Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Afflicted (2010)

melayu bogel
J.D Hart as Cowboy Profit, a fraudulent evangelical who loves fake boobies.

At a glance:
Probably as ugly as this movie:
The real Theresa Knorr.
So I guess Afflicted Picturehouse was a one-time company set up just to make this time-waster? The Afflicted (2010) a.k.a. Another American Crime is written and directed by Jason Stoddard based on the true story of Theresa Jimmie Knorr, a deranged Californian woman now in prison where she will be eligible for parole in 2027. A committed Leslie Easterbrook (the Police Academy movies, The Devils Rejects) is a first-time producer and also stars as Mother Maggie, an drunken piece of white trash dumped by her husband (Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder in a brief role) and takes to abusin her daughters while bein consumed by evangelical perversions.
Bad news on the doorstep:
What an irredeemable bore. Bizarre character decisions, ham-fisted performances and repeated, derivative elements throughout. Gimme a break! You hold out in hopes of the infinitesimal payoff at the end of this harrowin viewin experience.
Perennial wonderment:
"Can you feel the fire the Lord has gone and put in my loins, Father?"
Leslie Easterbrook's mad matriarch role lacks innovation but at least it gave me a reason to look up the real perp. Funny how they had such a rich source to draw from and all they could come up with is this pedestrian effort.
Reminds me of:
The Girl Next Door (2007) but that was superior.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Visit its official website for more info. It's still up so I believe they're still shoppin! 1/2
Bonus material:

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sonny Boy (2011)

inter-racial love
Winsome inter-racial couple, Rika (Ricky Koole) and Waldemar (Sergio Hasselbaink).

At a glance:
Proudly Dutch and therefore chosen as its official 2012 Oscars submission for Best Foreign Language Pic and also for European Union Film Festival screenings across the globe, Maria Peters' lavish Sonny Boy (2011) is an $8 mil inter-racial love story set against a Holocaust backdrop, with plenty of period detail and afternoon TV melodrama. It's based on a true story about a Surinam scholar and swimmer who knocked up a married white Dutch lady 17 years his senior. Title is in reference to the old crooner's song and subsequently the name of the lovechild borne out of their difficult but passionate union.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Nevermind the over-saturated colours of what I believe to be a poor DVD transfer being played at The Royal, this old-fashioned romance epic benefits firstly from a handsome inter-racial couple, Rika (Ricky Koole) and Waldemar (Sergio Hasselbaink), who command good onscreen chemistry. I remember all too well the last time I saw an unconvincin inter-racial pairin was also at the European Union Film Festival, albeit the 2010 Malaysian edition at GSC. It was For All Eternity (2002) where a Chinese man had zero chemistry with the Austrian female lead. Anyway, back to Sonny Boy, the movie is largely uneven and tried to do too much, payin dues to too many lesser characters and effectively takin the momentum out of the picture. Most of the emotional hooks unfortunately came across as rather underwhelmin, I suspect due to the unimaginative music score. What happened to that powerful, epic-soundin score from the trailer? Anyway, in doin justice to Annejet van der Zijl's novel from which it's adapted, I feel more intense camerawork and a shorter edit would've done the trick.
Perennial wonderment:
"Have you ever drank soymilk out of a chocolate straw?"
Who is Ricky Koole? She has enormous presence and a classy, thoughtful disposition. Hope to see her in a big Hollywood picture someday?
Reminds me of:
A Beautiful Life (1997) with an inter-racial twist, like in For All Eternity (2002).
Most memorable line:
"There are two things a plant needs to grow. Sun and water. These are our rainy days."
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
I believe I might be prejudiced by a poor viewin experience. Nevertheless it's a movie with its heart in the right place. Enjoyed the little bits of humour, too.★★★
Bonus material:
Waldemar Nods, Rika van der Lans and Sonny Boy
I suppose they're the real Waldemar Nods, Rika van der Lans and Sonny Boy
if indeed their real names were used. Looks like a happy family.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Byzantium (2012)

gemma arterton
This see-through, blood-red, tight top with a text motif that reads "SUCK"
looked really good on Gemma Arterton.
Need to find out where to buy one.

