Tuesday, April 26, 2011

African Cats

Disney’s “African Cats” tells a somewhat universal tale for African
wildlife and will remind most adults of the Sunday nights and the
“Wonderful World of Disney.”

The setting is Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and follows the lives of
two female cats – a cheetah named Cita and a lioness named Layla.

While the setting is far north of Mbabne, Swaziland (one of Fort Worth’s
Sister Cities), there are some similarities in wildlife and terrain.

I realize the danger in saying Swaziland is like Kenya. It’s like saying
Houston is like Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso.

But for me, the most important parallel is educating others about wildlife
and ecological conservation across Africa. My oldest son, age 5, was
mesmerized – as was my mother-in-law. And that is perhaps the best part of
this documentary. It can galvanize across the generations.

Beautiful cinematography and an interesting storyline are melded together
in this film. It also comes with educational materials that can be
downloaded from the Disney Nature website.

Swaziland is home to cheetahs, lions, elephants, hyenas and many other
animals featured in this film.

Swaziland too is home to several species that are threatened. The Black
Rhino is critically endangered (the species is in imminent risk of
extinction in the wild.). Marley’s Golden Mole and the African Wild
Dog/Painted Dog are two Swazi animals listed as endangered (the species is
facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.).

For information about Swaziland nature reserves, visit the Swaziland
National Trust Commission web site.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Just in … 4.19.2011

This week’s DVDs & Blue-ray. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll
watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster
and CDUniverse.

Gritos de muerte y libertad
Directors: Gerardo Tort, María Fernanda Suarez; Starring: Diego Luna, Lumi
Cavazos, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Cecilia Suárez
Synopsis: Prominent historians, writers, directors and leading actors come
together to produce the historical miniseries to commemorate Mexico's
bicentennial. Gritos de Muerte y Libertad depicts Mexico's struggle for
independence against Spain in 13 half-hour episodes. With a star-studded
cast and lavish set and costume design, the miniseries is the definitive
portrayal of Mexico's prominent heroes and key historical moments integral
to winning the country's freedom.


Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster
Director: Wilson Yip,  Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam, Sammo
Hung, Darren Shahlavi
Synopsis: International superstar Donnie Yen reprises his iconic role as
the real-life kung fu Grandmaster Ip Man, widely known as the man who
brought Wing Chun to the world with the help of his star pupil, Bruce Lee.
Master Ip, a new arrival in British-occupied Hong Kong, wants to open a
martial arts academy to teach his unique Wing Chun style. A corrupt group
of martial arts masters, led by Master Hung (Sammo Hung) refuses to allow
him to teach in peace until he proves himself as a kung fu master. Ip s
troubles continues when he is forced to enter a brutal King of the Ring
boxing match against Twister, a Western-style boxer who insults the Chinese
locals, in a East versus West knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish.


The Princess Blade
Director: Shinsuke Sato; Starring Yumiko Shaku, Hideaki Itô, Yôichi Numata,
Shirô Sano, Kyûsaku Shimada
Synopsis: In the near future, Japan is ruled once more by a monarchy. But,
rebels opposed to this rule seek to overthrow the government. The House of
Takemikazuchi, a band of assassins is hired by the government to suppress
the rebels. As a conspiracy from within signals the shadowy organization's
impending demise, Yuki, the last of the Takemikazuchi bloodline befriends
one of the rebels and seeks revenge against the group's leader.


Tokyo Gore Police
Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura; Starring: Eihi Shiina
Synopsis: In the near future, the Tokyo Police Corporation is locked in a
bloody war with the "engineers." These genetically modified super-criminals
can bio-fuse their open wounds with weapons, turning self-mutilation into a
combat form. Ruka, the daughter of the police chief's murdered right-hand
man, is now the top engineer hunter. With cold-blooded efficiency she cuts
through the psychotic engineers and tracks down their home base, a truly
bizarre fetish club. Nothing keeps her from her sworn duty, even when she
finds out the truth behind her father's death.


Vision - From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen
Director: Margarethe von Trotta , Starring: Barbara Sukowa
Lushly shot in original medieval cloisters of the fairytale-like German
countryside, Vision is the profoundly inspirational portrait of Hildegard
von Bingen, a woman who has emerged from the shadows of history as a
forward-thinking and iconoclastic pioneer of faith, change and
enlightenment. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed
12th-century Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher,
playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and
ecological activist. Reuniting with recurrent star Barbara Sukowa, New
German Cinema auteur Margarethe von Trotta brings the story of this
extraordinary figure to cinematic life. In a staggering performance, Sukowa
portrays Hildegard's fierce determination to expand the responsibilities of
nuns within the order, even as she fends off outrage from some in the
Church over the visions she claims to receive from God. She was truly a
woman ahead of her time.


Directed by Kazuaki Kiriya
Snyopsis: Crafted with over 2500 visual effects, the director of Casshern
weaves action with Japanese history and folklore into a moving masterpiece
evocative of the classic Robin Hood tale.

