‘Gone With The Bullets’ Takes Aim At ‘Transformers’ China Record

Producers of Chinese director Jiang Wen‘s 3D epic Gone With the Bullets, a sequel to the wildly successful Let the Bullets Fly in 2010, are confident the movie will restore Chinese cinema to box-office domination and reel in more than the record-breaking Transformers: Age of Extinction when it opens in December.

The bold predications came at a press conference to launch the movie in Beijing, 100 days ahead of its Dec. 18 opening, and featuring Jiang himself, actresses Shu Qi and Zhou Yun, plus the actor Ge You.

This sounds like a tall order, considering Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction took a whopping $301 million in China, but Jiang — a onetime bad boy who is one of China’s most talented actors and writers, and has serious art-house chops — has a great track record in China.

Let the Bullets Fly earned $110 million, and Jiang has a keen sense of what is popular among Chinese cinema-goers.

Gone With the Bullets, which is set in Shanghai in the 1920s, is the follow-up, although not exactly a sequel to, Let the Bullets Fly.

In the movie, Ma Zouri (Jiang) and Xiang Feitian (Ge) start a beauty contest that ends tragically, and the story runs from there.

Dede Nickerson, head of production and strategic development at Sony Pictures Entertainment, China, said she believes Gone With the Bullets will eclipse Transformers: Age of Extinction and set a new box-office record in the world’s second-biggest film market.

“The story is way better than that of Transformers 4,” she said at the news conference.

Other investors were equally upbeat.

One executive from Wanda said the Chinese conglomerate’s only fear is that there would be a shortage of tickets because the movie would be too popular.

Jiang himself played down expectations for the film.

“I definitely want to see a big box office for my movie and I want it as big as possible. No matter how high it (box office) goes, I would not be unhappy because it is too high,” he joked.

One of the factors driving the remarkable success of domestic 3D movies in recent years has been their performance at Imax theaters, and Jiang is the first Chinese director to shoot a film with an IMAX 3D digital camera — although he said he had to be convinced of the benefits of three dimensions.

“In the old days it used to make me feel dizzy. But after watching some recent 3D films, it’s better than I expected,” he said.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/KYoh9tjEvR0/story01.htm

Japan Box Office: ‘Lucy’ Opens in Third as ‘Doraemon’ Stays Top

TOKYO – Stand by Me Doraemon spent its fourth weekend atop the box office, with manga adaptation Lupin III bowing in second with $4.3 million (¥444 million), while Luc Besson‘s Lucy opened with $1.9 million (¥200 million) from 205 screens.

Stand by Me Doraemon, the first film in the long-running series to use 3D CG, has now taken $55.6 million (¥5.8 billion). The series of adventures of a “cat-type robot” from the future, based on a massively popular manga, overtook Godzilla last year to become the most watched in Japanese cinema history, with more than 100 million admissions.

Yet another big-screen manga adaptation, Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, directed by Keishi Ohtomo, dropped from third to fifth on the box office rankings, and has now pulled in more than $38 million (¥4 billion), outperforming the first film by more than a third already.

Transformers: Age of Extinction, Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There and Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, occupied the next three positions on the rankings for the last weekend of school summer vacations.

Maleficent propped up the rankings from the bottom on its ninth weekend in theaters, but its total of $61 million (¥6.37 billion) makes it the highest-grossing live-action import since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released in May 2011.

Meanwhile, Frozen is still showing in a few dozen theaters around the country, and its cumulative box office has now reached $244 million (¥25.44 billion – the recent weakening of the yen has reduced its total when converted into dollars.)

 

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/rDGbnR5cfwA/story01.htm

Global Box Office: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Roars in China, Crosses $600M Worldwide

Matt ReevesDawn of the Planet of the Apes closed out the summer season in style, opening to a massive $47 million in China and crossing the $600 million mark at the global box office.

Contributing to 20th Century Fox’s stellar summer, the sequel has earned $205.2 million domestically and $408.1 million internationally for a total $613.3 million, well ahead of the $481.8 million earned by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011.

Fox reports that the sequel’s debut in China was one of the best in history for a Western title, save for Iron Man 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Age of Extinction. This summer, Age of Extinction earned north of $300 million to become the top-grossing film of all in China (the bad news is that Hollywood’s cut of the Chinese box office is notably less than in the U.S. and other key markets).

Thanks to its China opening, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the international weekend race as it zoomed to the top of the global weekend chart, toppling Guardians of the Galaxy from the top spot.

New Line and Warner Bros.’ modestly budgeted tornado disaster film Into the Storm whipped up strong interest in select foreign markets, including opening to No. 1 in South Korea with $5.2 million and dethroning local hits The Pirates and The Admiral: Roaring Currents.

If I Stay, also from New Line and Warner Bros., opened to a solid No. 1 in Russia with $1.2 million. Fox’s R-rated comedy Let’s Be Cops bested that with $1.8 million, while launching in the U.K. to $2.8 million (American comedies are never an easy sell overseas.)

Below are the top 10 films at the global box office for the weekend of Aug. 29 through Aug. 31, according to Rentrak.

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Fox, 30 territories, week 8)

Global weekend: $52 million (total: $613.4 million)

International: $51.2 million ($408.1 million)

Domestic: $825K million ($205.2million)

2. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney/Marvel, 69 territories, week 5)

Global weekend: $36 million (total: $547.7 million)

International: $19.7 million ($273.1 million)

Domestic: $16.3 million ($274.6 million)

3. Lucy (Universal/EuropaCorp/various, 53 territory, week 6)

Global weekend: $33.9 million (total: $269.4 million)

International: $31.2 million ($151.6 million)

Domestic: $2.7 million ($117.8 million)

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount/Nickelodeon, 44 territories, week 4)

Global weekend: $24.8 million (total: $274.5 million)

International: $13 million ($112.1 million)

Domestic: $11.8 million ($162.4 million)

5. Into the Storm (Warner Bros./New Line, 52 territories, week 4)

Global weekend: $15.4 million (total: $89.6 million)

International: $12.9 million ($47.7 million)

Domestic: $2.5 million  ($41.9 million)

6. Let’s Be Cops (Fox, 24 territories, week 3)

Global weekend: $14.8 million (total: $67.1 million)

International: $6.6 million ($9.8 million)

Domestic: $8.2 million  ($57.3 million)

7. If I Stay (Warner Bros./New Line, 11 territories, week 2)

Global weekend: $13.9 million (total: $34.4 million)

International: $4.6 million 

Domestic: $9.3 million  ($29.8 million)

8. The Expendables 3 (Millennium/Lionsgate/various, 37 territories, week 3)

Global weekend: $12.3 million ($92.1 million)

International: $8.8 million ($59 million)

Domestic: 3.5 million ($33.1 million)

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox/DreamWorks Animation, 24 territories, week 9)

Global weekend: $11.6 million (total: $593.7 million)

International: $10.5 million ($420.2 million)

Domestic: $1.1 million  ($173.5 million)

10. Hercules (Paramount/MGM, 30 territories, week 6)

Global weekend: $10.4 million ($174.7 million)

International: $9.8 million ($103.8 million)

Domestic: $500K ($70.9 million)

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/Gir5twVpueE/story01.htm

‘Gone With The Bullets’ Takes Aim At ‘Transformers’ China Record

Producers of Chinese director Jiang Wen‘s 3D epic Gone With the Bullets, a sequel to the wildly successful Let the Bullets Fly in 2010, are confident the movie will restore Chinese cinema to box-office domination and reel in more than the record-breaking Transformers: Age of Extinction when it opens in December.

The bold predications came at a press conference to launch the movie in Beijing, 100 days ahead of its Dec. 18 opening, and featuring Jiang himself, actresses Shu Qi and Zhou Yun, plus the actor Ge You.

This sounds like a tall order, considering Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction took a whopping $301 million in China, but Jiang — a onetime bad boy who is one of China’s most talented actors and writers, and has serious art-house chops — has a great track record in China.

Let the Bullets Fly earned $110 million, and Jiang has a keen sense of what is popular among Chinese cinema-goers.

Gone With the Bullets, which is set in Shanghai in the 1920s, is the follow-up, although not exactly a sequel to, Let the Bullets Fly.

In the movie, Ma Zouri (Jiang) and Xiang Feitian (Ge) start a beauty contest that ends tragically, and the story runs from there.

Dede Nickerson, head of production and strategic development at Sony Pictures Entertainment, China, said she believes Gone With the Bullets will eclipse Transformers: Age of Extinction and set a new box-office record in the world’s second-biggest film market.

“The story is way better than that of Transformers 4,” she said at the news conference.

Other investors were equally upbeat.

One executive from Wanda said the Chinese conglomerate’s only fear is that there would be a shortage of tickets because the movie would be too popular.

Jiang himself played down expectations for the film.

“I definitely want to see a big box office for my movie and I want it as big as possible. No matter how high it (box office) goes, I would not be unhappy because it is too high,” he joked.

One of the factors driving the remarkable success of domestic 3D movies in recent years has been their performance at Imax theaters, and Jiang is the first Chinese director to shoot a film with an IMAX 3D digital camera — although he said he had to be convinced of the benefits of three dimensions.

