Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Dukes of Hazzard

Remakes are getting popular in Hollywood, be they adapted from existing Asian films like Infernal Affairs, or digging into their own nostalgic TV series. This remake doesn't take itself too seriously, as we revisit the Dukes of Hazzard County - Cousins Luke, Bo, Daisy and Uncle Jessie.

In a short span of 10 minutes, we get introduced to the boys and their moonshine running, their penchant for running into trouble, the bickering banter, and got the opportunity to see Daisy up close and personal in the bar.

The plot's a bit flimsy, nothing too intelligent - baddie Boss Hogg buys up farmland in Hazzard in an attempt to turn Hazzard into a humongous coal mining town, and it's up to the Duke boys to stop him from achieving his objective. It plays out simply like a chess game, with moves and countermoves from both sides, but no prizes for guessing who always come up tops.

There are plenty of stars in this remake film. Johnny Knoxville, better known as the creator-writer of the TV series Jackass, stars as Luke Duke. Sean Williams Scott seems to be dangerously typecasted into smarty-pants or dumb jock roles, given his filmography filled with American Pies, and asking Where's his Car in Road Trips. Thankfully, there is some chemistry between them to make this film bearable. For any hot-blooded male, the female dormitory scene will probably bring on the laughs,

Jessica Simpson has been aptly highlighted (or rather, her assets were) in the trailers, and as Daisy Duke, she gets to flaunt her assets a lot in this film, in various hot pants, bikinis and undress. It gets tired after a while, as Daisy Duke turned more into a bimbo than anything else. Not that I'm not enjoying every moment of it though. Willie Nelson completes the Duke family as Uncle Jessie, and you'd half expect him to break out into song, which he did, for a short while, during the end credits. The villains are over the top, with Burt Reynolds really adding the cheese as Hogg.

But the real star of the show is that red hot "General Lee" Dodge Charger car which leaps over so many ramps placed throughout the movie on purpose. The Dixie horn gets tooted a number of times too, just for the sake of drumming it in that hey, it's like the TV series. The cinematography for General Lee challenges flicks like The Fast and The Furious, and even gives Initial D's "drifting" a run for its money, performing the drifting stunt not in lonely mountain roads, but in busy city streets. Hats off to the stunt drivers, and for wreaking quite a number of the cars as seen in the making of clips in the closing credits.

The Dukes of Hazzard gamely captures some elements in the TV series, but the movie doesn't offer anything much refreshing. While enjoyable, there isn't much to take away from this comedy, and is forgettable once you're out of the theatre.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

SNAG Magazine Launch Party

Just in case you're wondering where I've disappeared to.

Was partying the weekend away and recovered from it only recently, sort of. Getting too old for partying already.

Anyway, I was part of the movieXclusive team covering one of the partner's launch, a new magazine called SNAG. It's already out in the newsstands, but you can read about the launch party by clicking on the movieXclusive logo below:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Four Brothers

A kind old lady is murdered in cold blood one snowy night in a convenience store. It seemed like the usual stick up by racist hoodlums on the hard streets of Detriot, and that the lady was collateral damage.

Four orphaned brothers of the hood are brought back together to mourn the loss of their foster mother. We see the Mercer brothers Bobby, Angel, Jeremiah and Jack, bond together as they try not to openly weep. But deep down inside, they know the police can't do much to help a covered-up investigation, and swear sweet revenge upon those involved in the killing.

I was expecting loads of gun battles and intense action, but this movie surprised me with its witty moments instead. There weren't much wham-bang action, but the one which stood out was the ambush on the Mercer house, and the car chase sequence along frozen streets. The script was mildly intelligent with its weaving of the brothers' dalliances with the hoodlums, contract killers, government officers, and with crooked cops, bringing them all together for an interesting finale.

The last Mark Wahlberg movie I saw was The Italian Job remake, and here, Wahlberg reigns as he personifies the cocky hotheaded Bobby Mercer. Andre Benjamin seemed somewhat muted too, after his recent screen stint as a flamboyant and trigger-happy gangster in Be Cool. Perhaps it is his role as the family man which adds that extra dimension and difference between him and the rest of the brothers - he can't be as carefree or act with total disregard as he has people who depend on him.

This film also makes no apologies in adding that bit of realism to its dialogue, with street language and cursing aplenty, with plenty of stereotypical characters.

But all in all, it's an enjoyable flick, as we observe in silent glee, the four brothers exacting revenge with R&B music humming along in the background.

The Myth

Thanks to massb for allowing me to tag along on his preview ticket yesterday night.

This film was pretty hyped up for many reasons. Jackie Chan, after the relatively successful return to HK movie industry with the release of New Police Story, teams up once again with Stanley Tong (Rumble in the Bronx) for starters. Tong wrote the story of The Myth, casting Jackie Chan in a never seen before role (yes, audiences are tired with his cop roles already) as a Qin dynasty general. What's refreshing too is that the role requires the use of a real weapon (a sword in this case), rather than having JC's character improvising with tools from his environment.

As most would already know from the trailer and poster, JC plays Jack Chan (about time they come up with better names too), an archeologist who dreams about a Korean princess whom he's escorting to the Qin emperor as his new concubine. It's a recurring dream, and before you can say "Indiana Jones", he's off to locales he sees in his dream world to try and unravel its mystery, while research companion Tony Leung (The Lover) irks him along the way with tomb raiding in the name of scientific studies.

The story, while it might be original for a Jackie Chan movie, seemed a little cliche. It plays like a young boy's fantasy of snagging that exotic oriental princess, enjoying the support of the troop masses, having utmost loyalty to the king, and blessed with good fighting skills topped with a signature sword. And with the Qin dynasty, you're usually reduced to plots which may include the Great Wall, beautiful consorts, or the pill of Immortality.

The Myth looks and feels like a classic JC movie in terms of production values, like the familiar fight-with-the-baddies-acrobatic-stunts scenes, and physical humour injected at certain points. However, I guess with JC's age, the number of fight scenes have been reduced, and somewhat slowed down deliberately. The fight at the Rat Glue Factory stood out for being a combination of both brawn and injected situational humour. On the other hand, The Myth signifies new developments in a typical JC storyline, with the introduction of drama-mama romance (nothing much romantic though, with being comatose in all the good bits and lots of lingering stares), and a surprise(?) epilogue for his Qin character. And the "No blood no sex" unofficial clause goes out the window too.

Despite its huge budget, the special effects were not refined, which was a pity. The "blue screen" effect is obvious, even to the untrained eye, and there were a tad too many "lazy extras" who, in wide angled, supposedly big epic fight scenes, just stood, danced, moved around, anything but fight realistically. The original Highlander perfected the art of transitioning between flashbacks and present time, while The Myth falters, looking seemingly forced and contrived at times, or opted for the cheap way out - the blackouts.

