Blog Archives

The Monkey King 2 (2016)

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Sun Wukong returns to the big screen in The Monkey King 2, the follow-up film to director Cheang Pou-soi’s 2014 Monkey King feature film. Right on time for Chinese New Year in the year of the monkey, it’s exactly what you want in a New Year film: big, broad, comfortably familiar and filled with with ample amounts of comedy and spectacle.

(If you’re not up on the Monkey King story — Aussies of a certain age should think Monkey (read more)

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Coming Home (2014)

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Coming Home is the latest Zhang Yimou-Gong Li screen collaboration, and it reminds me of their great films from the 1990s. In Coming Home Gong Li once again shows that she is one of the world’s most gifted actors.

Director Zhang Yimou’s recent film-making has kept him busy, but mainly in a workmanlike way. International hits such as the Grand Guignol of Curse of the Golden Flower and the arthouse-wuxia pics Hero and House of Flying Daggers have kept his … (read more)

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Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

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The new Chinese drama Curse of the Golden Flower is a welcome return to form by director Zhang Yimou, and further proof that major Chinese stars Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat do their best work on home ground.

In the past fifteen years Zhang has gone from being the bad boy of Chinese cinema (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern) to the acceptable face of a cultured China with international hits like Hero and House of Flying (read more)

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Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

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Zhang Yimou has emerged in recent times as one of Mainland China’s best known directors, having directed the recent international successes Hero (remember, it’s Quentin Tarantino Presents Jet Li’s Hero for us!) and House of Flying Daggers. His films have been very successful on the film festival and arthouse circuit for a long time, however, and I’ve managed somehow to never see any of them.

So, when World Movies presented this as one of their 25 Films You Should (read more)

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Farewell My Concubine (1993)

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Farewell, My Concubine is not an easy film to watch. It deals with social and political upheaval in China from the Japanese invasion through to the Cultural Revolution, by following the three main characters through those difficult times. But it is still a very moving, and very beautiful, film, with some superb performances.

The story follows two boys training in a Beijing Opera school, who grow up to be major stars. Shitou, the older of the two, is a strong … (read more)

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The Emperor and the Assassin (1999)

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It’s by Chen Kaige, who made Farewell, My Concubine, so you know it will be huge and detailed. It stars Gong Li and Zhang Feng Yi, both mainland megastars, so you know it’s big budget. And it garnered lots of attention internationally, so you know it translates well. But for my money, it’s a bit too big, and a bit too overblown, although given that it’s one of the biggest stories in Chinese history that’s understandable. Just don’t watch … (read more)

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2046 (2004)

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Astonishingly lush images lend 2046 a surface beauty unparalleled in previous Wong Kar-wai films, giving it a distinctive grainy ‘look’ that is difficult to faithfully describe. Production designer (and film editor) William Chang and cinematographers Chris Doyle, Lai Yiu-fai (Love Will Tear Us Apart, Infernal Affairs) and Kwan Pun Leung (Lavender, director of The Making of Happy Together) create textured, absorbing visuals that envelop the screen and make it shimmer, suffocating 2D space. This … (read more)

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Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

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“…an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.”

The Age of Innocence

I couldn’t help but think of Edith Wharton’s witty summary of 19th century opera society as I watched Memoirs of a Geisha. Hollywood’s oriental-chic movie of the year is based on a novel narrated by a Japanese geisha, but written by … (read more)

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