Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movie News: Teaser of Jackie Chan's Epic Drama


Those of you who follow Twitch and Blogging the Reel World are aware that Jackie Chan's next film will be an epic drama. This film will be titled Little Big Soldier. Besides, this film's teaser has just been released online.


First of all, the story goes like this according to Tood Brown over at Twitch:

It was the darkest of times in China, when ruthless warlords waged battles to satiate their endless aggression. Millions of lives perished, and those who survived had only two choices - kill or be killed.

The battalions of warring states Liang and Wei collided in a bloodbath that lasted from dawn until dusk. Only two men were left standing - a FOOT SOLDIER from Liang (Jackie Chan) and the rival GENERAL from Wei (Wang Leehom). The Soldier survived because he is an expert in playing dead, with a device strapped on his body which protruded like an arrowhead for added realism.

The Soldier captured the wounded General, hoping to use the enemy as his ticket to freedom - by handing the General to the Liang warlord, the Soldier could be honorably discharged and return home to his peaceful life. The young General, though taken captive, was condescending towards the Soldier. The two men were often at loggerheads during the long and winding journey.

Besides, this will be Jackie Chan's second epic drama after The Myth, which I saw in Grade 11. For all I know, Little Big Soldier will be in theatres in February 11, 2010 in Hong Kong. Besides, don't ask me if this film will be better than The Myth. All I can tell you is that the latter was complete piece of [unknown expletive], because the parts in the modern time was so useless and their presence made it too hard for the scriptwriters to develop the parts in the Ancient China.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Movie News: Teaser of 'Le journal d'Aurélie Laflamme'


TVA Films, a distribution company, released the teaser of the upcoming teenage film Le journal d'Aurélie Laflamme. In case you don't know what the film is about (neither do I), here's some informations. It's adapted from one of the six books (the first one to be more precise) from a teenage novel written by former columnist India Desjardins.


Meet Aurélie Laflamme (Marianne Verville), a girl who believes that she was abandoned on Earth by aliens. Now that she's in high school, she doesn't connect, so to speak, with most people around her. Since her dad died, she finds her mom (Édith Cochrane) dull. In school, Aurélie thinks that Kat (Geneviève Chartrand), her best friend, has a numb mind since she's found love. This is why Aurélie is not interested to have a soul mate. However, can Aurélie escape from love?

In case you're a fan of the novels, have in mind that Aliocha Schneider, the brother of Niels Schneider (Tout est parfait), will be Nicolas and Jérémie Essiambre will be Truch. Finally, the film is shot with a budget of $4,135,000 and will hit Quebec's theatres in April 2010 according to the trailer.


The books' and film's official web site: http://aurelielaflamme.com/


Friday, November 27, 2009

News: The SODEC Backs 12 Feature Films

The Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), Quebec's cultural sponsor for the film industry, announced the 12 lucky feature films that will be subsidized. Speaking of homegrown films, eight will be in French and one will be in English. The rest of the films are co-productions.


Homegrown films in French:

BO$$É: Directed by Claude Desrosiers, this film is a satirical comedy about financial scandals seen through the eyes of a corrupt man, Bernard Bossé. The film will be scripted by André Ducharme, Luc Déry and Yves Lapierre. The film is produced by Les productions Équinoxe and will be distributed by Alliance Atlantis.

Décharge: A criminal who found redemption randomly meets a prostitute. However, the meeting, brings back in the criminal things from his past. Written by Benoît Pilon and Pierre Szalowski. Directed by Benoît Pilon (Ce qu'il faut pour vivre). Produced by Forum Films and distributed by Remstar Distribution.

La peur de l’eau: In the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, a cop tries to find the killer of a young girl. Besides, the film is adapted from On finit toujours par payer, a novel from Jean Lemieux. Written by Marcel Beaulieu and Gabriel Pelletier. Directed by Gabriel Pelletier. Produced by Go Films and distributed by Remstar Distribution.

Café de Flore: This film combines the themes of love, desire and reincarnation. Written and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.). Produced by Item 7 and Films Crazy. Distributed by Alliance Vivafilm.

