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Uninteresting characters and too-obvious symbolism of Hindu mythology reduces The Age of Shiva to another unfortunate portrayal of India as a foreign, exotic land.
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Deepika and Saif show us how to love, McDull gets another film, and Asian cinema bids a sad farewell to Yasmin Ahmad. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
Yasmin Ahmad, acclaimed Malaysian director, dies at 51
Friends and fans of Yasmin Ahmad, whose films and commercials graced the screen with simple charm and occasionally the titanic weight of an oppressive society, remain in shock over the director's sudden death on July 25, following a stroke and brain hemorrhage two days before. The award-winning director, whose films of youth like Talentime and Mukhsin found favor in film festivals around the world, was a controversial figure at home, especially for her portrayals of ethnic and religious difference within Malaysia. Domestically, she was perhaps more influential for her Petronas commercials, which won the hearts of locals, as well as a prize at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 2008. Following her death, Malaysian newspaper Kosmo! was castigated for publishing a salacious story about Ahmad's gender, for which the newspaper has apologized. Singapore-based Suria network paid tribute to the director with a night of programming dedicated to her work. --Brian Hu
Live-Action Updates of Gungrave and Castlevania
Saw director James Wan is in final negotiations with game publisher Konami to direct the live-action adaptation of the popular video game franchise Castlevania, which first debuted in Japan in 1986. Reported by Current, Wan will be “one of the first Asian directors to handle a video game adaptation in Hollywood as well as one of the first to have worked in video games before. Wan produced the live action promos for the Dead Space series with EA.”“The thing I love about what Konami did with Castlevania was taking the iconic Dracula mythology and Eastern-European setting, and retelling it with a Japanese pop-cultural sensibility,” Wan said. The live-action Castlevania will detail the battle between Dracula and the Belmont clan of vampire hunters in a labyrinthine fortress in the Carpathian mountains.
Also, Convergence Entertainment has licensed the rights to produce the live-action adaptation of the video game franchise Gungrave, which had been previously adapted into a 26 episode animated series in 2003 by Madhouse. The original video game was developed by Red Entertainment and designed by Yasuhiro Nightow. Convergence's Tim Kwok and Red's Yasuaki Nagoshi will produce the film with a proposed budget between $30 and $35 million. The Gungrave story centers around a lone crime syndicate member who is betrayed and murdered by his best friend and then reborn to take revenge against those that betrayed him. --Michael Lom
Love Aaj Kal traverses time and location
Opening worldwide July 31st, Love Aaj Kal is the latest big-budget Bollywood film to hit theaters. Directed by Imtiaz Ali (Jab We Met), the film stars the always charming Saif Ali Khan and the always jaw-dropping Deepika Padukone as lovers who tend to overlook their emotions, prioritizing work and a desire for practicality. Love Aaj Kal compares this contemporary couple's journey to a more old-fashioned love story from 1965; an older man gives Saif's character advice about holding onto his true love -- a once-in-a-lifetime connection he might not even fully understand yet. The story travels from London to Delhi to San Francisco and back, accompanied by Pritam's always-reliable music and some delightful dance numbers (See Saif twist!). Check out the trailer here. --Ada Tseng
New McDull Movie
The fourth installment of the animated McDull series, titled McDull Wudang, is due in Chinese mainland theaters on July 24th. In this movie, McDull , the unwise, yet honest piglet and his friends will leave his home of Hong Kong to visit the Wudang Mountains in China to learn Tai Chi. McDull was first created as a comic book character by Hong Kong cartoonist Alice Mak and her writer husband Brian Tse. It has since gained much popularity. --Kristie Hang
Controversy at MIFF: Chinese Films Withdrawn
Three Chinese films have been withdrawn from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) following the controversy surrounding the rejection of the Chinese consular officials' request to remove Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer's documentary The 10 Conditions of Love. The 10 Conditions of Love tells of Kadeer's relationship with activist husband Sidik Rouzi and her push for more autonomy for China's Muslim Uighurs in western Xinjiang Province. Kadeer is blamed by Beijing for instigating this month's ethnic riots in Xinjiang. Two of the withdrawn Chinese films, Jia Zhangke's Cry Me a River and Emily Tang's Perfect Life, have been withdrawn to protest Kadeer’s attendance at the event, while the other film, Petition - The Court of the Complainants by Chinese independent filmmaker Zhao Liang, has been pulled.
Festival director Richard Moore stated, "I had a conversation with [Liang] and I can't tell you the nature of the conversation ... because he's worried for his safety." "At present, he's not in mainland China ... he's changing his mobile phone number regularly. It's one of those situations." Consequently, no films from China will be represented at this year's 2009 festival. A festival spokeswoman said MIFF was already reconsidering how it will handle Chinese films next year in 2010. Despite the Chinese films withdrawals and Chinese government representative's protest, The 10 Conditions of Love will continue to premiere on August 8 at the festival with Kadeer in attendance. --Michael Lom
Atsushi Ogata's Film Goes International
Director Atsushi Ogata will have his first full-length fill premiere screening next year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His romantic comedy Wakiyaku Monogatari will star Toru Masuoka and Hiromi Nagasaku. Filming is scheduled to wrap up next month in order to meet the 2010 deadline to be screened at international film festivals as well as its expected premiere at the Museum of Modern Art. --Kristie Hang
Date Posted: 7/31/2009