Monday, December 29, 2003

Films Retrospective 2003 / Top 10 Favourite films poll ( not in any order of merit )

For complete list of films watched, please click on the comments box.

1)The Pianist ( Roman Polanski )
2)Tasogarei Seibei ( Yoji Yamada )
3)Lord Of The Rings The Return of the King ( Peter Jackson )
4)Matchstick Men ( Ridley Scott )
5)Tale of 2 Sisters ( Kim Ji-Wun )
6)Hero ( Zhang Yimou )
7)City of God ( Fernando Meirelles )
8)The Hulk ( Lee Ang )
9)Finding Nemo ( Andrew Stanton )
x)Swimming Pool / Bon Voyage ( Francoiz Ozon/Jean Paul Rappaneau )

A bountiful year for the cinema, having watched about a hundred films altogether, give or take a few that I've missed the ticket stubs. This year especially we saw the closure of 3 trilogies, Hollywood behemoths The Matrix series, Lord of the Rings and our asian Infernal Affairs, some more palatable than others, but all highly anticipated. The Singapore Film Festival still proves a valuable event for catching good foreign films, although often with clashes in schedules.

Notable misses include Chen Kaige's Together, and a few films from the recent German Film Festival, but I believe we still have a chance to catch Goodbye Lenin. With outstanding films like Korea's Memories of Murder failing to show up in theatres ( hitherto at least ), it proves more so that outsourcing non hollywood fare on magazines and websites are imperative if we want to catch them, on dvd at least. ( David Cronenberg's Spider, Shunji Iwai's All About Lili Chou Chou, Intacto, just to name a few. )The rest of the local population at least, will never know what they are missing.
An evening train ride home after a friend's wedding dinner ( yes, yet another single bits the dust. ) had me standing within audible conversational range of a young couple, JC students. The routine courtship manoeuvres ensue, hushed voices, attempt at witty jokes, and happy holding of hands. What was etched deeply in my mind and that reawakens distant, lost memories were those moves and actions that I had seen happen on myself many many years ago, when all that mattered, all the wonderful bliss in the world was contained in the sparkling eyes of that person looking straight back at you.

That indescribable feeling of love had long since abandoned me.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It is my policy to never purchase dvds of films that I've not seen at the theatres online, a rather bizzare and perhaps antiquated school of thought seeing the cinematic experience as a rite of passage, a self imposed vetting process before the film can be canonized, elevated to dvd-worthy status. However, because of inherent market forces at work that favours the mainstream blockbusters releases rather than your occasional arthouse film, a considerable number of excellent foreign films ( read non hollywood ) slips past our theatres without ever been noticed, save for some limited screenings at our annual Singapore Film Festival packed into 2 short, hectic weeks.

Now this is when the exception to the rule appears. Sometimes the obssessed film purist, having done some homework and research, will take the plung, calculated risks to import contraband, films that have yet gone through artistic apotheosis. So far there's been a fair share of hits and misses, with films like I.G's lacklustre anime Blood, and highly accomplished Korean film Take Care of My Cat, which I had missed at the film festival.

This time round, I struck cinematic gold.

Between the years of 1986 and 1991, a small village in Korea's Gyeonggi Province was witness to the rape and murder of 10 women, all in the same groteque and brutal manner. Korea had never before experienced serial murders of this kind, and an intense media frenzy and police investigation followed. As the murders continued to take place over the years, investigators grew more desperate, at one point even consulting a shaman who advised them to move the gate of the police station to a more favorable location (which they did, to no avail). Ultimately all their efforts would be in vain, and to this day nobody knows who the murderer was or whether he is still alive.

In 1996, the poignant memories of this incident were reshaped into a successful stage play directed by Kim Kwang-rim. The dramatic intensity of the story attracted the interest of several filmmakers who wished to make a film of the material, but ultimately it would be Bong Joon-ho, the talented director who debuted in 2000 with Barking Dogs Never Bite, who would be charged with the task. Bong took the stage play and, consulting historical documents, wrote a screenplay focusing on two of the police investigators. Bong's primary addition to the material was to highlight the era in which the murders took place -- a time in which the Korean populace was struggling to shake off its authoritarian and militaristic past.

