Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Dead Girl (2006)

Rose Bryne plays a long-grieving sister in The Dead Girl (2006).

At a glance:
Kerry Washington plays a lesbian hooker.
Not a very flattering shot, though.
Sometimes when I'm reminded of Brittany Murphy's sudden demise, I think of two things. One would be her boinkin Eminem at the car factory in 8 Mile (2002). The other would be her titular role in The Dead Girl (2008), somethin that will forever be a chillin irony after her tragic death in December 2009. Karen Moncrieff's The Dead Girl is a disturbingly powerful vignette piece about a dead girl and five women who are connected in some way or another to her. The Stranger (Toni Collette) is the awkward daughter of an abusive mother who finds empowerment when she finds the titular corpse. The Sister (Rose Byrne) is a depressed forensics student who tries to find closure by insisting that the corpse is that of her lost sister. The Wife (Mary Beth Hurt) is the thankless murderer's wife who almost reports her husband to the authorities but for a change of heart. The Mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is a clueless middle-class woman who cannot understand why her dead daughter left home even before she was killed; and finds some answers via a whore who used to live with her daughter. Lastly, The Dead Girl is a young woman who is shown to live a blameless life just days before she meets her grisly end. No - it's not a horror. It's not a murder thriller either. It's a beautifully restrained character study that benefits from a stellar cast and their solid performances. Flyin in the face of the adage ‘the dead tell no tales', this movie asks the questions nobody likes to hear; all through the cinematic device of a motionless corpse. Contrasted against a wasteland of a backdrop, we see characters and their motives - some noble, some ugly; but always unflinchingly realistic. It's the sort of movie that finds appreciation only through what we want to understand and derive from it.
Marcia Gay Hayden
Bad news on the doorstep:
Of course, what we understand and derive from it will always be contingent on the emotional force that drives it. Herein The Dead Girl suffered from the age-old censorship bug when I first viewed it in 2008 under Cathey-Keris' banner in Malaysia. The full texture of the film has been compromised by the cuttin of scenes instrumental to conveying the bleakness of the subject matter at hand.
Perennial wonderment:
What did happen to Brittany Murphy? Widower died at the same house, too. It had somethin to do with toxic mould, they said.
Mary Beth Hurt
Reminds me of:
Jindabyne (2006), The Invisible (2007), The Burning Plain (2008) and Brick (2005).
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Thankfully, the strength of its performances survives this. I cannot think of a single poor movie with Toni Collette in it - this one just improves the statistic. Hers is just one of five characters and the rest of the cast are, pardon the pun, dead solid. Permeatin the emotional undercurrent is also a well-chosen music score to bring out the best in that sun-bleached, dry discomfort of L.A. backcountry. There is little more you can ask from The Dead Girl, except maybe another five stories from this excitin director. Maybe this time we could be spared the veiled feminism though, eh?★★★
The day the music died:
R.I.P. Brittany Murphy
(November 10, 1977 – December 20, 2009)
Brittany Murphy at The Dead Girl World Premiere and AFI Special Presentation
at AFI FEST 2006 / The Loft in Los Angeles, California.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Stool Pigeon (2010) @ 线人

Liu Kai Chi, the ex-stool pigeon with a lousy retirement package.