At a glance:
While everyone else was busy with the last Twilight instalment, I was thankfully spared that duty this time and found myself at a different kind of vampire movie - West End Films / Neil Jordan's Byzantium (2012). It premiered at TIFF 2012 and was presented by producer Nik Powell at the European Union Film Festival 2012 in Toronto which I attended. The title refers to a disused guesthouse somewhere on England's coasts, where two quibblin young women (Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan), whose relation to each other is unclear, find refuge in the charity of a weak man (Daniel Mays).
Saoirse Ronan. One day I'll be able to say your name right.
Bad news on the doorstep:
There's a reason why this movie didn't warm up to distributors easily, although you can read from Mike Fleming a while ago that it did secure a seven-figure deal at TIFF from IFC, that "the deal coming together is several million dollars in minimum guarantee and marketing commitment... this film has designs on a theatrical release broadening out to several hundred screens." Less commercial than the Irish filmmaker's Brad Pitt starrer Interview With The Vampire (1994), the general consensus I gathered is that while the movie is sober as it is serious, Byzantium, with its underwhelmin poster and all, doesn't project the sort of storytellin energy or tragic vampire pedigree that anyone goin for it would expect. The back-and-forth narrative between centuries don't work as smoothly and ultimately you feel the movie doesn't really know what it is, oscillatin between offbeat, artsy supernatural thriller and intense, mainstream horror-slasher. It's a tad talky at all the wrong times, as well. There are too many distractin elements bein brought to the table. Perhaps it has to pay deference to Moira Buffini’s A Vampire Story - the theatre play from which it's adapted.
Gemma Arterton obliges paparazzi on set.
Perennial wonderment:
Glad to know that the feral, full-figured Gemma Arterton isn't about to cover up, despite havin made it big time. She gets the big studio roles like Prince Of Persia (2010) and Quantum Of Solace (2008), yet she still bares all for indies like The Disappearance Of Alice Creed (2009) and Tamara Drewe (2010). In Byzantium, you'll get plenty of her distractin busom, not to mention frequent out-of-focus shots on her nipples even. As for the mysterious Irish talent Saoirse Ronan, her lovely bones are maturin nicely.
Reminds me of:
Night At The Golden Eagle (2001) meets Let The Right One In (2008), set somewhere near Brighton Rock (2010).
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Uneven but nevertheless entertainin when goin into spurts and splatters. There's no crucifixes, garlic or fangs in this; and certainly no sparkly speed demons on piggyback either, but you will get several old-school vampire conventions. Best enjoyed without havin read the review. Ha.★★1/2
Bonus material:

Sam Riley seems to have returned to Brighton Rock in a similar guise.

Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton at some TIFF 2012 party.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Eldorado (2012)

Eldorado (2012)
Michael Madsen takes any job he can find.
Up next, Julian Cheah's Prince In The City. *Gulp*

Eldorado (2012)
Not the real Daryl Hannah but a pornstar
who assumed the moniker due to her likeness.
At a glance:
First ever British movie to be shot in 3D? David Carradine's last movie appearance? If you've read the heavyweight cast list, you'll never understand how such a paceless, plotless and meanderin dud ever came into existence, especially if you agree with me it's more like what Tenacious D would have shot with some over-aged fans for a film school project, after havin OD'ed on cheap skunk and bad pizza. In Eldorado (probably the very worst among every movie ever so titled), we follow a Blues Brothers tribute band called The Jews Brothers, whose manager mistakenly to a Neo-Nazi fundraiser instead of a stripper. Peter O'Toole sits on a chair and narrates intermittently, tongue-in-cheek. Daryl Hannah recites the titular Edgar Allen Poe poem to mislead us into a possibly related or coherent story. Everyone else also looks as if they can't wait for it to be over. Did someone call in every favour to get this done? It's a senseless parody and you're gonna recognise elements from Sweeney Todd, Little Shop of Horrors, The Blues Brothers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Reservoir Dogs, Heaven Can Wait, Kung Fu, Blazing Saddles and even some O Brother, Where Art Thou - but even the song scenes are far from excitin and I find it hard to believe anyone can finish this two hour-movie without hittin the fast-forward.
"Are you okay to go topless for a Richard Driscoll movie?"
Bad news on the doorstep:
As we near the end of 2012, I'll be roundin out my own records e.g. Most Pretentious (Savages vs Cloud Atlas), Most Frustrating (The Devil Inside vs Lizzie), Worst Malaysian Movie (Gerimis Mengundang vs Momok Don't Find Trouble). I'm sure Richard Driscoll's Eldorado (2012) will come out tops in somethin. This guy, not to be confused with the other British actor on TV's Eastenders, is known to some as Britain's Ed Wood and many struggle to explain his amazin ability to keep producin awful films throughout the ages.
edgar allen poe
Daryl Hannah. Why?
Perennial wonderment:
David Carradine. Guess they buried it with him, huh? Bad way to go. R.I.P. Kwai Chang Caine. On the other hand, this guy Peter O'Toole seems to have been around forever. Is he immortal?
Reminds me of:
A bad dream, with songs.
Most memorable line:
Fat chance you'll find any.
No idea.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Do yourself a favour and stay far, far away from this. Apparently next, the makers have lined up the 3D Gothic tale Back2Hell, and other listed projects include two more 3D flicks, Wolfman 3D and Watchmen Of Hellgate. Let us pray those are better.

