An updated version of Graham Greene’s thriller of the same name. The background of mods and rockers might be a little jarring for lovers of the book (or indeed the 1947 film starring Richard Attenborough). Nevertheless, Rowan Joffe’s debut feature as a director (Joffe wrote the screenplay for 28 Weeks Later and The American) is taut and atmospheric and features some exceptional performances from John Hurt and Helen Mirren. Newcomer Andrea Riseborough is exceptionally good as Rose, a vulnerable young woman who becomes a pawn in a turf war, and Sam Riley as Pinkie, the young thug who callously manipulates her, exudes both style and conviction.
The Way Back
A road movie by Australian director Peter Weir that sees a group of escapees from a Russian gulag make a dangerous journey to freedom. Some less than perfect casting, including Colin Farrell as a Russian mobster (doing little more than providing the film with an A-list lead), do the movie no favors, but there are strong supporting performances from the likes of Ed Harris and Saoirse Ronan. Magnificent photography by Russell Boyd makes up for some of the improbabilities of the story (which is “inspired” by actual events), with more attention given to developing the film’s epic and melodramatic impact than to relating the practicalities of the characters’ survival.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Martin Lawrence is back in yet another iteration of the Big Momma franchise. The humor deriving from one person in drag wearing a fat suit has worn very thin, so this time Brandon T. Jackson has been brought in as Agent Malcolm Turner’s son Trent. Trent witnesses a murder, and has to get into drag and a fat suit to hide in an upmarket girls’ school.
Life Is Miracle (最愛)
Also released under the title Til Death Do Us Part, this film is directed by Gu Changwei (顧長衛), an accomplished cinematographer with credits for major films such as Farewell My Concubine (霸王別姬, 1993) and Ju Dou (菊豆, 1990). Life Is Miracle deals with the taboo subject of AIDS in rural China, but manages to do so in a manner that is both glossy and maudlin at the same time. Aaron Kwok (郭富城) and Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) are both suffering from the dreaded “fever” and have been deposited by their respective spouses in a colony of patients on the fringe of town. In their slow dance toward death they discover physical passion and true love.
Will You Still Love Me (妳是否依然愛我)
A film by director Yeh Hung-wei (葉鴻偉), Will You Still Love Me follows the tumultuous romance between artist Ming Li and his model girlfriend Ya Chien, who is also being pursued by mobile salesman Tie Min. Megan Lai (賴雅妍), who came to prominence in CTV’s super-successful The Story of Time (光陰的故事), has the leading role. The quality of the acting is uneven, and the whole project feels like a TV soap transferred with little imagination to the big screen.
Kites: Brett Ratner Remix
An Indian film by Bollywood director Anurag Basu about passion and bank robbery, Kites opened in the US as the largest distribution of a Hindi film to date. Includes the genre’s obligatory dance routines. The director’s reputation and the presence of Hrithik Roshan, arguably the hottest man in Indian cinema, gives Kites huge commercial momentum. Roshan plays a man living on the edge, just one step ahead of the police, bounty hunters and others, all of whom want him dead. The only thing keeping him going is his passion for Natasha, played by Japanese-Uruguayan-Mexican model Barbara Mori. In a mix of English, Hindi and Spanish.
Saru Lock: The Movie
An action comedy based on a Japanese TV series. Sarumaru Yataro (Ichihara Hayato) is a regular teenager, but as the son of a locksmith, he has acquired exceptional lock-picking skills. While he uses these skills to check out a variety of beautiful women, he finds himself drawn into a police investigation.
Magic Journey to Africa
The title of this film pretty much says everything you need to know about the plot: A little girl called Jana makes a magic journey to Africa. She meets some magical beasts, including a winged horse, a talking lizard and lots of cute little animals. This is a Spanish production, though spoken in English, and seems to have been made as a kind of enhanced home-video. Acting, dialogue and pretty much everything else about the film are wooden and amateurish, and it is a wonder that local distributors have bothered to put it on the market at all.
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
In his 1958 book, A Nation of Immigrants, then US senator from Massachusetts John F Kennedy wrote the following words: “Little is more extraordinary than the decision to migrate, little more extraordinary than the accumulation of emotions and thoughts which finally lead a family to say farewell to a community where it has lived for centuries, to abandon old ties and familiar landmarks, and to sail across dark seas to a strange land.” As an epithet, the book’s title is commonly associated with America and, in the face of the xenophobic rhetoric that has marked US President Donald Trump’s tenure,
It seems that even the filmmakers don’t know what happened in 49 Days (驚夢49天). After spending too much of the film building up the mystery and constantly introducing confusing elements, they wrap up the film in the last couple of minutes in the laziest way, with the protagonist actually uttering “nobody knows.” That is bloody annoying, having sat through over 90 minutes of disjointed and head-scratching storytelling. Billed as a horror flick featuring the chilling Taoist ritual of guanluoyin (觀落陰), or visiting hell, 49 Days was meant to scare the pants off viewers over Dragon Boat Festival weekend. Horror movies