Amid a rising trend of curbs on rights in China, the country is intensifying its censorship of Hollywood movies to make them ‘conform’ to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ideals, a media report said.
The practice, which is almost 25-years old, has expanded in recent times even as producers make movies with an eye toward pleasing Beijing yet without isolating the global audience, Voice of America reported citing industry insiders.
“Now it’s kind of escalated in the sense that they’re much more direct in banning films outright rather than just tampering or asking for scenes to be removed,” Stanley Rosen, a University of Southern California political science professor who follows China’s film industry was quoted as saying.
As per the report, industry observers say censors are also asking that versions of movies for audiences outside China follow Beijing’s script.
It is unlikely that censors will allow the 2022 Marvel Studios movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to be shown in China, the report said, citing a recent op-ed in the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times which said that the movie contains nods to Falun Gong, a spiritual movement Beijing has banned and labelled as a cult.
“As a country under the rule of law, China regulates the film industry in accordance with the Film Administration regulations,” Liu Pengyu, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Washington was quoted as saying.
The China Film Administration, an oversight body for the USD 7.4 billion Chinese film industry market, banned Marvel Studios’ 2021 superhero films “Eternals” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which were released last year, the report said.
The 2021 superhero film “Spider-Man: No Way Home” missed Chinese approval because authorities wanted Sony Pictures to remove images of the Statue of Liberty from the film, the report further said.
“As the dragon gets bigger, its leverage gets bigger, and no one’s pushed back yet,” Chris Fenton, Hollywood executive and a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank was quoted as saying.
According to James Tager, research director at the free-speech advocacy group PEN America, an increase in Sino-U.S. tensions since the administration of former US President Donald Trump may have exacerbated China’s treatment of American movies.
Refusal of a Chinese order to cut a scene would risk the studio’s future business in China, such as the next Disney or Marvel film or other assets, Tager said.
“You may get a reputation as someone who doesn’t play ball, which could have even further knock-on effects, possibly for other films or possibly for other business relationships that large studios have in China,” Tager said.
Recently, the Philippines pushed back against Marvel Studio’s attempt to woo China in the case of the 2022 American action movie “Uncharted.” The Southeast Asian country’s cinemas banned the movie at the request of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the report said.
The department objected to a scene that showed Beijing’s nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea, which Manila vigorously disputes. The nine dashes demarcate China’s claim to about 90 per cent of the sea.
Manila moved earlier to block the showing of “Abominable,” a 2019 animated collaboration between the U.S. and a Chinese production company because the same nine-dash line was shown in the cartoon.
Hollywood is slowly factoring in the “arbitrary” demands from China, Stanley Rosen said. One thing it has learned, he said, is to avoid making Chinese-themed films such as “Shang-Chi” because those can be better done in China, the report said. (ANI)
Review: ‘Barbenheimer’ films are everything
It is, of course, brilliant.
Oh, you’d like me to be more specific? Right you are, then.
They are, of course, brilliant.
We haven’t had a weekend of cinema like this since before the pandemic. Two mega-hyped blockbuster films, going head-to-head for audience eyeballs. Two very different films and – even though both are based on some form of pre-existing IP – neither has the security of a franchise to fall back on.
Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has a cast of luminaries as long as your arm and a topic no less weighty than the end of the world. Nolan is one of the few filmmakers we have for whom every new release is now a global cinematic event – a ‘stop the clocks’ moment.
I would venture that it won’t be too long before Barbie’s Greta Gerwig is also in that league. After the ‘making grown men cry’ triumph of Little Women in 2019 she now follows up with a film that couldn’t be more different in terms of style and content but the themes – female self-determination and self-realisation – are still at the forefront. That’s what an auteur is, folks.
Oppenheimer publicity image of Cillian MurphyPhoto: Universal Pictures
Oppenheimer is a biopic about the revolutionary physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) but because this is a Christopher Nolan film it does not follow a straight line from birth to death, there are two stories running in parallel. The first is Oppenheimer’s journey from awkward student to the “father of the atomic bomb” followed by disgrace as post war anti-communist politicians set out to destroy his reputation, all shot in vivid IMAX colour.
And, Nolan being Nolan, there is also a bit of a puzzle to be solved as a key piece of information is withheld from us until the end, a piece of information that unlocks all of the giant themes the film has been wrestling with and provides an unsettling but dramatically satisfying conclusion. Satisfying but manipulative all the same.
The second (in grainy black and white) is about one of those politicians, Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.), attempting to win a cabinet position in 1959 and finally having to deal with the fallout from his own battles with Oppenheimer.
This might seem like an odd place to put your attention: a relatively minor contretemps between two proud and headstrong men over the future of atomic energy and planet killing weapons but Nolan – and the book American Prometheus upon which the film is based – sees this battle as the first skirmish in an ideological anti-science movement which has reached a point where evidence and facts are now underdogs in almost every debate.
A still from Oppenheimer by Universal PicturesPhoto: Universal Pictures
Nolan brings all his skills to play in this film which is composed largely of men in suits and ties debating and it is quite thrilling to see a big screen epic take those things seriously. There is spectacle – of course – but the giant closeups of the contradictory genius’s monumental cheekbones are the great special effect here.