The end result is perhaps Korea's biggest event film since Joint Security Area, a masterfully directed, superbly acted film which is at turns blackly humorous, thought-provoking, and horrifying. The film stars top actor Song Kang-ho (JSA) and Kim Sang-kyung (Turning Gate) as two investigators, the former a local policeman and the latter a detective who comes from Seoul to assist in the case. The first part of the film focuses on the two men's characters and the rivalry that builds between them. As time passes, however, the narrative becomes more complex, as our leads begin to transform under pressure and as we see references to the social situation in Korea at the time, when the government was too busy suppressing its own citizens to put resources into a proper investigation.

Although this movie features one of the best performances ever from Song Kang-ho, one of Korea's most talented actors, the film's amazing ensemble cast almost succeeds in stealing his spotlight. Minor characters such as the old police chief (played by Byun Hee-bong), the slightly retarded Baek Kwang-ho (played by theatre actor Park No-shik, who now has his own fan club), violent investigator Yong-gu (Kim Rae-ha, in his most prominent role to date), Song Kang-ho's girlfriend Sul-young (played by Jeon Mi-seon, who was Han Suk-kyu's old flame in Christmas in August) and the new police chief (Song Jae-ho, also in Double Agent) are only a few of the memorable characters created by this skilled cast. Park Hae-il from Jealousy Is My Middle Name also takes a role towards the end of the film that is sure to stay in the memory of viewers.

Another impressive aspect of this film are its visuals. The production set a record for using the most locations in any Korean film to date, in an effort to recreate the underdeveloped rural landscape of the mid-80s. Director of photography Kim Hyung-gu (who also shot Musa, One Fine Spring Day and Chen Kaige's Together) creates striking images out of ordinary objects, with earthy browns and yellows painting an unforgettable portrait of small town life.

Recently, many critics have begun saying that Korean audiences no longer appreciate good films, that they prefer instead the light comedies that have dominated the box-office over the past couple years. The smashing popular success of Memories of Murder now acts as a counterweight to that argument, signalling that ambitious, serious, well-made productions in Korea still have potential if they can capture the imaginations of ordinary viewers. ( Review by Darcy Parquet, english subtitler for Memories of Murder )

Point in note : Music for this film was written by Taro Ishiwaro, a prolific composer who has done other outstanding music for films by Shohei Imamura, as well as the more familiar Japanese serial The Inanimate World, starring Nanako Matsuhimoto.

Easily one of the best movies I've seen this year, though sadly not in a theatre, where the emotional impact would have been exponential.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Film review for Jane Campion's ( The Piano ) latest film, In the Cut, from British Film Institute's (BFI) publishing Sight and Sound Magazine, December Issue :

In verbatim : ( Final paragraph )

As finely wrought as In The Cut is, one could argue that it fails as a genre exercise. Experienced thriller fans will guess the killer quicker than it takes to recit and Emily Dickenson poem. But once the mystery's burned away, what's left is a minutely etched study in mood and female pyschology.

To read the full review ( highly recommended, but only after watching the film to avoid revealing plot points ), just click on the Comment's Box for this log entry.

Blaue Reiter : Now this is a film review. ( compare previous blog entry below ) Its not too difficult to surmise that the person or persons who contributed to the review below couldn't understand, hadn't the foggiest idea what the film was about after watching it, but decided to play it cool anyway and give it the "nude, very nude", "well, she strikes again" treatment, an unfortunate occurrence sad to say, ubiquitious in Asia's Premier movie magazine.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Film review for Jane Campion's ( The Piano ) latest film, In the Cut, from local film magazine FIRST - ASIA'S PREMIER MOVIE MAGAZINE, December issue :

In verbatim :

"The first thing you probably want to know is : How nude does Meg Ryan get In the Cut ? In answer you your question, we'd like to say : Very, very nude. This is the one thing everyone is talking about when it comes to In the Cut, and we guarantee you this is the only thing anyone will remember. Ryan's body may be shapely, but the rest of the flick is a formless mess. We hate the murky colours. We hate the male lead. We hate the stupid and sluggish serial killer plot. Director Jane Campion caused a sensation by showing Harvey Keitel's privates in the Piano. Well, she strikes again. "