Marécages: A family living on a farm is facing a drought and a shocking event. Besides, the member of this family will have to learn to forgive each other. Written and directed by Guy Édoin. Produced by MaxFilms and distributed by Films Métropole.

Le sens de l’humour: Two popular humorists are captured by a serial killer. In order to avoid torture, these humorists teach the serial killer the art of humour. Written by Émile Gaudreault and Benoît Pelletier. Directed by Émile Gaudreault. Produced by Cinémaginaire and distributed by Alliance Vivafilm.

Lance et compte: This film is based on a hit TV series, by the way. The story goes like this: After a bus accident, the Quebec City National, a pro hockey team, loses most of its players. Marc Gagnon, its coach, has to rebuild the team. Written by Réjean Tremblay. Directed by Frédérick D'Amours. Produced by Gaéa Films and distributed by Les Films Christal.

Le colis: During a kidnapping, a delivery worker, who is struck by huge debts, finds out through his victim that he's richer than he thought. Written by Gaël d'Ynglemare (who also directs the film) and Jean Marie Corbeil. Produced by Productions Thalie and distributed by Les Films Séville.

***

Homegrown feature film in English:

French Immersion: The story follows a herd of English-speaking people who can't speak French. In order to learn this language, they swarm the small French-speaking village of Saint-Isidore-du-Cur-de-Jésus. Written by Jefferson Lewis and Kevin Tierney. Directed by Kevin Tierney. Produced by Productions Park Ex and distributed by TVA Films.

***

Co-productions:

Memories Corner: Ada, a young French journalist, goes to Kobe, a Japanese city, in order to write a report about an earthquake. When she meets Kenji, a local, her life will be changed. Written and directed by Audrey Fouché. Produced by Les films Zingaro and distributed by Les Films Christal.

Queleh: In 1985, in Somalia, Queleh, an 11-years-old boy, tries to find his dad who got kidnapped by military rebels. However, he also has to deal with the fact that he's the man of the family and he has to take his dad's responsibilities. Written by Roelof Jan Minneboo and Abdi Jama. Directed by Abraham Haile Biru. Produced by Les Films Camera Oscura and distributed by Filmoption Internationale.

Buddha's Little Finger: Pyotr Pustota is having hallucinations. He wakes up in a prison during the coup d'État in Moscow in 1991 and then during the rise of communism in Russia in 1918. Written by Tony Pemberton and William Jennings. Directed by Tony Pemberton. Produced by Amérique Films and distributed by Atopia Distribution.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

TV Review: 'Aveux'


First words: congratulations Radio-Canada, the French-language sister-channel of CBC, for striving to make TV series that are on par with English Canadian and American TV series! I've just watched Aveux's season finale (which was aired two days ago) on streaming. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this gem from playwright Serge Boucher is nominated for most of the awards at the next Prix gémeaux, Quebec's own Emmy Awards.


Aveux is the story of Carl Laplante (Maxime Denommée), a 33 years old man. He ran away from his adoptive family and his friends from La Tuque at 18 years old after a shocking event. Fifteen years later, he lives in Montreal, is married with Brigitte (Catherine Proulx-Lemay), has a new first name (Simon) and hasn't talked to his relatives from La Tuque ever since. Besides, Simon/Carl tries to live in peace because he created a new past for himself.

However, as he was delivering an appliance with his colleague, he finds out that the owner of the house is his former neighbour, Micheline Dubreuil (Marie-Ginette Guay), and also comes across Olivier Dubreuil (Benoît McGinnis), his childhood friend who now lives in Montreal. Besides, as soon as they can, Micheline and Olivier will warn Simon's adoptive parents (Guy Nadon and Danielle Proulx) and sister, Joliane (Evelyne Brochu), about Simon's existence. Why did Simon leave his adoptive family fifteen years ago? Is it because of the death of Jean-Pierre, Micheline's husband?

Before giving you my thoughts about this TV series, I should tell you that I don't want to give away too many details.

