May 25, 2006: News From Abroad
Ang Lee's new espionage flick; it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman in Bollywood; Nikkei Asia is all about the youth; Cannes 2006. All this and more in the May 25th, 2006 edition of News From Abroad.
Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006
Ang Lee's spy game
Worldbeater Ang Lee, apparently not satisfied with being Hollywood's newly crowned sweetheart, is taking his act abroad for the follow-up to Best Picture runner-up Brokeback Mountain. The film, entitled Lust, Caution, is a spy thriller set in Shanghai during World War II. It'll also be his first Chinese language film since his last critical triumph, 2000's lavishing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The only cool producer in Hollywood, James Schamus, will be on board with executive-producing duties.
Lust, Caution is based upon the short story of the same name by the late Eileen Chang. No word yet on who will be starring in the film, but I think it's safe to say that Brad Pitt and Robert Redford are out of the running.
My Blueberry Cannes
The early buzz on the Asian films at Cannes 2006 can be summed up thusly: Lou Ye's Summer Palace -- touchy subject -- Bong Joon-Ho's The Host -- a monster movie that kicks ass. In fact, New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis went so far as to say it was the best film she had seen at the festival so far. But the real dirt comes from a more unlikely source: billboards. One is Wong Kar-wai's highly anticipated My Blueberry Nights, starring the unlikely tandem of Norah Jones and Jude Law. Wong, of course, is serving as a member of the Cannes jury this year, and has been a Cannes favorite in the past, with the much-bandied-about, unfinished version of 2046 debuting last year, and In the Mood for Love taking home Best Actor and Technical Grand Prize in 2000.
Someone else familiar with the upside (and downsides) of hype is Tony Jaa, whose Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior took the film festival circuit by storm in 2003. And there he was at Cannes, in all his lean, mean fighting machine glory, plastered on the billboard for Ong Bak 2. Now that we know the sequel is happening, the only question that remains is, will he make APA's best-of entertainers in '07?
Choreographer wins Nikkei Asia Prize
This year's Nikkei Asia Prize -- an award typically reserved for extraordinary contributions to "science, technology, innovation, and regional growth -- was split between Singaporean "Water Queen" Olivia Lam, and the youngest recipient ever, 38-year-old choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. Shapiro was singled out for her steadfast dedication to her craft, even when Cambodia, under the iron fist of Khmer Rouge, publicly shunned the arts. Her routine is a clever -- and timely -- depiction of a "mythological serpent caught in an identity crisis."
A Better Tomorrow for Korean cinema?
Not likely -- John Woo's hardboiled classic is still the measuring stick for toothpick-chewing, gun-toting Hong Kong action pics. But a Korean remake of A Better Tomorrow will happen nonethless, although it's hard to say when, and with who. Although it began as an innocuous internet rumor, a Korean A Better Tomorrow has since been greenlighted by Fingerprint Studios, which apparently bought the remake rights from Hong Kong's Fortune Star. The film is tentatively set for a December 2008 release date, although keep in mind that no one has been cast yet. Chow Yun-fat could not be reached for comment.
Bollywood Man of Steel
Bollywood blockbuster-to-be, Rakesh Roshan's Krrish -- basically, Bollywood's version of Superman -- finally has a release date. And surprise, surprise, Roshan made sure it wouldn't coincide with the release of Hollywood's hotly anticipated Superman Returns. Krrish will find its way to movie screens on June 23rd, while Superman Returns will arrive a week later, June 30th, in all four versions: English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Krrish's release doesn't have quite the same fanfare -- two versions, one dubbed in Tamil, the other dubbed in Telagu -- but it does come out one whole week earlier, and you know that old saying about the early bird getting the worms.