Once a lethal ninja, Goemon put down his sword to master the art of robbing
the nobility to share the stash with the less fortunate. On one such
escapade, he swipes an artifact that, if opened, will unleash misfortune of
a massive scale. Hunted by an infamous henchman and former ally, Goemon
tears a torrential path to assassinate the king. With a conscience clouded
by conspiracy, Goemon struggles to save his friends—and an entire
nation—from the grips of poverty and corruption.


Claymore: Complete Series Box Set
Directed by Todd Haberkorn
Synopsis: A brutal scourge stalks the land. Yoma, monsters driven by a
hunger satisfied by only one quarry – Humanity. The dark breed knows but a
singular foe: Claymore. Human-Yoma hybrids of extraordinary strength and
cunning, the Claymores roam from skirmish to skirmish delivering salvation
by the edge of a blade.

Thus begins the twisting tale of Clare, one such sister of the sword driven
by pain in both victory and defeat. A child silent and suffering hidden in
her past, Clare’s march toward vengeance unfolds along a path marked by
violence, solitude and scorn. In a land where even the predator is prey,
the haunted hearts of hunter and hunted alike wear the scars of the age.


Darker Than Black: Complete Season One (Classic)
Directed by Tensai Okamura
Synopsis: A new and deadly breed of covert agent walks the streets. Known
as Contractors, these assassins and spies wield bizarre supernatural powers
to carry out the dirty work of others. They thrive in the underworld,
between rumor and reality, their loyalties always in question. One among
these operatives is more mysterious than the rest - The masked killer
BK201, the Black Reaper. His true identity and intentions remain unknown,
but as his path weaves through the shadows and alleys of Tokyo, blood is
spilled on both sides of the law. It's a new age of confusion, and the
rules of engagement have changed.


Monday, April 18, 2011

30th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards

The film "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" won six awards at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards on April 17, but the Best Picture Award remained elusive and instead went to "Gallants," a tribute to kung fu films of the '70s.

Detective Dee nabbed the Best Director Award for Tsui Hark, Best Actress Award for Carina Lau, plus awards for art direction, sound, visual effects, costume and makeup design.

"Gallants" won awards Best Supporting Actor for Teddy Robin Kwan, Best Supporting Actress for Susan (Yin Yin) Shaw, and best original film score.

Nicholas Tse won Best Actor for his role in "Stool Pigeon," pulling off an upset over front-runner Chow Yun-fat in "Confucius."

The best Asian Film Award was presented to Japanese Director Tetsuya Nakashima's "Confessions."

Friday, April 15, 2011

'Even the Rain' at the Modern

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth hosts "Even the Rain," starring Mexican Actor Gael Garcia Bernal. The film is by Spanish Director Iciar Bollain.

In the film a Spanish crew has landed in Bolivia to shoot a movie about Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas and the following impact on natives. As the shoot unfolds a water crisis develops. We learn that little has changed in the exploitation of others.

The film shows at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, April 15; 5 p.m. Saturday, April 16; noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17.

The cast includes Luis Tosar, Karra Elejalde and Cassandra Ciangherotti.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bernal and 'Miss Bala' off to Cannes

Gael Garcia Bernal happily announced he and the folks behind Director Gerardo Naranjo's action film "Miss Bala" are off to Cannes Film Festival.

Bernal, who welcomed his second child recently, Tweeted "Nos vamos a Cannes!" (We're going to Cannes!) earlier this morning.

The film will be screened in the Un Certain Regard portion of the fest.

Bernal and Diego Luna own Canana Films, the Mexican production company for "Miss Bala." Bernal and Luna co-starred in the breakout film "Y Tu Mama Tambien" in 2001.

Bernal's daughter, Liberty, was born to him and his girlfriend Dolores Fonzi. They have a son named Lazaro, who was born in 2009.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Just in 4.12.11

This week’s DVDs & Blue-ray. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster and CDUniverse.

Ga Rei Zero: Complete Series - Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack (Limited Edition)
Directed by Zach Bolton
Synopsis: The creative team behind the Full Metal Panic! trilogy is back with a nightmare-inducing series about teenage exorcists forced to draw swords against bloodthirsty creatures of unholy origins.

Kagura and Yomi may look like ordinary school girls as they walk the streets of Tokyo clad in short skirts and knee-high socks, but they’re the heroes you scream for when monsters creep out of the darkness. These sword-totting sisters are part of an elite counterattack unit that specializes in suppressing outbreaks of supernatural activity. They train together, live together, eat together, and spend their nights disemboweling demons with sacred blades. Tragedy strikes when Yomi is possessed by a dark spirit, and Kagura must choose between raising her weapon against the eerily familiar face of ultimate evil – or watching her flesh and blood slaughter innocent citizens. In a life or death battle that pits sister against sister, survival may be the greatest agony of all.

