Saturday, December 19, 2009

BITE-SIZED FILM REVIEWS: Zombieland



Plot summary here

This is the most fun I had in a movie theatre all year.
It's hilarity is beyond what I expected and is actually (quite) scary at times. Ok laugh.

This is probably the only time I will complain that a movie was too short. I didn't want the fun to end.

The actors have fantastic comedic timing and the characters, although not very three dimensional, are still interesting enough so that you care for them.

Everything about it worked so well, the set of rules that one character lays out in the beginning, and is constanly referred to thorughout the film, was an effective device and also provided some laughs. The cameo in the middle was the highlight of the whole movie and the the setting of the ending perfectly encapsulates what this film is all about, a tremendously enjoyable rollercoaster ride.

RATING: 9/10

Friday, December 18, 2009

READING CHALLENGE: Moby Dick



This is my Penguin Classics challenge. It's very simple, I just pick up a book included in the classics list from Penguin and..well..read it. First up is Moby Dick by Herman Mellville.

It's big. It's fat. It's a whale of a book. Pun intended.

And it's intimidating.

Some people absolutely love it. Some surrender halfway through. Some think it's a complete waste of time.

But I am going to bravely tackle Moby Dick. If I manage to finish, that could be my excuse for cracking open War and Peace and Les Miserables. But we'll get to that later on.

For those who don't know what the book is about, it's basically the story of a whaleman who goes out to sea to pursue a whale. Yeah I know, it sounds really boring. It's full of whale/sea talk but thankfully there is a glossary of terms in the back.


So, I'm currently on page 50, chapter 9. So far so good. The central character is compelling enough for me to keep turning the pages and it's actually quite funny. But it's still the beginning, he's not even out at sea yet, so I guess the most challenging bits are still ahead of me. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FILM REVIEWS: Antichrist



Directed by Lars Von Trier

A nameless couple, He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) retreat to a cabin in the woods to grieve the loss of their young son. After falling from a window, while the couple have sex in the other room.

This film caused controversy when it screened in Cannes. People boo-ed the film, while others passionately applauded it. Where I sit, I still don't know. And I don't think I'll ever know.



This is a very difficult film to digest, I was almost in physical pain the whole way through. It played like an arthouse horror film. But it's the kind of horror that I've never experienced before, and one that I hopefully will not experience again. It's like a demon that sits on your shoulders and takes away all the happiness and hope inside of you. Or like a dementor from Harry Potter, you know, the creepy hooded monsters that suck all the joy right out of you.

After walking out of the film, I felt scarred. It's not the kind of film one would want to see again or buy the dvd for all their loved ones for Christmas. I can't even define what it's purpose was other than to be so relentlessly brutal to its audience.

But I have to admit that Lars von Trier is one heck of a talented auteur. The images he creates are so beautiful it could potentially make your heart stop. But the reason for your heart stopping might not just come from the beauty of the image but also the horror of which it represents.

If "Antichrist" was a person, it would be the popular, bitchy one at school. The one that everybody worships but secretly hate. They're beautiful but so utterly nasty and vile.

Trier has mastered the technical aspects of filmmaking but I find him so frustratingly immature. In the press conference after the screening of the film in Cannes, when the journalists direct a question at him, he answers it either with a joke, an incomplete answer or he seeks help from the actors sitting beside him. And for a filmmaker who just created a film with such heavy subject matter and who is unable to justify the reasons and the purpose of the film makes me wonder if he really did place a lot of thought towards the work or if he just made it to create a reaction.

RATING: ??/10

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I'm DYING to see in the cinema

It sucks living in Australia, having to wait for so long for movies to get here from the US. Luckily, one of the most anticipated films of 2009, Avatar, is getting an earlier release here Down Under. So I cannot wait to see that, but it's quite hard to convince people to see it with me as the trailer makes it look stupid. Surprisingly, given the hype that it has, not a lot of people are aware of the film.




It is now referred to as the "blue people" movie because the title "Avatar" causes too much confusion as people automatically assume I'm talking about "Avatar: The Last Airbender" which is another movie coming up.

Another movie I'm dying to see is the AUSTRALIAN horror film: "The Loved Ones" (I'm so stupid I didn't see it when it was out here. Imdb says it was theatrically released in Australia in July. Damn). You know, the movie that got a lot of buzz after winning the Midnight Madness Award in the Toronto Intl Film Festival. After that, the buzz just dissipated, and it's not even getting a dvd release, as far as I know.

New Zealand director Jane Campion's new film, "Bright Star" is another one I'm excited about and I've already got a pass for it. Yay! But I have to wait till January. In preparation before seeing the movie, I'm going to read a sample of John Keat's works as I'm only familiar with the butterfly one.



Another director hailing from the beautiful country of New Zealand, Peter Jackson, has "The Lovely Bones" coming up, based on the novel of the same name by Alice Sebold. I read the book and I can't wait to see how it is translated into film. I've been monitoring reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and it seems that people have mixed feelings about it. I don't care though, it's still Peter Jackson, so as a New Zealander, it's practically a New Zealand citizen's duty to see this film.


