Sunday 27 December 2015

Spotlight ... Making news

SPOTLIGHT casts light on how the four-person Spotlight investigative team of the Boston
Globe unearthed tonnes of documents, encountered millions of obstacles and interviewed a multitude a people to reveal how the Boston Catholic Church shunted paedophile priests from one parish to another to avoid their discovery.
  On one hand, the film's about how the Catholic Church held such sway over the predominantly Catholic city.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens ... Sith happens

STAR Wars: The Force Awakens is neither bad nor good. The film introduces a new cast of characters
and smartly retains the old cast of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. There's enough time for the old and new ones to shine.
  I liked the fact that director J.J. Abrams chose a multicultural line-up of actors to spearhead the seventh instalment of this franchise. 

Saturday 5 December 2015

Point Break ... What's the point?

POINT Break is the remake of the 1991 film of the same name starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick
Swayze. In the latter film, Reeves plays an FBI agent who infiltrates a gang of robber surfers headed by blond beach bum Swayze.
   The 2015 film is directed by Ericson Core, and blond Luke Bracey plays FBI agent Johnny Utah, a former motorcycle daredevil racer still hurting seven years after the death of his friend in a motorcycle accident. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez plays Bodhi (the Swayze part).

Thursday 5 November 2015

Spectre ... James Bombed

I CAN'T decide which of Daniel Craig's four James Bond films that I dislike the most. It's a toss-up
between Quantum of Solace and Spectre.
  Sam Mendes, who directed Spectre and the last Bond film, Skyfall, at least had an intriguing baddie in Skyfall (Silva, played by Javier Bardem). In fact, Skyfall was a run-of-the-mill film until Silva entered the picture. Thus, I wasn't hoping for much in Bond's 24th outing.

Friday 16 October 2015

Crimson Peak ... A beautiful haunted house

CRIMSON Peak is about a haunted house that contains many dark secrets. You've heard this line
  It's also about a young female writer aiming to make a mark in the literary world . You've heard this line before, too.
   While living at this haunted house, the woman starts seeing things, for example, ghostly apparitions of skeletons dyed in red tormenting her conscious and subconscious.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Bridge of Spies ... A tale of two parts

STEVEN Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies, based on a true story, shows an elderly white male remaining steadfast in his belief in the US justice system and US values, even though they're being threatened by Americans themselves.
  The film inspired me for the first part, but it lagged in the second part because it resembled a spy film, with lots of going back and forth between the two rival nations.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Knock Knock ... Keep this film out

I DON'T know whether to laugh at the plot of writer-director Eli Roth's Knock Knock, or Keanu Reeves' stilted acting in it.
   The latter is not known for his acting as he was a pretty boy, so watching him play a doting dad playing monster with his kids is a painful experience. And watching him scream "I'm a good father ... You f----- me" is even more excruciating.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Pan ... A flash in the pan

I WATCHED director Joe Wright's Pan a few days after watching The Martian, and the former is an emotional disappointment.
   Both films depend on technological wizardry to dazzle viewers, but whereas the latter delivered big dollops of rah-rah moments, the former falls flat, hoping that a boy's tale of his search for his mum would make viewers weep easily.

Thursday 1 October 2015

The Martian ... Cast Away + Apollo 13

THE science may be wonky, the film may be too long, but, in the end, the emotional impact of The Martian will lift your spirit.
  Even those who have not seen director Ridley Scott's science-fiction film will know that it's about botanist astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) being left for dead on Mars by his crewmates after a storm hits the planet.
   "Bring Him Home" is boldly emblazoned on the film's poster, so that's what the rest of the film is about.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Everest ... Insurmountable problems

EVEREST is a white man's film. It belabors the point about white men's superiority; their innate goodness to their fellow man, and pregnant and non-pregnant wives at home; and that their courage is worth extolling to the world.
   The director, Baltasar Kormákur, an Icelander, and the producers believe that sharing in the pain of white climbers is infinitely more interesting than displaying the true grit of locals.

Monday 28 September 2015

Pawn Sacrifice ... No checkmate, just a draw

DIRECTOR Edward Zwick's Pawn Sacrifice is about the troubled and colourful life of former US world chess champion Bobby Fischer. Fischer, who died at 65 in 2008, was a chess genius, but led an eccentric lifestyle.
   For example, he wore a brown shopping paperbag over his head when confronted with a gaggle of photographers in an airport. He could not stand the slightest noise during a match, even asking for a TV camera to be moved further away. He believed the authorities were bugging his room, so he trashed his room to look for bugs, but, obviously, couldn't find any.

