If you´ve missed the first four films of The German Consulate´s month-long Fatih Akin Retrospective there are still two more flicks to go, this coming Friday, and the next. One musical documentary and one thought-provoking culture crossing drama. Fatih Akin is a Turkish-German director with a series of successful and award winning movies behind him, such as Im Juli (In July, 2000) the Golden Bear-awarded Gegen die Wand (Head-On, 2004) as well as last year´s New York, I Love You.
The films made by Akin bring up international concerns that are rarely touched in mainstream American Cinema. He has been recognized over the last decade for exploring the tensions between culture and religion, and especially how these questions concern German Turks. In the documentary Crossing the Bridge – The Sound of Istanbul (2005), which will show in Shanghai on Friday, he tries to bring these two cultures together by combining the German musician Alexander Hacke from the avant-gardist group Einstürzende Neubauten with the swarming street musicians of Istanbul.
The other film that remains in The German Consulate´s Fatih Akin special is Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven, 2007). The story goes like this:
Ali is a Turkish widower in Germany who decides to ease his loneliness by letting the prostitute Yeter move in. Ali´s son Nejat is not happy about the arrangement but softens up a bit when he realises that Yeter uses the money to pay for her daughters education in Turkey. When Ali and Yeter ends up in a violent fight with tragic consequences, Nejat decides to go to Turkey to search for the daughter, Ayten. But Ayten has left her studies for political activism, is on the run from the authorities, and trying to get to Germany…
The film, which won the prize for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, moves between two cultures, the German with its self-evident European belonging, and the Turkish, with its traditions rooted in the Islamic world. What is seldom mentioned about the film is that it also depicts a lesbian love affair, between a Turkish and a German Woman.
Where: 102A, Cross Tower, 318 Fuzhou Lu, Huangpu near Shandong Zhong Lu, Metro Line 2 Nanjing Dong Lu Station Exit 3 & 4, 福州路318号高腾大厦102A室 近山东中路, 地铁2号线南京东路站3, 4号口
Starts: Crossing the Bridge – The Sound of Istanbul, Friday April 16th, 7pm. Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven) April 23th, 7pm.
As a director Akin has been compared with legendary German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, something he comments to Der Spiegel, saying “The comparisons with Fassbinder have followed me around since my first film, “Short Sharp Shock.” Critics said that the character Gabriel, who emerges from prison determined never to return to crime, reminded them of Franz Biberkopf in Fassbinder’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz.” It’s funny, because I hadn’t even seen the film at the time. I admire Fassbinder, but he and I work in very different ways.”
When it comes to political opinions, Akin has had been involved in some controversies – although calling it an actual controversy seems quite ridiculous: It was in 2006 and he got investigated by German police for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt with the word “Bush” in which the letter “s” was replaced by a Nazi swastika. Akin, who with his own mixed background should be the least likely to stand for any Nazi ideas, explained his choice of T-shirt to Der Spiegel:
Bush’s policy is comparable with that of the Third Reich. I think that under Bush, Hollywood has been making certain films at the request of the Pentagon to normalise things like torture and Guantanamo. I’m convinced the Bush administration wants a third world war. I think they’re fascists.
If you feel like getting to know Fatih Akin more, we’ve dug up this Der Spiegel Interview for you, and if you crave knowing which the other four films featured in The German Consulate´s Fatih Akin Retrospective were, here are the titles: Kurz und Schmerzhaft (Quick and Easy), Im Juli (In July), Solino and Gegen die Wand (Head-On). You can watch his latest pic, New York, I Love You, directly online at Tudou.com.
Check out what other movies are showing in Shanghai this coming week. Links lead to info about times and venues.