What are your current movies to-see. Any that you are so excited about that you watch the trailers over and over again and get you even more hyped about it?? (maybe it's only me who does this). Any small, indie movies that I should be aware of that are coming out in the next two months?
Posters from Imp Awards

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Favourite Regina Spektor Songs

Have you ever walked past a music store, or sat down to see a movie and suddenly a song comes on.

You're not familiar with the music, it's the first time you've heard it, but something about it draws you to it, sucking you in like a vortex. Every thought and action ceases, and for that brief moment, you realise beauty.

The moment after, when you get your consciousness back, you realise that it's not the melody, or the beat, but the voice. The organic musical instrument, the voice, triggers something primal within you.

Very few musicians have the voice possessing the ability to stir me. A few I can think of in my head are Bjork, Roisin Murphy, and Ella Fitzgerald. But the most recent one who I've only started listening to is Regina Spektor.

Her song 'Hero' is just beautiful, I love how its so repetitive, as if she's trying to embed the message of the song upon us, and us not really listening. I love the playful bvvvvv after "open wide here comes original sin" like how a child gives up after they tire of explaining something.

'Samson' is incredibly heartbreaking and it highlights a kind of love that is simple and basic, something that we gradually lose over time in all our relationships.

'Eet' is very left off-centre, very unusual and produces a question mark, everytime it is played. But it is still just as beautiful.

Everyone has different preferences to the kind of voice that we want to hear. Soo, which musicians, thinking just about their voice, have an emotional and/or personal hold over you?

ART SAMPLES: My Digital Art on "Fame/Celebrity"

The following are some pieces I did on the subject of fame and celebrity. Heavily inspired by Andy Warhol and the pop art movement. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks! Sorry they're a bit small. Don't really know how to make them bigger.

"Neon"


"Red Carpet"


"The Walk to Fame"
"Fame in a Can"


"Poppartazzi"


Note: Please do not reproduce, duplicate or copy any of the above images without my permission.

Monday, December 7, 2009

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: The Giver




Set in the 'Community', a world where free will and choice is so strictly controlled that it's almost non-existent, in exchange for a society where everyone is free from pain, suffering and hurt - numb. This is a sci-fi adventure of a boy who discover that dark and distrurbing events can happen amongst a seemingly perfect world.

This is currently on my top ten books of all time. I hate to sound cliche but this book truly changed my life. It was a harrowing experience to read this as the story itself was quite disturbing but it made me appreciate a lot of the things that I took for granted in my life. With all the horrible things going on around the world, this book made me utterly grateful to live in a society that harbours freedom and choice.

I would recommend this to everyone I know, it's just one of those books that you have to read at least once in your lifetime, it's not hard as it's a fairly short book, so it's very easy to digest - you can easily finish this in one night. Please, do yourself a favour and read this book.

You'll love this if you liked the film Pleasantville and/or the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Book cover from: Cover Browser

Sunday, December 6, 2009

FILM REVIEWS: 9



RATING: 7.5/10

9 (not to be confused with the upcoming musical Nine) is an animated film set in the aftermath of a war that destroyed pretty much everything on the planet. The story centres on a group of burlap dolls who have come to life and are trying to survive in a place where destructive machines roam and where life is very bleak, and seemingly hopeless.


The animation of this film, to be an honest, took some time to get used to. At first, I felt like I was watching a video game interlude. Fortunately, it did not take long for me to get used to the visuals and I actually started to appreciate it. It was organic and fresh. A breath of fresh air from the Disney/Dreamworks computer animation factory.


On the surface, it's a dark and depressing film but you can't help but fall in love with (some) of these burlap dolls and feel a tiny glimmer of hope for their survival in this cruel, dystopic world. I thought it would be difficult to identify with a bunch of awakened sack puppets, but they had more charm and personality than some people I know. I was very much invested with these characters and it was fun to take this journey with them. It's not a perfect film, it does have its flaws and plot holes. But it's entertaining, with a decent storyline and characters you can easily fall in love with. Much better than some bigger budget films coming out.

RATING: 7.5/10

Screenshots from: Film in Focus
Poster from: Vision 6

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FILM REVIEW: Ponyo


Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

The new film from Studio Ghibli (Japanese equivalent of Pixar) is Ponyo. A truly heartwarming and enjoyable film that had me smiling all the way through. It's nice to see hand drawn animation again and Ponyo just made me miss it so much. The visuals in this film are superb. It's colourful, bright and incredibly uplifting.
The narrative structure is unusual but it's important to note that the story is told from an angle of a child, which is refreshing to see. It's like listening to a five-year old retelling their dream. It's simple yet imaginative and it's a lot of fun.
The portrayal of the characters are very much well done. Unlike cookie cutter characters that we so much (and get tired of) in children's films these days, the characters in Ponyo feel genuine, authentic and human. They're flawed, they make mistakes and it's easy to relate to them. Some people may complain about the abrupt ending but I think it's a perfect touch to the film. Since it's told from a child's angle the ending is what you would expect from a child. Quick, happy and no explanation required.
There were times when I stared at the screen, stunned at what I was seeing. Something in my head kept telling me that some of these things shouldn't be happening (over-exposure to generic kid's films, I think) and that they needed more explanation. But at one point I just stopped and learned to just go with it, and I'm glad I did.
RATING: 9/10

Monday, September 7, 2009

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Please release the original!!!

