Song-and-dance film with the two big names on the marquee likely to make up for its many failings. One doesn’t expect great innovation in a movie like Burlesque, where the action exists to frame a couple of big set piece routines, but the lack of cinematic ambition is a disappointment in a film featuring such A-list celebs. Starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, and with the family friendly PG rating (viewing not permitted for children under 12), Burlesque is ripe for the teen market. Aguilera puts in a solid performance, especially in the early scenes, as a small-town girl trying to make it in the big city, while Cher stays very much behind the facade that has become her onstage persona. The rest of the cast includes many familiar faces including Stanley Tucci, as well as the likes of Peter Gallagher and Kristen Bell, who attempt to flesh out Burlesque with something akin to a story.
This movie, starring Jack Black, has only the most tenuous connection with Jonathan Swift’s novel, telling the story of travel writer Lemuel Gulliver, who finds himself in Lilliput after getting caught in a storm while en route to the Bermuda Triangle. Black’s comedic talents are not to everybody’s taste, but even fans complain that Gulliver’s Travels lacks the actor’s manic humor from School of Rock. Instead, what we have is an old-fashioned, light romantic comedy with a touch of medieval costume drama thrown in. (Lilliput is a very Camelot sort of place.) The cast includes Emily Blunt and veteran comic Billy Connolly, who are always enjoyable to watch, but with its sometimes cheap-looking special effects and mildly scatological humor, Gulliver’s Travels is more likely to appeal to children than adults.
Diary of a Sex Addict (Diario de una Ninfomana)
Also released as Diary of a Nymphomaniac, this Spanish movie, which premiered in 2008, is based on the best-selling novel Insatiable — The Erotic Adventures of a French Girl in Spain by Valerie Tasso. While the book, published in 2005, was something of a sensation in erotic fiction, this semi-autobiographical work about a middle-class French girl who dabbles in prostitution has not transferred so well to film. Though the commonplace cinematic trope of romantic fulfilment blunts the hard edge of Tasso’s psychosexual experiments, the acting is well above average — but that’s not sufficient to raise Diary of a Sex Addict above the crowd of sexy European art house movies that flood the DVD market.
Space Battleship Yamato
A live-action movie adapted from the classic 1970s television anime series. While the original series was remarkable for being able to cross the cultural divide and was released in Western markets under the title of Star Blazers, the series does not seem to have managed the transition to the big screen quite as successfully, with fans on the Internet expressing considerable disappointment with many aspects of the film, particularly the main characters’ shallowness. In terms of effects, Space Battleship Yamato is extremely ambitious, but in trying to cram a 26-episode TV series into 150 minutes, the film’s makers have bitten off far more than they can chew. While fans may be disappointed, newcomers to the series could find it an excellent introduction to a story that has achieved iconic status in Japan.
Big-budget Japanese romance inspired by a well-known song of the same name. The movie follows the lives of Canada-born schoolgirl Saki (Yui Aragaki), who achieves her ambition of getting into a prestigious Tokyo university, and Gohei (Toma Ikuta), a student from the nearby fisheries high school who is determined to follow in the footsteps of his fisherman father. They fall in love, try a long-distance relationship, break up and after many vicissitudes, are reunited. The two leads are both pop idols with strong followings, and the filmmakers have taken pains to shoot on location in Hokkaido, Toronto, New York and Tokyo, giving the film an exotic international look that will appeal to armchair tourists.
Starring Sylvie Testud, who might be known to Taiwanese audiences from the films Lourdes and Sagan, both of which were recently released here. Written and directed by Joel Seria, who made his reputation with a number of sexy pseudo-intellectual B-movie features, such as Don’t Deliver Us From Evil (1971), which tells the tale of two convent school girls who have taken a vow to sin and serve Satan. Telling the story of a neglected, mischievous kid called Roger, who finds new hope after being put into the care of Mumu, a strict teacher whose severe demeanor hides a heart of gold, Mumu is a departure from Testud’s usual material.
Cinematic filler from 2002 being brought to local screens to meet the needs of the festive season. Grand Champion will more than satisfy people looking for a nice film with children and animals that conveys an upbeat and inspirational message. Directed by actor Barry Tubb, a Texas native who was a bull riding champion at age 15 (in a junior division), the film tells the story of Buddy and Hokey (a calf), who work their way through the ranks of several Texas stock shows to win the coveted title of Grand Champion. They get help from all sorts of charming characters along the way.
To the consternation of its biological father — China — the young nation of Taiwan seems to prefer its step-dad, Japan. When the latter was forced out, a semi-modernized iteration of the former returned. And just as some people thrive as adults, despite an unstable childhood, Taiwan has become a democratic success. Unfortunately, the island’s biological father behaves like a parent who is no use, yet who continues to meddle. A combination of rose-tinted retrospection and growing mutual respect has given many Taiwanese a highly positive attitude toward Japan. Physical reminders of the 1895-1945 period of Japanese rule are treasured,
Last month China lashed out at Taiwanese agricultural exports again, banning grouper imports. This event marked the ignominious end of what was once the star agricultural product of the ill-starred Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). Local media quoted the Fisheries Agency as saying it was a turning point in Taiwan’s grouper history. Spurred by the signing of ECFA, by the spring of 2011 grouper had become the leading agricultural export, driving profits for middlemen and food price inflation. Grouper exports were among the few products whose market grew, enabling then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to
A year before Britain handed Hong Kong to China, then-president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) hailed the “one country, two systems” plan for the city as a model for the country to one day unify with Taiwan. Taiwan would get “a high degree of autonomy” — the same pledge China used for Hong Kong — while keeping legislative and independent judicial power, and its own armed forces, according to Jiang’s speech, copies of which were distributed at Hong Kong’s handover center in 1997. For Taiwan though, the proposal has never been an option. Even the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — a vestige of
How does Hong Kong look to people born in the year of the handover — for whom the city has always been under Chinese sovereignty? Some feel their fate is tied to Hong Kong’s, while others feel like bystanders as Beijing tightens its grip. Many plan to leave sooner or later. We spoke to six 24 and 25-year-olds about the Hong Kong they grew up in, and the one they expect to exist in another 25 years. THE RETURNING PROFESSIONAL “I feel helpless witnessing the changes that Hong Kong has been through,” said Keanne Lee. “At the same time, I want to keep