Img214590708You know how sometimes in Hollywood a celebrity will do something illegal and completely get away with it? The director of Hero had better hope the same rules apply in Beijing.

 

As we reported earlier, famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou became the subject of an incriminating rumor that he had violated China’s notorious one child-policy by having as many as seven children with four or more wives. After several months of investigation and no word on the matter from the director himself, Zhang took to his official Weibo account to address the allegations. In an open letter issued from his office, Zhang admits that he did, in fact, father more than one child with his wife, Chen Ting. The two had three children in all: two sons, and a daughter.

 

The Chinese director is now fully prepared to cooperate with the investigation, going so far as to send representatives to the family planning office in the Binhu district of Wuxi. In addition to confirming that he has one or two children too many, Zhang goes on in his letter to deny having any further children with any other women. He goes on to say that any speculation that he fathered seven children and paid the mothers off is simply people trying to bring him down. Besides, seven kids? No one but ancient monarchs and Stellan Skarsgard do that.

 

If proven guilty (which he omitted to), Zhang will have to pay what is called a “social compensation fee,” which could run him up to $26 million. And you thought your child support payments were steep.

Share

While the Chinese/Hollywood co-production Outcast finishes shooting in China, the Con Air actor and his ponytail (no, really) sat down with CCTV to talknicolas-cage about the film, his role, and a few other things on his mind. “What ‘things?’” you might ask. One of those “things,” as you put it, was the noticeable lack of leading roles for male Asian actors in Hollywood. Perhaps Mr. Cage was too busy saying “yes” to Season of the Witch to notice any of the Harold and Kumar movies. Hm?

 

Nicolas Cage may not be too savvy when it comes to selecting the right acting role, but he does understand how the entertainment industry is slowly migrating from Hollywood to China. In addition to calling out Hollywood for not inviting Asian males to casting couches, Cage goes on to point out the possibility, and likelihood, that China will be the new face of the film industry.

 

Outcast_poster He also brought up his son, Kal-El, who Cage named after Superman’s birth name on Krypton (no, really). Kal-El (Cage’s son, not Superman) is half Korean, and his father speculates that some day he might want to be an actor when he grows up, just like daddy. Unless something changes in Hollywood, Kal-El Cage may never realize his potential in show business, but he’ll still have the coolest name ever.

 

It seems like Nicolas Cage has a very good eye on the evolution of the film industry, but one can’t help but wonder about his motives. Granted, his observations are accurate, but it may be a move to make some new friends on the winning team. That most likely isn’t the case, seeing as how Nicolas Cage’s career isn’t waning from lack of prominent roles in film, right? Right.

Share

For any Chinese citizen eager to share cat memes and hashtags with the rest of the world, your chance is coming very soon.facebook-logo-1024x787 Starting this month, the Chinese government will make available Facebook, Twitter, and the New York Times. Don’t get too excited, however, because the newly-unbanned websites will only be unbanned in what China is calling the free trade zone.

 

The Chinese government wants to compete with New York and London in terms of financial trading by making Shanghai a world-trading hub. In order make foreign representatives comfortable in their country, China created an 11-square mile area that would allow Internet users to access websites that Chinese citizens would otherwise be restricted from using. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m in a foreign country, I can alleviate my homesickness be going on Farmville.

 

Facebook_like_thumbThe move to relax restriction on the Internet is a strange one on the part of the Chinese government, considering how obscenely restrictive they are on the world of cyberspace. China is notorious for its swift and unrelenting censorship of anything and everything their government demes defamatory or potentially revolutionary. Case in point: a Chinese high school student was recently released from custody after being detained for questioning a police investigation. Sixteen-year-old Yang Yong earned his stint in prison after making a comment online about an investigation into a suicide was actually a cover-up of a murder. According to new legislation in China, you could face three years in prison if your rabble-rousing comment is viewed more than 5,000 times or re-tweeted more than 500 times.

 

#progress

Share

If you need further proof that China is gradually losing interest in Hollywood sensationalism in favor of homegrown films, the latest piece of evidence comes in the form of a coming-of-age tale called Tiny Times. In preparation for its official release on Thursday, the Chinese drama will have a sneak preview tonight, Wednesday evening, on over 600 screens in 60 cities across China. Ambition is high, given the huge reception it received at its world premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival. The anticipation is that Tiny Times will sell out in every single screening.