I've been reading a lot about an indie horror film called Paranormal Activity that screened in a handful of film festivals (including the Sydney Film Festival - still kicking myself for not seeing it when I got the chance). Dreamworks bought the rights to the film and held it, planning to release a remake (why?). People who have seen it have noted how the film is unbearably terrifying, and how it's the scariest horror film since The Exorcist. So if Dreamworks releases a remake, it's almost a guarantee that they're going to ruin an already good film. But recent news have surfaced announcing that they will hold off the remake and stick to the "original". I used quotation marks because we all know that studios can't help but edit amazing films such as this one, and unfortunately find a need to water them down. It's really sad. I wanna see the original, and I want it released now, I can't stand the wait any longer. I will gladly pay a premium price just to see this movie and so will a lot of people. This film has the potential to make a lot of money in the box office and I'm still figuring out what possessed Dreamworks to hold it off to the general public. It's currently number one on my most anticipated films to see, and will stay there until I see it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FILM REVIEWS: The Cove and Bandslam

THE COVE
Directed by Louie Psihoyos



My favourite documentary from last year was Up The Yangtze, a poignant film detailing the lives of the many Chinese people affected by the rapid change of their homeland. It's a beautiful mix of modern and old China and it almost brought me to tears. Like Up The Yangtze, The Cove addressed one of the most significant issues facing the the world today. Not global warming, or terrorism but marine life, emphasising on the annual dolphin slaughter in the Japanese town of Taiji. A group of filmmakers and activists infiltrate the aforementioned town (who falsely claim themself as "dolphin-loving") to expose the shocking truth of the whaling industry, who kill thousands of dolphins and whales each year.

It sounds very bleak, and it is, but the real achievement of the filmmakers was how they weaved in a sprinkle of comic relief without detracting too much from the seriousness of the subject matter and as a result, gives us quite an entertaining film. It's also quite suspenseful at times and you forget that you're watching a documentary and not a thriller. It is still predominantly a sad film that deserves to be seen, with or without its entertainment value.

I became deply affected by the film, which is strange seeing as I'm not the biggest fan of dolphins out there (UPDATE: I am now). It pulls you in and takes you on a journey that you're glad you have seen, because now you can start the change.

I'm incredibly grateful to the filmmakers involved for shedding light into this significant issue and I hope that, like An Inconvenient Truth, this doco will find a larger audience and have a bigger impact on the whaling industry.


RATING: 10/10

BANDSLAM
Directed by Todd Graff


I was surprised by the amount of praise this movie received from critics. Now that I've seen it, I'm scratching my head, thinking that I viewed a completely different film from what the rest did. Honestly, I found it to be quite lame. Vanessa Hudgens was painfully annoying and I found myself rolling my eyes. So much so, that I began to get dizzy.

Although there were some funny moments, I just couldn't find myself relating to any of the characters or connecting to the film. It's like a middle-aged man's interpretation of what today's high schools are like and unfortunately get most of the elements wrong.

Overall it's still a pleasant film (I loved Lisa Kudrow), it would make an excellent rental.

RATING: 5/10

Friday, August 14, 2009

MUSIC IN MOVIES: The Tear-shredders

These film scores that are so sad and heartbreaking that is is enough to make one burst into tears, or at least produce a lump in the throat.

Requiem for a Dream



American Beauty

Monday, August 10, 2009

TOP TEN: Movies or TV shows that make me hungry



NOTE: NOT IN PARTICULAR ORDER


#10: Turkish Delight/Hot Chocolate scene in Narnia.
I would never have tried turkish delight if it wasn't for this scene. It looked so perfect and delicious.


#9: Ratatouille
Even in CGI, the food in this movie is so mouth-watering. I actually like to eat dinner while watching this movie as it makes any food taste better.


#8: No Reservations
I couldn't wait to get out of the theatre when I saw this film. Because my stomach was grumbling like crazy. It was borderline culinary pornography.


#7: Chocolat
How come I don't have any chocolate shops around my area that is as good as the one in this film??


#6: Mad Men Lunch Scene
I don't know why but this scene made me crave for a sandwich real bad. It's one of the early episodes in season one where Peggy was bought lunch from the cart and the sandwich was wrapped in waxpaper. It looked so tasty.


#5: Pulp Fiction. The Big Kahuna Burger
I don't think I need to explain this. This scene made everyone crave for a cheese burger and had me frantically search for a place that sold Big Kahunas.


#4: Super Size Me
Ok, I know this documentary's intentions were to put people off McDonalds. Unfortunately it did the opposite to me. I ran out of the house and bought myself a Big Mac.


#3: Sex and the City Magnolia bakery scene or any SATC epsiode
This scene made everyone crave for cupcakes, so much so that the actual bakery has become immensely popular. Why are they always eating in this show? And they're always at some fancy New York restaurant. It's not fair.


#2: Matilda
Miss Turnbull's chocolate box, chocolate cake scene and TV dinner scene


#1: Hell's Kitchen
Everytime they mention the word risotto, I panic.


