Film Index PROFILE
DONNIE YEN Born 27 July 1963, Canton, China
Background Born to a newspaper editor and a martial arts master, Yen began practising tai chi and wushu at the age of four. At 16 he was sent to the Beijing Wushu Academy, where he studied under the master who taught Jet Li. Upon graduating he moved to Hong Kong and was discovered by action director Woo-ping Yen, the man responsible for making Jackie Chan a superstar. Success eluded Yen for a few years, until he made Once Upon A Time in China II in 1992, which paired him with Li in a fight scene that revolutionised the genre. Less than 10 years later he was making films in Hollywood – Blade II, Shanghai Knights and Noon – while in Asia his reputation was sealed when he and Li fought a rematch in Zhang Yimou’s martial arthouse epic Hero. What’s he up to now? Playing Bruce Lee’s mentor Ip Man in the biopic of the same name. However, it required Yen to learn a whole new martial art, wing chun, the venerable less-is-more fighting style characterised by short, powerful punches.
On mastering wing chun ‘I started learning wing chun as soon as I received the script, and I shed more than 10 lbs to match Ip’s slim figure. I also read many books on Ip and wing chun and I practised with wooden dummies every day in order to demonstrate wing chun properly. With a martial arts background I have no problem picking up wing chun. The hardest thing was to put aside everything I’ve learned and clear my mind for pure wing chun practice. This was really challenging, but I knew this was a must if I was to portray the essence of wing chun.’ Interesting fact Wing chun was originally developed as a style enabling women to protect themselves from men. Although Ip Man popularised it in the 1930s, its original proponent was the beautiful daughter of a tofu dealer named Yim Wing-chun (Miles Fielder) ■ IP Man is out now on DVD (Anchor Bay). See review, page 58.
48 THE LIST 5–19 Nov 2009
Films screening this fortnight are listed below with certificate, star rating, credits, brief review and venue details. Film index compiled by Paul Dale ✽✽ Indicates Hitlist entry Afterschool (18) ●●●●● (Antonio Campos, US, 2008) Ezra Millar, Allen White, Addison Timlin. 107min. Internet- addicted American prep school teacher Rob (Millar) catches two of his school pupils overdosing on camera while making a school video project. Compelling addition to high school genre. Glasgow Film Theatre. The Age of Stupid Film Extravaganza (12A) ●●●●● (Franny Armstrong, UK, 2009) Pete Postlethwaite, Piers Guy, Jamila Bayyoud. 90min. Marrying Britain’s honourable tradition of dystopian sci-fi with the eco documentary form, Armstrong’s aesthetically pragmatic, ethically dogmatic film is screened alongside short films A Time Comes and Scottish Climate Change March. Speakers include representatives from Go Greener, Friends of the Earth and World Development Movement. CCA, Glasgow. Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (Rajkumar Santoshi, India, 2009) Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif.Bollywood rom com. Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow. Aladin (12A) (Sujoy Ghosh, India, 2009) Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Sanjay Dutt. 125min. A contemporary re- imagining of the Aladdin story with orphan Aladin Chatterjee (Deshmukh) and rock-star genie Genius (Bachchan) acting out the fairytale. Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow. Aliens in the Attic (PG) ●●●●● (John Schultz, UK, 2009) Ashley Tisdale, Robert Hoffman, Austin Robert Butler. 85min. Likeably frenetic sci-fi adventure about a family’s attempt to fight off knee high alien invaders. Empire, Clydebank. Alphaville (15) ●●●●● (Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1965) Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard Vernon. 98min. Enjoyable mid-60s Godard caper which turns contemporary Paris into Alpha 60, a chilly city of the future from which such concepts as love and tenderness have been banned. Enter Constantine’s grizzled gumshoe Lemmy Caution and we’re set for an extended and highly idiosyncratic homage to comic strip heroism. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Amelia (PG) ●●●●● (Mira Nair, US, 2009) Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor. 111min. See Also Released, page 47. General release. An American Werewolf in London (15) ●●●●● (John Landis, US, 1981) David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne. 97min. Classic horror as an American backpacker is bitten by a werewolf on the moors. Selected release. Animal Crackers (U) ●●●●● (Victor Heerman, US, 1930) Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx. 97min. Mayhem ensues when a painting goes missing during a party in honor of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx). Anarchic comedy with The Marx Brothers at their best. Hippodrome, Bo’ness. Antichrist (18) ●●●●● (Lars von Trier, Denmark, 2009) Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg. 108min. When middle class couple Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Defoe’s son dies in a freak accident they retreat to their woodland cabin to heal. But soon guilt, confusion and some undefined eschatological force puts them in a very different place. A fine slice of unbridled and unpleasant pantheistic horror that’s underlined by themes of grief and guilt. Odeon at the Quay, Glasgow. The Audible Picture Show (15) (Various, UK, 2009) 60min. Video, performance and film artist Matt Hulse curates and presents an international touring show of short audio works created for cinema by a diverse range of visual artists, filmmakers, animators, audio artists, sound designers, writers and musicians. Part of Diversions film festival. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Autumn on Ob River & Flight (E) (Janno Simm/Valentin Kuik, Estonia) 73min.
