- Très Jolie effect: Angelina through the years
- Nightmare or dream? Ryan Gosling fantasy debut divides Cannes
- Award-winning Lion Dance troupe's roaring success
Posted: 28 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT
Angelina Jolie has grown from being gothic and rebellious to becoming one of the most powerful and graceful women in Hollywood. Let's chart her maturity through her projects.
The Rock 'N' Roll Dreams Come Through (1994)
Before Jolie got herself onto the A-list, she was cast next to Meatloaf for this music video. Check it out: She's only 19, but there's no mistaking those lips and her eyes.
This was the film in which Jolie met her first husband, British actor Jonny Lee Miller (now starring in the TV series Elementary). They were married shortly after the movie was done, and divorced four years later.
Jolie took on the challenging part of 1980s supermodel Gia Carangi, who rose to the top of the fashion world as quickly as she was struck down by her untimely death at age 26. For her effort, Jolie won a Golden Globe and received an Emmy nomination.
Pushing Tin (1999)
Jolie met her second husband, much older US actor Billy Bob Thornton, in this film. In their brief marriage, they provided fodder for the tabloids with their unusual public displays of affections (for example, wearing vials of each other's blood). They divorced in 2003 after four years.
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Jolie won her first Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress with this film. She was lauded for portraying a mental patient with passion and insight, although her sanity was in question at the Oscars when she kissed her older brother James Haven on the lips, leaving him in tears during her acceptance speech and raising the eyebrows of everyone watching.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Fanboys finally learned that Jolie was as adept in action sequences as she was in dramatics, and this was the start of many action movies she would make. The film was a hit, despite Jolie's terrible British accent, as Lara Croft proved she was no archaeologist by trampling all things ancient.
Mr & Mrs Smith (2005)
Another film, another "husband". Brad Pitt's marriage to Jennifer Aniston was falling apart when Jolie met him on the set of this hit film. Yes, that fact is arguable, but there was a sex scene that had to be deleted for the film to earn it a PG-13 rating. You decide.
A Mighty Heart (2007)
Pitt produced this movie based on real events that shocked the world. Jolie took on the part of French freelance journalist Mariane Pearl, who went in search of her husband Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, when he was kidnapped (and ultimately murdered) by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Though Jolie did give her voice to another animated film, 2004's Shark Tale, she sounds much better here as the fearsome warrior-cat Tigress. She was also in the sequel Kung Fu Panda 2 and two other related short films, Kung Fu Panda Holiday and Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film based on real events received three Oscar nominations, including one for Jolie in the Best Actress category. The film stars Jolie as a working single mum in California in the 1920s, who is reunited with her missing son (by a corrupt police force) only to realise he is an impostor.
In The Land Of Blood And Honey (2011)
After directing the documentary, Jolie went on to direct this war drama set during the Bosnian War.
Other than Maleficent, Jolie has another movie this year that she directed. The feature film, scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen, chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific theater, spent 47 days drifting on a raft, and then more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in several brutal Japanese internment camps.
Posted: 28 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT
Nightmare or dream? Ryan Gosling fantasy debut divides Cannes
Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling served up his hugely-anticipated directorial debut Lost River in Cannes last week, a psychedelic fantasy with strong David Lynch echoes that had some critics screaming in pain and others singing his praise.
Journalists jostled with movie-buffs to get into the festival hall's plush movie theatre for what was one of the most eagerly awaited events of the Cannes Film Festival, and many ended up being turned away.
"Dumb-foundingly poor", "a first-rate folie de grandeur", "mesmerising", "impressive"... Critics could not make their mind up over the 33-year-old's sombre, visually-stunning picture set in a decaying American ghost town called Lost River.
Mad Men star Christina Hendricks stars as Billy, a single mother-of-two who works at a local striptease joint, desperately trying to make ends meet to keep her rundown, mortgaged home.
She decides to take another, mysterious job touted by her sinister bank manager (Australia's Ben Mendelsohn) and discovers a shady, cabaret underworld where Cat (Eva Mendes) performs gory stunts to the delight of locals.
Meanwhile, her teenage son Bones (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D actor Iain De Caestecker) spends his days tearing copper pipes out of derelict houses to earn some cash.
He grows close to his solitary neighbour Rat, played by rising Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who lives in a ramshackle house with her mute grandmother and tells him about a curse over the town.