Image credit

Saturday, August 8, 2009

True Blood and Mad Men

I don't recall TV being this good. Ever.
True Blood is sexy, delicious and twisted. I can't get enough of it and the writers always end each episode with a cliffhanger so you're always hungry for more. I almost ignored this show completely, dismissing it as another vampire show that's taking advantage of Twilight's success. But it's the opposite. It is like Twilight but for adults. It's Twilight with a brain.

Mad Men the show that satisfies my nostalgic craving. Incredibly well written, Mad Men is fast becoming one of my favourite shows on TV. The characters are interesting, the narrative almost perfect and it's visually stunning. It deserves all awards that are coming its way.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Predictable Plots: How do people do it??

When asking friends and family about a certain film that we've watched or a book that they've read, some of them usually reply with a complaint of the narratives predictable plot.

"You can see the ending from a mile away!!" a critic once complained.

Seriously. How do people do this. There's something seriously wrong with me because no matter what I do, whenever I try to foretell a story's ending, using hints and clues from the scenes that precede it, I always get it wrong. Except for Slumdog Millionaire but that doesn't count.

Even while watching a movie that shows a plethora of cliches, I still tell myself, that maybe, just maybe this movie will be different? I have faith that it will not end the way it should. That it will break the formula, subvert the genre, turn it on its head. So when I predict the plot my mind usually thinks up the most ridiculous conclusion.
90 percent of the time I'm wrong and can't help feeling guilty for my incompetence to play psychic, but still I cling on to the Hope.
The Hope that the writers of this movie or tv show or whatever will think that "hmmm we should do something different. Make them think this way, then boom hit them with a plot twist. They'll never predict this!"
This has only happened to me a few times, when my ridiculous conclusion is correct and other people are impressed by the ending that they "could have never predicted".

But unfortunately most of the time my prediction is wrong, and it means the movie sucks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

TV SHOWS: True Blood and Glee

I usually try not to watch TV series. Unlike movies, TV shows seem to go on forever with no end in sight and I need a bit of closure. But there's a number of tv series that have appealed to me because:

a) They have interesting, well-written characters.


True Blood and Glee are the most recent examples. But in the past I've also loved watching Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives (my guilty pleasures).




b)They have an interesting concept or idea


Again True Blood comes to mind. One show that succeeded at this but after a few seasons later, eventually failed, was Lost. Season One for that show was so gripping, I had to cancel or postpone evrything that I had to do on the night it's on. But after a while it became to complicated, I got well...umm..lost. I'm very impatient and it was bound to happen sooner or later. If they got out of the island after the first few seasons and became a series about the aftermath of the tragedy and how it affected everyone involved, then yeah I would have kept watching. But no, they stayed on that island then I just became bored.

Right now, I'm following True Blood. Instead of waiting for the series to come on TV (which hasn't happened yet here in Australia) I decided to just purchase the DVD set, which I admit has an incredibly cool cover art. So I'll probably write a review soon about the first season, when I finish of course.

Glee does not show here in Australia until September. Sad face. But they had an advance screening last night and I can't wait for the series!
I do not own the images. Links here: 1 and 2

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Movies that I Hate: Slumdog Millionaire

I've been looking through my past film reviews and found that all of them are positive, how boring.
Everyone loves to read a negative review, I know I do.
So I've put together a bunch of films that I truly despise and unleash the Anton Ego within.

Slumdog Millionaire

Contrived to the point of absurdity. Okay, I can live with the fact that every question in the gameshow was related to a significant event in his life, but to take it further and have the questions asked chronologically, in sync with how his story unfolds. Contrived, contrived, contrived!
And it stuck to this formula throughout the entire movie. It was so unbelievably predictable, it was almost painful.
In a couple years, people will question what possessed them to actually enjoy and highly praise this movie. I believed the film's success is a reflection of the current state of the world. Economic recession. Rags to riches story. BOOM. Feel good movie of the year.
The other problem I had with the film was the lack of chemistry between the two leads, Jamal and Latika. I'm referring to the older ones of course (I thought the young actors' performances were the closest I can get to authenticity). I hated them together. I was with them intially when they were still young but as they got older, I just got bored. I was actually hoping that they would not be together. The actors were so bad and why would a boy who grew up in the slums all of a sudden acquire perfect English language skills with an accent to match?

My other problem was that they such heavy subject matter to deal with that it grounded the film to harsh, cold reality. But then aspects of unreality and "fairy-taleness" were weaved into the film which then creates this annoying contradiction (suspend reality, go back to reality. Repeat).

I don't really loathe the movie, I just think it did not live up to the hype and I found that the recognition it received was not well deserved. It's a very flawed film.
I'm a very big supporter of small films that make it (and win) against the big dogs. I'm usually in full support of the underdog, but in this case, I just did not find myself enjoying the film or find it worthy of its accolades.

VERDICT: 3.5/10

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Blog!

I've noticed that I have becoming more off topic with my blog posts, so I've decided to create another blog, for everything else I have been talking about that isn't about film, music or art.

It's called iWant iNeed iBuy

Link here

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Obsessions: Popular Penguin Novels and the Retro Trend

These days it's all about the retros, the vintages and the classics. We've all become obsessively nostalgic and trouble ourselves in searching for and buying products that have that romantic, good-old-days appeal. Here's a rundown of my own, personal retro/vintage loves:

Wayfarers

From Breakfast at Tiffany's to Twilight. And Andy Warhol, who is currently the artist that I am obsessed with, wore them too.



