Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

According to CRI, this fellow didn't need a ticket for the festivities since he is the "10 Downing Street Cat".

Well, that was quick--Fan Bingbing, Yao Chen and others close out Beijing Festival

The Beijing International Film Festival closed yesterday. From the coverage in the Chinese entertainment press the closing ceremonies had all the pomp and glamor of a ribbon cutting at a regional water treatment facility. Everyone worked the rope line of frenzied fans and then had their picture taken, with most of the excitement happening when Yao Chen stepped on the trailing train of Fan Bingbing's dress.

The adventure began when the bottom of Yao Chen's shoe met the hem of Fan Bingbing's dress:

A closer look:

The result:

Order was quickly restored and everyone was happy:

They both looked delightful, either together:

Or separately:

Nice dress, great shoes although maybe not at the same time:

A microphone with a sharp-edged cardboard cutout gets waved around during an interview:

Fans were acknowledged:

Singer Zhou Bichang (Bibi Chou)

Yan Ni had a big smile

As did Yao Chen

The Fanster worked her magic



Thursday, April 28, 2011

The rich and famous give each other awards at China Charity 2011

Many of China's great and good gathered in Beijing for the China Charity 2011 bash, announcing the names of the 173 people who had personally contributed one million yuan or more during the past year. Lots of actresses were there, either to pick up an award or just to see and be seen.

Ruby Lin and Zhao Wei talk about old times while waiting to be named Chinese Philanthropy Artist.

Zhao Wei ignores the potential civil unrest behind her.

Ruby Lin looking lovely in a satin evening suit with skin tight slacks and a complicated top with director Gao Xixi who couldn't find a pair of pressed trousers.

Model and actress Sun Feifei shows how to look good while signing one's name on a wall.

Singer Bibi Chau and her glasses.

Actress Li Xiaolu is a most distinctive dress.

Another view of her very structured, asymmetrical outfit. That's Jai Nailiang on her arm.

Chow Hoi-Mei with the award--apparently just one of 177 that were given out at the event. If each of the awardees also got a bunch of flowers that large then it would have been a great week for the Beijing floral business.

This is singer Tang Can with Chow Hoi-Mei--her quizzical look and odd outfit make it worth seeing. Chow Hoi-Mei was a featured singer on the bill and Tang Can may have been as well. H/T to duriandave for the quick identification and a wealth of Tang Can goodness in the comments below from Dave and Dennis Lee.

People's Daily

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Li Fei and Tin Sum in "Lethal Angels"

“Lethal Angels” is a police drama full of violence, rape and revenge. Winnie and her protégés aren’t very angelic but they are extremely lethal and efficient with three silent murders in a crowded dance club while being tracked by 15 CCTV cameras and staked out by two Hong Kong detectives. The first killing is in a mirrored back room with a stripper pole and tiny stage. The victim is Big Eye, a loathsome gangster who is enticed, garroted and stabbed using a knife blade that springs from a boot heel. The other two are dispatched on the dance floor which would be a gore hound’s delight. One was gutted like sheep by an Angel using a razor-honed kris while the other was skewered with a long, thin metal rod sharpened to a deadly point. The two detectives, Jet and Darren, missed the entire fracas.

Meet the boss--Li Fei

The angels are led by Winnie who, as played by Le Fei, is as deadly and determined as a female praying mantis. The others are Yoyo (Tin Sum), Emma (Cheri Ying) and Macy (Meme Tian Pu-Jun). The angels have been trained to carry out their murderous missions with no second thoughts while ignoring pain and exhaustion. They are an impressive bunch who can react when a gun is fired by unsheathing a knife and knocking the oncoming bullet out of the air. With their deadly skills—and none is more skilled than Winnie—and Winnie’s determination to find evil men, expose them and kill them this is a force to be reckoned with. Jet and Darren are a bit out of their depth—actually way out, since Jet remembers Yoyo, one of the assassins in the club, finally recalling that he had a first date with her on the night that her entire family (and Yoyo as was assumed by everyone) was slaughtered by Triad minions against whom her father had testified.

The most lethal angel--Tin Sum

Jet has only met Yoyo once, five earlier when he was a kid trying to impress girls with his basketball prowess. She didn’t show up for their date and was too busy to call, having witnessed the slaughter of her family, momentarily escaping from the killers and then being rescued by the angels who left a stack of bodies in their wake. Jet’s infatuation with Yoyo are understandable: Tin Sum is just about perfect in the role, a staggeringly beautiful actress with a face that the camera loves and has talent to burn. Yoyo could launch a thousand ships and burn the topless towers of Ilium before she put her makeup on in the morning.

The girls rest up for the next round of slaughter--Meme Tian Pu-Jun, Wai Wah, Cherrie Ying, Tin Sum

Part of the conflict is between Yoyo and Winnie. Winnie’s next target is Bowen, a person who really needs killing and who really needs to be killed by Winnie. There is an incredibly brutal flashback that shows Bowen kicking the prostrate and pleading Winnie until she miscarries in a pool of blood. It was his child she was carrying. Winnie has a real Old Testament view of revenge—or would if there was a Christian sensibility. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth—and a child for a child. The angels will infiltrate Bowen’s compound, steal his money, take incriminating evidence and then kill him, his wife and his young daughter. Yoyo is sent as a replacement nurse for the child with expected results—she falls in love with her cute young charge.

Li Fei and Tin Sum

Someone is in trouble

The action plays out as one would expect with a lot flamboyant killing using dagger, garrote, razor blade, poison, spear and bare hands. While the angels have been trained with firearms—in one sequence Winnie throws several decks of cards in the air and tells them to shoot only the aces, which they do—all the gunplay is left to the police. Few survive but those who do are on their way to living happily ever after in a Hong Kong where the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Notorious” is always playing in the same cinema.

