Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zhang Ziyi and Cecilia Cheung in “Dangerous Liaisons”

Setting Dangerous Liaisons in Shanghai during the 1930s and opening it out slightly to include glimpses of the social and political unrest of the time and place was an interesting and not altogether successful decision by its creators. One of the reasons that the 330 year old French novel remains such a rich source for cautionary tales of amorality, libertinage and emotional cruelty is the confined hothouse atmosphere the characters inhabit in Paris and in various chateaux. While Les Liaisons dangereuses was set seven short years before the storming of the Bastille, Choderlos de Laclos, its author, was secretary to Louis XVI’s cousin and hardly one to bring the Paris mob into his account of aristocratic licentiousness.

So making Du Fenyu the widow of a hero of the struggle against the Japanese and the warlords, including having her make an impassioned fundraising pitch at an haute-bourgeois party was a distraction—it also telegraphed to the audience that she would still be around when the closing credits rolled. Zhang Ziyi was excellent as Du Fenyu, gliding through most of the movie on a cloud of moral superiority while helping activists who were her husband’s students escape the police and rebuffing the advances of the cad Xie Yifan until she finally succumbs to him.

Zhang Ziyi as the too good to be true Du Fenyu

I feel that Jang Dong-Gun played Xie Yifan much too broadly with constant smirks and knowing leers as he stalked his prey, planning to seduce Du Fenyu to win a bet with the imperious and beautiful Mo Jieyu. Du Fenyu neither knows nor understands the level of his duplicity although he underlines his amoral behavior whenever given a chance.

One would not want to be on the wrong side of Mo Jieyu, perfectly portrayed by Cecilia Cheung. She is more than a match for any of the men around her is obviously the strongest although most repellent character onscreen. One hated Madame Mo while marveling at Cecilia Cheung’s pure talent and screen presence. In on short, memorable scene she essentially seduces the lingerie clad Beibei when convincing her to model for Dai, setting in motion her plan to use the innocent, convent raised Beibei to hit back at Beibei’s new fiancĂ©, a wealthy businessman formerly Madame Mo’s suitor.

Cecelia Cheung as the formidably evil Mo Jieyu

The opulent interiors and elegant costumes were very well designed and rendered as was the evocation of Shanghai in the late 1930s. There are a lot of notable parts to” Dangerous Liaisons” but they don’t really add up to a compelling film.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Li Bingbing on red carpet in Hong Kong for "Transformers: Age of Extinction"

Li Bingbing accompanied by director Micheal Bay and co-stars hit the red carpet for the world premier of the most recent Autobots vs. Decepticons classic, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" while a 20 foot Optimus Prime robot stood guard over the city. One look at her outfit made on realize that she must suffer from NGF (No Gay Friends). It was a hodgepodge of sheer panels and odd looking craft-store inspired foliage, accessorized with platform ankle strap pumps that would go with exactly nothing. That she could wear this strange creation without embarrassment or a hint of self-consciousness and actually sell the look shows just elegant and confident she is.

There was at least on angle which looked fine:

Although it took a lot of stoop labor by fashion assistants to get it there:

Looks like the same two aides were responsible for getting her up and down stairs:
One of Li Bingbing's co-stars at the press conference, ignored by the diva-starved masses:

In an interview with Yahoo Singapore, Li Bingbing said that the only really daunting part of the roll was after she had memorized her dialog in English so that she could authoritatively deliver her lines in a language not her own telling the reporter that, "I am not a native speaker, but I had to perform as if I am fluent in the language." This was made even more challenging when the script was changed on the fly by the director or someone else who thought he had a good idea. It brings to mind the difficulties that Gong Li had on the "Miami Vice" set where pages of the script would be rewritten during the shoot followed by Michael Mann telling the cast, "OK let's do a take in Spanish this time." "Transformers: Age of Extinction" assembles itself worldwide on June 26.

Yahoo Singapore; CRI English; Sina

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hong Kong, June 4, 2014. Remembering 1989

There are dates that resonate with meaning; in North America there is September 16, 1810 and July 4, 1776. In France it's July 14, 1789.

June 4, 1989 isn't celebrated in the People's Republic of China but the citizens of Hong Kong do quite a job in making sure it won't be forgotten by the Chinese people. As usual on this day we direct you to Webs of Significance for the right in the middle of things observations of the exemplary Hong Kong blogger YTSL.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Gong Li to head Shanghai Fest jury

The 17th Shanghai International Film Festival will run from June 14 to June 22. Gong Li is the first actor as well as the first female to serve as the jury's president. She knows her way around film festival politics, having served on juries at Cannes, Tokyo, Berlin and Venice.

