Lai takes a soft approach to
Internationally acclaimed director Chen Kaige (pictured right) has started
the filming of Mei Lanfang, a biopic of the Peking Opera singer.
The film will focus on not only Mei's development of female characters, but
also his role in popularizing Peking Opera with Japanese and American audience.
Hong Kong star Leon Lai (pictured left) will play Mei (1894-1961) in the
picture. Zhang Ziyi stars as his lover, also a famed Peking Opera singer. Chen's
own wife Chen Hong acts as Mei's wife.
Chen says he chose Lai because he is quiet and shy, which matches his
understanding of Mei.
Zhang and Lai are now receiving Peking Opera training from two veterans. And
Lai has been undergoing hand therapy for one hour a day, to make his hands as
soft as those of the male Peking Opera singers who play women on stage.
The film is expected to screen next summer.
Artistic icon passes away
Chinese painting master Cheng Shifa died in the East China Hospital on July
17. A mourning ceremony is scheduled on the coming Sunday, at Longhua Funeral
Cheng was born in suburban Shanghai's Songjiang area in 1921. He formed his
unique painting style in an early age, breaking the three separated categories
of Chinese painting themes: people, flower and birds, and mountain and water
paintings. In the 1950s he further built his fame on illustration and painting
picture books, winning various prizes home and abroad. He worked as director of
the Shanghai Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Institute since 1984.
In an auction in Beijing last year, Cheng's original draft of a picture book
series about a legend in Dai minority ethnic group in Yunnan Province was sold
for 11 million yuan ($1.45 million), breaking a new record for picture book
According to Cheng Shifa's son, Cheng Zhu, the artist dreamed of Yunnan in
his later years. He once said: "I am old, but I miss Yunnan very much. I want to
be a monk there."
Scientology not the reason
for Cruise's Nazi lockout
Shooting began Thursday in a forest outside Berlin on a movie starring Tom
Cruise (pictured) as Germany's most famous anti-Hitler plotter. The German
government said it was letting filmmakers shoot anywhere they requested, except
the former German general staff headquarters.
The so-called Bendler Block, where Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg
was executed by firing squad 63 years ago Saturday, was off-limits, said
government spokesman Torsten Albig, citing "the dignity of the place."
Cruise plays Stauffenberg in Valkyrie, directed by Bryan Singer.
The movie set was cordoned off with yellow-and-black plastic tape in a pine
forest near the village of Klein Koeris, 43 miles south of Berlin. Studio
Babelsberg, the film's German producers, confirmed that Cruise was on the set.
The government's refusal to permit filming where Stauffenberg worked and died
led to controversy about whether the 45-year-old actor's religious beliefs had
triggered the decision.
Cruise is one of Scientology's best-known members. The German government
considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable
people. Albig said the decision not to allow filming at the Bendler Block, now a
memorial for Third Reich resistance fighters, had nothing to do with Cruise's
(China Daily 07/21/2007 page5)