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Archive for April, 2010

The Golden Rock 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards Live Blog

This is the initial post for The 2010 Golden Rock Hong Kong Film Awards live blog. Showtime is in about 110 minutes (we start at the red carpet show). I have added a live chat function on the right. So those who are interested feel free to join in before we start.

DISCLAIMER: This is a real-time, filter-less thoughts of the blogger.  If anyone is offended, feel free to skip a few posts, where I will choose someone else to offend.

19:30 - Red carpet coverage starting. Writer of House of Mahjong Lam Chiu Wing one of the guest host. Yay.

19:31 - Lam brags that they will only go to an ad every 30 minutes. Better hit the bathroom, everybody.

19:33 - red carpet is just a review of celebrities walking the red carpet. Host panel has no idea what to say. This is embarrassing.

19:35 - Fashion expert Walter Ma commenting over the red carpet footage is both awkward and hilarious. “Bau Hei Jing’s look is suitable for her age….”

19:37 - Was watching Now TV’s live coverage and Chapman To giving the hosts a hard time. “That’s what you get for doing live!”

19:39 - Ann Hui all smiles at the red carpet interview. “I’m very calm tonight. I don’t know why, I just am, hahaha”

19:41 - Commercial break. ATV being a poorer stations means cheaper - i.e. more hilarious - ads

19:43 - Blog a little quiet now because of pre-show. Come join the live chat instead!

19:46 - mysterious 4th member on the guest panel is a fortune teller!!!!

19:47 - “Kara Hui is from Shangdong, and Shangdong is having a great year this year!”

19:50 - Finally a shot of the venue. Ah, Cultural Center Grand Theatre, how I miss thee.

19:52 - “Anyone know who designed this year’s stage?” “Someone professional….”

19:55 - Fortune teller says Wang Xueqi has no chance. Simon Yam, on the other hand, is from Shandong!

19:57 - Show about to start. Juggling live blog and live chat. This will be an interesting night.

20:00 - Hosts discussing the show before real show gets started. Fortune teller won’t shut up; he’s far too entertaining.

20: 02: Quick, final preview of the show before play-by-play. Lawrence Cheng hosting solo. Quite a few musical performers, including Rebecca Pan’s performance on red carpet.

20:05 - Showing starting now. With a moment of silence for the Qinghai earthquake victims.

20:07 - I hope they don’t follow this with trailer for Aftershock

20:08 - Following it with Chiu Tsang Hei leading the awards theme song performance on the red carpet instead

20:09- Fireworks on the red carpet. Or are they blowing it up?

20:10 - A kid started singing. Leading to Rebecca Pan’s What a Wonderful World performance with At 17. She’s singing way too slow.

20:11 - Brilliant. Montage of Best Picture nominee playing in the background. Bodyguards has Tony Leung getting beat up.

20:14 - Thought Lawrence Cheng is hosting solo. Instead, Eric Tsang and Chin Kar Lok show up. Their game show being shown at the same time on competitor TVB.

20:16 - Introducing the 5 nominees for best new artist now. Chin Kar Lok spokea Mandarin to make sure Li Yuchun knows she has to be on the stage. Miss HK-style interview going on now.

20:18 - Buzz Chung (kid from Echoes of the Rainbow) can’t stop laughing.

20:19 - “You should speak Cantonese more now that you have the chance!” - Eric Tsang to Fala Chan. TVB stars are not allowed to speak in Cantonese for other channels.

20:21 - Best New Artist award being given out now. The winner is…….Aarif Lee for Echoes of the Rainbow.

20:24 - Glad Aarif won over the kid. But a win for one of them is a win for the film. Aarif offers Buzz the mic. He says nothing. Cute kid.

20:25 - Lawrence Cheng now on the stage as host. Monologue about his time as host.

20:27 - Lawrence Cheng has a funny anecdote about his first two films as screenwriter failing - first one for pissing off Mongkok audience, second one for poor box office.

20:29 - Daniel Wu and Stephen Fung out now to present Best Young Director. Daniel Wu called “The Groom”

20:32- Winner is Cheung King-Wai for KJ

20:33 - Husband and wife Chapman To and Crystal Tin present the Best Cinematography and Best editing.

20: 36 - Best Cinematography goes to….Arthur Wong. As expected, he wins every time he’s nominated.

20:38 - Arthur Wong acknowledges Andrew Lau. Thanks wife for not visiting him once on set.

