7 items from 2015
Like a Bollywood movie, only with lousy dancing and no songs, “Lady of the Dynasty” — a screen representation of the tragic romance between the Tang Emperor and one of the four greatest beauties in Chinese history — is crammed with garish spectacle and military jingoism, but is so poorly paced and dramatically uninvolving it barely passes muster as entertainment. Businessman-turned-helmer Shiqing, who shares directing credits here with Zhang Yimou and Tian Zhuangzhuang, is bent on conjuring the Tang dynasty’s golden age of internationalism, tolerance and artistic freedom as a mirror of contempo China, but his lack of narrative finesse turns whole chunks of the film into a dry political tract on foreign policy. Domestically, the film was a critical and B.O. flop, but its gaudy aesthetics could have trashy camp appeal for foreign genre buffs.
The project was first announced in 2011 as a Chinese-Japanese co-production with South Korea’s »
- Maggie Lee
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal
Hong Kong, 2015
In recent years the Chinese and Hong Kong film scene has grown exponentially more important with respect its movie output and the lucrative potential that has Hollywood studios salivating, chasing cross-national picture deals which secure distribution rights on the island and mainland. As American, big budget productions have found ways to co-produce projects with the Chinese producers and film on their soil, so too have Chinese and Hong Kong production companies upped their game in an attempt to showcase their own blockbuster inclinations. Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, is another in a long line of Chinese fantasy action movies that offer spectacle and a sweeping story that attempts to rival the best that Hollywood has to offer.
Set many centuries ago in a fictional, »
- Edgar Chaput
Kristen Stewart, 'Camp X-Ray' star, to join cast of 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' Kristen Stewart to join 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' movie After putting away her Bella Swan wig and red (formerly brown) contact lenses, Kristen Stewart has been making a number of interesting career choices. Here are three examples: Stewart was a U.S. soldier who befriends an inmate (Peyman Moaadi) at the American Gulag, Guantanamo, in Peter Sattler's little-seen (at least in theaters) Camp X-Ray. She was one of Best Actress Oscar winner Julianne Moore's daughters in Wash Westmoreland and the recently deceased Richard Glatzer's Alzheimer's drama Still Alice. She was the personal assistant to troubled, aging actress Juliette Binoche in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria, which earned her a history-making Best Supporting Actress César. (Stewart became the first American actress to take home the French Academy Award. »
- Andre Soares
With twelve features to his name, two of those winning him Best Director Academy Awards (Brokeback Mountain; Life of Pi), Ang Lee has become one of the most notable auteurs to achieve success within the studio system. While his 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility began a successful career in English language filmmaking, the Taiwanese director had already received two Oscar nods for Best Foreign Language film. Those include 1993’s The Wedding Banquet, premiering in Berlin, and 1994’s Eat Drink Man Woman, now available for the first time on Blu-ray, though it hasn’t enjoyed the same lasting reputation. After the film, Lee wouldn’t return to working in Mandarin until six years later (2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), so it represents a certain jumping off point for the director.
Food and sex are base human desires that cannot be ignored, or so Mr. Chu (Sihung Lung) remarks, »
- Nicholas Bell
A 3D fantasy adventure about a demon slayer who becomes smitten with, erm, a demon, “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” comes up with a splashy, game-influenced visual look new to this popular Chinese genre. However, the decision to binge on CGI action setpieces overwhelms the romantic spark of the central characters, played by impossibly beautiful leads Lee Bingbing and Aloys Chen Kun, while the film’s themes of class division, human desire and hypocrisy find darker, more riveting expression only toward the end. Co-helmed by Hong Kong lenser Peter Pau and mainland director Zhao Tianyu, the film came in third among eight domestic films released for Chinese New Year, grossing $10.8 million in two days. With the clout of its overseas co-producers Village Roadshow Asia and Warner Bros., it could generate reasonably more international buzz than other Asian genre fare; a North American 3D release kicks off Friday.
For a »
- Maggie Lee
“Snow Girl And The Dark Crystal,” one of the biggest films this year from China will get a 3D release in North American theaters later this month.
Rights in the U.S. and Canada were acquired by WellGo USA, which plans an outing in North American cinemas from Feb 27. The sale was handled by Arclight Films.
The film is a fantasy that explores the legend of Zhong Kui, a fabled Chinese warrior with mysterious powers, who is forced to conquer the realms of Heaven and Hell to save his people and the woman he loves.
Produced on a budget of some $30 million, it is co-directed by “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”’s Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau, and Zhao Tianyu. It stars Li Bingbing (“Transformers: Age Of Extinction”), Kun Chen (“Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate”), and Winston Chao (“Eat Drink Man Woman”).
“3D films are extremely popular in China. Showing international films »
- Patrick Frater
Made on a budget of $32.5 million (RMB200 million), it stars Chen Kun (“The Painted Skin,” “Bends”) and Li Bingbing (“Transformers 4”) in a story of a young man endowed with mysterious powers who is forced into a battle among the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell in order to save his countrymen and the woman he loves.
The picture has one of the best releasing slots of the years and is set for mainland China release on Feb. 19, the first day of the all-important Chinese New Year holiday.
“Wanda has also »
- Patrick Frater
7 items from 2015
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