To Editors/writers of FIRST - ASIA'S PREMIER MOVIE MAGAZINE : For the love of film, please, go grab a copy of BFI's Sight and Sound magazine.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Over the last weekend right up till Monday morning I was involved in a 16mm short film production, my boss, having been the DOP of the shoot, have had me taking up the post of 1st camera assistant. Although I was rarely, if ever behind the viewfinder I must still say it has been an enriching experience learning the ins and outs of a film production, where my job scope was a multitude of varied tasks including prepping the SteadiCam for my boss, checking zoom and focus distance, as well as the dolly operator ( well, the guy that pulls the trolley lah ). Man I tell you that is tough. You have to be sure to keep a constant speed at all times to achieve a smooth dolly, something which the very experienced bunch of gaffers and grips have told me, requires a considerable amount of "feeling". Just pushing a goddamned trolley right, what's so hard ? My foot. I make it a point to be more appreciative of all the steadiCam and dolly shots in future films that I watch.

Watch out for the screening of the short film on Arts Central soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Watching 2 ultra violent films back to back was not the easiest way to spend a peaceful, idyllic Sunday, but they were films that I had already planned to watch beforehand. Descriptive words like "empty", "void" and physical, frenzied parodying of the "human blood fountains" were attributed to the movie Kill Bill by one of my friends. ( whose taste in film happens to be slightly different from mine ), However, he remained solemn and relatively quiet after the Japanese film Brother, whose stark and realistic portrayal of bloodied gunfights and Yakuza honour, as well as pathos ending the night with an air of eerie stillness. Violence can see so many different forms.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

First day of work, Wizards of Light. Its a photography studio covering commercial photo work, running the gamut from product to fashion shoots. Today the term desk bound job ceases meaning for me ( yes, I still have a desk, albeit spending less than five minutes at it for the entire day ), with 2 fashion shoots packed back to back, in between buying Milo "bing" and Marlboro Menthol Light for my lead photographer and the clients, I must say its quite a change for a job.

Not that I'm complaining though, learned quite a few things today, tons more to pickup, but we'll see if this photographic passion of mine will stand the test of time.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Watching Len Wiseman's UnderWorld, then Yoji Yamada's Twilight Samurai in one evening was a jarring, cinematic dichotomic trip. These are the last 2 films that anyone should be comparing by virtue of their vastly different, intrinsic genres but it was interesting to note.

1) UnderWorld is Len Wiseman's directorial debut, uninspiring start; Twilight Samurai auteur filmmaker Yoji Yamada's no 77th ( I'm not sure if I've even watched 77 Japanese films hitherto ) film, a masterful piece.

2) Where the latter was a film graced by its use of quiet, cinematic sublety ( in a scene where a simple holding of hands was sufficent to create an intense carthasis and emotional emancipation ), the former is sucked void of any, ( a supposed romantic kiss exchanged between the 2 protaganists had about the same blandness if one were swallowing chalk. )

In this respect as least, less is certainly more. Glad I watched it in the right order, or it would've been a bad evening all the way.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Never rains but pours. For a while there were hardly any decent films to watch at the theatres but now they're tumbling down in a flurry. Just a checklist to be sure I don't miss any. ( left out most of the mainstream releases )

Magdalene Sisters
Brother ( kitano )
Dirty Pretty Things
Matchstick Man ( Ridley Scott )
Swimming Pool ( Francoiz Ozon )
Infernal Affairs II
No Where In Africa
Twilight Samurai ( Yoji Yamada )
Millenium Actress

Quite a number on non commercial films, good breathers in between your standard Hollywood fare. I'm hoping the cinemas here would bring a few highly acclaimed Korean titles like Memories of Murder ( shot by DP Kim Hyung-gu, who also did One Fine Spring Day )and Wonderful Days ( heavy tanker in Korea ), but we'll see.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Korean director Kim Ji-Wun's beautifully shot horror film A Tale of 2 Sisters is a compelling, albeit somewhat confusing tale of a dysfunctional family dealing with the return of 2 sisters upon recovering from a rare and unknown illness. The presence of any supernatural forces is quickly played down here, rather employing more implicit methods of intimidation that are by far the more scary and effective.

