Showing posts from November, 2013


This a horribly chauvinistic movie that portrayed the late Lady Di as a simpering, wanting, lonely woman. It minimised her social and humanitarian work and impact, the footnotes at the end of the movie is a joke, when director Oliver Hirschbiegel and writer Stephen Jeffreys barely spent any time on screen regarding her work with land-mines and other charitable organisations. Based on the book by Kate Snell, "Diana: Her Last Love", this movie absolutely fails the Bechdel's Test. Naomi Watts has her moments of brilliance but this is a far cry from her Oscar-nominated work in last year's "The Impossible". Even her Oscar-baiting scene felt weak and uninspired. She could not keep in character throughout the movie and frequently we see glimpses of Watts on the screen rather than the Queen of Hearts. But one of the biggest fault in the failure of this movie is the casting. Naveen Andrews is grossly miscast. He and Watts have zero chemistry and yet we the audience…

Old Boy

Disclaimer: In my opinion, Park Chan-Wook's "Old Boy" is one of the best movies of this generation. I have watched it once in the cinema, once on an airplane and once at home going through his The Vengeance Trilogy. I still get chills and flashbacks whenever I hear the first movement of Vivaldi's 4 Seasons: Winter. 

I applaud Spike Lee for adapting, rather than re-creating, this brilliant movie. However, this American end product though competent, lacked the heart and soul, and undeniable psychological tension and thrills that was so prevalent in Park's Grand Prix-winning film. Ignoring the fact that the basic storyline is the same, the biggest stumbling block here are the characterisations of the leads. All three of them. Josh Brolin: we spent much time in the beginning but his transformation lacked the intensity and instability that Choi Min-Sik's Oh Dae-Soo had which illuminated the screen. We do not get a sense of Brolin losing his humanity nor regaining …

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Disclaimer: I read the books when they first came out and was really into them until Book 3 where the ending was, in my opinion, hastily concluded. Book 2 was the best read of the trilogy. Oh, and I'm Team Peeta.

The review for: The Hunger Games (23 March 2012)

The best thing about this instalment is, like its predecessor, Jennifer Lawrence. Although she is let down by her director Francis Lawrence here and the general direction of this cinematic franchise. By focusing on the YA market and the general dumbing down of Hollywood productions, the socio-political commentary and satirical aspect of Suzanne Collins novels is lost. Although we spend the First Act establishing the political background of the show, we do not spend time in it to understand much about it. Similarly, this made villain Donald Sutherland rather un-intimidating. Jennifer Lawrence, does however, have her fine acting moments when she finally comes to terms with her role in the situation, but sadly those are far an…

The Suit

The third, and final, play of the SRT's "3 Titans of Theatre" is a singularly, powerful production that not only challenges you intellectually but tugs at the emotional heartstrings effortlessly. Strength in its simplicity, director Peter Brook has given us a simple stage, a small cast paired with a three-piece live band on stage, and showed us that did not limit his ability to provide variety, engage the audience - across the 4th wall from the get-go, no less - and wrought them through all the subtle complexities of the play, the music and the actors. At a tight 70-odd minutes, Can Themba's play appeared on the surface to be a simple story of a adulteress and her husband, but beneath that simple tale is a Morality play (not entirely different from Musashi), an Apartheid play, a Romantic play of Greek Tragedy and Shakespearean Comic proportions, a statement about Feminism and Feminity, and even a brief subtext on Religion, Sin and Forgiveness. Who the owner of the su…

Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake

Disclaimer: I distinctly remembering having watched 3 others "Swan Lake" performances before: New York, Tokyo and a foreign staging in Singapore and also vaguely recalling at least once in Paris I believe.

Up front, purists will be disappointed by Yury Grigorovich's version of this seminal, classic ballet. Secondly, the touring company is made up of mainly "young talented artists", so expectations should be adjusted. With that in mind, or if you read the programme before the show started which I did not, perhaps one would have been more entertained than I was. I have nothing against directors putting their own stamps on others' work, but sometimes, too radical a change may not be beneficial nor befitting the wondrous score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. And the whole last scene is proof of that. I have no doubt about the dramatic/narrative effectiveness of the new ending, but the build-up to that - the new choreography and new story - just did not convey the …

Captain Phillips

Disclaimer: I was in the Navy when the events of the movie was underway, and was also involved in parts of the ops planning. 
Paul Greengrass has again demonstrated that he is the premiere director for handheld camera action sequences especially in tight frames/spaces. However beyond the action-packed First and Third Act, Greengrass shortcoming has a dramatic director shows in the slow, plodding Second Act. Screenwriter Billy Ray is also partially to be blamed for he gave no added dimensions to Tom Hanks' eponymous protagonist. For viewers who followed the real life events, we would know what happened to Captain Phillips in the end, so how do you engage these people who knows what your hero's fate is? Despite having a stellar actor like Hanks who can still command a screen, the material left him with barely anything much to work with. The faint and clumsy attempts to inject familial ties and emotions in the Third Act just felt cheap and appeared like vainglorious attempts for …

Rigor Mortis 殭屍 [HK]

Disclaimer: I watched this in HK in cantonese; the review is a quick one that I wrote while commuting.

A frightless, plotless, squandered effort of an otherwise potentially exciting/intriguing concept that could have revived this nostalgic genre for the Gen X/Y-ers; the director Juno Mak was more interested in imageries and fancy angles, that served no reasons, rather than a solid story and plotting.

Musashi ムサシ

Part of SRT's 3 Titans of Theatre series, this was an extremely well-directed Morality dramedy (for a lack of a better word) play by legendary director Yukio Ninagawa that daftly balanced comedy with Bhuddist teachings (without ever being preachy) and serious philosophical questions on Morality, Government and Self, the Philosophy of War, and Redemption/Revenge that echoes that words of Kant, Hobbes, Machiavelli,Locke and Rousseau. The biggest challenge in bringing this play to Singapore is translating the Japanese historical culture and making it accessible to Singaporeans. And in this case, I think they did a brilliant job. However, most of my audience were, unfortunately, lost in this non-familial cultural abyss. It is therefore essential to not only know about the basic background of Musashi Miyamoto and his duel with Sasaki Kojiro, but also understand, appreciate and differentiate Noh and Kyogen theatre (the website at SRT's page gives a good primer). The many inappropri…