Taichi 0 (太極1從零開始)
This first installment of a trilogy by director Stephen Fung (馮德倫) looks like a credible attempt to challenge the West in creating a mega-buck superhero blockbuster with Chinese characteristics. Although given a historical context in the late Qing dynasty, there is plenty of almost sci-fi/fantasy gimmickry, including a steam punk tank with all kinds of weaponry designed by Tim Yip (葉錦添). The format is the tried and tested mix of comedy and action, and the cast led by Tony Leung Ka-fai (梁家輝) is pretty solid.
Datong: The Great Society (大同: 康有為在瑞典)
A historical drama written and directed by Evans Chan (陳耀成) that tells the story of Kang Youwei (康有為), an important figure who helped push China toward the revolution that would ultimately overthrow imperial rule. The film tries to combine dramatic and documentary elements, and covers a broad territory of early revolutionary characters and their various philosophies. The film focuses particularly on an important period of Kang’s life when he was living overseas and absorbing foreign ideas.
End of Watch
Intelligent and well-thought out police dramas do not come along very often. End of Watch has earned full marks from Roger Ebert for virtuoso fusion of performances and often startling action starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as two Los Angles street cops who become targets for a Mexican drug cartel. Unlike most cop movies, in which police use their badges as a license to run riot, these two cops take their duty to serve and protect seriously. It costs them dearly. They are given solid support by a talented and committed supporting cast.
To Rome with Love
This is another ode by Woody Allen to a great Continental city that manages to create its own unique fission between American and European attitudes. While it does not have the same passion as Midnight in Paris, it has a great deal of charm, and a delightful cast in the shape of Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis, Penelope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg. While not among Allen’s best work, it is suffused with intelligent sympathy for its characters, and an eye for the Eternal City that makes it sparkle with new magic.
The Clown (O Palhaco)
From Brazilian director Selton Mello, a father/son buddy movie about two clowns touring some of the less desirable gigs around rural Brazil. It has been described as the new Central Station (Central do Brasil, directed by Walter Salles), which scored great success among local audiences for its old-fashioned storytelling and heartwarming story. The Clown, with its attractive, well-drawn characters and exotic locations might be a tad sentimental for some, but its quality shines through.