Category Archives: 2011 Hong Kong/China Movies

33 Postcards 美麗謊言 (2011) – Australia / China

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 22nd September 2012
Released on DVD across Asia and reviewed as part of International Chinese Film Festival 2012 (ICFF)

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Director Pauline Chan’s “33 Postcards” is well-meaning and even contains a surprisingly effective debut from newcomer Zhu Lin, but as a film, it suffers from a weak supporting cast, an almost unrecognisable Guy Pierce and poor production values and cinematography. Certainly not a bad film, but it never attempts to rises above its own expectations.

The Australia and China co-production “33 Postcards” is clearly an independent movie trying to tell an unsellable story. It is admirable that director Pauline Chan go to such distant to tell a story about an orphan young girl in China growing up and eventually meeting her sponsor father in Australia, only to realise he is in prison. The film suffers from a number of technical issues, most notably poor production values and much needed touch up in terms of cinematography. While, we are not looking at world class cinematography, the film wasted the beautiful scenery of endless green farmland in China and failing to make use of the beaches, blue sky and Sydney Harbour to the full effect. Perhaps, the fault be fully blamed on Chan, as the story itself is not exactly captivating and full credits must be given for Chan’s effort to make it as convincing as it can be. However, the film plays far too safe and strays away from commenting on any real issues or concern. In what could’ve been an impacting and emotionally touching finale, “33 Postcards” ends up being viewer’s friendly and the padded up ending did not help the proceeding.

Newcomer Zhu Lin puts in a wonderful and captivating acting display. It is Lin that truly carries the film, despite not being outright pretty, she is able to show a level of innocence and dogged pursuit of her sponsor father in an extremely believable manner. In many ways, Lin remains the character that the audience can relate and outshines her experienced counterpart in the form of Guy Pierce (“Prometheus”). In this performance, Guy Pierce (most likely the reason that the film got green-lighted in the first place) at first instance reminds me of the far better “Memento”, however as the film goes on, one is bound to be disappointed. Pierce seems lost, uninterested, mystery and at times out of character. Perhaps the role requires him to be distance from the audience, but it is this distance that ruins any sort of chemistry between the lead actors. This is especially disappointing as the relationship between Pierce and Lin is meant to central to the story. This in turns remove any sort of emotional impact and involvement that the audience should be experiencing. Elaine Jin (“The Viral Factor”) also appears as the motherly figure, while she is competent, fails to add anything to the film. Other Australian actors like Lincoln Lewis (“Home and Away”) and Claudia Karvan provides rather weak support.

All in all, “33 Postcards” is ultimately a personal story about how a gentle act of kindness can result in some kind of redemption of one’s life. It is an honest and well-intended film that never goes the distance. There many complex and difficult issues that film could’ve dealt with, but for whatever reasons, “33 Postcard” fails to look into it. The film also fails to explore Guy Pierce’s character, which in all circumstances is a total mess of a mind. I am not saying that “33 Postcards” can be a masterpiece, but it most certainly can be a lot better. Ultimately, it is Zhu Lin’s performance that saves the film and probably the best thing to come out of the movie. “33 Postcards” is well meaning, but flawed… (Neo 2012)

I rated it 6.5/10

Starry Starry Night 星空 (2011) – Taiwan / China

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 5th October 2012
In cinemas around Australia from 4 October 2012.

“Starry Starry Night” is one of the most heart-warming experiences of the year that succeeds in revoking the feeling of regrets, childhood memories and lost innocence. Directed by Tom Lin, “Starry Starry Night” points directly at the void that is often left gasping within the audience’s heart. This is a film that stays with you long after the credit rolls.

It is the simplicity that made me attracted to “Starry Starry Night” based on the illustrated pictorial book from famed Taiwanese author Jimmy Liao. Perhaps when one is lost within the parameters of complicated lives of adulthood, deep down, I have always relinquish the times of pure innocence, lost childhood memories and those years of growing up. “Starry Starry Night” is exactly that plus a little more. The film starts off rather slowly, but once it captures the audience attention, they are unlikely to be able to detach away from it. The film is filled with colourful and bright imagery and at times it feels as though we are experiencing a dream within a beautiful dream. It is a kind of film that keeps you thinking long after it finishes and lingers in your mind with a notion of hope, reality and a smile on your face. It’s a wonderful feeling to say the least.

