Sunday, January 23, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

This is the third movie of a 3 movie marathon based on real life / characters / events I watched yesterday.

This is a powerful drama. In 1993, there was ethnic war between the Tutsis and the Hutus in Rwanda. The film highlights the horrors of war, and also brings forth that a man must do, in all his ability, to always protect his family first in times of crisis. It's sad, but true, that there is always a limit to the number of people you can help.

Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager whose hotel was used by the UN and world media as a base for covering the supposed peace treaty between the 2 ethnic groups, and later used as a place of safe refuge when Hutus start to ethnic cleanse the "cockroaches" Tutsis - it's amazing how easily hatred is bred through endless radio broadcasts.

Being a Hutu himself, and married to a Tutsi, this brings forth danger to Paul himself. However, with his street smarts, and network connections, he manages to stay one step ahead of the situation, and brings hope to his family, employees, and refugees, when all seems bleak.

While the West has abandoned Paul and Rwanda, Paul has shown courage and hope in turning things around, during times of violence and rampant corruption. You're as good as what you can offer to those in power - once you have nothing, you're as good as a goner. This doesn't only apply to Paul and the generals, but also, on a bigger picture, between the West and Rwanda as well.

I haven't watched a lot of movies starring Don Cheadle, except for the Ocean11/12 movies. Given these shows tend to root for strong leading man types, probably Denzel Washington, Cheadle does an excellent job here.

No doubt the lack of A-stars, the supporting cast gave commendable performances, see if you can spot Joaquin Phoenix underneath his bearded face!

I shan't preach here, but I must state that genocide is evil, and the world cannot turn a blind eye when it happens, no matter where.

Watch this film, and understand.

Finding Neverland

This is the second movie I watched in yesterday's 3 movie marathon.

Who would've thought that even James Matthew Barrie can get writer's block and his latest play proved to be such a bore. The film opens with high English society going a cinema of yesteryear - the theatre - and by the end of it, JM Barrie knew he needed something special to stay at the top of his game.

Chance allowed him to meet a widower with 4 boys, and needless to say, their life experiences together form the basis of his most famous work - Peter Pan. However, through spending much time with this family, his own loveless marriage spun out of control, while at the same time, he finds new meaning in life with his teaching of imagination and escapism to his new surrogate family.

This film briefly explores the nuances of high society in the Victorian age, as things like these set tongues wagging, and is equivalent to the current day scandals. We're also treated to a behind the scenes look at how the theatre group pulls off the fantasy elements of the play - you'd have to believe it's there, and Barries' masterstroke in inviting orphans to the premiere of Peter Pan.

Johnny Depp does it again with his top notch acting. He's one of the few character actors around, and takes his performance to another new level. This film, given Barrie's encouraging use of imagination, allows Depp to showcase multiple roles when he plays with the kids, and one which audiences immediately identify with, is the shade of Captain Jack Sparrow when he portrays a pirate.

Kate Winslet does a commendable job as the children's mom in a single parent family, being the strong pillar to 4 young boys, and yet, being so vulnerable because of a critical illness.

Dustin Hoffman chews up his scenes, and the best irony comes in his initial disbelief that Peter Pan can pull it off (There are some of you who remembered that he played Captain Hook in Spielberg's Hook)

This is a nice touching drama on soaring life with imagination, the background tale behind the boy who never grew up, and ladies, be prepared to bring some tissues for this one - even my eyes did well at the end of this one.

Fighter In The Wind

It's uncanny to have sat through a marathon of 3 movies, each either inspired, or based upon real life or real events.

This korean movie claims to be inspired by the life of Choi Bae-dal, who founded the kyokushinkaikan variation of Karate, and the film explores the prejudice between the Koreans and the Japanese back then.

The setting is in post-WWII Japan, with Yakuzas and American GIs abound, not to mention the influx of Korean immigrants. This film narrates the life of Bae-dal in a fairly straightforward way, following his path to fame amongst fighters - taking on karate, judo and even kendo exponents.