Film Business Asia

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi are all smiles in Cannes

It may have been Monaco; I recognize neither the Beaux-Arts pile, complete with a battery of cannons, in the background nor the guy in the blue suit that both Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi seem to be happy to see. The absence of a crowd of photographers following them around also indicates the setting isn't the film festival.

No matter what part of the Riviera they graced, both of them looked exquisite wearing outfits that could be called casual only in a place where evening dresses and dinner jackets are worn at 11:00 AM. Together, looking as if they are about to do a grip and grin:


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Isabella Leong back in Hong Kong for short run play

Isabella Leong is returning to the Hong Kong entertainment world and is currently in rehearsal with Jim Chim for his play "Sign of Happiness". She plays a deaf-mute woman while Chim portrays a speech therapist who tries to bring laughter into her life. Leong has been rehearsing for 12 hours per day, working especially hard since she has to interpret the character using movement, body language and facial expression with no dialog. Based on some of the images from rehearsals she and Chim could be a mixed gender Vladimir and Estragon:

One hopes that Robin Williams doesn't get his hands on the rights to "Sign of Happiness":

For those interested, Jim Chim seems very politically knowledgeable and willing to discuss it at length. Here is an interview from a couple of years ago. He discusses how Hong Kong residents view Mainlanders, the (at the time) upcoming election, internet censorship and much else.

Opening night is May 30 at the Hong Kong Culture Centre, scheduled for only three performances.

Sina; Jaynestars; Time Out; xin.msn

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fan Bingbing shares Blink make-up snapshots while storming through Australia on X-Men tour

Fan Bingbing while flying around the land down under publicizing "X-Men: Days of Future Past" took time to post some photographic self-portraits to her eight million or so followers so that they would know she hadn't forgotten them:

Leaving Singapore for Melbourne, she didn't try to go incognito but went with the lovably goofy look--huge sunglasses, oversize jacket, baseball cap with crossed pistols (?)

And a cloth doll stuffed in her back pocket:

Hitting a movie star pose and then working the rope line, giving adoring fans a chance to take selfies.

FBB Weibo; Forbes; SMH

Saturday, May 17, 2014

More from Cannes: Angelababy out and about, Jane Zhang sings, Zhang Ziyi hobnobs.

Angelababy showed up at a number of Cannes venues--at the opening of "How to Train Your Dragon II" on the arm of Mark Chao:

There were some photoshoots using the Cannes beachfront as a completely generic backdrop, pictures that could have been taken anywhere that has some sand and an ocean:

Jane Zhang sang for her supper (or at least her flute of Champagne) and headlined China Night at the festival, wearing a dress with a huge panda appliqued or embroidered on it:

A typical scrum of reporters and photographers pins Jane Zhang against a backdrop:

Zhang Ziyi had her hand kissed by Spanish director Pedro Almovodar and got a side hug from queen of all she surveys Cate Blanchett, who seems taller than most people she encounters on a movie set:

One more of Cate Blanchett with her co-star:

Sina; xinhuanet; xin.msn

Cannes opens without FBB; Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi are stunning on red carpet

The 67th Cannes Film Festival got underway with the premier screening of "Grace of Monaco" and Fan Bingbing never looked better. But she was half a world away at the Beijing opening of "X-Men: Days of Future Past", appearing with Hugh Jackman and Peter Dinklage at the Chinese capital before scooting off to Singapore for for another red carpet rendezvous:

The distaff side of the Chinese film industry was well represented by Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. Zhang Ziyi flew in from London (and yes, her arms were really tired) and made it from the airport with the help of a bodyguard and a Mandarin speaking minder:

Gong Li got from the Nice airport to the Cap d Antibes without assistance--she knows her way around, having come to Cannes since 2004. One expected to see Yves Carcelle since he has been her permanent escort at the film festival but he has moved on from running Louis Vuitton to helping give away some of Bernard Arnault's billions.

They made it to the red carpet for the opening, a showing of "Grace of Monaco". Both actresses were (as usual) devastatingly gorgeous, Gong Li in Roberto Cavalli and dripping with diamonds and pearls from Piaget, for whom she is a major brand ambassador and Zhang Ziyi in a gown by Stéphane Rolland that was a hint of art deco and a prince's ransom in diamonds from Chopard.

People,s Daily; Harper's Bazaar UK; CRI; Piaget-cinema; Sina