Movie Magic

This has got to be one of the most innovative movie trailers I’ve seen recently…

My only complain is that the editor for this particular trailer, like a lot of other trailer editors in recent times, seemed to have an ingrained and deeply felt prejudiced against people who do not suffer from epileptic fits. It is really disconcerting watching fade to blacks at cut throat speed.

District 9, poster, prawns, no non humans allowed

As a movie, District 9 is a bit hard to categorize.

I suppose it is considered more or less “mainstream Hollywood”, but it’s production budget is peanuts compared to the amount catered for brainless Hollywood “blow em ups” (I’m looking at you Transformers and GI Joe).

It’s an alien gore flick (think Predator, Mimic and…. ermm… yes, Alien) but the people running scared are the Aliens.

It’s a sort of apocalyptic disaster flick that is… *gasp* not set in America.

More importantly, it is one of those “multi layered” shows with a Message… yet… fun.

It’s one of those shows that everyone can find something to like or find something to hate.

Some “Critics”, which incidentally comes from the German words “cri” meaning “people who are” and “tics” meaning “blood sucking insects”, will no doubt scoff at yet another mainstream “brainless explosion filled” Hollywood flick being churned out of the mass production factory. Yet, some of them will rave about the “parallels to history” and the what a “dark satire” the film is.

Mainstream Hollywood flickers will hate the fact that there is a thinly veiled Message in the midst of their brainless explosions.

Regardless, I love the fact that even though Neill Blomkamp seems to have a Message to spread, the film does not take itself too seriously.

While it is no Iron Man, the special effects are pretty good given the (relatively) tight budget for the film. I HATE gore, but after getting used to the fun and innovative ways the show explodes people/aliens, it actually started becoming quite funny. The term “popping like popcorns” come to mind.

Best of all, I love its narrative structure. Just check out the first 20 minute of the film which sets up the rest of the show using purely “news footage”.

All in all, one of the best films I’ve seen this year.

Pixar, up, poster, balloons

ONE OF the best films, the other being Pixar’s Up, of course.

I don’t think the Girlfriend will ever forgive me if I did not at least give it a special mention. It’s sweet and, well… buoyant (pun TOTALLY intended).

I love how Pixar is able to tell a story and make you feel, really FEEL for the characters, even without dialogues. They have some master story tellers there that can tell a life’s tale in just 10 minutes. The story of Carl and Ellie has to be one of the most poignant and bitter sweet short films I’ve ever seen. I’m practically guaranteed buckets of tears every time she-who-shall-not-be-named watches it…. Much like the ending sequence for Tim Burton’s Big Fish.

Young Ellie Carl Up Pixarup carl ellie young in love

Like District 9, the visuals were truly stunning. Watching it in 3D (yes, with the dorky glasses) makes the experience even more vivid. It makes you just wanna reach out and grab some of them balloons off the screen.

And these 2 films, when you put them beside some of the brainless explosion filled flicks (I’m looking at you, Transformers and GI Joe) just showed that awesome CGI is just a tool for superb story telling. You cannot have a hot bod without a soul.

It’s amazing how much special effects have improved over the past 100 years. It’s not readily apparent. It’s like watching a tortoise grow. And you don’t realize it’s a big turtle until you put photos of the turtles all side by side.

Stupid Roald Dahl reference…

But all the special effects in the world is nothing without heart.

So, here’s to more movies with heart and soul. Awesome visuals help too.

The curious story of the strangely long sleeves

Just came back from a Kungfu Rollicking good time with the Girlfriend at the cinemas.

Caught Donnie Yen’s biopic on the apparently legendary Kungfu master, Ip Man. “Apparently” because, to be honest, this is the first time I’ve actually heard of this guy. But of course, the movie industry being what it is, they are quick to point out that he is the master of Bruce Lee.

They are quick to point it out on the movie posters, in the newspaper reviews, in the trailers, in the TV spots, in the show itself, in the newspaper releases, on the cat, in the car and about anywhere they can find a flat surface to print on.

I am not perturbed by this, but if I see one more mention of him being the master of Bruce Lee, I’ll *&^*&%$$&#)#

Yeah, anyway, back to the movie. I’ll like to write a review about it, but someone has already done a much better job at it than I have. So in the words of the sagely Carl Douglas…

Everybody was Kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In  fact it was a a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down
It’s an ancient Chineese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip

Donnie Yen, Ip Man, Yip Man, Rolled up sleeves

It’s a cool movie in the sense that it accomplishes what it does – tells a compelling and thought provoking life story of the life journey of this legendary man that establishes Ip Man as the master of Bruce Lee.

*&^*&%$$&#)#

Haha. I kid, of course….

It’s an out and out action flick with the kungfu fights sequences coming as fast and furious as Donnie Yen’s punches (Boo Yeah!). The action sequences are superbly cheorographed. The clumsy, rushed and brutal fighting style of Donnie Yen’s various opponents are contrasted against Donnie Yen’s stylish, slow and refined to the point of womanly Wing Chun style.