“In the old days it used to make me feel dizzy. But after watching some recent 3D films, it’s better than I expected,” he said.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/KYoh9tjEvR0/story01.htm

Japan Box Office: ‘Lucy’ Opens in Third as ‘Doraemon’ Stays Top

TOKYO – Stand by Me Doraemon spent its fourth weekend atop the box office, with manga adaptation Lupin III bowing in second with $4.3 million (¥444 million), while Luc Besson‘s Lucy opened with $1.9 million (¥200 million) from 205 screens.

Stand by Me Doraemon, the first film in the long-running series to use 3D CG, has now taken $55.6 million (¥5.8 billion). The series of adventures of a “cat-type robot” from the future, based on a massively popular manga, overtook Godzilla last year to become the most watched in Japanese cinema history, with more than 100 million admissions.

Yet another big-screen manga adaptation, Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, directed by Keishi Ohtomo, dropped from third to fifth on the box office rankings, and has now pulled in more than $38 million (¥4 billion), outperforming the first film by more than a third already.

Transformers: Age of Extinction, Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There and Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, occupied the next three positions on the rankings for the last weekend of school summer vacations.

Maleficent propped up the rankings from the bottom on its ninth weekend in theaters, but its total of $61 million (¥6.37 billion) makes it the highest-grossing live-action import since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released in May 2011.

Meanwhile, Frozen is still showing in a few dozen theaters around the country, and its cumulative box office has now reached $244 million (¥25.44 billion – the recent weakening of the yen has reduced its total when converted into dollars.)

 

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/rDGbnR5cfwA/story01.htm

Global Box Office: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Roars in China, Crosses $600M Worldwide

Matt ReevesDawn of the Planet of the Apes closed out the summer season in style, opening to a massive $47 million in China and crossing the $600 million mark at the global box office.

Contributing to 20th Century Fox’s stellar summer, the sequel has earned $205.2 million domestically and $408.1 million internationally for a total $613.3 million, well ahead of the $481.8 million earned by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011.

Fox reports that the sequel’s debut in China was one of the best in history for a Western title, save for Iron Man 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Age of Extinction. This summer, Age of Extinction earned north of $300 million to become the top-grossing film of all in China (the bad news is that Hollywood’s cut of the Chinese box office is notably less than in the U.S. and other key markets).

Thanks to its China opening, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the international weekend race as it zoomed to the top of the global weekend chart, toppling Guardians of the Galaxy from the top spot.

New Line and Warner Bros.’ modestly budgeted tornado disaster film Into the Storm whipped up strong interest in select foreign markets, including opening to No. 1 in South Korea with $5.2 million and dethroning local hits The Pirates and The Admiral: Roaring Currents.

If I Stay, also from New Line and Warner Bros., opened to a solid No. 1 in Russia with $1.2 million. Fox’s R-rated comedy Let’s Be Cops bested that with $1.8 million, while launching in the U.K. to $2.8 million (American comedies are never an easy sell overseas.)

Below are the top 10 films at the global box office for the weekend of Aug. 29 through Aug. 31, according to Rentrak.

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Fox, 30 territories, week 8)

Global weekend: $52 million (total: $613.4 million)

International: $51.2 million ($408.1 million)

Domestic: $825K million ($205.2million)

2. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney/Marvel, 69 territories, week 5)

Global weekend: $36 million (total: $547.7 million)

International: $19.7 million ($273.1 million)

Domestic: $16.3 million ($274.6 million)

3. Lucy (Universal/EuropaCorp/various, 53 territory, week 6)

Global weekend: $33.9 million (total: $269.4 million)

International: $31.2 million ($151.6 million)

Domestic: $2.7 million ($117.8 million)

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount/Nickelodeon, 44 territories, week 4)

Global weekend: $24.8 million (total: $274.5 million)

International: $13 million ($112.1 million)

Domestic: $11.8 million ($162.4 million)

5. Into the Storm (Warner Bros./New Line, 52 territories, week 4)

Global weekend: $15.4 million (total: $89.6 million)

International: $12.9 million ($47.7 million)

Domestic: $2.5 million  ($41.9 million)

6. Let’s Be Cops (Fox, 24 territories, week 3)

Global weekend: $14.8 million (total: $67.1 million)

International: $6.6 million ($9.8 million)

Domestic: $8.2 million  ($57.3 million)

7. If I Stay (Warner Bros./New Line, 11 territories, week 2)

Global weekend: $13.9 million (total: $34.4 million)

International: $4.6 million 

Domestic: $9.3 million  ($29.8 million)

8. The Expendables 3 (Millennium/Lionsgate/various, 37 territories, week 3)

Global weekend: $12.3 million ($92.1 million)

International: $8.8 million ($59 million)

Domestic: 3.5 million ($33.1 million)

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox/DreamWorks Animation, 24 territories, week 9)

Global weekend: $11.6 million (total: $593.7 million)

International: $10.5 million ($420.2 million)

Domestic: $1.1 million  ($173.5 million)

10. Hercules (Paramount/MGM, 30 territories, week 6)

Global weekend: $10.4 million ($174.7 million)

International: $9.8 million ($103.8 million)

Domestic: $500K ($70.9 million)

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/Gir5twVpueE/story01.htm

Could watching action movies make you fat?

It is no secret that TV viewing encourages mindless snacking, but it turns out that this effect may be particularly pronounced when it comes to watching certain types of shows. A new study has found that people watching a Hollywood action movie ate twice the amount of snacks as those watching an interview program.

The study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, included 94 undergraduate students who were split in three groups to watch 20 minutes of TV. Each group was randomly assigned to watch either an excerpt from “The Island,” an action flick starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson; an identical excerpt from “The Island” but without the sound; or the interview program “The Charlie Rose Show.”

The participants were provided with M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes to snack on while watching the shows. The investigators weighed the snacks before and after the initial part of the experiment to see how much the people in each group had eaten.

The researchers found that people who watched the action movie with sound on ate 206.5 grams of food — almost twice as much as those watching the interview program, who ate 104.3 grams.

Interestingly, even the people who watched the action movie with no sound ate 142.1 grams food — 36 percent more than the people who watched the interview show.

“We find that if you’re watching an action movie while snacking your mouth will see more action too!” study author Aner Tal, a post-doctoral research associate in the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, said in a statement.

People who watched the action movie also consumed more calories. “The Island” viewers consumed 354 calories (314 calories in the group with no sound), compared with 215 calories in the group that watched the Charlie Rose show.

What is it about action movies that makes viewers snack more?

“More stimulating programs that are fast paced, include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating,” Tal said. “They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth.”

Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid overeating during your favorite action scene. For instance, pre-plating or pre-portioning your TV snacks is a better idea than bringing out a whole bag of chips or box of cookies, the researchers said.

Study coauthor Brian Wansink, a professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, recommended sticking with healthy snacks such as carrots. “The good news is that action movie watchers also eat more healthy foods, if that’s what’s in front of them,” Wasnik said. “Take advantage of this!”

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsHealth/~3/QNLNvW1xLbg/

‘SCOURGE OF EXTREMISM’: Cameron proposes tough anti-terrorism laws

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday proposed sweeping legislation to combat the “scourge of extremism,” amid the fast and powerful rise of the extremist group Islamic State.

Cameron officially asked the House of Commons to agree to several temporary measures he proposed late last week, including the power to seize passports of suspected British jihadists leaving the country and controlling where they can move within the country.

“As I’ve said all along, this is not a knee-jerk response or sweeping, blanket changes that would be ineffective,” he said. “It’s not about just new powers, but about how we tackle extremism in all forms. … We will in the end defeat this extremism.”

In addition to laying out measures to defeat terrorism, Cameron also addressed the situations in Ukraine and Israel’s Gaza Strip.

Offering what he called “a tough and patient approach,” Cameron said Britain must fill two key gaps to thwarting religious extremists like the Islamic State, whose members are responsible for the murder of American journalist James Foley. 

He said his proposed legislation would give police officers temporary power to seize passports at the border. Secondly, he said it was key that Britain work to keep out foreign fighters who return from the Middle East and pose a threat to the nation, which recently upgraded its terror alert from substantial to severe.

Cameron said that Britain must prevent those suspected of extremism from traveling out of the country. 

“Passports are not an automatic right,” he told his colleagues. He said to date, 500 people from the UK have left the country to fight in Iraq and Syria; 700 have left France to fight and Germany has seen 400 people exit to join religious extremists.

Cameron is asking for the changes essentially to prevent attacks on Britain by Islamist militants coming and going for terror training in the Middle East.

His get-tough proposals come amid calls in the United States for President Obama to announce a comprehensive plan to combat Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, which started in Syria and has now taken control of much of northern Iraq. The group late last month released a video of a fighter — suspected to be a British rapper — beheading Foley.