20: 40 - Now Best Editing. Award goes to………….Overheard. That was really a surprise, though I’ve heard editing is a sympathy award.

20:41 - great clip for Overheard’s nomination. Michael Wong screaming like a girl.

20:43 - Best New Artist winner Aarif Lee is joined by Lowell Lo on stage for performance of nominated song from Echoes of the Rainbow.

20:46 - Aarif Lee isn’t a bad singer. Just a crappy English lyricist (listen to Janice Vidal’s album to find out)

20:47 - Best dressed award (with sponsored accessory) go to Nic Tse and Denise Ho

20: 48 - Love in a Puff couple Shawn Yue and Miriam Yeung on stage now. “Love in a Puff is a romance, but got a Cat III rating!” “It’s a romance with category III”. “But no one took off any clothes!”

20:50 - They’re giving out the Best Supporting Actress Award. Which goes to…..Michelle Ye! Well-deserved. Was afraid she’d be overlooked.

20:52 - “Someone told me, no one would make me a lead actress.” - Michelle Ye

20:53 - Why is TVB getting so much love after screwing up the awards so badly last year?

20:54 - “You’re not here tonight, but I see you!” — Michelle Ye to Louis Koo. Someone saw Avatar!

20:55 - Finally the first commercial break.

20:58 - Ethan Yuan and Mark Chao (stars of Monga) on stage now to present Best Sound Design. Winner is…….Red Cliff II

21:01 - They won last year, so no surprise they win again this year.

21:02 - Ruan and Chao staying on stage to joke around? No, to present best visual effects.

21:04 - Best Visual Effects goes to….Storm Warriors II. Well-deserved, despite film sucking

21:06 - Another Best Original Song performance. Li Yuchun performing now. No loud fans screaming?

21:08 - Why does Bodyguards and Assassins need a ballad for its theme song anyway?

21:10 - “Professional Achievement Award” now. Arthur Wong presents it to….a lighting man.

21:14 - Finally reveals award goes to Chow Lam - founder of HK Lighting Association - after 5 minutes speech.

21:16 - “He fixed the lights around him himself before he came out here” - Lawrence Cheng.

21:19 - Best Screenplay award now present by Dayo Wong

21:20 - Dayo Wong turns it into an amusing standup comedy act, of course.

21:23 - Dayo Wong still going. Quite funny, though

21:24 - “Tin Shui Wai the only place HK-ers can afford housing now. Then Ann Hui does a movie called ‘Night and Fog’ and makes it like it’s Paris”

21:26 - And the Best Screenplay award goes to………Alex Law for Echoes of the Rainbow

21:29 - Alex Law thanks John Sham, who got the film made in the first place.

21:32 - Denise Ho and Josie Ho on stage for best Supporting Actor now. Made fun of Nic Tse’s red clothes, liken it to red carpet

21:33 - Winner is…..Nicholas Tse for Bodyguards and Assassins

21:35 - Nicholas Tse thanks his wife, and apologizes for being only in HK for a day, even before she gives birth to second baby

21:36 - Chinese singer Alan, who has far more successful career in Japan, now on stage to sing Red Cliff theme song.

21:38 - Alan has quite a powerful voice, but kind of wasted on this song, sadly.

21:39 - Yay, second commercial break.

21:40 - If Simon yam doesn’t win tonight, at least he has his Nu Pharm ad playing in every movie theater in HK.

21:43 - Lifetime Achievement award for Lau Ka-Leung now.

21:46 - Reenactment of the Dragon dance on human tower scene in one of Liu’s most famous films.

21:48 - Mr. and Mrs. Liu going on stage now. People are very slow in standing ovations in HK.

21:50 - Liu shows off fact that he’s 4th generation of Wong Fei-Hung’s disciples.

21:55 - Liu Ka-Leung still talking like it’s a lecture on “life as Kung Fu actor in Hong Kong”. Stops and gives the stage to his wife.

21:56 - Liu to present Best Action Design, which goes to…..Bodyguards and Assassins

21:58 - B&A choreographer: “I don’t know why we’re thanking Andrew Lau, but thank him!”

21:59 - Long lifetime achievement segment ends…..just to go to a original song performance. At least it’s the McDull song. The Pancakes’ guitar has a sticker that says “This is not art.” Indeed.

22:01 - Simon Yam and Lynn Xiong on stage now talking about marriage. Cuts to Miriam yeung laughing in shock.

22:03 - Finally, they reveal they’re presenting Best Costume Design.