 

001fd04cf34a128abf2a3aIf you’re curious about that title, it’s not a film about a newspaper for short people, so stop asking. Tiny Times is the story of four female university graduates trying to find their place in life as adults. The film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name, and is directed by its author, Guo Jingming. Tiny Time’s central protagonist is Lin Shao, played in the film by Mini Yang Mi, who faces real-life challenges of securing a job and dealing with overbearing bosses. What young adult, Chinese or America, couldn’t relate to that?

 

The appeal to young adults is unmistakable, which is exactly the demographic the people behind Tiny Times are looking to capitalize on. The Chinese youth market is undergoing near-constant metamorphosis, as evident in a recent statistic that suggested that the average age of a typical moviegoer in China went from 25 to 21 in the span of three years. With the changing environment in China’s movie-going crowd, their advertising methods must also adapt to survive. Billboard advertising was thrown under the bus in favor of Weibo, of which Guo has almost 20 million followers, and other social media outlets. In other words: Billboards are for your grandpa!Tiny-Times-8

 

According to Guo, young Chinese moviegoers are “impulsive” and “really, really need to see the film the moment it’s available.” If his assertion of China’s youth is correct, tonight’s Tiny Times is likely to perform as expected. It’s not difficult to see the parallels between this sneak preview and the widely popular midnight showings of countless summer blockbusters in America. That being said, they clearly got the idea from us. You’re welcome, China. You’re welcome.

Share

No, it’s not a wacky sit-com premise that I’m certainly not writing a pilot script for. Let me explain . . .

 

the_great_gatsby_trailerPrime Focus, the Indian VFX major, Hong-Kong’s AID Partners Capital, and Chinese partner Zhejiang Jingqi Wenhua recently forged a joint venture to bring Chinese film/TV to India. At the Shanghai International Film Festival, Prime Focus announced that it would be opening a new office in Beijing later this year. Prime Focus, which is based in Mumbai, already has offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, and London.

 

Even if the name “Prime Focus” doesn’t sound familiar to you, you’ve most likely seen their work without realizing it. The VFX Company has collaborated on numerous Hollywood projects like The Great Gatsby, which opened the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where they provided 3D conversion and archive footage colorization. Prime Focus was also responsible for the 3D conversion of the 1987 Academy Award-winning film The Last Emperor, which also screened at Cannes. Two of this summer’s major blockbusters, World War Z and White House Down, were both given Prime Focus’ 3D treatment. Their past credits include Men in Black 3, Wrath of the Titans, Star Wars: Episode one – The Phantom Menace, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the list goes on and on . . .world-war-z-poster-banner

 

The CEO of Prime Focus, Ramki Sankaranarayanan, recently remarked, “We are all set to bring the best of Prime Focus to China, one of the largest content markets in the world.” Sounds like someone tipped him off that China has become the second largest film market in the world. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be waiting by the mailbox for my check.

Share

django-unchained-4It’s been a long, arduous road for Django Unchained to get a release in China, but unlike the film’s protagonist (it’s Django, in case you missed that) the film dies a horrible death in the hands of the Chinese moviegoers. Sony jumped over a lot of hurdles, specifically China’s intense censorship agenda, in order to get a re-release in China. However, despite their flexibility with China’s government censorship, Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has only made $2.5 million since its May 12 release in China.

 

If you haven’t been following the Django vs. China saga, allow me to bring you up to speed. After a very successful run all over the world and grossing over $400 million globally, Django Unchained released in China on April 11. In a bizarre 180, the film was ordered by the Chinese government to be removed from theaters only a few seconds after it was screened. The details as to why the film was pulled are hazy, though some believe one or two Chinese officials saw the film and demanded that it be evacuated from the theaters. Although Django already underwent editing and more editing to make it acceptable for a Chinese release (i.e. trimming the violence and cutting the nudity), it was not allowed back in theaters until it was completely sanitary for the eyes and ears of China’s audiences. After some additional nip-tucking, Django Unchained was ready for round two with China on May 12, only to go down swinging.

