HONG KONG BABYLON

AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO THE HOLLYWOOD OF THE EAST

Journalist Dannen (Hit Men, not reviewed) and Hong Kong film maven and collector Long take a look at one of the world's most vital cinemas, one that's facing an uncertain future under its new Chinese rulers. The Hong Kong cinema is one of the world's most prolific and energetic. Recently, two of its most majestic figures, actor-director Jackie Chan and director John Woo, have successfully made the transition to working in the West. Many others—actor Chow Yun-Fat, directors Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark—are following in their footsteps, filled with hope. Dannen went to Hong Kong for a New Yorker article to see how the industry was facing up to this summer's handover to China of the former British colony. The result was a typical New Yorker piece, which is also the first section of this book: exhaustively reported and handsomely written but somehow superficial, delivering rather less than promised and geared for a readership of tourist-voyeurs. The remainder of the book consists of very brief interviews by Dannen, with numerous directors, producers, and actors, accompanied by filmographies; capsule descriptions by Long of some 300 key Hong Kong films; and recommendations from a dozen critics. Dannen's essay touches briefly on a number of issues worth exploring in greater depth: onerous working conditions, low budgets, and shoddy production values; the huge market for Hong Kong films throughout Asia; the language problem (Mandarin versus Cantonese), which is only going to get worse now that the Mandarin-speaking mainlanders are in charge; the role of underworld figures whose presence permeates the film industry. Neither Dannen nor Long is able to convey the energy and inventiveness that make the best Hong Kong films so entertaining. Producer Peter Chan tells Dannen, ``We don't have a clue why you Americans like [our films] so much.'' This book won't tell you, either. (50 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-7868-6267-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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