Friday, 30 October 2009

Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009)

Live Goddess
At a glance:

Is this it? Seems like it is. Supported by his estate and a few technically accomplished industry players, The Concert That Never Was gets the big screen treatment in a rush job project that squeezes the dying dimes out of Michael Jackson's stutterin legend. Sincere or not, we're more interested in whether this was an entertainin experience. Michael Jackson's This Is It went through the careful process of sensitive marketin, to ensure fans will see it as a definitive must-watch. A press release which quoted movie and tour director Kenny Ortega as sayin "This film is Michael's gift to his fans" was recalled and replaced with "This film is a gift to Michael's fans." Sony will hit big returns for the US$ 60 million paid to concert promoter AEG Entertainment for the 100 hours of rehearsal footage and distribution rights.
Bad news on the doorstep:
We all know this movie was not meant to be a movie anyway. The title card reads that MJ passed on just eight days before heading out to the original concert location with his entourage. This assembled movie is almost two hours long but it feels like we haven't seen enough of Michael, like the many unanswered questions we are left with about the star. We leave the cinema hall thinking we were merely snatchin at Michael's shadow. Do you think he'd have wanted us to see this?
Perennial wonderment:
How the man really died. Some suggested readin here.
I can't remember if I cried:
When I saw the Earth Song sequence - thank goodness this will be the last time. Always hated that shyte. Bollocks.
Watch out for:
We've all seen concerts but This Is It contains some very interestin stuff that were meant only for MJ's reference library, such as an apparently unstaged exchange with keyboardist Michael Bearden over a timin aspect while rehearsin The Way You Make Me Feel, one that only musicians could probably appreciate. We also get to see Kenny Ortega teachin the backup dancers how to use the fancy moving stage apparatus and what's the difference between throwin them up in the air "toaster speed" or "elevator speed". See the demised star engage in some confrontational exchanges with his colleagues, but the cut leads us to believe it's a master genius at work, a sort of perfectionist ace showman tryin to get everyone on the same page as him, instead of diva-like tantrums thrown by MJ. For this, some measure of belief can be accorded to the notion that this movie is really for his fans.
Most memorable line:
Michael Jackson: "Play it like you're dragging yourself out of bed."
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Variety has noted that "rather than a bittersweet farewell, the film will merely serve as the opening salvo to a flood of posthumous releases and merchandising that will make Tupac Shakur's estate seem a paragon of restraint." Michael Jackson is commonly referred to as the most recognised person in the world - yet this concert movie comes off as carefully executed but inescapably inadequate attempt to freeze-capture the star one last time for the watchin world. Yet, sometimes this is the best anyone could do. ★★ 1/2
The day the music died:

Michael Joseph Jackson
(29 August 1958 – 25 June 2009)
Seduce ANY woman

Monday, 26 October 2009

Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)

LESBIAN VAMPIRE SUCKERS MASSAGE SPA SPECIAL DISCOUNT
Lesbian Vampire Killers: Does what it says on the tin.

At a glance:
Girls, gore and garlic. Horror-comedy hardly comes more enjoyable (and forgettable) than the aptly-titled Lesbian Vampire Killers, which does what it says on the tin over and over again for almost 90 hollow minutes with no attempt at any sort of lastin cinematic memory, unless you count the intended DVD release (which will no doubt be an item of guilty indulgence). A holiday weekend in Wales for British TV's Gavin and Stacey James Corden and Matthew Horne turns into a bloodsuckin bonanza of Sapphic sirens, the order of the day in a remote village where every young girl turns into a vampire on their 18th birthday. Jimmy (Horne) is here because he's tryin hard to get over his impossibly difficult girlfriend Judy (Lucy Gaskell) and Fletch (Corden) tags along because he's just been fired as a promo clown. It ain't long before they magically meet four hotass visitin foreign students - Heidi, Trudi (Scotland's Mulheron sisters Tiffany and Ashley), Lotte (MyAnna Buring, pic, left, The Descent) and Anke (Louise Dylan). Throw in a vampire-killin vicar (Paul McGann, Withnail And I) and Queen Vampire Carmilla (beautiful Silvia Colloca, pic, right) and you get an adventure fit for slackers, pervos and mind-numbed teens who'd pay good money to sit through any poor excuse of a plot just to see what these characters will do to one another.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Completely forgettable, like I said.
Reminds me of:
Wong Jing's The Vampire Who Admires Me. Same formula. Yum yum.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Stylised B-grade feature with great special effects deservin of a more important movie. Most critics reviewed this negatively as a missed opportunity, considerin its promisin title and cross-genre appeal. It has one or two laugh-out-loud moments of crude humour but mostly it's a passin popcorn movie. More tits could've saved it, really.★★1/2 
Bonus material:
SEXY VAMPIRE KILLERS
Happier times.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Good Life (2008) @ La Buena Vida

