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 artist community was outraged when the authorities banned Lee Shih-chiao’s (李石樵) Reclining Nude (橫臥裸婦) from the 1936 Taiyang Art Exhibition (台陽美術展覽會). The Taiwan Daily News (台灣日日新報) reported that after hours of deliberation, the officials censored the piece for “contravening public morals.” Although the government did have rules on publicly displaying nude art, the state-run Taiwan Fine Art Exhibition regularly featured naked women, allowing more revealing pieces each year. On the same page, the newspaper ran a scathing criticism of the decision by an anonymous artist. “This is completely laughable … If they really thought [Reclining Nude] contravened public morals, they
John Thomson was a pioneering photographer in the 19th century and one of the first to journey to East Asia. In 1871, while in China he met Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell, a fellow Scotsman who was returning to Taiwan, where he served as a Presbyterian missionary. Maxwell’s description of Taiwan intrigued Thomson, and the photographer decided to accompany Maxwell to the island then known to Westerners as Formosa. Disembarking at Takow (today’s Kaohsiung) on April 2, 1871, Thomson brought with him the best photography equipment of his time, along with thousands of glass plates — an estimated 200kg of equipment. The
Alan Dolan couldn’t afford market research when he started out as a breathing instructor in 2005. Instead, he took soundings from London taxi drivers. “I’d tell them I taught people to breathe for a living — they’d be in hysterics and say: ‘What a great scam!’” Dolan says. Recently their reaction has changed: “Now they tell me about their sleep apnea or their wife’s panic attacks, ask me how that relates to breathing and often download my app.” Dolan, whose company is called Breathguru, teaches people to breathe deeply from their diaphragm, inhaling for longer than exhaling, without pausing between the
Those familiar with Jerome Keating’s work, whether through his previous books or regular op-eds in the Taipei Times, will already know his political stance. He is very open about it, and Taiwan: The Struggle Gains Focus is very much about his opinions and ideas, especially his scathing distaste for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which he calls “Pigs-1” and “Pigs-2,” respectively, in one essay. In another, he writes, “Those KMT who support the so-called 1992 consensus could consider moving to Kinmen and Matsu. From there, they could renew the ‘consensus’ with China and even