Friday, April 28, 2006

Reviews for Clean's opening weekend in NYC

Clean opens in New York this weekend. Here's what the reviewers have to say:

"Unlike the majority of recovery stories, in which sensationalism seesaws with gooey sentimental uplift, "Clean" shows just how hard it is to start life over in a lower key. Avoiding shortcuts and sugar-coated palliatives, it portrays Emily's acceptance of a more prosaic future as a torturous, quotidian process that moves in fits and starts. Although the screenplay doesn't go into pharmaceutical detail, she progresses from methadone, through illicitly obtained painkillers and marijuana toward relative stability and sobriety."
- Read the full New York Times review by Stephen Holden

"Be that as it mayóAssayas crafts a bitter, spot-on poison-pen sketch of the airless, stenchy subterranea of the fringe rock world, down to the bad hygiene and inveterate dream spinning, and Cheung stalks through the film's cellars, all-night diners, cretinous fashion strokes, and nimbus of cheap ideas with a guileless awkwardness, never fitting in and aware of being loathed."
- Read the full Village Voice review, Love in Vein: Maggie Cheung radiant as ever in addiction portrait by Michael Atkinson

"A superb effort by a first-rank director, and manna from heaven for Cheung fans."
- Read the full Premiere review by Glenn Kenny

"Cheung plays a musician trying to clean up her act for the sake of her kid and it features a few interesting rock cameos from bands like Metric and trip-hop pioneer Tricky. Nolte is surprisingly low-key in his performance and his chemistry with Cheung is really great, definitely worth seeing."
- Read the full Gothamist review by Karen Wilson

Coming Soon Interview's Olivier Assayas

In's Exclusive interview with Olivier Assayas, the Clean director talks about working with ex-wife Maggie Cheung and discusses his career. He also reveals that he will be working with the director/star of another Palm film on his upcoming project Boarding Gate.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

See Maggie Cheung discuss her start in acting and her role in CLEAN

Maggie discussed the start of her acting career with Kent Jones of Film Society in July of 2005 at the Asia American International Film Festival

Stream the video
(Real Media)

Download the video

Total Time: 4:27

They also discussed Maggie's challenging role in CLEAN and how the film gave her the chance to reach a new level of acting prowess

Asian CineVision / Eugene Kuo

Stream the video
(Real Media)

Download the video

Total Time: 4:36

Thanks to the Asia Society at for the interviews from the Asian American International Film Festival

The German/French television station ARTE interviewed Maggie Cheung at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival

Watch it here
Total Time: 6:20

Note: This interview is in German

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Oh Maggie!

From The New York Observer
April 19, 2006
by Rex Reed

Maggie Cheung, the beguiling veteran actress who collected critical raves like daffodils in the films of such formidable directors as Wong Kar Wai, Wayne Wang and Zhang Yimou, won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004 for Clean. Now that it’s finally opening commercially in the U.S., no need to ask why. Speaking French, Cantonese and fluent English, she catalogs every up and down on the carousel of a recovering drug addict with a mix of despair, pain, strength, realism and poignancy that is mesmerizing.

. . . Mr. Assayas wrote the elegant screenplay expressly for Ms. Cheung, and her transformation is riveting, her every move, statement and facial expression suffused with a fragile, complex grace. Her English is patrician and perfect, and she even performs her own musical numbers. Mr. Nolte is, in a word, endearing. Filmed in the scenic beauty of a Canadian fishing village as well as the bright lights of Paris, London and San Francisco, Clean is a stunning visual treat and a resounding testament to pragmatism and faith. Life-affirming without sentimentality, it’s an admirable accomplishment.

Read the full article

Monday, April 17, 2006

"Drugs are more complicated than most people think they are"

In Clean, Emily (Maggie Chueng) and her son Jay (James Dennis) finally talk about drugs and the overdose that killed Jay's father.
*Thanks to Cindy for pointing out and transcribing this conversation from the film.

Emily: It was me who bought in the drugs that night. He took some, I took some. It’s the way that always between us. What’s the difference who bought them? Anything could have happened. It could be Lee losing me. And you know what? Drugs are more complicated than what most people think they are. Some people need them because they’re suffering. Because they don’t know how to do in the other way. Your Dad was like that, and me too.

