Yes we´ve seen him before, but that won´t stop him from peeking out of the Sheerwood forest once again – Robin Hood, this time portrayed by Russel Crowe.
Are the directors and film producers of the world running out of imagination? Something about the film climate of Shanghai, and most of the worlds mainstream cinema this last year has been a bit… repetitive.. with remakes, sequels, new versions of old movies, adaptations of comic books or literary classics or just movies on the exact same theme we´ve seen popping up in the theatres lately. We’ve had Transformers 2, Ip Man 2, Iron Man 2, Step Up 2, Kung Fu Hip Hop 2, Shrek 4, Alice In Wonderland, Doraemon, Astro Boy, G.I. Joe, Black Cat Detective, kung fu kicks here and kung fu tricks there and god knows how many government made flicks with the single goal to place an air of glory around The People’s Republic of China.
So it´s not very surprising when the next big English language film to show up is…a Robin Hood movie! Which will now fill its place in a row of, say around 50 already made feature length films portraying our medieval hero. While Robin Hood IS awesome and we love seeing him in new shapes and stories, the question is, is this latest one really a worthy Robin Hood portrayal?
The name of the director already makes us suspicious: Ridley Scott. Not to dampen his impact with classics like Alien and Blade Runner, but he did also bring a totally ahistorical take on Gladiator in 2000. As Robin, we will see Russell Crowe, now marking his fifth collaboration with Scott. Marion is portrayed by Cate Blanchett and Max von Sydow does Sir Walter Loxley. And the story this time, goes:
The film plots Robin Hood´s early years, before he became the legendary champion of the poor. In 13th-century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of power. We also see the early days of Robin´s romance with a young widow named Marion…
Crowe has put a lot of work into portraying Robin, the character he´s loved since his childhood days. Loosing weight, spending ten months reading books about the historical basis around Robin Hood, training with a bow and arrow until he was able to hit a target from 45 meters. That’s all very nice. But – and this is very disappointing for Robin Hood enthusiasts – he will not wear tights(!!!) Whats up with this macho approach?
It has been suggested online that, just judging by the trailer, the movie bears obvious similarities to Ridley Scott’s and Russel Crowe´s previous collaboration in Gladiator, where he starred as Maximus. “[Crowe] has the same haircut, the same beard and the same goal: to dethrone a corrupt ruler. Further on, we will see Robin, just like Maximus, “galloping into battle on horseback, sword drawn, face grimacing, dirt flying into the air in slow motion.”
We’ve also heard that compared to other Robin Hood movies, this one is “considerably edgier, bloodier and bleaker” at least when compared to Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. So what´s up Sir Ridley Scott? The director explains that he has actually explicitly created a toughened-up Robin, since as he puts it, when looking at previous creations of Robin, they have “failed to hit the target.” Quoted in Times Online, he says, “Think of Gladiator. Everyone sniggered because they thought I was going to do a sandal and toga movie. But I knew exactly how to do it. And I know how to do Robin Hood.”
Um, no you don´t. Maybe we wanted a sandal and toga movie. And maybe we’re tired of seeing muscular men on horseback screaming in slow motion, it´s been used and reused in nearly every epic/historic battle filled movie anyway. And maybe we think that pressing Robin Hood, a character who´s whole charm lies in his non-machoness and courtesy, into the action hero format, is just a Big Crying Shame.
Wanna see it anyway? Heres info on where to go:
Check out what other movies are showing in Shanghai this coming week. Links lead to info about times and venues.
- Shanghai International Film Festival: For the 13th year the government-run SIFF is here, the festival which screens a variety of films in front of a judge’s panel that last year included Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle. As it’s a government-sponsored event the films tend to be a bit hit and miss, but overall it’s a good effort.
- Japan: A Story of Love and Hate: Metropol Cinema will show this documentary about the life of a failed businessman living off his much younger girlfriend in Japan. British director Sean McAllister mixes a universal tragedy with peculiarly Japanese characteristics such as the nation’s unique attitudes to sex. RMB40. English and Japanese with Chinese subtitles.
- Sad Movie: On Thursday 10 June, Vienna Café will show a Korean drama to those who love them and those who have absolutely no idea about them. “Sad Movie” film focuses on the stories about four relationships and their trials, pains, heartaches, and subsequent separations. The plot lines eventually connect in some way, but they remain unrelated for the most part. As Asian cultures often are obsessed with love and sadness, Sad Movie is a lighthearted comedy to experience what that is all about. Stars: Jung Woo-Sung, Im Su-Jung, Cha Tae-Hyun, Yeom Jung-Ah, Shin Min-Ah, Son Tae-Yung, and Lee Ki-Woo. Directed by Kwon Jong-kwan. Korean with English subtitles.
