The Dream Never Sets (日落大夢)
After tackling the subject of matrimony in Let’s Fall in Love (尋情歷險記, 2009), documentary filmmaker Wuna Wu (吳汰紝) turns the lens on her father Wu Te-sheng (吳德勝), a zealous inventor and entrepreneur who has spent more than a decade and tens of millions of NT dollars designing what he calls the world’s best high-tech, multi-functional food processor. Puzzled at her 60-year-old father’s undertaking, the director decides to learn more about the man by following him around, from the family factory to a trade show booth in China. Both the daughter and the audience gradually discover that the man is not only an obsessive inventor and dreamer, but a doer who is determined to make a success of the food processor, which he first designed for his terminally ill wife, who died of cancer in 1999. On a large scale, the documentary touches on the history of Taiwan’s small and medium-sized enterprises through the life story of Wu Te-sheng, who is representative of countless hard-working Taiwanese businessmen who made fortunes when the country’s economy took off in the 1970s and 1980s, but are now venturing into China.
The documentary’s rough production values may dampen audience enthusiasm, but the straightforward work has the simple charm of a family video.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
An above-average frightener, written by Guillermo del Toro and starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pierce. Has drawn mixed reviews from critics ranging from enthusiastic endorsements from Roger Ebert to something approaching disdain from industry magazine Variety. A small child (Bailee Madison) goes to live with her father and his new partner in a lovely new home, which inevitably has plenty of secrets, some of them rather nasty. While many of the devices are obviously derivative, this is a handsomely made film, and though directed by Troy Nixey, has Del Toro’s fingerprints all over it. Without giving too much away, the film will certainly put your next visit to the dentist into perspective.
BKO: Bangkok Knockout
There seems to be nobody out there in the vastness of cyberspace who entertains the view that BKO: Bangkok Knockout is a good or even adequate film. There are plenty, though, who cannot help but rave about the whip-smart stunt and martial arts choreography put together by Thai action legend Panna Rittikrai. A bunch of fighters gets tricked into participating in life-or-death combat for the entertainment of high-stakes gamblers. There are about 15 minutes of tiresome set up, and then the mayhem begins, one action set piece following another, with a minimum of transition. What the performers lack in acting skill they more than make up with phenomenal athleticism and impressive, well-filmed stunt work.
A movie of shorts by four acclaimed Thai directors — Eakasit Thairatana, Kongkiat Komsiri, Pawat Panangkasiri, Chookiat Sakveerakul — that focus on the supernatural and include horror, action, thriller and comedy. By trying to please everybody, Four fails to provide enough suspense for adrenalin junkies, enough horror for gore fiends, or enough laughs for those just out for a good time.
Lord of the Dance 3D
There are those who love Irish dance, or at least Michael Flatley’s dramatic and glamorized version of it, and there are the rest of us, those who find the whole business of people tapping their feet for an hour, jumping about in sequined costumes and pretending to enact a timeless story about good and evil, to be utter tosh. This cinematic version of a performance of Flatley’s popular stage show, which takes footage from performances in Dublin, London and Berlin, provides a substitute for those who cannot make a live performance. 3D is occasionally deployed in scenes to give depth to the serried ranks of dancers.
So Hard to Forget
Brazilian film by director Malu de Martino explores the inner world of Julia, a 35-year-old English literature teacher who has just broken up with her enigmatic lesbian lover Antonia. Inner turmoil is juxtaposed with an idyllic past, garnished with references to Wuthering Heights and other moody literature classics. Gradually Julia discovers new ways of finding happiness. The fact that Julia is not altogether a sympathetic character undermines our interest in her emotional liberation.
Yes or No, So I Love You
First major release of a lesbian love tale from Thailand, Yes or No, So I Love You, directed by Sarasawadee Wongsompetch, wants to be bold but the results are cloyingly cute and so light as to be inconsequential. The two lead characters carry through the first half of the film well enough as roommates who gradually become lovers, existing within a context of sympathetic friends. The second half makes a botched grab for the heartstrings, and the story dissolves in contrived tears.
The Prince of Tennis
Based on the Japanese manga series first released in 2001, this anime feature film is a celebration of the popular work’s 10th anniversary. The story departs from the content of the original manga and focuses on a group of talented young Japanese tennis players from various schools battling it out for the opportunity to contend on the hallowed field of Wimbledon. There are rivalries aplenty among the close-knit tennis community, and the stakes are not just a place on the national team, but life and death.
Lifting King Kong
Another sports themed movie, this time from South Korea. This live-action movie, also released under the title The Bronze Medalist, does not depart much from the usual formula of the inspirational sports film, but is unusual in picking the relatively minor sport of women’s weight lifting as its theme. An injured Olympic weight lifter becomes the unenthusiastic coach of a school team, and in the course of the movie, overcomes his own bitter regrets and inspires the girls on the team to bulk up and win. Good acting and well-written characters allow Lifting King Kong to lift above its weight.
Singapore Film Festival
A mini festival of four Singapore-made films showing at the Blossom Digital Cinema (梅花數位影院), 2F, 63, Heping E Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市和平東路三段63號2樓), today. The Films are 12 Lotus (十 二蓮花), It’s a Great Great World (大世界), Perfect Rivals (美好冤家), and The Ultimate Winner (贏家). 12 Lotus (2008) is notable for being the cinematic debut of Singapore-born singer Stefanie Sun (孫燕姿). Information on schedule times can be found at the Blossom Cinema Web site at www.movie.com.tw/blossom.
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
SEPT. 14 to SEPT. 20 When then-county commissioner Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) announced that movie theaters in Yilan County no longer needed to play the national anthem before each showing, the authorities were displeased. It was Sept. 13, 1988, over a year after the lifting of martial law, but the decades-old tradition where moviegoers had to stand and sing the anthem still endured. Of course, Chen sugarcoated his decision: “Considering the environment of the theater, the contents of the movies and the reactions of the audience, we believe that it’s actually disrespectful to play the anthem before each showing. We
In Japan — where they take their cats very seriously — they call Yuki Hattori the Cat Savior. He is so popular that he saw 16,000 patients last year, and crowds regularly queue up to hear him talk about neko no kimochi (a cat’s feelings), while people from all over Japan make the pilgrimage to his practice. Sometimes clients turn up from further afield. “One flew in from Iraq for a personal consultation,” Hattori says, “without his cat, due to border quarantines.” In Japan’s rarefied world of cat doctors, the vet Hattori is very much a superstar — but now there