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Showing posts from December, 2014

Saint Laurent

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Disclaimer: Expectations were high going into this film for two reasons: (1) it triumphed over the superbly brilliant and universally acclaimed Blue Is The Warmest Colour as France's entry for The 87th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film; (2) this is the second of two Yves Saint Laurent biopics of the year - the first being: Yves Saint Laurent.

Saint Laurent was a stylish movie with a disjointed and non-cohesive narrative, saved by the charismatic Gaspard Ulliel as the eponymous fashion savant and Yves Saint Laurent's gorgeous designs.

At about 30 minutes too long, director Bertrand Bonello's 150 minutes biopic gave the audience no insight into mind and inner workings of fashion's enfant terrible. It focused on a brief chapter of his life but yet in choosing just that short time-frame, Bonello was not able to find any focus for his story: his fashion? his ideas? his relationships? his scandals? It was a hotchpotch of ideas and imageries. With the camera fleeting f…

Predestination

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An entertaining Australian sci-fi movie that had a very cool concept and story, but perhaps got a bit too lost in its own perceived smarts that if you just tug a bit at the logic thread, the whole tapestry will unravel.

For fans of the sci-fi and time-travelling genres, the - inevitable - twist could be guessed within the opening minutes of the movie, and writers/directors The Spierig Brothers had padded the whole 97 minutes with enough clues and hints that even Elle Woods would have solved it.

In addition, if The Spierig Brothers had focused less on the crime noir sub-genre and made a film exploring the psychology behind the concept, this movie might have been even better, Although, realistically, a more intelligent movie would also mean less box office receipts.

Ethan Hawke was competent in the role, but to be honest, other than when he was working with Richard Linklater, Hawke's characters tend to blend in with each other.

The real stand out here was Aussie actress Sarah Snook…

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [IMAX/3D]

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The final chapter of this drawn out trilogy is unfortunately the weakest of the lot, and that is saying something since The Hobbit is already incomparable to The Lord of the Ring.

At 144 minutes, this is the shortest entry of the lot, but yet it felt so bloated. There is essentially only one set where the whole story is based on (yes, we do venture to other locales briefly, but those scenes were mere interludes), and there really was not any substantial plot to sustain the length.

In addition, everything we see had a been-there-done-that feeling to it. Peter Jackson did not give us anything new or innovative to distract us from the thinness of the plot and the repetitiveness of the action.

The biggest problem with this trilogy is that we do not care about this "fellowship". There was not really any character development or investment by Jackson and company to make the audience feel attached to the characters. Likely because Tolkien himself did not really intend for this sto…

The Flash

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Disclaimer: Doing things differently for some shows now because of personal time constraints. Binge-watched The Flash from its Pilot to the Winter Finale over two days. Previously, I had watched Arrow but did not make it through the first season, although from what I hear, Arrow has vastly improved.

Pilot: A very good pilot - did everything that a pilot is meant to do. Introduced the protagonist and the main cast, developed a potential long term (or at least a season-long) mystery, start the conflicts between various aspects of The Flash's life, and most importantly, not laden it with too much exposition. Trusting the audience to know enough on their own - which is important in a comic-book adaptation, especially of a more well-known hero. Grant Gustin was an interesting choice to play Barry Allen, but his dorkiness is adorable - a lot like New Girl's Jesse - and instantly a lot more relatable to the average audience. Especially as this is an origins story, it make sense for hi…

Exodus: Gods and Kings [IMAX/3D]

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2 words to describe this movie: Epic. Spectacle. 
Ridley Scott is a masterful storyteller - Prometheus, for all its plot holes and heightened expectations, had a great story to tell - and he knows how to direct big set pieces without getting too complicated. Together with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski - gorgeous wide-angle lensing - and composer Alberto Inglesias - epic, awe-inspiring score - this is a visual and auditory spectacle that is worth to be seen and heard in an IMAX theatre. The 3D, however, not very much so.
Pacing-wise, the movie did slowed down a bit too much towards the end of the first act, and, as gorgeous as they were visually, the plagues dragged on too. For most audience, they would be familiar with the plagues, but if you were going to add internal conflict for your protagonist, then you better be willing to explore it more. Especially since, ironically or not, or purposely or not, Moses felt like a terrorist at one point. That angle should have been explored mo…

Nightcrawler

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What an original and darkly engaging directorial debut from director/writer Dan Gilroy! Jake Gyllenhaal was mesmerising as he disappeared into a role that is wholly unique, with equal parts charming and frightening.

Gilroy gave us a story with a relatively original concept, bringing us into the world of news video capturing. But at the same time, it was also a satirical rift on modern news channel relentless focus on crime and violence which is only because of the viewers' insatiable appetite for such "news". Aaron Sorkin will have such a field day with this - oh wait, he did already with The Newsroom.

Watching the movie itself leads the audience to question not only their own morality but also the ethics behind journalism.

Gilroy framed the movie in three distinct Acts, making Gyllenhaal's character's story easy to follow as we see him dip his toes, then start to swim, and finally dive all the way. In addition, the character himself was written very well, as hi…

State of Affairs

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Pilot: NBC is taking a gamble with this new series, not only because Katherine Heigl is in the lead (for the record, I personally think she is a good actress with on-screen presence and I do not really give a damn about her PR-drama), but because how do you properly do a spy-drama when there will be inevitable comparison with the revitalised Homeland and consistently excellent The Americans over on cable? Nonetheless, the premise is interesting enough and at least the showrunners show us a different aspect of the CIA: the President's Daily Briefing. But herein lies the biggest trouble. Heigl is too glamorous and inappropriately dressed for her supposedly high-security clearance character (according to Wikipedia, she should be the Director of National Intelligence). and consequently, she lacked that necessary gravitas to give her role and credit. Nonetheless, Heigl has screen presence and is relatable but not convincing. Alfre Woodard, on the other hand, eased into her role as the …

Maps to the Stars

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Bolstered by a powerful female cast - from the raw and vanity-free Julianne Moore to the cold and yet fragile Mia Wasikowska and the always talented and under-rated Olivia Williams - David Cronenberg's latest is a dark, strange satire on the dysfunction of Hollywood that lies below all the glitz and glamour.

The story, written by Bruce Wagner, unfold in layers and in pieces, with each piece slowly falling into place as the layers are slowly peeled off. All that happened as Wagner and Cronenberg satirised the dark comedic truths behind the Hollywood machine. With name-droppings like snow in Winter, the pop-savvy and intelligent audience will get the comedy behind the darkness. However, if not, some parts may not make much sense.

Moore was riveting throughout the movie as we see her character morph and change through the 112 minutes. The accolades were justified as was her Best Actress win at Cannes'. The role was vanity-free and Moore really let herself go and embraced all the…