Whilst we seldom associate beauty with horror, the latter preferring subjects of grotesqueness and fear as bedfellas, A Tale of 2 Sisters succeeds in the cinematic marriage of the 2 with its elegantly staged camera work; often indulging in long, aptly paced shots of the largely vacant household interior as it takes relish in plunging the viewer headlong into the suffocating reek of the morbid tension, until the silence finally claws and screams for a release. The informed colour palette adds further strength to the mood and visual style with saturation jacked up to almost superfluous levels; blacks in the film are graded so intense they threaten to suck you into an endless, horrifying void, whilst the reds and ochre so vivid you can almost lean forward and smell the coppery reek of blood. At the end, the images will leave you fairly disturbed, but its intrinsic beauty will beckon for your attention more.

Certainly one of the more classy and calculated horror flicks I've watched of late, once again vindicating Korea as a filmmaking powerhouse.

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Medallion Sucks.

I haven't seen such hogwash in a long long time. Now there was this HK movie couple years back starring Leon Lai called Bullets of Love that came close, but The Medallion sets a whole new record for traumatic cinematic experience.

This is so bad, its not funny.

Monday, July 28, 2003

"Marriage is a Crazy Thing" is one interesting movie. There's just something indescribably honest and introspective about Korean arthouse films ( notable are 2 other films, "One Fine Spring Day" and "Take Care of my Cat" ) that I am unable to describe lucidly with my limited vocabulary and lexicon but which I shall dub as the "korean aesthetic" for easier referencing in the future. Only this time, it takes on a more adult theme with some fairly explicit love scenes, but that hardly gets in the way of good storytelling.

Here's an illuminating review :

and ditto :

Go watch it before its gone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Despite Finding Nemo's well intentioned story of a father's love for his son and his eventual coming of age, the coda a catharsis of freedom, their real life brethren have no such luck. Quite on the contrary, the success and popularity of the film has meant a dramatic surge in demand for clown fishes as pets, more often known just as Nemo. This is a sad, sad irony, the antithesis of the cause and intentions of the film. While marine hobbists and nature lovers are sure to sound out, urging prudence before buying, I fear these will fall on nothing but deaf ears.

Monday, June 23, 2003

As much as I enjoyed Ang Lee's treatment of the story and the movie itself, let's leave the debate on the merit of the show and talk just about Mr Green himself.

ILM's rendition of the Hulk has been nothing short of breathtaking. ( One writer in a local newspaper passed him off as been "rubbery", and I've since dispatched David Banner's mutant mouse after her, god bless. ) For the uninitiated, computer graphics are terribly afraid of a few things : close ups ( and we're talking full, cinema resolution ), water/wet skin, green or not, and notably, bright scenes with lots of sunshine and daylight, because its excruciatingly hard to blend CG and make it believable in such conditions. But here, the Hulk is just flaunting it, plain. In the scene where he bursts out of the containment chamber, water spewing and hands raised in rage, I might as well have believed that he was a living, breathing Hulk. Let's not even get started on the desert scenes.