The other proposals made by Cameron are to tighten aviation security by demanding airlines submit passenger flight lists, or not be allowed to land, and to exclude British nationals from return to Britain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/britain-cameron-asks-for-tough-anti-terrorism-laws-prevent-attacks-by-islamic/

‘Gone With The Bullets’ Takes Aim At ‘Transformers’ China Record

Producers of Chinese director Jiang Wen‘s 3D epic Gone With the Bullets, a sequel to the wildly successful Let the Bullets Fly in 2010, are confident the movie will restore Chinese cinema to box-office domination and reel in more than the record-breaking Transformers: Age of Extinction when it opens in December.

The bold predications came at a press conference to launch the movie in Beijing, 100 days ahead of its Dec. 18 opening, and featuring Jiang himself, actresses Shu Qi and Zhou Yun, plus the actor Ge You.

This sounds like a tall order, considering Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction took a whopping $301 million in China, but Jiang — a onetime bad boy who is one of China’s most talented actors and writers, and has serious art-house chops — has a great track record in China.

Let the Bullets Fly earned $110 million, and Jiang has a keen sense of what is popular among Chinese cinema-goers.

Gone With the Bullets, which is set in Shanghai in the 1920s, is the follow-up, although not exactly a sequel to, Let the Bullets Fly.

In the movie, Ma Zouri (Jiang) and Xiang Feitian (Ge) start a beauty contest that ends tragically, and the story runs from there.

Dede Nickerson, head of production and strategic development at Sony Pictures Entertainment, China, said she believes Gone With the Bullets will eclipse Transformers: Age of Extinction and set a new box-office record in the world’s second-biggest film market.

“The story is way better than that of Transformers 4,” she said at the news conference.

Other investors were equally upbeat.

One executive from Wanda said the Chinese conglomerate’s only fear is that there would be a shortage of tickets because the movie would be too popular.

Jiang himself played down expectations for the film.

“I definitely want to see a big box office for my movie and I want it as big as possible. No matter how high it (box office) goes, I would not be unhappy because it is too high,” he joked.

One of the factors driving the remarkable success of domestic 3D movies in recent years has been their performance at Imax theaters, and Jiang is the first Chinese director to shoot a film with an IMAX 3D digital camera — although he said he had to be convinced of the benefits of three dimensions.

“In the old days it used to make me feel dizzy. But after watching some recent 3D films, it’s better than I expected,” he said.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/KYoh9tjEvR0/story01.htm

Japan Box Office: ‘Lucy’ Opens in Third as ‘Doraemon’ Stays Top

TOKYO – Stand by Me Doraemon spent its fourth weekend atop the box office, with manga adaptation Lupin III bowing in second with $4.3 million (¥444 million), while Luc Besson‘s Lucy opened with $1.9 million (¥200 million) from 205 screens.

Stand by Me Doraemon, the first film in the long-running series to use 3D CG, has now taken $55.6 million (¥5.8 billion). The series of adventures of a “cat-type robot” from the future, based on a massively popular manga, overtook Godzilla last year to become the most watched in Japanese cinema history, with more than 100 million admissions.

Yet another big-screen manga adaptation, Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, directed by Keishi Ohtomo, dropped from third to fifth on the box office rankings, and has now pulled in more than $38 million (¥4 billion), outperforming the first film by more than a third already.

Transformers: Age of Extinction, Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There and Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, occupied the next three positions on the rankings for the last weekend of school summer vacations.

Maleficent propped up the rankings from the bottom on its ninth weekend in theaters, but its total of $61 million (¥6.37 billion) makes it the highest-grossing live-action import since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released in May 2011.

Meanwhile, Frozen is still showing in a few dozen theaters around the country, and its cumulative box office has now reached $244 million (¥25.44 billion – the recent weakening of the yen has reduced its total when converted into dollars.)

 

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/rDGbnR5cfwA/story01.htm

Global Box Office: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Roars in China, Crosses $600M Worldwide

Matt ReevesDawn of the Planet of the Apes closed out the summer season in style, opening to a massive $47 million in China and crossing the $600 million mark at the global box office.

Contributing to 20th Century Fox’s stellar summer, the sequel has earned $205.2 million domestically and $408.1 million internationally for a total $613.3 million, well ahead of the $481.8 million earned by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011.

Fox reports that the sequel’s debut in China was one of the best in history for a Western title, save for Iron Man 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Age of Extinction. This summer, Age of Extinction earned north of $300 million to become the top-grossing film of all in China (the bad news is that Hollywood’s cut of the Chinese box office is notably less than in the U.S. and other key markets).

Thanks to its China opening, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the international weekend race as it zoomed to the top of the global weekend chart, toppling Guardians of the Galaxy from the top spot.

New Line and Warner Bros.’ modestly budgeted tornado disaster film Into the Storm whipped up strong interest in select foreign markets, including opening to No. 1 in South Korea with $5.2 million and dethroning local hits The Pirates and The Admiral: Roaring Currents.

If I Stay, also from New Line and Warner Bros., opened to a solid No. 1 in Russia with $1.2 million. Fox’s R-rated comedy Let’s Be Cops bested that with $1.8 million, while launching in the U.K. to $2.8 million (American comedies are never an easy sell overseas.)

Below are the top 10 films at the global box office for the weekend of Aug. 29 through Aug. 31, according to Rentrak.

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Fox, 30 territories, week 8)

Global weekend: $52 million (total: $613.4 million)

International: $51.2 million ($408.1 million)

Domestic: $825K million ($205.2million)

2. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney/Marvel, 69 territories, week 5)

Global weekend: $36 million (total: $547.7 million)

International: $19.7 million ($273.1 million)

Domestic: $16.3 million ($274.6 million)

3. Lucy (Universal/EuropaCorp/various, 53 territory, week 6)

Global weekend: $33.9 million (total: $269.4 million)

International: $31.2 million ($151.6 million)

Domestic: $2.7 million ($117.8 million)

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount/Nickelodeon, 44 territories, week 4)

Global weekend: $24.8 million (total: $274.5 million)

International: $13 million ($112.1 million)

Domestic: $11.8 million ($162.4 million)

5. Into the Storm (Warner Bros./New Line, 52 territories, week 4)

Global weekend: $15.4 million (total: $89.6 million)

International: $12.9 million ($47.7 million)

Domestic: $2.5 million  ($41.9 million)

6. Let’s Be Cops (Fox, 24 territories, week 3)

Global weekend: $14.8 million (total: $67.1 million)

International: $6.6 million ($9.8 million)

Domestic: $8.2 million  ($57.3 million)

7. If I Stay (Warner Bros./New Line, 11 territories, week 2)

Global weekend: $13.9 million (total: $34.4 million)

International: $4.6 million 

Domestic: $9.3 million  ($29.8 million)

8. The Expendables 3 (Millennium/Lionsgate/various, 37 territories, week 3)

Global weekend: $12.3 million ($92.1 million)

International: $8.8 million ($59 million)

Domestic: 3.5 million ($33.1 million)

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox/DreamWorks Animation, 24 territories, week 9)

Global weekend: $11.6 million (total: $593.7 million)

International: $10.5 million ($420.2 million)

Domestic: $1.1 million  ($173.5 million)

10. Hercules (Paramount/MGM, 30 territories, week 6)

Global weekend: $10.4 million ($174.7 million)

International: $9.8 million ($103.8 million)

Domestic: $500K ($70.9 million)

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/Gir5twVpueE/story01.htm

Cameron asks for tough anti-terrorism laws to defeat ‘scourge of extremism’

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday proposed sweeping legislation to combat the “scourge of extremism,” amid the fast and powerful rise of the extremist group Islamic State.

Cameron officially asked the House of Commons to agree to several temporary measures he proposed late last week, including the power to seize passports of suspected British jihadists leaving the country and controlling where they can move within the country.

“As I’ve said all along, this is not a knee-jerk response or sweeping, blanket changes that would be ineffective,” he said. “It’s not about just new powers, but about how we tackle extremism in all forms. … We will in the end defeat this extremism.”

In addition to laying out measures to defeat terrorism, Cameron also addressed the situations in Ukraine and Israel’s Gaza Strip.

Offering what he called “a tough and patient approach,” Cameron said Britain must fill two key gaps to thwarting religious extremists like the Islamic State, whose members are responsible for the murder of American journalist James Foley. 

He said his proposed legislation would give police officers temporary power to seize passports at the border. Secondly, he said it was key that Britain work to keep out foreign fighters who return from the Middle East and pose a threat to the nation, which recently upgraded its terror alert from substantial to severe.

Cameron said that Britain must prevent those suspected of extremism from traveling out of the country. 

“Passports are not an automatic right,” he told his colleagues. He said to date, 500 people from the UK have left the country to fight in Iraq and Syria; 700 have left France to fight and Germany has seen 400 people exit to join religious extremists.

Cameron is asking for the changes essentially to prevent attacks on Britain by Islamist militants coming and going for terror training in the Middle East.

His get-tough proposals come amid calls in the United States for President Obama to announce a comprehensive plan to combat Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, which started in Syria and has now taken control of much of northern Iraq. The group late last month released a video of a fighter — suspected to be a British rapper — beheading Foley.

