The director’s new film about social inequities in China is tragic, absurd, and a must-see at this year’s festival. Could it win the coveted Palme d’Or?
Long a favorite on the festival circuit, the Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke is poised to make a splash with his powerful chronicle of social inequities in contemporary China, A Touch of Sin. Towards the end of Jia’s film (which premiered Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival and is one of the surest bets to win the Palme d’or), workers at a sex club are taught to proclaim: “Distinguished Guests: Welcome to the Golden Age.” This 133-minute howl of despair confirms, with a mixture of absurdist humor and events appropriated from notorious actual incidents, that, instead of enjoying a Golden Age, Chinese society is plagued by random violence, sexual assault, and the rage of millions of disgruntled workers.
ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP
Neither an upholder of the status quo nor precisely a dissident, Jia, who started his career as an “underground” filmmaker making unauthorized features, now works within the system—even though he clearly enjoys testing its limits. While his earlier films were meditative and often peppered with whimsical interludes, A Touch of Sin is notable for its anger. A four-part structure conveys the rampant disaffection that lies beneath the veneer of China’s economic dynamism. An infatuation with guns also suffuses the first two narratives: a chronicle of a miner who wreaks revenge on smug, corrupt village leaders and the story of a migrant worker who hopes that a firearm can negate his problems with pull of a trigger. The third sequence, featuring Zhao Tao, Jia’s wife and favorite actress, builds to a powerful crescendo as a receptionist at a spa fights off a rapist with bloody consequences. The final sequence is by far the most sardonic, as well as the most despondent: a hapless worker goes from job to job without any hope of advancement. His woes, which include a grueling regimen at a sweatshop and performing mindless tasks in the service economy, seem to sum up the fate of millions of Chinese workers who have few outlets for their grievances.
Don’t pay attention to the Simon Cowell–like naysayers harping on falling ratings and disappointing judges. Season 12 may have been lousy, but there’s still life left in it.
Ratings are in a free fall. The judging panel was a $40 million bust. Viewers are exasperated over predictable themes and performances. Culture blogs are flooded with obituaries for American Idol. Confetti rained on Candice Glover Thursday night as she tearfully warbled her coronation song, winning the 12th season of the veteran singing competition. But was she singing at its funeral?
Candice Glover performs on American Idol, May 15. (Ray Mickshaw/Fox)
“It’s more like that body at the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail who cries, ‘I’m not dead yet,’” Michael Slezak, senior editor at TV Line and longtime Idol expert, tells The Daily Beast. “Idol is like that leper. It might be mistaken for dead, but it’s not dead yet.”
The broadcast network upfront presentations are over. Jace Lacob on the 51 new scripted shows heading to television next season. What will you watch?
The upfront presentations are (finally) over.
Now that the dust has settled, it's easier to get a larger picture of what's going on for next season. The numbers: 51 scripted series have been ordered by the broadcast networks for the 2013–14 season. There are 29 new dramas for next season and 22 comedies. Thirty-one shows will launch in the fall, and 20 are being held for a later date, should some of the fall offerings fail to enflame the public's imagination. On the network level, ABC picked up 12 new scripted series; CBS ordered eight; NBC issued series pickups to 14, while Fox did the same for 12 scripted series. The CW claimed five new scripted shows.
Merida was supposed to be cut from a different mold than other princesses—until Disney sexed her up. Her creator, Brenda Chapman, talks to Caroline Linton about the online outrage against the Magic Kingdom’s makeover.
Merida, the heroine of Pixar’s Brave, isn’t your typical Disney princess (no offense, Sleeping Beauty). She has frizzy hair; she beats off potential suitors with her archery skills; and (spoiler alert) she rides off on a horse without a prince in the end. So fans were baffled this week when Disney decided to give her a sexy makeover after adding her to their line of princess dolls. The new Merida had a slimmer waistline, beachy waves instead of untamed curls, and worst of all, no trademark bow and arrow. The new look caused such an uproar that it led to a Change.org petition with thousands of signatures to restore Merida’s original look—and Disney listened, sheepishly pulling the new Merida from its website. The heroine’s creator, Brenda Chapman, talks to Caroline Linton about what happened to the character modeled after her own daughter—and why it sends a bad message to girls.
The Daily Beast: Thank you so much for calling.
Brenda Chapman: Thank you so much for the interest. It’s taken me a little by surprise, I have to be honest. This whole thing. [Laughs] I wasn’t expecting it.
The Bluth family banana stand sets up shop in Times Square, and dozens of Tobias Fünke sympathizers show their support in cutoff jean shorts.
“Excuse me, Banana. Could I ask you a few questions?”
Such is how an exchange began with a man dressed in a full banana suit outside of a banana-shaped bearing his yellow likeness in Times Square, part of a promotion drumming up excitement for the Netflix revival of the cult-favorite comedy series, Arrested Development. The man in the banana suit was, strangely, not the most oddly-dressed person in the crowd.
Watch Never Nudes descend on Manhattan.
Soccer star David Beckham is retiring at the top of his game. Tom Sykes on why England can’t help but love the man who wed a Spice Girl, got filthy rich, and ditched them for America.
The scene in an English pub on Thursday:
Football Fan No. 1: “Hey, did you hear David Beckham’s retiring from professional football?”
Jace Lacob examines The CW's 2013-14 primetime schedule, which includes five new dramas and moves around returning shows ('Supernatural,' 'The Carrie Diaries') across the week.
The CW took the wraps off of its 2013-14 primetime schedule on Thursday morning, marking the final day of the broadcast network upfronts.
Among the changes afoot at the nearly seven-year old network: Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast are moving to Mondays, Supernatural moves to Tuesdays, and The Carrie Diaries gets pushed to Fridays at 8 p.m. Nikita, which will have its final season of a six episodes, will be held until midseason. The network ordered five new dramas for next season, which will be scattered throughout Tuesdays (The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals), Wednesdays (The Tomorrow People), and Thursdays (period drama Reign) when The CW begins its fall season in October. Two additional dramas—Star-Crossed and The 100—will be held until midseason along with newly ordered reality show Famous in 12; their timeslots are still to be determined.
In a Funny or Die video out today, Adam DeVine spoofs reality TV. The comedian looks back on his giant success with 'Workaholics' and the future of his new TV and film projects.
There was a media firestorm when Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman unwittingly tweeted a photo of his first day back on set for the show last August, revealing two-thirds of Comedy Central’s Workaholics co-stars and co-creators—Adam DeVine (Adam DeKamp) and Anders Holm (Anders “Ders” Holmvik)— in the background. Fans have been salivating for details on the popular show’s return to Netflix on May 26.
Adam DeVine in a scene from "Workaholics." (Comedy Central)
“Jason Bateman didn’t know we were on a TV show,” DeVine said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “He had no idea about Workaholics until then, and then he was like, ‘I guess these guys are really on a show,’ which is really cool. I’m such a huge Arrested Development fan.”
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