22:05 - And the winner is…….Bodyguards and Assassins. Dora Ng gives her speech in three languages.

22;07 - Simon Yam says documentaries will be the end of the business for costume design and art direction. Simon Yam: HK documentary hater.

22:09 - Winner for Art Direction is….Bodyguard and Assassins.5 for Bodyguards so far, and looking like it’ll be the winner this year.

22:11 - Another commercial break now.

22:15 - Some empty seats in the Grand Theater already. Now the In Memoriam segment. Excuse for pop stars to come out and sing.

22:19 - In Memoriam segment classy, with Kay Tse singing.

22:22 - Andy Hui and Gigi Leung goes on stage to present Best Score first. And the winner is………..Bodyguards and Assassins.

22:25 - B&A score was very typical epic score, with way too much symbols. Nothing worth remember about.

22:26 - Gigi and Andy stay for Best Original Song. Winner is Echoes of the Rainbow song written by Lowell Lo and performed by Aarif Lee. Not a bad song.

22:29 - “This is for all the kids that don’t pass their exams. Look at Alex Law!” - Lowell Lo

22:31 - Aaron Kwok and Kelly Lin on stage. Aaron  - “Welcome Kelly, because she is our guest!” Actually, I think Aaron doesn’t watch Kelly Lin’s movies.

22:33 -They’re presenting Best Asian Film. Winner is…….Departures. Director shows up to accept the award.

22:39 - Now a segment to celebrate Bruce Lee’s 70th birthday. Andy Hui sings. I think LMF should appear here too. They played the intro to 1127. Kato dancers in the background. Louis Fan now gives a kung fu demonstration after flying across the stage on wires. Jam Siao sings Kung Fu Fighting while kids in yellow jumpsuits dance behind him. Jam Siao leaves and kids do nun-chuks. Guy on stilts behind them, I guess in a Kareem Abdul Jabaar impression. LMF then goes on stage to rap 1127, their song about Bruce Lee. Josie Ho, Shawn Yue shown on camera having a good time.

22:50 - Coming up on the final hour of the awards now. Time to stretch the show out with the major awards.

22:55 - Lawrence Cheng talking about his acting career and lack of award recognition. Quite bittersweet.

22:57 - Shu Qi and Chang Chen present the Best Actor award. Chang Chen should win for trying to speak Cantonese.

22:59 - Winner is…………..Simon Yam for Echoes of the Rainbow.

23:01 - Crowd quite excited, and Simon very very happy.

23:05 - Andrew Lau and Bau Hei-Jing on stage now. Bau asks why people thank him for Bodyguards and Assassins. Lau wouldn’t spill why, though. Trying to steer clear. Award is Best Director. Winner is Bodyguards and Assassins’ Teddy Chan.

23:09 - Teddy Chan gives award to Andrew Lau to hold for a while. He waited 10 years for this.

23:12 - Looks like it’s Best Actress time. But first, a long Lawrence Cheng monologue.

23:14 - Lau Ching-Wan and Nick Cheung come out to present award. Lau jokes Anthony Wong passed his prime to present award, and Francis Ng sitting in jail again.

23:18: Winner for Best Actress is………..Kara Hui, as expected.

23:20: Kozo points out Kara Hui was first Best Actress winner at Hong Kong Film Awards.

23:22 - Kara Hui quite touched. Crying hard.

23:23 - Teresa Mo and Stanley Kwan present the final award - Best Picture. Stanley Kwan asks Teresa Mo to give stand-up routine, but complains that Dayo Wong was too good and threw it away.

23:27 - Time for final award. Best Picture winner is………..Bodyguards and Assassins. Peter Chan grabs award and gives first speech. Points out that it’s first film he produced but didn’t direct to win Best Picture.

23:31 - Everyone thanks Andrew Lau, and Teddy Chan cannot be seen onstage.

23:35 - Show officially over. Thanks to everyone who participated in the live chat and reading the live blog! Discuss results in the comments section.

23:42 - Live Blog getting dragged out a little more because ATV panel is back. Would like to see what the fortune teller says.

23:44 - Starts off more about fashion. Zzzzzzzzzzzz…………Fortune teller back after the commercial break

23:47 - Not waiting anymore. Officially end of blog. Thanks for following, everyone! Continue discussion in comments section, please

Hong Kong Film Awards 2010 Predictions

Before we get rolling on the live blog for the Hong Kong Film Awards. You can look here for the full nomination list. These are my predictions:

Best New Director:

Will Win: Cheung King-Wai (KJ)
Should Win: Cheung King-Wai (KJ)
My take: Technically, this is not Cheung’s first film (that would be the excellent All’s Well With the World), but since the rules are for directors under the age of 40 rather than a director’s first film, that would make him qualify. That’s all the better, since he certainly deserves it for KJ.