Once you have an idea of what made Simon run away from his family and friends from La Tuque, you'll want to watch the next episodes to know what Simon is hiding from us and, above all, his wife, Brigitte. While Aveux might look predictable for some (not to me), scriptwriter Serge Boucher manages to make Aveux extremely addictive by his no-nonsense approach. In fact, after the details about Simon's motives for leaving La Tuque are brought to the surface, one comes to think that Boucher gave us a script where everything makes sense (i.e. how Simon's neighbour actually died). All in all, whether you find it predictable or not, Aveux has the ability to make you shift from one hypothesis (about the meaning of the story) to another until the very end.

In the acting department, everybody is great. As Carl/Simon, a man who fears that his past will catch him up, Maxime Denommée is incredible in both his speaking and silent parts. Besides, he can count on supporting actors who play so well that you forget that they're supporting actors. For that matter, my two thumbs up are given in honour to two young rising stars of Quebec: Steve Laplante, as Luc (Joliane's boyfriend), and Evelyne Brochu, as Joliane (Carl/Simon's adoptive sister). Although you might hate Luc, you just feel that Steve Laplante brings so much subtlety to his character. As for Évelyne Brochu, oh my various gods, she's so gorgeous! Anyway, let's get back to serious stuff: her great talent is appreciable because her dramatic performance never feels overacted.

Finally, for your information, the show will not have a second season, because Boucher planned to make a miniseries. However, this will certainly not be the last adventure of Serge Boucher into the TV industry and I'll sure keep an eye on his next TV series.


Title on Amazon (Canada):

TV News: 'Call Me Fitz' Starts Production

From a press release
E1 Entertainment, Amaze Film + Television and Big Motion Pictures in association with Astral Media’s The Movie Network and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central announced today that principal photography is underway on the Canadian original television series Call Me Fitz (working title). The series stars actor/director Jason Priestley (The Day of the Triffids, My Name is Earl, Beverly Hills 90210) as the charismatic used car salesman known as Fitz. Created and written by producer/writer Sheri Elwood (Defying Gravity), the 13‐part, half‐hour comedy series is filming an hour outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Annapolis Valley region until mid‐January. The series is scheduled to air on The Movie Network (Eastern Canada) and Movie Central (Western Canada) in 2010.


In Call Me Fitz, Jason Priestley stars as Richard “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, a balls‐out, used car dealer who pushes the boundaries of acceptable behaviour just a few steps too far. After Fitz botches a test drive and puts his latest customer in a coma, he finds himself face‐to‐face with a new salesman on the lot: Larry, a do‐gooder with a heart of gold. If Fitz is a man who lives for the moment, Larry’s his foil, ready to pick up (and re‐furbish) the wreckage Fitz leaves behind. If the “Odd Couple” had substance abuse problems and sold cars, this would be that show.

Larry is played by Ernie Grunwald (King of the Hill, My Name is Earl) who becomes the moral anchor of the Fitzpatrick family. Series’ regulars include Peter MacNeill (Copper, Mayerthorpe), Tracy Dawson (The Gavin Crawford Show), Kathleen Munroe (Durham County), Donavon Stinson (Reaper), Brooke Nevin (I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer), and Gillian Ferrier (Ice Castles). Guest stars, Rachel Blanchard (Flight of the Conchords) and Joanna Cassidy (Six Feet Under) are featured in recurring roles.

Writer, Creator and Executive Producer Sheri Elwood, is joined by Executive Producers Teza Lawrence and Michael Souther, both with Amaze Film + Television (Finn on the Fly, Saint Ralph) and David MacLeod of Big Motion Pictures (October 1970, SeaWolf). Ari Posner (Mental) is Co‐ Executive Producer. Scott Smith (Rollercoaster, Falling Angels) and James Genn (Robson Arms), direct. Laszlo Barna is the President of E1 Television. Suzanne Berger and Tashi Bieler are the Vice Presidents of Production for E1 Entertainment. Larry Gilbert is Vice President of Current Programming for E1 Entertainment.

