Often regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses in Chinese cinema, Brigitte Lin was a Taiwanese actress who starred in over 100 films, including "Police Story" (1985) and "Gun gun hong chen" ("R...
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
In this latest doomsday pic Earth's inner core has stopped rotating a situation that will eventually cause the planet's electromagnetic fields to collapse. If it isn't fixed pronto static charges will create "super storms" that will generate hundreds of lightening strikes per square mile and cause microwave radiation to ultimately cook the planet. Government and military officials conjure up a team of scientists led by geophysicist Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) to travel to the planet's core and get it spinning again. Accompanying them are geophysicist Dr. Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) atomic weapons expert Dr. Levesque (Tchéky Karyo) "terranauts" Major Childs (Hilary Swank) and Commander Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Dr. Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo)--the renegade scientist who built the subterranean vessel. Their mission is to travel to the center of the earth to detonate a nuclear device that will hopefully jump-start the core and save the world. Like the "terranauts" grinding their way through Earth's layers to get to the planet's core The Core laboriously plods through the storyline to get to its climax--and both are equally uneventful.
Despite a really corny scene in which he demonstrates what will happen to the planet by torching some sort of fruit on a fork Eckhart (Possession) is believable as the sensible Keyes. Co-star Swank (Insomnia) meanwhile brings intensity to the role of fledgling astronaut Childs. It is Tucci (Big Trouble) however who creates the film's most interesting character the arrogant Dr. Zimsky. The diva-esque geophysicist heads to the center of the earth in style with his Louis Vuitton monogrammed canvas bag and an endless supply of cigarettes--making him politically--and refreshingly--incorrect. You'll love how he pompously records the mission's progress in a Carl Sagan-style narration. Back at mission control D.J. Qualls' computer-hacking character Rat mirrors a recent report describing the characteristics of computer virus writers: Male. Obsessed with computers. Lacking a girlfriend. Aged 14 to 34. Capable of sowing chaos worldwide. Qualls (The New Guy) couldn't be more suited for this digital graffiti artist role.
Director Jon Amiel helps define the film's main characters by weaving vignettes of their everyday lives throughout the first half of the film but so much effort is devoted to exploring their individual backgrounds that relationships among the team members are never established. The minor characters are like extras in a Star Trek episode--they're just onscreen to die. The Core also fizzles as a believable disaster movie because of its flimsy scientific reasoning even if you try to suspend your disbelief for the sake of cinematic "escapism." While I can make myself believe for example that a government-created weapon of mass destruction is to blame for the planet's imminent annihilation I cannot buy into the notion that this high-tech vessel was built by a renegade scientist in his backyard and is able to withstand the rough trip to the center of the earth. Although the film's original November release date was delayed because more time was needed to complete the special effects don't expect to be visually dazzled by the voyage. Most of what we see is what the "terranauts" see on their screen: spotty black-and-white renditions of sharp jagged rock. Scenes of the Roman Coliseum getting zapped by lightening and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge melting aren't convincing either.
Won Best Actress at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival for "Ba bai zhuang shi"
Starred along Jackie Chan in "Police Story"
First Hong Kong Film Award Best Actress nomination for "Xin shu shan jian ke"
Retired from film after "Ashes of Time"
Won Best Actress at the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards for "Red Dust"
Film debut in "Outside the Window"
First Golden Horse Best Actress nomination for "Bi xue huang hua"
Often regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses in Chinese cinema, Brigitte Lin was a Taiwanese actress who starred in over 100 films, including "Police Story" (1985) and "Gun gun hong chen" ("Red Dust") (1990) before she quietly retired in the mid-1990s while still at the peak of her international stardom.
Born Lín Qīngxiá on November 3, 1954, her elegant looks and natural talent for acting caught the attention of a Taiwanese film producer. By the age of 17, she made her feature film debut in "Chuang wai" ("Outside the Window") (1973), where she played a student who fell in love with her teacher. In just a span of three years after her breakout role, Lin had already appeared in over twenty films, many of which were romantic film adaptations of Taiwanese author Chiung Yao's novels. In 1976, the Board of Directors of the Federation of Motion Picture Producers in Asia-Pacific named her the co-Best Actress of the Asia Pacific Film Festival for her performance in "Ba bai zhuang shi" ("The 800 Heroes") (1976), a Taiwanese film that dramatized the historical events of the Defense of Sihang Warehouse.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Lin's popularity soared and she became one of the most sought after actresses in Chinese cinema. She received her first Golden Horse Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in "Bi xue huang hua" ("Magnificent 72") (1980). Lin worked with other huge icons of Chinese movies, such as Sammo Hung in the fantasy film "Xin shu shan jian ke" ("Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain") (1983) - where she garnered her first Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actress nomination - and martial arts film extraordinaire Jackie Chan in "Mi ni te gong dui" ("Fantasy Mission Force") (1983). Lin teamed up with Chan again, as well as fellow Chinese starlet Maggie Cheung in "Police Story," where she received another Best Actress nomination at the 1984 Hong Kong Film Awards. In 1990, Lin's talent was finally recognized when she was awarded Best Actress at the Golden Horse Awards for her performance in "Gun gun hong chen" ("Red Dust") (1990). Later in 1992, Lin was twice nominated for Best Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards for for "Xiao ao jiang hu: Dong Fang Bu Bai" ("Swordsman II") (1991) and "Jue dai shuang jiao" ("Handsome Siblings") (1992) but once again fell short of winning the coveted award.
In 1994, Lin married billionaire and business magnate Michael Ying. After appearing in over 100 films, she subsequently retired after her marriage, with her last on-screen appearance in Wong Kar-Wai's historical drama "Dung che sai duk" ("Ashes of Time") (1994). For her incredible body of work and magnificent screen presence, Lin became an inductee of Hong Kong's Avenue of the Stars, where her handprints and signature are permanently etched onto the boardwalk along Victoria Harbor among other Asian entertainment icons such as Bruce Lee and Gong Li. Although she later lent her voice as the narrator in the films "Měishàonián zhī Liàn" ("Bishonen...") (1998) and "Youyuan jingmeng" ("Peony Pavilion") (2001), Lin remained extremely private after her retirement. Her first public appearance came fourteen years later when a re-edited version of "Ashes of Time" was released in 2008.