At a glance:
It’s Beast Stalker Part II as one-genre man Dante Lam Chiu Yin’s latest Hua Yi Brothers-backed US$4 million crime drama goes down as his best so far, lookin like it’s been explicitly made with Golden Horse intentions, especially with the role reversal between Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse, who now play a cop and an informant respectively. Since his unfocused Sniper (2009) was somewhat a one-dimensional letdown, it was great that Fire Of Conscience (2010) burned brighter and now we can attest to Stool Pigeon 线人 being a superior product that benefits from the exceptional pairin and also a particularly restrained but intense screenplay by Jack Ng Wai Lun, save for some jarrin extended downtime. The titular informant here is habitual offender Ghost Jr (Tse), son of a renowned underground racer and is now doin time but Inspector Don (Cheung) picks him out to be the best positioned informant to infiltrate a gang who specialises in jewellery heists. Since his sister has been pimped out due to his father’s debts, the money proves too good for him to refuse and Ghost Jr gets dragged through an epic struggle of blood, sweat and tears. We have good character development throughout, startin with Liu Kai Chi’s ex-stoolie character and even Kwai Lun Mei who apparently holds a gun for the first time in a movie, playin a feisty gangster’s moll. Mainlander Lu Yi gets a comfortable part as heist mastermind Barbarian while Miao Pu gets to play Nick Cheung’s wife again (Beast Stalker) in a twisted sideplot.
First time shooter: Kwai Lun Mei.
Bad news on the doorstep:
The mole scenario is a HK cinema overkill but Stool Pigeon offers two fresh aspects that are uncommon. One is the often darkly humourous dialogues about informant procedure and even pricing structure. We’re shown how to “treat your stoolie like your girlfriend” and also how cash rewards commensurate with task objectives in a most organised way. Next, we have a more textured presentation, as Lam chose despairing Kowloon streets for most scenes and there are plenty of location-specific references that enrich the movie.
Your informant is like your girfriend.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
The picture comes off stylish, thematically-grippin and substantial, balancin drama and action will aplomb, unlike the many uneasy blow-em-‘up HK titles we have had to settle for every now and then.The director has edited a scalpin scene with Cheung, so you can expect the movie to be averagely violent, with plenty of realistically dirty blood-soaked scuffles (check out Tse getting beaten to a pulp on the kerb) instead of clean chops and martial arts. Watch it as this year’s best Hong Kong crime drama so far.★★★★

Thursday, 12 August 2010

City Under Siege (2010) @ 全城戒备

City Under Siege shu qi aaron kwok 全城戒备 seks melayu tudung gambar lucah kelantan amoi 3gp seks Hong Kong virus jay Chou naked
Superslut and superhero.
At a glance:
American X-Men are crossed with Chinese Future X-Cops in uneasy yet fairly entertainin Hong Kong actioner that certainly contains more drama than what poster or title might suggest. In a modification of the usual themes we find in movies about post-war Nazi experiments, this Benny Chan picture uses the prologue of fictional Japanese experiments in Malaysia durin WWII occupation and spins a mutant story with heroes and villains, mostly in fat suits, clown suits or any other futuristic-lookin PVC apparel, as long as they look more advanced than Streetfighter characters. In City Under Siege (2010), we follow a bumblin simpleton named Sunny (Aaron Kwok) who goes from circus clown to national hero in a bizarre turn of events that we’ll omit as spoilers. Colin Chou (Forbidden Kingdom) plays the arch nemesis, while Shu Qi (Gorgeous) gets a decent role as a beautiful TV news anchor. Meanwhile there are also Mr and Mrs Smith super agent roles for Zhang Jing Chu (Aftershock) and Wu Jing (SPL).
City Under Siege shu qi aaron kwok 全城戒备 seks melayu tudung gambar lucah kelantan amoi 3gp seks Hong Kong virus jay Chou naked
"Wow, I can see his ego from here."
Bad news on the doorstep:
The balance between CGI and traditional FX isn’t very comfortable, especially comin from such an established filmmaker who gave us the Police Story movies with Jackie Chan. As mentioned earlier, it’s rather unusual that the movie does have a useful healthy dose of emotional downtime and humorous interjections (Aaron Kwok’s obsession with bein “slim”) - this helps lift the mood for the otherwise very overdone plot. More importantly, it’s possible that many of the understated action scenes in this movie are actually quite explosive but can’t find a comfortable place to engage the audience who are bein visually bamboozled with various CGI oddities.
City Under Siege shu qi aaron kwok 全城戒备 seks melayu tudung gambar lucah kelantan amoi 3gp seks Hong Kong virus jay Chou naked
Aaron Kwok shouldn't have had that last murtabak.
Perennial wonderment:
We must however single out Aaron Kwok as being a much improved, very competent and professional actor despite the flak he gets all these years. In related observations, Shu Qi’s Cantonese has improved fivefold since the Sex And Zen years while Mainlanders Zhang Jing Chu and Wu Jing need better projects if they’re gonna break out of the B-movie mould.
I can't remember if I cried:
This movie had Malaysian indie distributor NEF havin a go at organisin a big event with the HK stars in town. It was a circus.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Feels more Ultraman than Rumble In The Bronx but you're likely not to feel shortchanged if you’re looking for an action movie with Chinese stars. ★★1/2