As with most JC films, the women here play "flower vases". But I'm not complaining. Kim Hee-seon was beautiful in her role as the princess, and in the blooper reel, she was actually speaking Mandarin, and having a hard time remembering her lines. Mallika Sherawat was sizzling as she dandied around in flimsy dresses, while executing those high kicks, and I guess the entire run up to the Rat Glue Factory might turn out to be a fan favourite.

Many in the audience were surprised when the characters started speaking in Cantonese (for settings in modern day Hong Kong), and the local censors had no issue with that, instead of dubbing over the lines with Mandarin. Now that's a thumbs up.

So enjoy The Myth for what it is, just don't expect too much from a simple predictable storyline, and for some illogical and improbable scenes (I can't stand the horse back-kicking bits) that plays out like Michelle Yeoh's The Touch or even JC's own The Medallion.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Sound of Thunder

This film was rooted deep in production problems, and at long last it has finally made it to screen. I got to admit I watched it because of the tacky theatrical poster of the dinosaur, less sophisticated than its US version of a fossilized butterfly. While I thought this would be another Jurassic Park, and kept my expectations low, it turned out to be a jolly entertaining movie, though a bit formulaic.

Based on a short story by Ray Bradbury, A Sound of Thunder is set in 2055 Chicago, where scientists have harnessed the power of time travel, and corporations capitalizing on the technology for the rich to embark on a Time Safari, going 65 million years back in time to hunt dinosaurs, in a controlled environment.

Wait, won't this disrupt the space-time continuum? Sure, and the movie tries to make up for its intelligence by explaining that only dinosaurs which are about to die anyway are hunted, and at the location of their death. Hence, the same scenario is being replayed each time for different groups of tourists. There are also strict rules involved to manage the risks involved, like not to touch anything, not to step out of their predetermined pathways, not to bring anything back, and even their weapons won't fire until it is safe to do so.

But as all things go, nothing is perfect in this world, and something does go wrong, which led to special effects laden "Time Waves" which sweep across the world, each wave bringing the next change in evolution. Futuristic Chicago gets swamped with powerful and massive trees, and new breeds of animals (I like the dinosaur-gorilla-lizard hybrid) are born, and they start to wreak havoc (nothing new here) on all of mankind.

So it is up to our motley bunch of scientists, led by Edward Burns, to sort things out and bring Earth back to normal, providing us lots of the same usual chases on foot and vehicles, sacrifices, shootouts and deaths to those who are unethical. More sophisticated themes are attempted, like corporate greed, corruption and chaos theory, but these are quickly glossed over in favour of getting on with the action.

Surprisingly, given the budget, the special effects for 2055 Chicago looked kinda fake, especially the cars, which are packed bumper to bumper and moving at constant speed for some reason. I suppose most of the SFX budget went into the rendering of the new hybrid of animals. The most notable A-list name is Sir Ben Kingsley, though I'm not sure why he would associate himself with his movie. Edward Burns and Catherine McCormack are the only other "stars" of the show, and it's a good guess that the unknowns get dispatched one after another.

As cliche as this may sound, leave your brains at the door if you want to enjoy this popcorn flick. Entertaining enough in that sense.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Cinderella Man

"In all the history of the boxing game, you'll find no human interest story to compare with the life narrative of James J. Braddock." - Damon Runyon (1936)

Yet another boxing movie on the heels of Ali and Million Dollar Baby you might add? Yes, and agreeing with Runyon, this movie, director Ron Hward's second collaboration with Russell Crowe (the first being A Beautiful Mind), about the Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock packs a wallop like Ali and brings on some sniffles like Baby.

James Braddock is on track to take a shot at the heavyweight boxing title, living the life with his family of 3 kids, until the Great Depression sets in. Braddock too was affected after poor investment calls, and hence join the millions who are jobless and penniless. Given a second chance by Fate to re-enter the boxing arena, he finds himself back into a sport which had forgotten him, and is determined to succeed in order to sustain his family through the Depression. He isn't boxing for himself, for fame and glory, but more so to bring back the bacon for his hungry children.

I haven't seen many dramatic films set during the Great Depression, and this meshing of boxing and drama set against that background worked extremely well, with its majestic sets. Family is important to Jim, and he goes to great pains to ensure his family is able to stay together during these turbulent times. Personifying Hope, he's the working class' underdog hero, during a time when the very rich were still living it off comfortably.

The transition style used, though not new, are well executed, like the mirror cum dressing table scene from pre-Depression to Depression era, and the transition from match to match using overhead shots. The boxing action sequences are extremely well choreographed, and you'll feel every urge to get up and shadow box alongside Jim as well. Every hit in the cheeks, in the chest, smack on the kisser, at times slow down to a photographic moment, complete with old fashioned camera flashes. Unlike Million Dollar Baby's bailing of the sport to end with euthanasia, this one is boxing out and out, right until the gruelling 15 round finale with champ Max Baer.

Much is said about Russell Crowe's performance as Jim Braddock, and I'd say he deserved the praises. Ranging as the tough as nails fighter in the ring, to tender loving husband and father, his role as Jim allowed him to showcase his acting chops yet again. He has a charismatic screen presence, be it general-turned-gladiator, or schizophrenic genius, he never fails to draw the audience into his role. Renee Zellweger was cast in a safe role as Jim's dutiful wife Mae, looking after the household as Jim seeked dough, always backing and supporting her husband, yet always worrying about his injuries, or worse, death. Put both of them together, and you'll see a lovely couple who sticks with each other through good times and bad.

But the surprise scene stealer was Paul Giamatti (Sideways' Miles) as Jim's manager Joe Gould, the ever encouraging, ever opportunity seeker and chief adviser of Jim's gameplay. In one particularly moving scene, he explained the need for keeping up appearances, and staked almost everything he had to back their boxing comeback. And EPL Soccer Man Utd fans, is it just me, or does Max Baer (Craig Bierko), the heavyweight champ in the final fight, resemble Ruud Van Nistelrooy from certain angles (attitude too)?

Amongst the slew of releases this week, Cinderella Man ranks as number One on the "To-Watch" list. Some might criticise the lack of sophistication in telling a Hollywood tale, but it is precisely this familiarity which allows you to connect. Does this movie scream Oscar? Probably, but given boxing cousin Million Dollar Baby snagging most of the previous awards, Cinderella Man might be in for a tough fight to convince voters. Nonetheless, it's highly recommended.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Brothers Grimm

Let me begin by saying that director Terry Gilliam's films are an acquired taste, and usually don't go down well with the average moviegoer, including myself. While films like Twelve Monkeys were easier to grapple with, general audiences may find cult favourites like Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen less palatable.

