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Reviews for June 2nd, 2017

3 Idiotas

Directed by Carlos Bolado


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Pantelion Films.
Opens nationwide.

Beautiful Accident

Directed by Wi Ding Ho


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by China Lion Film Distribution.
Opens at AMC Empire.

Didi's Dream

Directed by Kevin Tsai

      Didi (Dee Hsu), an aspiring actress, has been estranged from her sister, Lingling (Lin Chi-lin), who's already a successful actress. They meet again when they're both cast in a major film production. Didi dreams about Chunmei (also played by Dee Hsu), the owner of a noodle shop in the middle of outer space who has yet to overcome getting dumped by the love of her life. When tragedy befalls Didi, it changes the course of the rest of her life which is somehow connected to her dreams of Chunmei.

      Writer/director Kevin Tsai combines the genres of science fiction, drama, comedy and tragedy in a refreshingly inventive and wildly entertaining. The parallel stories of Didi and Chunmei gradually merge even though at first they both seem like two totally different films. Didi's hilarious auditions poke satirical fun at the casting process that actors/actresses have to go through, but, like with most comedy, it's rooted in tragedy because it highlights Didi's embarassing mistakes as well as her frustrations. It's equally moving and fascinating to observe how the dynamics of Didi and her sister evolve once tragedy arrives in Didi's life. Tsai avoids sappiness, although a few scenes toward the end veer a little close to schmaltz, but they're genuinely poignant. Fortunately, Dee Hsu has enough acting chops to handle the emotional/dramatic parts of her role and also the comedic sides without a false note. She's certainly more talented as an actress than Wonder Woman's Gal Gadot.

      Tsai captures the wonder and awe of Chunmei's world with dazzling, stylish production design that looks mesmerizing on the big screen. Even Chunmei's colorful hair and costume design provides plenty of eye candy. At the same time, Tsai doesn't overdo the visual effects because, otherwise, the film would've been gaudy and overwhelming. The scenes taking place on Earth are slick and stylishly shot, but they ground the film in humanism, a truly special effect. If the running time were longer than 91 minutes, it would've been a little too exhausting. Kudos to Tsai for having the discipline and skills as a filmmaker by not allowing Didi's Dreams to overstay its welcome. It's the rare narrative that has both style and substance.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Cheng Cheng Films.
Opens at Regal E-Walk.

God of War

Directed by Gordon Chan


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Well GO USA.
Opens at AMC Empire.

Handsome Devil

Directed by John Butler


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Breaking Glass Pictures.
Opens at Cinema Village.

Radio Dreams

Directed by Babak Jalali


Number of times I checked my watch: 6
Released by Matson Films.
Opens at Village East Cinema

Wonder Woman

Directed by Patty Jenkins

      Diana (Gal Gadot) has lived all of her life with her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), on the island of Themyscira as the Princess of the Amazons. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American pilot, crashes in the ocean near Themyscira, and Diana rescues him. When she overhears him talking tells about World War I that's taking place, she assumes that it has to do with her nemesis, Ares (David Thewlis), the God of War, and agrees to tag along with Steve to London to take justice into her own hands with her superpowers. She dons a new outfit and carries the Lasso of Truth, and helps Steve to try to defeat the nefarious General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) who has been developing a poisonous gas for nefarious purposes. Steve's secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), assists Diana in fitting into society upon arrival in London.

      Wonder Woman boasts an enthralling and suspenseful plot along with a refreshingly witty screenplay. Screenwriter Allan Heinberg does a great job of introducing the audience to the character of Diana and showing them how she had developed her warrior skills during her childhood with the help of her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright). The action sequences feel thrilling and exciting rather than exhausting, and the visual effects are superb. The dialogue pops with wit, double entendres and tongue-in-cheek humor while avoiding campiness. When it comes to the leading lady, Gal Gadot, she's naturally beautiful, graceful and charismatic, but when it comes to delivering her lines, she's not convincing enough on an emotional level. At least the solid acting skills of supporting cast compensate. Lucy Davis has great comedic timing as Etta Candy. She should've had more scenes. Danny Huston sinks his teeth into his role as the nemesis with aplomb. David Thewlis is terrific as usual as Ares.

      Director Patty Jenkins wisely avoids giving the audience a headache by not maintaining a fast pace from start to finish, and by avoiding choppy cinematography; there are a few slower paced scenes that let the film breathe for a change while allowing you to become more absorbed. Of course, there's some exposition, but it's not distracting or excessive. Jenkins builds some character development while allowing the characters to actually have conversations with one another in a way that doesn't lead to anemia or unevenness. Wonder Woman does feel slightly bloated because of its running time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, but at least there's rarely a dull moment to be found. Jenkins manages to give the film some soul which in and of itself is quite an amazing feat. Compared to the latest slew of lethargic, mind-numbing, soulless blockbusters, Wonder Woman feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air. If only there were more filmmakers like Patty Jenkins who understand that a blockbuster can still be entertaining without assaulting the audience with CGI and one ad nauseam action sequence after another. Bravo to Patty Jenkins! Note to Hollywood: please hire more women to direct blockbusters.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.
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