Saturday, March 1, 2008

Good riddance to February!

Okay. Personally, February sucked. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, I'm just going to recap some interesting tidbits from February that I might or might not have posted on if I wasn't distracted by funerals and illness and thievery:
  • The caucuses were fun! And exciting!
  • Lost started back up. I was very very very unsatisfied at the end of the last season. If I hadn't been sick and stuck on the couch for the season premier, I would have skipped this season altogether. I'm glad I didn't. The mystery is back, and the pacing has quickened from the slow-as-molasses flow of Season 3. Admittedly, I am not as engaged as most, but I enjoy the weekly distraction. (Also big points for abc offering the episodes for free online.)
  • The amazing 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (I got it right that time) screened at the Walker as part of their Expanding the Frame series and then it opened at the Edina this weekend. My recommendation is to go see this film. Really. (Judging from the sparse audience at the Edina on Saturday, it will be a short run.)
  • Some dude named Ocrilim has provide one of the most intense listens I have ever experienced. No need for drugs with CDs like this in the world.
  • The power of Mia Farrow should not be underestimated. Steven Spielberg stepped down as "artistic advisor" to the Beijing Summer Olympics, siting China's unwillingness to take a stand against the atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan. China has been mum on the issue for some time, despite (or in light of) having a very large stake in oil production in the region. Certainly something needs to be done to end this conflict and bring some stability to the region, but I don't think pissing off the Chinese is necessarily the best route. I applaud Farrow's efforts, but "Genocide Olympics"? I don't know. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is doing his best to work diplomatic side of the issue. (More info on the issues at Save Darfur.)
  • In a related story that I hardly think is a coincidence, China's Film Bureau blocks Mikael Hafstrom's Shanghai from shooting on location in the Mainland. Shanghai is the first blockbuster resulting from The Weinstein Company's "Asia fund." It's unclear whether this is due to a riff between the Film Bureau and TWC or concern about the further degradation of the national image (sex! drugs!) or simply just a show of power. If a compromise can not be made, the Weinstein's will take the shoot to Hong Kong (where apparently we see the 'one country, two systems' at work.) The film stars John Cusack, Gong Li and Ken Watanabe. (My post on the production here.)
  • Even though the Timberwolves have not won many games, they are playing well. Most of the time.
  • News of Tran Ahn Hung's (Cyclo, The Scent of Green Papaya) new film, I Come With the Rain, has started to surface and make me very excited. I Come With the Rain is an international thriller of sorts staring Josh Hartnett, Lee Byung-Hyun, Takuya Kimura, Elias Koteas, Tran Nu Yen Khe and Shawn Yue. Wow. This is Tran's first film in eight years. The plot goes something like this: "Kline, an ex-cop in Los Angeles traumatized by slaying a serial killer, is hired by a powerful corporate boss to go to the Philippines and find Shitao, his missing son. Kline’s leads take him to Hong Kong. Torn between good and evil, caught in the crossfire between a mafia drug ring and the police, he tracks down Shitao, who has become a mysterious vagrant." (Photos of the production on Twitch here.)
  • I am in love with Black Mountain, and I wait in anticipation, with ticket in hand, for their show at the Entry on March 24th.
  • Amongst a Britney-like scandal in Hong Kong, 27 year-old pop star and actor Edison Chen retires. Edison made the mistake of having his computer (with private photos) serviced. Photos that circulated on the internet like mad included Edison with the likes of Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung in compromising situations. Edison is apparently very popular with the girls, and I guess he took lots of photos. The scandal was front page news for more than two weeks after the photos were leaked. Arrests have been made and almost everyone who is anyone has voiced their opinion of the situation. Edison made a statement that he is going to retire as soon as he finishes current commitments. He may not be the best actor in the world, but he is certainly not talentless. He showed true grit a got critical acclaim in Soi Cheang's Dog Bite Dog. Edison's biggest exposure in the US would have been his role in Infernal Affairs (as the young Andy Lau) and as the investigator in the US remake of The Grudge 2. (More info and thoughts on the scandal on The House Where Words Gather blog.)
  • The New York Philharmonic played an unprecedented concert in North Korea. And to everyone who says its no big deal, I say hogwash. The current cult of personality of Kim Jong-Il and unconscionable repression of the masses in North Korea is only possible through the isolation that it has maintained for the past 50 years. Whether it is families visiting from the South or the New York Philharmonic, the more people going to North Korea, the better.
  • Actress Lydia Shum, affectionately known as Fei Fei, died on February 19. Although largely unknown on these shores, she has been a fixture in Hong Kong TV and cinema for 40 years.
  • David Fincher has signed on to direct an adaptation of Charles Burns' graphic novel Black Hole. Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery will write the script for this downward spiral of teen sex and violence. It is sure to be crazy and controversial.
  • The Oscars were good! Although there were no huge surprises, when you take a step back and look at some of the choices that the Academy made, it is encouraging. All four actor/actress awards went to foreign actors. Taxi to the Dark Side, easily the darkest documentary in the category, won. The award for short documentary award went to Freeheld, about one dying woman's fight for the rights of her partner (with the award ironically being announce by troops in Iraq.) And No Country for Old Men, the big winner of the night, is a great film.
  • And lastly, with March finally here, Spring is really right around the corner. Thank God!


Barry Kryshka said...

Did 4 MONTHS go straight to Edina? I'm surprised, it certainly deserves a run in Uptown. We would have grabbed it for the Parkway, given the chance. Instead we're opening Taxi to the Dark Side on Friday.

So, in an entirely different direction...have you seen the re-cut Payback? Brian Helgeland, who quit after being told to "make it more like Lethal Weapon" did an incredible job.

I'm starting to think about doing a backyard series of re-cut films this summer. Payback, Richard Donner's Superman II, the re-cut Blade Runner...maybe Brazil....

Kathie Smith said...

It's awesome that you guys are playing Taxi to the Dark Side. I'll try to post a review or at least a notice that it is playing. The Lagoon shuffled that film in and out so fast, no one had a chance to see it and then, surprisingly it won best doc. I really don't think 4 Months will last long at the Edina, but who knows. It is absolutely a stunning film.

I'm going to check out director's cut of Payback on your recommendation. Not much of a Mel Gibson fan but now I'm curious!

Sign me up for the backyard series. How about Dune?!

Barry Kryshka said...

Thanks! Regarding TAXI, I mean.

It's a good week for theater websites. Both the Parkway and the Riverview have new sites up. didn't need much improvement (although it's a fine job) but needed the update badly, and I'm pleased with the new functionality.

DUNE. That's a long time to sit outside...but that said, I haven't seen the long version, and I think I ought to.