Realism aside, my favourite scene has to be the electrifying shot of father and son, rocketing through the sky, their silhouettes etched onto passing clouds like giant impressionist paintings, coupled nicely with Elfman's dramatic score.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I'm not entirely sure how the makers of the Japanese horror film Ju-on decided on the peerless tagline "The scariest movie ever made"; painfully it is anything but. Gimmicky publicity notwithstanding, no one still has the foggiest idea why folks are willing to spend good money to get spooked, myself a guilty party, albeit a terrible choice this time.
The premise and plot of the entire story, juxtaposed on a nonlinear timeline, escapes me completely so let's just move on to the scare-o-meter. Woefully, this one barely registers a single hit, resorting so blantantly to cinematic devices already seen in more original films like Ringu and Dark Water, bordering on absolute banality and triteness. Developed photos getting wracked, ghastly figures peering into lifts, did I mention something wierd on TV ? In one particular memorable scene where the protaganist of the moment gets hunted down by her 3 dead friends, I was quite convinced that the filmmakers were on to a parody from Night of the Living Dead or the more recent Resident Evil, whichever one better.
"The scariest movie ever made ?" NOT ! Mr Nakata please, we're still waiting anxiously.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Pixar has outdone themselves once again with Finding Nemo, an animation feature so rich with overwhelming tapestries of colour and vibrancy its hard to appreciate with only one viewing, and where the words "computer generated imagery or CGI" seem to lose coherence with what the eyes actually see on screen. As animators ourselves, me and my friends have expressed both awe and disbelief at the level of complexity and depth of the character animation, which is only achievable by a marriage of immaculate animation techniques and self acting on the part of the animator to immerse himself/herself into the role. And of course, we were more than happy to see David Tart's name ( ) as the credits rolled, an animator from Pixar that taught us for 3 days during a short program back in school. Yes, Pixar ok, don't play play.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Almost every other blog that I've visited have their owners writing about Matrix Reloaded and how it holds up, so I guess I won't dwell more about that. Instead...

Best dressed : The Merovingian Twins, complete with thick mascara and dreadlocks.

Worse dressed : Everyone else living down in Zion.

Best dressed female : Persephone ( black shiny outfits just got boring after a while )

Best/Worse philosophical banter : Chocolate cakes and going to the loo.

Best line, unanimously : "Sample this." ( Trinity setting her pistol on Persephone )

Anyway, if I were Neo, I'll choose Persephone over Trinity anytime. *laughs*

Friday, May 02, 2003

With my last film Dolls by Takeshi Kitano showing this coming Saturday, the film festival have once again come to and end for another year. Having caught 9 films altogether ( the biggest number since my first film fest ), many of which were packed on consecutive evenings, I must say its has been quite a chore ( I dozed off in the early part of Russian Ark ). As much as I enjoy watching movies, I don't believe in movie marathons for I feel to fully appreciate and "digest" the gist of the films you need to cater time for recovery from all the visuals and ideas still swirling inside your head, arty film festival movies more so.

On a sidenote, I've become increasing annoyed and resentful of a few individuals who dwell within the Singapore International film festival forum, criticizing any and every directors' ( including Royston Tan's 15, which won a FIPRESCI award ) work as been weak, undeserving, sucky, and whatever detracting word they can find. Its amusing how they could spend all their time in the forum writing lengthy reviews discrediting works when they've never so much as written a single line of script or shot a single take of film. What even made them think they are in a position to judge a piece of film work ? To quote Al Pacino in the movie Insomnia, where he was chastising an inept superior who never took part in any real action : "You, and all the assholes like you, risk nothing, spend the whole day sucking the marrow out of real cops when you just don't have the balls to be one yourself. "

Its at least comforting to realize that the filmmakers themselves are probably too wrapped up in some future work that they never have time to visit any of these forums filled with self consumed film critics.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Hitherto, a mixed bag of films at the Singapore International Film Festival, but unfortunately there seems to be more disappointment than pleasant surprises so far. 2 films, China's Dazzling and Japan's anime A Tree of Palme have turned out to be duds. Let's hope the remaining 3 films will be good ones, well at least, ones that I like. With commercial releases like My Little Eye, Together fighting for the limited time I have now as the SIFF is going on, I seem to be living in and out of theatres as of late.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Program for this year's Singapore International FIlm Festival ( SIFF ) have began with Love at 7-11, a portmanteau Taiwanese film revolving around the love lifes of 3 different parties of people. Next came Lilya 4-ever by Russian director Lukas Moodysson, a heavy, sobering film depicting the perfidious child sex trade still very much active in the now defunct USSR. Whilst it had an urgent and important message to deliver, it was also the saddest and grimmest film I've watched in a long time. More films coming up.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Director Choi Ho's modern romance, Who Are You ?, tries to capture the essence of the N (Network) generation, Korea's young people who grew up with e-mail, instant messaging, cell phones, and the Internet in one of the most wired nations of the world. The film centers on an Internet game called "Who Are You" a sort of ultimate dating game where players pick partners and interact in a simulation of the real world. As far as romance movies go, the plot is nothing new. The role of new technology in the realm of dating is a subject that was explored in 1995's The Contact, with actor Han Seok-Gyu and actress Jeon Do-Yeon, and again in the 1998 Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks film "You've Got Mail". Who Are You? is simply the latest version, a technological update of this genre.

