Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hong Kong roundup, Wonderful Town, Handle Me With Care reviewed

The Hollywood Reporter's Maggie Lee is at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, reviewing films. She covered Handle Me With Care and Wonderful Town in her Day 2 coverage (PDF).

Here is an excerpt of her review of Handle Me With Care:

Director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee is in two minds about turning his script into Jim Carey-like slapstick, a candy floss romance with a dash of magical fantasy, or an offbeat road movie. He handles none of these generic variations with enough care, leaving each dangling like an unwanted arm. A faintly haunting, soulful mood emerges toward the end, but then the plot recourses to a jingoistic conclusion, exacerbated by MTV song with syrupy lyrics. The biggest visual startle may be the “arm double” provided by a real person rather than CGI.

Aditya Assarat's Wonderful Town, a romantic drama set in post-tsunami Phuket Province, was better received by Lee. Here is an excerpt from a capsule review:

The director makes no concession to a commercial audience, letting the film unfold at a dreamlike, languorous pace ... Assarat evokes the eeriness of a ghost town where about 8,000 had people died with wide shots of empty beaches, sea with no horizon and coolly detached shots of townspeople doing nothing much.

Aditya is in Hong Kong pitching his next project at the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum, High Society. Screen Daily profiled the project in its Day 1 coverage (PDF). He also took time out for a Q&A with Variety's Vicci Ho. Here's an excerpt:

Q: If you can direct any sequel of any film, what would it be?
A: Bangkok Love Story.

Nonzee Nimibutr is also at HAF pitching a project, Secret of the Butterfly, which features a screenplay by Handle Me With Care's Kongdej Jaturanrasamee. It was profiled in Screen Daily's Day 3 coverage (PDF). The concept of this psychological crime horror is promising: It's about a woman who carried a virus that can destroy all the men in the world.

Screen Daily's Day 3 coverage also has news of Mono Film's upcoming project, The Follower, a horror thriller about a student being shadowed by a mysterious man after his girlfriend dies in a car wreck. The director is Pleo Sirisuwan, who did the insane jungle fantasy Vengeance. The Follower has already been sold for distribution in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Mono Film also has the ghost comedy ICU Ghost of Fine Arts opening in April, the romantic comedy Miss You, Two in June, the romantic drama Happy Birthday by Pongpat Wachirabunjong and the Buddhism-themed Aramboy

Mono Film is also getting into distribution, securing the Thai distribution rights Storm Riders II, which will be directed by the Pang Brothers and shot in Thailand. This is a huge deal, being the followup to the massively successful 1998 fantasy action film that was directed by Andrew Lau and starred Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng. The two actors will reprise their roles in the sequel.

Another film coming to Thailand will be The Weinstein Company's Shanghai, a period drama that was in pre-production in China but then was denied shooting permits. Variety has more on that.

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