Best Asian Film:

Will Win: Departures (Japan)
Should Win: City of Life and Death (China)
My take: Departures was very well-regarded here in Hong Kong, and word-of-mouth even got it to become a box office hit. Besides, the first Asian film in years to win a Best Foreign Film Oscar to not win Best Asian Film here would just be embarrassing. However, don’t be surprised if the committee ends up giving face to any of the China nominees, and I would only be happy if that winner is City of Life and Death.

Best Visual Effects:

Will Win: Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: Storm Warriors
My take: I think this may be a case where the committee will end up choosing the better film over the film with the better effects. Storm Warriors may have sucked, but its visual effects definitely sets a new standard for Hong Kong cinema.

Best Sound Design

Will Win: Bodyguards and Assassins or KJ
Should Win:
Red Cliff II
My Take: I’ve seen all of these films on the big screen, and only KJ was entirely shot on live sound recording. The rest featured the usual awkward post-production dubbing and overdone sound effects. KJ may follow its lead at the Golden Horse Awards and win in this category for the music, or Bodyguards may win for prestige. But the bigger budget, the better, and Red Cliff II probably deserves the award here for consistency. 

Best Original Song

Will Win: Echoes of the Rainbow
Should Win:
Echoes of the Rainbow

My take: It’s a fine song, and it plays a big role in the film. Plus, the film the sleeper hit of the year.

Best Original Score

Will Win: Red Cliff II
Should Win:
My Take: Red Cliff won last year, so there’s little reason for it to not repeat the success, though Lo Tayu’s score for Vengeance was the most distinct one out of them all. 

Best Action Design

Will Win: Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win:
Bodyguards and Assassins

My Take: This win is purely by default, since the action in the five nominated films were all just so-so. Then again, Donnie’s presence on
14 Blades may help, but its action was a real ho-hum effort, especially for a Donnie film.  They really should’ve nominated Kung Fu Chef. 

Best Costume Design and Make-up

Will Win: Red Cliff II
Should Win:
Red Cliff II
My Take:  Red Cliff won this category last year, so again, don’t see much reason for it not winning this year, even though they’re going up against a Yonfan movie this year.

Best Art Direction

Will Win: Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: Bodyguards and Assassins

My Take: They rebuilt an entire district of Hong Kong in a film studio. ’nuff said. 

Best Editing

Will Win: KJ or Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: KJ or Red Cliff II

My Take:
’s editing was easily one of the best things about the film, and this would be the win that’s most well-deserved. However, Having a new editor on Red Cliff II made all the difference in the world from the draggy first installment, and Bodyguards and Assassins may pick this up out of prestige.

Best Cinematography

Will Win: Arthur Wong - Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: Chin Ting-Chang - Prince of Tears
My Take: Arthur Wong seems to take this award every time he’s nominated, and he’ll probably win for the likely Best Picture winner, just because he’s Arthur Wong. I didn’t care for Prince of Tears, but I will not deny that it was a damn pretty-looking film. I hope dearly that Arthur Wong doesn’t return next year for Here Comes Fortune.

Best New Artist

Will Win: Buzz Chung - Echoes of the Rainbow
Should Win: Aarif Lee - Echoes of the Rainbow
My Take: The audience opinion leans heavily towards the younger Echoes actor, while I picked Aarif out of default. Buzz was too annoying for my taste.

Best Screenplay

Will Win: Echoes of the Rainbow
Should Win: Everything else
My Take: As mentioned, Echoes is going to easily take this one out of popular opinion, but it’s in my opinion the least deserving out of the five. Accident had a killer idea and went with it until its contrived finale, Overheard was a fine commercial script that again fell apart at the third act, Bodyguards and Assassins is the most solid out of the five and was easily the favorite until Echoes won at Berlin (somehow Europeans appreciating something can validate previously inferior things here in Hong Kong), and Written By is easily the most complex script out of the five, but the committee don’t care for that kind of cerebral stuff.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Li Yuchun - Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: Vicki Zhao - Red Cliff II
or Michelle Ye - Accident
My Take:
Bodyguards will win this round because Echoes isn’t nominated, and Li is the only female performance people rave about in the film (for what I have no idea). And I only choose Vicki Zhao as should win because the LoveHKFilm Award committee has voted so.  I thought Michelle Ye’s intensity in Accident
complemented Louis Koo’s cold personality in the film well.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Nicholas Tse - Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: Nicholas Tse - Bodyguards and Assassins
My Take: This is a Nicholas Tse performance we’ve never seen before, and the result is THE performance to beat this year. Surely some kind of justice for him after Nick Cheung stole all the thunder for Beast Stalkers.

