Bad Girls (女孩壞壞)
A lighthearted action/romance from emerging female director Seven (翁靖廷) that plays with genre conventions of the adolescent movie. A kind of girl’s take on the hugely successful You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年，我們ㄧ起追的女孩), the film stars Ella Chen (陳嘉樺), formerly of Taiwan girl band S.H.E, as the leader of a pack of girls who have a strong sense of social responsibility and a powerful dislike of the shallow and chauvinistic boys they see all around them. The arrival of a celebrity, played by Mike Ha (賀軍翔), causes sneers of derision, until the inevitable happens. Two very different personalities gradually fall for each other. The film also seeks to appeal to the foodie crowd with a cameo role for Taiwan’s most famous baker, Wu Pao-chun (吳寶春), who has won a host of prestigious international baking awards.
Xin Hai Ge Ming (1911—辛亥革命)
Another big-budget historical drama from China. Action hero Jackie Chan (成龍) does double duty as director and Huang Xing (黃興), a general and statesman who joined the 1911 revolution that shaped modern China. The film is long on big set-piece battles and expositional speechifying, and very short on any real drama. Chan is joined by the likes of Winston Chao (趙文瑄), as Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) and Li Bingbing (李冰冰) as Hsu Zonghan (徐宗漢), a rich widow who took up the revolutionary cause and was closely connected to Huang. Chan is all seriousness in his first fully dramatic role, denying himself, and the audience, his vivacity and physical humor. One of the most interesting things about the film is that it’s Chan’s 100th movie. Quite a record!
Directed by music video maker Tarsem Singh and starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen in this revisionist version of Snow White, Mirror Mirror is proof, if proof were needed, that however good a film looks, there needs to be something going on beneath the surface. The surfaces in Mirror Mirror are impressive, giving a slick contemporary sheen to the venerable tale. Roberts is always a pleasure to watch, and the costumes by Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka are to die for, but all these visuals never quite manage to bring the film to life. This is a splendid piece of window dressing.
French film about a journalist, played by Juliette Binoche, who is investigating the subject of teenage prostitution. Binoche works hard to track the development of her character, who becomes increasingly shocked by what she learns, and somewhat restive about the sterility of her own existence. Unfortunately, director Malgorzata Szumowska seems intent on providing plenty of voyeuristic titillation for his audience, which makes the film almost as exploitative as the dirty business which it purports to describe.
A Little Bit of Heaven
When filmmakers try and put terminal illness, comedy and romance together, they enter dangerous territory. The laughter-and-tears formula often falls victim to irredeemable shallowness and cynicism. The story of A Little Bit of Heaven focuses on Marley Corbett (Kate Hudson), a vivacious, spirited 30-something who is determined to live life to the full, free of constraints. Diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, she calls on all her resources to look life in the face, and at this most trying time, also discovers true love with her sexy oncologist, Julian Goldstein (Gael Garcia Bernal). Cancer is given the Hollywood makeover, and even going through chemotherapy, Hudson keeps her beautiful complexion and full head of golden locks. While the plot and humor are all very nuts-and-bolts chick-flick material, and competently put together, if you don’t leave the cinema in disgust, you’ll probably be reaching for the tissues.