Xu Jiao is absolutely stunning as the girl torn between growing up and the end of childhood innocence. The manner she is required to deal with a broken family, grandfather’s death and change is almost fascinating to endure. What made it all the more wonderful and relating is the way Xu carries the film and the emotions along the way in almost the most realistic yet simple manner. Lin Hui-min does not belong with anyone at school, but the connection between Lin and Xu is so mutual and pure that it simply cannot be acted. With the younger generation nowadays becoming more cynical and sexual at an earlier age, this film provides the audience with an afterthought and a reflection on their own self. Rene Liu is particularly impressive as Xu’s mother, perfectly juxtaposes the childhood innocence, hope and dreams in a dysfunctional marriage. Kwai Lun-mei as usual shines through in her cameo as the older Xu Jiao.

The film reminded me that living life is priceless and sometimes we get so caught out in the midst of everyday life, we forget about the purest of our dreams, our goals and what we really want to achieve. Tom Lin who previously directed “Winds of September” is obviously a fan of Jimmy Liao’s artworks and the way he brings the pictures to life is nothing short of sensational. At times, the film feels as though we are living in a dream like world.

All in all, “Starry Starry Night” is a prime example of how a simple yet detailed film can touch the very soul of its audience. There is nothing out of ordinary or unexpected twists and turns in the plotline, but what it gives out is more than that, a feeling, an emotion, a flashback and a reminder. I am a sucker for films like these and it has been a while a film can make me think about how far away I have gone from my pure and original self. Perhaps, society and growing up makes you a different person, but deep down, there is a flame somewhere that is just waiting for you to light up again. Or maybe, I just want to spend an entire night with someone special on a boat, doing nothing, but quietly looking up at the night sky. “Starry Starry Night” is exactly that and it is truly wonderful to endure… (Neo 2012)

I rated it 9/10

International Chinese Film Festival 2012 – Sydney – (Reviews / Media Coverage)

@ International Chinese Film Festival 2012 – Sydney – (Reviews / Media Coverage)

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Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 23rd September 2012

Guns and Roses (2012) – China

Director Ning Hao (“Crazy Stone”) is well known in China for his unique blend of black comedy. Similar to Hong Kong’s Pang Ho Cheung, Hao likes to play around with his audience and usually with smart and intriguing results. His latest Mainland’s box office hit “Guns and Roses” is likely his most assessable commercial work, filled with entertaining performance all-round, interesting commentary on the Japanese invasion and Chinese people in general. “Guns and Roses” is probably as entertaining as Hollywood’s “Inglourious Basterds”, even if it is a slightly weaker version.

“Gun and Roses” is probably as good as it gets into terms of Mainland’s comedies appealing to Hong Kong people and wider audience. The reason is that Ning Hao is a talented and smart director and is willing to use black humor to maximum effect. While this film is far less heavy and slower paced than his previous “Crazy Stone” and “Crazy Racer”, but the dialogue, acting, humor, direction, editing and production values are just about good enough for the audience to have a good enough time.

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Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 22nd September 2012

33 Postcards (2011) – Australia / China

Director Pauline Chan’s “33 Postcards” is well-meaning and even contains a surprisingly effective debut from newcomer Zhu Lin, but as a film, it suffers from a weak supporting cast, an almost unrecognisable Guy Pierce and poor production values and cinematography. Certainly not a bad film, but it never attempts to rises above its own expectations.

The Australia and China co-production “33 Postcards” is clearly an independent movie trying to tell an unsellable story. It is admirable that director Pauline Chan go to such distant to tell a story about an orphan young girl in China growing up and eventually meeting her sponsor father in Australia, only to realise he is in prison. The film suffers from a number of technical issues, most notably poor production values and much needed touch up in terms of cinematography. While, we are not looking at world class cinematography, the film wasted the beautiful scenery of endless green farmland in China and failing to make use of the beaches, blue sky and Sydney Harbour to the full effect. Perhaps, the fault be fully blamed on Chan, as the story itself is not exactly captivating and full credits must be given for Chan’s effort to make it as convincing as it can be. However, the film plays far too safe and strays away from commenting on any real issues or concern. In what could’ve been an impacting and emotionally touching finale, “33 Postcards” ends up being viewer’s friendly and the padded up ending did not help the proceeding.

Newcomer Zhu Lin puts in a wonderful and captivating acting display. It is Lin that truly carries the film, despite not being outright pretty, she is able to show a level of innocence and dogged pursuit of her sponsor father in an extremely believable manner. In many ways, Lin remains the character that the audience can relate and outshines her experienced counterpart in the form of Guy Pierce (“Prometheus”). In this performance, Guy Pierce (most likely the reason that the film got green-lighted in the first place) at first instance reminds me of the far better “Memento”, however as the film goes on, one is bound to be disappointed. Pierce seems lost, uninterested, mystery and at times out of character. Perhaps the role requires him to be distance from the audience, but it is this distance that ruins any sort of chemistry between the lead actors. This is especially disappointing as the relationship between Pierce and Lin is meant to central to the story. This in turns remove any sort of emotional impact and involvement that the audience should be experiencing. Elaine Jin (“The Viral Factor”) also appears as the motherly figure, while she is competent, fails to add anything to the film. Other Australian actors like Lincoln Lewis (“Home and Away”) and Claudia Karvan provides rather weak support.