Somehow this film parallels Stephen Chow's KungFu Hustle, which also narrates the life of a nobody to a somebody, with a pretty babe in tow for good measure, except this one is without the slapstick comedy.

The first half plods on, as our protagonist is still a greenhorn
in the martial arts world. Once you've gotten past the first hour, things start to pick up when he trains himself to be the best of the best, but towards the finale, it somehow hints of Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai. Probably no fault of its own, as it explores the same theme amongst all martial arts - honour and justice.

The fight scenes, which looked spectacular in the trailers, actually offers nothing new. Most of it are quick cuts and slow motion, and given the premise, could've offered more in terms of actual fights.

This should appeal to those who wanna know more about the myth behind Kyokushinkaikan Karate. If you're looking for real Kung-Fu action, you'll probably be better off with a Jet Li martial arts movie.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


This movie picks off a few years after Daredevil, though it almost severs all ties with the movie it spun off from. The narrative is heavily filled with flashbacks, slow motion and the "power of meditation", which makes the pacing uneven.

One of the major dangers of superhero movies is when the villains upstage the protagonist. Here, colourful villains that look like castaways from Mortal Kombat (hey, they got an alumni actor!) could have brought more potential to the show, but somehow were reduced to one dimensional, shallow cartoony characters with little dialogue. Guess not everyone can make an "X-Men" movie with tons of characters, yet with a fulfilling feel to it all, though their powers and the special effects were notable highlights.

Another danger is the lack of involvement from the creator. No doubt Stan Lee did not create Elektra, somehow it doesn't really feel like a Marvel movie without his cameo appearance. Frank Miller, the creator, certainly did not have a hand in this show, which tells.

Jennifer Garner is hot hot hot in red red leather, and the camera lingers onto every strut. I was surprised the local censors passed without a cut, the smooch between Elektra and Typhoid Mary.

In summary, paraphrasing what Electra says, this movie has too many variables and lacks background. At times it tries to sound sophisticated, but most of the time, reduced to a simplistic action movie with nothing new to offer and leaving many subplots introduced, unresolved.

3 references to Daredevil
1. The Pendant she has
2. A little flashback clip showing what happened to her after Daredevil
3. A Daredevil grafftti in one scene

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Another Freebie On Its Way

It was quite late after the Kinsey show 2 nights back, and I was tuning in to my favourite radio station Power 98, (currently tied with another new hotshot station Lush 99.5). The first thing I heard was the DJ Soo Wei saying that nobody had won their movie challenge yet, and she started to repeat the questions.

I was hearing the questions for the first time, and yep, I know all the answers. Was ready to call in until she said to SMS in the answers.

What?! I have the slowest sms-typing speed in the world!

Then I felt the winning feeling. It's unexplainable, I just feel it, the overwhelming sensation of something coming my way. SMS-ed my answers, and five minutes later, I got a call and I was on the air (well, not quite.... most of the time, it is pre-recorded).

For all you curious folks out there, and to those who were clueless (thank you for giving me the opportunity to win), the answers were
1. Seed of Chucky
2. X-Men 2: X-Men United
3. Kill Bill Vol 2

I won a S$50 CD hamper. Not sure what's in it yet, gonna collect it soon and let ya all know

Oh yeah, and for the record, I don't get this kinda feeling for 4D/Toto, so don't bother asking me yeah?

Thursday, January 13, 2005


The movie's tagline says "Let's talk about sex". And it really does - talk.

This is the other bioepic that opens this week in Singapore's shores (besides The Aviator), and it presents to you the life of Dr Kinsey, sex researcher, well, not by chance. Starting off as a zoologist with intense and devoted research on gull wasps, he discovers a necessity to research on sex, sparked by his own ineptness towards making love for the very first time with his virgin wife.

As with all research, you need a sample population size to theorize. Collecting gull wasps is must simpler than getting people to reveal their innermost secrets and fantasies, as he painfully discovers. So there lies the opening of the movie, which showcases the methods of questioning he uses to get people to open up and talk about their sex lives. This is perhaps one of the highlights of the movie.