Have you ever heard of the Chilean piledriver?
BoneTown Sex Game
At a glance:
From the director of Historias Del Futbol and La Fiebre Del Loco (as if I've seen them), this award-winnin 2008 Chilean drama is a tight, well-edited caper about Teresa the government social helper, Edmundo the hairdresser, Mario the clarinet player and an unnamed prostitute, who all share one thing in common - the cruelty of life in Santiago when the goin gets tough. Roberto Farías (tache, pic) gives the most vivid portrayal of a down-and-out thirtysomethin hairdresser who lives with his mum still and can't find the money to impress a girl, buy a car or finance his father's reburial. Meanwhile, Aline Küppenheim gives the standout performance as a torn woman who cannot reconcile her failure in bringin up her daughter well and keepin her husband happy with her job of sex education at the government help centre. However, the best explored of these is Eduardo Paxeco's turn as gifted clarinetist Mario, whose dreams of playin for the Philharmonic are constantly bein ruined by people who just didn't have the time for him.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Lackin a certain tenderness and a certain endurance.
Perennial wonderment:
Chile makes movies? Please recommend me some, if you know any.
Watch out for:
The other character in this movie - the most elusive and perhaps, purposefully unexamined. Appearin only a few times, we see a destitute prostitute facing all sorts of problems that nobody seems to be able to help her with. She represents all the untold stories that remain untold in a city like Santiago, contrasted against the three main characters in this movie who do get told.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Two and a half. Unlike similar Hollywood efforts like Crash, the stories in this movie are weaved into each other not by a didactic central theme but merely by the pivotal urban location in which it all takes place. The characters don't need to meet up in the end like a beautiful fairytale with strong social messages. They need only live out their story in the short duration of the movie convincingly and we get a peek into the fairly interestin private lives of these people.

Bonus material:
The good life. Really?

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Hurt Locker (2009)

At a glance:
More Jarhead (2005) than Black Hawk Down (2001), less-than-industrious female director Kathryn Bigelow returns with a technically accomplished, frighteningly realistic and morally challengin war movie called The Hurt Locker. Devoid of all the in-your-face drama and intrusive music that war movies so often shoot down your throat, this compact adventure about a self-conflicted Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit with the U.S. Army's Bravo Company is a festival favourite that can win over commercial audiences if only given the chance. We're led to Iraq to follow headstrong Sergeant First Class William James (a composed lead performance by Jeremy Renner, smokin, pic) whose passion for bomb diffusion goes beyond the call for duty. The man doesn't even care that the previous soldier in his position (Guy Pearce) was killed in similar operations but his subordinates certainly don't take kindly to this maverick manoeuvres. The 'safety-first' Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie, black, pic) and the nervous Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) form a bond with him but war and death mean different things to each of them. As they go on more and more daily operations involvin the disarmin of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), we're brought uncomfortably close to the action and learn to see what life is like as a soldier.
Perennial wonderment:
Why ain't we seen much from Kathryn Bigelow? Point Break (1991) must be good. Near Dark (1987) was class. Ain't got the chance to see K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) yet.
Reminds me of:
Saïd Taghmaoui and Don Cheadle in Traitor (2008).
Watch out for:
British attitudes towards the war, personified by a Ralph Fiennes cameo. Wonderful suicide bomber sequence near the end. Hurt Locker goes for impact both in terms of physical bombs and human drama. Explosions are dusty and powerful (obligin a slow-mo scene every now and then) and the characters are complex but their actions, singular. They don't need to talk about what they're doin or why they're doin it - they just do it.
Most memorable line:
Colonel Reed: What's the best way to go about disarmin one of these things?
Staff Sergeant William James: The way you don't die, sir.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?Reportedly, producer James Cameron said this about his ex-wife's film: I think this could be the Platoon (1986) for the Iraq War. The movie is from an acclaimed source material - best-sellin 2002 novel War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by a NY Times war correspondent. It even opens with a quote card from it - the rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug. You won't hear many complaints about this neat effort, unless you're sorry Evangeline Lilly from TV's Lost only gets about five minutes of screen time. Four stars.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Brothers (2007) @ 兄弟

