The Rape of Nanking, the 1937 rape and murder rampage by Japanese troops, comes so vividly to life in "The Flowers of War" that you wish the great Chinese director Zhang Yimou had a better movie to put in front of it. Japan, both officially and informally, has spent the intervening 74 years ignominiously denying that this mass slaughter of Chinese women and children in that city ever happened. A great historical film using it as a backdrop is overdue.
In 1956, not long after she married "Death of a Salesman" playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe made a movie with director and star Laurence Olivier at England's Pinewood Studios. The film, "The Prince and the Showgirl," came from Terence Rattigan's drawing-room comedy "The Sleeping Prince," which Olivier had performed on the London stage opposite his wife, Vivien Leigh.
Meryl Streep is so unfair to all other actresses. Her versatility, her subtle intuition, her absolute ability to embody other people is uncanny. In "The Iron Lady," her performance as Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative prime minister who changed the course of British society, is not simply spot-on surface impersonation, it is reincarnation. Thatcher's charismatic flair for Churchillian rhetoric, the devious blankness of her formal smile, her prim physical bearing -- Streep captures every nuance.
3D, phooey. IMAX, meh. Motion-capture, whatever. If you want real movie enchantment, forget the technical geegaws. "The Artist," a gleefully inventive, gloriously entertaining black-and-white silent, proves that less is more. It's a rocket to the moon fueled by unadulterated joy and pure imagination.
Just in time for the family-friendly holiday is Steven Spielberg's sweeping, historical epic "War Horse."
"Weekend," directed and written by Andrew Haigh, is an unflinching look at intimacy with an exterior of unfussy realism and a core of philosophic archetypes.
In "Man on a Ledge," a man named Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks into the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, orders a champagne lunch and then climbs out of the window of his room on the 21st floor, threatening to jump.
"Din Tao: Leader of the Parade" (陣頭) is about renewing the spiritual credibility of "Din Tao" by filling traditional symbols with new inspirations, and about reconciling rifts between generations, between rival troupes, and between cosmopolitan and homegrown cultures.
If Batman and the X-Men get prequels, why not Hunter S. Thompson?
Directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Teng Yung-shin (鄧勇星), "Return Ticket" (到阜陽六百里) is the kind of film about Shanghai that rarely plays in a theater near you.