6:00 PM, 11th October, 2008
Po (Black) is a panda who dreams of conducting legendary feats as a legendary warrior. But his dreams might become a reality when, due to a variety of mishaps, the turtle who invented Kung Fu declares Po as to be the Dragon Warrior, the warriordestined to stop a snow leopard bent on revenge on the turtle and his disciple Master Shifu (Hoffman). So Po starts training with Master Shifu and The Furious Five, the country's greatest warriors - Tigress (Jolie), Monkey (Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross). Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot of training, as Po doesn't know any Kung Fu!
Kung Fu Panda is a very likeable film. It's got a cute premise and does an admirable job with its storyline. It does seem like the film has been done before in other children's films, but I think it's very forgivable. Black does a superb job voicing Po, with the humour being directed at adults but with plenty of sight gags for the kids. No character is overlooked here, which is a welcome surprise. It manages to be funny all the way through too but can blend action and comedy with great animation.
8:00 PM, 11th October, 2008
The third film to be based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel, The Painted Veil is saved from being the kind of film it could have been by two things: the sheer lushness of the production, ; and the fact that only one of the two central characters is a stereotypical poker-up-his-bottom Brit.
The story begins in 1920s England, where Kitty (Watts) meets the aforementioned Walter (Norton), a shy, dedicated doctor specialising in infectious diseases. She marries him mainly because he represents a chance to escape from her family. The two move to Shanghai, where Kitty takes the opportunity to fall in love with a dashing young diplomat (Schreiber).
Walter takes his Kitty's affair badly, and - ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, but really to punish his wife, and remove her from all possible sources of temptation - moves her and himself to a remote village deep in China's interior ravaged by civil war and cholera. About all that can be said for the place is that the scenery is gorgeous - which is something we in the audience benefit from more than the characters; both husband and wife, for different reasons, appear stonily indifferent to the country they're in. At least at first. This is the story of two people thawing and becoming more fully human as they become lost in something larger than themselves.