The Three Musketeers
The cinematic version of the story goes all the way back to 1948 with Gene Kelly as the young D’Artagnan and Lana Turner as the evil Milady de Winter. The 1993 film, with Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen headlining, did little to replace Richard Lester’s classic from 1973, and now we have a version of this much told tale for the 21st century. Now the role of the intriguing Milady de Winter is taken over by action star Milla Jovovich, and the whole movie has left Alexandre Dumas’ Paris far, far behind, sporting battles between zeppelins equipped with cannon and lots of wire-assisted acrobatics. The occasionally stunning action sequences are not sufficient to make up for the flabby middle section, in which the filmmakers try, not quite successfully, to reproduce something akin to a plot. Unlike Lester’s earlier version with its bawdy streak, this new outing is aimed at a mid-teen audience, playing out like a high school adventure story with swords and lovely clothes.
“Time is money” is a phrase that gets a real working over in In Time, a film with a very pretty cast in the shape of Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. The story is set in a future in which the clock runs out for people when they hit 25, and then they need to get more time; and time costs. Only the rich can purchase time, living to a great age (though without aging). Will Salas (Timberlake) gets given a whole bunch of time by a rich man who has had enough, but this newfound temporal wealth makes Salas a target for criminals and other assorted nasties. Plenty of action, but the lack of chemistry between the leads just about sinks the film. High production values and a veneer of sophistication mean that In Time has its moments, but they simply don’t last long enough.
A film in which the inspirational uplift of Rocky meets the new fight medium of MMA (mixed marital arts). Tommy (Tom Hardy) is an ex-marine who has been engaged in Iraq and is still looking for a fight. He hires his father, a former coach gone to seed (Nick Nolte), to train him up as an MMA fighter. His estranged brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a physics teacher, engages in street fighting to earn extra money. Unbeknownst to each other, they are both eyeing a big prize fight in which they will find success, redemption and possibly revenge. The two brothers are clearly destined to go head-to-head. There is plenty of teary turmoil among big, strong men, but there is physical turmoil as well, with some stunning fight sequences.
Pick the Youth (皮克青春)
Riding the wave started by Cape No. 7 (海角七號), first-time director Chen Ta-pu (陳大璞) joins forces with producer Yee Chih-yen (易智言), director of Blue Gate Crossing (藍色大門), to make yet another movie of youthful rebellion and rock ’n’ roll dreams. There are plenty of familiar themes, from the geeky music prodigy and the school bad-boy to the pretty girl who vacillates between the two, and, of course, a host of variously disapproving or sympathetic adults. Though largely derivative, there are some solid performances and moments when shredding guitar riffs pass adequately for an expression of adolescent frustration.
Sleepwalker in 3D
A new release by Oxide Pang (彭順), this time taking his vision of the dark places in which dreams and reality meet into a new dimension — 3D that is. Yi, played by Sinje Lee (李心潔), is a young woman who suffers from recurring dreams and also has a problem with sleepwalking. When a man walks out of her dreams and into her life, the boundary between sleep and waking blurs into a terrifying belief that she may actually be a murderer. Pang is a master of this style of occult horror, and this new release is unlikely to disappoint his fans.
If Not Us, Who? (Wer wenn nicht wir)
Bernward Vesper and fellow university student Gudrun Ensslin begin a passionate love affair in the stifling atmosphere of provincial West Germany in the 1960s. They become the core of what was to become the Red Army Faction, and in many respects If Not Us, Who? can be seen as a prequel to the The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008). Though the drama of its protagonists gets bogged down by dense scenes of political debate, the film scores well for its painstaking attention to detail, which was provided by eminent documentary filmmaker Andres Veiel, and strong performances by the cast members.
The Ways of Wine
Interesting stylistic experiment in which Argentine director Nicolas Carreras uses a documentary style to tell the story of a world-famous sommelier who must reconnect with the grape after losing his sense of smell. It follows the story of real-life sommelier Charlie Arturaola, and combines techniques taken from reality TV and drama in chronicling his journey through Argentina’s famous Mendoza wine region, where Arturaola uses every possible technique to stimulate his senses. A sure hit for oenophiles with its real grasp of the subtleties of wine tasting, but its lack of dramatic punch might limit its audience.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Stars of Milos
The second feature film based on the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and anime franchise that presents what is a substantially original story with characters that feature only in the movie.
2011 Documentary Film Festival, New Taipei, New Vision (2011機不可失主題紀錄片影展)
The fifth edition of the CNEX Documentary Film Festival opens tomorrow with a lineup of more than 55 nonfiction works from around the world. Organized around the theme of “crisis and opportunity,” the festival has put together four sections showcasing works that explore issues ranging from global financial crises and natural disasters to personal challenges and change. Highlights include several award-winning documentary films by China’s Jia Zhangke (賈樟柯). The nine-day event takes place at several venues across Taipei, including the auditoriums at Eslite Xinyi Store (誠品信義店) and Dunnan Eslite Bookstore (誠品敦南店) as well as Banciao Cultural Center (板橋多功能文教館) in New Taipei City. For more information, visit cnexff.pixnet.net/blog. Tickets cost NT$100 per screening and are available from 7-Eleven ibon and Hi-Life (萊爾富) Life-ET kiosks, NTCH ticketing and online at www.artsticket.com.tw. Read page 16 in tomorrow’s edition for full coverage of the event.
Since its launch in 2014, the Taiwan Season has increasingly become a “must-see” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, when this year’s three-week Fringe became an early casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) was determined that the Taiwan Season must continue in some form. Chen, director of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, says that he and Taiwan Season curator and producer Yeh Jih-wen (葉紀紋) had been thinking of ways of growing and adding value to the season anyway. The crisis and the cancellation of the live performances brought those ideas forward as
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at
Wild Sparrow (野雀之詩) is simple and extremely slow paced, told through the eyes of Han (Kao Yu-hsia, 高於夏), an introspective, shy grade schooler who lives with his great-grandmother in the verdant countryside. Han has a fascination with sparrows, which are either flying high in the sky or trapped in cages and nets, providing a constant metaphor throughout the film. In the most ironic scene, a man catches the birds just to charge people to set them free again, taking advantage of Buddhists who engage in the ritual of “releasing” animals from captivity. Han takes a badly injured sparrow home and