And as with all research, you might need to dabble into the queer and the untrodden path. Here, we see him engaging in homosexual love, and in the name of science, unenthusiastically allowing his wife to sleep with his pet student (hey, he must be impartial and objective to his research), and fellow staff members to have sex with others' wives, and get it on film to be analysed!

Impartiality and objectivity in research also takes centrestage - we're humans after all, with sets of morals that differ from person to person. How much "deviant" practices can one sit through when dwelving into other's intimate secrets? In one particular interview, the interviewee boasts to having committed incest, beastality, etc!

This film charts the rise (a topic that's "new", never talked about so openly, hence gaining Dr Kinsey fame), to the fall (societal backlash from challenging normal sexual conventions, mostly from popular unacceptance and denying the truth about what's happening around society) of Kinsey's research, and through it, shows that when society's morals and conduct comes under the spotlight, not everyone can accept scientific findings with an open mind - ignorance may be bliss.

This movie is stripped of erotica, so anyone who thinks they might have a field day with sex on cellulite ought to think twice. Watch it from a scientific point of view, and you'll enjoy the show tremendously.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More Old Reviews

I was running another site with friends, but sadly, we have decided to close it down.

Salvaged some old reviews, posted here for your reading pleasure
(Just in case you're wondering, The Aviator is the latest movie reviewed)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Aviator

This almost 3 hour bio-epic of Howard Hughes, the second collaborative film between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (the first being Gangs of New York), may seem as mammoth as the sproose goose, but with excellent casting, acting, sets and pacing, you'd be clammering for it to continue as it barely scratches the surface of Hughes eventful life, as director, aviator and visionary.

Squeezed into the film are so many themes and subplots, it makes you eager to want to learn more about this fascinating icon, in addition to the Early Hollywood to post-WWII era covered.

Hollywood - this is at its earliest, with classic screen legends brought to life again. The first 15 minutes of the film lets you into the production of Hughes' Hell's Angels, and other classics of his like Scarface and The Outlaw were covered, with the latter's friction with the censorship board on mammaries bringing huge doses of humour. Also, look out for Jude Law's Errol Flynn!

Romance - between Katharine Hepburn, played so perfectly by Cate Blanchett, and Kate Beckinsale's Ava Gardner, who teases and asks Hughes of nothing more than buying her dinner. Minor love relations are briefly mentioned, or given the "Tabloid Treatment".

The Aviator - Hughes designs, builds and then test flies his own planes. We get to see him being the fastest man on earth, circling the globe, critically crashing his Air Force's spy plane prototype, and piloting his crowning glory, C-130's granddaddy Hercules.

Corporate Business - Business is war, between Hughes' WTA and Alec Baldwin's PanAm. Watch how they scheme against each other for the battle of the skies!

Corruption - Politics and money don't mix... or do they? We get a sneak peek into the corruption and bribery of the early days. Oops, or should I say, generous donations?

Excessive Compulsive Disorder - Hughes suffers from ECD, and is obsessive with cleanliness. He uses his own bar soap in pubilc loos, doesn't stand anything raw, or the tiniest speck of dirt on anyone else's shirt. We see the disorder zapping his of his sanity, and he declines into living in filth (the irony of it) and stark naked in his projection room, suffering from the disorder at its worst, before Ava plucks him out of his rut.

I have to admit I ain't much of a Martin Scorsese fan, till now. I haven't watched Goodfellas, and my recent memory of Scorsese is Gangs of NY, and the lending of his voice for the blowfish in Shark's Tale. Here, he mastefully mixes and weaves the themes together into one long compelling narrative.

I have always been a fan of Leo DiCaprio's acting abilities, from What's Eating Gilbert Gabe, to spouting Shakespeare in Bahz Luhman's R+J. This is yet another occassion where he plays someone real and does one heck of a job.

This show has something for everybody, is oscar worthy, so don't miss it. Now I gotta hit the stores to get one of his biographies...
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