Monday 30 January 2017

The Space Between Us ... Spaced out

ON the surface, director Peter Chelsom's science-fiction flick The Space Between Us is about the first
and only person born on Mars wanting to return to Earth after 16 years to discover the identity of this father. In the process, the orphan, whose mother died giving birth to him, strikes up a friendship with an Earthling who's also an orphan.
  Dig a little deeper, however, and it's about the boy and the girl losing their virginity with each other. And the fact that they did it in near a campfire in an Arizona desert  is icing on the cake.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) ...

DIRECTOR Alfred Hitchcock's remake of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956),
features an assassination plot that's supposed to take place during a classical music performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
  It's excruciatingly spine-tingling watching Doris Day watch the shooter, who in turn, watches his target.
  Then I remembered that I had seen something similar in Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (2015), in which Rebecca Ferguson and Tom Cruise seek to foil an assassination plot that will take place during an opera performance of Puccini's Turandot.

KungFu Yoga ... Bent into boredom

JACKIE Chan plays Professor Jack, China's most famous archaelogist, in director Stanley Tong's English and Mandarin film KungFu Yoga. This is a running joke in the film, as whenever someone calls him that, he looks abashed and demurely says: "One of the best."
  A modest Chan? Age must be catching up with the 63-year-old martial arts proponent, who's rehashing his films so often that one can say that if you've seen a Chan film lately, you've seen it all.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Split ... Personality plus

THE verdict on Split comes down to the performance of James McAvoy, who gets to flex his acting
chops by playing a man who has 23 personalities, with a 24th about to burst to the surface. McAvoy gets to play a 9-year-old child, a woman, an effeminate fashion designer, and a man obsessed with cleanliness.
    While I applaud his versatility, I didn't really feel the impact of his performance. Yes, he gets the mannerisms and speech patterns down pat, but I always felt they were superficial.

Thursday 19 January 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage ... XXX is ZZZZZssss

VIN Diesel wants to recreate he chemistry of his Fast and Furious franchise in director D.J. Caruso's xXx: Return of Xander Cage. He's got the multiracial cast, pretty babes in bikinis and preposterous action scenes, but considering that I rated the last Fast film low, it's not surprising that his reprisal of the role he first made famous in xXx (2002) falls flat.
   Diesel is 50 this year, so watching his character, extreme athlete Xander Cage, move like a hyena is hard to believe.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter ... Kill, kill, kill

THE Resident Evil series thrives on incessant violence, and the violence in Resident Evil: (hopefully) The Final Chapter puts to shame the gore in Saving Private Ryan and sword-and-sandal flicks. Knives cutting through bodies like butter and decapitations are the norm. A laser slicing off a few fingers is considered mild by the film's gory standards.
  Our beloved heroine Alice (the lovely and indomitable Milla  Jovovich) is on the warpath again, eliminating everything and anyone who stands in her way.

The Bye Bye Man ... Say goodbye to it

A FEW hours after I had seen The Bye Bye Man, I had forgotten about it. In fact, I had forgotten that I
had even gone to the movies. That's how exciting director Stacy Title's haunted house flick is, and not even the cameo by veteran actress Faye Dunaway can save it.
   The screenplay is co-written by her husband Jonathan Penner and based on the book The Bridge To Body Island. 

Thursday 12 January 2017

Patriots Day ... Love is good, but why did bombers do it?

EVERYONE would have heard of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. The New Straits
Times newspaper in Malaysia provided indepth coverage of the event, right up to the capture of one of the two bombers in a boat in the Boston suburb of Watertown four days later.
   Director Peter Berg's film is a dramatisation of the event from the hours before the bombings to the capture. The bombings killed three people and injured 264.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Elle ... Huppert carries sexually-charged film

ISABELLE Huppert's performance is a tour de force in Dutch director Paul Verhoeven's disturbing and yet engrossing French film Elle (She). Watching Huppert navigate elite French society, dealing with people's negative reaction to her, and gaining the upper hand in her sexual liaisons is worth your admission ticket.
   Huppert, 63, won the best performance by an actress in a film (drama) at the Golden Globes on Jan 8 for her role in Elle. She casts a spell on you from the first to the last scene. I watched the film twice on consecutive days and was enthralled by her performance.

Monday 9 January 2017

His Girl Friday ... Snappy dialogue but obsequious female role

WOW. That's how I felt after watching director Howard Hawks's His Girl Friday, with the witty
repartee between Cary Grant's newspaper editor Walter Burns and Rosalind Russell's reporter ex-wife Hildy Johnson leaving me breathless and wanting more.
   There was hardly a moment's silence in this 92-minute comedic black-and-white 1940 film. The characters talk incessantly, never giving others the opportunity to interject. The back-and-forth dialogue is a joy to watch and listen, and I wish there were more films like that nowadays.

Friday 6 January 2017

Allied ... Bombed into oblivion

A DESERT in World War 2 is supposed to remind viewers of the contours of a woman's body a la The English Patient.
   Then there's the opening setting in Casablanca, which pushes viewers towards Casablanca territory.
  Allied, however, is neither of the above films. The film wants to tug at our heartstrings, to feel the supposedly unbridled love between a handsome Canadian spy and a gorgeous French resistance fighter, but all it makes viewers feel is the incongruity permeating through director Robert Zemeckis's film.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

La La Land ... Just blah

MUCH has been made about writer-director Damien Chazelle's La La Land, a tribute to the golden
age of Hollywood musicals set in present-day Los Angeles. It received seven Golden Globe nominations, and is expected to win comedy/musical best picture, best actress (Emma Stone) and for score at the award ceremony on Jan 8.
  Chazelle also wrote and directed Whiplash (2014).
  However, I found myself yawning midway through La La Land. The opening one-shot piece set in a congested LA highway didn't get my juices going. It looks like any other dance music video, I thought to myself.