Art and Entertainment

Are boy bands back into business?

The China Post
Date: Jan. 18, 201934

TAIPEI (The China Post) – Is the boy band culture back in Asia? BTS (Bangtan Boys), which made history as the first South Korean group to top the Billboard 200 music chart two times, beating viral American artists like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Shawn Mendes, became the Top Social Artist for the second year in a row. The same is true with other artists from the region which has a long history of producing iconic bands.

The Asia’s boy band trend actually started in Japan with iconic groups, such as Arashi, SMAP, NEWS, Generations from Exile Tribe, and W-inds, hitting the billboard over the past two decades. Next came South Korea and mainland China, where big entertainment companies have been keen in training new artists, making original music and holding entertainment shows, as well as grooming the best of them for future stardom.

REVIEW: ‘Looking for Kafka’ Marks a Shaky Film Debut for Novelist Jade Y. Chen

The film’s confident style is kneecapped by an underdeveloped and unfocused story.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/01/09
By: CJ Sheu

Credit: Youtube Screenshot

On IMDB, ‘Looking for Kafka’ (Aishang Kafuka / 愛上卡夫卡) is listed as ‘Kafka’s Lovers.’ Despite the evident technical competence on display, this ambivalence is manifested in the film’s self-identity as well. From first-time writer-director Jade Y. Chen (陳玉慧), a novelist from Taiwan, ‘Kafka’ oscillates between two different films, never deciding on one, thereby truncating necessary story details.

The first film is in the vein of recent Taiwanese films of whimsy, starting with ‘Cape No. 7’ (2008) and including ‘Au Revoir Taipei’ (2010) and ’52Hz, I Love You’ (2017). Pineapple (Jian Man-shu, 簡嫚書) designs props for a theater troupe putting on an abstract modern dance performance of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ starring her ex-boyfriend, Lin Jiasheng (J. C. Lin, 林哲熹). The morning after Jiasheng’s current girlfriend, Julie (Julia Roy), arrives from Paris, he’s kidnapped by some gangsters to get his rich dad to pony up some dough. Pineapple takes Julie to search around for Jiasheng, while he in turn, er, waits for something to happen.

You can tell that the film isn’t going for naturalism because the kidnappers neglect to make a ransom call. Jian’s bubbly and upbeat performance (and creative hair) sets the tone, as Pineapple and Julie rather unhurriedly visit Jiasheng’s old haunts and past girlfriends (one of whom is played by Taiwanese transgender icon Kiwebaby, 張朵). It just so happens that each place they visit is representative of contemporary Taiwanese culture: coffee shop, nightclub, temple, and gazebo on a mountain trail – the unlikely location of Jiasheng’s guqin lessons. In one of the few highlights of the film, a visit to Jiasheng’s mother reveals her to be played by none other than Peking opera legend Wei Haimin (魏海敏), as a brain-addled version of herself forever convinced that she’s putting on a show. The film tries to avoid coming across as a tourism commercial by omitting things like travel routes and establishing shots, but the effect is to make each segment feel abstract and underdeveloped. A similar premise was much better developed in the Taiwanese film ‘The Most Distant Course’ (2007).

Jiasheng’s patience finally pays off as one of the gangsters (Yuki Daki, 大慶) steals him away from the others, and a car chase ensues. The chase is genuinely exciting thanks to Lee Chatametikool’s editing, with gunshots and drifting on mountain roads, but the tension is broken when an old cliché rears its head: The car runs into a roadside fruit stall. The gangster, an indigenous tribe member, takes Jiasheng to his tribal home (Yuki is of the Atayal tribe, and his tribe members play themselves) where, in another cliché, it’s revealed that he himself needs the money for his hemophiliac son (the film performs some plotting gymnastics to get around Taiwan’s universal healthcare). Pineapple and Julie get the money and exchange it for Jiasheng, who returns in time for his Kafka performance.    [FULL  STORY]

Exhibition held by Chinese student captures cross-strait dilemma

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2019/01/08
By: Miao Chung-hen and Yu-chen Chung

Photo courtesy of Wang Jiaxin (汪家欣)

Taipei, Jan. 8 (CNA) A photo exhibition being held in Taipei by Chinese student Wang Jiaxin (汪家欣) has given her the chance to express her positive view of Taiwan but also the helplessness she feels caught in the middle of sensitive cross-Taiwan Strait ties.