However, as a snapshot of today's youth, this film is highly relevant and asks some hard questions. In one scene, Hyung-tae outlines the Seoul skyline with his fingers and says that from that angle, it looks like a scene from a game, an interesting commentary on the increasingly blurred line between the real world and virtual reality.

Although the film's ending was not really to my liking, finding it lacking in a certain satisfying, emotional impact, I was nonetheless enamoured by the overall youthful and energetic feel of the story, something perhaps lacking in an essentially stolid and mundane real working world, not to mention the wonderful and romantic possibilities existing only within the walls of a deftly crafted film world. For that 100 minutes as I sat in the theatre, I wish I was living it.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

In 1971, Mao's Cultural Revolution swept over China, shutting down universities and banishing "reactionary intellectuals", boys and girls who had graduated from high school, to the countryside to be "re-educated" by the poor peasants. This is the backdrop for Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a beautifully shot movie depicting the experiences of Ma ( who is actually a depiction of Dai Sijie himself ) and Luo sent to a remote mountain village The Phoenix, where they met a local tailor's daughter known only as the little seamstress. Caught in the daily, menial routines of labor and re-education, the trio sought little escapades and delight in reading the literary works of western authors like Balzac and Gogol, plus playing music on Ma's violin, calling sonata names like "Mozart is Thinking of Mao" to convince the local authorities that the merrymaking is Mao-worthy. One can argue that while the potential for underlying political or satirical messages can be numerous and varied, I was more obsessed ( and contented ) to simply indulge myself in the richly filmed scenery of the mountains and textures of the villages, the soothing music, both of local taste as well as western, the tunes of the violin forming a strange, yet binding aural dichotomy in the face of a complete asian setting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I was earnestly happy today when I heard on the radio that Miyazaki's Spirited Away has won the Oscars for best animation feature. Whilst its nice to get some decent recognition from western audiences, Miyazaki's films have simply transcended the need for any awards to justify its merit, and I would support it, Oscars or none. I eagerly await their next animation feature, and hopefully, with Miyazaki himself at the helm again.

Friday, March 21, 2003

After a languid stalemale at the board of censors Royston Tan's 15 have been passed with an RA rating and ready for screening at the SIFF. Royston, age 26, already a director of a reputable feature film, with invitations from dozens of film festivals worldwide. I'm already near 24. What can I achieve in 2 years time ? I'm pretty sure I can be the proud owner of a couple of movie dvds that I really like, but beyond that, I'm not too sure.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

SIFF update

Films confirmed ( tickets booked )

1) Dolls 3rd May Saturday 4pm
2) A Tree of Palme 26th April Saturday 4pm
3) City of God 29th April Tuesday 915pm
4) Winged Migration 25th April Friday 7pm
5) Man Without a Past 23th April Wednesday 7pm
6) Dazzling 21st April Monday 7pm

Films for consideration

1) Bowling for Columbine 27th April Sunday 7pm
2) Bokunchi 1st May Thursday 915pm
3) Russian Ark 30th April Wednesday 915pm
4) September 11 2nd May Friday 915pm
5) Love ar 7-11 27th April Sunday 7pm

For movie synopsis please visit Film recommendations welcomed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Here i go, dun ask me how i come up with the list, haa..~~








But seriously, no guarantee that the show i added are interesting..~ so.~~
and ..~~
are we going for "15"? and "homerun"?or are we not?
16th Singapore International Film Festival - Movie List ( April 13 - May 3rd ) Tickets go on sale from March 14th

Ok. To avoid the potential disappointment of missing any good shows, I've drawn up a list of films that I have decided or am deciding to watch. Films marked with an asterisk * are decided shows, bearing any unforseen events like sold out movies, terrorist explosions at ticket branch, etc. Disclaimer : The films in the list were drawn after considerable time done on reading positive reviews in Sight and Sound magazine ( which is a difficult magazine for any movie ), online reviews, past viewing experiences, and in some cases, calculated conjectures. There's no guarantee that it'd be a blissful movie experience, but heck, it'd be a pretty good bet.








