Touch of the Light (逆光飛翔)
Inspirational film from director Chang Rong-ji (張榮吉) who made a splash with his 2006 debut My Football Summer (奇蹟的夏天). Touch of the Light is built around the story of Huang Yu-hsiang (黃裕翔), the first blind person to graduate as a piano major from the National Taiwan University of Arts (台灣藝術大學). He has been the focus of two film shorts by Chang, which have now been expanded, with eye candy provided in the shape of Sandrine Pinna (張榕容), who came to prominence in the award-winning 2009 film Yang Yang (陽陽). Predictable and more than a little hackneyed, much of the film’s appeal comes from a natural performance by Huang, and the very real nature of his achievement in overcoming disability.
Olga Kurylenko’s career after starring opposite Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace in 2008 has gone nowhere fast, and her role in the vastly sub-par film The Expatriate is not going to do her any favors. Action films borrow from one another, but this tale of a CIA operative (Aaron Eckhart) who finds himself overseas with his estranged daughter when the agency disowns him as part of an international conspiracy is so derivative that every action sequence and line of dialogue seems to be a pale echo from another film.
Nicolas Cage is back in yet another film in which he needs to run about and shout a lot. This tale of a former thief who needs to draw on all his expertise to save his kidnapped daughter, played by Sami Gayle, shows that mindless against-the-clock chase movies can make anyone, no matter how pretty or talented, look dumb. Fortunately for Gayle, she is also currently in Detachment with Adrien Brody, where she proves that she deserves much better than to be stuck in the boot of a taxi while Josh Lucas mugs up as an almost cartoonish villain.
Margin Call is a perfectly adequate drama of high finance and inequitable dealing that sports a talented cast, a perfectly serviceable plot, and some good character sketches. Despite the presence of such hugely talented actors as Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons and Simon Baker, along with its setting against a key moment in the financial crisis, the film never quite manages to capture the zeitgeist in the way Wall Street did. What it does not do is insult your intelligence in the way that both the other two major Hollywood releases this week do.