Thursday 10 September 2015

No Escape ... Asians are barbarians

NO Escape is about the lengths a father will go to protect his family.
  Mainly, it's about the supposed barbarity of brown-skinned Asians who run amok in the streets, even going to the extent of putting a pistol in a girl's hand and urging her to shoot her dad kneeling in front of her.
   It's hard to imagine being foreigners and landing right smack in the middle of a coup in an Asian country. They're jet-lagged, laden with heavy luggage and facing brown-skinned people speaking a bizarre language.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials ... Lots of running

I'M tired of running, says protagonist Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) near the end of  Maze Runner: The  
Scorch Trials.
  That line sums up director Wes Ball's film, the sequel to last year's Maze Runner, which he also directed. Both are based on books written by James Dashner. And yes, it's a trilogy, with the final part expected in 2017.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Selfie ... Singapore swinging wildly

WOULD you kill someone just because she has a predilection for taking selfies?
    WHY is the detective assigned to the murder cases so against narcissistic people taking selfies? Did he take a look at himself sporting a designer stubble, wearing designer sunglasses and driving an Alfa Romeo car?
   WHAT proof does he have that people were dumber now than when they were not taking taking selfies?
   WHY does a 10-year-old flower girl in a white blouse pop up near murder scenes, and why does she stalk the heroine psychologist?
   HOW does the flower girl get away with murder, that is, how can she charge S$10 for a rose?
    AND, finally, what the heck is The Gimp from Pulp Fiction doing in Singaporean film Selfie?

Friday 4 September 2015

Contracted: Phase II ... Cheap scares

THERE'S only one word to describe zombie horror film Contracted: Phase II -- gross.
   The film focuses obsessively on infected humans exhibiting symptoms of a fatal virus. The camera  stays at half-shots or close-ups of an infected human coughing up blood, maggots in a dead person's cut-open brains, and blood dripping out of someone's nose.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

The Transporter Refueled ... Running out of gas

AFTER watching French director Camille Delamarre's The Transporter Refueled, I got the feeling that I had watched a lower-end version of Mad Max: Fury Road. Just like the latter, the former is supposedly about a man leading the action, when it's actually a woman who's pulling the strings.
   But that is where all similarities end. While the latter is smart, energetic and visually stunning, the former is lame, tired and repetitive.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Vacation ... Family fun

THE premise of Vacation is nothing new. A family in the funk pack up their bags and go on a
cross-country holiday to renew their ties, laugh more and appreciate what they have. This is the basis of transformative travel. 
  John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, the writers and directors, are basing their film on the 1982 film of the same name, starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, who appear in the 2015 film.

Monday 24 August 2015

Two Days, One Night ... Saving her job

THE premise of 2014 French film Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) is unusual.
A blue-collar woman attempts over two days to convince 16 factory colleagues to give up their 1,000 euro bonus so that she can continue working.
   The other unusual thing about this film, directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, is the portrayal of the working stiff by glamorous Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. Can she pull it off?

Saturday 22 August 2015

Sinister 2 ... Monster daddies

LIKE Sinister, Sinister 2 also involves someone watching 8mm or homemade movies of murders. There's not much horror in this sequel, except at the tailend, in which I found the cat-and-mouse game intriguing. Little blood is spilled, and most of the gruesome acts is seen on the blurry 8mm films.
  What I found interesting, however, is the family dynamics of the single mum and her two sons living in a farmhouse next to an abandoned church that was the scene of a mass murder.

Ladies shines at Havana Estudio

Choreographed by Aisha, Aug 22, 2015. 

Friday 21 August 2015

Inside Out ... Emotionally drained

I TAKE my hat off to Pixar for developing animated film Inside Out, which depicts how five emotions control the mind of an 11-year-old girl. Naturally, each emotion has a distinct colour, shape and personality.
  I enjoyed the tug of war between the five emotions, and I also enjoyed how two of them go on a road trip in the mind, with core theme islands, train of thought, dreams and subconscious. The animation is an explosion of rainbows and the creativity shown to depict the happenings in the girl's brain is nothing short of amazing, although kids won't understand these ideas.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Straight Outta Compton ... Taking the rap

I WATCHED director F. Gary Gray's historical film Straight Outta Compton on Aug 19, just 10 days after the first anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri.
   I'm not sure if the filmmakers had wanted to release the film last week to take advantage of the controversy surrounding the shooting anniversary, but whatever the reason was, the film will leave an indelible impression on you.

