Wendi Deng Murdoch’s first outing as film producer has flopped in the US, earning only $1 million on a reported $5 million production — maybe the timing of the release during the height of the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal wasn’t so synergistic. Will the nepotistic wife and clumsy bodyguard of evil media mogul Rupert Murdoch fail in her film production endeavors as MySpace did in China while she was on its executive board? Her (grossly-named) “BigFeet Productions” initial offering gets off on a bad foot, between the neoconservative Murdoch media empire’s current miasma of corruption tainting every Murdoch and Mrs. Murdoch’s questionable partner in the production company, wife of Henry Sloan (former CEO of bankrupt MGM studios). Perpetually overrated director Wayne Wang is justly called out on his mediocrity in this review. Film star Li Bingbing lost face in my opinion promoting this film with fashion mag shoots clinging to Mrs. Murdoch — given the timing, it was her lowest PR point since palling around with war-criminal-at-large Tony Blair at a Chinese charity event. S. Korean co-star Gianna Jun has never made a good film; whoever thought it was a good idea for her to be acting in dual unfamiliar tongues, English and Chinese? — Zuo Shou
By Derek Elley
25 July 2011
* Excerpted *
Fortune-cookie chinoiserie undercuts the novel’s plus points…
Now 62, Hong Kong-born, US-based Wayne WANG (王穎), who’s forged the best part of a career peddling Chinese cultural cliches to western audiences, hits close to rock bottom in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (雪花秘扇)…The original 2005 novel by American writer Lisa SEE (herself one-eighth Chinese) is a cut above most of the Asian feminist-miserabilist canon by overseas Chinese writers that’s found a market in the West… But where the novel was entirely set in the past as a reminiscence by one of the characters in old age, Wang has insisted on a contemporary parallel story that disrupts the emotional flow and raises all sorts of extra problems.
The 19th-century story…is interwoven with a modern tale…that tries to create a way less believable friendship set in modern Shanghai featuring Snow Flower’s great-great-granddaughter. The problem is that there’s no convincing parallel between a deep friendship that was a formalised product of 19th-century social restrictions and one set in the 21st century which has none of those restrictions…
What the audience is left with are…acres of chinoiserie (picture-postcard Old China) and contemporary cliches (buildings being demolished in modern Shanghai, trendy nightclubs, etc.). What’s missing is any genuine emotion to ride above the cliches, especially with dialogue that’s as phoney as the snow in the Taiping Rebellion sequence.
One of China’s finest young actresses, LI Bingbing 李冰冰 gives her character the best possible shot in the circumstances, though her delivery in English-language scenes is stilted. Mouthing Mandarin but revoiced, South Korea’s Gianna JUN 전지현 (aka Jeon Ji-hyeon) is even more shackled by acting in two languages she’s not comfortable in, and lacks Li’s technique to rise above these obstacles. More importantly, the actresses have no special screen chemistry to convince the audience of their deep friendship…
…The film is the first production by Los Angeles-based BigFeet Productions, founded by Shandong-born Wendi DENG MURDOCH (鄧文迪), wife of Rupert Murdoch, and Kuala Lumpur-born Florence LOW SLOAN, wife of former MGM chairman/CEO Harry Sloan, and is partly funded by Beijing-based Sky Land Entertainment, set up to bankroll crossover projects for both Chinese and US audiences.
Full article link: http://www.filmbiz.asia/reviews/snow-flower-and-the-secret-fan