Moleskine

An extract from a small note in the back pocket of the Moleskine:

"Moleskine is the legendary notebook used by European artists and thinkers from the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin."

Genius marketing. We all want to be connected to legendary artists like those mentioned above and this concept alone triggers inspiration for aspiring artists and writers like me.


Popular Penguins

The collection of novels include classics and modern, fiction and non-fiction and are considered to be the creme de la creme of the literary world, so you're reassured that it will be a very good read. The instantly recognisable cover design of Popular Penguins evoke nostlagia and if I see someone, especially a younger person around my age, reading one of these orange and cream novels, I would consider them tres, tres cool. (apologies for the random french phrases but talking about these reminds me of old Parisian bookshops).
Grand, old movie theatres

These are such a breath of fresh air from boring, uninspiring multiplexes that conquer even the smallest of towns. Nothing beats the experience of watching a film inside a place with a history. I love that old-Hollywood feel and my local old deco cinema, the majestic Randwick Ritz, is definitely one of my favourite places to go to see a movie. It's also usually much cheaper than the multiplex.


What are your vintage/retro obsessions?

PHOTO LINKS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

OFF TOPIC: Lip Balms

NEW SEGMENT: Off topic, it's self explanatory. They're pretty much topics that are not part of the art/entertainment world.

According to this article, lip balms are actually unnecessary unless you're out in the sun for a long time. So why do I still find the need to constantly apply them every ten minutes? Is this another addiction, my God I have so many already.
In fact, some people believe that lip balm is a serious addiction and many anonymous groups have cropped up on the net to deal with the issue. LOL. ( I shouldn't be laughing I'm probably the next one to sign up).

Is it the taste, the smell or just a daily habit that I've been accustomed to? Whatever it is, I'm not looking to stop anytime soon. But I am considering cheating with my long-term balm, Chapstick, and have an affair with Burt's Bees. It's made from beeswax and all-natural products are so hot right now. Sorry Chapstick.


Photo Links: 1 and 2

Pop Music Will Never Be Lowbrow

My Lady Gaga obsession continues, thanks to this new video: an intro for her song The Fame with a Warhol twist.



I love her voice, its so sexy.
I want the FAAAAMMMEE.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: Atonement by Ian McEwan

It's indicative of a truly talented author, when you find yourself going back and re-reading their satisfying, well-written sentences.
I love the way he constructs them, he describes things in a way that alter your perspective, not only towards the thing that he's describing but also towards the idea of how things should be described.
I wouldn't call this a page turner, since it took me a long time to finish. But it's one of those rare books that you try to relish every single word, and in some magical way, make me as a reader feel scared to end up in the last page. I don't want it to end.
I'm not talking about the overall narrative, I actually wanted that to come to a close, but I don't want the experience to come to an end.

The characters are drawn so well that you as the reader feel like God and understand who these people really are in a level that no other human being can ever know another. McEwan gives you a very transparent view into the innermost corners of these characters' minds and it's such a pleasure to have read this incredible novel.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Beauty of Movie Marketing: Posters and Titles

They say never judge a book by its cover..but they don't say the same thing about a film. So being the judgemental person that I am, there are times when I'm put off seeing a film purely because:


1) They have a generic title, or use really fugly words. E.g. Duplicity, Whatever Works, The Proposal, Changeling, The Hurt Locker, Funny People
See how uncreative and bland these examples are.
2) Their posters looks yuck. E.g. Whatever Works, Public Enemies, Bangkok Dangerous


I had to close my eyes when I walked past these foul displays. I'm not going to put them up on this post as I don't want to uglify it. I'll provide links.


POSTERS


Now, I'm going to give examples of how to actually attract the audience instead of repelling them. Here is a run-down of recently released posters that are so well designed, it convinced me that I need to see this movie. A wonderful fusion of art and advertisement.


Funny Games U.S.

Draws you in like a moth to a flame


Persepolis

Simple, yet bold.


The Girlfriend Experience

The art of graphic design, maximised

Anti-Christ

Disturbingly alluring, eye-catching and well executed


Burn After Reading

Great composition.  Beautiful typography.


Blindness

Clever arrangement of the title


The Strangers

Creepy. I was obsessed with this movie because of this poster (if only the movie lived up to its marketing).


Doubt

Clean yet striking


TITLES

The title of a movie also has an impact on whether I should see it. When I scan through the list of upcoming releases. There are movie titles that stand out so much that it triggers me to search it on IMDB, here are just a few:


Julie and Julia
Simple, yet strangely elegant. The use of an alliteration is clever too.
How to lose friends and alienate people
Long titles are my favourites. That's why I like Panic at the Disco. But initally, I thought this was a self-help book.
Anti-Christ
Controversy = Appealing
Thank You For Smoking
They forgot to put the "not"! OMG! Look it up on Google, now.... Oh. It was intentional. Gotcha.
Requiem for a Dream
Requiem is such a beautiful word, even though I have no clue as to what it means.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Not only gave you the title but also a brief plot synopsis, all in one. Nice.