The day the music died:
David Carradine 8 December 1936 to 3 June 2009
R.I.P. David Carradine
8 December 1936 – 3 June 2009

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Kepong Gangster (2012) 甲洞

"Whaddya mean you don't stock Schwarzkopf's extra strong hold gel?!?!"

At a glance:
Really organised crime:
Agreeing beforehand us pipes, you sticks.
As Jordan Chan learned in The Wall (2002), just because you smoke hard, doesn't mean you look hard. The tired Malaysian gangster genre unfortunately continues with a most unrealistic, though earnest addition - Mahu Pictures / Ram Entertainment's RM 2.09 million-grossin Cantonese cringer Kepong Gangster (2012) a.k.a 甲洞. Betrayin a title card prologue that hints towards a gangland epic with real provenance (e.g. Johnnie To's much celebrated Election a.k.a. 黑社会 duology), it doesn't take long before the highlight-finned prettyboys come out to play, brandishin their suspect Cantonese accents, rented watermelon knives and temporary tribal tattoos, to strike fear into the hearts of mostly one another, since there's probably insufficient funds to include elements like - oh I don't know - the police? This laughable knock-off draws obvious parallels from Hong Kong's popular Young And Dangerous series but is difficult to enjoy due to the painfully derivative story and screenplay, not to mention some iffy humour at the start and protracted melodrama at the end.
Bad news on the doorstep:
The irony in its successful LPF appeal (overturnin the dreaded 18 ratin for a more box office-friendly PG13) is that you'd probably do need to be a 13-year-old to believe the events in the movie. While there are some useful instances (e.g. triad hand signal greetings), the already sore, low note of credibility cannot be redeemed by the fashionista five. Melvin Sia (any relation to Mers Sia from Chow Kit or are they one and the same?), Henley Hii (big Eagles fan perhaps), Hero Tai, Billy Ng and Rayz Lim come across as unblemished, homogenous hairdressers from Jinjang, all waitin to break into song. We can cut debutant director Teng Bee some slack for he's a music producer by trainin, but the commendable conviction here from both cast and crew is sadly lost to the characterisation. A solid story is needed to allow us to overlook the same MTV boyband stylings of Mark Chao and Ethan Juan in Doze Niu's highly effective Taiwanese tale, Monga (2010). Either that, or take heart from Louis Koo, who went against image consultants with his yellow-toothed street bum role in Protégé (2007).
Reminds me of:
Jovi Theng delivers.
The mid-tier boss played by pop group lead Jovi Theng is similar to Adam Corrie in Malay gangster movies. Surprisingly, he's the only one in the movie you'd buy. That is to say, he's the only who might actually pass as the bookie or pusher on the other line and not the nancy who's tryin to get you in on the Chinese New Year hair rebondin offer. Well done.
Perennial wonderment:
Who backs these projects? I saw a Dato's name in the openin credits. I hope they get better scripts next time.
Watch out for:
All we got to see of Linda Liao was a black bra strap. Cis! 
Taiwanese singer, MTV Mandarin VJ and bit-part actress Linda Liao Pei Ling 廖佩伶 aka 廖語晴. She plays the gangster's moll and provides for the movie's less embarrassin dramatic moments. Too bad, every time the movie starts to get a little steamy, it fades to black. Potong stim.
Most memorable line:
I'm not sure the context is correct but in the end there's an allusion to Bruce Lee's famous "be water" advice, when we are told that a tree will tumble durin a storm but not the grass, thus the latter bein the stronger.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Ain't seen Michael Chuah's critically-panned Fist Of Dragon (2011) a.k.a. 龍拳 but one sincerely hopes Kepong Gangster can be the launchpad of many careers, lest we endured it in vain. As for me, I'd sooner fancy a rerun of Budak Kelantan (2008) any day.★★

Bonus material:

Kepong gangsters or Kepong hairdressers?
I rest my case.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas: Overambitious, three-hour ego trip? Or epic sci-fi splendour?

