The King’s Speech
The big winner at the Oscars, The King’s Speech picked up awards in the best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best actor categories. Outstanding production values, a fine script and great acting by all involved have made this period drama a crossover success story, turning the tale of a British monarch’s speech impediment into a runaway hit with audiences around the globe. Although it doesn’t break any new ground, everything about it is so finely crafted and the performances so well judged that it is hard to find fault. At least one critic stated that he enjoyed it despite strongly held republican sympathies. Colin Firth manages to be both aloof yet sympathetic as King George VI, and he is ably supported by Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Derek Jacobi.
I Am Number Four
A second-rate reworking of some of the ideas from Twilight Saga, but with aliens replacing vampires and werewolves, spruced up with elements taken from the likes of The Lord of the Rings. I Am Number Four is so annoyingly and joylessly derivative that it will have fantasy fans tearing their hair out. The lack of imagination even extends to the hero’s home planet being called Lorien and the bad guys coming from Mogador. All that’s missing is a small person called Frodo. Good-looking teenagers with special abilities sorting out relationship issues while on the run from an evil alien race fail to create tension, and various babes wander in and out of the frame, probably in order to keep the audience from noticing that the story isn’t going anywhere.
The only reason I can think of for screening the 2007 comedy St Trinian’s at the present time is that it takes some of the wind out of Colin Firth’s Oscar success. This naff British comedy is a coarser, cruder reworking of the 1954 The Belles of St Trinian’s, and it does no credit to anyone involved. Firth only plays a minor role. The main culprits of this comedy about a bunch of unruly high school girls who band together to save their appalling school from closure are Rupert Everett and comedian Russell Brand. It could work if you like sexed-up school uniforms.
All’s Well, Ends Well (最強囍事)
A romantic comedy in the same style and with some of the same cast as the highly successful 1992 film with exactly the same English name. All’s Well, Ends Well is being billed as Cecilia Cheung’s (張柏芝) return to the movie screen after giving birth to her second son. She is joined by a host of variety show regulars including Raymond Wong (黃百鳴), Louis Koo (古天樂), Carina Lau (劉嘉玲) and Angela Baby (楊穎), who get embroiled in all kinds of relationship tangles as members of a successful cosmetics company. Lots of pretty faces and some clever dialogue make this a funny, if forgettable, 100 minutes of entertainment.
In the Electric Mist
A thriller/noir murder mystery with Tommy Lee Jones as Dave Robicheaux, a detective in post-Katrina Louisiana whose investigation into a recent murder links up with the accidental discovery of a long buried corpse. Jones is a master of the tough cop role, and in Electric Mist he is given excellent support by Peter Sarsgaard as a drunken film star and John Goodman as a mafia boss. Based on a novel by Edgar Award-winning crime writer James Lee Burke. The story is convoluted and the presentation sometimes confusing, and the movie never feels the need to answer all the questions it raises, but its atmosphere, heavy with the scent of corruption, is something to be savored.
This is the third installment in director Kenji Kamiyama’s animation series East of Eden, which in turn is an outgrowth of an anime TV series. The movies feature a hero who has totally lost his memory (in the manner of Jason Bourne) and a 21-year-old university student who runs a trading Web site that buys junk items and enhances their value. These two unlikely characters battle a slew of villains whose aim is to commit terrorist acts.
Scott Saulters wasn’t sure if his film had just taken one of the two top prizes at a recent film competition. Although Saulters has been in Taiwan for 15 years and is proficient in Mandarin, the award ceremony for the inaugural “Bi Tian Iann” (眯電影) short film contest was conducted entirely in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), a language he can’t speak. “I thought I heard it, but I didn’t want to look too excited,” he says. Despite his limited command of the tongue, Saulter’s entry, Wu Yu Tzu (烏魚子, mullet roe), took first place in the amateur category of the
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
In the regular drumbeat of arrests of alleged Chinese spies, one case last month stood out. It did not involve the US or another rival of China, but Russia, whose security services accused a prominent arctic scientist of selling classified data on technologies for detecting submarines. Meanwhile a court in Kazakhstan in October convicted the Central Asia nation’s preeminent China specialist of espionage, a move widely interpreted at the time as a warning against increased meddling by the superpower next door. Both men maintain their innocence and if China is spying on Russia, Moscow is surely doing the same. Even so, the fact