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… On this day, I see clearly, everything has come to life.

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with 聚言莊﹕The House Where Words Gather.

Archive for the ‘Karena Lam Ka-Yan’ Category

News Links: May 30th, 2009

A belated Happy Tuen Ng Festival to all!  Hope no one stuffed themselves silly with 糭子 (rice wraps).

In case you missed it, earlier today: News Links: Sexy Photos Gate May 2009 Update

LINK OF THE WEEK:

Ronald Cheng suspected to be patron of prostitute

I could make all manner of jokes about this but most of them are tasteless and inappropriate for polite company so let’s just leave it at I’m compiling this post in front of a photo of S.  :-)

FEATURES:

China changes Hong Kong film biz

Aaron Kwok: I’m in the golden period of my career

Yan Geling: ’My Novels Are Not My Babies’

IN PRODUCTION:

Producer: Lin Ching-hsia to play Ip Man’s wife

Ziyi Gives Lowdown on Her Landmark Role

Deleted scenes? Nothing to be inglorious of, says Maggie Cheung 

Arclight looks to ‘Future X-Cops’ from Wong Jing and Andy Lau

More from Cannes:

Production Photos:

MOVIE REVIEWS:

New Straits Times reviews I CORRUPT ALL COPS

San Francisco Chronicle reviews THE BEAST STALKER

GENERAL NEWS:

Hong Kong stars linked to June 4 escape plot

I can’t believe that next week brings the twentieth (20th!) anniversary of Tiananmen 6/4.  Time flies.

In light of recent controversies, I bet Jackie Chan makes himself scarce for the next few days.  At least that’s what I’d advise him to do if I was his PR guy.  If he pops up next week and flaps his yap about Tiananmen then you’ll know that he’s either really full of himself or he doesn’t have anyone around him to tell him no.

Shu Qi jaded to sex and violence

Zhang Ziyi unaffected by beach photo scandal

TV tops media in HK as Nielsen turns 40

‘If You Are the One’, the Most Bankable One

More Chinese Box Office:  China shows its strength

MacDowell, Lau and Im join Shanghai juries

Wedding bells ring for Christopher and Fann

Zoe Tay: Her assets are a liability

Jolin Tsai:

More Taiwan:

Kelly Clarkson belts out signature songs during her visit to Hong Kong

AROUND TOWN:

Ekin Cheng Yi-Kin

In his capacity as their celebrity spokesperson, Ekin Cheng attended a Dragon Boat Festival related charity event for The Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council.

The First Lady of the Kozo Entertainment Group

At Causeway Bay’s Times Square on May 27th, Karena Lam Ka-Yan was a celebrity awards presenter at the finals of the “Be A Little Teacher Campaign 2009″ Competition.  Speaking to reporters about childhood education, Lam revealed that when she worked as a tutor for two years, she learned as much from her students as they did from her.  Lam: “The direct way children express themselves is something that we adults should emulate.”

When reporters noticed the joy Karena Lam showed from being around the children at the event, Lam revealed: “I grew up with three sisters so our home was always very lively.   Because of that, I’d like to have lots of kids.”

Asked further about her plans for motherhood, Lam replied: “I have to wait until I get married first.”

Yoyo Mung Ka-Wai, Roger Kwok Jun-On

Promoting their new TVB series THE THRESHOLD OF A PERSONA (ID 精英), Roger Kwok Jun-On, Yoyo Mung Ka-Wai, Patrick Tang Kin-Wang, Natalie Tong Si-Wing, Sherming Yiu Lok-Yi and Toby Leung Jing-Kei went to Shatin from a Dragon Boat racing event.  THE THRESHOLD OF A PERSONA debuts on TVB Jade on Monday June 1st.

Shu Qi, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, his wife Qi Qi, Michelle Yeoh and Lynn Xiong were among the celebrities who attended the gala opening of The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957.  The exhibit, which runs until September 28th, showcases a collection of designer fashions borrowed from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.  Related links:

Liza Wang, Law Kar-Ying

Earlier this month, Liza Wang and Law Kar-Ying married in Las Vegas.  On the evening of May 26th, the newlyweds held a banquet at the Manning House’s Kiangsu And Chekiang Residents (H.K.) Association restaurant.  Among the attendees were: Carol Cheng Yu-Ling, Teresa Mo Shun-Kwan, Margie Tsang Wah-Sin, Nancy Sit Ka-Yin, Alvina Kong Yan-Yin and Eileen Cha.