Production thanks the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund Board who has approved financial participation in the development of the proposed project: Call Me Fitz Online.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Memo: Short Absence Notice


I haven't regularly posted something on this blog. Indeed, I've got two research projects that are keeping me busy. The first one is about the political ideas of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau (i.e. his anti-nationalism, his views on federalism and multiculturalism), a former Prime minister of Canada (1968-1979 and 1980-1984), and the second is about the treatment of Canadians of Japanese heritage during the Second World War (1939-1945).

However, if I do have some time (and I'll find some time!), I promise that I'll post something worth your attention. Here are what you should expect: a review of JFK and of the TV series Aveux along with Flashpoint.

Yours friendly,

Anh Khoi



Monday, November 16, 2009

TV News: On the Season Finale of 'Flashpoint'


From a press release
  • Gunman goes to the extreme to save one of hockey’s greatest shrines (the Maple Leafs Garden) from demolition.
  • FLASHPOINT's wins six Gemini Awards, including Best Dramatic Series.


Hot on the on the heels of three more Gemini Award wins Saturday night, including Best Dramatic series, Canada’s most-watched original drama series FLASHPOINT wraps its Fall season this Friday, November 20 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV (visit CTV.ca to confirm local broadcast times). Shot from inside one of hockey’s greatest temples, historic Maple Leaf Gardens comes back to life, guest-starring as “Godwin Coliseum” when the SRU attempts to disarm a highly-trained and passionate sniper who will to do anything to save the famed arena from demolition. With unprecedented access, viewers get a never-before seen look at the bowels of Maple Leaf Gardens, including hidden corridors, the Foster Hewitt Gondola, and the announcer's booth used by former house-announcer Paul Morris, as the SRU tracks down their target in one of the series’ most riveting episodes ever.

In addition to now being Canada’s Best Dramatic Series, FLASHPOINT is also Canada’s most-watched original drama, breaking records in its second blockbuster season. FLASHPOINT averages 1.8 million viewers on CTV, up 38% from last winter (Season 2, Part 1). One of Canada’s Top 20 most-watched programs, FLASHPOINT consistently is the most-watched program in the country on Friday nights, and broke the two million viewer mark (2.006 million) with a series high for its Season 2, Part 2 premiere in September.

"Thirty-one episodes later, FLASHPOINT has set the gold standard for award-winning and popular Canadian television," said Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc. "FLASHPOINT continues to resonate with viewers because of its unique blend of high-tension action and heart."

In the Fall finale, entitled "Behind the Blue Line" (Friday, November 20 at 10 p.m. ET), the Godwin Coliseum (Maple Leaf Gardens), an arena rich with the memories and dreams of millions of people, is slated for demolition and Darren Kovacs (guest star Shawn Roberts, WILD ROSES) decides to fight back.

As Ed (Hugh Dillon) contains the vast arena, riddled with booby traps and occupied by an active shooter, Parker (Enrico Colantoni) and Jules (Amy Jo Johnson) discover that Darren is doing more than defending a stadium. He’s a Canadian soldier, recently returned from Afghanistan and fighting the guilt of losing his best friend in combat. Sam (David Paetkau), haunted by his own ghosts of a military past, reaches out to Darren. Will the connection between the two men lead to a safe resolution or will Darren turn the tables on the team and gain the upper hand?

One of the most streamed programs on CTV.ca, the Fall finale of FLASHPOINT will be made available on demand Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on the CTV Video Player at CTV.ca following its television broadcast. Viewers can also catch up on previous episodes at CTV.ca and at popular download stores.

Movie News: Auditions Coming For 'Frisson des collines'


Do you speak French? Do you live in Quebec? Are you between 11 and 13 years old? If you answered yes to all these questions, then here's a piece of information for you.


The agency Casting Lucie Robitaille (De père en flic; Maurice Richard) is looking for boys and girls who are between 11 and 13 years old. Their job will consist in playing the leading characters - who are three kids of a small village - of the upcoming film Frisson des collines. The film's story takes place in 1969 and the three leading characters try to raise hell (in French: faire les quatre cents coups) together. They do this in order to escape from the monotony of life in a village. However, each of the character will try, at the same time, to make a transition toward teenage maturity.