At a glance:
Tom Hanks a little behind Robert Downey Jr. on this one.
Many thought this movie was not possible, you can read. Eventually made for over US$100 mil on a peculiar split shootin arrangement between Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowski siblings (now that one of them has turned into a woman), Cloud Atlas (2012), with its stunnin, otherworldly trailer, is just about the most excitin, non-superhero movie that you'd have saved up to catch on IMAX this year. It runs for 172 minutes and chronicles six related stories, featurin an embarrassment of stars such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Sturgess, James D'Arcy, Keith David, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw and Zhou Xun. The story is adapted from David Mitchell's 2004 book of the same name - a book that Natalie Portman apparently introduced to the twin directors on the set of V For Vendetta.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Jim Broadbent oughtta have known better than to be in this.
It's one of the most expensive, unnecessary and over-directed movies I've ever seen in my life. Talk about seethin sci-fi shyte - that's three hours of my life I'll never get back. Ebert has been slowly losin it these past few years and none more so than his unadulterated praise of this. You're either gonna be one of those people who gave this supposedly visionary movie an extended standin applause at the Toronto International Film Festival or you're sat here with me cursin your sore bum. The last time the Wachowskis took us on a ride through realms was in The Matrix (1999) and it worked despite the incredulity and disorientation because the audience is afforded the space and respect to establish links through strong characters and their compellin dialogue. Cloud Atlas is a confetti of visuals, thrown about to celebrate what flatters and deceives. I can barely hear what Tom Hanks mumbles half the time! A movie this grand, you'd think that when the pieces fall together in the end, you'd get a big emotional payoff that rewards you for keepin up. The reality is that this is a narrative many producers will avoid for years to come.
Jim Sturgess does a yellowface.
Strangely he spoke Cantonese as a Korean.
Perennial wonderment:
If there's one thing I can defend the movie on, it's against all the well-publicised MANAA bullcrap about not hirin Asians to play the Asian roles in the movie. It's actually vital to the context and integrity of the story that the same actors appear in multiple races and even different genders. Why don't these activist jokers go for bigger fish and leave this already doomed movie alone, eh?
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
While we at least can be consoled that the picture doesn't pivot entirely on a gimmicky M. Night Shyamalan twist (that you'd have to decide whether or not to buy), the central themes are lost in the sheer spectacle of it all, and drowned in a routine music score. This R-rated story could've been told in 30 other shorter, more accessible and less ambitious ways but it simply had to go for this serendipitous portrait of self-grandeur. To the rest of you who enjoyed this conceit, I envy your patience.★★

Simon And The Oaks (2011) @ Simon Och Ekarna

post-coital chess
Swedish post-coital chess? Oughtta try it sometime.

