The 5th Wave
The latest to ride the wave of post-apocalyptic young adult science fiction adaptations, there’s really nothing in the plot description that makes The 5th Wave stand out. Even the fact that it’s set to become a trilogy follows the golden rule established by the Hunger Games and so on. Anyway, aliens have devastated the world in four distinct waves of attacks, and while people await the fifth one, spunky teen Chloe Grace Moretz teams up with a stranger to save her younger brother who has been captured by aliens. Throw in some budding romance stuff, survival scenes and kids being forced to grow up and fight, and you have the perfect film — for a teenager. Adult alien-invasion enthusiasts should probably wait for this summer’s sequel to Independence Day.
If you don’t know what this movie is about after reading the title, just don’t watch it. Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame directs this Oscar-hopeful biopic based on Walter Isaacson’s book on the man who co-founded Apple, recruiting a big-name cast of Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. The book itself is quite impressive — released 19 days after Job’s death in 2011, it is based on extensive interviews with Jobs and more than 100 family members and friends. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who won multiple awards for his similarly-themed The Social Network, has divided the movie into three acts — each marked by a significant Jobs invention. There’s talk that many people featured in the movie and people who knew Jobs have criticized the film as an inaccurate portrayal, so just take it with a grain of salt.
First Bruce Willis, now Robert De Niro — our iconic stars are aging and fading into insignificance — but at least De Niro still gets the titular role in Dirty Grandpa. Plus, the former tough guy has been venturing into big budget comedy for awhile, not all with bad results. This low-brow comedy is directed by Ali G collaborator Dan Mazer, and has Zac Efron playing De Niro’s straight-laced grandson whom De Niro drags to Daytona Beach for a good time before he gets married to an equally uptight woman. Seems like a terrible idea, but judging from the trailer, it actually could be funny as the characters somehow make it work, especially with Efron being pushed around by De Niro. Warning: there’s a De Niro sex scene in the film.
Francesco Munzi’s crime film that won four Venice Film Festival prizes and nine David Di Donatello awards in 2014 is finally premiering in Taiwan. The story is about three brothers from a Calabrian mafia clan in southern Italy — all living in different places doing different things — who are drawn back home, becoming involved in a re-opened blood feud that goes way back. Most of the film is shot in Africo, a poor, rural town where clan violence, which has been featured in the news several times in the past decade, runs rampant. The ‘Ndrangheta, the mafia family the brothers belong to, is often considered the most powerful in all of Italy — surpassing their Sicilian counterparts. It seems like a more dramatic, slow-paced piece that explores the ties of kinship and honor and how they can drive generation after generation to reenact the never-ending violence.
Son of Saul
Another multiple award-winning European film is making its local premiere this week: Son of Saul, which won the Cannes Grand Prix and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, the first Hungarian film to do so. Impressively, it’s both director Laszlo Nemes’ and lead actor Geza Rohring’s debut feature. Rohring is Saul, a member of the Sonderkommando — concentration camp prisoners who were forced to help the Nazis in leading other prisoners to the gas chambers and disposing of the bodies afterward. Things change when Saul sees a body of a young boy that he claims is his son, and embarks on a mission to give the boy a proper Jewish burial. It’s one of the more morally dark takes on the holocaust, one where prisoners are forced to turn on others just to prolong their lives for a few months. The entire film is shot from the perspective of Saul, which should make this grim story even more powerful.
Scott Saulters wasn’t sure if his film had just taken one of the two top prizes at a recent film competition. Although Saulters has been in Taiwan for 15 years and is proficient in Mandarin, the award ceremony for the inaugural “Bi Tian Iann” (眯電影) short film contest was conducted entirely in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), a language he can’t speak. “I thought I heard it, but I didn’t want to look too excited,” he says. Despite his limited command of the tongue, Saulter’s entry, Wu Yu Tzu (烏魚子, mullet roe), took first place in the amateur category of the
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten