Saturday, 1 December 2012

Lazy Post

Wow it's taken me the day that I'm leaving to go overseas to post this lol. Really quick post cos I'm lazy and I can't be be bothered writing more than a few lines of these, partly cos I can't remember what I thought and partly so I can stop piling up my backlog of reviews.

Anyway using the ever efficient tool....bullet points!

  • Watched The Matrix. Yes in all my 20 years I've never watched this sci-fi classic, so I thought it was time.

    Lesson learned: always carry spoon in case of doubts about reality
    It was super fun to spot all the landmarks in Sydney, where it was filmed. I kind of squealed when I saw a Westpac (bank represent!) building hahaha... Awesome idea, excellent execution, cool cyber-punk aesthetic, but a little cheesy at times. Ending felt a bit forced and rushed. 4/5 STARS.
  • Went and saw the highly anticipated Looper at the cinema.

    Man couldn't stop marvelling at the prosthetics used on JGL, wonder if it was weird for Bruce Willis
    I love a well done time travel movie, and love dystopian depictions too! So this was an (almost) A+ in my book. Great thriller atmosphere (FML totally thought I was going to have nightmares at one part). Like The Matrix, let down by the slightly hurried ending. 4/5 STARS.
  • I've only ever seen one short film of Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, whose luscious cinematography I wanted to experience in a feature length format, so I decided to go with one of his most famous works, In the Mood for Love.

    Um.....guuuuhhhhh, just GUUHHHHH at ALL the imagery. COUPLED with the MUSIC. It's one of those movies that every screen grab can become a trending Tumblr post. Acting was nuanced but very on point by both the gorgeous Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. I wish I looked good in a cheongsam.... 4.5/5 STARS.
  • Had a good old chill sesh with one of me and my friends' guilty comedy favourites: White Chicks.

    Looks so wrong, yet so right
    I can never understand its low rating on IMDB, but I can't really describe why it makes me laugh without fail every time either. Maybe it's the quotability, almost on par with Mean Girls even (I just checked and Mean Girls is a 6.9 on IMDB!?!?). Maybe I'm just too low-brow. 4.5/5 STARS. (please don't judge me)
  • Decided to further foray into the magical land of Ghibli and gave one of the older ones, NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind, a go.

    I had already experienced Miyazaki's environmental themes in Princess Mononoke but this was something slightly different. Maybe it's the sci-fi and dystopian elements again that drew me in, reminded me a bit of Akira. NausicaƤ herself was a little lack lustre but other characters made up for it. Dem bugs though....*shudder* 4/5 STARS.
  • So the trailer for Now You See Me came out and it looks AWESOME:

  • Can't help thinking the genre 'Black Fu' doesn't sit right with me, with the release of The Man with the Iron Fists

    Saturday, 15 September 2012

    REVIEWS: 21 Jump Street (2012) & Clueless (1995)

    It's been a crappy couple of weeks so all I wanted to do is veg out and watch something light-hearted that didn't require me to think or feel too much.

    First of all I watched a recent release - 21 Jump Street - starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. I basically decided to watch it because my Tumblr dash was plastered with jokes from the movie and it seemed really down my alley. Unfortunately it was also precisely this reason that I knew when the punchlines would come and spoiled it for myself....*sigh*.

    If only my high school prom was this badass

    Channing and Jonah do a pretty good job of the odd-couple police bros that have to go undercover as high school students to bust a drug ring. But I love the casting of some of the hilarious secondary characters as well, especially Dave Franco (little brother of James Franco) as the leader of the popular kids and Ellie Kemper as the teacher with cougar-ish tendencies. I had to Google her name as I only remembered her as the super sweet and naive bridesmaid in Bridesmaids and was happy to see her with a bit more screen time.

    It was pretty much a win because the jokes were pretty relevant to the latest pop culture trends and I love how there was a nod to hipster culture with the popular kids. Humour was pretty crude but felt appropriate.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 3.5/5 stars, awesome because of and in spite of doves flying out in boxes

    Second movie is something that every teenage girl has probably watched but I some how missed out on - Clueless. It was interesting considering that this was actually an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, and I did actually accidentally catch a movie version years ago on TV.

    Proving that you can get away with wearing anything if you're popular

    Watching this successful high school flick from the nineties, I could kind of see where other modern successes like Mean Girls took cues from it. The popular and chic girl posse, the make over of the unappealing girl, the realistic naivety, awkwardness and confidence that is exuded by the young characters who think they own the world, and the hilarious genius of their quotes. These are all elements that have been inherited by the majority of current high school flicks, enough so that some have become cliche.

    But I guess one thing they can never replicate is the at times ridiculous, but amazingly loud fashion of the nineties. I was a child much of the decade, but I can't remember if anyone dressed like this or this was just one big caricature. In any case it's cool to see how fashion changes in just a decade or two.

    The other fun thing was spying successful actors when they were just wee little actors starting out in Hollywood. These include Paul Rudd in a rare role where he doesn't goof off, Brittany Murphy in an adorable ugly duckling role, and my favourite: Christopher Turk Donald Faison pretty much still playing the same goofy black guy trying to assert his street cred.

    Alicia Silverstone really nailed down this movie, with her character Cher like a loveable version of Regina George that you genuinely felt for.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 4.5/5 stars, a high school gem that is totally a Baldwin

    Monday, 27 August 2012

    Movies Janet is Essited About: Alternate Realities

    Just a quick dump of some trailers/pics of upcoming films that make me go 'Oooohhhhhh...'. And I don't know, I tried to find a theme amongst them and came up with something ridiculous like 'Alternate Realities' because, well, these things don't happen in real life I guess. But do stories in movies ever do? Except docos and movies based on true stories *cough*.

    First is a trailer for kids animation Rise of the Guardians, which is about magical characters children are all familiar with, including Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman. How great does this reinterpretation of them look? Plus they're made by the same people behind How to Train Your Dragon, yay!

    More ridiculously awesome eye candy with Oz: The Great and Powerful, which stars James Franco and is an imagined prequel about the wizard in The Wizard of Oz. Looks beautiful but not so sure about the content, familiar Alice in Wonderland territory?

    Combining epic visuals with epic storylines is Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of the bestselling book that I am currently hunting down. Hopefully the giant team of Hollywood heavyweights doesn't up the cheese factor on this awesome cross-dimensional, time-travelling, multi-narrative flick (enough hyphens yet?).

    Oh and the trailer is crazy long:

    Along the same lines of fusing surrealism and constant questioning of life itself, we have indie film Love. A lonely astronaut questions his sanity and other existentialist questions while we're bombarded with other scenes that are probably quite meaningful as well. Reminds me of Moon, which I need to watch. Obviously it's too hard to tell what the themes are yet but here's the trailer:

    But oh my god that awesome soundtrack by Angels & really is the icing on the cake. Hopefully it really is awesome despite the low rating it has on IMDB right now.

    Last on the list is a bit on the bloody side, with new photos emerging of Chloe Moretz of Kick-Ass fame and Julianne Moore from Carrie, which is more a re-adaption of the Stephen King book than a remake of the 1976 version.

    Keeping the picture small so I don't get creeped out by my own blog *wuss*
    No that is not her own blood, but that doesn't mean the story isn't creepy. I read the book a long time ago and am excited to see the main character Carrie portrayed by the awesome Chloe, while her psychotic mother is portrayed by the equally awesome Moore.

    Yay hopefully I'll get to watch some of these! Unlike others that have been hyped and neglected..... Prometheus *cough*

    Sunday, 12 August 2012

    REVIEWS: Millennium Actress (2001), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) & The Godfather: Part II (1974)

    My excuse for not posting for more than a month is that I've been obsessed with watching the Olympics. Well I guess that's not really an excuse since it's only been on for over a fortnight.... Anyway I shall not ramble on too much and quickly cruise through the three movies I've consumed in the last few weeks.

    The first is Millennium Actress, a Japanese animated film that I watched because I love the director Satoshi Kon's more famous feature Paprika. The plot is a lot more demure and less ambitious, recounting the lovelorn life story of a now reclusive actress.

    Sadness weaves in and out of the roles the actress plays and her real life

    I say demure, but being a Satoshi Kon film it still retains all the whimsical surrealist imagery that I actually sometimes find more refreshing than Studio Ghibli's features *shock horror*. I feel that this film tries to say a lot about the main character's tragic romantic quest, but is buried under too much symbolism and left me a little befuddled, even more than usual with Japanese cinema. I guess I was hoping for more of Paprika's smorgasbord of visuals.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 3.5/5 stars, tugs on my heartstrings but left wanting something more

    Second off the list is none other than The Dark Knight Rises. Is there really anything to say? Everyone who hasn't been living under a rock has seen it already, and even those who haven't have already formed their own opinion of it.

    Christopher Nolan reunites his Inception buddies to party down in Gotham City and does a pretty good job of it. Ed Hardy as the calculating brute Bane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young police officer and Marion Cotillard as Batman's socialite girly.

    Yes we made fun of Batman's voice as usual afterwards, and even pretended to speak like a maniacal Bane as well (how inaudible was his voice?). But everything is as you imagined, being the last installment of Nolan's amazing trilogy. I was even impressed with Anne Hathaway's Catwoman, and a very clever rendition of her cat ears that made me go "Ooohhh I get it...". Only thing I could comment on was the slightly rushed ending that seemed to try and round off everything too quickly.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 4.5/5 stars, nananana nananana BATMAN! ie. it's very good, almost better than The Dark Knight

    Lastly I decided to continue on my Godfather journey and watch Part II (Roman numerals so fancy) of the trilogy. OH MY GOD, Robert De Niro, I have a whole new outlook on you. Since when did you ooze so much class and become so smooth? I know I sound like a complete film bimbo for not realising your acting potential beyond imposing dads in B grade romantic comedies.

    A behind the scenes shot but look at this suave father-son duo

    De Niro portrays young Vito from Part I as part of the parallel storylines with his son Michael's story as the new Godfather. To be honest I enjoyed Vito's rags to riches story a lot more than Michael's. It was a lot more empowering I guess, than the progressively more depressing descent of his son's.

    The juxtaposition between the two storylines just makes it even more heartbreaking as the Corleone family dynamics shift ever more towards dysfunction. I think breaking it up also made the length of the movie more bearable (although I did watch it in two sittings because my movie buddy fell asleep....). Now I just have to watch Part III for closure, and ignore the huge plot points I accidentally spoiled for myself. *sigh*

    TL;DR VERDICT: 5/5 stars, two epic mafia storylines in one movie make sitting on your butt for 3 hours worthwhile

    That's all for now, I'm very excited about a few upcoming trailers and such, will probably post on them soon!

    Monday, 9 July 2012

    REVIEW: The Godfather (1972)

    After my friend's suggestion, I watched one of those movies that always appears on those 'Top 10 Movies of All Time' Lists - The Godfather.

    I feel like a lot of the film's brilliance was lost on me due to a number of reasons. One because I always have high expectations of acclaimed films such as this one. Secondly the film was way too long for someone who grew up in the internet age and rolls their eyes at a 20 minute YouTube video. It dragged on a bit and it was hard paying attention to everything.

    And lastly not only do I have the attention span of a goldfish I'm also as deaf as No that's not right.... Well I always miss lines in movies and I'm one of those people that has to know what every single character, however minor, said at each second. Foreign accents just make it that much harder for me, so subtitles are my best friend even when I'm watching something in English. Actually not even foreign accents, as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button proved THAT wrong. So yeah, the rolling r's and mumbling crescendos of the sing-songy Sicilian accents were so very authentic but I felt like I missed a lot of important dialogue.

    All in all, repeat viewings are in order methinks.

    Marlon Brando really stood out as the titular godfather figure Don Corleone, an amazing characterisation from the get go with that limply hanging jaw (apparently Brando came up with that by putting cotton balls in his mouth) and all-knowing look he scrutinises everything with. And according to IMDB, he was only a few years older than the actors who played his sons, so cudos to hair and makeup.

    Look at that deliciously dark chiaroscuro

    The family dynamics between the Corleones was also played out very well and Al Pacino's Michael gradually transitioning from a reluctant bystander and foil to a key member of the gang operations was fascinating to observe.

    And not just Al Pacino, amazing execution from all of the cast, many of whom looked so young and different that I didn't realise who they were until afterwards.

    That's Diane Keaton, believe it or not. Yes you may pick up your jaw now.

    I think a lot of the fun of watching this movie was also due to the fact that it was so famous and referenced that it became a game of 'spot the famous scene', with shouts of 'Oh my god! That scene! That sceeeennne! ...and that liiinne!'. It was fun to finally see them in context. Not gonna give anything away, but they're so famous you know...

    TL;DR VERDICT: 4/5 stars, beautiful detailed epic with epic cast, a little drawn out though

    In a gangster mood now, will probably try to watch the others in this trilogy and perhaps Scarface and Goodfellas too.

    Tuesday, 3 July 2012

    Procrastination Reviews

    Somewhere between the start of stuvac and the end of exams I managed to fit in four movies, a feat only plausible in the wild frenzy that is exam procrastination. And as my usual lazy self, I was only bothered to WATCH but not to actually document my thoughts on them here. So now that exams have ended and I've finally comfortably settled into holiday mode, I thought I should redeem myself.

    I saw the new Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator to celebrate the end of semester, in the blind refusal that it also signaled the on-coming exams. Mr Baron Cohen, I salute you for being a ridiculously normal looking guy (with a British accent to boost!) and then being able to slip into one of your crazy characters like that - *insert finger snap*. Pretty unique considering most Hollywood comedic actors feel the need to be 'on show' even off screen.

    I had low expectations for The Dictator because the trailer gave me a more formulaic feel than Sacha's previous endeavours such as Borat and I was scared it would lose the shock value that made his comedies so great. I was pleasantly surprised when he still managed to turn it around in this giant parody of extreme leaders that pop up on our news programs now and again. Highlights include a soundtrack of Arabic renditions of songs popular from film soundtracks and a Wii game tailor made for blood-thirsty tyrants. Props for attention to detail.

    Some parts of the script felt a little contrived so at the end of the day, not super amazing.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 3/5 stars, good for short term laughs, not memorable

    Next on my list is a little more adventurous, as I decided to sit down with my mum one night and take advantage of SBS's Bollywood season. And what was on that night was Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, which is a typical rom-com with a geeky guy getting a makeover for love.

    I haven't ventured very much into Bollywood territory but at least this film let me have a proper look at the apparent 'Brad Pitt of Bollywood' aka Shahrukh Khan. All I can say is, I can see where he might be idolised....but his constant derpy expression seemed comical and over the top, even as a nerd in a comedy. Seriously I've seen glimpses of him in other movies and I swear that look is plastered on his face 24/7. Also I got creeped out by the fact that he's forty and his jaw-droppingly gorgeous leading ladies are all almost a generation younger.

    Apparently a makeover also means a return to the nineties

    Apart from not being used to the super long length of Bollywood movies, I found myself enjoying the catchy songs and cheesy romance. What really impressed me though, was the gorgeous cinematography, which increased my wanderlust towards the subcontinent of India. Loved the motif of yellow which drew everything from the bustling streets to the isolated temple together.

    Guh, I'm gushing all over the place at the landscape

    TL;DR VERDICT: 3/5 stars, cute cheesy rom-com with added spice (aha)

    The third movie on my procrastination list was a classic that I really wanted to watch - Frank Miller's Sin City. Wow, what can I say. At first I was unaccustomed to the comic book stylisation and found it cheesy (I'm overusing this word in this post), but soon the gripping plot and tough characters grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me hard, and threw me into their monochrome world.

    I relish any movie that thrills and chills me, and it's actually harder than you think even as I'm a wimp when it comes to violence. So the almost cartoon-like quality to the gritty underground world made me feel a bit less uneasy. Even so, I don't think I'll ever forget Elijah Wood's Kevin's creepy unwavering eyes. I had to pause the movie after his segment and resume the next day. Yes you may make fun of me now.

    Damn Frodo, you've really changed after Mordor

    Besides that, I loved the alternative noir elements, I loved the really well done interconnecting plots, and the casting was excellent (including the brilliant late Brittany Murphy). Well.....except for Alexis Bledel. Please, just stay in Gilmore Girls, you don't belong in Basin City, even if you were supposed to portray an innocent girl. I mean how can you compare to this:

    And don't get me started on the awesome rocking soundtrack. If I played this track while doing chores it would be the most epic of tasks ever.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 5/5 stars, black and white only serves to highlight all the awesome in Basin City

    Last on my list is something I randomly picked out at this year's Sydney Film Festival. When I finished picking up the pieces of my heart after being rejected from volunteering there, I still decided to go back and see one film, being exam season after all. It took me so long to decide before a last minute addition to the program caught my eye and I purchased a ticket to Holy Motors. to explain this French film? Basically a man, Oscar, rides around in a limousine every day and completes 'assignments', which involve him assuming a new identity and playing that character to its fullest. So I guess this is basically one big collection of character studies and a big meta exploration of acting and theatre itself. Only not for an audience, but for life.

    Before I get too philosophical (I'm still confused about the film myself), this was an amazingly weird movie. Everything from street urchins to a motion capture artist to a family man is explored by the same man, and nothing is explained.

    Intriguing, beautiful and erotic

    But unlike a lot of pretentious ambiguous film festival entrants, this one still managed to coax out laughs from the audience, although we weren't really sure what we were laughing about, we knew it was partially intended. Perhaps it was the seriousness of A-list actresses in absolutely head-scratching situations:

    Eva Mendes is not fazed by strange companions when it comes to smoke breaks

    There isn't much to say except go out and see this, one way or another, just to see what kind of reaction it'll elicit in you. Oh, and Kylie Minogue's in it too.

    TL;DR VERDICT: 4/5 stars, strange, intriguing, will leave you wanting an answer, but to what question?

    Thursday, 24 May 2012

    Comedy remedy

    A hectic week has come to an end and although I'm still swamped as hell, here's a quick update about some upcoming movies that look to be at least making me stifle a snigger as I watch them on my laptop and try not to wake up my parents.

    Starting with the most exciting of all, the return of offices with many leather bound books and rich mahogany, acapella 'Afternoon Delight' and hot days where milk really was a bad choice. Yes your favourite news team returns with their ever so charismatic main anchor Ron Burgundy. Yes that's right, Anchorman: The Legend Continues is a thing and the 2013 release date seems way too far away. Check out one of the two similar teasers that's been released this week:

    Even if it's just a teaser, good memories of the original Anchorman come rushing back, especially Steve Carell's adorable Brick. For me the best comedies are the most quotable and Brick's classic lines always made me laugh. Although people who're not familiar with the reference do get confused when I confess my love for lamps randomly...

    Anyway, embarrassing moment but I only JUST realised that the amazing Paul Rudd is part of the Channel 4 news team. Blonde moment much? I guess he's funny even without the baggage of his fame, and it's proof the wardrobe and makeup department do a mean 70s beard.

    Besides Will Ferrell, another American comedy kingpin Ben Stiller has also released a full trailer for The Watch, formerly known as The Neighbourhood Watch:

    Ben Stiller has made me laugh a few times here and there but the main reason I'm so excited to see this is the presence of Richard Ayoade, aka the most adorable Maurice Moss from The IT Crowd, one of my favourite TV shows ever. Not only is he a talented actor but also an accomplished director. My eyes instantly lit up the moment I saw his face, and his presence guaranteed this will not just be another run of the mill commercial comedy. Yes the marketing means he's presented as a Hollywood noob but I'm glad he's at least getting exposure, especially after his IT Crowd co-star Chris O'Dowd is getting all tight and friendly with the SNL crew after the hilarious Bridesmaids. Yay for more introductions of British comedic actors!

    Speaking of British comedies, something a little different has also caught my eye. Simon Pegg of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead fame (NTS: watch both) has a new feature out called A Fantastic Fear of Everything.

    Quick plot summary, Pegg is a children's author trying to change gear into crime fiction and gets all paranoid over serial murderers. A little hard to imagine the tone but the trailer sets the stylistically quirky mood:

    Get the idea? I love the integration of surreal stop motion animation that adds a fantasy-like element which would be pretty suited to the film's themes of imagination and fiction. British comedies usually execute black humour pretty well so I'm excited to see what this film is like in the flesh.

    That's all folks, so many releases lately I don't know what to feature, but hopefully my next post will be a review! Now to slink back into the cocoon comfort of my bed...