One Tree Three Lives (三生三世 — 聶華苓)
Documentary about the life of Nieh Hua-ling (聶華苓), a Chinese novelist, fiction writer, and poet, who served as the literary editor and a member of the editorial board of Free China, a liberal intellectual magazine, and who was a major figure in promoting Chinese literature in the West and in encouraging Chinese writers in China and Taiwan through some tough politi Luxcal times. There is plenty of reminiscence from Nieh herself, who has been an active figure on the literary scene through the tempestuous ascendance of the Chinese-speaking world onto the stage of international literature and politics.
The Legend of the T-Dog (命運狗不理)
The feature debut from established film art director Li Tian-jie (李天爵) has generated considerable hype with its mix of absurdity, romance and cute animals. This is the story of a black dog that brings bad luck to anyone who takes it in, until of course, the dog meets up with an owner with even worse luck than he is able to bring. Starring Wang Po-chieh (王柏傑), who also features in Ang Lee’s (李安) The Life of Pi, and Novia Lin (林若亞), there is above average talent, an off-the-wall concept that shows originality and a wackiness that some might find appealing.
Now is Good
Now is Good tells the story of a 16-year-old girl, Tessa (Dakota Fanning), who is suffering from terminal leukemia. She decides to stop treatment, which may prolong her life but with a greatly reduced quality, and she makes a list of all the things she would like to do before she dies. One of these is to lose her virginity. This concept, charged with potential for the most grotesque forms of emotional manipulation, can only make one cringe, and the tone of spiritual uplift and “seizing the day” is so full of cheap sentiment that even solid performances by Dakota Fanning and Jeremy Irvine, as the young couple at the center of the movie, and good support from Olivia Williams and Paddy Considine as the parents, can save the film from itself.
Rurouni Kenshin is a big-budget live-action adaptation of a Meiji-era manga series by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The manga, about a ronin who kicks ass while preaching pacifism, has been distributed far beyond Japan’s shores, and the film may even draw new fans with its barnstorming swordplay, pretty celebrity faces and no-brainer plot that rollicks along for just over two hours demanding little while providing plenty of spectacle. Set in Meiji Japan, when samurai tradition meets early modern technology, Rurouni Kenshin has plenty of visual material to work with, and despite the exciting combat sequences that make extensive use of well choreographed wire work, the story is a little too straightforward to be engaging.
Based on a crime thriller by best-selling author James Patterson, Axel Cross has many good ingredients, not least of which is a talented cast. Sadly, the considerable budget of the film is squandered on too many frantic action sequences (which in themselves are pretty good) and little or no time is devoted to making all the bits of the film fit together. Critics have been unanimous in panning Axel Cross as a sloppy, incoherent mess. With director Rob Cohen, whose track record includes a number of rather pointless action films including xXx and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, you have an idea what to expect walking into the cinema, but Cohen has outdone himself this time.