Monday, July 9, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases Ziyi Zhang

Princess Raccoon (Operetta tanuki gotten), 2005, directed by Seijun Suzuki, Japan
Love blooms in Seijun Suzuki's dreamlike musical, which chronicles the romance between Prince Amechiyo (Jô Odagiri) and a raccoon spirit (Ziyi Zhang) who's transformed herself into a beautiful woman. Banished by his jealous father, Prince Amechiyo wanders the forest until Princess Raccoon finds the handsome royal and takes him back to her magical castle. Hiroko Yakushimaru and Mikijiro Hira co-star in this joyfully extravagant production.

The Face of Another (Tanin No Kao), 1966, by Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan
A commentary on plastic surgery and self-image, Hiroshi Teshigahara's sci-fi drama centers on a man (Tatsuya Nakadai) who gets a new face after a horrible accident. But he soon learns that the lifelike mask he's donned comes with a terrible price. Meanwhile on the other side of town, a scarred young woman finds her own way of coping with facial disfigurement. Machiko Kyô, Miki Irie and Mikijiro Hira co-star.

Woman in the Dunes (Suna No Onna), 1964, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan
Hiroshi Teshigahara's award-winning drama centers on a bug expert (Eiji Okada) conducting research who's captured by locals. Held captive in a sandpit with a young widow, he struggles with his imprisonment -- and his growing attraction to the woman (Kyôko Kishida). Based on Kobo Abe's novel, the provocatively erotic allegorical film earned the Cannes Special Jury Prize and two Oscar nominations.

Pitfall (Otoshiana), 1962, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan
Hiroshi Teshigahara's crime drama mixes murder, the supernatural and postwar commentary into an eerie tale about a Japanese miner (Hisashi Igawa) who's stalked by a ghostly man in white (Kunie Tanaka) with one intent: to imprison the down-and-out laborer in a ghost town. The plot moves deeper into sociopolitical realms as rival union leaders try to solve a mystery surrounding the miner. Kazou Miyahara co-stars as the miner's son.

Amor Xtremo (Extreme Love) 2006, directed by Chava Cartas, Mexico
Two brothers embark on a life-changing course when Sebastián (Aarón Díaz) persuades his older brother -- who quit bike racing after an accident -- to join him in his quest to become a professional racer. The siblings soon set off for Sin City for a motocross event, where they push themselves to the limit. Irán Castillo, Plutarco Haza and Ximena Sariáana also star in director Chava Cartas' adrenaline-fueled action adventure.

Bodyguard Kiba 2: Combat Apocalypse, 1993, directed by Takashi Mike, Japan
Prolific director Takashi Miike (Audition, Dead or Alive) helms this bloody martial arts thriller. When Naoto Kiba (Hisao Maki) takes on a new security job to earn money for the upkeep of his dojo, he unwittingly finds himself matched up against the Soryu-kai -- the most dangerous gang in all of Okinawa. And to make matters worse, Kiba finds himself falling for his client's beautiful girlfriend, Yoko -- also a target of the Soryu-kai.

Hana & Alice (Hana to Arisu), 2004, directed by Shunji Iwai, Japan
A seemingly innocent scheme to trick a cute boy into believing he has amnesia causes a rift between 15-year-old schoolgirls Hana (Anne Suzuki) and Alice (Yû Aoi). After the boy suffers a bump on the head, the more unconventional-looking Hana succeeds in convincing their confused target that she's his longtime girlfriend. But when he begins to show a preference for the prettier and more popular Alice, the girls' friendship starts to sour.

Mujer Coqueta, 2007, Mexico
A greedy beauty who manipulates men for their money sees her luck run out when she's kidnapped by a rival gang bent on destroying her father's drug ring. The femme fatale's flirty ways won't help this time, and it's up to her husband to rescue her. But the task won't be easy as the husband -- a simple rancher -- must pose as a drug dealer to save his wife. This crime thriller stars Oscar Traven and Abraham Ramos.

Von Donnersmarck Supports Cruise Film

Academy Award-winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has joined the chorus of protests against the German government blocking filming of a film about an attempted assassination of Adolph Hitler.

Von Donnersmarck slammed the government in an ad in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The film, Valkyrie, directed by Bryan Singer, would star Tom Cruise as Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg who was involved in a failed assassination of Hitler.

According to the Deutsche Welle, “While some German politicians have said that Cruise, 44, is unwelcome because of his involvement with the Church of Scientology, officials have said that the decision to prevent filming at the Bendlerblock, now part of the defense ministry, was unconnected with the star's beliefs and was based purely on the disruption it would cause.”

Von Donnersmarck countered that the government for wasting "a golden opportunity," and that the film would promote Germany's image "more than 10 soccer World Cups."