Directed by Francisco Laresgoiti, Starring: Miguel Couturier, Sandra Echeverría, Alonso Echánove, Luis Ernesto Franco , Raúl Méndez, Genaro Hernandez, Claudio Lafarga, Marco Antonio Treviño
Synopsis: The year 2033 has arrived to Mexico City, re-baptised as Villaparaiso (Paradise City). The mechanical, caothic and hot megacity is ruled by a military and tyrant government. It is an oppressed society with its religious faith and liberty of expression stolen. Pablo, the main character, is a young finantial yuppie that gets shelter in drugs and alcohol. He leaves his privileged life in order to help the unprotected and destroy the system that controls the human being. Pablo meets Lozada, a hidden priest, Father Miguel, that will eventually transform his life. Pablo lives with the needy and helps sick people that suffer due to chemical products they eat sold by the main company of Villaparaíso. Addictive products that make them work for long hors. Pablo fights with other believers in order to destroy the regime. On his way, he meets Lucía, a girl that gives a higher sense to his life.

Love a la Carte (Adua e le compagne) 1960
Director: Antonio Pietrangeli, Starring: Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, Marcello Mastroianni
Synopsis: This Italian effort from director Antonio Pietrangeli, reminiscent of neorealism, stars Simone Signoret as one of four prostitutes trying to go legit. When a new law closes Rome's brothels, the quartet pools their resources to open a cafe, but they can't get a license. A shady ex-client helps them out, but insists they conduct their former pursuit upstairs while paying him an exorbitant monthly fee.

Desde La Tumba
Directed by Raul Trujillo; Starring: Fernando Saenz, Valentin Trujillo Jr., Celia Huertas, Alfonso Munguia, Leslie Rano, Roberto Munguia
Synopsis: A Mexican native gets a rude welcoming upon returning to his home country after an extended trip abroad. Years ago, Hilario left his ranch in Mexico to work in the United States. Before leaving, he asked his best friend Augustin to make sure that his ranch didn't fall into disrepair in his absence. Upon returning home years later, Hilario is targeted for harassment by powerful drug lord Antonio Meza, who insists the rancher give up his land. When Hilaro refuses, their bitter dispute quickly erupts into all out war.

El Plebe Chakaloso
Director: Eleazar Garcia Jr.; Starring: Eleazar Garcia Jr., Max Hernandez Jr., Max Hernandez "El Butcher," Fabian Lopez, Roberta D'Nero, Pedro Quintero, Isidoro Rojas, Alejandro Raygoza.
Synopsis: In the tradition of "The Departed" and "Carlito's Way," this is a story of corruption and greed between two deadly cartels and the police, whose job it is to stop them. Uriel has been the number one Lieutenant for El Tejano, however his need for power and his own cartel has caused him to betray the cartel. Pacheco is a corrupt cop who works for the Lieutenant in charge of the capture of the cartel leaders. Each seemingly wants what they cannot have and in the end, the same corruption , power, and greed will ultimately force someone to pay the ultimate price.

Vida Por Mi Barrio
Cast: Agustin Bernal, Luis Gatica, Bernabe Melendrez, Alfonso Zayas Jr., Amador Granados, Carlos Perez, Xochitl Violeta.
Two best friends fall into a life of crime while struggling to build a brighter future in this tense crime drama from Mexico. El Roy and El Tio will do whatever it takes to escape poverty. Upon encountering three aspiring drug kingpins with the power to make all of their dreams come true, El Roy and El Tio find themselves hopelessly drawn into the dangerous worlds of drug trafficking and black market organ smuggling. Later, when the two friends realize just how much of their moral codes have been compromised, their treacherous struggle for redemption begins.

Good Year for Grant

Swazi actor Richard E. Grant is on a roll this year with eight productions in the works including the new BBC drama “The Crimson Petal and the White” and “The Iron Lady” starring Merrill Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Grant’s other projects include the Italian thriller “Sotto il vestito niente - L'ultima sfilata,” “First Night,” “Foster,” “Zambezia,” “Horrid Henry: The Movie” and “How to Stop Being a Loser.”

I’ll try to keep track of his films as they premier and make their way into US theaters or onto TV screens

The Telegraph offers this article on Grant and Crimson/White.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Just in ... 4.5.11

This week’s DVDs & Blue-ray. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster.

Arabesque (1966)
Sophia Loren (Actress), Gregory Peck (Actor), Alan Badel (Actor) | Rated: Unrated | Format: DVD
Product Description
Filmies says: There’s a reason this sounds like “Charade.”
Legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren joins actor Gregory Peck in this 1966 film. Enter the world of Arabesque – a high-speed high-class tale of international intrigue. In this exciting romantic thriller an American hieroglyphics professor (Peck) is hired by a mysterious Arab oil magnate to decipher a secret message. When the hidden meaning is revealed the chase is on as he and the oil magnate’s exotic yet unpredictable companion (Loren) find themselves caught in the middle of an assassination plot. Produced and directed by Stanley Donen (Charade) and filled with the stylish music of Henry Mancini Arabesque is an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.