Image links 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Monday, June 8, 2009

MUSIC PROFILE: Lady GaGa

I'm so sad I missed her concert in Sydney a few weeks ago. I heard about the Pussycat Dolls doing a concert (ignored this completely as I'm not a huge fan of them, even though they are super hot) but didn't know that Lady GaGa was guest starring!


Already being labeled as the new Madonna, Lady GaGa has taken the whole world by storm. And, I, too am sucked in.
All of her songs are torturingly catchy and uplifts me, whatever mood I'm in.
Her videos are so..umm.. cool. (I can't think of another adjective right now, Papparazzi is stuck in and consuming my head).
But is it just me or does she look a bit like Amy Winehouse? Like just a little bit.



Judging from one of my previous posts, you can pretty much tell that I have a love for outrageous lyrics and Lady GaGa does not disappoint. I've put her whole album on repeat on my iPod and is one of the few artists that is taking forever for me to get sick of, (usually happens after a couple of days) but I'm not complaining.


I don't know about everywhere else but there seems to be an exponential increase of poker playing here in Australia after Poker Face came out, so she obviously has a bit of culture influence too, a true trend-setter. I heart you, Lady GaGa

Photo links 1 and 2


Thursday, June 4, 2009

RANDOM RANTS: Book to Film Adaptations

I'm just about to finish Frankenstein and have started reading Oil! by Upton Sinclair, the novel that the 2007 film There Will Be Blood was based on. To be honest, I only like reading books that have been adapted or will be adapted to films. I just love the experience of seeing what I've read come alive to the big screen, or vice versa, seeing a film put into words. I'm aiming to read as many novels as I can and hopefully be able to post some book reviews up and maybe do film/novel comparisons.

Still in my list of "to read" are:

Atonement by Ian McEwan. Considered to be a masterpiece (the novel, not the film)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (this book is so frickin hard to get, all the copies in the libraries I've been to have them all loaned out)

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. At least I have faces to put on for the characters already, thank God for films.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lahane. Must finish this before the movie comes out!

Push by Sapphire (is this a pseudonym? I love people identified with only one name)
UPDATED: I've finished reading The Road and Atonement and both are ending up in my favourite books of all time. Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan are my new favourite authors, alongside Sonya Hartnett, of course. My review for Atonement: click here

Monday, June 1, 2009

RANDOM RANTS: How the Moleskine saved me

I was born in 1993. Computers were already around and I grew up with the convenience of the internet, mobile phone and IM. Everything and everyone were accessible anytime and anywhere. But along the way we lost our love for doing things on paper and everywhere you look everything is going digital. Books are turned into those iReads, letters are turned into emails, newspapers are slowly and sadly diminishing and the good old journals are now blogs.Before I met the Moleskine, I was in the bandwagon for digital, but that little black book, with beautiful yellowy paper and a simple, clean design, sparked my dormant paper fetish. And now I'm a Moleskine addict.
For those of you that don't know what I'm referring to, Moleskines are basically simple black notebooks with a luxurious edge. It comes in plain, lined, squared and a sketchbook, which has thicker paper to handle paints, watercolours, or whatever. They've become immensely popular and it's become the perfect companion and the perfect sidecick for any artist, writer or thinker.
What I love the most about these notebooks is the aesthetic satisfaction that you get from using them, they're so good to touch and acts as a source of inspiration as well.

The Moleskine was a blank canvas for my art, an empty page to fill my stories in and a surface where thoughts are transferred from my mind. They're slightly more expensive than the average notebook, which gives you more reason to treasure it but it's definitely well worth the cost.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FILM REVIEWS: Wall-E, The Animation War

WALL-E (2008) Disney/Pixar

The whole story of Wall-E was sparked by one question: "What if mankind had to leave Earth and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot?"

That last robot goes by the name Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) and is the new lovable hero from the world of Pixar. The story is set in a very probable future. The humans have left the lifeless and desolate planet because of an overload of waste. They left behind the Wall-E robots to clean it all up for when they return. Our Wall-E is the only one left and continues with his job day after day, and along the way develops a personality.

I can't put into words how cute this little robot is. When I was in the theatre, I wanted to get off my seat and hug the screen everytime Wall-E was on it. He is seriously that cute.

The first half of the film was just outstanding. There is very little dialogue used because a) Wall-E can't talk (but he can make the cutest noises) and b) he's all alone. The result is a very exquisite piece of modern filmmaking with a Chaplin-esque, classic movie vibe. I was ecstatic after the first half hour. The level of craftmanship was so high I can only describe it as a visual, cinematic orgasm. It's artistry doesn't get in the way of its main purpose: entertain the kids (and their parents) and it does it well. Some people think that kids are just going to get bored with this movie as their isn't a lot of action, with very few dialogue. But those people seem to underestimate kids these days because the children in the theatre that I was in were in absolute awe. I've never been in a movie theatre, packed with kids that had been that quiet. They were glued to the screen and they were with Wall-E the whole way through.

This will easily fit on my list for top ten films of last year and I find it unbelievable that it wasn't considered for the Best Picture in the Oscars (although it did win Best Animation, but that was already a given anyway). I will recommend this movie to anyone. It's universal and timeless appeal will make sure that it's one of the most beloved films of our time.