At a glance:
Simon And The Oaks (2011) or Simon Och Ekarna in its native Swedish, is a lavish adaptation from Marianne Fredriksson's 1985 book of the same name. Running 122 minutes long, it's a WWII comin-of-age drama told chiefly through an awkward boy, Simon (Jonatan S. Wächter) who talks to trees and dreams of music, findin no support nor understandin from his pragmatic home. He goes to a fancy city school and befriends a Jewish boy called Isak (Karl Martin Eriksson). The two essentially swap fathers due to common interests and by the end credits, you'd appreciate why the Swedes thought this was a pretty powerful picture and it swept everythin at their domestic awards.
Bad news on the doorstep:
The young Simon (Jonatan S. Wächter)
This film is part of this year's lineup at GSC's European Union Film Festival so I thought I'd look it up. It wasn't their Best Foreign Language Pic submission to the Oscars and you could see why. Filmleaf's Chris Knipp summarises: "despite international success, Simon lacks anything to make it special. It feels like a rehash of many other pictures with just a touch of Swedishness pasted in; it quite lacks the magic of Jan Troell's historical sagas." Indeed I felt more moved with Troell's Maria Larsson's Everlasting Moments (2008) in the same event three years back.'s Brian Orndoft notes how it's "surprising but also frustrating, especially when larger ideas on musical liberation and environmental connection are lost to the melodrama, resulting in an intermittently powerful, yet vaguely detailed film." Variety's Ronnie Schreib praises the retention of the narrative complexity of the Swedish bestseller on which it's based but decries how the WWII saga "never creates an emotional or intellectual throughline of its own". I'll sum it all up for you - it was a very uneven movie that was largely borin. 
Perennial wonderment:
I have yet to see the 2010 Swede submission that made the last eight for Best Foreign Language Pic - Simple Simon a.k.a. I Rymden Finns Inga Känslor (meanin "in space there are no feelings"). About time I did.
Reminds me of:
Katharina Schuttler obliges with a full frontal.
The older Simon is portrayed by Bill Skarsgård, son of Stellan, and he reminds me of Louis Garrel in The Dreamers (2003). That sex scene recalls the one in Angela's Ashes (1999) - would you have sex with a horny young girl stricken with the consumption?
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Problematic momentum and not enough emotional hooks to get us to root for the older Simon, who comes across rather unlikeable and difficult to comprehend. What can I say - go read the book, perhaps? An accomplished movie, nonetheless.★★1/2
Bonus material:
Here we have some important sex scenes you won't be watchin if you're gonna catch this at the upcomin European Union Film Festival in Malaysia. Simon (Bill Skarsgård) is seduced by concentration camp survivor Iza (Katharina Schuttler) but her damaged, psycho-sexual  requires a spot of S&M from him and he simply can't provide the rough lovin. Unless things have changed, it will go down to the manual cardboard censorship again.
Simon (Bill Skarsgård) is seduced by concentration camp survivor Iza (Katharina Schuttler)
but cannot provide for her damaged psycho-sexual needs.
Director Lisa Ohlin with cast Bill Skarsgård and Helen Sjöholm.
(L-R) Cast & crew: Jan Josef Liefers, Katharina Schuettler, Lisa Ohlin, Bill Skarsgard.
Photocall during a set visit to promote the new movie 3 May 2010.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Monkey Shines (1988)

"I don't expect to find sin in a urine sample."
Adopt me, please?
At a glance:
Horror maestro George Romero's first commercial film Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear is a grippin horror movie about a recently-disabled young athlete (Jason Beghe) who gets a capuchin from his scientist friend (John Pankow from TV's Mad About You) who thought it might be a good idea to get him out of suicidal depression, especially since the man's girlfriend (Janine Turner) is bein stolen by the very surgeon who saved his life (Stanley Tucci). The curveball here is that both monkey and man start developin a shared consciousness. The menacin monkey, Ella, begins to act out his master's repressed thoughts of impotent anger and bitterness. Turn up the music score and let the good times roll!
Bad news on the doorstep:
6 out of 10 quadriplegics
attempt suicide at some point.
Overbearing mum = bad.
Sexy nurse girlfriend = good.
Adapted off Michael Stewart's 1983 book of the same name, this was probably regarded as a B-movie in the day, especially when you read that the now-defunct Orion Pictures had to rape a new happy endin into it (against Romero's wishes) and it still bombed at the cinemas. Somethin like a 5 million gross against a 7 million budget? Man hated the studio experience so much, he's said to have gone back to indie ways for a few years until The Dark Half (1993). In any case, today the film has left a much more positive legacy, since I caught it at a Romero retrospective at TIFF. Thanks to April Snellings of Rue Morgue for sendin me.
Perennial wonderment:
A touchin movie but I'd like to know if quadriplegics were as annoyed with the happy endin as alleged by some forum comments I read.
Reminds me of:
Link (1986), Outbreak (1995), Shakma (1990).
I can't remember if I cried:
My wife kept shriekin and jumpin off her seat. Her cousin kept both hands around her ears throughout. It was a great night out, short of meetin Romero himself, who was in town but not presentin for tonight.
Most memorable line:
Old Orion Pictures movie still scan.
"Oh I got 5000 years of civilised behaviour bred into me. Well what if wasn't so civilised anymore? What if I was an animal? Free to follow my instincts. That's what the devil is Jeff, it's instinct. Animal instinct lives in us all. Lives by its own set of laws. Laws of the jungle."
Watch out for:
Quadriplegic sex with Kate McNeil. Nice. Sorta reminds me of Breaking The Waves (1996).
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
In a movie that is so well crafted, you'd have to think hard about where it fell short. I guess lead actor Beghe was caught hammin it up in parts. Also, sparin several minutes of its 113 minutes to document the precise sci-fi connection between monkey and man could've elevated its endurance. Nevertheless, this is a nigh timeless piece of intense work that deserves every revisit.★★★★
Bonus material:
quadriplegic sex
An important early scene to establish the virility of the protagonist:
Jason Beghe doing calisthenics nude and then grabbing Janine Turner's arse.