Wallenberg: A Hero's Story (1985)
Richard Chamberlain (Actor), Kenneth Colley (Actor) | Rated: Unrated | Format: DVD
Product Description
Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story is an incredibly riveting, Emmy award winning fact based story about a hero who helped over 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Hero Tales: Part One (Limited Edition)
Directed by Tyler Walker
Product Description
For citizens of the Xian Empire, justice is a myth. Lord Keiro, the deranged Shogun of the Imperial Army, blazes a trail of terror across the countryside in search of the sacred sword that will make him a god. Standing in his way is Taito, an omnipotent star reborn in human form – a young hero who vows to use his celestial strength to avenge those slaughtered by the villainous Shogun. Taito’s mystical powers steer him toward a violent showdown with Keiro, and if used recklessly, his newfound abilities could shred the very fabric of his being. To master the art of control and become a heroic martial artist, Taito must seek the guidance of others like him: the seven star-born warriors with the strength to shatter a corrupt empire.

Hero Tales: Part Two
Directed by Tyler Walker
Product Description
Darkness settles over the Xian Empire, and Taito – an omnipotent star reborn in human form – is drawn into a cosmic clash with Lord Keiro, Shogun of the Imperial Army. Though blessed with the celestial strength to extract vengeance upon the Shogun, Taito’s heroic journey is wrought with peril. The undead minions of a villainous demon haunt his every step, and a shocking betrayal shakes the fellowship of noble star-warriors to its very core. As Keiro’s lust for power transforms him into a bloodthirsty monster, Taito will realize that his strength alone is not great enough to defeat the Shogun. With the prophesized final showdown between good and evil looming, Taito must draw upon the combined powers of his star-born comrades to defeat Keiro and shatter a corrupt empire!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 4 [Blu-ray]
Directed by Yasuhiro Irie
Product Description
Edward and Alphonse Elric’s reckless disregard for alchemy’s fundamental laws ripped half of Ed’s limbs from his body and left Al’s soul clinging to a cold suit of armor. To restore what was lost, the brothers scour a war-torn land for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled relic which grants the ability to perform alchemy in impossible ways.

The Elrics are not alone in their search; the corrupt State Military is eager to harness the artifact’s power. So too are the strange Homunculi and their shadowy creator. The mythical Stone lures exotic alchemists from distant kingdoms, scarring some deeply enough to inspire murder. As the Elrics find their course altered by these enemies and allies, their purpose remains unchanged – and their bond unbreakable.

Dragon Ball: Season One
From Funimation
Product Description
The greatest adventure of all time begins now! pGoku may be small, but this fearless warrior packs a punch as powerful as any on the planet. Left alone after his grandfather’s death, this unusual boy is happy to spend his days hunting and eating and eating some more. But everything changes on the day he meets Bulma – a bossy, blue-haired beauty with boys on the brain. Together, they set out to track down the seven magic Dragon Balls and make the wish that will change their lives forever.

And that’s just the beginning! Goku also spends some time on Turtle Island where he and Krillin study martial arts under the legendary Master Roshi. The old hermit may not look like much, but if his new pupils can find him a woman, he’ll make sure they’re ready to rumble at the upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament!

The Secret of the Urn (1966) Tange Sazen: Hien iaigiri (original title)
Director: Hideo Gosha
Product Description
Loyal samurai Samanosuke is attacked, mutilated, and left for dead while carrying out a mission for his clan. He recovers but has lost an eye and an arm. Taking a new identity as Tange Sazen, he searches for a stolen urn which has hidden significance to his clan. But Tange Sazen has his own reasons for seeking the urn.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Done Deal? Boneta may take 'Rock of Ages' lead

Actor Diego González Boneta is slated to audition for the coveted role of Drew Bowie in Adam Shankman's film version of "Rock of Ages." Many media outlets are saying it's a done deal, but Shankman tweeted that Boneta "is auditioning" and for everyone to hold their horses.

The film is based on the Broadway musical, which starred Constantine Maroulis and features music by classic '80s rock bands like Journey, Whitesnake, Styx and Bon Jovi.

According to Playbill.com, "The film will also feature Alec Baldwin as Dennis, Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, Julianne Hough as Sherrie Christian, Mary J. Blige as Justice, Russell Brand as Lonnie and Paul Giamatti as the manager of the rock band."

The movie is slated for a June 2012 release.

Boneta was born in Mexico City in 1990 and after appearing in a Mexican music competition he shot to fame. He's appeared in American productions of the new "Beverly Hills 90210," "Mean Girls 2" and "Pretty Little Liars." In Mexico, the teen heart throb has appeared in "Rebelde," "Don Darvelio's Secret" and "Misión S.O.S. aventura y amor."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dallas International Film Festival

The Dallas International Film Festival runs March 31 – April 10 and features films from four of our Sister City countries -- Mexico, Indonesia, Japan and Germany. Check the schedule for locations and times.

Adiós Mundo Cruel (Goodbye Cruel World) (Mexico)
Director: Jack Zagha
When a hard-working accountant is let go from his job because of the economic slump, he finds a new way of earning a living: becoming part of a criminal gang. ADIÓS MUNDO CRUEL is a creative comedy from Mexico that finds humor in a series of unfortunate events. Starring Carlos Alberto Orozco, Mónica Bejarano, José Montini, Lourdes Villarreal, Sandra Sánchez Cantú, Carlos Aragón, Justo Martínez and Pedro Gámez.