Now before the Wing Chun practitioners out there start getting there Kungfu panties in a bunch, and I get my ass handed to me, I have to say that I am very sure the movie is very well researched and the style is accurate to the true Wing Chun, but I just wish that in the pre-requisite circling of his numerous opponents, Donnie Yen would just <<SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO FIND OUT THAT DONNIE YEN FOLDS HIS SLEEVES A LOT IN THE SHOW>> stop folding those goddamn sleeves. That’s how refined Donnie Yen’s Wing Chun is. He tries very hard to win each and every opponent of his in a fair fight and not accidentally suffocate them to death with his physics and reality defying long sleeves.

Like I said, the action was superb and it was followed closely by the lavish sets. The sets were well designed and gave off enough of the old time chic to make me swoon… for a while… (I have a reputation to look after). The pre Japanese Invasion set reminds me of scenes from Kungfu Hustle and Jet Li’s Fearless (Both which I love). They were vibrant, bright (in a sepia, duo chrome kinda way) and bustling with activities, while the post Invasion set  totally contrasted that with the dilapidation and falling apart of these very same scenes.

Story-wise, it was a bit too “all over the place” for me. It’s as if the director’s having too many sub plots that he just had to put in. Damn if they do not fit in the overall flow of the story. There are the occasional funny sequences, and some scenes that throws more light on some of the more minor characters, but overall, the dialogue and scenes are steeped in melodrama. Also, I am not too sure how historically accurate this “biopic” actually is.

But who cares right?

That’s not what this movie is about.

Ip Man, Son, rolled up sleeves

It’s all about the long sleeves, baby!

Boo Yeah.

And Bruce Lee, of course…. *&^*&%$$&#)#

who makes a grand total of <<SPOILER ALERT!!>> 1 photo appearance in the entire show.

Holy Balls of Blue!

Just watched this and it got my panties all bunched up… hmmm… ok that might not be the perfect expression but you know what I mean….

SIMPLY AWESOME, right? This is THE comic that started it all for me.

Before Sandman, before Swamp Thing, before Animal Man, there was Alan Moore with his whacked out version of the Justice League. It is a tale that oozes with high concepts of truth, justice and morality. It provides an uncompromising look at the ugliness of humanity, forcing you to look into an abyss and seeing nothing. Yet, at the same time, it demonstrates how much humanity more we can be capable of.

That is why his characters are so bizarre and yet, so easy to identify with. His heroes are poster boys (and girls) of their own brand of insanity who are trying to save the world through their own path of self destruction.

watchmen cover skeleton kissing

Watchmen was the THE book that taught me comics can be much more than just my Incredible Hulks and X Factors (though those are pretty good too). It is also THE book I’ll impose on anyone who disses comics as a “medium for kids”.

watchmen cover smiley face blood splatter

And this was the first Trailer for Watchmen that came out some time back. I believed I made a vow not that long ago to stop watching trailers.

But what the hell, right? This is the WATCHMEN!! Don’t think I’ve anticipated a movie as much since NAAAAACHOOOOOO Libre

watchmen simpsonized version

“Based on”…. WHAT?

It’s about time someone in Hollywood seriously rethinks what the term “based on” means.

Wanted, Millar, comics, movie

I mean, why pay millions of dollars to some already friggin rich comic writer to use the term “based on” in your movie poster when your film have almost NOTHING to do with the source material, right?

I can understand the marketing view point if you’re making shit like “Super Mario” and “Street Fighter” movies. The words “based on” are normally enough to send the fan boys (and girls) (hmmm… not really, girls are generally too smart to watch Super Mario Bros or Street Fighters) packing into the cinemas. But shows like “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Wanted” which have coherent (ok, MOSTLY coherent) and independent storylines should’ve been allowed to stand on their own two feet. It is cheaper and less of a hassle to think up a new name than it is to negotiate the marketing rights, right?

It is almost completely opposite to the Hulk, which pays tribute to the source material and actually rewards fanboys who are able to catch the subtle (and not so subtle) easter eggs in the movie. The only reference I got was the name tag of a certain JG Millar who works in the cubicle next to Wesley’s. (JG Jones and Mark Millar being the creators of the original Wanted) (I HAVE to flaunt this nerd knowledge SOMEWHERE)

So why watch Wanted, you ask?

Well, besides the very obvious reason of the SUPER Sexy Mrs Pitt, Wanted (the movie) is every lil boy’s wet dream come true. Superb Action Sequences? Check. Big Ass Car Chases where a dumpster truck can outrun a Sports car? Check. Logic Flaws the size of bullet exit wounds? Check. Profanities spelled out by broken keyboards and fallen teeth? Check. The Sewing Machine of Fate? (I am totally serious). Check. Curving Bullets Gun Fu? Check. Darth Vadar-ish *SPOILER ALERT* “I am Your Father” moment? CHECK!