For more information on these films please go to Also please get back to me asap on shows you folks want to watch so we can arrange for ticketing. Cheers.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Roman Polanski's The Pianist gives jarring and near hallucinatory realism to life within the Ghetto, where captive Jews were held before many of them sent for extermination during the Holocaust. The absolute conviction of its detail, notably the superbly convincing set design certainly adds to the lucid quality of the horrors happening within. Seeing through the eyes of the protanganist, it quickly becomes clear that surivival in such a genocide is strictly a matter of single minded determination and often sheer luck, for death takes on a near arbitrary nature.

Sparing my lacklustre rhetoric, I quote, from the review in Sight and Sound Magazine : " The power of The Pianist derives largely from its dogged adherence to fact as well as it grim humour and restrain. Music is very sparingly applied, so that even a soaring crane shot over the devastated city of Warsaw is denied a swelling John Williams score of Spielbergian dimensions, but simply comes to rest with a plaintive clarinet solo. When Szpilman finally is allowed to play a Chopin ballade in order to prove his identity, music has been such a "lost" sound that the performance has a rare emotional clarity. "

Nicely put.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I completed my National Service today. Oddly enough, I had no rush of excitement, no bursts of elation at this moment of emancipation. The feeling can be best likened to chewing a piece of tasty gum that you've kept for too long in your pocket that when you do start to eat it, realize that it has long lost its flavour.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

While visiting my friend's house for CNY today I passed the tempting game of Daidi to watch Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer, of which I quickly realized I shouldn't have missed when it was on show at the cinemas. Though still very much laden with trite Stephen Chow slapstick humour, the notable difference here was the impeccable use of CG and sfx which greatly accentuated the value and appeal of the story and action. Think the Avenging Fists or even Tsui Hark's Legend of Zu and it becomes apparent that flashy SFX does not equate to good movies, but this instance proves that it can be done.

My favourite scene in the movie is where Zhao Wei, though sporting a rather dubious headshave, does a coup de grace on an offensive volley shot as she retaliates using a Tai-chi move, spinning the burning soccer ball on her finger. This composited shot is so beautifully done that for a split second I was almost convinced her kungfu skills are for real. Very very neat work.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Journey of Man - a 2 part National Geographic documentary tracing the origins and subsequent geographic evolution of man is undoubtably the best documentary I've seen in years. In fact, it even tops my all my favourite documentary series of all times, David Attenborough's The Living Planet. This might be largely attributed to the intrinsic nature of of the subject which so beautifully explains our biological history and inheritance as humans on the whole. Spencer Wells, the geneticist behind the journey gives incisive and lucid explanations of our genetical forefathers and how under extraordinary odds, ventured beyond Africa and evolved into every racial group around the world today. In short, this is the exact story of out past and origin. If you're tuned in to the National Geographic Channel, you can't miss this.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

I was perusing through a film magazine the other day when I came across an article on the movie Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders, on which I have watched sometime back last year. I remembered the film as been rather arthouse, abstract in parts and I found it difficult to follow the story. It didn't help that it was shot during the 80s, a period that I always like to label as the "trashy years" with flashy clothes and bloomy, disheveled hairstyles in fashion. Anyway, it was a particular explanation regarding the plotline that caught my attention. In the movie, the scenes often intercut from colour to b&w footages, which I found disconcerting - but it actually had an important reason; for the angels, supernatural beings as they are, only saw the world in b&w; for they only see the truth and the "essence" of things, unhindered by the distractions of colour. Humans however, mortal beings as they are - saw the world in colour, ironically blinded by colours.

I thought that was wonderfully explained and used. It also reminded me why b&w photos are so strong in composition and form - for they too are unhindered by distracting colours, stripped to its simplest form and shape.

Granted that too, Angels must have a really tough job.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Happy New folks. :]