23 September 2014

The Mysteries of Laura

Pilot: I will admit that I had never watched Will & Grace but, other than her scarves, Debra Messing was rather charismatic on Smash, so I approached this seemingly procedural drama with a bit of trepidation. Usually I am not a fan of criminal procedurals, however if done right, they can be range from absolutely brilliant and mind-blowing like Hannibal (which admittedly became less procedural) to good and interesting like Elementary and the late, under-rated Prime Suspect. But the key to the aforementioned shows is the fascinating and riveting chemistry the main cast has. So can Laura do the same? The case-of-the-week itself was rather silly and does not really involve the audience, so is that a hint for the future? Where the case itself is secondary to the drama of Messing's messy life? She definitely has the screen charisma to carry it off and Josh Lucas as her soon-to-be-or-maybe-not ex husband and her have good chemistry together (he as eye candy does help too). As for side-kicks, detective aide Max Jenkins is quirky enough like a young Giovanni Ribisi to be entertaining in small doses; Janina Gavankar provides the female sex appeal but her character needs more reason rather than just being antagonistic to Messing. Definitely watchable at the moment just to see in which direction this series will evolve towards to.

14 September 2014

Magic in the Moonlight

Woody Allen's newest movie is definitely not one of his finest work, or perhaps we judged him too harshly now after his recent run of spectacular films starting from Midnight in Paris and the last one: Blue Jasmine. And unfortunately, the bulk of the blame lay squarely on both Allen and his two leads: Collin Firth and Emma Stone.

Firth and Stone are undoubtedly one of the best actors of their time (him) and their generation (her), but here, as leads in a romantic comedy - even one written and directed by Allen - they lack chemistry. And that is essentially the death knell of any rom-coms. Singularly, they are fine actors. Firth has the whole English snobbish, eccentric, rational wit going on, and Stone is fine on her own as the seemingly naïvete but romantically passionate American. However, between them, not even ice would melt.

Furthermore, another sorely lack piece of puzzle in this movie is the lack of an outstanding supporting cast. Jacki Weaver and Eileen Atkins were the exception but they just had too little to do. Poor Marcia Gay Harden was under-utilised - that woman has a mean funny bone! Just watch Trophy Wife!

Allen's script had his usual wittiness and some great one liners. His clearly defined Three Parts Acts also made the movie straightforward and easy to digest. What started of a typical rom-com, became Allen's short Gatsby-esque dissertation on Love, Religion (or Atheism) and Sociology. and then finally back to the Romanticism and irrationality of Love.

The directing was even with some good shots and angles. The images looked like they were appropriately aged, and south of France looked amazing as always.

Kudos to the set designers and costumers. And also to the florists, gardeners and floral designers!

12 September 2014

Planet Earth in Concert

Documentaries like these always fill me with a profound sense of wanderlust, and when backed up with a live orchestra like the SSO, this wanderlust just gets amplified.

Regardless whether you have watched this series before or not, it is impossible not to be awed by awesomeness and mysteries of Mother Nature and Planet Earth. But undoubtedly, some of that awe is blunted with prior exposure. Although seeing half a million snow geese take flight and the money-shot of the orca leaping out of the water on a big screen is beyond words.  

One of the downside to this presentation is that David Attenborough was sorely missed! kJoshua Tan performs better with his back to the audience, and his narration lacked the grandeur and wisdom so inherent in Attenborough's narration. 

Nonetheless, kudos to the film-making team at BBC Earth - although this was so clearly an unabashed money grab.
Looking forward to Frozen Planet in Concert!

11 September 2014

Mies Julie [Miss Julie]

A brilliant play that was wonderfully adapted to the South African context, using the apartheid to broach themes of social equality, power, self-identity, and even love.

Fearless performance by the two leads who deftly handled the emotional range and depth that was required of them, and the constant evolution of power between the characters. However, ultimately, this play still bore the mark of chauvinism and that was starkly unaddressed in a play that juggled bigotry and inequality.

Nonetheless, the play itself was written and directed beautifully with rich imageries, clever juxtaposition, and subtle yet inevitable foreshadowing.

Wonder how the movie will be like...

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep

This was unexpectedly good. It was not Oscar-winning good, but it was a thoroughly entertaining horror-thriller. Kudos to writer/director...