 

So why did Django bomb after fighting so hard to stay in Chinese theaters?django-unchained-29

 

At least one of many things could have contributed to the demise of the ultra-violent Western’s China tour. For starters, there was heavy competition for Django in China’s box-office from Hollywood (Iron Man 3, Oblivion, The Croods) as well as China’s homegrown goods (So Young, American Dreams). In addition, the first screening of the film was pirated and streamed on the Internet so, when faced with the choice of having to pay to watch the goody-two-shoes version or seeing the naughty version for free, many chose the latter. It’s interesting to note that Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s first film to be released in China (if you’re wondering why, watch just one of his films and get back to me). For his own sake, hopefully this setback won’t deter him from attempting the same feat with future projects. Better luck next time!

Share

4220xtylnjiazkIf you aren’t familiar with the name Jia Zhangke, you should be. The Chinese director recently won Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for his hyper-violent entry A Touch of Sin. By now you’re very aware of the rising film market that China presents, and in case you forgot, it’s currently the second largest in the world. Unfortunately for China, it doesn’t offer much in the way of globally accepted creativity. Last week, we reported on the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition, which sought American writers for film projects involving China’s capital city. With Jia’s win at Cannes, China’s film industry may finally be getting the global recognition it desperately wants/deserves.

 

Jia is known for being socially relevant in his films: The World (2004), Still Life (2006). As a result, much of his earlier work was produced without the official approval of the state. In addition, Jia has yet to have an official release in China, even after co-producing his films with the state-backed Shanghai Film Group.

 

Acting as a dramatization of real life events, A Touch of Sin follows the accounts of four storylines that intersect at various points in the film. a-touch-of-sinEach story is based off of recent and controversial news in China: a miner who attempted to bring down the corrupt leaders in his village with a shotgun, an immigrant who took up armed robbery, a sauna receptionist who stabbed a patron who tried to buy sex from her, and a young man who killed himself in an iPhone factory. There is also a fare amount of references to the Wenzhou train accident back in 2011, an incident that killed 40 people and was covered-up by Chinese authorities. When news of the cover-up broke, a scandal erupted which lead to a series of censorships in the Chinese social media and press.

 

In an interview following his Best Screenplay win, Jia explained that, unlike his previous work, A Touch of Sin has already been confirmed for an official release in China. Not only that, but Jia is confident that the Chinese government won’t completely censor it. He makes a bold assumption here, considering China’s vast censorship agenda when it comes to its films, as well as the violent content and social/political commentary of his latest film. Jia hopes that A Touch of Sin will be a first step in changing China, and goes on to say, “Corruption is the most talked about issue in China. It’s a subject that the Chinese government and Chinese society can no longer afford to face.”

Share

Zhang YimouMost of us are well aware of China’s one-child rule, the nationwide policy to prevent overpopulation by limiting families to producing a single offspring.  Intentionally or not, Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, has brought notoriety to the population-controlling rule by having as many as 7 children with 4 different women. If these reports are to be believed, Zhang could find himself the center point in a massive controversy.

 

China’s one-child policy has roots that date back to the first half of the 1900s. While under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the people of China were encouraged to multiply as much as they desired to overcome infant high mortality rates and low life expectancies of the time. Mao also believed that the higher the population, the stronger his country would be. As a result, China’s population increased to nearly a billion in the 1970s. After the exponential population increase, the Chinese government forged the one-child rule, and began enforcing it later in the same decade.

 

While there are exceptions to China’s policy on reproduction, generally it will only allow a second child before you are cut off from all breeding privileges. Zhang allegedly has had 3 children with his current wife, Chen Ting, one child with his first wife, Xiao Hua, and 3 more from two unidentified women. Though an offense like violating the one-child law is hardly punishable by imprisonment, it is typical enforced with a heavy fine and loss of work-related benefits. If the reports of Zhang’s reproductive habits prove true, he could be facing a fine as big as 160 million yuan, or 26 million in U.S. dollars.

 

Since news of the popular director’s extended family hit China, its people have been hitting up social media to point out how a rich and famous individual could so blatantly undermine a law that applies to every Chinese citizen. Weibo is on fire with users who are openly irate that someone with fame and fortune could easily maneuver around China’s laws and go unpunished. Assuming Zhang is the father of 7 children and suffers no legal consequences for his unlawful multiplication, it would hardly be the first time a public figure to be granted amnesty in the midst of controversy. If you disagree, look up anything Lindsay Lohan has done in the past 10 years.