During a tour of the exhibition in an old apartment in Zhongshan District, messages such as “Taipei is my second hometown” and “I dream of going back there” are immediately apparent as are her strong feelings about the problems faced by Chinese students here.

One of her photos shows a woman standing on the beach wrapped in a piece of cloth reading “three limits, six noes” and surrounded by placards saying “it serves you right, why go to (Taiwan)” and “dhebazi degree.”

The word dhebazi (台巴子) is a discriminatory term in the Shanghai dialect for Taiwanese that means silly or foolish.    [FULL  STORY]

‘Take Point’ takes Taiwan audience by storm

The China Post
Date: Dec. 28, 2018

Ha Jung-woo conversed mostly in English in the movie which pleased international viewers, especially female fans. (NOWnews/Hualien International Media)

TAIPEI (The China Post) – South Korean action thriller “Take Point,” starring Ha Jung-woo (“Along with the Gods”) and Lee Sun-kyun from the TV series hit “My Mister” was released in theaters across Taiwan on Dec. 28, much to the delight of local moviegoers.

The premiere, which was held on Dec. 24 with numerous celebrities, media pundits, and critics in attendance, had successfully raised expectations for the South Korean blockbuster. “I really felt like I was watching a Hollywood production,” a commentator said.

And he had a point. “Take Point” begins on the day of the U.S. presidential election in 2024, when Ahab (Ha) and his team of elite mercenaries embark on a secret CIA mission to abduct North Korea’s Armed Forces Minister in an underground bunker below the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

However, they get caught in the crossfire which causes tensions to escalate to the brink of World War III. With such an exciting plot and a great cast, there is little wonder that “Take Point” is one of the most anticipated blockbusters in South Korea and many countries in the region where the South Korean movie culture is extremely popular.    [FULL  STORY]

REVIEW: ‘Shadow’ Presents a Wuxia Tale in Staggeringly Beautiful Monochrome

This ink wash painting come to life carries thematic complexity and a veiled political message.

The News Lens
Date: 2018/12/27
By: CJ Sheu

Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Centuries of Chinese literati have lost themselves in appreciative reveries when contemplating ink wash paintings of rivers and mountains. With “Shadow” (Ying / 影) – shooting the black-and-white rain-soaked production design (Horace Ma) in bleached color – director Zhang Yimou and cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding have allowed us the same experience. The staggering beauty of the film, only enhanced by the long takes, harmonious compositions, and subdued zither soundtrack, is impossible to convey in words, but Jessica Kiang at the trade publication Variety comes close:

Black ink drips from the tip of a brush and daggers into clear water, spiraling out like smoke; a Chinese zither sounds a ferocious, twanging note that warps and buckles in its sustain; rain mottles the sky to a heavy watercolor gray, forming pools on paving stones into which warriors bleed; whispery drafts from hidden palace chambers stir tendrils of hair and set the hems of luxuriant, patterned robes fluttering.

All this is impressive enough, but the film goes even further, presenting a plot in the grand wuxiatradition, written by Zhang and Li Wei (and adapted from a Three Kingdoms play by Zhu Sujin but leaving history behind), that is narratively and thematically complex but still flows like running water, thanks in no small part to Zhou Xiaolin’s superb editing. A surprise fourth act will leave you reeling, and then the film reveals its biggest shocker: It ends exactly where it begins.

The small mountainous kingdom of Pei has lost the city of Jingzhou to its more powerful neighbor, but the seemingly dissolute young King (Zheng Kai) prohibits any talk of avenging this national shame for fear of being wiped off the map. Commander Yu (Deng Chao), defying orders, returns from a secret trip to Jingzhou with a pledge from its current ruler, General Yang Cang (Hu Jun), to settle the city’s fate once and for all with a duel; he is immediately discharged from service. Captain Tian Zhan (Wang Qianyuan) is also discharged when he objects to the King’s plan to sue for peace by marrying off his royal sister (Guan Xiaotong) to be the concubine of Yang’s son (Wu Lei).    [FULL  STORY]

Indigenous Sweety & Warrior to present free musicals in Hualien, Taiwan Dec 22 – 23

“We use body expressions to transfer our emotions to the audience”

Taiwan News
Date: 2018/12/20
By: George Liao, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Indigenous Sweety & Warrior rehearses on a local beach for the 2018 annual show (photo from 花蓮縣原住民甜心勇士學院 Facebook page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Indigenous Sweety & Warrior, a Hualien-based indigenous performance group, will present their 2018 annual exhibition in musical form at Hualien County Taiwan Indigenous Museum on the nights of the coming weekend, according to a recent news release posted on Hualien Tourist Service Network.

