The story of Lust Caution begins in the midst of WWII in Asia as the Japanese have a stranglehold on key areas of China including Shanghai and Hong Kong. The iron-fisted Chinese who are collaborating with the invaders are led by Mr. Yee (Tony Leung) a cruel and ruthless man who delights in the torture and murder of his fellow countrymen who are fighting against the Japanese occupation. When a patriotic band of college students (made up of four men and two women all part of the drama school) decide to strike a blow for Chinese freedom by assassinating Mr. Yee it falls to Wang (the mesmerizingly beautiful Wei Tang) to infiltrate his home and heart to pave the way for the killing. But as her compatriots--including handsome Kuang played by American-born Chinese rock star Lee-Hom Wang who loves her from afar--bid their time waiting for the moment to strike Mr. Yee and Wang enter into a torrid affair that begins to consume them both. Think of the Hitchcock classic Suspicion shift from Europe to Asia add in intensely explicit sex scenes and a completely unexpected ending and you have Lust Caution--a film that is soon to be considered a classic as well. Veteran actors Tony Leung and Joan Chen lead a fine cast of actors who together create this completely believable glimpse into Chinese culture during the dark days of Japanese occupation. Both give intense performances--he as the powerful emotionless Mr. Yee and she as his vapid shopping and Mah Jong-obsessed wife. But the most amazing performance is that of newcomer Wei Tang the Miss Universe finalist who makes her film debut in Lust Caution. Her fantastic face slim body and almost ethereal presence seem to blot out everyone else when she is on the screen; you can’t help but look at only her. Her transformation in the four-year span of the story is masterful. As she goes from a naïve young student to a mature woman whose physical obsession with a man she despises begins to overwhelm her. The ingénue proves that she is much more than just a pretty face. In fact she deserves an Academy Award nomination for her often subtle always fearless performance that is at the heart of the film. Ang Lee has a unique cinematic ability to begin a story very specific to a time a place and a culture and end with a universal tale that resonates across all societies and peoples. He did it beautifully with Sense and Sensibility Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon as well as Brokeback Mountain and he’s done it again masterfully with Lust Caution. This newest film is an intense look at how war often causes an individual to make the ultimate sacrifice for the common good yet it also explores another underlying theme: the idea that there is a never-ending battle between the sexes for emotional dominance within a sexual relationship. Ang Lee’s deft hand is evident in every frame including the incredibly explicit (and often violent) sex scenes that have given the film its NC-17 rating. But this is not pornography; every scene is necessary to the story showing us that using sex as a means to an end (no matter how noble that end) is a very dangerous game to play especially during wartime. Look for Ang Lee’s name to come up on the Academy’s list again this year as awards season kicks into high gear. He deserves every honor for this emotionally disturbing masterpiece.
The Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas wants to put on a show: Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman. The casino reportedly offered the red-headed beauty approximately $70 million to star in a lavish production based on her hit movie. One Bellagio casino source told Sky News, "Nicole loves Las Vegas, and Las Vegas loves Nicole. It's can't fail to be our biggest-ever triumph with someone like her topping the bill." The actress is said to be considering the offer "seriously."
Breaking up is hard to do--so says Tara Reid, who was devastated after her split with MTV host Carson Daly. She told CosmoGIRL! magazine in its May edition that she was numb, could not eat and sought help from five psychiatrists after their engagement was broken last year. Yet things are better now--she and Daly have become friends. "You can't say you're going to marry someone and then hate each other," Reid told the magazine.
The trial of three men accused of trying to extort money from actor Russell Crowe has been suspended until June due to concerns over media coverage. The men allegedly tried to blackmail Crowe, claiming they had a video of the actor fighting outside an Australian nightclub and would distribute it to the media. Yeah, so? Those guys should be more worried about the surly Aussie coming after them.
In the Biz
Bill Gates simply has to be the king of everything, doesn't he? Microsoft Corp. is now seeking a partner to get into the movie and television distribution market. At the National Association of Broadcasters conference Monday in Las Vegas, the software giant announced it is developing a more advanced version of its Windows Media Player and believes the technology could be used to distribute films to theaters more cheaply. Of course it can.
Walt Disney Co. has signed on Oscar-nominated director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) to direct the thriller Cold Creek Manor. The story centers on a family that moves from the city into a stately country manor, only to discover the previous owner, who has been released from prison, wants his property back. No one has been cast as yet.
Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier will be getting an $8 million advance to write his next book--a true story about a white man raised by Cherokee Indians, who went on to represent the tribe in Washington in the 1800s. The Civil War drama Cold Mountain became an award-winning best seller and is now being made into a major motion picture with Jude Law and Nicole Kidman.
It's true. Kenny is dead--really and truly dead--and he's not coming back. South Park creator Matt Stone told the Knoxville News, "I think a lot of people probably haven't noticed. I couldn't care less. I am so sick of that character." Kenny, who continually died in some spectacular fashion in every episode of South Park, died his final death of a muscular disease at the end of last season.
David Letterman and Ted Koppel have a mutual respect for each other. After Letterman recently decline ABC's offer to move his Late Show over to the alphabet network--a move that could have taken Koppel's Nightline off the air--Letterman praised the veteran news anchor for his work in an interview with TV Guide. When Koppel called to thank the late-night talk-show host, the two pledged to make appearances on each other's shows.
Home Improvement star Taran Noah Smith will be getting $1.5 million on his 18th birthday. He'll have access to trust fund money he earned while playing the youngest son on the hit ABC show. But wait, there's more. He and his 33-year-old wife will be using the money to start a production company in Lawrence, Kan., where they live. Just thought we'd mention that part.
Ozzy Osbourne will be supping with the Bushes, after all--but not necessarily at the direct request of the president. Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, will be attending the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner May 4 as guests of Fox News Channel anchor Greta Van Susteren.
Britney Spears failed to knock Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates from first place in the U.K. singles charts with her single "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." Gates' cover of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" has been in the No. 1 spot for three consecutive weeks.