Blood of Eagles (Darah garuda – Merah putih II) (Indonesia) – US PREMIERE
Director: Yadi Sugandi, Conor Allyn
An epic, action-packed intrigue thriller set in Java during Indonesia's War of Independence in 1947, BLOOD OF EAGLES follows a heroic band of guerrilla soldiers recruited to halt the construction of an enemy’s key airfield. The cast includes Doni Alamsyah, Ario Bayu and Atiqah Hasiholan.

13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku) World Cinema (Japan) 2010, 141 mins, 35mm)
Directed By: Takashi Miike
Cast: Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada and Yûsuke Iseya
In feudal Japan, a group of unemployed samurai are enjoined to bring down a sadistic lord and prevent him from ascending to the throne and plunging the country into war. 13 ASSASSINS is a gritty, old-school samurai film that pulls no punches and isn’t shy about spilling blood.

She Deserved It (Sie hat es verdient)(Germany) 2010, 89 mins, Digital Betacam)
In German with English subtitles
Directed By: Thomas Stiller
Cast: Renate Delfs, Martin Feifel, Veronica Ferres
Susanne, a protected, spoiled girl, has a crush on one of her classmates. Linda, however, is jealous and comes up with a plan for revenge. Thomas Stiller’s film is based on the real story of young adults who, for no obvious reasons, turn into cold-blooded killers.

By Day and By Night (De dia y de noche) Latino Showcase (Mexico) 2010, 95 mins, 35mm)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Directed By: Alejandro Molina
Cast: Sandra Echeverria, Manuel Balbi, Marius Biegai, Richie Mestre
After kissing a stranger in a bar, Jenna wakes up the next day to discover a nasty lesion has appeared on her lip.

The Future (Germany) 2011, 91 mins)
Directed By: Miranda July
Cast: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, David Warshofsky
Sophie and Jason live in a small apartment, have jobs they hate, and in one month they'll adopt a stray cat. He'll need around-the-clock care — he may die in six months, or it may take five years. Despite their good intentions, the couple is terrified of their looming loss of freedom, so they quit their jobs, and the internet, to pursue their dreams.

Royal Wedding

I'm taking a leap here and am assuming that actor and Swaziland native Richard E. Grant will be attending the wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William on April 29. Grant was one of the few in attendance at the wedding between Camilla Parker-Bowles and Prince Charles in 2005.

Free Films for Fast Responders

The Global Film Initiative is offering films for schools to be shown during World Cinema Week 2011, April 11-15, but you must apply online by March 31.

The Chinese film "Dooman River" from Director Zhang Lu is one of the offerings. "Dooman River" takes us to rural China rural. GFI says, "The story revolves around 12-year-old Chang-ho, living with his grandfather and mute sister along the frozen river-border with North Korea. Although fraught with unemployment and other tensions, his community seems sympathetic toward the Korean refugees fleeing famine and misery; Chang-ho even bonds over soccer with one young border-crosser who comes scavenging food for a sibling. But he soon turns on his new friend as suspicions mount against the illegal immigrants and his sister reels from unexpected aggression, provoking a quandary over his loyalties in an exquisitely detailed story of compassion and strife across an uneasy geopolitical border."

Click here for full details and registration.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Indonesian Casting Call Girls

The New York Times has an interesting article on a controversial casting practice in Indonesia. Apparently Japanese porn stars, such as Sora Aoi, are being cast in Indonesian films to draw larger audiences. The public is paying top dollar to see these clothed actresses in hooror flicks.

Indonesia has one of the largest Muslim populations in Asia, and the government often takes a conservative stance on film industry issues. Obviously not all directors follow the practice.

Read the full story via the link below.


This Just in ... 3.29.11

This week’s DVDs. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster.

The Vanquished (I Vinti) (1953)
Anna-Maria Ferrero (Actor), Franco Interlenghi (Actor), Michelangelo Antonioni (Director) | Rated: Unrated | Format: DVD
Product DescriptionDirector Michelangelo Antonioni's unique triptych film features three murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London. All of the perpetrators are affluent youths, each killing for his own dubious motive. In the France segment, a group of adolescents kill for money, even though they don't need it. In the London segment, a poet uncovers a woman's body and tries to profit from the discovery. And in the Italian segment, a student becomes caught up in a smuggling ring, with deadly results. Though each crime is investigated, the guilty are rarely singled out for their actions.

Silent Naruse
A five-film collection from Japanese director Mikio Naruse released by Criterion Collection. The collection includes “Flunky, Work Hard” (1931); “No Blood Relation” (1932); “Apart From You” (1933); “Every-Night Dreams” (1933); and “Street Without End” (1934).
Product DescriptionMikio Naruse is one of the most popular directors in the history of Japanese cinema, a crafter of heartrending melodramas often compared with the work of Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. From the outset of his career, with his silent films of the early thirties, Naruse focused on characters, mostly women—geisha, housewives, waitresses—carrying on despite the compromises and disappointments of confined daily lives, a subject that would continue to fascinate him for the next three decades. Though he made two dozen silent films, only five are known to exist today; these works—poignant, brilliantly photographed and edited dramas all—are collected here, on DVD for the first time and featuring new scores by noted musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz.