The other proposals made by Cameron are to tighten aviation security by demanding airlines submit passenger flight lists, or not be allowed to land, and to exclude British nationals from return to Britain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/britain-cameron-asks-for-tough-anti-terrorism-laws-prevent-attacks-by-islamic/

US ‘ONLY HOPE’ Americans held in N. Korea call situation ‘urgent’

  • Baepix1.jpg

    Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence, detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix2.jpg

    Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix3.jpg

    Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea’s bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.

“I’m desperate to get back to them.”

- Kenneth Bae, US missionary being held in North Korea

North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12.

“Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with his family for three weeks. “I’m desperate to get back to them.”

North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum.

Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come,” he said. “But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that.”

Bae said he did not realize before the trial that he was violating North Korean law, but refused to go into details.

He said the lead up to his trial lasted about four months, but the trial itself only took about an hour. He said he elected not to have a defense attorney because “at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy.”

“It was very quick,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but without success. Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs.

Fowle and Miller said they have met with the Swedish ambassador and have been allowed to make phone calls to their relatives.

Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it. After Miller’s detention, Washington updated its travel warning to note that over the past 18 months, “North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.”

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. But despite its efforts it remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

 

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/american-tourists-detained-in-north-korea-expect-trial-soon-bae-says-health/

Iraq will be ‘a big grave’ for ISIS militants, PM pledges

Iraq’s outgoing prime minster pledged Monday to turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and commended security forces who achieved a rare victory over insurgents by ending the siege of a Shia town.


Nouri al-Maliki made the comments during an unannounced visit to the northern community of Amirli, where he was greeted with hugs. A day earlier, Iraqi forces backed by Iran-allied Shia militias and U.S. airstrikes broke a two-month siege of the town where some 15,000 Shia Turkmens had been stranded.


In footage aired on state TV, al-Maliki was shown sitting at a wooden desk in front of a large poster of Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistsani, ordering promotions and awards for those who fought in the battle.


“I salute you for your steadfastness and patience against those beasts and killers,” he told a gathering of fighters in a large hall as they chanted Shia religious slogans. He vowed to root out Sunni militants from areas they control in the country.


“All Iraq will be a grave for those infidels, and we will send all the [ISIS] gang to death,” he added.


Humanitarian aid arrives


Hours before the visit, humanitarian aid began flowing to the town.


IRAQ-SECURITY/

Protesters hold crosses and signs during a rally organized by Iraqi Christians living in Germany denouncing what they say is repression by the ISIS militant group against Christians living in Iraq. (Reuters)

Four trucks loaded with food and medicine arrived after being sent by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Red Crescent, according to Ali al-Bayati, who heads the aid organization called the Turkmen Saving Foundation. Soldiers began bringing food to families in their houses Sunday night.


“The situation is getting back to normal, but gradually,” al-Bayati told The Associated Press. “Some people have come out from their houses and walked in the street. Shops are still closed, but people are happy to see their city secured by Iraqi security forces.”


Shia Turkmen lawmaker Fawzi Akram al-Tarzi said the U.S. airstrikes and Iranian support for Iraqi forces “have played a positive role in defeating the terrorists,” although he said the airstrikes “came late” in the battle.


On Monday, Iraqi security forces and Shia militiamen retook the nearby town of Suleiman Beg following fierce clashes with Sunni militants, Al-Tarzi said.


“The brave people of Amirli have made their town a new Stalingrad,” he added, referring to the former name of the Russian city of Volgograd, famous for resisting a long siege by the German military during World War II. “Amirli people have clearly shown that Iraqis could not be intimidated by terrorists.”


U.S. airstrikes helped liberate Amirli 


Since early this year, Iraq has faced a growing Sunni insurgency led by an al-Qaeda-breakaway group, ISIS. With help from allied militants, they have taken over territory in the country’s north and west and created Iraq’s worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.


Germany Iraq Weapons

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended sending high-end rifles, tank-busting weapons and armoured vehicles to help Kurdish fighters battling Islamic extremists in Iraq. (The Associated Press)

In June, a summer offensive stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away and withdrew as ISIS overran the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit, as well as small towns and villages on their path.


Since then, Iraqi security forces and Shia militias have been fighting the militants without achieving significant progress on the ground.


Thousands of fighters from Iranian-backed Shia militias have answered a call by al-Sistani to join government forces in the fight.


The U.S. airstrikes that helped liberate Amirli were the first to hit areas where Iranian-backed militias were fighting Sunni militants, possibly outlining an unlikely alliance between the U.S. and Shia militiamen who once fought American soldiers in Iraq.


Military advisers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been guiding Shia militiamen in artillery attacks on Sunni positions.


Nearly 1,500 Iraqis killed in August


Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has carried out at least 120 airstrikes with aircraft and unmanned drones. The American military has focused on areas bordering the self-ruled northern Kurdish region where Kurdish forces have been fighting the militants.


Also Monday, the United Nations said that at least 1,420 Iraqis were reported killed in violence in August, down from the previous month.


The UN mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in its monthly statement that the death toll includes 1,265 civilians and 155 members of Iraq’s security forces. Another 1,370 were wounded, including 1,198 civilians.


July’s death toll stood at 1,737 people. In June, 2,400 were killed as Sunni militants swept across the country, the highest figure since at least April 2005.


The statement said the figures are the “absolute minimum” number of casualties and do not include deaths in the western Anbar province or other parts of northern Iraq that have been held by militants for months. It added: “The actual figures could be significantly higher.”

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/iraq-pm-pledges-to-root-out-isis-militants-1.2752357?cmp=rss

Ukraine separatists soften stance on independence


Pro-Russian rebels softened their demand for full independence Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy — a shift that reflects Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at a new round of peace talks.


The insurgents’ platform, released at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine’s eastern, mainly Russian-speaking region.


It remains unclear, however, whether the talks can reach a compromise amid the brutal fighting that has continued in eastern Ukraine. On Monday, the rebels pushed Ukrainian government forces from an airport near Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city, the latest in a series of military gains.


The peace talks in Minsk follow last week’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko. The negotiations involve former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma; Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine; an envoy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and representatives of the rebels.


Ukraine Rebuilding Amid Battle

Pro-Russian rebels hold the remains of the rocket in the village of Hrabske, eastern Ukraine. The insurgents’ new platform represents a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine’s eastern region. (Sergei Grits/Associated Press)

Yet similar talks earlier this summer produced no visible results.


Unlike the previous rounds, this time rebels said in a statement carried by Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency that they are willing to discuss “the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine.” In return, they demanded a comprehensive amnesty and broad local powers that would include being able to appoint their own local law enforcement officials.


Deal only for eastern Ukraine


This deal is only for eastern Ukraine. There are no negotiations on handing back Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed in March, a move that cost Ukraine several major ports, half its coastline and untold billions in Black Sea oil and mineral rights.


The talks lasted for several hours Monday and were adjourned until Friday, when the parties are to discuss a cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners, rebel negotiator Andrei Purgin said, according to RIA Novosti.


The rebels’ more moderate negotiating platform appeared to reflect Putin’s desire to make a deal that would allow Russia to avoid more punitive Western sanctions while preserving a significant degree of leverage over its neighbor.


Belgium EU Summit Ukraine

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko says Russia’s direct involvement in Kyiv’s war against the separatists in eastern Ukraine had tipped the balance on the battlefield. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press)

Over the weekend, the European Union leaders agreed to prepare a new round of sanctions that could be enacted in a week, after NATO accused Russia of sending tanks and troops into southeastern Ukraine. A NATO summit in Wales on Thursday is also expected to approve measures designed to counter Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.


Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said participants in Monday’s talks needed to push for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire. He rejected claims by the Ukrainian government, NATO and Western nations that Russia has already sent troops, artillery and tanks across Ukraine’s southeast border to reinforce the separatists.


‘There will be no military intervention’


“There will be no military intervention,” Lavrov told students at Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Monday, the first day of classes for schools and universities across Russia. “We call for an exclusively peaceful settlement of this severe crisis, this tragedy.”


Despite the Russian denials, Ukrainian National Security Council spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said Monday that “not less than four battalions and tactical groups of the Russian armed forces are active in Ukraine.” A battalion consists of about 400 soldiers.


In the past week, after losing ground to Ukrainian troops for nearly a month, the rebels opened a new front along Ukraine’s southeastern Sea of Azov coast and are pushing back elsewhere. The coastal assault has raised concerns the rebels are aiming to establish a land corridor from Russia all the way to Crimea.


Lysenko said Monday that Ukrainian forces had been ordered to retreat from the airport in Luhansk in the face of an intensifying assault that he blamed on “professional artillery gunmen of the Russian armed forces.”


On Sunday, missiles fired from the shore sunk one of two Ukrainian coast guard cutters 3 miles (5 kilometers) out to sea, Lysenko said. He said eight crewmen were rescued, but the Interfax news agency cited a spokesman for the border guards’ service as saying two crewmen were missing and seven were rescued.


Fighting in eastern Ukraine between the separatists and the government in Kiev began in mid-April, a month after the annexation of Crimea. The fighting has killed nearly 2,600 people and forced over 340,000 to flee their homes, according to the UN


President Barack Obama and the leaders of NATO’s other member countries will attend a summit in Wales that is expected to approve the creation of a high-readiness force to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression.


