"The Drummer" and "The Young Victoria" Square Off in Competing Screenings

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"The Drummer." Kick ass!
Two foreign films that received OK notices roll tonight as the film societies of Orange County and Laguna Beach present competing screenings.

Laguna Beach Film Society shows 2007's The Drummer, a Hong Kong by way of Taiwan production that features Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Chan in his first dramatic role. It was inspired by filmmaker Kenneth Bi seeing the U-Theatre drummers perform in Hong Kong in 2000. "It was their commitment and concentration that affected us in the audience," Bi wrote on his blog. "I soon learned that their pure, unadorned performance was the result of years of training on a mountaintop, in the discipline of drumming, meditation and martial arts."

His resulting film follows pompous young rock drummer Sid (Chan) as he gets involved with the mistress of a triad boss (Kenneth Tsang). To shield his son from harm, the drummer's dad (Tony Leung) sends the lad packing to a rural part of Taiwan and the training grounds of the Zen Drummers. Can their rhythms and Zen teachings change the rocker, or will the rocker change the Zen'ers?

Variety's Derek Elley called The Drummer "an entertaining blend of genre elements and spiritual content that plays much better than it sounds on paper." Judge for yourself when it's shown at 7 p.m. at the South Coast Cinema in Laguna Beach. It's $15 at the door or free for LBFS members. Attendees are invited to join LBFS at 6 p.m. for their annual holiday potluck around the corner at the Wells Fargo Bank Community Room. For $20 you get great food and the film. Find me a cheaper date night in Orange County!  
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"The Young Victoria." Reflective!
The Orange County Film Society presents an advance screening of The Young Victoria, which is scheduled to open in select theaters on Friday. The film just earned its young star, Emily Blunt, a best actress Golden Globe nomination, to go with a similar nomination for a British Independent Film Award.

French-Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée, working off a script by Gosford Park Academy Award winner Julian Fellowes, chronicles Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne, focusing on the early turbulent years of her reign and her legendary romance and marriage to Prince Albert, which is known to be one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson has been credited with getting the project off the ground, and she shares the producer credit with Graham King, Tim Headington and Martin Scorsese. Other cast members include Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Mark Strong and Thomas Kretschmann.

Apparently catching its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Neil Young--yes, that Neil Young!--wrote on his online Film Lounge, "It's all pretty standard-issue corsets-and-corsages stuff--Young Winston meets Mrs Brown--with some flights of dramatic license that may surprise viewers already familiar with Victoria's early reign."

The Young Victoria screens at 7:30 p.m. at the Regency South Coast Theatre, in Santa Ana directly across from South Coast Plaza. You have to join the OCFS to get in; go here for details on membership, which includes all kinds of cinematic stuff like Newport Beach Film Festival passes.

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