Share

September Film Preview

The summer is over, which means the onslaught of blockbusters has finally come to an end. Usually a comparably dead month compared to the ones that preceded it, the September they appear to be targeting re-releasing classics in 3 dimensional formats with Raiders of the Lost Ark and Finding Nemo. Personally I see this as an improvement, because why not re-release a beloved classic that people will want to see in a theatrical environment again? It is cheap and many who weren’t born at the time will want to see them on the big screen. It also saves us the hassle of going through a bunch of films that are seen as not good or strong enough to be released in the summer or early winter. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the new releases

September 7th

The Words- The plot of this film revolves around a writer who stumbles across a lost manuscript while vacationing in Paris and having to deal with steeling another man’s ideas and work. Having watched the trailer, it does look interesting, but they’re keeping the details of the plot tight to the chest. It has been receiving mostly negative reviews so far from the few critics who have posted their reviews, often being compared as a film about books for people who never read books. It does have a very good cast with Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldina, Olivia Wilde, Dennis Quad, and Jeremy Irons.

September 14th

Resident Evil: Retribution- An all around terrible series, so I really don’t expect this to be any different. Shockingly, this is the fifth entry in the franchise, which is unbelievable for a film series that is approaching its 10th anniversary. Next to the Super Mario Bros. movie of course, this is perhaps the best example on why video games have no real business being brought to the big screen. They can work if that is what the film is about, but warping a videogame storyline into a coherent plot rarely works.

September 21st

Dredd- After the laughable 1995 disaster called Judge Dredd that starred Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider, it seemed unlikely we’d see the franchise ever put back to film for quite some time. Well it only took 17 years, but the franchise is back and this time starring Karl Urban. At least it doesn’t have much to live up to; all it really has to do is convince the audience that it’s not a comedy. Initial screenings have actually been very positive, so it is an almost sure thing that it will be better than the original. A big plus is the film will be rated R which would surprise most considering you would think this would be a big budget film, but its budget is merely 45 million, remarkably cheap by today’s Sci-Fi standards. For perspective, last month’s Total Recall (another Sci-Fi remake of a 90s film) was 125 million dollars, and has so far barely gone over 150 million dollar profit.

End of Watch- Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, this film follows two cops as they make a discovery that gets the attention of the major drug cartels. This is yet another “found footage” type film, but this film just doesn’t seem like it should have been shot like this. Watching the trailer is very distracting due to the terrible cinematography. I’m not even sure if its supposed to really be a found footage film since the actors don’t seem to be interacting with the camera whatsoever, but the choice in its style of shooting just seems baffling.

House at the End of the Street- Summer movie season is over, so it means its time to get back to sub-par horror flicks. This is rising star’s Jennifer Lawrence first stab at the genre, and she has proven to be a very versatile actress to where I look forward to seeing how her performance is handled.

Trouble with the Curve- Having a great cast of Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman, it’s easy to have high expectations for this film. The film focuses on an aging legendary baseball scout (played by Eastwood) who has one last chance to prove his worth to his team. The scout’s daughter (played by Amy Adams) accompanies him on this journey to make sure he’s ok, much against his wishes. Its simple in premise, but hopefully excellent in execution.

September 28th

Hotel Transylvania- Well, it seemed promising enough when you hear that Genndy Tartakovsky is directing it, the man who brought us such animated classic shows like Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars: Clone Wars. It’s just when you hear everyone else behind it that makes you cringe: Adam Sandler and his entire posse, creators of such recent hits like Grown Ups, The Zookeeper, and sure to be cult classic Jack and Jill. It’s a very promising premise of a monster resort that gets party crashed by a stoner, but if the trailers are any indication, its just going to be what we’ve come to expect from Sandler and his crew. Granted, none of the people from Sandler’s usual group wrote it, so hopefully there is some hope for this to at least be passable.

Looper- This film has an interesting concept, in that organization sends people to the past in order for assassins to kill and dispose of their bodies. They are called Loopers, but when one of the Loopers’ targets is his future self, the entire system dissolves, and the other Loopers hunt both him and his future self. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as the younger and older version of the same character respectively.

Won’t Back Down- This month’s chick flick is about two mothers who try to turn their inner city school around and improve their children’s education. Standing in their way is the corrupt teacher’s union and the principal of the school. It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Holly Hunter.

Share