STALKIN’ THE STARS:

My cousin Tony and his lovely bride Carina Lau

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Carina Lau Ka-Ling hosted a dinner for family and friends on May 24th at Amigo Restaurant in Happy Valley.

Kenix Kwok Ho-Ying

Recently, Kenix Kwok took a break from working on TVB’s BORN RICH by doing a little browsing at a Causeway Bay fashion store.  TVB’s “grand production” for 2009, BORN RICH tells the story of a family feud set in the corporate world.  It boasts an all-star cast that features Kwok, Ray Lui Leung-Wai, Gallen Lo Ka-Leung, Anita Yuen Wing-Yi, Crystal Tin Yui-Lei, Nancy Sit Ka-Yin and Jamie Chik Mei-Chun among others.

PHOTO GALLERIES:

Lin Chi-Ling

Many, many, many photos of Lin Chi-Ling and Lin Chi-Ling’s legs “workin’ it” while promoting the OSIM uSqueeze Foot Massager.  Thanks to 軟體動物先生 (Mr. Mollusk?) for sending along the link.

Aaron Kwok promotes Longines watches

Lynn Xiong

Lynn Xiong, a bikini and blue screen technology combine to form an ad for a brand of body essence.

Lynn Xiong promotes Dior at their Fall Fashion Show

Kelly Chen Wai-Lam

Five months pregnant, Kelly Chen shoots an ad for DHC skin care products.

Eva Huang Shengyi does a cosmetics ad

BECAUSE I’M NOT ON TWITTER:

SUMMER HOURS, the new film from Olivier Assayas (the former Mr. Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk) sounds very intriguing.  Related links:

Off to see if the Cleveland LeBrons can stave off elimination against the Orlando Magic.  I hate to say it but I think it could be curtains for the Cavaliers’ season tonight.

28th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Actor and Best Actress

The signs are all here.  The sweet showers of April have pierced the drought of March.  The Ram has run half its course through the Zodiac and Zephirus, with his sweet breath, has breathed life into the tender crops.  It’s mid-April and time to preview the Hong Kong Film Awards.

These aren’t my predictions for the awards, rather they reflect what my votes would have been if, by some fortuitous machination of the Universe, I ended up getting a ballot.

Let’s start with the Best Actor and Best Actress categories …

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Actor are:

MY VOTE GOES TO:  Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (THE BEAST STALKER)

Nick Cheung in THE BEAST STALKER

Of the five nominated performances, the one by Nick Cheung shows the most range and the most depth.   Moreover, of the five, his job is the most difficult.  On one hand, he has to create enough tension as a villain to move the story forward. On the other — for the “one stone, many ripples” theme of the movie to work — he has to generate enough sympathy from the audience so that they care about the story behind his relentless Terminator-like menace.   Cheung pulls off both tasks with great aplomb.   If he does not win the award on Sunday night, it will be a major injustice.

Why?  My cousin Tony, Simon Yam and Louis Koo all turn in fine performances but their roles were not challenging as they’ve all given similar performances before.  In HERO, Tony Leung portrayed a man of strategy and action in a historical epic.  Over his long career, Simon Yam has played so many suave and sophisticated criminals, he could probably do it in his sleep.  As for Louis Koo, Kozo summed it up best in his review of RUN PAPA RUN:

… Koo has yet to become a truly accomplished actor, but he has cornered the market on certain character types.  Among them are the weak macho hero, the hen-pecked playboy, and other variations on the comically emasculated drop-dead gorgeous male.  What makes Koo so special at the above roles is he can play them while retaining audience identification and sympathy, making him a likable lout that’s less than a caricature and more than a simpering loser.  Basically, if you need an actor to play a character like Lee Tin-Yun, Louis Koo is your go-to guy, as he can wring comedy and even some affecting emotions from potentially weak, easily-assailed men.

Last but not least, Donnie Yen is a different kettle of fish.  He successfully reins in his natural “preening schmoe” tendencies but his portrayal of Ip Man is more like Jean Claude Van Damme playing Frank Dux in BLOODSPORT than it is Philip Seymour Hoffman winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote in CAPOTE.  I can’t say this with 100% certainty but I’m 99% sure that Yen’s portrayal of Ip Man bears very little resemblance to the real-life Ip Man.  As I said when I shared my thoughts on the film, Yen wasn’t playing Ip Man, he was playing a Chinese superhero fighting against the evil Japanese.

