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Showing posts from April, 2014

Mister John

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A little indie-show that felt a bit disconcerting for a Singaporean to watch especially since at times it did not feel like I am watching the Singapore that I know on screen. Nonetheless, Little Finger...I mean Petyr Baelish...Aidan Gillen was great as we followed him through his journey of lost. And as depressing as that journey was to watch Gillen nailed it as the strangeness of this new land and its people come into conflict and strangely also complements the turmoils of his own personal life. Local actress Zoe Tay shone in her role as the widow and she should be proud of the performance that she gave - possibly her best in a long, long time. The biggest problem for the movie, from a Singaporean point of view, is how disjointing it actually felt to hear Irish-lilted English against a Singaporean-accented one, and how some scenes were not even in English. In addition, the depiction of Singapore felt jarring and not as authentic to a foreign viewer, not that its shady or seedy, but …

Transcendence

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This is Hollywood's version of Her - meaning it is shallow and superficially deep, filled with pseudo-pop psychology. But worse than all that the acting was almost uniformly bad, the ending was a cowardly cop-out, the directing was a mess and the writing beyond illogical. Seriously, if I was harsh this is possibly the worst movie of the year so far.

First time director Wally Pfister was sadly in over his head and I won't be surprised if Johnny Depp or even Morgan Freeman was over-riding the director. These two were barely registering a presence. Freeman was just coasting through his scenes, and as for Depp, I will get to him soon. Pfister's direction was mediocre and the action scenes were like a poor man's Michael Bay - at best; even the narrative itself was poorly structured. The latter of which, writer Jack Paglen has to bear some - or even most - of the responsibility.

The whole script was a total superficial honky-tonk Hollywood schtick catered to the lowest deno…

The Other Woman

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A silly, frothy rom-com that was loads of fun, filled with genuine laugh out loud moments with comedic gold from Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, especially the former. A great movie to enjoy, with the silliness and frothiness in mind, with friends of similar tastes. Pity that most of the funny bits were shown in the trailers (which is why I almost always never watch trailers), but there were still some gems that they kept away. There was even something for the boys with Kate Upton, although her anti-gravity shoot for swimwear illustrated was a lot more impressive.

Diaz has a gift for comedy. Especially physical comedy. She really anchored the comedic side of the movie. Mann started off annoying but towards the second act, she found her groove with Diaz and this is a duo that I would really love to see again.

Kate Upton is just so pretty. As is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. But at least Coster-Waldau could really act and who knew Jaime Lannister has such comedic chops.

An unabashed rom-com tha…

Enemy

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Based on Nobel-laureate José Saramago's novel, "The Double", Prisoners' director Denis Villeneuve has given us another meditative/existentialist, slightly unconventional movie starring his previous lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal in an astoundingly restrained but completely absorbing dual-role.

Adapted from a rather famous novel by Javier Gullón, the unconventional plot and narrative forces the audience to think and debate the meaning of what they had just saw. Even with foreknowledge from the book, the writer and director had wisely chosen to bring their own version of this age-old tale of the doppelgänger/clones to the big screen, and throughout the slim 90 minutes run-time, we are left to wonder is this going to be a sci-fi, fantasy or a psychological thriller.

Villeneuve portrayed the city as a mirror to the mind of a broken man. But is this man broken? And if so, how badly? However, the over-abundance use of quick cuts and edits felt a bit too cheap and gimmicky, es…

Limehouse

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The first thing that strikes, and impresses, me was the deco of the place. A nice mix of Peranakan and Caribbean influence in an old-concept. The set lunch was priced rather attractively with either a 2-course or 3-course option.

The sweet potato soup (soup of the day) was thick, but lacked the inherent sweetness one would expect from sweet potato. Although the addition of the Caribbean spice to it did give it a nice tang.

Then we had an ala carte order of the fish cake. Chunky fish pieces reminiscent of fish tikka, although the one here had a similarly strong lime/spice Caribbean vibe to it. Pity then that the fish was a tad too chewy and overcooked.

The Jerk Chicken was the main course and it was rather tasty. The chicken was grilled very well with the meat retaining its juiciness and tenderness despite having a nicely charred and crispy skin. The Jerk BBQ sauce was unique in its spice and tang, and went well with the chicken. Although it was the same sauce they used for their steak …

Noah [3D/IMAX]

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Darren Aronofsky's retelling of one of the most famous biblical stories is an epic, CGI-assisted, apocalypse that featured strong performances from its cast, especially Russell Crowe who finally reminds us why he was an Oscar winner, and an outstanding score by Clint Mansell with the Kronos Quartet. However, a tad disjointed with the first two acts feeling like a major CGI tent-pole, and the last act like a typical Aronofsky indie-drama.

Aronofsky directing was similar to his previous films with many close-ups (and for while, I almost thought Russell Crowe is going to break out in a song á la in Tom Hooper's Les Miserables) and quick cuts. But throughout, you still get the feel of his indie-roots despite the big budget with many scenes shot on handheld cameras. He refrained from going too biblical on the audience but also held back on his atheistical beliefs although there was a moment where I thought he might sneaked in something. And I think that was a smart, commercial cho…

The Wind Rises 風立ちぬ

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Hayao Miyazki's final film continues his Studio Ghibli's tradition of using gorgeously sumptuous hand-drawn animation to tell a heartfelt emotional story about love, passion and following your dreams, albeit this time grounded very much more in reality - a true story no less - and less of the fantastical, magical elements that hallmarked his past few gems. However, fans would definitely recognise similarity back to his earlier works, before he gave us Totoro, Faceless and Howl's Moving Castle.

Miyazki is a gifted story teller and even without the melodramatic trappings he still managed to convey the romantic core of the love-story from courtship to death. Many times, words are not necessary, just the way he animates the characters, depicts the scene and the accompanied score by Joe Hisaishi is more than enough to tug at the heartstrings.

However, the romance is still secondary to the central plot. It was an interesting glimpse into an era of Japan where many non-Japanese,…