Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar 2007

Well, hurrah for The Departed! And finally Scorsese gets his due. Maybe it's not his strongest film, but it's still better than the others (aside from Letters, which I haven't seen yet).

The show as a whole sucked (Ellen was surprisingly unfunny). But I'll give credits to the Oscars for being rather *unpredictable*; for better or worse. And earlier on I thought Little Miss Sunshine was gonna give a surprise by winning Best Picture, seeing that it won for Best Original Screenplay.

There are certainly some disappointments, most notably Pan's Labyrinth and Emmanuel Lubezki losing. Other winners are satisfactory, I guess.

Here's hoping for a better host next year.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

SEVERANCE (Christopher Smith, 2006)

It's official. If you want a good horror dosage for your friday nights, leave it to the Brits. 28 Days Later, Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Shaun Of The Dead; the guys behind these actually *know* what they're doing. They actually love horror movies. AND, their ideas are *original* too boot. Not some "Asian remakes" or crappy imitators that Hollywood keeps dishing out over and over again. I'd say the last good Hollywood horror film was Slither. Even that was a "homage" of sorts to the B-horror flicks of yesteryears. Not that that was any fault if it was done competently. The same goes to this latest Brit horror/comedy flick Severance. Taking the typical horror movie premise and just spun it around for laughs. But, the difference is that Hollywood just can't beat British humour. I don't know why, just that they have a certain "penache" in their 'comedic approach'. They're more subtle, and witty.

The premise is easy enough, a bunch of people go for a vacation in a remote 'villa', and ended up getting their body parts hacked by a crazy-ass killer. In this case, the 'people' are co-workers of a weapons manufacturing company of sorts. Similarities with 'The Office' are glaring here. Only that you don't really care much about the characters. But then again, since when did we last *care* about a character in a horror movie? At least, this bunch is *colourful* enough.

Severance did what other movies of its genre did: it pokes fun at horror movie stereotypes. And whenever they do, it's hilarious. Most notably the scene where the "typical female protagonist" kills off the "slasher" (within seconds) with a shotgun, and uttered "I hate to be accused of not killing him when I had the chance.". If *that* doesn't beat you over the head with its sense of humour, then you just have no.....sense of humour. Or you've never watched a horror flick all your life. Then you're a loser. ha!

There's also a good amount of political satires thrown in. But I would call this a double-edged sword. It *is* brilliant at times, but also made the film itself wildly uneven (in tone). By the third act it degenerates into the ridiculous, with bursts of over-the-top political gags/references that seemed like I'm watching a different movie altogether. Like a late change of course by the filmmaker, aiming for a *higher* target than it should.

However, I really enjoyed the movie. Sure it's not scary (it's not meant to be). Just some gory stuff with a few cringe-inducing scene. But it *is* still a refreshing take on the genre; one that you could sit back, eat some junk, and laugh your ass off.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Painted Veil (John Curran, 2006)

Lagi satu versi filem yang diadaptasi daripada novel Somerset Maugham. Ini versi yang ke-3, jadi boleh ke kalau nak dipanggil filem ini filem 'remake'? Banyak betul Naomi Watts berlakon dalam filem2 remake (King Kong, The Ring). Aku sebenarnya tak berapa tertarik sangat dengan filem ini memandangkan stereotaip filem genre romantik+period piece = bosan. Tapi memandangkan penyandang2 utamanya Edward Norton dan Naomi Watts (keduanya pelakon feveret aku), aku pun bagi lah can kat The Painted Veil ni. Dan memang, seperti yang aku jangka, filem ni memberi lagi sebab kenapa diorang ni gilebab 'underrated'. Kalau kau tak rasa 'jatuh cinta' pd ceritanya sekalipun, kau pasti jatuh cinta pada dua watak utamanya ni.

Aku tak baca novelnya, dan aku tak tengok versi2 filem yang sebelum, jadi aku tak boleh komen lebih-lebih. Cuma aku boleh kata tema 'pertembungan budaya barat dan timur' filem ni agak 'ketinggalan zaman' bagi aku. Dan paparan orang putih sebagai 'penyelamat' orang Asia yang mundur agak menjelikkan sekali-sekala. Tapi tak apa, yang jadi kekuatan filem ini sudah tentunya kisah hubungan Walter dan Kitty. Juga sinematografi pemandangan yang menyejukkan mata.

Dan menarik juga tengok Anthony Wong cakap English. Mungkin jadi landasannya untuk ke Hollywood. Jangan jadi macam Gong Li sudah (apa dia buat dalam Hannibal Rising??).

Verdict: 3.5/5

Wordplay (Patrick Creadon, 2006)

Filem dokumentari yang sangat 'educational' dan sangat menghiburkan (mana nak carik tu?). Tak sangka tengok filem pasal crossword puzzle geeks ni boleh buat aku terhibur macam ni. Dulu aku tengok mak aku rajin buat, aku tak faham apa yang 'seronok' sangat.Baru la aku tau selok-belok pasal pembikin dan peminat crossword puzzles (diorang genius) ni dan kenapa sampai orang jadi obses. Sampai Bill Clinton pun obses sekali. Hebat. Teringin pulak aku nak mencuba.

Verdict: 4/5

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigiir, 2006)

Undoubtedly you won't find any other film from last year that is as bizarre as Ten Canoes, a story revolving a tribe of Australian aborigins many, many years ago. Bear in mind, this film is NOT what you would expect considering that somewhat 'misleading' short synopsis. This is no documentary nor another heavy 'socio-political conscious' drama about these aborigins. Instead it is a charmingly funny fable, told in a unique flair that not only made the film accessible, but also complements the 'quirkiness' of the film itself. These "gibberish"-speaking, naked aboriginals are very much identifiable, complete with their own distinct characteristics that are similar to your average individuals. Unlike Apocalypto which more or less depicts natives as some sort of savage "aliens", Ten Canoes *takes* the viewer into their world with a nostalgic atmosphere, also showing that time doesnt change human behaviors as much as we would expect. They exhibit the same feelings as ours(jealousy, anger, desire, happy, sad, etc), do things that are as common as our lifestyle now and even talk dirty to one another. Added with the constantly humorous narration, their world and their story turned out to be not so 'other-worldly' after all. Truly a one of a kind viewing experience.

Verdict: 4/5

Water (Deepa Mehta, 2005/2006)

One of the nominated films in the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and also a part of the "Elements Trilogy" (I havent seen the others). Deepa Mehta's controversial film is a social criticism on the Hindu customs in India that closet widows in holy ashrams, which basically alienating them from "higher" society. Controversies aside, for me Water is a refreshment over the standard typical 'Hindustan' film offerings; meaning no musical numbers and melodrama in sight. Deepa Mehta weaves the story with feminist sensitivity (befitting the issue it raises), and although clearly she intends to make a sociopolitical statement, she never forgets the importance of a good story told with art. The film is rich with lyrical imageries, and also boasts a great cast. Particularly the gorgeous Lisa Ray as Kalyani. The 'message' is overbearing at times, but it never really gets in the way of the story itself as the film slowly builds itself into an ultimately moving tragedy.

Verdict: 3.5/5