The 2018 annual exhibition titled “The Vow” is “different from other indigenous musicals that you’ve seen before. The script, choreography and soundtrack are all created by our team members,” the group said on its Facebook page.

“We use body expressions to transfer our emotions to the audience. The audience can expect to experience more than just the traditional Amis ceremonies.”

The public are invited to come and enjoy “the brand-new aural and visual delights,” the group added.    [FULL  STORY]

‘King Lear’ to be broadcast live at National Theatre on New Year’s Eve

The China Post
Date: Dec. 20, 2018

‘King Lear’ is going to be broadcast live from London’s West End at the National Theatre on New Year’s Eve, bringing the best tragedy ever written into the cinema experience.

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Five-star production “King Lear” from the new Chichester Festival Theatre in England will be broadcast live from London’s West End on New Year’s Eve.

The event is organized by the National Theatre Live (NT Live) program in England, bringing the best tragedy ever written into the cinema experience at the National Theatre Taiwan.

The Taiwan premiere will feature Ian McKellen’s magnificent and intoxicating performance once again. The almost eighty-year-old rockstar will bid farewell to Shakespeare with “King Lear” as his last Shakespearean role on stage.

“King Lear” is one of the four great Shakespearean tragedies. It retraces the main character’s gradual descent into madness after the king decided to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, triggering the ugliest side of human nature and the consequent treachery that brings about tragic happenings and the deepest despair among the royal family.    [FULL  STORY]

BTS gets involved in a minor car accident after their concert in Taiwan

allkpop News
Date: Dec 10, 2018
By: KayRosa

BTS members have been involved in a minor car accident.

On December 9th, ‘China Times’ reported that a minor collision occurred on an expressway in Taiwan, which involved several vehicles including BTS’ van and a taxi. The accident had occurred right after BTS’ ‘Love Yourself’ concert at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium as the boys were heading back to their hotel.

More details have yet to be verified, but organizers of the tour from ‘Live Nation’ have confirmed that “no one was injured”. The members have safely moved back to the hotel, as other vehicles had been arranged for their speedy return.

Meanwhile, witnesses have yet to confirm whether the accident had any involvement with fans following the cars. As of now, the only remaining statement explains that an initial impulsion from the front had affected the vehicles behind it.

Stay tuned for more information.    [SOURCE]



Taiwanese album cover designer nominated fifth time for Grammy Awards

ICRT Radio News
Date: 2018-12-08

A Taiwanese artist has been nominated for yet another Grammy Award.

Album cover designer Xiao Qing-yang is on the shortlist in the Best
Recording Package category of the 61st Grammy Awards for “The Offering.”

That is the 12th album released by the Taiwanese rock band The Chairman,
which won the 29th Golden Melody Award for Best Band in June.

This is Xiao’s fifth Grammy nod, having been nominated for both Best
Recording Package and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition package in the
past.    [SOURCE]

Taiwan director Doze Niu accused of sexual assault

Director Doze Niu became famous when “Monga” won two Golden Horse Awards in 2010 and took TW$ 59.32 million (US$1.85 million) at the box office AFP/JUNG YEON-JE

Channel News Asia
Date: 07 Dec 2018

TAIPEI: Acclaimed Taiwanese director Doze Niu has been accused of sexually assaulting

Taiwan director Doze Niu accused of sexual assault

a female crew member working on his latest film, “Pao Ma”.

The alleged assault happened following a meeting at Niu’s home in Taipei when other guests had left, according to Taiwan’s United Daily News.

A friend accompanied the woman to a hospital after the alleged assault in November and a police report was filed on Wednesday (Dec 5).

Niu, who appeared at a Taipei police station for questioning on Friday, said he would cooperate with the investigation.    [FULL  STORY]