Hitman: Agent 47 ... Daddy issues

ON the surface of it, director Aleksander Bach's Hitman: Agent 47 is about people having the right to determine who they want to be, even though they've been programmed to be killers devoid of emotions.
  Go a little deeper and you'll discover that it's actually about a pretty brunette's daddy issues, more specifically, her desire to find out why he abandoned her when she was 6.

Thursday 13 August 2015

Pixels ... Low scoring

ON the one hand, Pixels recreates 1980s' video-arcade games on a large scale, that is, they're part of an alien invasion. Viewers will love seeing Pac-Man played out on the streets of New York, with the protagonists using their innate knowledge of it to outwit this game of mass destruction.
  On the other hand, Pixels stars Adam Sandler and is produced by his Happy Madison company. Therefore, viewers will gobble up the screen when the arcade characters are on it, but will spit it out when Sandler is on it.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ... Bromance bummer

A FILM about thwarting an international syndicate from launching a nuclear missile during the 1960s' Cold War is nothing new.
   Viewers know how these films will end, with the baddies captured and the heroes giving themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.
   Viewers, however, may enjoy British director Guy Ritchie's The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the US TV series that ran four seasons during the 1960s.

Sunday 9 August 2015

The Four Feathers ... Getting his balls back

THE Four Feathers, released in 1939 on the eve of World War II, is a rousing call for men to charge into battle to regain their sexuality.
   Okay, that's not what it says on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you'll see that director Zoltan Korda's film is about an emasculated man regaining his balls by going off to war in 19th-century Egypt.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Southpaw ... Lacking a punch

I WANT to say right off the bat that the poster for director Antoine Fuqua's Southpaw is misleading. It shows Rachel McAdams holding the head of Jake Gyllenhaal in an embrace, leading viewers to assume that both will play big parts in this boxing film.
  Alas, only one person survives the early culling, and while Gyllenhaal  has the ripped body and acting chops to carry this film on his own, it would have been better to have the spunky McAdams with him.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Fantastic Four ... Fantastically dull

I'M having a hard time finding inspiration to comment on Fantastic Four, a reboot of the series from 2005 and 2007.  It is so painfully slow to watch during the first two-thirds of the film. The film finally comes alive in the final few minutes when there are explosions and editing is faster.
  Even the ending isn't exciting. The baddie, Victor Von Doom, who appeared in the 2005 film, has been stuck on a faraway planet for more than a year. After the Fantastic Four find him, his idea of destroying Earth is to suck up chunks of Earth and transport them to his new planet for energy through an intergalactic hole.

Trainwreck ... Nympho finds love

 A COUPLE, Amy (Amy Schumer) and Dr Aaron (Bill Hader), are having an argument. Aaron says
that he cares that his girlfriend has slept with many men.
  Amy asks him how many women he's slept with.
  Aaron: Three
  Amy: I've slept with three women, too.

  I found this anecdote amusing in director Judd Apatow's Trainwreck, a romantic comedy about a woman unable to settle down but finally learning to settle down with a geeky surgeon.

Friday 31 July 2015

Attitude Dance Studio at Zero 11

                                                          ADS at Zero 11, Kuala Lumpur

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation ... Too much cruising

I FOUND Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation interesting for two reasons, despite its lethargy.
    Firstly, Malaysia is mentioned in the first few minutes of the film and viewers get a bird's eye view of its capital, Kuala Lumpur. Somehow, an IMF agent can tap into Russian security systems at the top of the KL Tower. Why? Pourquoi?

Thursday 23 July 2015

The Vatican Tapes ... To hell with the devil

IT'S rare for me to feel that I've been cheated after watching a film, but that's how I felt after sitting through director Mark Neveldine's The Vatican Tapes.
   I'm pretty sure viewers will scratch their heads and look at each other at the conclusion of this 90-minute film, thinking that there has to be more to this, other than a possessed blue-eyed pretty blonde throwing people around and killing them.

