John Lone

John Lone

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Hollywood Costume - press view held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Last Emperor, John Lone and Joan Chen - The Last Emperor - John Lone and Joan Chen Wednesday 17th October 2012 Hollywood Costume - press view held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

M. Butterfly Review


Terrible
In Mel Brooks' The Producers, the characters played by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel pay a visit to the Park Avenue home of eccentric theatrical director Roger De Bris, who greets them in a flowing peignoir. "Max," Wilder querulously points out to Mostel, "He's wearing a dress." "No kidding?" Mostel remarks dryly. Mostel may just as well be the audience surrogate for M. Butterfly, particularly for an audience with fond memories of David Henry Hwang's operatic romance and theatrical tragedy in its stage incarnation. David Cronenberg's film adaptation (with a script by Hwang) is a failure for many of the reasons that the stage production was a success, but the film is additionally hampered by Cronenberg's '90s lurch towards conventionality. Like a transvestite on a desert island, M. Butterfly is all dressed up with no place to go.

Based on a true incident involving a French diplomat who carried on an affair of 18 years with a man that the diplomat thought was a woman, M. Butterfly begins in 1964 Beijing, when French foreign service employee René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) becomes smitten with Chinese opera songster Song Liling (John Lone). Before long Gallimard is enamored with Song Liling and they begin their Affair to Remember, but bracketed by the condition that Gallimard will not be allowed to feast his eyes upon Song Liling sans clothes. Gallimard agrees to the strictures but, as he climbs up the diplomatic ladder, the Communist government gets into the love affair, corralling Song Liling to become an informant for the government. When Gallimard's lust can no longer be contained and he demands nudity, Song Liling runs out of Gallimard's life and he becomes a lovelorn husk, forever pining for his lost love. He leaves China and accepts a two-bit diplomatic job, but then Song Liling appears again to Gallimard, just in time for Gallimard's arrest and subsequent sensational trial for treason, which exposes his affair for the sham it is.

Continue reading: M. Butterfly Review

The Last Emperor Review


Good
Toy trucks and accessorized dolls are common props of the wide-eyed two year-old's wonderment. While Puyi, who was appointed China's last emperor at that tender age, might have substituted fine silk curtains for plastic as he explored the Forbidden City -- toddling the breathtaking, empty rooms and splashing in bathtubs -- the veil of childhood was quickly lifted to reveal a solitary life of duty and responsibility. Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor deals with many false truths, but the most disappointing is that the film, itself, doesn't live up to its grandiose individual efforts.

Despite its bold opening of Puyi's attempted suicide as a prisoner in a reeducation camp in his late 50s, The Last Emperor is your standard biopic, complete with the framework of the aged character telling the story of his life. Of course, Puyi's peculiar childhood is the most interesting half of the two-and-a-half-hour film, and it's there where Bertolucci's grip on the material is the strongest. From the seven-year-old Puyi's desperation to connect with the mother he was separated from six years prior to the teenage Puyi's pet mouse. Bertolucci's poetics seem to transcend the film's immaculate design and execution. It helps that the material is inherently interesting -- we are all bound by duty in some regard and are constantly looking for an escape. Still, Bertolucci takes chances, even shocking us with a seven-year-old Puyi nestling in his mother's bare bosom or the pet mouse meeting its demise against the Forbidden City's gate at the hands of a frustrated Puyi. These are not mere exploits, however, but sad moments where it's clear that Puyi's childhood and foreshadowed adulthood needs and desires are controlled by others.

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War Review


Weak
The problem with being a connoisseur of B-grade action movies is that eventually you start applying the kind of elevated expectations that this genre is supposed to guard against. You get so accustomed to, say, a late-summer Jason Statham movie providing more thrills than many of its big-budget counterparts that suddenly Statham and Jet Li costarring in a chintzy action picture becomes a victim of perhaps unreasonable expectations.

That pairing of B-movie titans, somewhat inexplicably titled War, is neither a team-up nor a battle royale; it's actually kind of like a low-budget Heat knockoff, with a far larger cast and a far snakier plot than is warranted by the stars' specific and unpretentious skill sets. It begins with FBI agent Jack Crawford (Statham) losing his partner (Terry Chen) to a mysterious assassin called Rogue; so far, so cheesy, so good. But when Rogue (Jet Li) re-appears three years later, involved in a convoluted (or maybe just dull) bit of Asian-mob rivalry between the Yakuza and Triad families, momentum falters. Crawford attempts to navigate the underworld and bring his nemesis to justice, while geeks in the audience become confused by Rogue's inability to absorb Jason Statham's mutant fighting powers.

Continue reading: War Review

Rush Hour 2 Review


OK
I enjoyed the original Rush Hour, the 1998 action comedy that grossed more than $250 million worldwide. Through its central characters, played by Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, the film provided audiences with a fresh, exciting combination of action and outrageous comedy. Although not a great film, and certainly not worthy of a sequel, director Brett Ratner admirably stitched together two immensely different characters, finding a charismatic delight in the diversity of Tucker and Chan.

Unfortunately Ratner does not find the same joy in Rush Hour 2, an occasionally amusing comedic adventure that leaves us with a profoundly annoying Chris Tucker fighting for attention while Jackie Chan fights one-dimensional Chinese villains with his bare fists. The film contains some neat action sequences, a great third act, and the most hilarious outtakes I can remember - but the clash of genres feels intrusive and awkward. I wanted more excitement, more character dimension, and a whole hell of a lot less of Chris Tucker's irritating mouth.

Continue reading: Rush Hour 2 Review

Year of the Dragon Review


Good
Once upon a time, Mickey Rourke was a major Hollywood player, and Year of the Dragon finds him in one of his most respectable leading roles, the last film he made before 9 1/2 Weeks got everyone a little scared about Rourke's future. Here's Rourke, as well, in a prototypical role: As a hard boiled cop that will do anything it takes to bring down the new leader of New York's Chinese mafia. Rourke is like a rabid dog, and his torn-apart, hangdog performance surpasses the rest of the film, which plays like a rehash of Scarface.

Rush Hour 2 Review


Grim

When a high-concept action-comedy becomes a hit despite slapdash scripting and single joke themes weaved into an emaciated plot, the ball starts rolling toward the inevitable: An even lamer sequel.

Thus was born the half-baked, ham-fisted "Rush Hour 2," another odd-couple buddy cop picture pairing Hong Kong detective Jackie Chan, king of the kung-fu action-comedy, with LAPD putz Chris Tucker, high-pitched hyperactive buffoon.

In the 1998 original set in Los Angeles, Chan and Tucker went against orders to rescue the daughter of the Chinese consul. This time they start their own investigation (against orders) when a bomb goes off at the U.S. embassy while Tucker is on vacation in Hong Kong. What this bombing has to do with the plot about a Triad counterfeiting ring isn't readily apparent, but the two are connected by Zhang Ziyi (the beautiful teenage heroine of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). She delivers the package bomb in the movie's opening scene and is wasted in the rest of the flick leading a gang of henchmen into ho-hum high-kicking combat with our heroes.

Continue reading: Rush Hour 2 Review

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