April 25, 2009

Asian Directors Shine At Cannes

They say that when times are bad (like now), arts and cinematic works shine even more brightly, and if the explosion of creativity at this year's Cannes Film Festival is anything to go by, this adage proves to be most true. This year's line-up is widely regarded as one of the the best in the last decade. Five acclaimed Asian directors: Ang Lee, Park Chan-Wook, Tsai Ming-Liang, Johnnie To and Lou Ye are in competition for the Palme d'Or and this year each of them have come up with works that are refreshingly different and exciting. In the Un Certain Regard lineup, there are Hirokazu Kore-eda's Air Doll and Bong Joon-ho's Mother.

Here are some of the trailers for these films that I managed to find on YouTube.

Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

Park Chan-Wook's Thirst is about a priest who turns into a vampire...

Johnnie To's Vengeance

I can't find the trailer for Tsai Ming Liang's Face but managed to find this behind-the-scenes vid of the film. Face, about a Taiwanese director making a film based on the tale of Salome is set in the Louvre Musuem and stars French stars like Laetitia Casta and Fanny Ardant.

The Host's director Bong Joon-Ho's Mother about a mother who desperately searches for the killer that framed her son for the crime.

Can't find the trailer or much information about controversial Chinese director Lou Ye's Spring Fever but according to this article, the movie is about "romantic entanglements between three friends".

A behind-the-scenes look at Air Doll can also be found here. Air Doll, based on the manga of the same name stars Korean actress Bae Doo-na as an inflatable doll and Japanese actor Arata as a video shop clerk.

Which film will emerge as a winner at Cannes? Well, guess we will only know at the Closing Award Ceremony on 24 May 2009.

Update: After an exciting one and a half weeks, the 2009 Cannes Film Festival has finally come to a close. Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon took home the prestigious Palme d'Or award. Two films by East Asian directors also won awards, Spring Fever by Lou Ye won the Award For Best Screenplay and Park Chan Wook's vampire drama Thirst won the Jury Prize. Congratulations to all the winners! The full award list is here.

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April 22, 2009

Local Films Triumph At Hong Kong Film Awards

Local productions were the big winners in this year's Hong Kong Film Awards held on 19th April. Big-budget co-productions like Red Cliff lost out to movies with a local flavor like The Way We Are in the major award categories like Best Director and Best Actor. But Donnie Yen's kungfu masterpiece Ip Man did not disappoint, winning the Best Picture award. I guess sometimes small and intimate films appeal more when audiences become jaded by huge and expensive co-production films with similar styles and themes...

Best Picture: Ip Man YesAsia.com
Best Director: Ann Hui (The Way We Are)
Best Actor: Nick Cheung (The Beast Stalker)
Best Actress: Paw Hee-Ching (The Way We Are)
Best Supporting Actor: Liu Kai-Chi (The Beast Stalker)
Best Supporting Actress: Chan Lai-Wun (The Way We Are)
Best New Performer: Eleven year-old Xu Jiao (CJ7)
Best Screenplay: Lou Shiu-wa (The Way We Are)

The nominee list can be found on the official website here. The complete awards list can be found here.

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April 6, 2009

More Boys Before Flowers News


The average ratings of the last episode (25th) of the hit Korean adaptation of Hana Yori Dango - Boys Before Flowers (or Boys Over Flowers), which aired on 31st March, was a very respectable 34.8%. And the all-time highest rating of the series was a staggering 42.9% (on the 18th episode)! By all accounts, Boys Before Flowers has been one of the more successful adaptations of Hana Yori Dango. With a combination of good-looking leads (arguably the most F4-like of all the F4s), flashy sets and high production standards, the series brought the manga to life like never before. And now there are two more adaptations coming up, the Mainland Chinese version is currently filming and a planned Hong Kong version is rumored to be in the works. Hana Yori Dango is going pan-Asia woo-hoo! I wonder if a Thai, Singaporean or Indian version will be next in line...

The Mainland Chinese adaptation, titled Meteor Rain, stars newcomers like Zhang Han as Murong Yun Hai (the Chinese version of Domyooji), Zheng Shuang as Chu Yu Xun (Makino) and Yu Hao Ming as Duanmu Lei (Rui). Check out the pics of Mainland China's F4 here and Makino here. This version will reportedly not just focus on the love stories of the protagonists like the other adaptations but will also be an "uplifting tale that shows the bravery and persistence of youths and the challenges they face" - ahem in other words, you can be sure that the main characters will all become wise and useful members of society at the end of the show haha. Adding this factor in may make the series a little too serious and moralistic for such a whimsical story like Boys but... who knows, it may still work out... If all goes well, the serial shoud be aired on Hunan TV this summer.

And according to a Chinese news article, there are rumours that Hong Kong's TVB station is also planning to make a series based on Boys, although to date there have been no official news on this. Rumored cast members include well established stars like Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue (as Domyoji), Taiwanese pop star Wu Zun (as Rui) and Hong Kong sweetie-pie Charlene Choi (as Makino). Hmm this cast is famous enough but aren't they a bit too er "mature" to play high school kids? But since these are just rumors, I guess there is no need to be too concerned about this as yet...

More drama news next time.

Source: http://news.cyworld.com/view/20090401n02159, http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Boys_Before_Flowers/Episode_Ratings, http://news.xinmin.cn/rollnews/2009/04/02/1767123.html, http://yule.baidu.com/tv/2009-03-23/113116218056.html, http://asianfanatics.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=604823

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