Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nine - A Review

I have wanted to watch this movie ever since I watched the trailer.
Again, this is another living proof of how Hollywood has this ability to blow things out of proportion with its trailers.


From the director of Chicago, the heavy- weights with the likes of Oscar winner Marion Cotillard and Danile Day-Lewis, the sexy Penelope Cruz, the fantastic singer Nicole Kidman from Moulin Rouge, Hollywood leading lady Kate Hudson, M from 007 Dame Judi Dench and legend Sophia Loren, one expects a great deal of performance from Nine.


So what happened? It sucked.
This is what happen when you crammed too many big stars into 2 hours with barely enough time for any character to develop properly. All we get to see is how tormented Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) was, trying to come up with a script for a movie. And being the perverted man he was, he turned to ladies for inspiration. The ladies were of course the critical acclaimed row of fantastic actresses in their very own right. The wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), the mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), the ex flame Claudia (Nicole Kidman), the fantasy Stephanie (Kate Hudson), the childhood idol Sereghina (Fergie), the mother (Sophia Loren) and the tailor Lilli (Dame Judi Dench).


All these fantastic actresses only got one song, at most, two songs, to sing in the two hour plus movie. Daniel Day-Lewis, whom in my humble opinion, cannot sing, got to sing quite a number of songs. And being a musical, I perfectly understood when actors suddenly burst into songs. But the way the songs were presented in this movie was really weird. I'd rather the songs be incorporated into the story where the dances are actually relevant. This movie's sole reason for a dance to occur is in Guido's old twisted desperate mind. The dances and the songs were his imagination, which make no sense.


If Nine won the Oscar for costume design, I am so going to boo the Academy committee. The costumes weren't even fantastic. It was just fancy. Nothing that beats the like of Moulin Rouge or Chicago. And none of the songs were memorable, except one by Fergie. But her part was so small that Sereghina was barely memorable.


But I do have to credit Marion Cotillard for portraying the sadness of an abandoned wife so perfectly.


And Judi Dench who didn't even sing but was so fantastically entertaining by only saying the words of a song. And Penelope Cruz's dance at the beginning of the movie was so sexy and alluring even a straight gal like myself think that she is hot!


Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson however, barely leave any impression.


Ratings : 6/10. Not bad compared to other films, but epic failure when coming from a cast and crew so great. Great acting and execution fails in the hand of poor directing and screenwriting.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whip It - A Review

A break from Oscar Nominees... I needed a break from my avalanche of assignments and mid terms... And this movie was very very enjoyable indeed.


Ok, not world class plot with grand budget or incredible setting. Just a simple story of a small town girl making it big in the sport of roller derby (imagine sexy rough girls cat-fighting on roller skates). The plot wasn't even good, like one moment the heroin was on top of the world, one moment she was in deep shit, then all the conflicts sorted themselves out the next minute. Seriously, everything was so expected and predictable.

Bad ass contact sport!

What come-of-age movie can do without romance?

But what I really like about this movie is the character development, especially Bliss Cavender (Ellen Page). I am not sure it is good screenwrite or good acting, or both, but I really enjoy watching Bliss enjoying herself skating and falling in love and falling out of love and then being on top of the world again.

They are sort of cute actually
The guy, Oliver (Landon Pigg) was actually very sweet and humorous!

On another note, I feel like Ellen Page is being type-casted. Previously she did a fantastic job with Juno but I kinda see Juno's shadow here again. The teenage angst, the rebellious tomboy, supportive parents in the end, the happily ever after ending. But she really did a fantastic job for being a 22 year old lady playing a 17 year old teen.

I love the nerdy look!

And I love the stupid smile on the father's face for being so proud of her daughter!

When I found out that Drew Barrymore was the director of this movie, I was slightly cynical about it before I even watch it. I felt like this was Barrymore's vanity project where her face will be plastered across the screen. (Remember Hugh Jackman's self-produced, self-written, self- acted, self-I-forgot-what-else vanity project about an exclusive sex club few years back?) But this movie's focus was really on Ellen Page. Drew Barrymore only appeared in little scenes. She wasn't even playing the wise mentor or the bad ass chic.