At a glance:
While Tony Leung was somewhere wipin the sweat off his testicles from his BDSM sex romp with Tang Wei in a little movie called Lust, Caution, the rest of the one-time TVB tigers had a nice get-together in this aptly titled triad offerin. Considerin that this effort was widely seen as Andy Lau's helpin hand to his theatrical ‘brothers', it's surprisin that the film doesn't appear to be a forced project at all. Flyin in the face of popular assumption, Brothers comes off as an immediately mature piece of film. The patriarch of a criminal family separates his two sons by sendin one abroad in fear of a religious foretellin by temple monks. Years on, the elder brother helms the family business while the younger is struggling as an IT student in America. Bad blood between rival contemporary Uncle Nine Fingers (still unhappy about his nine fingers) and the patriarch is carried through to their respective sons, played by Michael Miu (pic, left) and Ken Tong. Enter Eason Chan as the IT student to throw an unknown quantity into the conflict – does the elder want the younger to die, as prophesised?
Bad news on the doorstep:
Lackin the meditation in, say, Protege or the elegance of Blood Brothers (both of which were served earlier that year), the movie has strong negative overtones, and in that, extremely successful in resonatin Chinese sentiments behind triad life. Globalisation is to blame if the Chinese diaspora fails to understand the magnitude of meanin behind the words and motives in the film. Sometime in the last 10 to 15 years, HK gangster fare decided to be more realistic – and that set the tone for the celebrated Infernal Affairs trilogy to banish the Young & Dangerous franchise to the kiddies DVD bargain bin. Bleak and unglamorously dark, this did one better than most movies of the genre by drainin you in a frustratingly good way. 20 minutes in, the fate of all the characters appear sealed and yet the movie encourages you to root for those who are doomed anyhow, against your better judgment. Not everyone's idea of a good gangster flick, though.
Watch out for:
Andy Lau and Lam Ka Tung indulgin in cop banter for a disarmin backdrop to the seriousness of the affairs that were unravellin. Police subculture is sadly brutal but the sick dialogue between ever-laughing triad bosses are scarier still. At any level, Brothers is never borin - but it is quite tirin. It even tires you to the point of not carin for the film's only actress, a sensual gangster's moll-cum-lawyer played by Crystal Huang. Therein lies the strength of the picture – it refuses to do the things which other gangster movies do to bring out the feel-good factor.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?Brothers lets the viewer ponder on the inescapability of fate and family – while suggestin a loaded gun at the end of every path. After all, it's always been about money and power for five thousand years.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead (2009)

At a glance:
How many wrong turns can you take? Well, to be fair, they were successful DVD releases. I vaguely remember the first - it had some stalled car on a road and a young, sexy cast. This third movie is another straight-to-DVD feature, just like the second. Ain't never seen none of them? They're all about deformed, in-bred, cannibalistic mountain men who prey on beautiful people for no goddamn reason. This time, it's about escaped convicts who are runnin away from the ugly in-bred dubbed Three Fingers.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Remarkably borin. Had to watch it on fast forward. In the first few minutes, two girls are sat and the hot blonde (Mancunian lingerie model Louise Cliffe, you can view her desperate CV on IMDb) goes topless, only to be arrowed from the back, with the projectile piercin through her left tit and also the hand of the unlucky man who was fondlin her. She dies on the spot, leavin the titless brunette (Janet Montgomery, pic) to act out the rest of the movie. This director doesn't do himself no favours, does he?
Watch out for:
Stocky Londoner Tamer Hassan (pic, leftmost), the underrated staple sidekick you might remember seein in movies like Football Factory, Layer Cake, Goal! and Eastern Promises. He's even in Batman Begins as a limo driver but we don't remember these roles do we? I ain't seen him since The Ferryman so I tried this movie just for him. On IMDb now I see he's listed for an upcomin project called Cockneys vs Zombies. Ha.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Give it for tryin. Regrettable DVD to buy. Don't.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Paris 36 (2008) @ Faubourg 36