And the Brothers Grimm however, falls into that less palatable zone. Visually spectacular like the rest of Gilliam's works, the trailer and first fifteen minutes of the film might resemble summer popcorn flick Van Helsing, which fused horror lore and characters into one big budget special effects movie.

In this case, and if you don't already know, the Brothers Grimm Wilhelm (played by Matt Damon) and Jacob (played by Heath Ledger, watching my second consecutive film in which he stars) are the creators of famous age old classic fairy tales like Hansel and Grethel and Cinderella (yes, it wasn't Walt Disney). In this telling of their supposed origins, they are actually con-artists who goes around early 19th Century Europe to earn a living from exorcising spirits. As mentioned, the first fifteen minutes was good fun, until the cat was let out of the bag intentionally.

As their rouse got exposed, they are blackmailed into investigating and solving some supernatural mystery involving lost female children in an enchanted forest (or so it was believed). Like the saying "it takes a thief to catch a thief", the brothers initially thought that whoever it was spooking the forest and its nearby village just had a bigger rag/con budget. Before you can chant "Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your hair", they realize that they are up against the Mirror Queen's (Monica Belluci) diabolical plot to bring herself back to life and being young and beautiful again.

If you'd think, hey, that's an interesting premise, think again. The movie plods. And that's actually the strange thing. It has arresting visuals to entertain the audience, a credible storyline, good actors, but somehow the pacing felt wrong and it just moves along so incredibly slowly!

There is some saving grace, and that's the identification of certain fairy tale characters or references, from Rapunzel to Hensel and Grethel, from Snow White to Cinderella, from Little Red Riding Hood to the Gingerbread Man. But this could distract you from the plot, and the novelty dies after a while, that you just beg to get on with the show.

With so many releases this week, you might be better off with one of the other selections. If you really have to watch this, do so on a weekday, and bring along lots of friends to while some of the boring bits away.

The Bow

An old man living on a boat together with a nubile teenage girl, is bound to set tongues wagging. There's nothing dirty about the relationship. He picked her up when she was 6, and looked after her onboard ever since. She has never left the boat; the outside world is unknown to her.

Making a living by ferrying anglers to fish on board his boat in the deep blue sea, the old man is jealously guards his lover from potential lechers. It's a difficult thing to do, considering the girl prances around the ship in skimpy flimsy dresses. Sideline income stems from his ability to tell fortunes in a bizarre manner, well, actually it's the girl who tells the fortunes. Riding a swing at the side of the boat, she smiles sweetly at the old man, while he, from afar in another boat, fires 3 arrows onto a picture of Buddha. She interprets from the position of the arrows (which always narrowly miss her), and whispers the fortune into the old man's ear, who in turn, whispers into the ear of the person who wants his fortune told.

As such, we do not hear the man or the girl speak at all in the film, expressing themselves through body language, eye contact, smiles and touch. The bow in the title refers to the weapon, which is used primarily to fend off, or purposely drive away, lustful men, and in quieter moments, it is adapted by the old man into a stringed musical instrument, to serenade the night away. The girl too uses the bow (and arrows) as a means of self defence.

However, things start to change when a young man joins a group of anglers to fish on board the old man's boat. Taken by the girl's beauty, and the girl by never seeing a young teenage lad, they get smitten with each other and a friendship begins, much to the distraught of the old man. He had plans to marry the girl when she turns 17, and hurriedly brings forward his plan, while driving the young man away.

Undetered, the young man seeks to discover the origins of the young girl, and plans to leave with her. The old man naturally goes into a fit and the relationship between him and the girl deteriorates badly into hissy tantrums from both sides.

The ending is an interesting one, as with most of Kim Ki-duk's movies. Realising that their lives are so intertwined about each other and more, the old man and the young girl consummate their union in one of the most unreal circumstances filled with ambiguous metaphors which will raise eyebrows from the audience, and the young man mirrors the reaction from any viewer, as if Ki-duk expected and saw it coming.

This was the closing film to Singapore's first Korean Film Festival, so for those interested to follow Ki-duk's movies, add this to your list. It's beautiful, though quirky, and the ending scene, quite explainable and left open to your interpretation.

Lords of Dogtown

I didn't expect to be blown away by the earnest storyline in this film. Catch Lords of Dogtown, even if you're not a skateboarding fan - one heck of a movie on growing pains, friendship, and the realities of the sports sponsorship business.

Click on the link below!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Jackie Chan in Singapore!

Read the official movieXclusive press coverage by clicking on the logo below, 3 pages worth!

It was a blast of time yesterday with team@movieXclusive as I tagged along Overider and dgital, and it's also some sorta relief that I'm not officially covering the event as I was still in a dazed comatose state from the previous night's Night Watch premiere. massb can vouch for the state I was in :-)

Our first stop was the Botanical Gardens, where there's gonna be a hybrid named after International Superstar Jackie Chan (that's what's on the plague by the way). While waiting for JC, we were mesmerized by (someone who told us) a group of Ms Hong Kong pageant contestants. Could be true though, they were posing and filmed (by TVB cameras) a clip which probably will be edited into those exotic location shots. No pictures of them though, but *drool lol*

Anyway, security was tight (as expected) and only those with press passes were allowed to enter the 2nd floor where the ceremony was. When JC arrived, he took the media by surprise by touring the surrounding Botanical Gardens instead, taking his time admiring the flowers. Visitors to the Gardens naturally were in a treat (hey, when was the last time you visited some place and bumped into an international superstar??), and a small boy managed to get up close and personal with the star.

Didn't expect Mallika Sherawat to come along, but she did! So did Stanley Tong. The view from above was beautiful *lol*

Jackie Chan and his Entourage @ Botanical Gardens

You can read more about the proceedings from the movieXclusive site, as well as enjoy some pictures I took

Jackie Chan @ Botanical Gardens

Acknowledging his very own bloom

Jackie Chan, Mallika Sherawat and Stanley Tong

We adjourned from the Botanical Gardens to the National Library, where the press conference was held earlier at The Pod (link to the movieXclusive coverage will be up again soon). That evening, JC and Stanley Tong will be having a forum discussion on Asian Cinema.

Again, I love the press pass as it allowed us to waltz pass the queue. Also, being early birds, we managed front row center seats, which provided good opportunity for unobstructed photographs, and allowed eye contact with both JC and Stanley Tong (who was all smiles that night, knowing that cameras were always on them)

Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong: Panel Discussion

Just after the picture above was taken, JC poured out and flattened the empty plastic water bottle with his foot. Not sure why though, probably to get it out of the way.

An Animated Jackie Chan

I bet many in the audience would love to allow JC and Stanley Tong to ramble on, but because of the time constraint, we only had about less than an hour.