Drew Barrymore reduced herself to a supporting role and gave Ellen Page the limelight!

Barrymore still had plenty of screen time being stupid.
Really... There wasn't a scene of her in the movie that actually make sense!

Put aside the predictable plot, I really like the romance in the movie between Bliss and Oliver, though they didn't work out in the end. But the meet, the flirt, the court and finally the love was like... wow! (Or maybe I have a thing for cute musicians!) It was predictable but not in a cheesy way, more like super buttered sweet. Not bad at all for a 17 year old!

Is it me or is making out under water cool?
I love the editing here. Beautiful lighting, beautiful music, beautiful angles, beautiful mood!


Ratings : 7/10. Enjoyable. Lots of mindless not-so-rough violence in a feminist kind of humour. And Ellen Page is HOT in this movie!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Young Victoria - A Review

The Young Victoria is a dramatisation of the longest sovereign of England, Queen Victoria, in her early years as Queen. I was half expecting this movie to be like Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Alas, this one is a glimpse into the romantic life of the monarch.


Victoria (Emily Blunt) was controlled by Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) and her German mother the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) her entire childhood. When she succeeded the throne at the age of 18, she trusted Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) and nearly bringing the monarch to the brink. Then she married Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) and saved her throne.


There wasn't much surprise to the story since it is history. But some of the parts were rather comical, like Victoria talking back to Sir Conroy, or when Prince Albert running down the stairs to catch his letter from Victoria, or Victoria trying to draw noses or when they quarrel and Albert walked out of Victoria.


I will have to say that the plot development was super slow... And the things that made the movie bearable was the costumes, the set, and Emily Blunt's accent. The lines, especially those between Prince Albert and Victoria, was too cheesy, like hopelessly romantic cheesy... The soundtrack was nothing short of grand and sounded very full, as expected of a movie about a Queen.


But, really, the costumes are superb! It was classy and elegant, and very individualistic. Unlike other movies that set in that era, this one actually shows the difference tastes of different characters. The Duchess of Kent was always in her Magyar sleeves dress, Victoria was always wearing chest corsets, Lord Melbourne's costumes had embroidery and so on. They really deserved the BAFTA award!



Another thing that is enjoyable was the acting. The cast is made up of extraordinary actors with the likes of veterans, Mark Strong, Miranda Richardson and Paul Bettany. Mark Strong played the sore loser very well while I can really feel the regrets in Richardson's eyes when she lost her daughter.

But the really surprising performance was from Emily Blunt. I do not enjoy her performance in Devil Wears Prada because her face literally has only one emotion, stoned-face. But in this movie, she portrayed each emotion so nicely. Rupert Friend, on the other hand, looked like he had botox-injection before every scene. He was so stiff that he made every screenshot a very nice stoned-faced-model poster, but, really, a boring movie.


Ratings : 7/10. It would have rated 5/10 if it wasn't for Emily Blunt's performance and the very pleasing English accent!

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Education - A Review

An education indeed!

This is a coming of age story of Jenny Mellor (brilliantly played by Carey Mulligan) who got attracted to an older man, David (Peter Sarsgaard) and got swept off her feet by the excitement brought bu David. Jenny being a top student in her class literally threw away her life and her chance to get into Oxford when she suddenly realised the "fun of the other side of life". She dropped out of school when David proposed. Later, when she found out that David was actually a married man and she threw away her entire carefully planned life for a little bit of fun. In the end she got back into school and continue her tertiary education.


This movie raised so many questions in mind. What is the point of education when the end point is the same? Is the whole "education is a waste" propaganda a theory by those who failed in education or is it a fact of life? Does attending the "University of Life" more beneficial than spending millions attending academic universities? What are we studying so hard for? On the other hand, this movie truly raised the issue where no woman can be secure enough in life without qualifications of her own. Never throw away life because of a man.