Sgt. Frog: Season One
Directed by Jamie Marchi
Product DescriptionKeroro is Sergeant Frog - the leader of a platoon of warriors sent to conquer planet Earth. But when the amphibious invaders discovered how much humans enjoy dissecting their comrades, the troops were scattered, the mission was aborted, and Keroro was abandoned. Now, this once proud soldier spends more time wielding a vacuum than he does the weapons of war. It's a far cry from the glory of battle, but hey, at least he's got his own room. And though the invasion may have slowed to a hop, Sergeant Frog still occasionally yearns to overcome his karaoke addiction and reassemble his troops. Watch out world, the frogs are taking over. 26 episodes on 4 dvds.

Linebarrels of Iron: The Complete Series (Seasons 1, 2 and OVA) Directed by Caitlin Glass
Product DescriptionKouichi dreams of being a hero, but in reality, he’s a punching bag for every bully on the block. His life flatlines when the mysteriously naked Emi crash lands on his pitiful existence, thrusting Kouichi into the middle of an intergalactic showdown between rival races of self-regenerating Machinas. Through his death-bed partnership with the Linebarrel mecha, Kouichi gains the strength to stand up to his tormentors and crush the alien invasion force that’s determined to conquer Earth. There’s just one problem. All this newfound power and special attention from nearly-naked babes is turning Kouichi into a jerk. His friends can’t stand him, he makes his dream girl sick, and those aliens want to kill him extra dead! Kouichi may have the mechanized muscle to save the world, but he has much to learn about being a true “Hero of Justice”.

Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone
Directed by Hideaki Anno
Product DescriptionThe stunning rebuild of the anime masterpiece is now extended and enhanced with never before seen new animation and 266 visual and audio improvements. Tokyo-3 still stands after most of civilization was decimated in the Second Impact. Now the city endures the ceaseless onslaught of the deadly Angels, bizarre creatures bent on eradicating the human race. To combat this strange and ruthless enemy, the government agency NERV constructs a fleet of towering humanoid machines – the Evas – and Shinji Ikari is called into action, reluctantly taking his place at the controls of Eva Unit 01. Living a life of loneliness and questioning his existence, Shinji struggles to accept responsibility for mankind’s battle for survival in this visually striking rebuild of one of the most important anime of all time. Shinji will fight the Angels alongside the only person who might understand his plight – Rei Ayanami, the elusive and frail pilot of Eva Unit 00. In this film experience not to be missed, Shinji and Rei will struggle to learn a simple truth: when carrying the burden of humanity’s survival on your shoulders, you are not alone.

Evangelion: 2.22 You Can [Not] Advance
Directed by Mike McFarland, Hideaki Anno Product DescriptionThe landmark anime Evangelion evolves, reaching new heights of intensity in the feature film: Evangelion 2.22. In this explosive new story, brutal action and primal emotion clash as a group of young pilots maneuver their towering cyborg Eva Units into combat against a deadly and disturbing enemy. In the battle to prevent the apocalyptic Third Impact, Shinji and Rei were forced to carry humanity's hopes on their shoulders. Now, as the onslaught of the bizarre, monstrous Angels escalates, they find their burden shared by two new Eva pilots, the fiery Asuka and the mysterious Mari. In this thrilling experience for fans of giant robot destruction, the young pilots fight desperately to save mankind - and struggle to save themselves.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mexican Ariel Award nominees announced

"Abel", "Chicogrande" and "El infierno" (Hell) were nominated for Best Picture in the 2011 Premio Ariel (Ariel Awards) presented by the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences. "El inferno" received 14 nominations, "Chicogrande" received eight nominations and "Abel" received seven nominations.

The award ceremony will be May 7 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Best Director
Felipe Cazals, Chicogrande
Luis Estrada, El infierno (Hell)
Diego Luna, Abel

Best Actress
Karina Gidi, Abel
Mónica del Carmen, Año bisiesto (Leap Year)
Maricel Álvarez, Biutiful
Úrsula Pruneda, Las buenas hierbas (The Good Herbs)

Best Actor
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Damián Alcázar, El infierno (Hell)
Demián Bichir, Hidalgo, la historia jamás contada (Hidalgo, the Untold Story)
Hansel Ramírez, La mitad del mundo (Half the World)

Best Supporting Actress
María Rojo, El infierno (Hell)
Carolina Politti, Hidalgo, la historia jamás contada (Hidalgo, the Untold Story)
Luisa Huertas, La mitad del mundo (Half the World)
Ofelia Medina, Las buenas hierbas (The Good Herbs)

Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Martínez, Chicogrande
Ernesto Gómez Cruz, El infierno (Hell)
Joaquín Cosio, El infierno (Hell)
Juan Ignacio Aranda, Hidalgo, la historia jamás contada (Hidalgo, the Untold Story)

Best Newcomer
Cristopher Ruiz-Esparza, Abel
Gerardo Ruiz-Esparza, Abel
Natan Machado Palombini, Alamar (To the Sea)Iván Rafael González, Chicogrande

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Carried Away' screening in Fort Worth

Fort Worth’s Tom Huckabee will present a screening of his film “Carried Away” at 7 p.m., Friday, March 25 at Photosphere Micro Gallery, 3023 Lackland Road, Fort Worth.