- The Man From London: On Wednesday Alliance Française hosts the event “A book, a movie”: an analysis of the director’s choice when bringing a book to the screen, led by Thierry Berthommier, French teacher and professor at Alliance Française. “The novels of Georges Simenon always talk about the dramatic and fateful course of a character toward his destiny. There is a flat and linear way to make an adjustment. Bela Tarr has made a personal work, unique and stunningly beautiful. One reason for the choice to adapt this novel by Simenon is without doubt the affection of Béla Tarr for the central character of the story Maloin is a man to whom life no longer provides any pleasure. He has long toured the possibilities offered by his life. His lack of perspective is drowning in a setting of the sea where the constant haze confuses long edges of the surrounding world.”
ENGLISH LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Romance and Cigarettes: This week´s Vienna Café screening is a down-and-dirty musical love story set in the world of the working class. James Gandolfini from “The Sopranos” plays as an ironworker named Nick Murder who’s having an affair with bargirl Tula (Kate Winslet). Everything is fine until Murder’s wife (Susan Sarandon) finds out their secret. When the characters can no longer express themselves with language, they break into song, lip-synching the tunes lodged in their subconscious. It is their way to escape the harsh reality of their world – to dream, to remember, and to connect to another human being. In English with Chinese subtitles. RSVP required.
- Alice in Wonderland (爱丽丝梦游仙境): In the film, Alice is now nineteen years old and accidentally returns to Underland (misheard by Alice and believed to be called Wonderland), a place she visited thirteen years previously. She is told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland’s inhabitants.
- Fire! (开火): When a young musician and his wife become witness of a bank robbery they get in the midst of a political conspiracy with the risk of loosing their lives.
- Direct Contact (孤胆拯救): Mike Riggins, (Dolph Lundgren) an imprisoned ex-US Special forces operative in Eastern Europe, is offered his freedom and money to rescue an American woman, Ana Gale, who has been kidnapped by a ruthless warlord. But, shortly after freeing her, Mike discovers that the kidnap story was just a ruse to bring Ana out into the open. Our hero suddenly finds himself and his charge being hunted by ruthless government, para-military, and underworld organizations – all who want him dead and Ana under their control. With no one to turn to, and the enemies closing in, Mike must uncover the truth about Ana and bring her to the safety of the U.S. Embassy. Directed by Danny Lerner.
- Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (波西·杰克逊与神火之盗): It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they’re not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy’s mother. As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves. The movie is produced by Chris Columbus who has formerly directed and/or produced “Home Alone”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Gremlins” and the Harry Potter movies.
CHINESE LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Go Lala Go! / Du Lala’s Promotion (Du Lala’s Promotion): Helmed by actress-turned-director Xu Jinglei, the film is adapted from a novel entitled “Du Lala’s Promotion”. The best-seller centers on a woman named Du Lala who takes the high road to get promoted. The film stars director Xu Jinglei herself as Du Lala, as well as Stanley Huang, Karen Mok, Li Ai, and Pace Wu.
- Macau 1949 (澳门1949): The film tells about a story of how the underground Communist Party instigated rebellion against the ship Lian Rong, the Kuomintang’s American landing craft under the background of the founding of the People’s Republic and the defeat of the Kuomintang. After being instigated into rebellion, the captain of the Lian Rong hoisted the Chinese national flag for the first time while in Macau’s inner harbour. “Macau 1949” was co-produced by the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macau’s return to the mainland. The Hong Kong actor Ray Lui dons a navy uniform to play the captain of the Lian Rong ship. Directed by Bao Fuming.
- Ballistic (弹.道): Cop thriller loosely based on the 2004 assassination attempt on Taiwan president Chen Shui-Bian.
- The Four Cupids (四个丘比特): Advertising exec Qi Bolin, commitment-phobic and afraid of children, must deal with mischievous quadruplets and their strong-willed single mother to produce an ad campaign. Does romance have any chance?
- Lan (我们天上见): Actress Jiang Wenli tells her childhood story in her directorial debut “Lan”. It depicts a little girl, whose parents are political prisoners, growing up with her grandfather during the notorious Cultural Revolution in China.