- The Yes Men Fix the World: Studio City hosts a screening of this comic documentary by “yes men” Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno exposes the people profiting from Hurricane Katrina, the faces behind the environmental disaster in Bhopal and other “natural” disasters. RMB40, English with Chinese subtitles.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE MOVIES
- My Mom’s New Boyfriend (特工的特别任务): Henry Durand is a young federal agent who is given a difficult assignment: spy on his mother and her boyfriend who is suspected of leading a gang of art thieves. Directed by George Gallo and starring Meg Ryan and Antonio Banderas.
- Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (高度怀疑): “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” is a remake of the 1956 film noir by Fritz Lang in which a writer’s plan to expose a corrupt district attorney takes an unexpected turn.. The new version is written, directed and filmed by Peter Hyams, and starring Michael Douglas and Amber Tamblyn.
- Prince of Persia (波斯王子：时之刃): The Sands of Time: Based on the the 2003 video game of the same name, this action-adventure fantasy film transports you back in time to sixth-century Persia, aka Iran. Jake Gyllenhall plays street urchin Dastan who is adopted by the king as his heir. He then teams up with Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) to rescue the Sands of Time – a gift from the gods that controls time – from evil nobleman Nizam (Ben Kingsley).
- How To Train Your Dragon (驯龙高手): This computer-animated fantasy film by DreamWorks Animation is loosely based on the 2003 book of the same title. The story takes place in a mythical Viking world where a young Viking teenager named “Hiccup” aspires to kill a dragon in order to get notice in a viking society. He finally shoots down a dragon, capturing it with a bolas cannon, though no one sees his feat nor believes him. But even with his chance at finally proving himself, he finds that he no longer has the desire to kill the dragon he captured and with time, befriends it.
- Iron Man 2 (钢铁侠2): With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, must forge new alliances and confront powerful enemies.
- Echelon Conspiracy (夺命手机): Max Peterson is a globe-trotting techno-whiz who installs security systems on computers. In the Czech Republic he receives an anonymous gift: a phone which sends messages that enable him to win at a casino. Max soon finds himself pursed by hit men, the casino’s security chief, and a CIA operative. Who’s sending Max messages? Previous recipients of similar windfalls have ended up dead. After a couple of close scrapes, Max realizes he’s in danger, so he tries to find out the root of the conspiracy – which seems to have access to every security camera in the world – before he’s the next victim. Why is this happening to him, and who can he trust?
- In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (地牢围攻): “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” is a 2008 fantasy film inspired by the Dungeon Siege video game series, which was directed by Uwe Boll. Set in the kingdom of Ehb, the story follows a man called Farmer (Jason Statham), who was adopted by his village. When Farmer’s wife, Solana (Claire Forlani), and his son leave to sell vegetables at the town of Stonebridge, Farmer’s farm is attacked by creatures called Krugs. With the help of his friend and neighbor Norrick (Ron Perlman) he travels to Stonebridge; however, the Krugs kill his son and capture his wife. With the help of Norrick and Bastian (Will Sanderson), Farmer’s brother-in-law, he intends to find and rescue his wife.
CHINESE LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Kung Fu Hip Hop 2 (精舞门2): “Kung Fu Hip Hop 2″ directed by Liu Bao Xian and Kang Ting, is a cooperation between 3 different countries and their professional street dancers and artists. Although it is a continuation of the 2008 flick “Kung Fu Hip Hop” in terms of style and elements, it is completely different in choice of actors and storyline. Director Liu Bao Xian has explained that to portray a more realistic street culture atmosphere, the film crew has done a lot of research, checking out different dancing skills in order to select the main cast. The movie is not only portraying one type of dance but also street parkour, street dance culture, different style of battles, graffiti culture and other current trends. It is said that “any street person can find their own shadow.” The story will focus on the crew team “Encore” that is led by Le Tian and in between there will be lots of love and hate, parting and reuniting, exposing secrets and the love story between Le Tian and Mian Mian. Chen Jia Ren is the dance instructor and Berlin Chen, Michael Tse and Korea b-boy crew take part in it.
- Fortune Teller (算命): This documentary directed by Xu Tong won the Jury Prize at this year´s 7th China Documentary Film Festival. The story of a crippled fortune teller and his deaf-mute wife highlights the wit, compassion and compassion of fortune teller Li Baicheng. Xu Tong’s lively editing pace and intimate lens show how the pressure of progress pushes modern city folks to seek help from a traditional fortune teller.
