The Cold Light of Day
An adequate, if not particularly memorable kidnap-rescue story in which an everyday guy takes on the combined might of two national security agencies to save his family. As might be expected, the government is full of duplicitous motivations, and is represented by two rather underwhelming performances by veterans Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver. The heroic Everyman is played by Henry Cavill, whose lack of charisma only highlights the failings of the plot. The film has a Spanish location, and the cast is enlivened by Veronica Echegui, who has the looks of a young Penelope Cruz — but this bit of eye candy is not enough to make the film more than a bit of stylish filler.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
A wonderful cast provides some luster to this conventional feel-good movie about love and the realization of improbable dreams. Ewan McGregor, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Blunt fail to distinguish themselves in this rather bland fare, but they are all far too professional to let the side down, and their performances can be enjoyed even against one’s better judgment. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose Chocolate and The Cider House Rules set the tone for this new film. There’s plenty of whimsy and charm, but nothing that you can really get to grips with. McGregor is a fisheries expert who is approached by advertising executive Thomas to implement a project to introduce the sport of salmon fishing to the arid desert of Yemen. He falls in love with Emily Blunt along the way. Who wouldn’t?
Bread of Happiness (Shiawase no Pan)
Feel-good Japanese movie from director Yukiko Mishima starring singer Tomoyo Harada and TV personality Yo Oizumi. Their characters, Rie and Sang, run a small restaurant on the shores of Lake Toya in Hokkaido. Many people visit their establishment to enjoy the homemade food and bread that they create. There is plenty of beautiful scenery, and the caring hosts and the love that goes into the food somehow manages to ease the sorrows of all those who visit.
A documentary by filmmaker Frederick Wiseman that looks behind the scenes at the pretensions, the vulgarity and the sheer hard work and professionalism of the legendary French erotic review Le Crazy Horse de Paris. The show, which prides itself on being the “best nude dancing show in the world,” blends old-fashioned burlesque, Bob Fosse and Cirque du Soleil, with lap dance titillation. There are some phenomenally beautiful bodies to look at, and the technical details of this iconic French theatrical tradition are awe-inspiring. Wiseman stands back, watching, taking in both the ludicrous and the delightful with a cool eye that lets audiences make up their own mind about Crazy Horse.
Animated film that combines pop music and pop philosophy in a story about a young couple who decide to put their relationship on hold while one goes to Beijing and the other remains in Taipei, each pursuing their artistic ambitions. The characters are voiced by singers Yoga Lin (林宥嘉) and Sinje Lee (李心潔), as well as TV personality Mickey Huang (黃子佼). Romantic cliches abound, though the animation, inspired by the art work of Liao Zenping (廖震平), has a retro appeal. As the two lovers explore their own creativity on either side of the Taiwan Strait, will they be able to get back together again? Who knows; who cares?