paris 36 fauborg 36 paris 36 Christophe Barratier Choristes Chorus French musical Nora Arnezeder Gerard Jugnot Najib Abdul Razak Rosmah Altantuya Raja Petra seks melayu tetek besar tudung pil kuda2 Girls Teach Sex
At a glance:
paris 36 fauborg 36 paris 36 Christophe Barratier Choristes Chorus French musical Nora Arnezeder Gerard Jugnot Najib Abdul Razak Rosmah Altantuya Raja Petra seks melayu tetek besar tudung pil kudaThe titular 36 refers to the year in which this delightful little pre-WWII musical was set, when a rundown theatre hall takes centrestage as love stories and political games play themselves out to complete audience satisfaction. If you thought director Christophe Barratier's Les Choristes (The Chorus) in 2004 was great, then this followup is no short of absolutely grand. Garnerin fair attention at the Cesars this year, Paris 36 is whimsical as much as musical. It's one of those full-package movies like La Vita E Bella, the sort that takes you through a spectrum of emotions and leave you hangin onto the cinema curtains when the end credits roll. We follow stage manager Pigoil (Gerard Jugnot), a dejected man with a cheatin wife, who loses his son Jojo (Maxence Perrin) to the family affairs authorities after the fascist, kingpin landlord Galapiat (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) shuts down his beloved Chansonia. Not about to throw in the towel, he tries to revive the establishment with bumblin sound impersonator Jacky (Kad Merad) and rabble-rousin firebrand Milou (Clovis Cornillac) as they go against all odds to make somethin out of their lives. Enterin into all their lives unannounced is a bright, beautiful aspirin singer named Douce (Nora Arnezeder) and we get a glorious costume story in epic proportions.
Bad news on the doorstep:
paris 36 fauborg 36 paris 36 Christophe Barratier Choristes Chorus French musical Nora Arnezeder Gerard Jugnot Najib Abdul Razak Rosmah Altantuya Raja Petra seks melayu tetek besar tudung pil kudaNot an important movie that must be made, like say Édith Piaf biopic La Môme @ La Vie En Rose but it sure is a tidy effort that celebrates cinema, entertainment and the performin arts.
Perennial wonderment:
If Picturehouse at Damansara's Cathay Cineplex will be revived to bring in titles like this for the 0.01% of appreciative Malaysians who don't get to watch it, unlike neighbourin Singapore.
Watch out for:
Nora Arnezeder (pic) was Meilleur Espoir Feminin and La Revelation Feminine (that's Most Promising Young Actress and Best Female Newcomer to you and I) at the Lumiere and Étoiles d'Or in France this year. Simply dazzlin as the ideals-laden ingenue who dreams of the moon on a stick, sashayin back and forth in the movie like an object that's always out of your reach.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Critic Roger Ebert has said that this is a movie that he would absolutely adore if he watched it before he was born, notin that the movie lacks "a certain energy". Well, he may not be too far off the mark but as far as musicals are concerned, we have French cinema to thank for givin us some accordian music every now and then. Me, I'm just happy to let a little joy in.★★★★

Friday, 16 October 2009

Romeo And Juliet Get Married (2005) @ O Casamento De Romeu E Julieta

CamWithHer Cam Girls
At a glance:
Like a dream, really.
Startin off like Bend It Like Beckham, this 2005 Brazilian rom-com is a light-hearted, loose re-tellin of the Shakepeare tale where Luana Piovani and Marco Ricca are team-crossed lovers whose households are not Capulet and Montague, but Palmeiras and Corinthians, two of the best-supported football clubs in the country. Alfredo Baragatti (Luis Gustavo) is a passionate football fanatic in the board of directors for Palmeiras. However his leggy, footballin daughter Juliet (Luana Piovani, pic) falls in love with nervous eye doctor Romeo (Marco Ricca, pic), a die-hard supporter of rivals Corinthians who chairs of the fanclub. From a field injury, a chance encounter at the clinic now blossoms into a romance but an all-out family war beckons when the couple find their love tested by fierce objections of their union. That is, after they even get to admittin their allegiances to each other.
Bad news on the doorstep:
A little too light for some.
Perennial wonderment:
If the Brasileirão will ever be free of match-fixin.
Watch out for:
Luis Gustavo (pic, rightmost in white hair), playin the excitable board member and forbiddin father, can be singled out as the highlight performance of the movie. His energetic and completely sincere portrayal is so convincin that you start believin how it's morally wrong for two people from different teams to be mere friends, never mind lovers!
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Good opportunity to learn about traditional team rivalry between football clubs that we don't get to see every day. Match-long runtime is welcome. 1/2

