The House Bunny
This Anna Faris vehicle looks like junk judging from the trailer, but early reviews are very affectionate. Faris is an uber-dumb Playboy Bunny who gets ejected from Hugh Hefner’s digs and responds by teaching a sorority full of gormless young ladies to triumph over their apparent sexlessness. In turn, she learns that making yourself smarter has its advantages. Sounds like Revenge of the Nerds meets Legally Blonde, which, come to think of it, might be a good thing. And it’s no accident: The latter film and this one share the same screenwriters.
20th Century Boys
Nobody quite embraces the apocalypse and loss of innocence like the Japanese, and here’s another movie sourced from a classic manga to prove it. Childhood friends create a fantasy world — complete with an unsettling symbol — that imagines dreadful events befalling the planet. After reuniting as adults, they discover that their youthful fantasies are becoming reality and that the world faces annihilation at the hands of a cult leader/terrorist called Friend who has accessed their past. The film concludes with spectacular and disturbing scenes of destruction and mayhem, but hope remains: Part 2 is on the way.
City of Ember
An intricate underground city not unlike the one envisioned by the Artilleryman in the book of The War of the Worlds is the setting for this futuristic, family-ish movie. On the surface of the Earth some kind of apocalyptic event has forced humans underground and to accept the challenges that go with it. How else could the city tolerate Bill Murray as its eventual mayor? Two hundred years on, two precocious children find clues that suggest things are looking very bad for the community, not helped by collapsing infrastructure and predatory creatures roaming the outskirts. Also stars Martin Landau and Tim Robbins (who, by the way, played the Artilleryman redux in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds).
No, this videogame-cum-movie is not directed by Uwe Boll. Mark Wahlberg is the title character, out for his own brand of justice after his wife and baby are murdered. Like City of Ember, this movie privileges style and heat over content and light and may delight budding production designers as Max pursues crooks at an evil company that produces a terrifying, unpredictable drug for military purposes. Lots of action for the faithful, but it seems we’ll have to wait until Gaspar Noe directs Grand Theft Auto IV for a truly envelope-pushing movie based on a format that always lent itself to addiction and robotic violence, not real emotion.
A revelatory, wide-ranging documentary on breakdancing, this might be the best release of the week. Those put off breakdancing for life after watching fluff like the Cannon studio’s Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo in the mid-1980s might find themselves converted, despite themselves, after watching this. Superb dancers from around the world strive to reach the finals of the world competition in Germany, with the viewer intimately following five of the crews, including Japanese and South Koreans. Variety points out that the director opted for the dancers to show their moves without the hype of excessive editing or close-ups, which should please dance aficionados.
A French production set in Ireland supposedly based on an incident in the US, the title refers to a creepy-looking girl who is seemingly possessed, while the story has a psychologist attempting to reach her through her Sybil-like battery of sinister multiple identities — but not necessarily to the delight of the Wicker Man-like locals, who may have a vested interest in keeping some nasty secrets buried within her. Not a favorite among the folks at Tourism Ireland, this movie was also released as Dorothy.
Last week I had an experience that I suspect has become quite common for foreigners living in Taiwan: talking to a Taiwanese who was an ardent fan of soon-to-be-former US President Donald Trump. As I was heading for the stairs to my apartment, my landlady stopped me, eyes alight, with an idea for what to do about storing my bike downstairs. The conversation eventually veered into politics, and for a full 35 minutes she held forth on the manifold greatness of world-savior Donald Trump. She’s neither unkind nor a fool. Pro-Taiwan, she detests former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese
Jan. 18 to Jan. 24 Viewers couldn’t believe their eyes when the Taipei First Girls’ Senior High School marching band appeared on television in 1981. None of the girls were sporting the government-mandated hairstyle for female secondary school students, which forbade their hair from going past their neck. Some even had perms. The students had been invited to perform in the US, which the government saw as an important affair since the US had severed official ties two years earlier. The idea was that sending a group of girls with the same permitted hairstyle would appear contradictory to
Benjamin Chen (陳昱安) didn’t know how intense a hackathon could be. “You literally work non-stop. You don’t eat breakfast, you don’t eat lunch because you really need to finish the product,” the 10th-grader from Taipei American School says. “You feel the adrenaline rushing… It’s refreshing, I was like a new person.” Chen became fascinated by these round-the-clock competitions to create technology or software products, and participated in 10 more before he decided to start one that focused on his twin passions of economics and technology. He says there are many hackathons that delve into social and environmental issues, but few have
The town of Baolai (寶來) is located along the Southern Cross-Island Highway in the upper reaches of Kaohsiung City. After suffering a devastating setback at the hands of Typhoon Morakot, the town’s tourism industry is finally showing signs of recovery. While the town itself has many commercial hot spring offerings for tourists, the adjacent Baolai River also has at least five different wild hot springs available to those with a more adventurous spirit. SHIDONG AND WUKENG Just before entering the town of Baolai, make two right turns to reach the bridge across the Baolai River. Immediately after crossing this bridge, there is