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Actress are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: Barbie Hsu (CONNECTED)

Barbie Hsu in CONNECTED

This category presents a real head-versus-heart dilemma for me.  My head says that Bau Hei-Jing, daughter of all-time great Bau FongBau Fonggave the best performance but, in my heart of hearts, I think I would toss my vote to Barbie Hsu.  Objectively, CONNECTED is merely a well-made popcorn movie and Barbie Hsu’s performance isn’t overwhelmingly superior to that of Bau or the other nominees.  However, it stuck with me.  About a month after I watched CONNECTED, I sat down to watch THE BEAST STALKER.  Whenever Zhang Jingchu popped up on the screen as the “mother with a child in peril”, I couldn’t help thinking: “Zhang Jingchu is really doing a nice job here but she isn’t even coming close to matching Barbie Hsu in CONNECTED.”  It’s a purely idiosyncratic reason to vote for Hsu but hers is the performance I liked the most in this category.

Another reason my heart beats out my head is that something about Bau Hei-Jing’s performance in THE WAY WE ARE bothers me.  After the film, Bau’s Mrs. Cheung remains opaque.  The audience doesn’t learn much about her beyond the fact that she’s a hard-working, magnaminous, straight-arrow.  We don’t know why she avoids visiting her mother in the hospital and, apart from one brief snippet, she doesn’t show any emotion.  Granted, many people don’t show much emotion in real life but you’d think there would be a shade here or a shade there to give the audience some insight into what makes Mrs. Cheung tick.  The screenplay may be more at fault here than Bau Hei-Jing but the nagging inscrutability of the Mrs. Cheung character helps tip my vote over to Big S Barbie Hsu.

Bau Hei-Jing in THE WAY WE ARE

As for the rest of the field, Prudence Lau delivers a striking performance as a drug-addicted prostitute in TRUE WOMAN FOR SALE.  However, at various points throughout the film, she lays it on a bit too thick so that puts her performance in the “good, really good, but not great” category.  Zhou Xun shows some allure while playing a heart-eating demon in PAINTED SKIN but it’s a role that doesn’t have award-winning gravitas.  I suppose you could say that the same thing applies to Barbie Hsu and, you know what, I wouldn’t argue with you but what can I say besides Hsu’s performance really connected with me.  In any case, the prevailing winds seem to be blowing towards Bau Hei-Jing for the win.

Now, you’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Karena Lam or her work in CLAUSTROPHOBIA.  Well, that’s because it doesn’t come out on DVD until April 30th so I won’t be able to see it until well after Sunday’s ceremony.  To get some insight on how Lam fits into this puzzle, let’s call our old pal Kozo on the Neway Karaoke LoveHKFilm.com hotline:

Phone ringing … and ringing … and ringing … and ringing …

KOZO: Hello.

SANNEY:  Hi.  Sorry to bother you on a busy work day but I’m putting together my annual HKFA preview posts and I’ve run into a bit of trouble because I won’t be able to see CLAUSTROPHOBIA until after the awards ceremony.  I was wondering if you’d give everyone a little insight into how Karena Lam stacks up against the rest of the field in the Best Actress category.  But first, I was wondering if you’d like to talk about those pictures of you that got floated out on the Internet …

KOZO:  That’s in the past, I want to talk about the future.  I’m marrying my secret girlfriend of 20 years later this month …

Speaking of my secret girlfriend, I really enjoyed Karena Lam’s performance in CLAUSTROPHOBIA.  The film can be frustrating thanks to Ivy Ho’s opaque storytelling, which requires the viewer to “read between the lines” far more than most films starring popstars do.  Lam’s performance is subtle yet compelling, and Lam pulls it off without big speeches or regular outbursts of emotion.  CLAUSTROPHOBIA asks its actors to create characters far beyond what’s on the scripted page, and Lam does that for both her character AND Ekin Cheng’s.  If acting assists were an actual statistic, then Lam would get one here.

As for her chances come Sunday, Karena Lam’s are small.  I doubt she’ll pull out a win for CLAUSTROPHOBIA as it’s a movie that people respect rather than really like. I think the award is Bau Hei-Jing’s to lose, with Prudence Lau being the only one who can upset her. In a related prediction, either Nora Miao or Chan Lai-Wun will win for Best Supporting Actress. Call it the “Susan Shaw factor”.