The semiautobiographical film tells the story of a Fort Worth man who returns from Hollywood to find his grandmother has been placed in a nursing home against her will. The young man decides to spring his granny and take her back to Los Angeles. Soon his family begins a cross-country chase to stop the two.

The film has a couple film festival awards to its credit and is a great local film.

If you’re interested in attending the “donations requested” showing, contact Hucakbee on Facebook. A director’s Q&A will follow.

Plus Tom’s a nice guy. Check it out.

Fifth Annual Asian Film Awards

South Korea won five awards at the Fifth Asian Film Awards, but the Thai film “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” was named Best Film at the March 21 awards ceremony in Hong Kong.

The Thai film bested “Aftershock” (Mainland China/Hong Kong), “Confessions” (Japan), “Let the Bullets Fly” (Mainland China/Hong Kong), “Peepli Live” (India) and “Poetry” (South Korea) in the annual competition.

Korea won Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Editing

The winners were
BEST DIRECTOR — LEE Chang-dong / POETRY (South Korea)
BEST ACTOR — HA Jung-woo / THE YELLOW SEA (South Korea)
BEST ACTRESS – XU Fan / AFTERSHOCK (Mainland China / Hong Kong)
BEST NEWCOMER – Mark CHAO You-Ting / MONGA (Taiwan)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Sammo HUNG Kam-po / IP MAN 2 (Hong Kong)
BEST SCREENPLAY – LEE Chang-dong / POETRY (South Korea)
BEST EDITING – NAM Na-young / I SAW THE DEVIL (South Korea)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Phil JONES, ZHANG Yan-ming / AFTERSHOCK (Mainland China/ Hong Kong)
BEST COSTUME DESIGNER – William CHANG Suk-ping / LET THE BULLETS FLY (Mainland China / Hong Kong)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Just In ... New DVDs

This week’s DVDs. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster.
The Perfume of the Lady in Black (Il Profumo della Signora in Nero) – 1974
Directed by Francesco Barilli
Starring:  Mimsy Farmer, Maurizio Bonuglia
Promotional Notes: Mimsy Farmer portrays Sylvia, a chemist who begins to suffer from strange visions. She sees a mysterious woman in black applying perfume in a mirror, strangers following her everywhere she goes, and a ghostly little girl reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, who may be Sylvia herself as a child. It turns out that Sylvia stabbed her mother's sexually abusive boyfriend to death long ago, and now her visions are driving her to madness and cleaver-murders. The other possibility, however, is that literally all of Sylvia's friends are Satanists conspiring to cause her suicide. This is a remarkable film, weaving reality, fantasy and memory into an almost seamless fabric to dizzying and poetic effect.
Buy or rent it: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B004H0M34A
Filmies says: “Who doesn’t love a good cleaver-weilding chemist movie?”
Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne: The Complete Series (Classic)
Directed by Christopher Bevins
Funimation: Anime
Promotional Notes: Rin Asogi is an immortal private detective with a thirst for vodka and a talent for attracting things that go bump in the night. In a series of nightmarish vignettes spanning sixty-five years, Rin’s lush body is sadistically pierced, blown up, and mulched to a bloody pulp. The fiend behind her tortured existence is Apos, an eternal being obsessed with sacrificing Rin to Yggdrasil, the tree of all life. While Rin struggles to unravel the secrets of her endless agony, Apos lurks in the shadows, eager to tear into her ripe body and devour the memories of her countless lives. Rin’s no stranger to the realm of the dead, but her next visit could last forever.
Buy or rent it: http://blog.funimation.com/release-schedule/
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple - Season Two
Directed by Monica Rial
Funimation: Anime
Promotional Notes: Kenichi’s a lot tougher than he used to be – living in a dojo with six martial arts masters will do that to you. But thanks to his reputation as a skilled fighter, the guy’s got more problems than ever.
The goons in Ragnarok are gunning for him in a big way, especially the gang’s leaders: the Eight Fists, a dangerously unpredictable crew known to play dirty. Luckily, Kenichi’s got allies like Miu by his side. She’s as tough as she is hot, and even if he still hasn’t scored with the blonde brawler, her very presence makes Kenichi train harder to be the best. Yeah, he’s come a long way – but Kenichi’s fight to be the mightiest disciple isn’t over yet.
Buy or rent it: http://blog.funimation.com/release-schedule/

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dubai Festival Focuses on German Film & Financing

The Dubai International Film Festival, slated for Dec. 7-14, will focus on German film providing a valuable opportunity for producers.

