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Weinsteins Watch: Turning Japanese (and Chinese and Korean)

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik June 6, 2006 at 2:50AM

Weinsteins Watch: Turning Japanese (and Chinese and Korean)
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So the Weinsteins have found a new Gwyneth Paltrow: Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi. According to trade reports today (and the story is everywhere), the Weinsteins are trying to seal a deal to make three movies with the actress, including a new live-action version of "Mulan" and a remake of Kurosawa's classic "The Seven Samurai," where Zhang would have the juicy role of a young peasant woman who hides from the bandits, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I must I saw the movie again not long ago, and this isn't exactly a starring role. But maybe the new Weinstein version will break out the peasant girl story and make it the screenplay's main through-line. Forget the seven samurai, altogether, and why not just call it the Peasant Girl Who Hides? The films will reportedly be in English.

The Weinsteins' have been on an Asian film buying binge lately, with the creation of their Asian label Dragon Dynasty, buying a large library of Chinese-language genre pictures and the acquisition of Korean actioner The City Of Violence and others. If this is what the Weinsteins mean when they say they have a love for foreign cinema, I have my major doubts, as it's all genre, action, and thrillers fit for the Weinsteins fan-boy audience -- not the adult art-house crowd.

The one bright spot about the Weinsteins foreign acquistions is "Cronica de Una Fuga" ("Buenos Aires, 1977"), Israel Adrian Caetano's tale of a kidnapping during Argentine's Dirty War, which raised a stir in Cannes. The Reeler recently cornered Harvey Weinstein at a pubic event and confronted him about the company's genre and family-friendly foreign titles.

"For every one of those," Weinstein claimed, "there's also Chronicles of an Escape, an Argentinian movie that's about as tough a movie as anybody's going to see--certainly as tough as City of God. . . . We'll continue to mix it up, which is the best thing we can do." But so far, Caetano's Chronicles is the rare exception in the Weinsteins vaults. Let's see what they do with it.