Image credits: Emperor Motion Pictures (Nick Cheung, Barbie Hsu), TVB (Bau Fong), Class Limited (Bau Hei-Jing)

Thoughts on IT HAD TO BE YOU

As my hot flight attendant girlfriend is away (probably out two-timing me), I’ve got nothing to do but walk Tobias, my imaginary dog, come home, make some horribly expensive coffee, put on a Faye Wong CD and cook myself some instant noodles after putting on a wig and my late wife’s dress. With all that done, I have some time on my hands to share some thoughts on IT HAD TO BE YOU.

IT HAD TO BE YOU
後備甜心

Directors: Andrew Lo Wang-Hin, Maurice Li Ming-Man
Cast: Karena Lam Ka-Yan (Jill), Ekin Cheng Yi-Kin (Jack), Eric Tsang Chi-Wai (Jason), Harvey Hu Bing (Chi On), Bobo Chan Man-Woon (Grace), Nicola Cheung Sun-Yu (Moon), Kiki Sheung Tin-Ngor (Jill’s Mom)

PRE-CONCEIVED NOTIONS: After watching a slate of “Chinese epics made for the international market”, a depressing Ann Hui film and a decent attempt at a classic HK action film, I was ready for something light. My OMNI-2 “Super Cinema Night” recording of IT HAD TO BE YOU seemed to fit the bill. IT HAD TO BE YOU is an UFO film so you have to expect a star-studded cast, interesting characters, a solid story, great production values and a glossy urban setting. After all, UFO is responsible for some films that I look back upon fondly: HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY FATHER (a classic starring the two Tony Leungs), LOST AND FOUND and the under-appreciated AND I HATE YOU SO. Of course, UFO has had their share of misfires — like TWELVE NIGHTS and LAVENDER — but, generally speaking, the UFO label means quality HK romance/drama just like the Milkyway label means quality HK action/drama.

AFTER THE MOVIE: IT HAD TO BE YOU turned out to be one of those middling films that’s somewhat disappointing but not particularly vexing. It doesn’t lend itself to penetrating analysis so, instead of a full-blown review, I’m just going to write some bullet points on stuff I liked and didn’t like then wrap everything up with a few words.

THE GOOD:

- Karena Lam Ka-Yan doing the cute schtick. If you like Karena Lam and you enjoy watching actresses doing the cute schtick then this is the film for you. From beginning to end, Lam has the “pedal to the metal” on the cute accelerator. This means, of course, that if you don’t like the cute schtick, then Karena Lam’s performance is going to grate on you. More on this later …

- Ekin Cheng Yi-Kin turns in a solid performance. As Kozo over at LoveHKFilm points out in his review, ol’ Noodle sheds his usual “thirtysomething teenager” persona for a mature, level-headed guy persona. This is a welcome development as “Mr. Badminton” turns 40 (40!) this year and watching him continue to play overgrown teenagers would be as disconcerting as watching Kevin Spacey, great as he is, play a twentysomething Bobby Darin in BEYOND THE SEA.

- Kiki Sheung Tin-Ngor gives a nice performance as Jill’s Mom. One thing about UFO Films, there are always some solid supporting characters and Kiki Sheung’s role is no different. By making Sheung’s character deaf, the filmmakers allowed for a nice variation on the typical “leading lady’s Mom” character. You’re probably tired of hearing me say this but seeing Kiki Sheung play a Mom in this film makes me feel old since I used to watch her play hot girl roles in 1980s TVB series.

After some time away, Sheung has rejoined TVB and can currently be seen with Cecilia Yip Tung, David Chiang Dai-Wai and Sheren Teng Sui-Man in the TVB series THE FAMILY LINK (師奶兵團). The series is being billed as a Hong Kong version of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

- Bobo Chan Man-Woon makes a noble bid to join the likes of Kitty Ting Hao (THE GREATEST CIVIL WAR ON EARTH) and Valerie Chow Ka-Ling (CHUNGKING EXPRESS) in the Hong Kong Movie Hot Flight Attendants Hall of Fame. Lost in the crowd of young HK starlets, Chan retired from the entertainment circle in 2006. As evidenced by her role in this film and her ad for the MTR, it’s too bad because I thought she had an air of maturity to her that gave her a leg up on the bubbly, girly-girl types. For example, I wouldn’t scoff at the idea of Chan playing a lawyer like I would, did, when I heard Gillian Chung Yan-Tung was playing one in 49 DAYS. In case you were wondering, Chan is currently on a path taken by many of her HK starlet predecessors: involved in a relationship with some rich, business-type guy.