As an aside, I saw this picture in digital IMAX – the second favourite of Nolan’s picture formats after the 70mm IMAX which is only available in 30 cinemas worldwide and which necessitates a reel of film over 11 miles long – and was surprised to see that the taller IMAX frame format was only used for certain shots – for the most part the screen is a traditional but very large widescreen shape.
There are some shots – effects and landscapes – where you can see why that frame would be chosen but it in some scenes the ratio can change from shot to shot for no apparent rhyme or reason. Perhaps it is like James Cameron deciding to use a high frame rate in some shots in Avatar: The Way of Water and not others. It just looks cool at that moment and because he can.
Anyway, with the focus so squarely on ‘great men’ there isn’t much time left for other stories that might have been told: the Native Americans on whose sacred burial grounds the nuclear tests occurred; the unwitting New Mexico citizens who became irradiated by fallout when the wind changed after that first Trinity test; the countless thousands of Japanese victims of Fat Man and Little Boy; and also Oppenheimer’s women (Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt) who are reduced to one-note each – depressive and needy or alcoholic harpy.
Margot Robbie as Barbie in a still from the Barbie moviePhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
Someone who, as you would expect, has no trouble writing women, is Greta Gerwig. In Barbie, she’s attempted to fashion a deeply political treatise on feminism and objectification alongside a fun plastic poolside romp with the primary purpose of promoting a toy company. I think she has largely succeeded at both objectives.
This is the first in a proposed series of films where Mattel, the second largest toy manufacturer in the world, attempt to mimic the screen success of Hasbro (Transformers) and Lego. Thankfully, Mattel appear to have a sense of humour as the company itself is the butt of many of the jokes but the promotional engine that has been running for over a year on behalf of this film makes clear that more toy sales is the primary objective.
Gerwig – and co-screenwriter Noah Baumbach – have bigger fish to fry. Like many stories about inanimate objects brought to life – as far back as Pinocchio and even further – Barbie is about being human. Is it a desirable state when so much of life is about disappointment, loss, anxiety and pain. Barbie goes a step further, though, and asks whether the ‘real world’ even thinks of women as human at all?
Ryan Gosling and the other Kens of the Barbie moviePhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) is living her perfect life in Barbieland – with all her different Barbie friends, plus the Kens, a Midge and an Allan – when she starts having uncomfortably human thoughts about things like death. Turns out there is a psychic bond between the Barbie in Barbieland and the child in the ‘real world’ who plays with her.
Advice from Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon) is to travel through a portal to the real world, find her child and repair the psychological damage and restore the equilibrium. Barbie’s lovelorn Ken (Ryan Gosling) stows away only to discover that in the real world, men like him are not second-class citizens and that he should bring his dim-witted version of the patriarchy back to Barbieland.
Often very, very funny (and can I say ‘barbed’), Barbie has some wonderfully deranged set-pieces, all justified by the fact that the rules of Barbieland are set by children who care not for logic and consistency and have no patience for things as boring as ‘walking down stairs’.
Everyone involved is giving it their all – except for Will Ferrell as the CEO of Mattel who is giving a slightly subdued version of his Lord Business performance from the Lego films. He’s alright but for a change his is not the wackiest performance in the film.
This is a profoundly entertaining film made by serious people.
Dan Slevin’s film review newsletter can be found at substack.funeralsandsnakes.net.
RNZ series, journalists winners at NZ Radio Awards
RNZ has won seven awards at the NZ Radio Awards which were announced tonight, while one of its longest serving presenters has been honoured for her contribution to broadcasting.
RNZ had 27 finalists across the presenting, producing, journalism and podcast categories.
Our Changing World and The Detail were announced joint winners for Best Factual Podcast – Episodic. The Aotearoa History Show was judged Best Factual Podcast – Seasonal. In its 25th anniversary year Country Life prevailed in the Best Daily or Weekly Feature – Factual – category.
Midday Report presenter Charlotte Cook’s podcast Hair and Loathing won Best Documentary or Factual Talk Feature.
The RNZ Concert recording of Ka Pō, Ka Ao which featured Rob Ruha with the Auckland Philharmonia won Best Music Feature. This recording of the special Matariki concert also recently won a gold medal at the New York Festival’s Radio Awards.
Jimmy Ellingham was the joint winner of Best New Broadcaster – Journalist alongside Newstalk ZB’s Jason Walls.
RNZ National All Night presenter Vicki McKay was announced as the recipient of a special Services to Broadcasting award.
McKay has been on air with RNZ for three decades.
“During this time she has been the one to handle a number of major breaking news events for the people of Aotearoa, always with compassion and respect,” said RNZ’s head of radio David Allan.
At 83, Al Pacino expecting baby with 29-year-old girlfriend.
Legendary actor Al Pacino who is dating 29-year-old film producer Noor Alfallah is all set to become…
Read more at: https://www.onmanorama.com/entertainment/gossip/2023/05/31/al-pacino-to-become-father-with-girlfriend-noor-alfallah.html
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