High hopes are in order for the latest film by Ridley Scott, who has brought us beloved classics such as Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and Alien while staying relevant with recent hits (or not) such as Prometheus. The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut who is presumed to be dead and left behind on Mars by his crew. He must find a way to survive while ground control debates on whether to rescue him or not. So what makes this film stand out from other survival movies such as fellow space epic Gravity and last week’s Everest? For one, critics say that this film is actually quite humorous, though falling on the darker side (dude hates disco yet it’s his only source of entertainment, making the perfect excuse for a 70s-themed soundtrack). They also say that it gives plenty of narrative to mission control back home and his crewmates, avoiding the one-person monologue often seen in films where someone is trapped somewhere. We also hear that Damon is quite spectacular.
A Most Violent Year
This crime epic has been out in the US since 2014, but is only premiering in Taiwan this weekend. Its title refers to 1981, which is statistically the deadliest year in the city’s history up to that point with more than 120,000 reported robberies and 2,166 murders. The story follows a first-generation immigrant (Al Pacino, wait, no, Oscar Isaac) and his Brooklyn mafia daughter wife (Jessica Chastain) who fight to protect their American Dream and expand their heating oil business while dealing with corruption and mob violence. Isaac’s character is faced with raising cash while under investigation for fraud while his company trucks keep getting attacked by an unknown source. Determined to succeed, the film follows the protagonist slowly plunging deeper and deeper into midst of things and doing what he needs to do, whether he likes it or not.
Let’s take a moment of silence, as this is the late Robin Williams’ last film — OK, he doesn’t actually appear in it, he provides the voiceover for the protagonist’s talking dog. It’s also Terry Jones’ (of Monty Python fame) first directorial feature in 20 years, and features all living Monty Python cast members. The film is based on a pretty weak premise, however, with a group of aliens bestowing upon an unhappy schoolteacher the power to do, well, absolutely anything, just to test his moral compass. If he succeeds, he joins their council, if he fails, they destroy Earth. It’s really hard to see how anything original or interesting can be made out of such a tired plot, even with the combined funny firepower of Monty Python and Williams involved. Unfortunately, most critics seem to agree.
What happens when you try to combine the disturbing psychological horror of Saw with the cheesy, happy teeny-bopper dramedy of Glee? This zombie comedy is literally the answer, as it is a collaboration between their respective creators. The film takes place in a town called Fort Chicken where the children are turned into the living dead after ingesting, uh, infected chicken nuggets. Elijah Wood plays the teacher who, instead of developing his students’ minds, needs to keep his brains from being eaten. Critics say the unlikely pairing actually works, resulting in a ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek product that’s not really scary, pretty funny, pretty gross and pretty entertaining if you aren’t offended by adults bashing their way through hordes of brain-hungry children.
A dude can only dream of two attractive women showing up at his door, making themselves at home and finally seducing him for a threesome in the bathroom. For Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves), a happily married architect who encounters the exact scenario while his wife and son are on vacation, it’s only the beginning of a nightmare that probably will never end. It’s a modern, glossier update of the campy 1977 exploitation film Death Game, which features two hippie chicks instead. Webber initially refuses the women’s advances but slowly gives in as the whole thing turns dark, sadistic and deadly. It’s hard to see how this will end well for the chap.
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
It’s impossible to write a book entirely in the Taokas language. There are only about 500 recorded words in the Aboriginal tongue, whose speakers shifted to Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) generations ago while preserving certain Taokas phrases in their speech. “When I first started recording the language around 1997, I really had to jog the memories of the elders to find anything,” says Liu Chiu-yun (劉秋雲) a member of the Taokas community and a language researcher. The Taokas last month unveiled a picture book, Osubalaki, Balalong Ramut the community’s first-ever commercial publication using the language. The lavishly illustrated book
Certain historical statues have been disappearing in Thailand, but they are not effigies of colonialists or slave owners torn down by protesters. Instead, Thailand’s vanishing monuments celebrated leaders of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand, who were once officially honored as national heroes and symbols of democracy. Reuters has identified at least six sites memorializing the People’s Party that led the revolution which have been removed or renamed in the past year. In most cases it is not known who took the statues down, although a military official said one was removed for new landscaping. Two army camps named after 1932
Jason Ward fell in love with birds at age 14 when he spotted a peregrine falcon outside the homeless shelter where he was staying with his family. The now 33-year-old Atlanta bird lover parlayed that passion into a YouTube series last year. One of the guests on his first episode of Birds of North America was Christian Cooper, a black bird watcher who was targeted in New York City’s Central Park by a white woman after he told her to leash her dog. A video capturing the encounter showed the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), retaliate by calling the police