By Jason Apuzzo. • Mao’s Last Dancer is in the news a lot right now. The LA Times has a piece on the difficulties associated with shooting the film in China, and director Bruce Beresford does a new interview on the film over at IndieWIRE.
The movie’s strengths are considerable. The first section summons up a tormented period of Chinese history when art was bent to the breaking point in the service of a ruthless state … The film celebrates artistic freedom without preaching a sermon, and often flies when Mr. Chi is on screen. When he is on stage, spinning and leaping to the strains of magnificent music, the film soars.
I’ve put another clip of this extraordinary new film below. Make sure to see it this week. You can read the LFM review of it here.
• While on the subject of China, possibly the only film that America and China should be able to cooperate on, without Chinese censors getting involved in the mix, is a movie about Army Air Corp Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault and his Flying Tigers, who protected China from Imperial Japanese invaders during World War II. And that’s exactly what director John Woo is apparently trying to do, as he attempts to put together a U.S.-China co-production for a huge film version of the Flying Tigers’ story, that would end up in the IMAX format and possibly starring Liam Neeson in the title role. This sounds intriguing, and we’ll hope for the best on that.
• Everybody’s talking about Piranha 3D right now! Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this film’s debut is that – as of the writing of this post – the film is receiving an 80 rating among critics over at Rotten Tomatoes. The film had a splashy (so to speak) debut in LA the other night at the Chinese theater, featuring some of the jaw-dropping (as it were) ladies from that film – and there are some new interviews out with director Alex Aja (see here and here), and with newly minted star/Playboy covergirl Kelly Brook (who’s also adorning the cover of Love Magazine this month). Ms. Brook, by the way, is dueling it out with her ex-boyfriend – the Expendables’ Jason Statham – at the box office this weekend.
As regular Libertas readers know, we expressed our enthusiasm for Piranha 3D early on – eagerly devouring each marketing ploy for this exceedingly cheeky and sexy little thriller. It’s for this reason, sensing the possibility that this film might be a cult classic, that we dispatched noted film critic and theoretician Prof. Jacques de Molay to review Piranha 3D for Libertas. He delivered a decidedly impassioned and idiosyncratic review.
I just got off the phone with Jacques, and frankly he’s still raving about the film. I could barely hear him, because he’s currently kayaking down the Amazon river, but some of the phrases I made out were: “Cult masterpiece … easily the best film of the year, possibly of any year … ecstatic pleasure … dream-like … watching hyper-real, 30-foot high females floating underwater in free space in 3D … like something out of a Botticelli painting … or Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage … why couldn’t James Cameron think of this?!” At a certain point I had to cut Jacques’ call off, frankly, because he was just going on too much. I suppose I’ll have to see the film now.
In related Piranha news, Lake Havasu is apparently worried that Piranha 3D is going to take a bite out of tourism due to unfounded fears of piranhas. (It’s the exact opposite; hordes of teenage guys are likely to now descend on the place looking for Riley Steele … probably quite willing to risk their lives in the process.) “Girls Gone Wild” mogul Joe Francis has also fired off an unintentionally funny legal letter to the producers of Piranha 3D over concerns regarding ‘defamation’ (the film’s primary villain is obviously based on him). I suppose it is a bit humiliating to watch one’s member getting chewed by piranhas on a 30 ft. screen in 3D, but maybe he should’ve thought about this sort of thing years ago when he started exploiting teenage girls.
Finally, Alex Aja has announced his next project … which will be a big-budget adaptation of the French space-pirate comic book series, Cobra. That looks absolutely fantastic, and we wish him the best with that.
• The trailer for the new Valerie Plame movie Fair Game is out, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, and apparently Richard Armitage – the man who leaked Plame’s identity to Robert Novak – isn’t even mentioned in the film (or at least, no character by that name is listed in the credits). This is kind of like making All the President’s Men and not mentioning Deep Throat.
• From real-life spies to fictional ones, Angelina Jolie premiered Salt in Berlin this week. This worldwide tour of hers is really colorful, and I enjoy covering it … but I’m wondering if one visit to, say, Greta van Susteren’s show might actually do more good for this film’s box office right now. Has Salt really been promoted as aggressively here in the States as it should be?
• The first review of David Fincher’s new Facebook movie The Social Network is out, and it sounds like a whopper. The Facebook camp isn’t happy about the film, not surprisingly. And now Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page may get the biopic treatment. [Why do I think Steve Jobs is next? He's the biggest character of them all.] Memo to the Silicon Valley crowd: you’d better start financing your own movies, if you want to start writing your own history … because otherwise, Hollywood will write your histories for you. Hollywood has a financial interest in keeping Silicon Valley egos in check, because the Valley is constantly threatening to take Hollywood over. Expect this inter-California rivalry to get a lot hotter.
• In sci-fi news, an interesting casting notice has leaked for the forthcoming J.J. Abrams’/Steven Spielberg Super 8. I’m very much looking forward to that film – actually much more so than any of the forthcoming sci-fi projects on the books that we’ve been covering here, simply because I have greater confidence in the filmmakers involved. We’re also learning that X-Men: First Class will apparently be taking place in the 1960s. According to Aint It Cool News:
[T]he film takes place in the 1960’s. John F Kennedy is the President of the United States. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X are on TV doing marches. There is a spirit of a hopeful future that was prevalent in that time.
Interesting. In other sci-fi news, the new poster for Skyline is out, and Shia LaBeouf is apparently very excited about the storyline that’s been revealed to him for Indy 5.
Word on the street is that Indy 5 will be headed to the Bermuda Triangle, potentially with a final stop in Atlantis. Indy 4, along with the suprise-hit Cloverfield, kicked off the most recent wave of alien invasion projects … and I expect Indy 5 to add a new dimension to this whole craze before it’s all over, due to Lucas and Spielberg’s deep immersion in sci-fi lore …
• AND IN TODAY’S MOST IMPORTANT NEWS … would you buy iPod accessories designed by Brit celebrity Katie Price? [They adorn her headgear to the right.] These things look like they’re designed to receive transmissions from outer space – of which she may already be receiving her fair share. She may be trying to snag a role in Area 51, although Battleship or Piranha would probably be more appropriate given that she already comes equipped with artificial flotation devices.
And that’s what’s happening this weekend in the wonderful world of Hollywood.
Posted on August 22nd, 2010 at 9:06am.