Jay: Because you were weak.

Emily: No, your Dad wasn’t weak. And he did really some great work. But it wasn’t easy for him. You have to be very strong to do that. You should be proud of him.

Jay: Then how could he need drugs?

Emily: They give us some really good times, but afterwards you really have to pay the price. And it’s very high. Look at me, I’m still paying.

Jay: You are not on drugs any more.

Emily: I gave up, mainly for you.

Jay: Why for me?

Emily: ‘Coz otherwise I know I’ll never see you again

Here are a few personal stories of drugs and recovery that people have shared online.

"I've found this last diary difficult to write because I want so much for this to help other people who are dependent on drugs. But I also know in my heart that, whatever anyone says or does, the addict has to truly want recovery for themselves. Each of us has our own personal hell on earth. I had to reach mine before I found the strength to get out."
- Sarah's diary, Channel 4

"I never say never," said Molly as she took a drag off of her cigarette. "Would I go back? No, not now. Tomorrow? Maybe."
- Molly, The Easterner, Eastern Washington U.

"Using half-facts to justify continued addiction...Don’t twist sober wisdom to fit your and enabling."
- Ms Crankypants

Bloggers say...

Reviews from bloggers:

"I love it. It's a drama, it's sad, and it's one of Maggie's best performances. And seeing as how she is the best actress who ever lived, that means something." - adgy

"She doesn't try to tone down her descent into Hell, to lie to him about her past. In this, the film is radically detached from Hollywood cinema and its procession of clearance sale emotions. Maggie Cheung portrays a heroine in precarious balance with surety, precision and seriousness" - Pel. Design

"...even if you're not trying to ditch heroin, you can relate to Emily's struggle to make a better life, to improve her station in the world. The film doesn't judge the character, or become moralizing about the drugs, it's something that happened and now she has to move on. So, great performances, interesting filmmaking, emotional engagement with the characters, you've got yourself a great film right there." - Patrick, Thoughts on Stuff

NYT says "Maggie Cheung Is Perfect for the Role. She's the Director's Ex."

In the April 16th NYT, Charles Taylor examines the relationship between Clean's star, Maggie Cheung and its director Olivier Assayas.

Mr. Assayas said that he tries to cast actors who do not merely embody his characters. "Ultimately, what I am most interested in is what contradicts what I have written," he said, "because that's exactly where real life moves into the film." In that spirit, watching Ms. Cheung work, he said, "was miraculous.

"Both when we were making 'Irma Vep' and 'Clean,' it was like working with someone who has the energy, the conviction of someone who was making a film for the first time. It was the unique case of having someone who had so much experience, an incredible virtuosity, knowledge of the technique of acting, but at the same time is like a debutante, someone who is discovering the pleasure of acting for the first time."

To watch Ms. Cheung's performance is to see someone who, as Garbo did, uses the camera as though it were radio transmitter, trusting it to pick up the inchoate moods that move across her face.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Manohla Dargis on Clean...

"Maggie Cheung has rarely looked so bad and hurt so good as in CLEAN, Olivier Assayas's film about a junkie struggling to kick. A tough look at addiction - its seductions, stratagems, and self-immolating logic - the film stars Cheung as the wife and would-be manager of a faded rock star. When her husband overdoses, she finds herself without money, friends, and facing a prison term. After parole, she hits the road, eventually landing in Paris, where she tries to rebuild her life inch by inch. Slowly, as Assayas peels away his protagonist's protective covering, revealing the all-too-human creature beneath the spit and poses, we understand that - as with many of his other films - CLEAN is a portrait of aching loneliness, of a radical disconnection."
- Manohla Dargis, from Film Comment

Friday, April 07, 2006

Premiere Magazine says Maggie Cheung is a Scene Stealer

Premiere says, "Most actresses would consider the following to be bad career turns: passing on the chance to be a Bond girl, opting to not appear in X3, and being whacked from Memoirs of a Geisha when Steven Spielberg dropped out as the director. For Maggie Chueng, 41, however, these decisions have resulted in a more layered, nuanced career..." Cannes agreed.