Christian Bale and Zhang Yimou featured on Hollywood Reporter

Christian Bale and Zhang Yimou

Bale and Zhang shares tales of bonding and awkwardness.

As December finally comes, the long-silent The Flowers of War finally begins its promotions.   The December issue of The Hollywood Reporter features an interview with directorZhang Yimou and actor Christian Bale.   See some highlights below, and read the entire story, with an especially important discussion on Chinese – Hollywood crossovers, here.

Zhang talks about what attracted him to this story, and the process of making it.

“The story of the Rape of Nanking has been told before in films, and is a very political and serious subject,” Zhang says, “but what intrigued me about this story was that it’s actually told from the female perspective, so it’s more humane and has a personal touch.”

The movie’s original title was The Heroes of Nanking, but it was changed midstream to emphasize the female aspect of the storyline.

Zhang researched the Rape of Nanking for more than three years, and some of the film’s more graphic scenes were drawn from actual photographs, while the movie itself was based on Geling Yan’s novel The 13 Women of Nanjing.

The story also tells of how the two came to work together –  Bale was recommended to Zhang Yimou by former Universal studio chief David Linde and director Steven Spielberg. Continue reading

Chinese Box Office Soars and Wang Xiaoshuai Goes Commercial

The Chinese Box Office just keeps climbing and climbing. For the first half of the year it reached 2.3 Billion in revenue. The overall box office for the year is estimated at 5.5 million which would show a 32% increase from last year. This is the sixth year in which it has sustained a 25% + growth. Considering that number is  a percentage, China’s BO’s ability to maintain it is very impressive. And now formerly indie directors are finding that there’s no reason to stay indie.

Sixth Generation Indie Director, Wang Xiaoshuai who was last heard lashing out at commercially-successful Chinese directors, has apparently decided he has had enough of sitting on the sidelines when everyone else is taking advantage of China’s film goldmine. He plans to shoot a  romance film set during the Sichuan Earthquake with a $60 million yuan budget, and says he would like to cast Han Geng. He gave choices for leading ladies as Jiang Yiyan, Tang Yan, and Gao Yuanyuan.

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Meteor Shower’s female leads and first stills

Chu Yuqian begs Yu Xin to stay after falling in the water

Chu Yuxun is sad that idarklight wrote her name wrong

Zheng Shuang off-camera

Zheng Shuang off-camera

Meteor Shower is a co-production between Hunan TV, EE Media and Beijing Chunqiu. The drama plans to be aired this summer. It will be directed by Taiwanese director of  “The Outsiders” and the script took the team of Wang Hanlin over a year to finish.  EE Media CEO Long Danni stated that “Meteor Garden” is a combination of the best production team from both sides of the strait.

The director of the drama, He Hanchen, is that of the popular Taiwanese series “The Outsiders.” He said that when choosing the actors, he was not forced to pick the Super Boys. Instead, he said that he picked them for their smiles among a group of candidates. When asked about the complaints of the drama before it even began, he replied, ” I don’t care. I only care that this drama will make people cry and laugh. If it can do that, it’s a good drama.”

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Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what’s the fairest city of them all?

West Lake of Hangzhou, Lake Tai of Wuxi and pandas of Chengdu

West Lake of Hangzhou, Lake Tai of Wuxi and pandas of Chengdu

While you’re recovering from being wowed by the beauty of Xiamen University due to Meteor Shower, here are a few more places that have recently been brought to the spotlight thanks to celebrity endorsement.

Crystal Liu’s extended commercial for Taihu, as mentioned earlier here, came out last week. click here to watch it

Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, has also been stepping up in advertising with movies and music. The official mv for its city theme song, “I love this city” by Jane Zhang, finally came out last week.

I love this city-Chengdu theme song

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Nanking! Nanking! : China Begins to Look at Own Holocaust

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Why was a Holocaust with a death count of hundreds of thousands a forgotten one? And why is it being remembered now? While this subject has often been placed into the realm of political sentiment, at the heart of it is simply a matter of finding self-identity from the past.

China fifty years ago after the Holocaust was burdened by the toll that Qing dynasty decay, WWII, and a devastating civil war took on it, in no shape to ask for any sort of remembrance for the victims of the massacres. Also, unlike the Jews after World War II, China was communist and thus could not receive help in this matter from abroad. Thus fifty years passed while China tried to rebuild itself with far more pressing matters to think about than the past. Only the present and future mattered. However, recently China has gotten to a economic state where she has the luxury of remembering this forgotten Holocaust.

Recently a string of movies have been made about this subject; as the Chinese movie industry grows, more and more Chinese directors have wanted to tackle it. The newest is perhaps the most promising yet…Nanking! Nanking! by Lu Chuan, starring Liu Ye and Gao Yuanyuan.

Trailer for Nanking! Nanking! (opens this summer)

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Chinese Films on CNN’s Best Asian Films of All Time List

6 Chinese-language films were picked on CNN’s shortlist for best Asian films, which had 18 films spanning across Asia and inexplicably across Asia to New Zealand and Iran. For Zhang Yimou they picked a representative in Hou Zhe, which is my favorite Asian film of all time, and one of my top 3 films of all time. It annoys me however, to think that they picked it for political reasons (see anti-cnn.com, and Jack Cafferty), since in their description they say it’s banned in China. Well, they are about a decade too late, since it has long since been unbanned in the mainland, even before Mr. Zhang began his major pimpage of Chinese culture starting with “Hero” and mostly recently, the operning ceremony of the Olympics.

Another mainland Chinese film picked, Shower, also has a connection to the Olympics, the Paralympics that is. Shower’s lead, veteran actor Pu Cunxi, has been a long-time humanitarian in China, and advocate for the disabled and has been a volunteer in the 2008 Paralympics. A list of the other Chinese films picked, and their biased CNN summaries is behind the cut.

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