Bonus material:
Some might call this a spoiler.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

At a glance:
If you'rere part of the camp who thinks that Quentin Tarantino ain't made nothin decent since Jackie Brown and that Inglourious Basterds may just mark his return to form after that double feature fiasco he called Grindhouse, then you'll be as disappointed as the Germans who lost the war. The celebrated director's latest is a shallow comic book reimaginin of WWII with improbable characters and romantic (if barbaric) scene resolutions - but devoid of the many things that made his signature Pulp Fiction such an enjoyable piece of entertainment.
Bad news on the doorstep:
As soon as Ennio Morricone's openin track plays, you're assured it's Tarantino time - but this addition to his illustrious catalogue of cult films can't be seen as somethin that matches his usual high standards of fun but culturally important landmark films; instead it's Dirty Dozen in Nazi France, starrin violent scalp-collectin Jews with little character development and moral depth. Of course, this ain't as bad as the totally indulgent, in-universe references in Grindhouse but the appeal of Inglourious Basterds is limited to well-composed fantastical sequences and intermittent clever dialogue. It's like watchin Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs alright, only that the sharpness is skewin towards the objects of torture rather than wordsmithery, not to mention that monologues are so 1994.
Watch out for:
Brad Pitt (R, pic) doesn't seem to be havin a lot of fun as Lt. Aldo Raine (leader of the U.S. Nazi-killin outfit who make bludgeonin human heads and carvin skin Swastikas a favourite Jewish pasttime) but he delivers a commandin male lead all the same. The female Basterds are a Jewish farmgirl played by Paris-born Melanie Laurent and a celeb spy played by German-born Bridget Kruger, who add Euro excitement to the picture, along with a young German officer played by Daniel Bruhl (The Edukators, Goodbye Lenin!) . The standout performance though, belongs to Christoph Waltz as the menacin Jew Hunter, a prime example of well-groomed and polite men of power who can speak four languages and threaten your life with vivid proverbs. He deservingly picked up Best Actor at Cannes for this turn and it looked like he could execute The Final Solution a few times over, just for laughs.
Most memorable line:
Lt. Aldo Raine: "Now, I don't know about y'all, but I sure as hell didn't come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a fuckin' air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed."
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Sadly only. America's critical acclaim for this movie is best summarised as perhaps a nod to their admiration for European sophistication (since QT has packaged it accessibly and masterfully) and also a general thirst for anythin Tarantino. Basterds is already his highest grossin movie ever, both Stateside and worldwide. That's a surprise, considerin Yanks are usually adverse to heavily-subtitled films. For the rest of us who expect more from QT, watchin a great character like the Bear Jew (he does nothin after a grand intro) is a regrettable experience that brings us back to the days when Samuel L. Jackson last recited Ezekiel 25:17 and gave us somethin we could talk about for years until the next World War.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Macabre (2009) @ Darah @ Rumah Dara

darah seksi melayu 3gp Julie Estelle bugil
Macabre: Shareefa Daanish goes after Julie Estelle, Patrick Bateman-style.

