What Women Want (我知女人心)
A Chinese-language remake of the Mel Gibson romantic comedy of the same title released in 2000. Starring Andy Lau (劉德華) and Gong Li (鞏俐) and directed by China-born, US-trained director Chen Daming (陳大明), this is a big feel-good confection that does not aspire to offer anything either new or even particularly exciting. Whatever one might have thought about the original, it was a reasonably sophisticated example of its genre, but Chen’s remake has stripped the story of sexiness and has made the lead woman cold, passive and ultimately a little pathetic. Despite the presence of two of Chinese cinema’s biggest names, What Women Want does not give its audience what it wants: a good time at the movie theater.
Futuristic racing car anime that has been many years in production and seems to have been anxiously awaited by fans. Directed by Takeshi Koike, an anime artist deeply influenced by Western graphic art and the French artist Jean Giraud. The minimal story, about an illegal road race conducted on an authoritarian planet that will dedicate all its military resources to preventing the race from finishing, is a triumph of style over content — but in the best possible sense. One staff reviewer on Anime News Network describes the film as “potentially one of the most daring and important anime movies for a very, very long time.” With a soundtrack made up mostly of high-octane techno and its ground-breaking graphic style front and center, Redline may offend anime purists, but love it or hate it, this is much more than your usual anime fare.
The debut feature by Marcel Rasquin, this film from Venezuela tells the story of two brothers from the slums of La Ceniza who have an opportunity to break out of poverty and crime through their talents on the soccer pitch. But even when on the verge of success, dirty money, criminality, and an act that demands vengeance get in the way of their hopes and dreams. The film was nominated as Venezuela’s entry for the Oscars and has some solid acting, a realistic portrayal of life on the wrong side of the tracks in Venezuela, and a score that features local popular music.
Gantz: The Perfect Answer
The second part (part one was released in March) of a live-action adaptation of a well-known manga by Hiroya Oku. Gantz is an action adventure in which Kei Kurono and his friend Masaru Kato die in a train accident and are revived as fighters by a mysterious agency called Gantz, which deploys a band of “dead” humans in a battle against an alien race. The original manga is famous for its violence, nudity, and the tendency to present humanity as being pretty reprehensible. The movie has toned much of this down to create a mainstream science fiction action film, angering many hardcore fans of the original manga.
Sound of Noise
Experimental music comedy by Swedish directors Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson about a tone-deaf policeman tasked with tracking down a crew of musical terrorists who threaten to lay the beat down for the whole city. The cop is called Amadeus Warnebring, and the terrorists start their campaign by making music on the anesthetized body of a TV personality in hospital for a hernia operation. Lots of originality by the creative team, the really remarkable thing about Sound of Noise is that despite its film school anarchic streak, it actually makes some sort of sense. A perfect accompaniment for those already excited by the percussion lineup of the Taiwan International Percussion Convention (台灣國際打擊樂節) [see story on page 13].