In addition to showcasing contemporary German cinema and talent, the In Focus: Germany presentation will also introduce German producers, distributors, sales agents, studios, scouts, festivals and development agencies to their counterparts in Dubai and the wider Arab world.

“German organizations, producers and investors from The World Cinema Fund to ZDF/Arte have long supported filmmakers from around the Arab world through co-productions, funding, broadcast and knowledge sharing, and this year’s DIFF focus is both a recognition of their valuable support and an effort to boost these collaborations,” said DIFF Managing Director Shivani Pandya said in a release.

Read the full release here.

Bela Tarr's Win at Berlinale Comes with Strings

Following his win a the Berlin International Film Festival, Hungarian Director Bela Tarr reportedly told a German newspaper, "The government hates intellectuals because they are liberal and oppositional. It has insulted us as traitors."

Days later her recanted in the Hungarian media, only to change his tune again several days later.

Tarr and other artists have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban of forcing film production companies into bankruptcy and Cultural Warfare.

Tarr's film "The Turin Horse" won the Silver Bear at the Berlin fest, and later Hungarian film distributor MOKEP-Pannonia canceled plans to distribute the film.

Read more here.

Del Toro Debuts Dreamworks Trailers

Mexican Director Guillermo del Toro debuted the trailers for his first films as a creative consultant for Dreamworks. The animated films "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots" will hit theaters this year.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" features the return of comedian Jack Black in the title role and premieres May 26. "Puss in Boots" extends the "Shrek" franchise Nov. 4 and stars Antonio Banderas, reprising his role as Puss.

Watch the trailers: "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hungarian Film Fest gets go ahead

The Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary (MMKA) announced that Hungarian Film Week is now slated for May 5-8.

The dates for the troubled film festival have moved several times, but the MMKA appears to have gotten a handle on the event. Organizers are now accepting and reviewing submissions. An announcement on showcase films is expected closer to the event.

The details are spelled out in the non-English version of the festival site.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story earlier this week.

Mexican film ban overturned

A Mexican appeals court ruled that the governnment's decision to pull a documentary film from theaters violates freedom of information.

The film "Presumed Guilty," which became Mexico's all-time grossing documentary, details the wrongful conviction of Antonio Zuniga. But the Mexican government sought it's removal because one of the people featured in the film did not give his consent to use trial footage. The producers said the public venue did not require permission.

Human rights groups and some Mexican legislators decried the ban. Read more about the case in this article from The Guardian.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mexican Documentary Censored

The popular Mexican documentary "Presumed Guilty" is being forced out of theaters by the Mexican government. The film covers the 2005 murder trial of Antonio Zuniga, whose conviction was later overturned.

The government claims producers did not receive permission to use footage of an individual from the trial. But the producers say the footage was filmed during a public portion of the trial.

Human rights activists and Mexican legislators are decrying the films censorship.

Read more in this Hollywood Reporter article.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Give Indonesian Film A Chance

Over the last couple of weeks the Indonesian film industry and government have been feuding over film subsidies.

I don't understand the ins and outs -- nor for that matter the players -- of the local market.
The Jakarta Globe put together a series looking at the issue, film history and reader feedback.

It gave me a little more understanding and also helped me find a couple more films to research.

Give Indonesia Films a Chance

Indonesian Films That Give Reel Satisfaction

Subsidies from Government

Hollywood Film Ban Debate

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pozsgai Film in Dallas

The Hungarian Multicultural Center in Dallas will host Director Zsolt Pozsgai's "The Earth's Lover" at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 19.

Pozsgai is a Europa Prize winning playwright, theatre and film director. He was born in 1960, Pecs, Hungary. "The Earth's Lover" is about the maker of world-famous porcelain of Pecs, the inventor of eosin, Vilmos Zsolnay. It's a story from Hungary which takes place at the end of the 19th century.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Indonesian Film Industry & Government at Odds Over Funding

The Indonesian film industry and the Indonesian government are at odds over a program in which the government would provide funding for films that "instill love to the nation, raise patriotism and national defense."

Director Joko Anwar, told the Jakarta Globe, "If the ministry only subsidizes films that improve patriotism, it would actually just foster the creation of bad patriotic movies. Filmmakers will try to meet the criteria needed to get the subsidy instead of focusing their creative efforts on producing a quality film."

Click here to read more from the article.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

'Biutiful' at the Academy Awards

Only 'Biutiful' made it through from our Sister Cities countries to the final five nominees at this year's Academy Awards. However it's really a Spanish film directed by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iinarritu. That's not to say it isn't an amazing film and Javier Bardem probably deserves the Academy Award for his performance.

Generally the purpose of this blog is to talk about the culture of our eight Sister City countries as portrayed in film. A similar situation happened a few years ago with Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labrinth."

If you can find "Biutiful" in a theater, go see it. It is a dark, often depressing film. but the performances are amazing and there are many interesting production elements. I love the scene in which Bardem crosses a bridge in the city and the camera pans to a foreboding flock of birds sweeping and diving the city and its inhabitants below. Are they birds or spirits?

Watch the trailer.