Jackie Chan Captivating the Audience

JC touched upon many topics, some which included
1. Movie Piracy and the challenges to the movie industry
2. Nationalism with regards to support for movies
3. The demise of HK cinema
4. Erosion of Chinese culture (hilarious observation on hip-hop youths)
5. His childhood and early success
6. How he realized the potential reach and influence of his movies
7. Which changed him to be a better person
8. His foray into Hollywood and various interesting anecdotes with Stallone and Spielberg
9. "Coopetition" in the movie industry

Stanley Tong touched upon
1. How they made films in the past (the guerilla way)
2. The need to bridge the industry to budding talents
3. The potential for Asia to combine their movie industries to challenge Hollywood
4. The challenges faced and how he came about the idea for The Myth

Comparing the two, it is obvious who had more to discuss :-)

The End?

movieXclusive gotten it all professionally covered, but for now, enjoy the photographs!

A Token of Appreciation

Stanley Tong too!

Final Photo Opportunity with the Kids

One heck of a night!

You can check out massb's take on the events by clicking here!

And this is dgital's take.

Another Take on Be With Me

Wrote another review on the excellent Eric Khoo movie Be With Me, which you can read from the movieXclusive website by clicking on the logo below:

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Night Watch Asian Premiere

At first when Overider highlighted to us of the Asian Premiere for NightWatch, I was taken aback at the time - 245am. Wow, I should be dead beat by then, given that earlier in the night I had registered for the showcase of Eric Khoo's short films screening.

To cut the story short, we managed 3 teams early this morning - I was teamed with dgital (gee, my body clock's all screwed up, it seemed like it was yesterday!) and entered the premiere organized by Power98. Got our T-Shirts which we had to wear as we played the game which started at 1am.

Group Pic

We've Got The Power!

About 80 people (my estimate) gathered and were split into 3 groups - the Light side, Dark side, and the Others, When we encounter each team, we should challenge them if they're not on the same side, with a best of 2 "scissors-paper-stone". The loser will have to convert to the side of the winner.

The Light and Dark Others

But that's not all - there were hidden printed 5-dollar bills all around levels 4, 5 and 6 of Cineleisure, and it's a one-for-one cash exchange at the end of the game. But when it started, I think more were interested in hunting the cash than to convert other teams.

What's in it to convert? The side with the largest number of members will be eligible for a lucky draw, which at the end of the game time, somehow all were members of the Light side, and each team were given a goodie bag with a Nightwatch toy, a CD, a pair of tickets to Nokia's Starlight Cinema, and a host of other stuff. 2 ladies walked away with the top lucky draw prize of a DVD player and a Red Army watch.

Unfortunately, I had no pictures to show as I didn't use my camera, but there should be some pictures up at the Power98 website, or let me see if I could somehow contact the lady at Warner-Fox (or rather, vice versa!), who took countless of pictures of the movieXclusive team who were there as participants.

The show was interesting, but there was this dude in the theatre who fell asleep before it started, and snored right through it. D'uh!

Night Watch aka Nochnoy dozor

After Bimmer, which I enjoyed, this is the other Russian film that has hit our shores. Simplistically put, this is the first of a fantasy-thriller trilogy, about the eternal fight between good and evil forces.

A truce is called centuries ago, where battle lines and jurisdictions are drawn. The breed of man known as the Others, are divided into the light side, and the dark side. The light Others form the Night Watch, while the dark Others form the Day Watch (the title of the second part of the trilogy). There will be Others who will be discovered and have to decide to join either side, and the light/dark side cannot influence their decision. Hence, the watch groups set up to ensure the truce and this requirement is met.

However, with any of such arrangements, you can be sure of rogue elements trying their luck to go against regulations. Prophecy states that there will be one Other who will tip the balance in favour of the side he joins, and like Episode One, this prophetic Other forms the basis of this movie, as with the quest to entice this Other to join their respective sides.

We follow the tale of Anton Gorodetsky, a newly discovered light Other who has the power to peek into the future. On a routine mission, he chanced upon a cursed woman who has unwittingly unleashed catastrophic mayhem unto Moscow, and another sub plot involving Anton's accidental killing of a dark Other, a terribly bad no-no, given the truce. That's about as far as I would say about the plot, as any more will destroy the surprises in store for the viewer - the ending when revealed, will make you rethink what you have seen.

What's more important are the themes discussed, like the perceived corruption in the system of bureaucracy, and the notion that well-meaning intentions are sometimes not well appreciated nor interpreted as such.

The movie is stylishly shot, with set action pieces making you exclaim WOW. At times, it brings to mind an old TV series called "Manimal", as there are no lack of characters here who take on the form, or can transform to and from animals like an owl or a leopard. For the international version, even the subtitles are not spared special effects, and I eagerly anticipated when the next effect filled subtitle will appear. Look out for the spinal-cord-sword, which I think is extremely cool. I could go on about characters going into the "Gloom" or the effects of the vampires slipping into and out of peripheral vision, but any more ravings will probably be a trip into spoiler zone.

The soundtrack is an interesting blend of rock and electronica, and fans of The Bravery will be pleased that the band lent their track Fearless to the international trailer, and is played at the end credits.

The villains are somewhat muted in Night Watch, but watch this anyhow because of the strong setup for the trilogy, and prepare for the Day Watch, which I think will turn the spotlight on the characters of the dark Others.

[5th Asian Film Symposium] Eric Khoo Retrospective - 5 Shorts from Eric Khoo

The title's quite a mouthful, but after having seen local filmmaker Eric Khoo's feature length films in the past 2 months (Mee Pok Man, 12 Storeys in August's Screen Singapore, and Be With Me in Sept), I'm beginning to have a keen interest in his works, especially his past short films.

So of course, what better way to do so than to take advantage of the screening at the 5th Asian Film Symposium? The films screened are as discussed below, and it was a good surprise that Eric himself was at the start of the screening to introduce his earlier works to the audience.

Clad in a brown Spider-Man T-Shirt (heard he's got a mean Spider-Man comic collection) and jeans, he started off in chronological order, first with Barbie Digs Joe, which was shot on a Super8 camera and won various awards, including Best Film at the Singapore Video Competition. He shared with us about using a dustpan to simulate the POV of the dog in August, getting his army's CSM (Company Sergeant Major) to star in his next short Carcass, and spending 6 months tracking down Chiew Sung Ching from Symphony 92.4 to star in Be With Me. He also went on to explain how he managed to get funding and sponsorship to do a feature length film after the success of his short films, and the feature film is now known to all as Mee Pok Man. He did a quick advert for the upcoming DVD box-set for Mee Pok Man and 12 Storeys (Christmas' coming).