The film also stars British actor Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame as Bully, a rabid man-about-town who spreads terror in Lost River and likes to cut the lips off those who displease him.
Burning houses, graffiti-laden buildings, flooded streets, smoky corridors and a rousing, oppressive music score throughout ...
The film sucks the audience into a surreal world with strong – and perhaps too many – echoes of Lynch and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, with whom Gosling worked on Drive and Only God Forgives, the ultra-violent film that competed for the top Palme d'Or prize last year and also divided viewers.
"This film is a present from directors I have been lucky to work with over the past few years," Gosling, who also wrote the screenplay, said in production notes.
"As an actor, I went from films deeply anchored in reality by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) to the imaginary world of Nicolas Winding Refn."
The film was shot in Detroit, the once-thriving Motor City that has since declared the largest bankruptcy in US history, leaving parts of the city near deserted and in shambles.
Gosling said he had taken his inspiration from the city when he went there to shoot George Clooney's political drama The Ides Of March.
"Even though I spent just a few days there, this city left a deep mark on me," he said.
"There were deserted districts stretching over 60 or so kilometres, and in some of the recesses of these districts, parents were trying to raise their children not far from burnt-down or demolished houses.
"At one time, (Detroit) was a postcard for the American dream, but today, for families in these districts, that dream has morphed into a nightmare," Gosling said. — AFP
Posted: 28 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT
A new local movie tells the story of Malaysia's top lion dance troupe, Kun Seng Keng.
TEN-time Genting Lion Dance World Champions. 55 International Championship titles. 65 National Championship titles. It goes without saying that the world famous Kun Seng Keng (KSK) Lion and Dragon Dance Association is the undisputed king of the sport.
It is this impressive track record that inspired local filmmaker Matt Lai to make his directorial debut with an inspirational action movie titled The Great Lion – Kun Seng Keng.
"With their amazing record, it's a great concept to promote the lion dance culture in Malaysia. We are the world champions, so it's a good way to promote an achievement we can be proud of," Lai, 35, said during a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur, where he was accompanied by the movie's stars Thomas Kok and Henley Hii.
Invited by a friend to watch the Genting Lion Dance World Championship in 2012, Lai recalled how he was amazed by the fact that a team of two lion dancers could leap atop poles some two to three metres high, as well as distances of about two to three metres.
"That is not an easy thing to do. In fact, I think it is very, very difficult, especially since both dancers have to jump together."
After that, Lai did his research and found KSK's story to be so inspirational that he decided to make it his first directorial project, which he began filming in July 2013.
Based on the true story of KSK's "third-generation" lion dance troupe champions Chong Kok Fu and Si Tiam Yong, who contributed to 19 of the troupe's world championship titles, the coming-of-age sports film also stars Alan Kuo, Michael Chin, Chen Koon Tai and Angela Chan.
In film, Kok, 24, plays Si – the lion head of KSK, while Hii, 29, plays the lion tail of rival troupe Hei Long.
"We trained for months with Kun Seng Keng's award-winning team. It was then that we learnt what lion dance was really about. Many of the moves (we did) are awe-inspiring, and would probably take at least three years of training to be able to achieve," gushed Kok.
While the use of wire-work had to be incorporated in order for them to portray the sport accurately, Hii said, "The most important thing was to ensure that we demonstrated the 'form' and the spirit of lion dance."
Having to handle the tail end of the lion because he was larger in size (Chin played the lion head for Hei Long troupe), one of the challenges he faced was not being able to see what was in front of him.
"Being the one at the back, my line of sight was severely limited. Most of the time, all I could see were the pair of legs in front of me."
Another tough part of being the tail was having to bend over for the entire duration of the performance.
"There is a technique to it, but it is back-breaking work all the same," he added.
For Kok, however, the challenge was having to perform atop a pole. "It is bad enough having to perform while being perched atop a pole – the 'head' also gets lifted by the 'tail' during leaps and spins. So, the height does get to me, and it can get very scary sometimes. That was something I had to overcome."
The 'head' of the lion is also quite heavy, said Kok, who had sore arms by the end of every training session.
Kok hoped that through this movie, more Malaysians will appreciate the lion dance better.
"Malaysians love watching lion dance performances, but few know what an awesome craft it is. We hope they will learn to appreciate this age-old art through our movie," Kok said.
"The Great Lion – Kung Seng Keng" opens in local cinemas nationwide today.
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