- Fire of Conscience (火龙对决): Dante Lam, (who directed last year´s “Sniper”) is now making a case for himself as the Michael Mann of Hong Kong. In a front-runner for the title of loudest film of the year so far, “Fire of Conscience” tackles the heady subject of police corruption at street and institutional levels. Grizzled cop Man (Leon Lai, sporting a nifty beard) works the pickpocket beat following the death of his wife, but while investigating the death of a prostitute he finds himself drawn into a deadly crime conspiracy, teaming up with former narcotics detective Kee (Richie Jen). After some of his team are killed in a shootout at a restaurant (an amazingly staged scene very reminiscent of the best action moments from Michael Mann) Man is increasingly determined to get to the bottom of the plot, which involves gunrunning, drugs and explosives.
- Beauty on Duty (美丽密令): A rookie policewoman (Choi) rescues a witness of a murder case during her first patrol. The witness is willing to testify against the murderer only if the police team protects his daughter. As a result of this, the rookie is forced to participate in the “Miss Asia Beauty Pageant” together with the girl to ensure she is safe by her side.
- 14 Blades (锦衣卫): Daniel Lee´s martial arts epic stars certified Kung Fu badass Donnie Yen in the role of Qinglong, or Green Dragon. He is the best of the so called Jinyiwei, an imperial elite force of assassins recruited from street orphans. Jinyiwei were masters of the 14 Blades, eight being for torture, five for killing, and the last blade being reserved for suicide when a mission failed. When the emperor is kidnapped and the court taken over, Qinglong takes on the mission of restoring the emperor to power. Also starring Vicki Zhao and Chun Wu.
OTHER LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Yuet Gwong Bo Hup / Just Another Pandora’s Box (越光宝盒): Hong Kong director Jeffrey Lau, the director of last years “Metallic Attraction: Kungfu Cyborg” is already out with another comedy. With “Just Another Pandora’s Box” he´s trying to make fun of many classic movies, including one of his own, “Chinese Odyssey”. The story revolves around a bandit and an immortal girl who is in love with him, as they travel back to the Three Kingdom Period, on the eve of the Battle of Red Cliff…Or as another plot summary tells it: an idiot embarks on an adventurous journey with the help of a magic box during the period of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China.
- Crossing Henessey (月满轩尼诗): “Crossing Hennessy” is an engagingly fresh and enjoyable dramatic comedy that makes great use of its Hong Kong locations as it delves into the romantic complications of modern urban life. 41-year-old slacker Loy (Jacky Cheung) sleeps in all the time and doesn´t do much with his life. His widowed but flamboyant mom (Paw Hee-ching) sets him up on a matchmaking dim sum lunch with Oi Lin (Tang Wei), a quiet mainland girl-next-door (well, a few streets away). Before long, mom starts to arrange the marriage details, not knowing that Loy is still into, and seeing his ex-girlfriend, who´s now divorced and back on the market. Meanwhile Oi Lin is waiting for her bad boy lover to get out of jail soon. Directed by Ivy Ho. In Cantonese and Mandarin.
- Future X-Cops (未来警察): A police officer (Andy Lau) from the year 2085 accidentally arrives in the year 2010. He meets a fellow police officer (Barbie Hsu) and they team up to take on an international crime syndicate. In Cantonese.
- Kandidaten / The Candidate (迷魂陷阱): In this Danish thriller directed by Kasper Barfoed we meet Jonas Bechmann, a defense attorney who is a man of the system, until the day he himself is accused of murder. Taking matters into his own hands, he throws himself into the hunt for a group of blackmailers who threaten to expose him as the killer. But nothing is what it appears to be, and the blackmail links back to his father’s death under mysterious circumstances a year and a half earlier.
- Ne te retourne pas / Don´t Look Back (不要回头): A 2009 psychodrama about a photographer whose pictures tell a different story to that of her perception. Directed by Marina de Van and starring Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci. The film is in French and Italian.