But he did not sit in the screening though, saying he's still shy in presenting his earlier works to audiences, as they're not as sophisticated but we should view it for what it's worth in its time. No problem, I'd enjoyed them a lot, and you could actually see the various influences and styles that are brought over from the shorts to the feature films.

Nonetheless, I should be properly armed with background knowledge when I attend the Forum Panel Session - Focus on Eric Khoo next Friday evening.

Barbie Digs Joe
A lot has been said about this short which was cited as starting Eric Khoo's foray into filmmaking. Winning numerous awards, this film's cast was made of the Barbie and Ken dolls, and various GI Joe models.

At first you couldn't make out the premise of the story, save for GI Joe spotting Barbie, and goes on a quest to make her his girl, and kicking Ken's ass in the process. Naturally, the stop-motion technique was used to animate the dolls, and I thought the voice-overs for the characters were pretty hilarious, if not unconvincing, but nonetheless, fun!

But it actually tells a broader love story from the obvious Barbie-world one in plastic, that of their owners who discover each other while they were childhood friends, right up to the near breakdown in their relationship towards the end, rekindled by memories of how Barbie and GI Joe brought them together.

If I may say so, it's an amatuer effort, from tacky credits to dubbed character voices, but a very important film that has its distinct place in Eric Khoo's filmography. Probably something to take from here, is that music plays an important part in his movies, with this we got tunes from Beach Boys and New Order.

I first watched August on television when I was a teenager many years ago, and it was the only EK movie I watched before this year. August tells the story of a couple, from their dog's perspective. Creating that cinematic POV was by the innovating fixing of a camera on a dustpan, and moving it around. A good and accurate touch was in ensuring the POV wasn't seen in colour, as dogs are colour blind.

The story's simple - with a seemingly happily married couple having everything going their way, until we find out that the wife was having an affair behind the husband's back. When he's away on a business trip, we see through the dog's eyes, the scandalous affair as well as the plot to get rid of the husband.

Starring Tan Tee Keon as the husband, Jacintha as the wife, and Gerald Chew as the lover, it's a story about betrayal, deceit, and loyalty from man's best friend. Something different and refreshing in its time.

I deem this film an important one in the crossroads from the short films to the feature films. There are a lot of thematic and stylistic elements that you can probably reference from the recent 3 feature movies.

Carcass refers to the dead animals which are butchered to various cuts for consumption, as well as the zombie like lives of the butchers this film explores. The protagonists are a butcher father and his sons, one who follows the father's footsteps in butchering for a living, while the other is a quiet stout man whom the father chides with his lack of girlfriends and inane conversations on making love.

We look at the routine lives they lead. The father goes to work, comes home, eats, gets drunk, bitch about life, sleep, and goes to work the next day. The kitchen is where he holds fort, with his drunken talks laced with vulgarities. If you think Harry Lee (Lim Kay Tong) in Perth was the first local character to emulate Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle and his mirror talk, the butcher here was first actually. It seems the kitchen will always be a featured set, especially in recent EK movies. With that set, food also gets prominently featured, and in this film, it's distinctive pork (since they're pork butchers), and a comparison made between a pig's life and their own.

The seedier side of Singapore that EK's films explore probably got its roots grown here, with its generous shots of HDB flats, and with one of the butcher's sons played by Joe Ng visiting prostitute joints to get his load off each night (Mee Pok Man anyone?). Nudity is featured in this short film, as with tame simulated sex acts.

Joe's butcher leads a mundane life as well, besides regularly visiting prostitutes, he's also a tv drama junkie, meticulously following a series called Flame of the Fire, which offers him a window to glimpse into the supposedly real/reel life of the yuppie characters, who yearn for 5Cs and engage in corporate politics, and whose lifestyle he could possibly never have a taste of. Longing, yearning, familiar themes in EK's movies. What's interesting here is the characters from past and future EK movies frozen in a point in time, where you have familiar cast of (earlier EK short August) Jacinta, Tee Keon, Gerald Chew, as well as TV/stage actress Karen Tan. A younger Chiew Sung Ching also stars in this - who would've thought he would play such a pivotal role in Be With Me, and of couse Joe Ng himself as the butcher man, an early precursor of Mee Pok Man.

Timid, lonely characters seem to be staple characters in EK movies. Here we have the two butcher brothers who are at the mercy of their erratic and fiery father, Joe Ng's Mee Pok Man, Jack Neo's Ah Gu the henpecked husband in 12 Storeys, and Seet Keng Yew's Fatty Koh the security guard in Be with Me. Perhaps it is the natural challenges that these characters face in life, stemmed from their lack of dare, and their clear motivations and desires, that make them easier to explore and touch upon.

Controversial themes are no stranger in EK's films, and are featured as early as Carcass, with a hint of an accidental incestous fling between mother and son, where the butcher father disses his wife as a loose woman who had slept with many men and walked out on them.

With watching local films in retrospect, I had a blast with the locales used for the shoot (which I think some was at Bedok Interchange?), and a walk down memory lane with the old SBS Volvo buses and their cherry red boxy ticketing machine.

If I'm tasked to recommend only one EK short film, no disrespect to the others, this would be it.

Symphony 92.4FM
Following Carcass, there're also some elements in this mostly black and white film which are adapted to the feature films, like the use of radio in the narrative (in this case, the title's FM station, vis-a-vis 12 Storey's use of Perfect 10 98.7FM).

Chiew Sung Ching is the sole protagonist in this almost silent film (except for a few radio voice-overs), making it the earlier stylistic predecessor of the silent film Be With Me, with Chiew playing yet another similar character, albeit older with a few more facial lines.

There are similar shots which could be found early in Symphony, with the extreme closeup of Chiew's face sideways, rousing from slumber, to the shot of him sitting up on his bed in the bedroom.

Obvious similarities aside, this story follows Chiew as an unnamed lonely man, where we follow a day in his life where he walks around town, which includes visiting a low rise HDB flat, a provision shop, having a banana at a sidewalk, and buying a cake from a cake shop. It seems mundane and ordinary, until we realize that it was his birthday, and there's where the direction of the film becomes clear.

Using sepia tones, we are brought to understand why he visited those places, which are precious memories which he holds so dear with his dog and his childhood sweetheart, and now as an old man, he faces a lonely existence for the remainder of his life, or would it?

With his stoic, measured acting style, it takes no rocket science to see why EK took pains to track him down to star in Be With Me. He mentioned that when writing the character, he already had Chiew in mind, and it is no wonder why.

Food and the kitchen, familiar elements, also have its place in Symphony, with Chiew eating his own cooking, on hindsight, similar to Be With Me's. Also as mentioned in my Be With Me review, it seems that "spirits" do make a comeback to the reel world, and in this, we see the protagonist's father (played by the butcher in Carcass) hang around the outside of his flat, as if waiting or giving the audience a premonition of what's to come.

