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Entries in Asian cinema (103)

Tuesday
Feb212017

Interview: The Global Resonance of "Zootopia" and its Animal Kingdoms

Zootopia gets a lot of its pizazz from the clash of its odd couple leads but behind the scenes things are much more sympatico. When I sat down to interview the director Rich Moore (Wreck-it Ralph) and producer Clark Spencer (Wreck-it Ralph, Bolt, Lilo & Stitch) they weren't so much finishing each other's sentences as they were most definitely reciting from the same page. Rich calls Clark the 'best producer he's ever worked with' and credits him for creating a structure so that the creatives didn't have to worry about the minutae but were kept aware of it to keep them on track.

Unfortunately the third key member of their team Byron Howard, who the project originated with had bronchitis on the day we met. He'll be long since recovered by Oscar night which will likely be a happy one for the team.

Zootopia is the second project Moore and Clark have done together but when we sat down to speak over coffee the spectre of Wreck-It Ralph 2 hung like a comic cloud overhead because, as they joked, they've got deadlines! The film doesn't open until March of 2018 but that's a very short time in the production lifespan of an animated feature.

Byron Howard, Clark Spencer, and Rich Moore won the Golden Globe for Zootopia. Will they win the Oscar, too?

But for now, the wrap up of the long journey of Zootopia on Oscar night. This Disney fable about diversity and harmonious living has been successful all over the world grossing over a billion dollars globally, the fourth most successful picture of 2016 behind three films that had a built-in sequel advantage (Captain America, Finding Dory, Rogue One).

In other words, it's been quite a spectacular runaway success. Selections from our chat follow...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec272016

Doc Corner: George Michael on Show in 'Foreign Skies'

Nathaniel already looked at his favourite George Michael songs in tribute to the man's passing at age 53, and today a 1985 tour documentary featuring the finest male vocalist of his generation.

Three decades ago when China figuratively opened their doors to western culture, the first to arrive were… Big Bird and Wham! Two fey, energetic, hyper-coloured performers who sought a mutual exchange through music and film. The yellow Sesame Street character had Big Bird in China, while George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley got Wham! In China: Foreign Skies.

It’s a peculiar film, and not an especially good one. Half Chinese travelogue for the western audiences fascinated by the newly open China with their bustling food markets, seas of grey fashion, and their Great Wall; half concert film focusing, rightly, on the energetic and handsome George Michael sashaying around on stage like nobody had ever seen before.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec192016

Subtitles Fading But These Soldiers March On...

Year in Review. Every afternoon, a new wrap-up. Today an exhaustive list of how foreign films performed at the US box office...  

Perhaps no film is a more perfect encapsulation of the 2016 reality for foreign films in the US marketplace than Netflix's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel. The first was an international theatrical phenomenon and a true blockbuster delivering over $100 million in the United States alone. The sequel sixteen years later was in English and went straight to streaming. 

Despite the inhospitable 21st century climate nowadays, specialty distributors fight on to deliver some variety to the US marketplace. Here's how they fared this year. These numbers were pulled from Box Office Mojo and we tried to be as thorough as possible (though we did skip documentaries and animated features which are sometimes screened in both dubbed and subtitled versions in the same marketplace)

TOP 100 FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS FOR 2016
By US Box Office Gross. Title links go to reviews. 🔺 = still in theaters
Note: Figures as of January 8th, 2017

01 No Manches Frida $11.5 (USA) available to stream on IMDb

🔺 02 Dangal $10.3 (India)

03 Sultan $6.2 (India)
Bollywood films account for a big portion of each year's foreign film grosses in the US. Up until the release of Dangal at Christmas, none were mightier in 2016 than the sports drama starring Salman Khan (pictured above).

Oscar Finalists, Isabelle Huppert, and buzzy Korean hits after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov242016

Turkey's Oscar Submission Wins the APSA

The Asian Pacific Awards, now in their 10th year (and our own Glenn Dunks works for them behind the scenes), and unconcerned with our American Holiday held their ceremony in Brisbane today. (Their awards cover the whole continent so all the countries you might think of as Asian, plus ones you don't like Australia, Russia, etcetera). The hosts were actor David Wenham (Lion, Australia, Lord of the Rings) and international journalist Anjali Rao. The winners (with their trailers) are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov182016

Posterized: Ang Lee

By Nathaniel R

Ang Lee with one of his Billy Lynn stars, Vin DieselOne of our favorite directors has a new film going wide today. Unfortunately number 13 proves unlucky for the great Ang Lee as Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a military drama about the way we use soldiers as propaganda pawns or blank slates to project upon, is hard to watch. Let us pray for a swift death to Hollywood's current unfathomable interest in the high frame rate technique. (The technique is ugly, expensive but looks cheap, and doesn't look like cinema -- that's lose lose lose or three strikes you're out. So what's the appeal Hollywood?)

Nevertheless Ang Lee has given us so many riches over his 24 year feature film career that we ought to appreciate his filmography this weekend.

How many of his pictures have you seen?
All the posters are after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov152016

Doc Corner: From the Chiffon Jungle to the Great Outdoors at DOC NYC

Last week we looked at a group of films among the mammoth collection of titles playing Doc NYC. The festival continues and so we're looking at a few more films, taking a sort of cinematic road trip from the big city, down the highway to the Rocky Mountains and then back again.

The “chiffon jungle” is what the subject of Otis Mass’ debut film, The Incomparable Rose Hartman, a fashion and pop culture photographer whose images are as iconic as they are striking, labels her home of New York City. A place where fashion is as integral to daily life as breath is to life. Feel to free disagree, but as the first person to understand the appeal of the decadent backstage of celebrity life and master it into something truly artful, Hartman soon built a reputation that put her subjects at ease and made her none synonymous with New York’s cultural scene in a more extravagant way than the likes of Bill Cunningham. Whether she was photographing the models backstage and on the runways of  Donna Karen, Caroline Herrera or Halston, or capturing the more candid, celebratory side of celebrities like Jerry Hall, Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Liza Minnelli and Cher at Studio 54, her work is justifiably as iconic as it is extraordinary...

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Friday
Oct282016

Review: South Korea's Oscar Submission "The Age of Shadows"

Tim here. Age of Shadows is currently making its way around the U.S. art house circuit, giving Americans our change to catch up with one of the biggest hits at the Korean box office this year. It's a historical spy thriller, set during a period of time that I suspect most of us English-speakers haven't thought about much, or at all: the stretch of time from 1910 to the end of World War II when Korea was occupied by Japan.

The film, set in the 1920s, takes as its subject the Korean resistance to Japanese rule, and follows the career of a double agent named Lee Jung-chool (Korean superstar Song Kang-ho), a Korean-born police captain operating under strict Japanese control...

Click to read more ...