All in all, “33 Postcards” is ultimately a personal story about how a gentle act of kindness can result in some kind of redemption of one’s life. It is an honest and well-intended film that never goes the distance. There many complex and difficult issues that film could’ve dealt with, but for whatever reasons, “33 Postcard” fails to look into it. The film also fails to explore Guy Pierce’s character, which in all circumstances is a total mess of a mind. I am not saying that “33 Postcards” can be a masterpiece, but it most certainly can be a lot better. Ultimately, it is Zhu Lin’s performance that saves the film and probably the best thing to come out of the movie. “33 Postcards” is well meaning, but flawed…

I rated it 6.5/10

Men Suddenly in Love 猛男滾死隊 (2011) – 香港 (中文翻譯 – 晏晏)

Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA

Translated by: Kristy Leung

典型王晶製作的電影—低賤、庸俗、商業化、差劣……

我本已預計到這部電影會是令人如此地失望。可有趣的是,《猛男滾死隊》與《大丈夫》相比,拍攝的概念內容相同,質素卻差之天淵。彭浩翔執導的《大丈夫》(2003)是 相當有趣的黑色喜劇,而《猛男滾死隊》卻破壞了所有東西,純粹是一部低俗的電影。亦因為是王晶執導,要期望電影質素好,就如在一堆廢物中撈金一樣。然而,我並不是說它沒有低俗趣味,只能說王晶掌握了觀眾口味,令電影大賣。海報秀出了穿著比堅尼、火辣性感的女星,以及五個樣子好色的男星。王晶深深了解這個市場,才會展現如此的畫面吸引大眾。觀眾亦因而進入了戲院,才發現原來貨不對辦。

儘管電影由曾志偉和杜汶澤擔演(兩位同時是《大丈夫》系列的主角),可是電影卻未有更上一層,亦沒法達到觀眾的期望。周秀娜在戲中只擔當一小角色,沒有發揮空間,無疑是一種浪費。同樣地,裡面太少有關實際的不忠情況、偷情和床戲等等一類令事情變得更齷齪的情節。王晶如果想成功,大底需要去到極致,而不是去宣傳甚麼或隨波逐流。現今的香港市場越來越難作出突破,所以,要觀眾能心甘情願自掏腰包付錢買戲票,電影本身就需要表達出更多的東西給觀眾。

總的來說,《猛男滾死隊》也不至於差得徹底,它只能說是可以一看。對於王晶的作品,相信普遍觀眾已不會抱太大期望。自王晶九十年代至今那些嘩眾取寵的電影路向來看,我們對王晶的作品水平已有一定的共識。故此,若你抱著低標準來看他的電影,最後或許真能會心微笑一下。這亦是我之所以能夠從王晶電影中被逗笑的 原因。有時候,你不禁會想到他到底是真正喜歡拍電影,還是只純粹以賺錢為目的。這部電影水準很低,只可一看…… (Neo 2011)

香港歷翱述評創作

歷翱 評 – 4.5/10

(中文翻譯 – 晏晏)

Life Without Principle 奪命金 (2011) – 香港 (中文翻譯 – 晏晏)

這部電影與導演杜琪峯一貫的作品截然不同,卻依然能觸動人心而受人喜愛。電影以希臘經濟危機為背景題材,旨在展露人類的本性及生活。這是杜琪峯大部分電影之中,其中一部令人覺得言有盡而意無窮的故事。我喜歡杜琪峯的電影在於他總能有效率地完成並表達出循環的主題:生活都是一種機會的掌握、或偶然的運氣、預計不能預計的以及人類貪婪的本性。他有很大的能力,令電影可以持續而流暢地道出一件簡單的故事來。在主題上,要說金融市場,尤其是香港,以人類的貪婪為主題屢見不鮮。雖然沒有太大突破,但仍然是一部值得一看的2011年電影。或許我可簡單直接地用兩個詞語去描述這一部電影-簡單和有效率。而它在最後帶出的,亦如Mr. Gordon Gekko曾經講過的話:「Greed is Good」……

香港歷翱述評創作

歷翱 評 – 7.5/10
(中文翻譯 – 晏晏)