THE BAD:

- Karena Lam doing the cute schtick. Like the fine line between love and hate and the fine line between genius and insanity, there’s a fine line between endearing and annoying. In this film, Karena Lam not only crosses that line, she leaves it a speck in the horizon of her rear-view mirror. When you combine the overdone cute act with character quirks like her penchant for charades and her imaginary dog Fluffy, her character loses the sympathy that a leading lady in a romance film needs. Instead of feeling bad for Jill’s plight as “the other woman”, all you’re thinking is that she’s a ditzy dope who deserves to be in the situation that she finds herself in.

- Ideas and setups that fizzle instead of sizzle. In addition to setting the cute meter for Karena Lam’s character at 100, IT HAD TO BE YOU is filled with plot points and setups that are intended to add charm and romance to the film but are so clearly calculated that it kills the mood instead of enhancing it. The three biggest offenders are:

  • Jill’s imaginary dog. This bit really hurts the credibility of the Jill character and the damage that it does isn’t worth the payoff at the end.

  • A sequence where Jack and Jill, unbeknownst to the other, sing to a Faye Wong at the same time. The scene is intended to show the audience that the two belong together because they have some sort of great cosmic synchronicity but, by this point in the film, everyone knows that already. As a result, it ends up being a piece of cinematic verbosity that disrupts the momentum of the movie.
  • Eric Tsang Chi-Wai’s character in drag. This bit is supposed to set up Jack and Jill for an Oprah “Moment of Enlightenment”™ about life and love but it’s too forced and strained for it to be meaningful.

Just as every magic trick has a pledge, a turn and a prestige, every romantic comedy has a situation, a complication and, hopefully, a post-romantic comedy afterglow (a term coined by an old girlfriend from my university days describing the “toasty warm” feeling you get after a good romantic comedy). IT HAD TO BE YOU has an imaginative situation (two people who can be labeled the “third party” in a romantic triangle) but the complications are too laboured and contrived to amount to any post-romantic comedy afterglow. With Ekin Cheng, Karena Lam, Harvey Hu Bing, Nicola Cheung Sun-Yu and Bobo Chan in the cast, it’s a good film for stargazing but if you are hoping to get a romantic buzz, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

MISCELLANEA:


- When I used to eat French Fries, I liked them without ketchup. I usually ate them with some salt and some pepper. I’d always thought that slathering ketchup on a fry smothered the taste of potato making eating fries meaningless. I mean, would you listen to an iPod while you’re sitting in a theatre watching a movie?

Anyway, what does this portend for my love life? Does it mean that I actually don’t want love in my life? I guess I’ll have to head over to Temple Street some day and consult a fortune teller.

- Fire Lee Ka-Wing plays a character named “Fatty”. I hope it’s not because people think he’s fat but because Lam Chi-Chung (or someone of similar proportion) was originally cast for this role and the powers-that-be were too lazy to change the character’s name after Lam dropped out.

- The greatly under-appreciated CRAZY N’ THE CITY must have made a deeper impression on me than I thought because once I saw Yan Ng Yat-Yin, I half-expected Chloe Chiu Suet-Fei to pop up on the screen. I have an OMNI-2 recording of COCKTAIL (the Hong Kong movie, not the Tom Cruise one) lying around somewhere. It has both Chloe Chiu and Bobo Chan in it. I think that’s next up on the queue.

- Seeing Nicola Cheung Sun-Yu made me look up what’s she been up to since I got put on the DL. With no movie or TV credits since 2005, there are reports that she got a day job and supplements her income by doing ads and showing up at store openings and promotional events. There are also reports that she’s going to marry her rich boyfriend in October or November 2007. Then again, there’s also a report of her rich boyfriend out on the town with another woman.

- From the “Learn Something New Every Day” File: Lo Meng, my favourite entertainment circle muscle man, has an English name — Turbo. Jet, obviously, was already taken.

Image Credits: United Filmmakers Organization (IT HAD TO BE YOU), Cathay Organisation Holdings Ltd. (THE GREATEST CIVIL WAR ON EARTH), Jet Tone Production (CHUNGKING EXPRESS)

 
 
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