Rating: 10/10
So Pixar wins!
1st: PIXAR: Artistic Value: 100% Entertainment Value: 100%
2nd: STUDIO GHIBLI: Artistic Value: 100% Entertainment Value: 80%
3rd: DREAMWORKs: Artistic Value: 50% Entertainment Value: 100%

Poster link here

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

FILM REVIEWS: Pixar vs Studio Ghibli vs Dreamworks

KUNG FU PANDA (2008) Dreamworks Animation

Unfortunately, there is a negative notion towards animated films as being targeted exclusively for kids, or adults who have kids. But recently films such as Ratatouille and Shrek have proved that this is no longer the case. The two giants of the genre, DreamWorks and Pixar are going head-to-head once again. Failing miserably from 2007 with a dried up Shrek The Third, DreamWorks have once again opened up the floodgates last year with a fresh and quenching release, Kung Fu Panda.

I viewed this film in a massive G-Max Cinema. Wall to wall, ceiling to roof screen. I was thankful for that, as this film is a visual delight. Bright and colourful without being tacky or overpowering *cough Speed Racer cough*. This is one of the movies of the year that must be seen on the big screen.

The movie follows Po (Jack Black), a lazy and always hungry panda who secretly wishes to become a kung fu master one day but is forced to help his father (strangely, a bird) run the family noodle shop. A kung fu master, Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) has a premonition that Tai Lung (Ian McShane) is going to escape prison and threaten their village. Oogway chooses the Chosen One and who could that be other than the unlikely Po. Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) trains him along with the Furious Five to help defend the village and ultimately defeat Tai Lung and in turn prove that a kung fu master can come from just about anyone.

The storyline I thought was predictable at times but nonetheless carries the audience seamlessly through the end. The animation was spectacular and special praise to the fantastic choreography that created the insanely exciting fight scenes. People were clapping and cheering all the way through the film. And they should. Mostly funny but needed a tiny bit of tweaking to give some of the dialogue a bit more wit but with that aside this is great entertainment and is a definite must see. With a few tweaks here and there, I think DreamWorks Animation can finally reach the elusive bar of Pixar perfection. Not only visual wise but also, hopefully, in storytelling.

Rating: 7/10

THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (2006) Studio Ghibli

I fell in love with Japanese anime ever since I viewed Howl's Moving Castle then later on, Spirited Away. I was moved by their spectacular imagery, beautifully drawn characters and the sheer capacity of imagination that oozes from these films. The girl who leapt through time was no exception.

The title pretty much sums up what the movie is about. A girl finds an object the allows her to travel in time. This is a clear example of having too much of a good thing because as she uses the power more the more problematic things become and she's forced to go back and forth to fix the damages that she causes. Discovering that the amount of time travel that she can use is limited, she makes a choice of what is more important to her.


I became quite attached to the characters due to their high level of likeability. The storyline is simple yet in a way also complex. The plot is layered yet each piece of it follows a simple narrative thus creating a simplistic complexity in the story. The visuals are outstanding. I wouldn't say it's on par with Spirited Away but then again TGWLTT does not include fantasy creatures. The pace of the film is near perfect although the ending was a bit of kick on the gut since it didn't wrap things up as nicely as I would have liked it (Disney ending influence? Oh no!). Nevertheless, this is a fine film with an imagination that pushes beyond boundaries. I welcome Studio Ghibli with open arms in my animation war.

Rating: 8.5/10

TO BE CONTINUED: Pixar's Wall-E review and conclusion are coming on the next post.
Poster links here and here

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience



I haven't put too much attention to Soderbergh's work before but after hearing raves about him in the glorious podcast called Filmspotting, I've developed quite a keen interest on his films.

The Girlfriend Experience, one of his less mainstream films, is an honourable accomplishment despite the poor acting.

I love how he plays with the traditional linear narrative. He makes the audience jump from one conversation to another, from scenario to scenario and minute by minute we are able to understand more of what's it really like to be a call-girl, a sophisticated one at that. The cinematography, my favourite element of all films, is top notch. It captures the personality of high end New York with ease and it's such a splendid experience to be able to peregrinate through it's streets through Soderbergh's lens. This was a really interesting concept of taking the life of a sophisticated call-girl, whose clientele consists of rich, powerful and politically active men and seeing that story play out in the buildup to the 2008 presidential election during the economic crisis. Even though its badly acted, I still felt an odd sympathy for the main character because it is taken to such a personal level. It's shot almost like a fly-on-the-wall documentary and I find these characters, so interesting.



Poster link here

Monday, May 11, 2009

MUSIC PROFILE: Bjork


Bjork, the swan dress girl from the Oscars. What a daring woman, and she immediately caught my eye. Her performance of "I've Seen It All" on the Kodak Theatre stage was so mesmerizing that even highly paid and highly talented actors, directors and other film industry people in the audience were in awe of her audacity.

Her music is the epitome of unconvention. I feel like this kind of music comes from somewhere otherwordly but at the same time, strangely familiar. There's almost no single rhythm but it beats in its own tempo and it feels improvised, like she's been given a single tune and she makes up the lyrics as she goes along. At first, I was put off with her voice but as she continued to sing I realised what true musical beauty is.

