The big release for this week is not to be taken lightly, for director Christopher Nolan has come up with a film that is not only stupendous to look at, but also puts audiences through their paces with a heist movie that essentially takes place in the subconscious. Memento, made in 2000, had Nolan playing around with amnesia. Inception takes as its premise a technology that allows a person to enter the subconscious world of others. Having made mega bucks with The Dark Knight (2008), Nolan seems to have been given a license to play complex mind games once again, though this time on a much bigger budget. The risk has paid off, for in addition to highly regarded performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, who has well and truly shed his pretty-boy image, and Ellen Page, who has come a long way since Juno, the word on the street is that you’ll want to walk right back into the theater after the credits roll to work out exactly what happened.
I Killed My Mother (J’ai Tue Ma Mere)
This angst-ridden gay coming-of-age drama by first-time director Xavier Dolan has picked up a slew of awards (including three at Cannes) for a remarkable debut feature. The script, also by Dolan, has a raw power that wowed critics, though Dolan’s visual style and his presence front of the camera in the leading role have received less uniform praise. The semi-autobiographical work focuses on the relationship between Hubert, a young man struggling with the realization of his sexuality, and an impatient and emotionally detached mother. The film wears its cinematic influences, which range from Jean-Luc Godard to Wong Kar-wai (王家衛), on its sleeve, but the moments of remarkable realism overcome the art-student posturing and make Dolan a young director worth watching.
Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite)
More gritty art house filmmaking can be found in Elite Squad, a Brazilian film about slum clearance by death squad that picked up the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2008. A film influenced by City of God, Elite Squad trawls the grimy depths of Rio de Janeiro’s slums and the dark world of the Special Police Operation Battalion (BOPE), a heavily armed, law-unto-itself unit that is charged with tidying up the city in the run-up to a visit by the pope. The relationship between two idealistic young recruits and a jaded and cynical captain form the center of the narrative, and brutal violence between the drug cartels and the police serve as the shocking backdrop. With a script co-written by BOPE officer Rodrigo Pimentel, the film contains some interesting thoughts about violence breeding violence buried within its shameless exploitation format.
Piecing Me Back Together (Mataaki)
Based on a best-selling novel by romance author Ren Kawahara, Piecing Me Back Together tells a story of young love interrupted by the terrible consequences of a traffic accident. Izumi and Junichi look forward to a happy life together. Izumi is killed and although Junichi survives, she discovers that she has lost all memory of the event. Lawyer Makiko comes along and decides that she will help rebuild that memory and launches an investigation into the accident. The film features established names in the leading roles, and for those in search of a good weepy melodrama, Piecing Me Back Together will probably fit the bill.
Warren Hsu (許華仁) sees chocolate making as creating art and performing magic. Zeng Zhi-yuan (曾志元) “talks” to his cacao beans and compares the fermenting process to devotedly caring for a child. Despite their different products and business models, the two helped put Taiwanese chocolate on the map in 2018 at the prestigious International Chocolate Awards’ (ICA) World Finals when Hsu’s Fu Wan Chocolate (福灣) claimed two golds, five silvers and two bronzes, while Zeng took home four golds. That year, Taiwanese chocolatiers burst through the gates with a total of 26 medals, an impressive feat given that many locals don’t
Chen Zhiwu (陳志武) says that the COVID-19 crisis puts into sharp focus that we are in a new cold war, with China and the US being the two protagonists. “It’s almost literally in front of us,” says Chen, Director of Asia Global Institute and Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Hong Kong. Political observers were hesitant, Chen says, even up to the beginning of this year, to confirm a new cold war was underway. “But ... the coronavirus has made clear the clash in values and way of life between what China would like to pursue, and what
For tourists visiting Hualien, Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) is the first order of business. But if you find yourself in the city with half a day to spare — your train back to Taipei will leave mid-afternoon, say — it’s hardly worth busing out to Taroko Gorge. Instead, borrow or rent a bicycle or a scooter, or hail a cab, and set out for one of these attractions. At only one of these places is there an admission charge. CISINGTAN SCENIC AREA A literal translation of Cisingtan (七星潭) would be “Seven Stars Pond,” but there’s no pond here, just the vast Pacific
To bring sustainability and prosperity to their farms, some agriculturalists in southern Taiwan have embraced innovative types of companion planting. In contrast to the monoculture that dominates much of the rich world’s farmland, companion planting is the cultivation of different crops in proximity, usually to optimize the space, for pest control or to enhance pollination. The symbiotic relationship between cacao trees and betel nut, which may be unique to Pingtung County, is striking when one visits the cacao plantations maintained by Choose Chius (邱氏可可) and Wugawan (牛角灣) in Neipu (內埔). The history of growing cacao in Taiwan goes back to Japanese colonial