At a glance:
Some people like Mo Bros Timo Tjajanto and Kimo Stamboel take the term bloodbath very, very literally. They directed this Indon slasher with a script so soaked in blood, you'll have to check your clothes for stains when exitin the cinema. Macabre a.k.a. Rumah Dara a.k.a. Darah is an intriguin expansion of a 2007 short by the same duo, also starrin Shareefa Daanish as Ibu Dara, a hollow-eyed, kebaya-clad immortal fiend whose preferred method of execution is by electric chainsaw, American Psycho style. This unusual image is the most marketable aspect of the indie flick and it's no wonder she picked up some award for it, despite the performance being laughably one-dimensional. She even upstages Julie Estelle by appearin solo in the poster for Singapore's release. Story? A party of six decide to drop off a troubled young lady at her home, en route to Jakarta. Turns out they're lured into a spooky colonial home with a family who keeps a terrible secret and our lucky lot just walked right into the jackpot.
DARAH MACABRE RUMAH DARA
London-born Indonesian actress Shareefa Daanish.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Clunky dialogue, pacin issues, uneven camerawork.
Perennial wonderment:
Why don't Indon horrors go for the jugular like this one did? Darah rated M18 by the MDA, differs from films of the same ilk because it intentionally takes only token care of character development. It also boasts a remarkable prolonged climax, reminiscent of exploitation flicks of yesteryear where overkill is the way to go. In terms of actin, Kuntilanak girls Julie Estelle and Imelda Therinne show nothing special while the rest of the cast get killed off just in time before they started gettin real irritatin. A wet t-shirt or two couldn't have hurt in a horror movie like this, but since we didn't get that, their uneventful, generic performances are particularly glarin. The paedophilic-lookin, bespectacled killer (Ruly Lubis) and the Edward Cullen wannabe (Arifin Putra) are extra minions who have spin-off potential.
Reminds me of:
Jap classic Odishon, Robert Rodriguez' From Dusk To Dawn, that senseless gorefest Feast and the most recent blood-soaked movie I watched, Eden Lake.
Watch out for:
Battle Of The Bitches finale, see pic above.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
So outrageously OTT, they banned it in Malaysia apparently. You can read online that Darah is the first pic from Gorylah Pictures, a new genre label by Eric Khoo of Zhao Wei Films and Mike Wiluan of Infinite Frameworks, focusin on South East Asian horror stories. Decent start for a low budget flick. Hope they're on their way to make many more.★★★

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Rebellion (2009) @ 同門

At a glance:
Delayed HK release, from last year. If you take away lead pair Shawn Yue and Chapton To, the flick is pretty consistent example of a low-cost but effective Herman Yau piece, like his The First 7th Night earlier this year. Told like a one-night-only gangland epic, Shawn Yue plays fighting ace Po, the unwillin temporary triad boss of the five-gang strong East District. Chaos is the order of the day due to a hit on the big boss and Po must hold the fort until First Lady / Big Sister Cheong Wah (special appearance by TVB's Ada Choi) returns from abroad with further instructions. However, a guessin game takes place within the organisation and everyone from gang leaders to restaurant waitresses joins the chase to protect or destroy the person who did the hit. Chapman To's character, Blackie, wants an all-out war anyway but the cops want in on the game as well.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Only two complaints from me - one is the terribly simple climax and the other is the lazy movie poster. Still, if the money saved on that somehow goes into Yau's pocket, good on you.
Perennial wonderment:
Has Herman Yau gone soft? If anyone thinks his tame Laughing Gor: Turning Point is indeed a turnin point of some sort for a director who is best known for CAT III classics Ebola Virus and Untold Story, they might not be wrong. However, despite a CAT III ratin, Rebellion is actually a story-driven movie which landed the label not because of gore or sex but rather its government's stand on depiction of gangland affairs, if anythin.
Reminds me of:
The time some coppers camped outside my hotel in Causeway Bay because this drunk guy was havin a go at another drunk guy durin a weddin. Nope, Ekin Cheng didn't show up.
Watch out for:
This Jun Kung Shek Leung, who plays a particularly charismatic mob head named Brother Sand. All this actions and words seem totally improvised, as even a Canto-retard friend of mine can point out. Completely entertainin. Turns out he's Portuguese-Chinese and his birth name is Joventino Couto Remotigue Jr. Reminiscent of Anthony Wong as Tai Fei in the Young And Dangerous days, I guess.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Well they could've thrown in some Ada Choi skin, since Elanne Kwong is just too borin as the tag-along chick. Who doesn't want some of that Miss HK '91 skin, crowfeet eyes or not? Shawn Yue's turn is standard while Chapman To's scene-stealin prowess gets another showcase. All characters seem necessary enough. Solid three-star movie for me.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee (2009)

"Yo. Sup."