“(This) ensures that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place at the right time,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday. “Not because NATO wants to attack anyone. But because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible. And we will do what it takes to defend our allies.”


The plan envisages creating a force of several thousand troops contributed on a rotating basis by the 28 NATO countries. Equipment and supplies for the force are to be stockpiled in Eastern Europe “so this force can travel light, but strike hard if needed,” Rasmussen said.


Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-crisis-separatists-soften-stance-on-independence-1.2752227?cmp=rss

‘Cruel system’ forced U.K. parents of sick boy to seek treatment abroad

France Britain Missing Boy

Five-year-old Ashya King was taken to Spain for treatment for a brain tumour, against the advice of doctors in Britain. On Monday, a judge in Madrid has ordered that the boy’s parents remain in custody for 72 hours. (Interpol/Associated Press)

The parents of a five-year-old boy with a brain tumour say they want to give him the best chance to live with a revolutionary new treatment they learned about on the internet. Their British hospital says the boy has a 70 per cent to 80 per cent chance of survival with the treatment it offers, and it’s the parents who are putting the child at risk.


Britain has become riveted by the case of little Ashya King, whose parents plucked him from a hospital in southern England and fled to Spain amid a dispute over treatment — with British justice close on the family’s heels.


Brett and Naghemeh King signalled Monday they would fight extradition, defying doctors and the legal system as a British court considers a ruling on forcing the family to come home.


“I’m not coming back to England if I cannot give him the treatment I want, which is proper treatment,” Brett King said as he cradled the child in a video posted before his arrest. “I just want positive results for my son.”


The Kings are seeking a new type of proton beam radiation therapy that typically costs at least $33,000. The Southampton General Hospital says that more conventional methods have a very high chance of succeeding. It said that while proton beam therapy is effective for some tumours, in other cases “there isn’t evidence that this is a beneficial treatment.”


The family fled to Spain in hopes of selling a property to obtain enough cash for treatment in the Czech Republic or the United States. Police pursued them. Prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for an offence of cruelty to a person under the age of 16 years, hours after the Southampton hospital realized their patient was gone.


British authorities travelled to Spain to question the couple. Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead, of Hampshire Constabulary, has said he would rather be criticized for being “proactive” rather than trying to explain later “why a child has lost his life.”


The hospital’s medical director, Dr. Michael Marsh, issued a statement late Monday saying that the treatment was discussed with the family.


He put the chances Ashya surviving under the hospital’s treatment at 70 per cent to 80 per cent after five years. He expressed sadness that communication with the family had broken down and that “for whatever reason they have lost confidence in us.”


Unprecedented case raises ethics questions


Ethicists say the case is unprecedented, and has raised questions of how much power authorities should have in interfering with the will of parents in questions of life and death. While there have been many previous legal tussles over terminal illness issues, there have been few regarding questions over which treatment should be followed.


Even Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman weighed in on Monday, saying people all over the country have been moved by the family’s plight.


‘So under that such a cruel system, I decided to start looking at the proton beam myself.’- Brett King, father of Ashya


These kinds of cases normally result from a communication breakdown, said Penney Lewis, professor of law and a medical ethics expert at King’s College London. She said parents are typically only prosecuted when they fail to engage with the medical care entirely and the child dies as a result.


Yet Lewis said that when the hospital-family relationship does break down, it does not have to end like this. The parents or hospital could have sought mediation instead with a third party. “Not everything has to end up in court,” she said.


Television images have shown the Kings being loaded into a Spanish squad car in handcuffs. When asked by the BBC on their views, the couple told the reporter they are just trying to help their child.


The family has criticized Britain’s health care system, saying Ashya has a serious tumour that needs an advanced treatment option and that it wasn’t being made available to him.


Parents took son away ‘out of their love for him’


In a statement posted on YouTube before their arrest, the family took its case to the public after seeing their names and photographs posted on the internet. Brett King said he feared being put under a restraining order after he disputed his doctors’ advice, citing research he had gleaned on the internet.


“I realized I can’t speak to the oncologists at all because if I actually asked anything or gave them any doubt that I wasn’t in full accord with them, they were just going to get a protection order, which meant in his deepest, darkest hour I wouldn’t be there to look after him, neither would my wife,” he said. “They would prevent us from entering the ward. So under that such a cruel system, I decided to start looking at the proton beam myself.”


Proton beam therapy is a targeted type of radiation treatment that increases the chance of killing cancer cells by sending a higher dose of radiation directly to the tumour.


Unlike other types of cancer treatment, it doesn’t indiscriminately kill surrounding healthy tissue, so there could be fewer long term effects. But experts say the treatment isn’t suitable for children whose tumours are too advanced and need a broader dose of radiation.


In Britain, proton beam therapy is currently only available to treat certain patients with cancer in their eyes. Other countries, including the U.S., Switzerland and Japan, also use proton beam therapy to treat cancers of the spinal cord, brain, prostate, lung and those that affect children.


Britain’s health department announced in 2011 it will build two treatment centres to make proton beam therapy available in London and Manchester from 2018. Until those facilities open, Britain will pay for patients eligible for the therapy to go to the U.S. and Switzerland for treatment.


The couple are both Jehovah’s Witnesses, but there has been no indication they raised any religious issue about the boy’s treatment.


“This has nothing to do with parents abandoning their child or with religious beliefs,” the parents’ Spanish lawyer, Juan Isidro Fernandez said, adding they brought Ashya to Spain “out of their love for him.”


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Iraq will be ‘a big grave’ for ISIS militants, PM pledges

Iraq’s outgoing prime minster pledged Monday to turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and commended security forces who achieved a rare victory over insurgents by ending the siege of a Shia town.


Nouri al-Maliki made the comments during an unannounced visit to the northern community of Amirli, where he was greeted with hugs. A day earlier, Iraqi forces backed by Iran-allied Shia militias and U.S. airstrikes broke a two-month siege of the town where some 15,000 Shia Turkmens had been stranded.


In footage aired on state TV, al-Maliki was shown sitting at a wooden desk in front of a large poster of Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistsani, ordering promotions and awards for those who fought in the battle.


“I salute you for your steadfastness and patience against those beasts and killers,” he told a gathering of fighters in a large hall as they chanted Shia religious slogans. He vowed to root out Sunni militants from areas they control in the country.


“All Iraq will be a grave for those infidels, and we will send all the [ISIS] gang to death,” he added.


Humanitarian aid arrives


Hours before the visit, humanitarian aid began flowing to the town.


IRAQ-SECURITY/

Protesters hold crosses and signs during a rally organized by Iraqi Christians living in Germany denouncing what they say is repression by the ISIS militant group against Christians living in Iraq. (Reuters)

Four trucks loaded with food and medicine arrived after being sent by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Red Crescent, according to Ali al-Bayati, who heads the aid organization called the Turkmen Saving Foundation. Soldiers began bringing food to families in their houses Sunday night.


“The situation is getting back to normal, but gradually,” al-Bayati told The Associated Press. “Some people have come out from their houses and walked in the street. Shops are still closed, but people are happy to see their city secured by Iraqi security forces.”


Shia Turkmen lawmaker Fawzi Akram al-Tarzi said the U.S. airstrikes and Iranian support for Iraqi forces “have played a positive role in defeating the terrorists,” although he said the airstrikes “came late” in the battle.


On Monday, Iraqi security forces and Shia militiamen retook the nearby town of Suleiman Beg following fierce clashes with Sunni militants, Al-Tarzi said.


“The brave people of Amirli have made their town a new Stalingrad,” he added, referring to the former name of the Russian city of Volgograd, famous for resisting a long siege by the German military during World War II. “Amirli people have clearly shown that Iraqis could not be intimidated by terrorists.”


U.S. airstrikes helped liberate Amirli 


Since early this year, Iraq has faced a growing Sunni insurgency led by an al-Qaeda-breakaway group, ISIS. With help from allied militants, they have taken over territory in the country’s north and west and created Iraq’s worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.


Germany Iraq Weapons

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended sending high-end rifles, tank-busting weapons and armoured vehicles to help Kurdish fighters battling Islamic extremists in Iraq. (The Associated Press)

In June, a summer offensive stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away and withdrew as ISIS overran the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit, as well as small towns and villages on their path.


Since then, Iraqi security forces and Shia militias have been fighting the militants without achieving significant progress on the ground.


Thousands of fighters from Iranian-backed Shia militias have answered a call by al-Sistani to join government forces in the fight.


The U.S. airstrikes that helped liberate Amirli were the first to hit areas where Iranian-backed militias were fighting Sunni militants, possibly outlining an unlikely alliance between the U.S. and Shia militiamen who once fought American soldiers in Iraq.


Military advisers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been guiding Shia militiamen in artillery attacks on Sunni positions.


Nearly 1,500 Iraqis killed in August


Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has carried out at least 120 airstrikes with aircraft and unmanned drones. The American military has focused on areas bordering the self-ruled northern Kurdish region where Kurdish forces have been fighting the militants.


Also Monday, the United Nations said that at least 1,420 Iraqis were reported killed in violence in August, down from the previous month.