By the way, the film is directed by Richard Roy (The Last Chapter) and the shooting will begin in summer 2010.

Description of the characters:

Frisson (A boy of 12-13 years old): The character - who is also described as a "beautiful" boy - tragically lost his father. Frisson is also a young rebel who has a big mouth and he believes that everything is possible.

Thibeault (A boy of 12-13 years old): Despite being a little bit fat, he's a sympathetic boy. He's unable to be serious most of the time and we learn that he comes from a rough family.

Chantal (A girl between 11 and 13 years old): On the film's web site, the character is described as being "beautiful, extroverted and strong-headed". Besides, the character is also a courageous one.

Where to go for the auditions:

Montreal
When: Saturday, November 21
Where: École Laurier
505 Avenue Laurier Est (in the entrance of the schoolyard)
Time: Between 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM.
Google Maps

Quebec City
When: Sunday, November 29
Where: Hôtel pur
395 Rue de la Couronne (Room ABC at the second floor)
Time: Between 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Google Maps

Additional information: Children who attend to the audition must have parental authorization.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Les brigades du tigre (The Tiger Brigades)

I've never seen The Untouchables and I didn't like this film. While the performance of the cast was okay, I just didn't like the idea to have a film that briefly documents what the Mobile Brigade did without much context and explanations. Hopefully, Diane Kruger plays in the film.


In 1907, a new wave (and kind) of crimes becomes part of the France's from the Belle Époque. This is why Georges Clemenceau, the French Minister of the Interior, creates the mobile brigades. However, the public opinion calls them the Tiger Brigades. In Paris, Inspector Constantin must fight a group of anarchists and corrupted civil servants and Constance (Diane Kruger), the wife of a Russian prince, in 1912. As his investigation progresses, Constantin will come to wonder if the signature of the Triple Alliance will contribute to France's national security.

Honestly, many won't have a problem with the fact that Les brigades du tigre plays fast and loose with History. Obviously, there's no doubt that the film is quite entertaining. Besides, the cast - especially Clovis Cornillac - delivers a fine performance even though their characters seem a little bit cartoonish. In fact, while the villains are well played, the "good guys" are played with the correct amount of toughness.

However, as a historical film, Les brigades du tigre lamentably fails. While the film gives us a day-to-day presentation of the brigades work, it fails to bring us back in the historical context. In fact, we just never feel the need for the French government to create the Mobile Brigades. This is mostly due to the presentation of the crimes and they just don't look as "innovative" as the real crimes were. Besides, add to that the fact that director Jérôme Corniau throws in the event of the signature of the Triple Alliance without knowing what to do with it. All in all, this goes without saying that the film is way too preoccupied with the entertainment factor.

Finally, I've some good French commercial films. However, Les brigades du tigre is just not one of them because of many plot holes. Hopefully, if the cast's performance was so bad, I'd have dumped the film in the first 30 minutes. In short, Les brigades du tigre is just a bad combination between the conventions of art films and commercial films.

Rating: 2.5/5



Origin:France (2006)
Length:125 minutes
Genre:Police drama
Screenplay:Xavier Dorison, Fabien Nury and John Kaylin
Director:Jérôme Corniau
Starring:Clovis Cornillac, Diane Kruger, Édouard Baer, Olivier Gourmet and Stefano Accorsi


Friday, November 6, 2009

Preview: Jackie Chan's Next Film


After he's said that democracy might not suit China a few months ago, it's surprising that Jackie Chan still interests Hollywood producers. Now, let's leave aside politics, dear readers, and focus on the next film from one of the world's leading action stars (but for how long?). After he had missed the opportunity to play in The Pacifier, Chan has nabbed the role of a... babysitter in a film called The Spy Next Door.