Simm’s film Autumn on Ob River documents the northernmost families of the 22,500 Khanty people who live near the mouth of the Ob River in North-Western Siberia. This will be screened alongside Kuik’s short film Flight. Part of Uralic Peoples - Anthropological Film Festival. Gilmorehill G12, Glasgow. L’Avventura (18) ●●●●● (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1960) Monica Vitti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Lea Massari. 145min. Slow and detached from plot devices, Antonioni focuses more on the developing relationship of a couple searching the Sicilian landscape for a missing friend than on the how and why of the disappearance itself. A prime example of European chic, memorably photographed. CCA, Glasgow.
✽✽ Bad Company (15) ●●●●● (Jean Eustache, France, 1963) Aristide,
Daniel Bart, Dominique Jayr. 42min. Eustache’s short film follows two working- class youths on a Sunday afternoon as they set about picking up girls on the streets of Montmarte. Part of French Film Festival. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. The Battle of Algiers (15) ●●●●● (Gillo Pontecorvo, Algeria/Italy, 1965) Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi. 140min. A documentary-style reconstruction of Algeria’s struggle for liberation. Brilliantly realistic – quite brutally so in the controversial torture sequences – this is a textbook example of political cinema at its most persuasive. CCA, Glasgow. The Beaches of Agnes (18) ●●●●● (Agnes Varda, France, 2008) 112min. This idiosyncratic cinematic self-portrait of the Belgian-born octogenarian film-maker Agnes Varda is suffused by its feminist creator’s playfully eccentric spirit, and heads off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Varda ‘walks backwards’ through her life, narrating and drawing on clips from her own films and staging reconstructions of her memories, whilst revisiting the places which have shaped her creative output. Matinees only. Cameo, Edinburgh.
✽✽ The Beautiful Person (La Belle Person) (15) ●●●●● (Christophe Honoré, France, 2008) Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet. 90min. Honoré’s fantastic high school drama/musical transplants the 17th century novel la Princesse de Cleves from a royal court to a modern-day urban school. This screening will be followed by Claudine Bourigot’s short film The Baker’s Daughter. Part of French Film Festival. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Bedtime Stories (PG) ●●●●● (Adam Shankman, US, 2008) Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox. 90min. Family fantasy about a man who can make bedtime stories come to life. Empire, Clydebank. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (U) ●●●●● (Raja Gosnell, US/Mexico, 2008) Drew Barrymore (voice), Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis. 81min. This brightly lit family comedy is a vapid fish-out-of-water confection, revolving around posh pooch Chloe (voiced by Barrymore) who gets kidnapped from Rachel (Perabo) during a resort vacation. To keep Chloe’s real owner, Rachel’s aunt Vivian (Lee Curtis), in the dark, Rachel sets out to rescue the pampered pet from her potential fate at the hands of Mexican dogfighters. Talent-heavy one-joke talking-dog movie. Cineworld Fountainpark, Edinburgh. Bright Star (PG) ●●●●● (Jane Campion, France/Australia/UK, 2009) Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider. 118min. See review, page 46. Selected release. Bustin’ Down the Door (15) ●●●●● (Jeremy Gosch, US, 2008) 96min. Featuring some brilliant surfing footage from the 70s and a compelling soundtrack, Gosch’s action-filled documentary tells the story of a group of uncompromising surfers who went to Hawaii with the aim of revolutionising wave riding. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. A Christmas Carol 2D (PG) ●●●●● (Robert Zemeckis, US, 2009) Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman. 95min. Computer animated version of Dickens classic. General release. A Christmas Carol 3D (PG) ●●●●● (Robert Zemeckis, US, 2009) Jim Carrey,