The UN mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in its monthly statement that the death toll includes 1,265 civilians and 155 members of Iraq’s security forces. Another 1,370 were wounded, including 1,198 civilians.


July’s death toll stood at 1,737 people. In June, 2,400 were killed as Sunni militants swept across the country, the highest figure since at least April 2005.


The statement said the figures are the “absolute minimum” number of casualties and do not include deaths in the western Anbar province or other parts of northern Iraq that have been held by militants for months. It added: “The actual figures could be significantly higher.”

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/iraq-pm-pledges-to-root-out-isis-militants-1.2752357?cmp=rss

Jennifer Lawrence alerts police over nude celebrity photo leak

Intimate images of dozens of celebrities, including Academy Award winner and Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, have been leaked online by an anonymous hacker who claims to have stolen materials from more than 100 actors and singers.


A user on the internet bulletin site 4chan began posting the images, which included nude photographs of Lawrence, Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton and other movie and television personalities, shortly after 4 p.m. ET Sunday.


Some actors took to Twitter to deny the images were of them, saying they were fabricated, while others acknowledged the authenticity of the photos but expressed anger at those who posted them.


Lawrence has contacted authorities to investigate who accessed and posted the pictures, a publicist for the actress said.


“This is a flagrant violation of privacy,” Lawrence’s publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. She declined to provide further details, including which authorities were contacted.


Various media outlets are reporting that private images and video were accessed through a security weakness in the celebrities’ Apple iCloud accounts, but Apple has not confirmed that claim. 


The same user also posted a list that included more than 100 names and claimed images and video of people on that list will be uploaded online in the following days.


Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton initially posted some of the photographs on his site but then pulled them down and tweeted an apology, saying he had acted in haste.





Various media are also reporting that numerous Twitter accounts whose owners reposted some of the images in question were suspended.


Avril Lavigne reportedly on list


According to the Guardian newspaper, the list of celebrity names includes Canadian singer Avril Lavigne, reality star Kim Kardashian, singer Rihanna and actress Kirsten Dunst.


FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller declined comment on whether the agency was investigating the hacking.


The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.


Steph Guthrie, feminist and social media consultant

Hackers who delight in posting private, intimate images of actresses online are ‘taking pleasure in sexually humiliating young women,’ social media consultant and feminist activist Steph Guthrie says. (CBC)


In 2012, Christopher Chaney of Florida was sentenced to 10 years in U.S. federal prison after he hacked into the personal devices of actress Scarlett Johansson and posted revealing images online.


Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform.


“It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it,” security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday. “Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private.”


Toronto-based social media consultant and feminist activist Steph Guthrie said it’s not at all uncommon for adults to sext, which could explain why anyone, including celebrities, might have explicit images of themselves on their mobile devices and accounts.


But, she said, it amounts to trampling on people’s rights to privacy to hack into those accounts and steal the photos.


“A lot of time, they’re doing it as a way of demonstrating status and saying, ‘ My technical skills and my access are greater than yours. Look what I can achieve’,” Guthrie said.


“It’s a show of dominance. It’s a show of, ‘Oh, look what I can have access to.’ And it’s taking pleasure in sexually humiliating young women.”


Oscar Nominations

American actress Jennifer Lawrence, shown in a scene from American Hustle, is among celebrities at the centre of the latest online leak scandal. Lawrence’s publicist confirmed that some images of the actress in the nude were stolen. (Francois Duhamel/Associated Press)

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/jennifer-lawrence-among-celebrity-victims-in-leak-of-nude-photos-1.2752256?cmp=rss

B.C. premier’s tweets blaming teachers for delayed school year inflame tense talks

Not only are the two sides in the B.C. teachers’ strike too far apart to even begin mediation, on Sunday – in what is arguably a new low for relations between the government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation – Premier Christy Clark  further inflamed the already heated negotiations with a series of tweets.


“Unfortunately, the BCTF rejected our offer to reopen schools while the two sides enter mediation to reach an agreement,” she tweeted. “Instead, the BCTF is sticking to its strike and demanding twice as much money as everyone else in the public service has received.


“That’s not fair for the 150,000 dedicated women and men who have reached long-term agreements with affordable raises. Class composition is priority #1 — more educators helping more students. BCTF or CUPE, it doesn’t matter because students’ needs come first.”


Clark repeated that message on her Facebook page.


But part of her statement is misleading.


It wasn’t the teacher’s decision to enter mediation. Education Minister Peter Fassbender has already pointed out that the decision was left entirely to mediator Vince Ready and the talks were exploratory.


Ready was gauging whether the two sides were close enough to proceed, and it turns out they weren’t.


‘Stop trying to score political points’


Clark has been getting a strong reaction to her comments on social media


“Christy Clark, your government has acted in bad faith,” wrote Ryan Andrew Murphy on Clark’s Facebook page. “Stop trying to score political points at the expense of teachers and children. Put class size and composition back in the CA (collective agreement). Restore the funding you illegally cut 12 years ago.”


On Twitter, Jessica the Desolate wrote, “What is this vitriol?”


BCTF president Jim Iker said in a statement released Saturday that the union, in talks with Ready, scaled back its demands by $125 million.


However, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association claimed BCTF’s proposals for more preparation time at the elementary school level would cost more than $86 million.


The union has also been seeking $225 million to address class size and composition after the B.C. Supreme Court concluded in two separate rulings, that the right to include those issues in collective bargaining has been illegally stripped from earlier contracts. The government is appealing that decision.


In a statement released Saturday after the collapse of talks, Iker claimed government demands at the bargaining table “would undo any future court decision.”


“Does the government really expect that teachers would bargain away everything the B.C. Supreme Court has already awarded us and what future decisions might bring?” he wrote.


In a subsequent statement, Iker also asked for a face-to-face meeting with Clark.


Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-teachers-strike-premier-s-tweets-blaming-teachers-add-fuel-to-fire-1.2752335?cmp=rss

First evidence of Neanderthal artwork discovered

Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported on Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species.


The discovery is “a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture,” said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. “It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought” and “abstract expression,” abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.


In recent years researchers have discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead, adorned themselves with black and red pigments, wore shell and feather jewelry and cared for the elderly and infirm, all evidence of complex thought. But no unambiguously Neanderthal art was ever found.


The new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could change that.


8 partially crisscrosing lines discovered


Researchers from 11 European institutions reported that deep in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, they found carvings that resemble nothing so much as a rococo Twitter hashtag: eight partially crisscrossing lines with three shorter lines on the right and two on the left, incised on a shelf of bedrock jutting out from the wall about 40 centimetres above the cave floor.


The engraving is covered by undisturbed sediment that contains 294 previously discovered stone tools. They are in a style long known as the signature of Neanderthals, who had reached Europe from Africa some 300,000 years ago.


Standard techniques had dated the tools at 39,000 years old, about when Neanderthals went extinct, meaning the art below it must be older.


Modern humans, who painted the famous caves at Lascaux in France and Altimira in Spain, by then had not reached the region where Gorham’s Cave is located.


The researchers ruled out the possibility that the engravings were accidental or from cutting meat or animal skins. Instead, they were made by repeatedly and intentionally using a sharp stone tool to etch the rock, reflecting persistence and determination: one line required at least 54 strokes and the entire pattern as many as 317.


“This engraving represents a deliberate design conceived to be seen by its Neanderthal maker and, considering its size and location, by others in the cave as well,” anthropologist Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, and his colleagues wrote. “It follows that the ability for abstract thought was not exclusive” to modern humans.


Another hint that Neanderthals created art came in 2012, when archaeologists dated simple wall paintings (mostly red dots and hand stencils) in Spain’s El Castillo Cave to 41,000 years old. That made them the world’s oldest prehistoric art and old enough for it to have been made by Neanderthals. But because no artifacts were found, it was not possible to definitively rule out modern humans as the artists.

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/neanderthals-created-cave-art-researchers-discover-1.2752540?cmp=rss

Ashes of B.C. woman who left right-to-die plea scattered by family

Gillian Bennett’s family scattered her ashes this weekend.


The 83-year-old grandmother made headlines with her heart-wrenching and public goodbye before taking her own life last month.


Bennett, who was facing the ravages of dementia, appealed for change to Canada’s assisted suicide laws.


In a four-page letter posted online by her son after her death — at her request — Bennett said she didn’t want to spend her final years in a “mindless body” or in a care home.


Assisted Suicide 20140901

Gillian and Jonathan Bennett are seen on their anniversary day in 2014 in a handout photo. Gillian Bennett’s family scattered her ashes this weekend, in a quiet ritual shared by those she loved. (The Canadian Press)


Her daughter, Sara, says the family has received hundreds of emails of support since the letter went public and her mother’s final public plea has exceeded what she’d hoped for.


Next month, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments on Canada’s assisted suicide laws.


It has been spurred by a lawsuit brought by the B-C Civil Liberties Association and two B-C right-to-die proponents — Gloria Taylor and Kathleen Carter.


Both have died since launching the court challenge.


Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/gillian-bennett-s-family-scatters-her-ashes-after-public-goodbye-1.2752596?cmp=rss

High Aussie dollar means no rate hike



THE Reserve Bank is not expected to make any change to the cash rate when it meets on Tuesday, and a rate hike looks unlikely before the middle of 2015.


ALL 15 economists surveyed by AAP are forecasting the cash rate to remain at 2.5 per cent after the RBA’s board meeting on Tuesday, and for the rest of 2014.

Only four of those surveyed predict a hike in the first half of 2015, which would be the first interest rate rise in more than four years. HSBC Australia chief economist Paul Bloxham was previously tipping a rate hike before Christmas, but has now pushed that out to the middle of 2015. “The high Australian dollar has acted as a drag on income growth,” he said. “It has also hindered competitiveness and appears to be discouraging non-mining business investment.” Prices for Australia’s mining exports have fallen 11 per cent in 2014, but the Australian dollar has bounced around between 90 US cents and 95 US cents for the past six months.
“This reduces the Australian dollar value of local incomes, which is a drag on local economic growth,” Mr Bloxham said. Traditionally, commodity prices and the Aussie dollar have moved in unison, which has acted as a “shock absorber” for the economy when commodity prices change, he said.

Christmas hopes boost business confidence



RETAILERS’ hopes of a good Christmas have driven the number of companies expecting profit growth in the coming months to a 10-year high.


OF the 800 businesses surveyed by researcher Dun & Bradstreet, 40 per cent expect their profit in the final three months of 2014 to be higher than in the same period a year ago.

Just 11 per cent expect a fall. That has sent Dun & Bradstreet’s profit expectations index to its highest level in a decade. Retailers were the most optimistic of those businesses, indicating they are confident consumers will spend big this Christmas. More businesses also expect to hire staff and increase investment, and Dun & Bradstreet’s economic adviser Stephen Koukoulas said rising confidence could boost the economy. “Not only are expected sales at an 11-year high – a sign of buoyant activity – but expected profits are at a level well above the long run average,” he said.
“In the past, firms have only held this level of optimism when the underlying economic conditions were strong. “D&B’s data suggest that the economy is poised to run at, or even above, trend levels in the second half of 2014, with expected employment and capital expenditure also well above the long run average.” Even better for businesses, the survey showed an increase in the number expecting prices to moderate, which would mean less pressure on the central bank to lift interest rates. “A low inflation climate will be vital for the Reserve Bank of Australia to keep its interest rate settings on hold,” Mr Koukoulas said. Businesses in the retail, services, finance and real estate sectors are the most optimistic about the coming three months, while there was a drop in the number of companies in the manufacturing, construction, transport and utilities sectors forecasting profit growth. Growing business confidence was backed by improving conditions in the second quarter of 2014, Dun & Bradstreet said, with profits higher among those businesses surveyed.

Mine fire lessons must be learnt: Teague



THE residents of a Victorian town choked in ash during a six-week coalmine fire hope lessons will not only be learnt from the blaze, but acted upon.


THEY say the 400-page report on the Hazelwood mine fire, due to be tabled in state parliament on Tuesday, must be accompanied by a firm commitment from both the government and the opposition to adopt the recommendations.

Victorian health and environment authorities had no precedent to draw on as they dealt with the 45-day fire and the smoke and ash it produced. Mine operators GDF Suez and the Country Fire Authority faced power outages, water shortages and were poorly coordinated while battling the blaze sparked by bushfires spotting into the mine in February. Public hearings of the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry heard four substantial blazes had broken out in the open-cut mine in the past decade, with reviews and recommendations following each.
During the hearings GDF Suez was accused of ignoring a report that followed a 2008 fire recommending a risk assessment of the non-operational areas of the mine, where the 45-day blaze took hold. Counsel assisting the inquiry, Peter Rozen, said the 2014 fire might not have occurred if the risk assessment had been done and proper measures put in place. The company’s lawyer said there were no legal obligations to implement the recommendations and the 2008 fire was completely different to the 2014 fire. When former Supreme Court Justice Bernard Teague delivered the board’s report last week, he said it was important to learn lessons from the blaze. The government has said it will move swiftly on recommendations put forward by the board of inquiry. GDF Suez has begun work to install more pipes and hydrants in the mine, remove vegetation from worked-out areas and rehabilitate part of the mine’s northern batters. The company has also been working with the Country Fire Authority to improve preparedness for mine fires. A GDF Suez spokesman said more would be done when the recommendations were handed down.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/nqb0YGFyvMg/story01.htm

‘Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere’ (‘Dap canh giua khong trung’): Venice Review


A pregnant teen turns tricks to get cash for an abortion; the basic premise of Nguyen Hoang Diep‘s feature-film directorial debut might seem well-trodden, but it’s the style which propels Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere into heights dizzier than its apparently hackneyed synopsis. Poised in its mise-en-scene, poetic in employing visual panache and precise in capturing details which hint at the harsh realities of inner-city life, Diep’s film offers a sensitive, sensual and surprisingly candid representation of sexuality and adolescence in Vietnam.

Even before bringing her debut to the Venice’s Critics Week sidebar and then Toronto, Diep could already boast of exposure and experience on the festival circuit as producer of Phan Dang Di‘s award-winning Cannes-bowing 2011 title Bi, Don’t Be Afraid. With Flapping, Diep should finally find some deserved acclaim for an approach which combines audacious realism (in its portrayal of juvenile delinquency) and leaps of artistic fantasy. In spite of its multinational co-production status, Flapping doesn’t toy with cultural exotica as such; instead, it offers a story about young protagonists struggling to exist, never daring to dream of futures which seem unattainable anyway.

At the center of this narrative is Huyen (Nguyen Thuy Anh), a rurally-bred teenager who has left her home village to attend high school in Hanoi. Unbeknownst to her parents, she is involved in a relationship with Tung (Hoang Ha), a feckless boy who spends all his street-lamp repairman’s salary on cock fighting — an obsesssion which lands the couple in trouble when they need cash for Huyen’s abortion. With Tung having fled home to evade his debtors, Huyen — with the help of her transgender housemate Linh (Thanh Duy) — turns to escort work for cash, only to find herself meeting (and then falling for) a kind, generous and (of course) hunky client Hoang (Tran Bao Son), who is seemingly more interested in her feelings than her body.

A key strength of the film lies in how Diep conveys the middle-of-nowhere social ambience which seems to engulf and suffocate Huyen into a tragic silence. Some of social squalor on display is astounding, given how a rigorous censorship regime remains in place in the one-party-state of Vietnam.

Eschewing high drama — apart from, perhaps, a throat-slitting scene which would leave animal-loving audiences queasy — the film thrives in portraying a rough milieu with such ordinariness, in a country nominally communist but obviously well in tune with the excess of capitalist societies everywhere: The machismo at the cockfights; the cramped living conditions marked by trains passing just inches away from foodstalls and crumbling houses; the accepted lack of privacy at gynecological wards; schoolgirls prettying themselves up to curry favor and better grades from their male teachers.

These lyrical scenes highlighting the brutality of everyday life in Hanoi provide a stepping-off point for the more fantastical sequences revolving around Huyen’s blooming relationship with Hoang. Such visions, ably brought to the screen by Pham Quang Vinh and Nguyen Dan Nam‘s production design and Pham Quang Minh‘s camerawork, provide a beauty which heightens  Huyen’s mundane existence, as her adolescence (and possibly adulthood) flutter away into nothingness.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Critics’ Week); Toronto International Film Festival (Discovery)

Production companies: VBLOCK Media, with Cine Sud Promotion, Filmfarms, Filmallee

Cast: Nguyen Thuy Anh, Hoang Ha, Tran Bao Son, Thanh Duy

Director: Nguyen Hoang Diep

Screenwriter: Nguyen Hoang Diep

Producers: Alan Milligan, David Lindner Leporda, Thierry Lenouvel, Nguyen Hoang Diep

 Director of photography: Pham Quang Minh

Production designer: Pham Quang Vinh, Nguyen Dan Nam

Costume designer: Nguyen Diem Huong

Editor: Gustavo Vasco, Jacques Comets

Music: Pierre Aviat

International Sales: Premium Films

In Vietnamese

No rating; 98 minutes

‘Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere’ (‘Dap canh giua khong trung’): Venice Review


A pregnant teen turns tricks to get cash for an abortion; the basic premise of Nguyen Hoang Diep‘s feature-film directorial debut might seem well-trodden, but it’s the style which propels Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere into heights dizzier than its apparently hackneyed synopsis. Poised in its mise-en-scene, poetic in employing visual panache and precise in capturing details which hint at the harsh realities of inner-city life, Diep’s film offers a sensitive, sensual and surprisingly candid representation of sexuality and adolescence in Vietnam.

Even before bringing her debut to the Venice’s Critics Week sidebar and then Toronto, Diep could already boast of exposure and experience on the festival circuit as producer of Phan Dang Di‘s award-winning Cannes-bowing 2011 title Bi, Don’t Be Afraid. With Flapping, Diep should finally find some deserved acclaim for an approach which combines audacious realism (in its portrayal of juvenile delinquency) and leaps of artistic fantasy. In spite of its multinational co-production status, Flapping doesn’t toy with cultural exotica as such; instead, it offers a story about young protagonists struggling to exist, never daring to dream of futures which seem unattainable anyway.