On the technical side of the movie, kudos to Carey Mulligan who did so incredibly well in acting. She is innocently sweet and naively naughty. And Peter Sarsgaard totally nailed the whole gentleman part. The father character played by Alfred Molina was so well written. It is like every loving protective father I have ever known. The soundtrack is very nice too. I just love French music though I do not understand a word they sing. The cinematography is also very nicely choreographed, with the sets and scenes beautifully designed. Watching the scenes in Paris actually made me feel like being in Paris.


Ratings : 8/10. Great performance by Carey Mulligan (she does look very classy with her hair done in a Audrey Hepburn bun) and interesting issues raised.

Wonderful Tonight

I am seriously addicted to this song!

Gonna put up a cover soon, I hope...
*When I am done with my tonnes of tests, reports and assignments...*

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New York I Love You - A Review

I thought it was a romance movie like Love Actually or the recently overrated Valentine's Day.
Alas I was wrong...

Ok, this movie has its fair share of romance and very very sweet moments. But at the same time very practical and realistic. It is a story of ordinary people living in the Big Apple, with their ordinary but very plausible lifestyle, and their ordinary but very plausible way of falling in love with people around them.


This is not a movie where audiences were being cheated on the typical head-over-heels, over-in-cloud-nine, you-jump-I-jump romance. This very brilliantly woven story involves people who are interconnected with each other in a funny way and some of the short story wasn't even about falling in love with human beings.

Among many short little stories in the movie, the most memorable ones are Natalie Portman playing a Yiddish woman in love with an Indian man but had to marry a Yiddish husband.


Also, an English songwriter played by the very handsome Orlando Bloom with his o-so-smexy accent finally meeting Camille (Christina Ricci) after many phone calls and the audiences are left to imagine what might happen between them.


The funnier ones are Anton Yelchin finally got his dream come true with a method actress and also Maggie Q playing a hooker being "seduced" by a writer.

*Guys, learn from this fella here... A woman's ear is said to be the most erogenous. Yup, more than the g-spot or whatever you guys call it.*

Anton Yelchin got his dream came true with a method actress who pretended to be crippled so that she can tricked him into bringing her to prom and get screw hanging on a tree.

*Ladies and gentlemen, do not try this anywhere unless you are absolutely 100% sure the branch is NOT crawling with red ants or too brittle to support your girl*

There are abstract pieces like Shia LeBeouf's story which I totally do not understand.


And Shu Qi's emptiness when she found out about the death of a painter whom she didn't know at all.

*Shu Qi in soy sauce and napkin*

There is also one story I find particularly quirky. Two person smoking outside a restaurant talking about sex with a perfect stranger and then it was revealed that they were in fact husband and wife and she was just trying to turn him on.


My favourite is at the end, the old couple. The wife was nagging about the husband non-stop and he was trying to act all macho despite a broken hip. They were married for 65 years and were on the way to the beach to celebrate their anniversary. The moment of silence between the two old couples were my favourite. It so reminds me of my own parents though they are not THAT old. LOL!

*Very very very very sweet*

This movie screams of diversity from the amazing cast of actors of all ethnicity, many genre of music fused very nicely into one movie (I would love to have the OST. Anyone?), many interesting stories from literally all walks of life, all centered in New York City.

Ratings : 8/10. Very unexpected. Raised many issues and questions in my head. Very artistically filmed, with wonderful soundtrack. Definitely one of my favourite thought-provoking movies.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

End - Secondhand Serenade

Listen to this song with your eyes closed,

Pay attention to every breathe you take,

Take note of the peaceful heartbeats within your own chest...



I love the clear guitar serenade and the angelic vocal harmony.
Best so far, among all the other brilliant pieces!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Avatar?

Found this stuff in Facebook!
There is a group created for it! Brilliant!

If MR BEAN was in Avatar, he would look like this...


If MICHAL JACKSON was in Avatar, he would look like this...


If ANGELINA JOLIE was in Avatar, she would look like this...

Pretty right? Better than Zoe Saldana I'd say...

If LIL WAYNE was in Avatar, he would look like this...

Sometimes, Photoshop is FUN!!
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