At a glance:
How many movies do you know of which the author of the book is also the director? Just like the crème brûlee she heats up so effortlessly with a butane torch in the movie, titular heroine Pippa Lee (played by a faultless but helpless Robin Wright Penn) is sweet but burnt all the same by a source material that is either too quirky and personal for commercial big screen interests or plain unlikeable, despite havin an embarrassment of stars to drive it. This drama ain't even secured distribution stateside and instead got itself washed up on Malaysian shores first! Helmer Rebecca Miller (Ballad Of Jack And Rose) has said in interviews how the recession has caused box office players to be wary of quirky dramas - but is the movie so hard to sell or is the story too hard to buy?
Bad news on the doorstep:
Rebecca Miller Blake Lively Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Daddy loves you sex with older man
Rebecca Miller
Faultless yet hopeless:
Robin Wright Penn
Beautiful Robin Wright Penn may still have that sex factor since her Jenny Curran last placed a moron's hands on her tits in Forrest Gump (1994) but here she's asked to play a character so schizophrenic and uneaxamined that it turns fatal to the flick. She's a fiftysomethin housewife movin into a retiree community with her much older, ailin, publisher husband (a wonderful Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine) who once had a psycho ex-wife played by Monica Bellucci. Flashes from her past inform us that she was a troubled 16-year-old emo goth (impressive turn by Gossip Girl Blake Lively) who had colourful family in a speed-addicted mum (Mario Bello), a lesbian aunt (Robin Weigert, TV's Deadwood) and her wild lover (Julianne Moore). There's also room for Wynona Ryder as a cry-baby of a young wife. Crowded lineup, I feel.
Reminds me of:
Bell-ringers. Sheffield knows why.
Watch out for:
Keanu Reeves as a sensitive but odd Christian with a giant Jesus tattoo on his chest. Hey, some people like to mutilate their bodies with Jesus and big crosses, while others like inkin themselves over five hours with the image of monkey gods, innit Bangkok Bob? That me best mate, who did a Hanuman in Thailand. Can't imagine anyone makin love to someone with such a visually intrusive tattoo.
Monica Bellucci
Most memorable line:
"
Writers are vampires. I'm waiting for the right girl to come along and make me a human being."
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
This R rated movie has peculiar pacin, uneven dialogue and also a messy visual style. More importantly, it doesn't cut it as a mainstream crowd-pleaser or a critically-directed arthouse piece either. How did they manage to get such a heavy duty ensemble to lend their names to this project? Even if somethin bizarre about this film turns it into a sleeper hit on DVD, this reviewer insists that Pippa Lee's lives, whatever the fuck they're about, are best kept private. ★★
Bonus material:
I have about 200 sexy hi-res photos below for you to enjoy. Lookin at them just makes me more depressed, knowin how beautifully it was shot.

Blake Lively and Alan Arkin get it on. I'm so jealous.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Gradiva (2006) @ C'est Gradiva Qui Vous Appelle

"My dear, what the fuck are you doin?"
At a glance:
Gradiva introduces an archaeologist (James Wilby) to us, then sets him off on a chase for mysterious titular girl (doubles up as Leila, played by gorgeous veteran French-American actress Arielle Dombastle) while beddin his slave girl Belkis (Dany Verissimo) at every other go. This pretty much forms the plot for a person watchin it on operational terms. Oh and there's plenty of artsy frontal nudity and S&M violence, which is why it's R21 in Singapore.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Difficult to review Surrealist films, especially when Dali paintings escape even the more curious of the non-commercial cinemagoers today in this region. How then do I make heads and tails of a movie so intentionally disjointed, confusin and artsy such as C'est Gradiva Qui Vous Appelle? Gradiva may be callin all right – but it's very difficult to answer. This octogenarian director apparently makes films that make sense to nobody but himself. Oh wait a minute - it's all over, he died last year.
I can't remember if I cried:
When I realised the story is told with little regard for audience understandin. Which bit is a dream allegory? Which bit is the true timeline? Only director Alain Robbe-Grillet and film students would know, I suppose. To others, Gradiva is a 110-minute long indulgence.
Reminds me of:
The dodgy stadium-style Singaporean cinema I watched it in. Reeked of spunk.
Watch out for:
Dany Verissimo (without which the movie would've been unbearable), the sultry actress you might recognise from District 13 @ Banlieue 13 as pistol-packin Lola. She took off her knickers and stuffed it into some bloke's mouth while pointin the gun at his face, I vaguely recall.
"Why, yes. You're quite right. This movie makes no fuckin sense."
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
One? Perhaps a worthy piece for feminist academic study but even for art house fans, a production such as this is best confined to your collection of quirky DVDs or to the local grindhouse, assumin of course it's the R-rated kind. Can't decide which is the least rewardin watch - The Piano Tuner Of Earthquakes (2005), Gradiva or the paint dryin from my bedroom wall. Then again, Dany Verissimo isn't painted on my bedroom wall.