And like Carcass, the familiar locale of the Changi Theatre do bring back memories of my own childhood days of growing up and watching films there.

Perhaps the most controversial of all the short films, Pain features a sado-masochistic young man as the protagonist, and a faceless police man. The protagonist is a man looking for a job, without much success, and it seemed like he didn't even bother to try as he crosses out recruitment ads without much thought.

He leads a vagrant lifestyle, patronizing a provision shop to get his daily supply of Marlboro, preserved plums and comic books. He idles his time away, and looks for the next big high by inflicting pain on his own body, starting from needles through fingertips, to the extinguishing of lit cigarettes on his skin, and to the use of razor blades to mutilate his body.

However, with addiction, it's never enough, and the highlight consists of various sick tortures on his kidnapped victim, from having a chisel driven into the foot, the sawing off of a limb, the removal of an eyeball, and culminating to a beheading.

It's an extremely dark film with minimal dialogue and a twist ending, backed by an edgy soundtrack. Though the SM parts looked very realistic, I thought the actual grizzly find of a dismembered human body in Singapore on the same day marred my enjoyment of this short film. A little too close for comfort somehow.

And so with these 5 films in the belt, I am looking forward to the Forum Panel Session: Focus on Eric Khoo. I might be back with a field report, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Be With Me

This is the third feature length film of internationally renowned local director Eric Khoo, and given the hype of this film's response in Cannes, I'm sure many in Singapore are eager to watch it, given that Eric Khoo's last movie, 12 Storeys, was a long 8 years ago.

Following the previous film's narrative structure, Be With Me features 3 stories (In my humble opinion, I'd like to consider it as 4 actually) carefully strung together, each with a strong common theme of loneliness, love, despair and longing. Given that the 3 stories each touch on different kinds and stages of love, I'm certain the audience can identify with it at certain points in the film's time.

Meant To Be
An old shopkeeper longs for his loved one to continue to be with him. He opens the movie by closing his shop, drawing us instead into his private life, where we see him alone, aloof, and in pain to see his loved one suffering in sickness. Try as he might, there is nothing he can or will do, or is it?

When you're with someone you love for so long, what does it mean to lose him or her? Will you also lose the will to continue leading a meaningful life? Or will it away in a mundane fashion?

Tying in with Theresa Chan's autobiographical tale, this segment is touted by most as the strongest and most touching.

Finding Love
A timid security guard Fatty Koh is a secret admirer of a high flying executive, and longs for her to be with him, somehow. An infatuation, a crush, how do you bring yourself to declare your feelings for someone, when you're shy, and knowingly aware of the huge social divide?

With a letter. Where you are given time and composure to write your thoughts down, hoping to bring the right message across, and harbouring the hopes of acceptance.

We see Fatty fighting his inner shy demons as he carefully pens a letter of admiration for his dream lover. Fate seems to be against him, as he cannot seem to concentrate with the ruckus from the neighbours, and from his own family where he's looked down upon. At times it's like a look back into the life and times of the timid fat lady in 12 Storeys, who incidentally, appears (as a different cameo character of course) in this segment briefly.

He steals glances at his love when at work, and hangs around the perimeter of her home after work, worshipping her from afar. He's like a gentle giant, never meaning any harm, but probably coming across as a desperate stalker.

Love conquers all some say, but will it?

So In Love
Ezann Lee plays Jackie (note the androgynous name), a lesbian who longs for her new lover, Sam (played by Samantha Tan, note the androgynous name too), to be with her.

Most teenage/young adults in the audience will definitely be pretty familiar with this stage of puppy and experimental young love, which was given a modern retelling showcasing relationships in the era of pervasive computing devices - Internet Messaging and Short Message Service. And of course having two pretty young leads in non-conventional roles do help too,

They first meet online, and we follow their new shared lives as they finally meet in person, doing things couples do like watching movies, go clubbing, hanging out, shopping, the works. Everything seems lovey-dovey, happy-go-lucky, doesn't it?

However, the motive of Sam getting involved with Jackie is examined, and the universal theme of unrequited love comes to the forefront. What happens when a lover is suddenly spurned by the other, when all along you thought that everything was going wonderfully well, and you see a future with the other half? You'll be terribly hurt, but what will you do, especially when lied to? Was everything just one big illusion?

For folks with weak hearts, being deceived is like having a tonne of bricks collapsing onto you. Like a cautionary tale of being responsible with feelings and not toying with those of another, it is a reminder that as fast as these perceived love begin, it is never as easy to erase it from one's life like deleting an incoming SMS message.

The narrative introduces us to the various characters from the 3 segments, intertwining their lives with one another in brief moments. The style used in the movie is different, where we begin with the introductions of the segments until forlorn conflicts in each sets in, hanging us in the balance where we ponder and reflect the futility of each character's actions thus far.

Until we're introduced, in more detail, to Theresa Chan's inspirational life. One of difficulties and immense challenges, but one who exudes courage to face up and tackle life by the bull's horns. Losing both sight and hearing, Theresa is a double handicap. To many, we take our senses from granted, until we lament the loss of one. But what about two, without warning? Will we be able to find the same courage within us to smile and carry on living?

Theresa's life story is told, not by narration, but by subtitling. We read in silence her struggles and life filled with chance encounters which made her stronger. As mentioned, her life story is read by the old shopkeeper, integrating her tale into Meant To Be, taking centerstage in the middle of the film, and leading all the segments of the movie into its closure.

This is mainly a silent film, not that it doesn't have any dialogue, but rather the characters have more silent time than speaking lines. Kudos to the cast for having to really express their thoughts through body language and facial expressions - this film really does plenty of close ups.

Food plays a major role in this film. Eating alone signifies clearly the loneliness each character faces (especially in Finding Love), and again, coffee shops feature in an Eric Khoo movie. Quintessential to life in Singapore perhaps, like HDB flats and the spewing of Hokkien vulgarities (toned down a lot here). Food is primary in Meant To Be, where it serves as an introduction, and icebreaker, where the development and effort in cooking and preparing dishes parallel the chef's current mindset and attitude change.

** SPOILER BEGINS - Only for those who've seen the movie **

I've come to notice though, whether is it a style of Khoo to have "spirits" in his films. Though in Mee Pok Man, Joe Ng was talking to a deceased Bunny, in 12 Storeys we had tales seen from the perspective of a man who committed suicide, and screen time from the nagging old lady. In Be With Me's Meant To Be, we see the shopkeeper's wife being around the shopkeeper during his meals, until the final farewell when she knew he had finally rediscovered a purpose to live life again. Wonder if this "morbidity" will evolve into a signature style?


