Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen has won the top prize at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards for his directorial debut. Ilo Ilo was named Best Feature Film at Saturday's ceremony in Taipei, beating competition from Johnnie To's Drug War, Jia Zhangke's A Touch of Sin, The Grandmaster from Wong Kar Wai, and Tsai Ming-liang's Stray Dogs.
The drama, about a maid's awkward relationship with her employers, also earned Chen Best Original Screenplay and Best New Director honours, while its star, Yeo Yann Yann, was named Best Supporting Actress.
The accolades will give Chen a big boost ahead of the 2014 Oscars, where Ilo Ilo, which was a winner at the Cannes Film Festival in France in May (13), has been put forward as Singapore's official entry for the Foreign Language Film award.
It was also a big night for Wong Kar Wai - martial arts film The Grandmaster claimed Best Leading Actress for Zhang Ziyi, in addition to four other wins in craft categories, while Stray Dogs landed Best Director for Tsai Ming-liang and Best Leading Actor for Lee Kang Sheng.
Best Supporting Actor went to Xuejian Li for Back to 1942.
The winners for the Golden Horse Awards, which celebrate the best in Chinese-language cinema, were decided by a jury led by Oscar winner Ang Lee.
A portrait of Kevin Spacey in character as William Shakespeare's villainous king Richard III is to go on show at Britain's National Portrait Gallery. The piece was painted by artist Jonathan Yeo during a 2011 production of the play at London's Old Vic, where Spacey is artistic director.
The Alfie star gave birth to her baby daughter Marlowe in July (12), and she decided to document her journey to parenthood by stripping off for Yeo weeks before her due date for inclusion in his upcoming (I've Got You) Under My Skin exhibition in Berlin, Germany.
In a catalogue for the exhibition, Yeo states, "I wanted an image that epitomised the human body in its most naturally beautiful state to make the sharpest possible contrast with my other paintings in this exhibition, which document patients undergoing cosmetic surgery in a bid to help them conform to societal notions of beauty..."
Yeo admits he wanted the naked painting to become a talking point to help break down barriers in society, just like Demi Moore's nude and pregnant Vanity Fair cover photo did in 1991.
He continues, "It has been 22 years since a pregnant Demi Moore caused uproar by posing for Annie Leibovitz on the cover of Vanity Fair. In that time society has become almost completely desensitised to the daily exposure to people who have surgically distorted their appearance for artificial reasons.
"Yet certain sections of society are still uncomfortable with the appearance of pregnancy and images of naked expectant mothers are rarely seen."
The artist states it made sense for him to debut the image, which he has posted on his website, in Germany, because it's a country "with a very relaxed attitude to nudity, where it is not automatically sexualised or deemed scandalous".
He adds, "The power of the painting partly lies in the fact that Sienna is widely regarded as being one of the most naturally beautiful actresses in the world, as well as being a fashion icon to a generation of girls.
"It is a tribute to her courage and self-confidence that she agreed to sit for this. I can think of many figures whose public currency in part revolves around their appearance, who would prefer to hide themselves away for nine months."
Yeo, the son of former Conservative Minister Tim Yeo, previously captured Miller on canvas in 2010.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.