There is quite a bit of extreme brutality including sexual violence and child murder and the plot is much too thin for so much blood and guts but director Steve Cheng moves quickly from splatter scenes to domestic tranquility and blooming young love. He doesn’t make the mistake of lingering over the gore splattered corpses.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Isabella Leong in "Isabella"

"Isabella” seems to be an attempt by Edmund Pang to make a film that would do well on the festival circuit and get good art house play. Its characters are full of secrets and almost always lie to and about each other. Most of the action takes place off screen—it is set just before and after the handover of Macau to the PRC—and is summarized by title cards that also serve to help delineate the structure of the movie. It is lovely to watch and listen to—cinematographer Lam Chi-Kin used a palette limited almost entirely to deep greens, grays and browns with the occasional flash of red and composer Peter Kam Pau-Tat provided a very romantic piano and violin based score. Isabella Leung has a wonderful presence—the camera loves her and so do I.

Inspector Ma Jan Shing (Chapman To) and Cheung Bik Yan (Isabella Leung) are not only the main characters they are essentially the only characters other than Yan’s dog. Everyone else comes and goes but none of them have any real effect on things. None of the other characters are interesting in themselves; they are there only to provide information about Shing and Yan and to create the need for them to tell more lies to each other. Yan confronts a number of Shing’s girlfriends, one night stands and pick-ups, coming up with a story for each of them that will make them go away. Shing knows a surprising secret (actually a secret within a secret) that he only reveals (to the audience but not to Yan) very late in the game.

Chapman To is so taciturn that is very lack of expression becomes the way he communicates. After a while he seems somnolent, as if he dozed off in the middle of a scene and Pang kept the camera rolling. Dozing off would not be the worst reaction to much of “Isabella”; many of the scenes are too long, the glances too lingering, the pauses too full of meaning as if Pang fell in love with the images he was creating and forget to say “cut”. Some shots go on for so long that one can easily imagine the storyboards and the blocking instructions on the shooting script. He makes Macau look lovely, an elegantly decayed throwback to an imperial past and he does a wonderful job of lighting and framing his actors but the lack of pace in “Isabella” takes much of the edge off the shocking revelation at the end.

Slow is not bad in itself. Long scenes, long takes and long shots aren’t flaws as such but it takes a very skilled director to use them as much as Pang does here. Eric Rohmer has made riveting films that are mainly characters sitting around an apartment or beach house talking with each other but they are vital, interesting characters who through the course of the film reveal their interior lives. His “Six Moral Tales” are masterpieces of temptations resisted and accepted—and talked about in elegant and seductive ways. Wim Wenders has made enthralling movies which seem to consist of ordinary people talking about ordinary activities.

Pang makes Macau look like a sun-drenched colonial backwater in a post-colonial world—he captures it perfectly. Chapman To and Isabella Leung are terrific and ultimately Pang helps them to amazing performances. “Isabella” is worth seeing for those reasons alone.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More from Day One, Beijing International Film Festival

Another view of the Fan Bing-Bing dress. Not sure of the color--it could be anywhere from dark blue to dark gray but probably isn't black which is how it showed up on most of the pictures carried on the internet. I lightened this one a bit (note the pinkish wall) trying to show a bit of detail.

Fan Bing-Bing,Tang Wei and a guy in a striped shirt (who may well be more famous than either of them) backstage. Here is where one would like to be a Mandarin speaking fly on the wall to overhear who is saying what to whom.

Yu Rong-Guang and Mary Ma (Ma Yanli), each very intrigued with something. Nice pink evening purse.

Zhang Jingchu looks lovely and ignored by her date. Three minutes later they were probably texting their friends about what a dull party this was.

Guo Xiaodong keeps a firm hold on Wang Likun and Zhou Xianxin whose pairing of a low-cut minidress with an odd chiffon wrap was not a good idea.

This is Han Yuqin in blue and Huang Xiaolei in green. Women on display must get tired of the crossed ankles in stilettos stance but it seems to come with the territory.

Top picture of Fan Bing-Bing is from, the official site of the festival.

The rest are the work of photographer Wang Jing and were aggregated by in one of their many blogs. Wang Jing behind the camera:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Beijing International Film Festival early red carpet pictures

The inaugural BIFF kicked off yesterday (depending on which side of the International Date Line your are) and Zimbio had a few red carpet pictures. I would imagine there will be many more particularly from Chinese sources in the next few days. Dennis Lee, as usual, will be where most of us start looking. He is also running some darling images of Karen Mok from her miniblog that shouldn't be missed. For now, a few pics from Zimbio:

Fan Bing-Bing goes with some of her strengths--classic profile and alabaster complexion with no jewelry and an unusual hairdo. One wonders what was happening way up by the ceiling that she found so intriguing.

Not quite sure what she is wearing here but she has a large following among fashion mavens so we will know soon enough.

Tang Wei with Peter Chan. Love the pattern on her dress, lovely looking fabric but it (or at least this outfit) drapes very badly--as if it was still being put together backstage.

Nice curly-girl tousled look although whoever loaned Tang Wei the necklace and earrings might have wished for a less flamboyant hairstyle--or at least something that didn't cover up her accessories quite so well.

Model/designer Mary Ma looks great in red, all 5' 10" of her.

Zhang Ziyi lends an ear to the diva-starved masses of China's capital city.

Something new--pedicure coverage showing nail polish matching a gown.

Zhang Ziyi in blue:

Mary Ma in red--more interesting is the detail on her gown. Looks like it might have a full length satin lining, possibly one of the reasons Mary Ma looks so confident in the photo above.

All images from Zimbio