalyptic madness arrives in Taipei to a ready-made audience. Part 3 concentrates on the final stages of the attempt by doomsday cult leader Friend to destroy the world. His long-time opponents — a rock star and his female relative — attempt to frustrate him both within his organization and from the outside. It’s worth noting that this intriguing and sometimes disturbing mixture of cults, children, terrorism, pop music and religion could never have been made in the US.
Crazy Racer (瘋狂的賽車)
Frenetic Chinese action comedy involves a disgraced cyclist whom fate further mistreats by ensnaring him in a mish-mash of drug-running, spouse murder and even more nefarious activities. There’s action to spare and some innovative elements, too. Perfect for getting crazy on a brainless night out on the town. This is a follow-on of sorts from director Ning Hao’s (寧浩) Crazy Stone (瘋狂的石頭) in 2006.
The Warrior and the Wolf (狼災記)
Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang (田壯壯), who made the fine drama The Blue Kite (藍風箏), is a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, this strange, messy film may not enhance that reputation. Maggie Q (Die Hard 4.0) is a luckless widow, Japan’s Joe Odagiri (Air Doll, which also opens today) is a warrior and Taiwan’s Tou Chung-hua (庹宗華, from Lust, Caution) is a fallen general in this cosmopolitan action fantasy set thousands of years ago. The film offers two pieces of advice among the battles, rape sequences and pretty vistas: (1) Don’t fornicate with wolf-women and (2) Don’t assume eclectic Asian co-productions will make money.
Sex, Party & Lies
What, no videotape? A hit in Spain, this teen drama seems to be mining territory (teens getting it on and getting out of control) that Larry Clark exhausted years ago, though the actors cast here seem a little older. If the version that screened at Cannes is the one released here, then the teen audience that this flick craves will be locked out. If you want to see Spanish filmmakers pushing the envelope, track down some of Pedro Almodovar’s earliest films instead. Original title: Mentiras y Gordas.
Conversations With God
We in Taiwan may get a regular supply of films about religious figures, but it’s not often an explicitly religious film gets a screening — let alone Christian. This one invites the viewer to join Neale Donald Walsh’s real-life transformation from street bum to super-wealthy self-help author thanks to some conversations with the Almighty when he was at rock bottom. Henry Czerny plays the itinerant-turned-publishing icon well enough, according to some reviews, but overall this effort left most critics conversing with themselves about their own career direction. Find God at the Changchun theater in Taipei.
Painters & Provence
Finally, the Majestic theater in Ximending is taking splendid advantage of the current Van Gogh exhibition at the National Museum of History by releasing this series of five made-for-TV documentaries by Charles de Lartigue about nine artists and their depictions of glorious Provence, France. Other featured artists include Goya, Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso. The festival runs until Jan. 29.
Summer isn’t the best time of year for high-altitude treks. At lower altitudes, however, there’s no shortage of short leg-stretchers that’ll get you immersed in nature without leaving you prostrate with heat exhaustion. Here are three in the south. THE SIRAYA HEARTLAND If this set of trails has an official name, I’ve not been able to discover it. But it seems that this patch of woodland, 14 km inland from central Tainan, is supervised by Sinhua Forest Area (新化林場), which itself belongs to National Chung Hsing University (國立中興大學). I associate the area with the Siraya people, an indigenous ethnic group still fighting
It can take ice cream maker Miky Wu (吳書瑀) months to create a new flavor. In addition to using only eco-friendly and organic ingredients, her brand 1982 de glacee also eschews artificial additives, replacing emulsifiers and stabilizers with Taiwanese rice and wood ear derivatives. Wu’s non-traditional methods and dedication to capturing the essence of the main ingredient can lead to hours and hours tinkering in her “research office” in Tainan, even referencing academic papers to get the science correct. Her efforts were recently recognized for the third year in a row by the prestigious A. A. Taste Awards run by the
June 29 to July 5 With women gathering rocks and men hurling them at thousands of rivaling neighbors, ritualistic stone battles were regular affairs for people living in Pingtung during the 1800s. Direct combat and use of weapons were prohibited to avoid serious injury, with the losers hosting the winners for dinner. These “guests” often acted rudely, and faced no repercussions for smashing windows or snatching their hosts’ possessions. These battles usually took place yearly, with a significant number happening every Dragon Boat Festival. The winners had rights to the losers’ banquet prepared for the festivities. Sometimes things would get out of
Certain historical statues have been disappearing in Thailand, but they are not effigies of colonialists or slave owners torn down by protesters. Instead, Thailand’s vanishing monuments celebrated leaders of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand, who were once officially honored as national heroes and symbols of democracy. Reuters has identified at least six sites memorializing the People’s Party that led the revolution which have been removed or renamed in the past year. In most cases it is not known who took the statues down, although a military official said one was removed for new landscaping. Two army camps named after 1932