- Chongqing Blues (日照重庆): “Chongqing Blues” represents no notable artistic leap in Sixth Generation filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai’s repertoire. While away on a long voyage, ship captain Lin Quanhai (Wang)’s 24-year-old son Bo (Zi Yi) was shot by police for a random stabbing and hostage taking incident in a mall. Lin left his native city Chongqing when Bo was only 10. He goes back to talk to those involved in the case or close to Bo’s life in order to understand the circumstances of his death. Lin’s journey is both that of an errant father taking stock of his guilty past and the return of a prodigal son to his hometown to find himself an outsider. Flowing with the same pensive, heavy cadence of the river that visually and metaphorically dominates the film, it is an old style exploration of the new face of China through an itinerant father’s return to the titular city to make sense of his son’s death after abandoning his family for 15 years. The film was showed in Cannes this year.
- Lost on Journey (人在囧途): Comedy “Lost on Journey” is directed by Yip Wai-Man and stars Chinese actors Wang Baoqian and Xu Zheng. The story takes place in the period before Spring Festival Eve when China’s national railway system is overloaded with people rushing back home. It is extremely hard for many people to get a ticket back, let alone a comfortable seat. Wang Baoqiang stars as a dairy worker who loses his job before Spring Festival, while Xu Zheng plays a businessman who’s in trouble with his wife and mistress. The two characters meet while travelling to their hometown to spend Spring Festival with relatives. Funny things happen between the two men and with the people they encounter on their way home. Yip Wai-Man was the assistant director of “Bodyguards and Assassins”, which received more nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards than any other film in history.
- Ma Wen’s Battle (马文的战争): This Chinese flick is adapted from Ye Zhaoyan’s best-selling novel of the same name. It tells the story of Ma Wen and his wife Yang Xin, who cannot agree on the distribution of their property after getting divorced. Ma ends up sharing a tiny room with his now ex-wife, their young son and his ex-wife’s new lover.
- Illusion Apartment (异度公寓): The horror film “Illusion Apartment” is directed by Jiang Guoquan and stars Stephanie Siao, Ray Ma, Eddie Cheung and Amguulan. It tells a story about the devil which lurks in people’s hearts. Considering the impact of horror films on youngsters, there will be a warning sign on the posters displayed in cinemas; however they will not be restricted to see the film.
- Super-Frog Warriors (超蛙战士之初露锋芒): In the distant future, in order to live on other planets, human beings have evolved into a new race: one of which is a frog tribe. But now the frog tribe finds itself under attack from another evolved species, one based on cockroaches. Now the two must battle for resources and to unlock the secrets of old human technology.
- The Three Smiles: The Scholar and the Beauty (三笑之才子佳人): A young girl is determined to win the heart of a pop singer, by all cost…Loosely inspired by the love story of scholar Tang Yi (Tang Bohu) and house maid Qiu Xiang, which originated in the 16th Century, this off-beat comedy is created by Chinese comedian Guo Degang and his colleagues and disciples. Starring Stephen Chow and Gong Li’s.
- Road To Revival (复兴之路): “Road to Revival” is a film based on the musical staged in 2009 to celebrate the nation’s 60th birthday, one of the most popular shows in Beijing last year. Zhang Jigang, director of the stage epic, also directs the film, presenting the nation’s revival over the past 169 years since Western powers invaded China in the 1840s Opium Wars. When brought to the big screen, it maintains the magnificent setting and stellar cast including Peng Liyuan and Song Zuying.
- Go Lala Go! / Du Lala’s Promotion (杜拉拉升职记): 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.
OTHER LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Gallants (打擂台): Andy Lau´s “Gallants” is a comedy action film, whose cast members mainly consist of senior Hong Kong actors from the 1970s. Newcomers Clement Cheng and Derek Kwok co-directed the movie, which is the latest project of Lau’s company, Focus Films. “Gallants” centers on a kung fu master who wakes up from a long coma, and his disciples, who are holed up in a village restaurant. The film’s cast includes Teddy Robin Kwan, Siu-Lung Leung, Kuan-Tai Chen and You-Nam Wong. In Cantonese.
- Vitus (钢琴小神童): The film tells the story of a highly-gifted boy whose parents have demanding and ambitious plans for him – they want him to become a pianist… Directed by Fredi M. Murer. In Swiss German.
- Largo Winch (决战豪门): After a powerful billionaire is murdered, his secret adoptive son must race to prove his legitimacy, find his father’s killers and stop them from taking over his financial empire. Directed by Jérôme Salle. In French.
- Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (叶问2：宗师传奇): Two years after the film “Ip Man” (叶问) a sequel is now released, once again under the direction of Wilson Yip (Yip Wai Shun) and with Donnie Yen in the leading role. The film follows Ip Man, the kung fu master who among others taught Bruce Lee some of his tricks and kicks. After killing a Japanese army official to defend his honor, Ip Man flees to Hong Kong with his family to start a new life. Ip attempts to propagate his discipline of Wing Chun, but faces rivalry from other practitioners, including the local master of Hung Ga martial arts. In Cantonese.