Best Actress

Will Win: Kara Hui - At the End of Daybreak or Sandra Ng - Echoes of the Rainbow
Should Win: Zhang Jingchu -
Night and Fog

My Take: Kara Hui has long been a favorite, and I would be happy if she wins for her powerful performance. On the other hand, Sandra Ng has been picking up steam because of the Echoes of the Rainbow fever sweeping the city, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she picks up some votes. My favorite, however, remains Zhang Jingchu, who not only have to handle the tough role of the abused wife in Night and Fog, but also had to perform the entire role in Cantonese. It’s definitely an overlooked effort that deserves recognition.

Best Actor

Will Win: Wang Xueqi - Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: Wang Xueqi - Bodyguards And Assassins
My Take: The only main cast the least physically involved with the action part of the film ends up being a lead in an ensemble cast of more than ten characters. Wang has been building steam since the film came out, and his win should be no surprise - or disappointment - to anyone. Unless you’re an adamant fan of Echoes of the Rainbow and believe it should win everything.

Best Director

Will Win: Teddy Chan - Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: John Woo - Red Cliff II
My Take: Teddy Chan will likely be recognize for his ten-year journey in bringing this film to the big screen, but John Woo deserves recognition for pulling off the most expensive Asian film ever made. Like Peter Jackson, Woo should be recognized this year for his effort on the two-part film, but its Lunar New Year slot last year means people probably have already forgotten it. Alex Law was rightfully excluded for Echoes of the Rainbow because the directing was one of the film’s major problems, while Soi Cheang and Cheung King-Wai should’ve been in this list.

Best Film

Will Win: Bodyguards and Assassins
Should Win: KJ 
My Take: KJ is a very strong character portrait that happens to be a documentary. It’s a testament to not just documentary filmmaking, but to the art of filmmaking and storytelling. However, Hong Kong cinema is a commercial industry, and Bodyguards and Assassins is an excellent commercial film that isn’t perfect, but mostly delivers. I wouldn’t be upset if it won, but I’d know that it still isn’t the best film of the year.

We’ll see how I do come Sunday night. What are some of your picks? Share in the comments section!

Hong Kong Film Awards 2010 Preview

Before I get to part 3 of my HKIFF report, I want to announce this:


As I had done last year, I will be live-blogging this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards. After the TVB debacle last year, competitor ATV is broadcasting this year, and they promise to present the show uncut. However, it appears that they will be showing it an hour late. And I will be sitting at home, in front of the tv with a computer, ready to deliver the news as they are shown on television.

So I will start roughly at 19:55 Hong Kong time on April 18th. For the West Coast of the United States, that’s bright and early at 04:55 on the 18th. Those in the UK, that’s 12:55. Everyone else, adjust accordingly.

Hope to see you all at the comments section!

The Golden Rock at the 2010 Hong Kong International Film Festival Edition - Part 2

Here we go, another five Asian films viewed at the Hong Kong International Festival 2010.The Blue Mansion (Singapore - 2009), Directed by Glen Goei


This dark comedy from Singapore mixes the supernatural and an Agatha Christie mystery, and interestingly, it’s just about completely in English. That might be the problem, as the actors did not have the comic timing to deliver some of the nastier punchlines, and there’s no character that’s actually likeable enough to connect with - not even the dead guy. Interesting attempt, but not quite a success.

Sawako Decides (Japan - 2009) - Directed by Ishii Yuya, starring Mitsushima Hikari


Yuya Ishii is back with this Pia Scholarship film after his win at with Bare-Assed Japan. It’s a hilarious, deadpan comedy that Ishii is no stranger to. Add that with a great performance by Mitsushima Hikari of Love Exposure, and you’ve got one of the funniest Japanese comedies of the year. Response wasn’t as enthusiastic as I had hoped. Maybe I just really dig the dry humor.

