X-Men : Days of Future Past
Possibly the most ambitious X-men movie yet, director Bryan Singer pushes the level of narrative and character complexity to the limit. Sometimes the film is teetering on the verge of falling apart under the weight of plot points, but Singer always seems to have a neat special effect, a well-timed gag or an action set piece around the corner, chivving the action along and keeping the audience engaged. The story whips back and forth across two separate time periods as the characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past to save the future, Terminator style. The large cast of characters is taken on by some very talented actors, but even at 130-minutes there is hardly enough time to give them all enough space to really shine. Singer pushes things along at a frenetic face, and while there is a treasure trove of superhero lore waiting to be picked up by the fanboy crowd, the sheer scale of the story is likely to leave newcomers to the franchise more bewildered than entertained.
Walk of Shame
Don’t let the presence of the redoubtable Elizabeth Banks fool you. Banks is an amazing actress who can perform miracles on screen, but even her very considerable efforts cannot breathe life into Walk of Shame. A reporter’s dream of becoming a news anchor is compromised after a one-night stand leaves her stranded in downtown LA without a phone, car, ID or money — and only eight hours to make it to the most important job interview of her life. The concept has plenty of promise, and should provide plenty of opportunities to skewer the way women are perceived based on appearance, but instead opts for generic racial and gender gags. The screenplay by director Steven Brill repeatedly presents scenes that defy credibility, and the humor never says anything remotely fresh about human nature or the world we live in.
Cutie and the Boxer
Ushio Shinohara flirted briefly with fame as a visual artist in the 1960s. Now in his 80s, he continues to work in his own highly esoteric style, living on the edge of poverty in a second-floor Brooklyn walkup with his wife, Noriko. Their relationship is not easy, and while Noriko has been a faithful companion, subordinating herself to his ambitions, she has grown to want more as an artist with her own individual voice. Director Zachary Heinzerling’s documentary chronicling their relationship, the sacrifices they have made for each other and for art as a way of life, was five-years in the making, and its painfully intimate look at the aging couple’s struggle to survive amid personal and financial strain is both heartbreaking and intricately profound. More than a film about an artist, it is about husbands and wives and how they can live together.
Also released under the title The Golden Dream, this Mexican film by director Diego Quemada-Diez titled La jaula de oro tells the story of four youths from Guatemala making the dangerous journey to the land of opportunity in the north. While there is some bonding between the characters, and one at least is much changed by the experience, this is not a Disney-esque road movie about youthful discovery through adversity. The lives of the four start out pretty grim, and their journey puts them in all kinds of danger. The film gets off to a slow and confused start with Quemada-Diez eschewing any formal introduction to his characters, who are themselves not particularly easy to like. The four principal actors have tough faces and surly attitudes and they are convincingly awkward as they face terrors from corrupt cops, ruthless bandits, kidnappers and border patrols. The kindness of strangers is sometimes touched on, but on the whole the journey is grim and an unpleasant death hangs close over the foursome. Quemada-Diez is relentlessly unsentimental with his characters, making this a sometimes tough film to watch, but it is never gratuitous in its horror nor does it strain to find some higher meaning in the adventure.
Light-hearted romantic comedy that does what you expect. Cuban Fury runs to a well-honed formula and it is the actors — Nick Frost, Rashida Jones and Chris O’Dowd, all very much in their comfort zones — that gives the slender storyline its appeal. Bruce Garrett (Frost) is out-of-shape and unloved, trapped in a downward spiral of self-pity, repression and fast food. Only Julia (Jones), his smart, funny, gorgeous new American boss, gives him reason to live. But she’s out of his league, or so he imagines. Luckily for him, she also has a secret passion, salsa dancing. With Drew (O’Dowd), his alpha male colleague who also has his eye on Julia, Bruce puts on his dancing shoes and sets out to get his girl on the dance floor. Frost and O’Dowd build a buddy/rival chemistry that works well, and is rather similar to the kind of male relationships glorified by films like Wedding Crashers with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The humor is light and as a date movie Cuban Fury cannot be faulted, but a little more heart and a little less formula could have easily made this a much better film.
Chen Zhiwu (陳志武) says that the COVID-19 crisis puts into sharp focus that we are in a new cold war, with China and the US being the two protagonists. “It’s almost literally in front of us,” says Chen, Director of Asia Global Institute and Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Hong Kong. Political observers were hesitant, Chen says, even up to the beginning of this year, to confirm a new cold war was underway. “But ... the coronavirus has made clear the clash in values and way of life between what China would like to pursue, and what
For tourists visiting Hualien, Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) is the first order of business. But if you find yourself in the city with half a day to spare — your train back to Taipei will leave mid-afternoon, say — it’s hardly worth busing out to Taroko Gorge. Instead, borrow or rent a bicycle or a scooter, or hail a cab, and set out for one of these attractions. At only one of these places is there an admission charge. CISINGTAN SCENIC AREA A literal translation of Cisingtan (七星潭) would be “Seven Stars Pond,” but there’s no pond here, just the vast Pacific
I had really hoped that this film would be a Taiwanese answer to the American camp classic Snakes on a Plane, but Spiders on a Ship — er, Abyssal Spider (海霧) — takes itself way too seriously. One major gripe about Taiwanese commercial features is that they are prone to being unnecessarily over the top, but that’s the one element that could have made Abyssal more watchable. The lack of camp is especially disappointing since director Joe Chien (錢人豪) first made his mark with the intentionally trashy horror movie Zombie 108 (棄城Z-108). Released in 2012, it is considered Taiwan’s earliest
The remake of Mulan struck all the right chords to be a hit in the key Chinese market. Disney cast beloved actor Liu Yifei (劉亦菲) as Mulan and removed a dragon sidekick popular in the animated original to cater to Chinese tastes. Still, the movie drew decidedly mixed reviews after its coronavirus-delayed release in China last week, with thousands panning it online. The movie was rated 4.9 out of 10 by more than 165,000 people on Douban, a leading Web site for film, book and music ratings. Negative comments and jokes about the film outnumbered positive reactions on social media. Mulan has