At the center of this narrative is Huyen (Nguyen Thuy Anh), a rurally-bred teenager who has left her home village to attend high school in Hanoi. Unbeknownst to her parents, she is involved in a relationship with Tung (Hoang Ha), a feckless boy who spends all his street-lamp repairman’s salary on cock fighting — an obsesssion which lands the couple in trouble when they need cash for Huyen’s abortion. With Tung having fled home to evade his debtors, Huyen — with the help of her transgender housemate Linh (Thanh Duy) — turns to escort work for cash, only to find herself meeting (and then falling for) a kind, generous and (of course) hunky client Hoang (Tran Bao Son), who is seemingly more interested in her feelings than her body.

A key strength of the film lies in how Diep conveys the middle-of-nowhere social ambience which seems to engulf and suffocate Huyen into a tragic silence. Some of social squalor on display is astounding, given how a rigorous censorship regime remains in place in the one-party-state of Vietnam.

Eschewing high drama — apart from, perhaps, a throat-slitting scene which would leave animal-loving audiences queasy — the film thrives in portraying a rough milieu with such ordinariness, in a country nominally communist but obviously well in tune with the excess of capitalist societies everywhere: The machismo at the cockfights; the cramped living conditions marked by trains passing just inches away from foodstalls and crumbling houses; the accepted lack of privacy at gynecological wards; schoolgirls prettying themselves up to curry favor and better grades from their male teachers.

These lyrical scenes highlighting the brutality of everyday life in Hanoi provide a stepping-off point for the more fantastical sequences revolving around Huyen’s blooming relationship with Hoang. Such visions, ably brought to the screen by Pham Quang Vinh and Nguyen Dan Nam‘s production design and Pham Quang Minh‘s camerawork, provide a beauty which heightens  Huyen’s mundane existence, as her adolescence (and possibly adulthood) flutter away into nothingness.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Critics’ Week); Toronto International Film Festival (Discovery)

Production companies: VBLOCK Media, with Cine Sud Promotion, Filmfarms, Filmallee

Cast: Nguyen Thuy Anh, Hoang Ha, Tran Bao Son, Thanh Duy

Director: Nguyen Hoang Diep

Screenwriter: Nguyen Hoang Diep

Producers: Alan Milligan, David Lindner Leporda, Thierry Lenouvel, Nguyen Hoang Diep

 Director of photography: Pham Quang Minh

Production designer: Pham Quang Vinh, Nguyen Dan Nam

Costume designer: Nguyen Diem Huong

Editor: Gustavo Vasco, Jacques Comets

Music: Pierre Aviat

International Sales: Premium Films

In Vietnamese

No rating; 98 minutes

‘Hill of Freedom’ (‘Jayueui onduk’): Venice Review


Clocking in at just over an hour, Hill of Freedom is Hong Sang-soo‘s shortest feature film to date. And it’s his most lightweight, as well, with the Korean auteur merely reshuffling his tried-and-trusted play on non-linear structure, camera movements and characterizations without offering anything decidedly new; even the act of casting a non-Korean actor in the lead — this time, Japan’s Ryo Kase (Letters from Iwo Jima, Like Someone in Love) — is not exactly novel, given his 2012 experiment with Isabelle Huppert in In Another Country.

Still, Hong’s accrued standing should ensure Hill another sustained festival run, after its bows at Venice, Toronto and New York — but it will certainly be a challenge for Hong’s long-running reps Finecut to continue the run of international distribution accorded to his recent string of festival hits. Kase’s presence, of course, might open doors to the Japanese market, depending on whether the audiences will warm to their A-list star’s entirely English-conducted performance.

The title of Hong’s film alludes to the name of a cafe central to the story: it’s here that Kwon (Seo Young-hwa) settles in to read a batch of letters she received from Mori (Kase), a Japanese man she rejected two years ago. In those letters, Mori accounts for his efforts to track Kwon down and the people he ran into during his stay, and the friendship and relationships he somehow strayed into before, during and after the many liquor-fuelled dinners he has had.

Hill certainly boasts ample binging and bawling which marks a Hong Sang-soo film. And then there’s the two-shot conversations which supposedly offer profound moments of reflection, when Mori variably fumblingly articulates his views  on the construction of reality, the impact of smell on consciousness, the impact of fear on existence, the stupidity of brushstroke description of national traits… and, of course, on man/woman problems.

Somehow, Hong seems to be operating in straitjackets this time round. This is signaled by how he has to explicitly account for his scrambled timeline by highlighting how Kwon is reading Mori’s letters out of sequence, after she tripped and scattered them on the ground; those letters also provide a superfluous running commentary on actions which are better left unexplained.

And the behavior of his latest troupe of characters is somehow more emotionally stable and thus less vulnerable to moral ambiguity; in other words, it feels less like human nature, which Hong has thrived at poking and satirizing, perhaps much to the discomfort of chauvinist male viewers out there seeing his true colors being revealed. It’s somehow also disappointing to see his ability to conjure nuanced female characters (as shown to devastating effect in his last film, Our Sunhi) vanishing from view here; Moon Soo-ri‘s cafe-owner character Young-sun is more a ditz (and a plot device highlighting Mori’s tribulations) than anything else. Strangely, the less self-obsessed and sound-minded Hong’s characters are, the less vibrant and subversive his films are.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Horizons); also Toronto International Film Festival (Masters), New York Film Festival

Production companies: Jeonwonsa Film Company

Cast: Ryo Kase, Moon Soo-ri, Seo Young-hwa, Youn Yuhjung, Kim Eui-sung

Director: Hong Sang-soo

Screenwriter: Hong Sang-soo

Producers: Kim Kyoung-hee

Director of photography: Park Hong-yeol

Editor: Hahm Sung-won

Music: Jeong Yong-jin

International Sales:  Finecut

In English and Korean

No rating; 66 minutes

 

‘Hill of Freedom’ (‘Jayueui onduk’): Venice Review


Clocking in at just over an hour, Hill of Freedom is Hong Sang-soo‘s shortest feature film to date. And it’s his most lightweight, as well, with the Korean auteur merely reshuffling his tried-and-trusted play on non-linear structure, camera movements and characterizations without offering anything decidedly new; even the act of casting a non-Korean actor in the lead — this time, Japan’s Ryo Kase (Letters from Iwo Jima, Like Someone in Love) — is not exactly novel, given his 2012 experiment with Isabelle Huppert in In Another Country.

Still, Hong’s accrued standing should ensure Hill another sustained festival run, after its bows at Venice, Toronto and New York — but it will certainly be a challenge for Hong’s long-running reps Finecut to continue the run of international distribution accorded to his recent string of festival hits. Kase’s presence, of course, might open doors to the Japanese market, depending on whether the audiences will warm to their A-list star’s entirely English-conducted performance.

The title of Hong’s film alludes to the name of a cafe central to the story: it’s here that Kwon (Seo Young-hwa) settles in to read a batch of letters she received from Mori (Kase), a Japanese man she rejected two years ago. In those letters, Mori accounts for his efforts to track Kwon down and the people he ran into during his stay, and the friendship and relationships he somehow strayed into before, during and after the many liquor-fuelled dinners he has had.

Hill certainly boasts ample binging and bawling which marks a Hong Sang-soo film. And then there’s the two-shot conversations which supposedly offer profound moments of reflection, when Mori variably fumblingly articulates his views  on the construction of reality, the impact of smell on consciousness, the impact of fear on existence, the stupidity of brushstroke description of national traits… and, of course, on man/woman problems.

Somehow, Hong seems to be operating in straitjackets this time round. This is signaled by how he has to explicitly account for his scrambled timeline by highlighting how Kwon is reading Mori’s letters out of sequence, after she tripped and scattered them on the ground; those letters also provide a superfluous running commentary on actions which are better left unexplained.

And the behavior of his latest troupe of characters is somehow more emotionally stable and thus less vulnerable to moral ambiguity; in other words, it feels less like human nature, which Hong has thrived at poking and satirizing, perhaps much to the discomfort of chauvinist male viewers out there seeing his true colors being revealed. It’s somehow also disappointing to see his ability to conjure nuanced female characters (as shown to devastating effect in his last film, Our Sunhi) vanishing from view here; Moon Soo-ri‘s cafe-owner character Young-sun is more a ditz (and a plot device highlighting Mori’s tribulations) than anything else. Strangely, the less self-obsessed and sound-minded Hong’s characters are, the less vibrant and subversive his films are.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Horizons); also Toronto International Film Festival (Masters), New York Film Festival

Production companies: Jeonwonsa Film Company

Cast: Ryo Kase, Moon Soo-ri, Seo Young-hwa, Youn Yuhjung, Kim Eui-sung

Director: Hong Sang-soo

Screenwriter: Hong Sang-soo

Producers: Kim Kyoung-hee

Director of photography: Park Hong-yeol

Editor: Hahm Sung-won

Music: Jeong Yong-jin

International Sales:  Finecut

In English and Korean

No rating; 66 minutes