Into the White Night (Byakuyako)
A murder mystery with strong psychological overtones from director Yoshihiro Fukagawa, based on a best-selling novel. The film is unusual in dealing with the lives of two main characters who were children at the time of the murder. There is a good story trying to get out, but the multistranded narrative never quite comes together and viewers are left struggling to work things out for themselves.
A film by Laure Charpentier, adapted from one of her own novels, the story of Gigola is set in the “sexy Parisian lesbian underworld of the 1960s.” There is style aplenty, with swanky hookers in men’s clothing and rich older women looking for another kind of love. The title character, played by Lou Doillion, is a student who after the suicide of her first love, closes down emotionally and embarks on a journey through the underbelly of lesbian clubs. Though the settings are luscious and the cast is fine, the film is oddly anemic.
Hilary Swank seems to have picked yet another dud, one in a long line of unremarkable films since she burst onto the scene in 1999 with Boys Don’t Cry. In The Resident, she is cast as Juliet Devereau, a young woman who moves into a gorgeous apartment, but soon discovers that her landlord has an unhealthy interest in her. The psychological thriller quickly degenerates into a by-the-numbers stalker movie that offers few surprises. Lingering shots of Swank in a state of undress are used shamelessly to sex up the movie, but you’ve probably seen it all before.
Yves Saint Laurent: L’Amour Fou
A documentary about the life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent told largely by his lover Pierre Berge in the lead-up to a huge auction of the tremendous art collection that the two built up over nearly half a century together. Given who the narrator is, this is necessarily something of a hagiography, and while it provides a wonderful glimpse into the life of an artist, it fails to provide much social context for those unfamiliar with the shifts in the fashion and art worlds that Saint Laurent inhabited. The film does include some great archival footage and the interviews with Berge are interesting if a little narrow in scope.
Draw Yourself (Dessine-toi)
This documentary by French director and cinematographer Gilles Porte starts with a fairly simple premise that is turned into a charming 70 minutes of cinema. The production team set up a big transparent surface at locations around the world and invited children to draw themselves. That’s pretty much it. There are no interviews, though occasionally one of the children’s drawings is brought to life through CGI. It’s as cute as can be, but there is more to be found in both the children’s expressions and their art if you choose to look hard enough.
Here Comes the Bride, My Mom!
Japanese family drama about a single mother and young daughter, whose cozy life together is disrupted by the arrival of mom’s new boyfriend. The daughter, played by Aoi Miyazaki, is confused and angered by this new romance, and friendly neighbors try and repair the damage. There is a cute dog and the suggestion of terminal illness, which puts Here Comes the Bride, My Mom! into the laughing-through-the-tears category of cinematic entertainment.
A feature film based on a hugely successful Japanese anime cartoon series released in the early 1970s that crossed over to the English-speaking market. This film version is notable for its screenplay by Kundo Koyama, who also wrote Departures, the unexpected winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2009. The story tells the tale of a young bee called Hutch, who is separated from his mother and must survive in a mostly hostile world after their hive is destroyed by a wasp attack.
SP: The Motion Picture
The second of a two-part motion picture based on a hugely successful Japanese television cop drama titled SP, referring to Security Police. Part I was released here in March. SP: The Motion Picture is a big-budget action film with some spectacular car chases and other set pieces, and stars pop idol Okada Junichi as supercop Inoue Kaoru. Kaoru routinely uses his extraordinary abilities to fight crime, but his insubordinate ways get him no love from his superiors. When he gets caught up in a terrorist plot hatched deep within government, even his almost superhuman gifts fail to keep him out of the firing line.
A film written and directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux that was released in 2004 and which has avoided virtually any mainstream interest. It is the story of a French filmmaker who goes into the Amazon forest, falls in love with the daughter of a local chief, films the destruction of the forest by Portuguese loggers and tries to raise awareness about the plight of the rain forest and the people who live there. The film is notable for its portrayal of authentic daily life among the Indians in the forest, with many roles taken by local tribespeople.
Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 If word got out that you were planning a wedding during the Martial Law era, the “Committee for the improvement of Folk Customs” (改善民俗實踐會) might knock on your door. Each borough in Taipei had at least one “agent” who kept a pulse on community happenings. They would visit the family planning the wedding with a letter from the mayor, touting the benefits of being frugal and not wasting money on lavish ceremonies, even encouraging the families to donate money for scholarships. The authorities also discouraged them from hiring musicians and dancers, who were often loud and
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a way urban households can obtain healthy produce, while helping to build a more sustainable farming sector in Taiwan. King Hsin-i’s (金欣儀) transformation from advertising copywriter to social entrepreneur began in 2008, when she visited a rice farmer who practiced pesticide-free agriculture. “He explained that we have to leave space for other species. At the same time, I realized that while big companies have budgets to spread their messages, farmers have few chances to tell the public about their beautiful concepts,” she recalls. Inspired, she quit her job and traveled throughout rural Taiwan for a year. King went
Every day before she starts her shift at a government hospital in Singapore, Farah removes her hijab — the Islamic veil she has worn since a teenager. Although minority Muslim women can freely wear the hijab in most settings in Singapore, some professions bar the headscarf — and a recent case has triggered fresh debate on diversity and discrimination in the workplace. Now Farah has joined a growing number of Muslims — who account for about 15 percent of Singapore’s 4 million resident population — calling for the ban to end, with an online petition gathering more than 50,000 signatures. “They told me
If ever there was a reason to be inside on Mid-Autumn Festival, even for just an hour or so, while still celebrating the natural world, Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍) has provided one with his first full-length work for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) as artistic director, Sounding Light (定光). Judging by the excerpt performed for the press last week, Cheng shows he can be just as minimalistic as his mentor, troupe founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), while still forging his own unique path. Just as he did with last year’s Lunar Halo (毛月亮), his final work as director of Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2), Cheng