I’m in Trouble! (South Korea - 2009) - Directed by So Sang-Min


This dry Korean comedy, on the other hand, doesn’t work nearly as well as other comedies in this style. It starts off with a not-so-likeable lead and his not-so-important problems with the ladies (which he screwed up himself anyway), and director So Sang-Min expects us to automatically care for him. Just because he’s an artist doesn’t make him immediately worth caring about. Still, not a total loss, with some funny moments, and some of the performances are quite…well, likeable.

Tokyo Onlypics (2008 - Japan) - Directed by Mashima Riichiro, etc.


As one might expect from an anthology mixed with animation and live-action, this parody of international sports events (which opened in Japanese theaters the same day as the opening of the Beijing Olympics) is somewhat inconsistent in quality. But when it’s on its game, it is as seriously funny as it is irreverent. Some of the sketches go on too long after it delivers the laughs (the samurai calling one above included), but events like the sms texting and the mom throwing ones are the funniest comedy sketches I’ve seen this year. This version is apparently a shortened version from the 130-minute Japanese version, which is a wise choice, as its 117-minute length was just perfect.

The Actresses (2009 - South Korea) - Directed by E, J-Yong, starring Youn Yuh-Jung, Choi Ji-Woo, Ko Hyun-Jung, Kim Ok-Bin, Lee Min-Sook, Kim Min-Hee


For anyone who has no idea who these people are, the film will simply be an interesting experiment exploring the real persona of actresses. Those who have at least a vague idea of these people will have a far better time as this mockumentary (written/improvised by the 6 actresses) slyly plays on the stars’ respective persona and what it’s like to be a star. Still, it still feels insignificant, as there’s not really much of a story (the second half consists almost entirely of the six stars sitting around talking). Nevertheless, the fact that it still works is an achievement already.

Next time,  an anti-war film, Bollywood, and more Yuya Ishii.

The Golden Rock at the 2010 Hong Kong International Film Festival Edition - Part 1

As you might have been following on my Twitter, I have been spending quite a bit of time at the glorious Hong Kong International Film Festival. This year, excluding the Lung Kong retrospective I have yet to attend, I watched a record number of 28 films between March 20th and April 6th.


This is what madness - and my dining table - look like

 Out of the 28, 20 of those are Asian films (and I’m counting Israel in Asia because NHK World says so), and I will provide brief reviews for them here - 5 at a time.

1) A Better Tomorrow (Hong Kong, 1987) - Directed by John Woo, Produced by Lung Kong

This is the first time I’m watching the gangster classic film on the big screen (as part of the festival’s focus on Lung Kong), and it’s every bit as enjoyable as one can expect. I’ve seen this movie and the references to it throughout the years many times, and I’m surprise to hear the audience just as involved with it as if they were watching it the first time. A true Hong Kong cinema classic.

2) A Brand New Life (Korea, 2009) - Directed by Ounie Lecomte, Produced by Lee Chang-Dong

This aut0biographical debut film by Korean French director Ounie Lecomte has a stunning performance by the young Kim Sae-Ron, but it doesn’t quite escape the stablish cinema verite style of her producer. The life in the South Korean orphanage ultimately goes through the motions and is ultimately a little too much into its own detached style.

3) Ajami (Israel, 2009) - Directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani

This film about the Palestinian-Israel relationship is what Quentin Tarantino might have made without the gimmicky obsession with old movies and self-indulgent dialogue. It’s a frequently powerful examination of different types of people in the region, though its non-linear storytelling can be disorienting at points. It’s an ambitious film and that makes it worth watching, even though it doesn’t really deliver in the end.

4) Monga (Taiwan, 2010) - Directed by Doze Niu

Doze Niu’s follow-up to What on Earth Have I Done Wrong is a million times more ambitious and even more engaging. However, it doesn’t follow through with the burst of adrenaline it delivers in the first 30 minutes and falls back on unintentional homo-eroticism, gangster clichés, a hooker with a heart of gold, and the idealist talk about brotherhood. At least it looks great with really impressive production values.

5) Last Train Home (Canada, 2009) - Directed by Fan Lixin

This compelling documentary by former Chinese journalist Fan Lixin looks at the lives of migrant workers who make the trek every year from their jobs in the big city back to their rural homes during Lunar New Year. It’s not only a look at the migration itself, but also a look at how rapid development and centralization of industry in China has broken up families. Starts off slow, but gets much, much better later on.

That’s part 1. Next is some Yuya Ishii, a Singaporean dark comedy, and of course, a little Japanese animation. Copyright © 2002-2019 Ross Chen