The Fierce Wife: Woman Onerous, Seeking Mr Right (犀利人妻最終回: 幸福男,不難)
The television series The Fierce Wife (犀利人妻) co-produced by Sanlih E-Television (三立電視) and TTV (台視) that premiered in October 2010 proved a huge crowd pleaser, and rocketed the unknown Amanda Chu (朱芯儀) to A-list stardom. No surprise that the cast and the situations have now been shifted to the silver screen for a large-format presentation of similar romantic entanglements and nefarious dealings. Sonia Sui (隋棠) is back as the star of the show, whose marriage is broken up by her evil cousin (played by Chu), and after some years as a single mother, finds herself pursued not only by a new man in her life, played by singer Chris Wang (宥勝), but also by her former husband, played by James Wen (溫昇豪). What’s a girl to do? This time you’ll have to go to the theater to find out.
Silent Code (BBS鄉民的正義)
The feature film debut by Hero Lin (林世勇), who achieved cult status while still a student at National Taiwan University of Arts (國立臺灣藝術大學) with the release of an series of Internet-based cartoons that formed the Woodman (木偶人) series. He has drawn on his old work with Silent Code, which explores the now anachronistic world of BBS (an Internet bulletin board system that was popular before the advent of the social network), to create a drama of mixed live action and animation. Young tech savvy people floundering in an electronic world that is getting beyond their control provides an ambitious platform for Lin to show off his grasp of youth culture.
Stop-motion animation from British directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler with a setup that merges zombie-thriller and teen-movie tropes to clever effect. For a movie obsessed with death, the characters are full of life, and like Coraline from 2009, the story is classic adolescent-misfit stuff, serving up an immediately empathetic character in Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who has the uncanny ability to interact with the dead (he is not so good at dealing with the living). This ability puzzles, annoys and frightens friends and family, and also leads to Norman leading a motley crew against an undead army in a dark forest, a pitchfork-waving mob and a witch with a 300-year-old grudge. Dark themes make it unsuitable for the very young, but there is plenty to enjoy for older children, adolescents and adults.
The Expendables 2
The first movie was a mildly amusing romp, the aging tough guys getting together to kick some ass and make a few, largely self-referential, quips along the way. This second movie is just more of the same, this time with a few new names that slipped through the net for the first film. Jean-Claude VanDamme is there, as well as Chuck Norris, then there are the old boys Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren and Bruce Willis, plus the youngbloods Jason Statham and Jet Li, all under the self-congratulatory leadership of Sylvester Stallone. It’s all very chummy, and while getting the gang together for a gungho time might be great fun for the participants, it seems a bit rich to get the audience to shell out to watch them party.
We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam)
A serious comedy from the hands of Italian director Nanni Moretti and staring French comedian Michel Piccoli as a pope unwilling or unable to shoulder the burden of shepherding the billions of souls whose care he is charged with. There is plenty of sometimes raucous humor, but this never totally undermines the serious issues that give the humor a wonderfully humane quality that is often tinged with sadness. Nanni Moretti is a director with a strong political sensibility, but for this film, he seems to have put this aside to focus on his central character, who escapes the Vatican and wanders the streets of Rome, where he discovers things that all his papal learning have failed to teach.