I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016)

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As I see it, the new Chinese film, I Am Not Madame Bovary, from director Feng Xiaogang is his best film to date, and easily the best new release I saw in 2016. There’s not a moment in this movie which I didn’t fully enjoy, and to watch Sino actress Fan Bingbing in, possibly, the role of her career — well, that was a pure delight.

This Mandarin language film was ignored by Australia’s mainstream media on its theatrical … (read more)

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The Great Wall (2016)

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To answer the question right off the top that everyone’s probably wondering about — no. Matt Damon does not save China in The Great Wall. Oh, he has a great white hand in slaying the monster, but he doesn’t strike the lethal blow. That’s splitting hairs, sure, but hey. Baby steps.

If you haven’t already heard by now, The Great Wall is Hollywood studio Legendary East and state-owned China Film Group’s US$150 million fantasy epic that is supposed to … (read more)

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Pedicab Driver (1989)

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Sammo Hung has embraced the fact he is a large fellow. Often giving his characters names that draw attention to his size — Teapot in Winners and Sinners or Moby in Wheels on Meals — or even referencing his physique in the title of the film itself — Enter the Fat Dragon or Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon — he has never allowed his decidedly non-traditional fighting frame to slow him down. This is amply apparent in Pedicab Driver.

Seconds … (read more)

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Creepy (2016)

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It’s not that I live on a diet of serial killer movies and thriller novels. I did read Silence of the Lambs once, so I would never consider myself an expert, but for some reason – maybe the title, or maybe the fact that plenty of other Kiyoshi Kurosawa films (like Retribution and Real to name just a couple) have been fairly hair-raising – I did in all honesty expect this 2016 murder thriller Creepy to be far creepier. … (read more)

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Chocolate (2008)

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The one chocolate that most reminds me of this movie is a jaffa. Hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and melty on the inside.

Chocolate was Yanin “Jija” (or “Jeeja”) Vismitananda’s debut film role and director Prachya Pinkaew, the late Panna Rittikrai, and team created a movie designed to showcase her talents, much like they did for Tony Jaa with Ong Bak. A fairly basic story, acted out fairly basically, sets up a goal for our hero to … (read more)

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Empire of Corpses (2015)

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So, I’ve discovered a concept more disturbing than a zombie apocalypse, and of course it’s all thanks to anime. Well, anime and maybe Mary Shelley, and at a guess, cancer. Empire of Corpses was science and speculative fiction author Project Itoh’s (aka Satoshi Itoh) last, unfinished novel. He died of cancer in 2009 at the very young age of 34, and it’s perhaps no surprise that what he was writing immediately before his death was a somewhat hauntingly desperate, slightly … (read more)

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Six Four (2016)

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For those who mark time in the West, 1989 was a common year, 365 days long. For Japan however, it was two years in one. The Japanese calendar is based on periods or eras, marked for every year of an emperor. 1989 was the year that Emperor Hirohito, the ruler that had seen the nation both into and out of the Second World War and beyond, died at the age of 87. He passed away on January 7, one week … (read more)

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Top Secret: Murder in Mind (2016)

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Director Keishi Otomo, whose brilliant Rurouni Kenshin trilogy was probably one of the best anime/manga adaptations to hit our screens in the last decade, exhibits an equal amount of mastery over thriller genre mise-en-scène in his latest film Top Secret: Murder in Mind, but it seems in this case he perhaps needed a better screenplay writer. Or maybe Japanese action cinema just has to more seriously consider spanning manga/anime adaptations across more than one movie as a default setting, … (read more)

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