Here’s a test of whether any publicity is good publicity: Christian Bale was in China for the world premiere of his historical drama The Flowers Of War but found time afterward for an eight-hour drive outside Beijing in an attempt to meet with a blind Chinese dissident. Instead his group was met by some local toughs who knocked aside cameras, roughed up Bale and his entourage, and eventually chased them in an unmarked van. Oh, and it was all captured by CNN cameras (see video below). Not to impugn Bale’s sincerity. But the Zhang Yamou-directed Flowers Of War, set against the backdrop of Japan’s attack on Nanking in 1937, is China’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race and is the nation’s most expensive movie production of all time. So plenty is at stake for its reception in the marketplace. The incident could help the film’s visibility in the U.S., where it is in the heat of awards season and earned a foreign-language film nomination from the Golden Globes yesterday. Wrekin Hill has set a qualifying run for December 21 in New York and December 23 in Los Angeles and San Francisco, followed by a later bow nationwide.

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