Thursday 16 July 2015

American Heist ... Viewers were robbed

THE name of the film suggests a grand heist will happen at the end, but viewers will have to first sit through 90% of drivel about the tenuous relationship between two ex-con brothers before the action starts. Disappointingly, but not totally unexpected, even the heist is a big letdown.
   In between, viewers will also get a lecture about life, death and banks. Yes, dear readers, banks are the problem plaguing decaying urban America (particularly New Orleans), which makes them the perfect target for a bunch of losers to prey on. The heist leader blames banks for foreclosures in the US, but this doesn't mean that this bunch should rob banks.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Ant-Man ... Small bite

SUPERHERO films are about good versus evil, but never has there been one about a cat burglar who becomes a superhero because his toddler daughter puts him on a pedestal.
   Director Peyton Reed's Ant-Man sees the activist protagonist go on a journey to achieve redemption, battling his ex-wife and her husband's condescending and threatening attitudes towards him. In fact, I'm not sure who's the biggest threat to Ant-Man: the antagonist, or Ant-Man's ex-wife and her cop husband.

Harbinger Down ... Icy Cold War

HORROR film Harbinger Down attempts to recreate the fear and distrust that permeated The Thing. In reality, however, it's a cheap American attack on Russians, blaming them for a science experiment that goes wrong and for bringing back to Earth a bug that transforms into an ugly and gargantuan alien.
    In short, don't trust Russians.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Exeter ... Gory laughter

EXETER is a horror film for the MTV generation. I thought it'd be another film about creepy antics in an abandoned asylum, which it is, but it turned out to be a rather enjoyable one, filled with gore and humour.
    For example, the attractive white teens who invade the asylum perform a do-it-yourself exorcism on one of their friends when he is possessed by an evil spirit. They look it up on the Internet and make do with straps and holy water.

Monday 6 July 2015

20,000 Years In Sing Sing ... Tracy and Davis keep desire at bay

THERE'S something about prison films that make the hardest man cry. They come in all arrogant and tough but come out all soft and weepy.
    Director Michael Curtiz's 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932) focuses on the trust that develops between the warden (Arthur Byron) and gangster Tommy Connors (Spencer Tracy, giving a spellbinding performance).

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Terminator Genisys ... You shouldn't be back

THERE is one too many protagonist in director Alan Taylor's Terminator Genisys. We know Arnold Schwarzenegger is around for this fifth instalment in this series that started with James Cameron in 1984.
    We know Arnie's Terminator acts as a protector of Sarah Connor (now played by Games of Thrones' Emilia Clarke). In fact, their father-daughter relationship forms the emotional heart of this loud film.

Friday 26 June 2015

Dark Places ... 'Light' on substance

DARK Places sees Charlize Theron playing a True Detective. She goes from being an indifferent and  blase pretty blonde to an inquisitive pretty blonde who pokes her nose into many places.
   There really isn't much to say about this film other than it's predictable and boring. And I'll tell you in a moment why Oscar-winner Theron should not have played this role.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Ted 2 ... Bear-ing the consequences

THE novelty of a foul-mouthed living teddy bear has worn off by now, but the sequel, Ted 2, delves  into an area that I applaud whole-heartedly.
   Writer-director Seth MacFarlane asks viewers whether Ted is a sentient thing (human) or is it a property of the state. In effect, MacFarlane, who also voices Ted, is asking what makes a human different from inanimate objects.

Friday 19 June 2015

Minions ... Jaundiced view

I DON'T know if it was because I hadn't had coffee or because I saw the film at 4.30pm, but I snoozed through parts of Minions. I could not ward off the inertia that swept over me. Or perhaps it was just boring.
   The minions appeared in Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, in which they were cute, adorable and servile to Gru, the meanie voiced by Steve Carell. They get their own film in directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin's Minions, and I can safely say that their novelty has worn off.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Poltergeist ... Horror of unemployment

POLTERGEIST is not so much a horror film as it is about a family of five haunted by the ugly spectre of unemployment and teenage angst.
  The scene is fairly typical in these kind of films: a family moves into a house that they don't know is haunted by a poltergeist, a scarier and angrier version of a ghost.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Jurassic World ... Chomp chomp

THE trailer to director Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World tells viewers everything they need to know about the third sequel to Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993).
    A new, big attraction escapes and wreaks havoc on Isla Nublar, the original setting of the first film.
   Two boys scream their hearts out, there's attraction between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, a corporation thinks only about its bottom line, the military is unscrupulous, and there are a lot of action scenes between the new dinosaur and another dinosaur.

Saturday 6 June 2015

Maggie ... Arnie emotes

THE first thing that viewers will think of is Arnold Schwarzenegger battling and battering zombies.
     In fact, he kills only one nasty zombie, and whacks two more harmless ones in a forest. That makes it a pretty low and lame body count by The Terminator's standard.