Showing posts from February, 2013

Oscars 2013

The 85th Academy Awards is just around the corner and here in Singapore all but two of the Best Pictures nominees - "Beasts of The Southern Wild" and "Django Unchained" - have been screened. I have watched a lot of movies over the past few months, and other than the aforementioned two pictures, I had watched all the other nominees. Same goes for the Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director races. As we all know, the eventual winners get the their little gold man because of a multitude of reasons and not only because they are the BEST of their category. Politics, goodwill, marketing and gossip all play a part. For folks who follow this blog, it is no secret that I am not a fan of "Argo". Nothing against Ben Affleck, but I sincerely do not understand why "Argo" (and Affleck) is sweeping all the precursory awards. "Amour" is my favourite show of the year and if I have my way it would win everything it is nominated for. A bonus will be …


A powerful, brave performance by Denzel Washington in a harrowing and sobering movie about addiction and morality. The first 15 minutes alone is worth the price of admission and the movie as a whole world have been ace if not for that rather lame and disappointing ending. That first fifteen minutes is easily one of the best action sequences in recent memory and it could possibly be also because I have an intense phobia of flying. That and a couple of ingenious shots by Robert Zemeckis made the movie interesting throughout. But it really is Washington's performance that anchors this film over its rather long playing time. John Goodman's character is also another scene stealer and his brief appearances are always a delight! The rest of the cast are unfortunately overshadowed and barely made much of a lasting impression even Melissa Leo and Don Cheadle. If the movie, Zemeckis and screenwriter Gatins could have boldly embraced the concept of the anti-hero and follow through it all…


A distinctively American, and totally Spielbergianly indulgent, historical drama that may not play as well to the international audience despite a tour de force, immensely astounding and amazingly immersive performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. He is going home with the Oscars no doubt about it. I can see why Spielberg may not be winning the awards as this is surely not his strongest film. But why Affleck is beyond me, when Bigelow and Haneke are way more deserving! Spielberg's signatures are over this film with glares, flares, backlights and shadows play. He composes images beautifully and these are lensed gorgeously by by Janusz Kamiński, in particular one very memorable moment with Lincoln's eldests son. Kaminski and Deakins ("Skyfall", any my first choice) are the top contenders for Best Cinematography.  There is a steady hand directing throughout but the pacing is inconsistent and the narrative occasionally falters. Kushner may be blamed for the latter as his script…

House of Cards

Pilot, Episode 2 - 5: An interesting concept by Netflix to roll out all 13 episodes at one shot. With a very strong cast led by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright this is an intriguing look into American politics and the backroom scheming and mechanics that goes on. Spacey is brilliant by as the shark of Congress, circling the ocean and laying out his cards, but a house of cards is still just a house of cards and very susceptible to falling down. And the higher you build the house, the larger the stakes, and the more spectacular the fall. 5 episodes in, and the base is perhaps almost complete. Spacey's character tends to break the fourth wall and this Shakespearean quality can be at times insightful and witty, but can also be occasionally jarring to the action and insulting to the audience. Spacey's southern accent also drawls in and out, which is annoying. Wright is his other half and she is just as ambitious and calculative as he is, and perhaps she is even more scarily so what w…

The Americans

Pilot + Episode 2, "The Clock"FX's latest series by ex-CIA officer Joe Weisberg stars Keri Russell of Felicity fame, and Matthew Rhys, last seen on "Brothers & Sisters". As I watched the first two episodes concurrently, I must say I kind of got a better sense of the series than if I were to just catch the Pilot alone. The pilot, like most pilot, has a job to do: sell the show to a network, and it did it perfectly. Great directing, tight pacing, taut tension, fantastic acting and a general plot as to what this show is about. But the second episode, though it still deals with spycraft, puts more emphasis on the characters and moral dilemma. Their dynamics were strongly explored in the pilot, but it is the second episode that both Russell and Rhys add layers to their roles. Topped that with lines filled with subtexts and innuendos, and you end up with more a character study rather than a procedural like spy romp a la "Alias". Speaking of which, Rus…

Nam Nam Noodles Bar

Vietnamese noodles and sandwich cafe at Wheelock's basement that has been drawing in a crowd every time I walk past. Small basic menu but very fast service. The beef combination phó soup arrived in less than 7 minutes after ordering. At $9.90, it was decent. The soup by itself was bland but after adding in a wedge of lime, fish sauce and peanut oil, it improved. The beef ball was quite good, bouncy but not artificial; the beef slices was so-so. The crispy roll was fried till well crispy but inside still nice and warm and not too oily or mushy.

Verdict: A decent cheap Vietnamese phó place. Not great, but not revolting.


Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut misses the mark of excellence and is only saved by the marvellously restrained and dignifiedly polished Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay. He somehow lacks the British sensibility to bring this British dramedy across effectively. Ronald Harwood's script based on his play has a pertinent theme it wants to sat, although well written, with well played quips, one liners, puns and wit, but unfortunately when translated to the big screen it kind of fall flat. Both director and playwright are to be blamed. Hoffman's direction is pedestrian at best, filled with cliches but there are occasional brilliance. Polanski's "Carnage", though not without flaws, is how one should strictly translate a play to the screen. Lucky for Hoffman, his main cast are his saving grace. Maggie Smith plays the curmudgeon dame, again, who softens slowly, but her portrayal is not flat and insteads infuses the character with certain complexities that makes her g…