Call her weird, but you can't deny her fearlessness. Her fashion statement in the Oscars is a glimpse to who she is, one who always stand out. No one that I can think of in the music industry compares to what she does.

The only one that I can think of that comes close is Roisin Muprhy, also daring in her music and her fashion statements but what she doesn't have is Bjork's ethereal, celestic and almost alien persona. I just love her.

Her music videos rank in my list as one of the best made, artisitically and it almost looks like it belongs in some sort of contemporary museum. The one below with the song "All Is Full Of Love" is just stunning, check it out.


Image source here License here

Withdrawal symptoms and Reality TV

I have not seen a movie in about 5 days and I'm currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Not severe ones, thankfully. Our household Quickflix (Australian equivalent to Netflix) subscription has been cut off for no apparent reason, so no DVDs and I've been so busy throughout the week with parties and other stuff that, I didn't find the time to go to the movies.
But I'm planning to watch Angels and Demons and Star Trek with friends in the next week. Yay.
Oh about Star Trek. I'm not the biggest fan of sci-fi films (I don't like Star Wars) and I've always thought that Star Trek was, well, too weird for me, and boring. But it's been getting great reviews, the trailer looks ok and with the creative input of J.J. Abrams, I'm giving this film a chance. But I will not become a Trekkie. I have enough obsessions already.


Also, I've been watching a few reality shows on youtube. I'm still obsessed with ANTM and no sign of that diminishing. I'm also starting to hate Tyra Banks now. If you watch the earlier seasons and compare her behaviour with current ones, you'll know what I'm talking about. Is fame making her head big?
Also, I've been watching Survivor intros on the tube and had just come to the realisation of how awesome the soundtrack is. You know what I'm talking about, that ethnic chanting song that plays. I want it on my iPod but unfortunately I'm not finding it on limewire.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

THE TOP TEN: My most anticipated films of 2009

NOTE: Again, this is not in particular order.

#10: Where the wild things are

I've never read the book but the trailer looks fantastic. After Pan's Labyrinth, I'm all in for storybook tale movies with a dark twist. Plus Spike Jonze is directing, who am I to resist?

TRAILER:


#9: Bruno

I just recently re-watched Sacha Baron Cohen's previous film, Borat and it reminded me how groundbreaking this comedian really is. Daring, risky and shocking. In a good way. His name alone will secure a seat for me in the theatre and judging from the trailer, it's going to be hilarious.

Do yourself a favour and see this on the big screen. Comedies like Borat are best seen with a group of people in a dimly lit room. Trust me.

#8: Up

The yearly Pixar release is always going to make it to my anticipated films list of any year. You don't understand how much of a fan I am of Pixar. I love their work and I love what they do with their movies. They're the only ones who seem to be able to produce movies that are artistic masterpieces but at the same time make it marketable to mainstream audiences. They don't seem to fail and I don't see why they're going to fail with this next one. A sure-to-be instant hit.
According to test screenings at a certain film festival (forgot what it was called. BNAT-? i think. Google it), Up seems to be receiving a positive buzz even in its rough version.
Oh and did I mention that it's being screened on 3D? CAN'T WAIT!

TRAILER:


#7: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I'm not usually a big fan of action films. This is because in most films, I see the same car chase sequence over and over again, with few variations. So most of the time I just get bored with it. But there's something about Michael Bay films that make me jittery on my seat. I love films that are pushing their over-the-topness, without actually going full blown OTT.
Transformers was one of these films. I have never been so ecstatic in a movie theatre, ever. I was practically high on adrenaline. Hopefully, this does not fall short of it predecessor.

#6: Angels and Demons

Yes, I read the book. Kept me awake at night for about a week, I couldn't stop reading it. When I finally forced myself to turn off the lights and go to bed, I just stared at the book in the dark, and it teased me. Then I would give in and start reading it again. Now imagine that kind of willingness to see (or read) a story progress and have that translated on screen. BOOM. You have Angels and Demons.

#5: Inglorious Basterds (no it's not a typo, that's just how Tarantino likes it spelt)

Tarantino. Enough said. No, I'm not a pretentious fan. He's just a bloody fantastic filmmaker.

TRAILER:


#4: Julie and Julia

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Those two names alone will have me rushing down to the theatre. Oh. It's a film about cooking. Perfect. I have this thing with films and shows about food. You know, movies like No Reservation and Ratatouille. TV shows like Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef. There's something so delicious about them. I actually like eating dinner while watching them, it's weirdly satisfying.

#3: The Fantastic Mr Fox

Another movie movie adapted from a beloved novel. And with big names attached to it like Cate Blanchett, George Clooney and Bill Murray. No, this movie must not be skipped.

#2: Shutter Island

A definite Oscar contender. There's just so much talent involved with this film, this just had to be on this list. You can't really go wrong with Scorcese, I mean The Departed is going to remain as one of my most loved films. Let this be the next one.

#1: Moon

Independent and sci-fi usually don't go hand in hand when you're talking about films. But apparently this succeeds spectacularly. The new Sam Rockwell film screened in various film festivals, including Tribeca and is generating quite a buzz. Can't wait until it's released theatrically.

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