Colin Firth, Gary Oldman. 95min. See above. General release. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (PG) ●●●●● (Paul Weitz, US, 2009) JC Reilly, Chris Massoglia, Jessica Carlson. 108min. Mildly diverting comedy horror about a 14-year-old boy (Massoglia) who breaks an ancient truce between two warring factions of vampires and sees a host of sideshow freaks come to his aid. General release. Citizen Kane (PG) ●●●●● (Orson Welles, US, 1941) Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead. 119min. Stunningly successful biographical mosaic centring on a Hearst-like media tycoon. Welles’ first film remains scintillating viewing for its sheer technical verve, narrative confidence and spellbinding performances. Part of O For Orson season. Glasgow Film Theatre; Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Cliff Richard & The Shadows: Live at the O2 (U) (UK, 2009) 144min. Fifty years since they started out and 20 years since they last toured, Cliff is reunited with his backing band for a run through of the hits that were supposed to make him ‘the British Elvis’. Odeon at the Quay, Glasgow. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2D (U) ●●●●● (Phil Lord, US, 2009) Voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan. 90min. Vivid and likeable animated version of Judi and Ron Barrett’s 1978 children’s book set in the town of Chewandswallow, where the weather comes three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Odeon Braehead, Renfrew; Odeon Wester Hailes, Edinburgh. Coco Before Chanel (12A) ●●●●● (Anne Fontaine, France, 2009) Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola. 110min. This sumptuously dressed biopic of the early years of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel faithfully charts the rising hemlines and torn bustiers of a passionate woman repressed by society, with emotion-driven montages of dressmaking as Coco uses sewing machine and scissors to direct her restless energies into clothing. There’s nothing experimental or innovative here, but it provides undeniably classy entertainment. Empire, Clydebank.
✽✽ Cold Souls (12A) ●●●●● (Sophie Barthes, US/France, 2009) Paul
Giamatti, Dina Korzun, Emily Watson. 101min. See review, page 45. Selected release. Coraline 2D (PG) ●●●●● (Henry Selick, US, 2009) Voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman. 100min. After her family moves to Pink Mansions, Coraline (voiced by Fanning) quickly becomes bored with the large dusty house, and in particular with her hardworking parents (Hatcher and Hodgman). The fantasy kicks into top gear when she discovers a secret door that leads her into an alternate version of her home. A lush, visually imaginative and freshly entertaining stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s children’s novel. Vue Omni, Edinburgh. Counter Images: East German Underground Films from the 1980s (18) (Various, Germany, Various) 90min. Curator and filmmaker Claus Löser presents a selection of films made in the German Democratic Republic between 1983 and 1989. CCA, Glasgow. Couples Retreat (15) ●●●●● (Peter Billingsley, US, 2009) Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau. 110min. Favreau and Vaughn buddy it up as a part of four couples who hit their 40s and end up mistakenly entering into a compulsory couples therapy retreat on a luxury island resort. Cue lots of daft slapstick and a smearing of schmaltz. General release. Creation (PG) ●●●●● (Jon Amiel, UK, 2009) Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Jones. 105min. Amiel’s Creation offers a worthy, thought-provoking insight into the story behind Darwin’s earth-shattering publication of his theory of evolution and boasts a terrific central performance from Bettany. Unfortunately this rather strait-laced film doesn’t take as many risks as it should in its effort to avoid re-igniting too many age-old debates. Dominion, Edinburgh. The Crimson Wing (PG) ●●●●● (Matthew Aeberhard, Leander Ward, US/UK,