Big screen debut by celebrated soap opera director Hsu Chao-jen (許肇任), this is yet another quirky romance of the kind that Taiwanese filmmakers seem to be addicted to making. Together, the Chinese title, which references the classic Hong Kong romance Comrades: Almost a Love Story (甜蜜蜜) starring Maggie Cheung (張曼玉) and Leon Lai (黎明), sets the bar impossibly high, and the cast, which includes model Sonia Sui (隋棠), singer Kenny Bee (鍾鎮濤), and Seediq Bale (賽德克‧巴萊) alumnus Umin Boya (馬志翔), are attractive and competent, but nowhere near to making cinema history. Director Hsu looks at family and romantic ties among well-heeled young people with inordinate quantities of leisure, and the central characters prevaricate over who they should fall in love with.
Baseball Love (球愛天空)
Directed by comedian and variety show host Peng Chia-chia (澎恰恰), Baseball Love is as much a coming-of-age story as it is an indulgence of the director’s own love of baseball. The leading part, a young lad who loses himself in his love of the game, squandering opportunities both on and off the field, is taken by singer Vanness Wu (吳建豪). This unpredictable player finds direction after he gets back with his girlfriend, played by newcomer Sarah Wang (王予柔), and with her help he overcomes his demons, faces off against rivals, and generally finds love, fulfillment and success.
The Rise of the Guardians
A new animation from DreamWorks that is a surefire hit for the festive season. Directed by Peter Ramsey, this is a big-ticket celebration for modern kids who know all about Christmas and the Easter Bunny but don’t quite yet want to give up on the fantasy. An A-list voice cast includes Alec Baldwin, Jude Law and Hugh Jackman and a top-notch script which is sophisticated, playful and smart, makes The Rise of the Guardians an enjoyable take on a tried and tested formula: In this case, it is The Avengers, but with the creatures of childhood fantasy, including a Russian Santa Claus, and Australian Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the tooth fairy. Evil is abroad, spreading fear around the world, and only by joining forces can the Guardians make the world safe again.
Horror flick that bills itself as the most horrifying of this year failed to get critics excited. Starring Ethan Hawke, Sinister manages occasionally to break out of the supernatural horror formula, makes clear that we are our own boogeymen, but at the same time, the central character, a writer of “true crime” books, is so uncompromisingly stupid that it is sometimes impossible to take the film seriously. For all that, Hawke does provide a good portrayal of a man gradually being overcome by his own fears, but this isn’t quite enough to hold the film together.
The House at the End of the Street
It looks good at the start, and Jennifer Lawrence is a glorious presence, but The House at the End of the Street, despite taking its time with the setup, giving us a couple of well drawn central characters, does not deliver either suspense or shocks, and in the end it falls back on being little more than a badly conceived rip off of Psycho.