I highly recommend this brilliant yet unconventional film. It has something for everyone, be it touching on your personal experiences in love and life, or simply reminding you of the good things you have in life, or inspiring you to do a lot more. Life's full of ups and downs, but it is the perspective in which you view it from, which matters. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Bittersweet Life

This review brought to you courtesy of a preview session! (Otherwise of course, it won't be out so early!)

This is a revenge movie, pure and simple. When it comes to this genre, the protagonist usually has some injustice (loosely used here) done unto him, and therefore unleashes hell upon those who incurred his wrath, who of course, failed to finish him off in the first place.

Sun-woo (Lee Byung-hun) is a hotel manager. Or so he seems. On the surface, he's calm, cool and collected. But step out of line, he brings upon his fury without remorse, and without sympathy. His cockiness earns him no admirers, but he gives his utmost loyalty towards his boss, President Kang.

He leads a lonely existence without friends, and in his latest mission, strikes a forbidden friendship with his prey that led to his ostracizing from the clan he belongs to. Relying on his personal judgement, in contradiction with his boss's, he consciously interpreted his mission ambiguously, and this led to his downfall. In the mob, as a servant, you do not think, but carry out orders like a faithful dog. Such is his life for seven years, until now.

As with revenge films, those who go aganist you must die, and you soon find yourself up against impossible odds, and with incredible luck. At times the movie stretches its realism to the limit, but for the purpose of good violent fun. The violence is gratuitous - shootings up close, bleeding by the buckets, hand-breaking, fist-fighting, at times making the audience cringe at too much crimson.

But thumbs up for the action pieces, which were well choreographed, especially the escape fight scene (you must learn, never to give a few minutes to a hitman), and the climatic shoot out finale. Poetry in motion some might add, at times shot like John Woo's slow-motion style with classical music in the background. Various bad characters are up for our anti-hero's dispatch, and you'll find yourself rooting that he does so with as much pain as possible.

On the other end of the spectrum, this film also had incredible amounts of silence and non-action, which punctuated between the action sequences well. Sort of like a breather - the calm before the next storm.

The relationship element between Sun-woo and Hee-soo (Shin Min-a) however was never fully explored. It was hinted that the cause of the rift between servant and master was the woman, but because of the lack of explicit narrative and dialogue, this was never brought across in a clear manner, and left open to interpretation. Another element that somewhat fell flat was the forced attempts to inject humour with bumbling characters. Felt a bit out of place and the pacing suffered a tad bit.

Nonetheless, as a revenge movie, this film delivered. But there's somewhat a nagging thought in me that it could, and should have reached its full potential given the superb cast, stylish action and of course, bloody violence.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Longest Yard

The Longest Yard is one of many remake movies that Hollywood has churned out in recent years. Others did well, like Charlie's Angels, while some fumbled, like Bewitched. This Adam Sandler movie, helmed by director Peter Segal (who also worked on Sandler's Fifty First Dates), managed to keep afresh the already familiar material.

It was a perky (heh) start to the movie, with No Doubt's (and of course Gwen Stefani's vocals) starting the movie, keeping in mind that MTV Films also had a hand in this, it isn't surprising that the audience will be treated to various pop, rock and hip hop music. Sandler plays Paul Crewe, a forgotten, down and out quarterback infamous for throwing in the towel and rigging a game. He's sick of life with his control freak fiancee (did Courteney Cox undergo a boob job?), and got arrested for dangerous drink driving when she reported he stole her Bentley.

Well, we have to thrown our protagonist into prison to get the game going, right? Unfortunately for Crewe, the prison guards are a bunch of sadists, and fortunately (depending on how you look at it) the warden is a football fanatic, who propositions Crewe to set up a team amongst the prisoners for his guards to have a practice tune up match against.

Most of the movie then dwelled on recruitment and training, as with all sports movies, the recruits are all misfits, which is supposed to provide some comedic moments. Scenes in which Crewe handpicks prisoners according to their traits (aggression, speed etc) were formulaic, but extremely fun. An addition to the fold is actor Chris Rock as Caretaker, the man with links on the inside and outside; the resident smuggler. As with all remake movies, there should be the complimentary actor from the earlier film, and here we have two, the more recognizable one being Burt Reynolds as the coach, who played the protagonist in the original.

It's kind of ironic that in prison films, the line between "good and evil" are somewhat blurred, with good characters having improper morals, and the bad characters turning out to be likeable underdogs. For all its funny set pieces, the humour seemed somewhat subdued, not overly slapstick, or worse, feeling forced. You know what's coming, but the delivery was enough to at least make you smile.

What crowned the filmed was the football game at the end. Shot wonderfully with the right moments to break into slow-motion or high speed action, it managed to convey the contact sport accurately, and with excitement thrown into the mix. You will really be rooting for the Mean Machines, as do the transgender inmate cheerleaders and Rob Schneider.

But the main theme was on obtaining, losing, and maintaining Respect, and the exploration of camaraderie amongst the boys in the hood. Standing out, in a somewhat cringeworthy manner at times, was when Crewe persuades a bunch of basketball playing inmates to join his team, as do some parts in the end game.

This movie should appeal to the fans of sports films, one filled with plenty of physical contact, moments of humour, and a predictable finale (which of course is known to those who watched the original).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Be With Me Launch Party

Two nights ago, Dgital and myself (and massb accidentally, read on) were tasked to cover the Launch Party of Be With Me at Bar None. You can read it all by clicking on the movieXclusive logo below:

However, I'm sure many would like to have a behind the scenes, bloopers filled cut of what happened, which I thought would be more appropriate for a personal blog rather than a professional site like movieXclusive's. But read about the event proper at the link above first ok? More fun that way, trust me.

Before I begin, I would like to emphasize that this was how the event went from my perspective. To have a balanced view of the event-filled night, you must check out the following links, told from my friends' perspective

massb's Take and Pictorial
Dgital's Version

The Early Arrival

We were on time actually, but it seemed no one was crowding the entrance to Bar None. So I decided to do a recce first, descending down the spiral staircase, and there was a lady at the door. "Are you ?" she asked. "Err.. no, he's upstairs, I'll get him over in a jiffy" I replied.

The usual exchange of plesantries, the complimentary house pours instructions (what we can have, how much and until when), and we were in Bar None, thought it was unnaturally quiet for a party, well, at first. Eric Khoo was already in the house, and so were Samantha Tan, Kevin Mathews, and a few others whom we didn't recognize.

We took a seat behind Eric (yeah, so close you can ruffle his hair you know?), and had our first drink, chilling out and waiting for some action to begin. Dgital asked "So how are you gonna cover this?" Seriously at that point, I didn't know. There should be a structure for a launch, shouldn't it? And so far, no one had a camera except for Dgital. He had to check with the lady at the door again if there were prohibitions. Turned out to be none at all. We then did some preliminary brainstorming to want to ask Eric and crew some questions, but no sooner than the thought, he was involved in a one-to-one interview with some other reporter.