Synopsis:
Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is a top-spy. One day, his neighbour (Amber Valleta) asks him to babysit her three children (Katherine Boecher, Alina Foley and Will Shadley). However, it appears that Bob has to fight mysterious spies after one of the three children under his supervision had inadvertently downloaded secret codes.

***

Further informations:

Release date: January 15, 2010.

Filming location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Budget: Unknown

Other upcoming films from Jackie Chan: Big Soldier; Shaolin; and Kung-Fu Kid.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

TV Review: The Big Bang Theory (Season 1)

Honestly, the reason why I've gone through the first season of The Big Bang Theory is because an old friend of mine (who studies for a Major in Atmospheric Science and a Minor in Environment) recommended it to me. With that said, I got to admit that the show is likable despite a few plot holes.


Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Hofstadter), an experimental physicist, and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), a theoretical physicist, are two Caltech prodigies in their twenties. Besides, they share the same apartment. One day, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), an attractive blonde with showbiz ambition who works at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, moves in the apartment across the hall from Leonard's and Sheldon's apartment. Unlike Sheldon, who seriously lacks social skills, Leonard manages to develop a friendship between Penny and him. However, Leonard has a crush on Penny.

Obviously, The Big Bang Theory doesn't reinvent the wheel of sitcoms. This means that each episode just aims to make you laugh as much as possible. Furthermore, don't expect to see something as deep as a dramatic TV series, because the relation between the characters don't seem to evolve that much throughout the season.

Therefore, we're left with this question: why is The Big Bang Theory a must-see? Like The Tournament - a brilliant mockumentary series that tries "to do for minor hockey what Spinal Tap did for dino-rock" - manages to use in a balanced way some of the stereotypes (in this case scientific nerdness) related to the story. Indeed, the characters of Sheldon, Howard (Simon Hellberg) and Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar) embody the stereotypes to our great pleasure. As for Leonard, while he has the flaws of some real-life nerds, he brings the balance. Obviously, this is because the script always manages to make us cling to the hope that the future holds good things for him regarding his relation with women (namely Penny).

Besides, although The Big Bang Theory doesn't have the dramatic depth of - let's say - Six Feet Under or Terminal City, there's nothing to reproach to the cast's comedic performance. For that matter, my two thumbs up go to Simon Hellberg and Jim Parsons for being too hilarious in their own way. As for Kaley Cuoco, I think my English vocabulary is not broad enough to describe you how much I find her so gorgeous. Besides, liking her performance, I also was happy to learn that she plays tennis. Anyway, I'm digressing. In short, The Big Bang Theory is not my cup of tea, but had it not been because of the cast's collective performance and the balance in the script, I'd have dropped the show earlier.

Rating: 3/5


Title on Amazon (Canada):

Titles on Amazon (USA):

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Movie News: Hollywood to Remake 'Le dîner de cons'


No, you read this post's title correctly and you don't need to purchase a new pair of glasses. After ridiculing itself in its attempt to remake Asian horror films, Hollywood (I don't remember the last time I saw an outstanding comedy from Hollywood) will try to remake a film that is considered as a classic of French comedy. The film in question is Le dîner de cons (The Dinner Game), a hilarious comedy which won the 1999 César Awards for best screenplay (original or adaptation).



First of all, the Hollywood version of Le dîner de cons will be titled Dinner for Schmucks and directed by Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers). As for the script, it's described like this on IMDB: "An extraordinarily stupid man possesses the ability to ruin the life of anyone who spends more than a few minutes in his company." Moreover, the cast will include Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Ron Livingston and Lucy Punch.


Finally, the film will be released in July 23, 2010. Besides, I'll leave you with this question: who, in the Hollywood version, would you like to see playing the American counterpart of the characters played by Thierry Lhermite (character: Pierre Brochant), Jacques Villeret (character: François Pignon), Francis Huster (character: Juste Leblanc), Alexandra Vandernoot (character: Christine Brochant) Catherine Frot (character: Marlène Sasseur) and Daniel Prévost (character: Lucien Cheval)?

By the way, in case you haven't seen the original version (what a shame if you haven't!), here's the trailer:


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