Samantha and Kevin began short rehearsals for their performance later, and when Ezanne arrived, a photographer too, and both leading ladies were whisked off to the sofas behind us for a sizzling hot photography session. And that's when the crowd started to build.

The Party Proper

You'll already have read about the proceedings from the article. Dgital was working hard on the ground to get the exclusive pictures, but ran out of batteries! Luckily it was towards the end of the event, and I've got a spare camera, though not an SLR. Midway through the presentation, a caucasian lady (shan't name names here) sat beside me and noticed I was scribbling some notes.

"Covering the event?" she asked. "Yeah, I'm covering it for movieXclusive" I said. She told me she watched Be With Me already, a moving one, which was rare for a Singapore movie. Well, it's an Eric Khoo movie, but she said the expectation was high, and good thing it was met. She was just there for the party, but here I was focusing on the events at hand. Hmm...

Samantha was a bit giggly about her performance that night, but I learnt that it was probably an unprecedented first, performing a track from the OST in which she didn't lend her vocals to. And we were there. Cool. Oh, and I don't think it was my imagination when I thought almost all the lyrics to the songs performed had "be with me" in them.

The Accidental Introduction of massb

massb was covering another event at Cineleisure, but we checked to see if he was interested to join us as our event was winding down. I seeked permission from the "lady at the door" for the attendance of an additional columnist, and she was kind enough to allow us to regroup :-) Sent Patrick an SMS for status check as he was covering a screening. He messaged back that his movie was over, and I tried calling him but can't get through. Probably on silent mode still.

I think massb probably set the record for time taken to travel from Cineleisure to Bar None, in like, what, 5 minutes?! You can probably read his account about the slight hassle at the entrance, haha.

With massb around, it allowed us some time to regain composure and to strategize. He's a livewire, no doubt about that, and soon, we went up to Eric Khoo himself

The Director's Bump

massb's simple yet effective "Hi, we're from movieXclusive" started the ball rolling, and through the conversation, I thought Eric was still a down to earth, humble dude, even with the successes with his films. Dgital handed Eric his namecard (yeah, has his name and contact leh), while I had earlier promised our friend Overider to have his Screen Singapore Mee Pok Man ticket autographed.

"Would you mind autographing a ticket for me? It's from a screening of Mee Pok Man, the one in which you were supposed to be in attendance" I explained. "Oh yeah... yeah" was Eric's reply, and he signed the autograph for Overider. I took out my 12 Storeys CD, and Eric was surprised, "Wow, you've got this one!" and he signed an autograph for me on the CD sleeve. He told us that the Be With Me soundtrack was released in the stores that same night (which we saw him pass around earlier).

We chatted a bit, until a point where fanboy-dom set in and we became tongue-tied and dumbstruck. But surely a good way to end the conversation was a photograph opportunity, right? Dgital and myself flanked Eric, and he opted for a buddy pose with his arms around us.

Dgital, Eric and Me

His left hand was holding his cocktail glass, and *bump* it knocked into my right shoulder and I felt a cold drizzle through my shirt. "Oops, sorry" Heh...

No, that's not drool, it's Eric Khoo's accidental cocktail spill!

The Ladies and the Minders

Samantha Tan and Ezann Lee no doubt were the center of attention with numerous requests for photographs and interviews, so we had to wait our turn patiently, which provided an opportunity to brainstorm questions to ask.

When the current interview group of 2 (with videocam leh) stood up, here was our chance, with massb leading the charge (told ya he was good). He sat down and introduced us, but there was a group of minders (I think, and most probably is) who sort of interrupted us before we could start. massb went "Namecard!" and I presented mine to Samantha. Well I only had one left, and since she was nearest to me... would've passed one to Ezann though if I had more. However Samantha passed it to the already extended hand of one of the minders. "Could we proceed with the interview please?" I asked as she scrutinized the name card, and for some unknown reason, massb swapped out of the seat for me. Hmm... I thought we were in this together? But the seating arrangement was cramped, and so I turned out to be the lucky dude to interview the two pretty ladies. I'd better not screw up!

Me Interviewing Samantha Tan and Ezann Lee

I thought I died when I posed my first question to Samantha, and gotten a 2-word answer - "No difficulties". But I went to heaven (woohoo!) when she continued after a short pause. Phew! And soon one question became two, and two became a conversation amongst friends. Couldn't keep Ezann waiting, so I had to pose another question to her. I think it was at least a good five minutes talking to them, with an interruption which I chose to ignore - my phone was buzzing in silent mode, and my guess it was Patrick calling me back. Sorry buddy, ain't gonna stop my interview to pick up your call :-P My apologies!

From the corner of my eye, I knew massb somehow found space to listen in, which was good as I needed some help. Although I was asking the questions, my brain was multi-tasking - with the focus of processing images from my eyes (ha!) rather than processing the soundwaves in a club with various background noises.

Me and massb Interviewing Samantha and Ezann

For the summarized interview Q&A, check back at the movieXclusive site.

What was Dgital doing all this while? Well, as a photographer, he was obviously thinking of his next shot! And when we ended the interview, he had a thought to take a solo picture with the two ladies, but alas the minders had kindly volunteered to take a group picture for us. Think they were rushing for time?

Group Pic! Dgital, Me, Samantha, Ezann and massb

The shot above was the second one as the original turned out too dark. Still determined, Dgital got his wish though (ain't no one gonna stop our photographer yeah?), and started the ball rolling

Samantha, Dgital, Ezann

As did massb

Samantha, massb, Ezann

and so did I (have to complete the trio mah, no?)

Samantha, Me, Ezann

I thought the minders were fuming at this stage haha. But oh well. Samantha and Ezann were game, and were previewing the pictures right after we took them. Just like teenage friends :-)

Leaves me like a shell, everytime we've been together and it's time, to go...

By then, the crowd had dwindled, and we reluctantly shook hands and said our farewells. Eric Khoo was lounging near the exit, and Dgital went up to him again (read about it here if you haven't.)

It was a truly unforgettable, and unbelievable night, as we struggled hard to avoid slipping into fanboy mode, knowing that first and foremost, we're duty bound flying the flag for movieXclusive. Think we were still high when we settled down at Starbucks, and called our chief with the update - he can really hear our celebrations of a fun-filled mission accomplished night.

Fell in love with the tracks performed, so I got the soundtrack. Nice. You should go get one too. Whoever said locally produced movie soundtracks ain't good, should give this a listen.

Eric Khoo's Autograph on 12 Storeys, and Be with Me Soundtrack
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