Naked back shot of Mrs Pitt? (I REALLY had to add that in again) Check! Check! And Check!

And, ermm… There’s also Morgan Freeman and something resembling a plot.

But like I’ve mentioned. It’s a show that could’ve stood on its own 2 feet. It won’t be a cinema classic anytime soon, but for a summer blockbuster, it would’ve done fine. i mean, after all, there’s a naked shot of Angelina’s back. *drooool*

angelina jolie pitt, wanted, naked, back, shot, tattoo

I am also convinced that THIS

Wanted, movie, angelina, jolie, pitt

Works waaaaay better than THIS

fox, wanted

Going to the Movies

I can’t believe I’ve not written an extended piece on the movie going experience here yet… I’ve written a piece on the state of the cinemas here but the whole process of going to the movies is something else altogether.

More than one of my friends have likened it to watching a football match.

Yes, instead of the conventional wisdom of keeping quiet in the cinemas, these people cheer, shout, whistle and yes! dance in the cinemas!

So depending on your preference this could be a hell of a good time or just plain hell.

I mean it is hard not to feel a heady rush when the whole cinema erupts into claps and cheers when John Rambo saves the girl who’s about to be brutalized by appearing behind the baddy with an “i’m ready to claw your neck out with my bare hands” look on his face. These people live for cinematic moments like this.

Actually, I take that back. These people live for ANY cinematic moments, including wild cheers and wolf whistles when the main stars’ names appear in the opening sequences. I am not kidding.

Another sequence these people love are the kissing scenes. It is a very big deal for these guys because it is still taboo to show onscreen kisses for the local flicks. How serious are they about the taboo? People can get sued for “immoral conduct” over it. I’m serious. There are self appointed “keepers of morality here”. Before I go on to rant about THAT, check out the too cool for words Headlines for the article in the link. Even for Hollywood flicks, some kisses are cut because they are deemed too “passionate” and “immoral”.

For those that aren’t cut, the fun starts in what I dubbed the “nose touching” moments. This is the lead up to the kiss where the actors/actresses are trying to build sexual tension. I don’t know how successful the actors/actresses are at achieving that.

I really don’t.

Because by this time, the cinema would have broken into rhythmic clapping and stomping of feet going “Kiss, Kiss, Kiss! Kiss, Kiss, Kiss!” before erupting into, yes, cheers and wolf whistles when the kiss finally happen. It doesn’t even matter who the actors or actresses are. It could even be a kiss between Napoleon Dynamite and Ugly Betty. (that’s a sight you’d probably want was outta your mind now)

Now, you’d think that would be the highlight of these kiss sequences. But No! (*wink* Girlfriend*)… it gets really really intense if the kiss scenes are CUT. You never thought you’d ever see people this upset in the cinema. They’ll scream, they’ll hiss at the screen and horrors, they’ll SPIT! It is EXTREMELY disturbing hearing spittle projectiles flying around you in a really dark cinema. It’s kinda like the attack on Normandy sequence in “Saving Private Ryan”… only worse

Even for all this, I think you’d miss the true local movie experience if you don’t watch a local flick at the cinema. The local cinema is famed for their song and dance routines and all the stars are so familiar to the locals that there is almost constant cheering throughout the 3 hour long epics. And this whole carnival atmosphere climaxes during the various song and dance sequences. The locals will dance on their seats and some will even bring their partners onto the small stage before the screen and start dancing along.

According to some locals I spoke to, some of these people have already seen the movie more than 10 times. (And I thought I was already quite extreme in my repeat movie viewings <last count, matrix: 8x. Infernal Affairs: 5x. BOO YEAH!> )

It is sort of like a clubbing session for them.

Wild….

Rocky-ism

Finally caught Rocky Balboa.

In the show, Rocky was asked to recommend something from the menu in his restaurant. His reply was “It’s all edible.”

It sure is, and I lapped it all up like it’s the only Rocky film to come out in almost a decade. Not that that’s a bad thing cause it all works. From aged (albeit botoxed) Rocky to the revisits to locations from the first film to the traditional Rocky training to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger” to flashbacks of Rocky’s first few fights to more classic Rocky-isms, the whole thing reeks so badly of nostalgia that it’s fragrant. Hmm… that’s not really a word that I’ll want to associate to a show with sweaty guys punching each other up.

Rocky is a show that probably inspired a generation (as is evident from the numerous out takes of people doing their own version of the classic “jog up the stairs” routine in the end credits. Classic). This show will not carry on that proud tradition. But it is still a pretty good flick on its own right.

Rocky Balboa

So I’ll end with some new Rocky-ism from the show:

ROCKY TO SON:

I’d hold you up to say to your mother, “this kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.” And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilige. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain’t gonna have a life.

Whoever thought the big guy has it in him to write such sweet prose. Beneath that meatbag exterior lies a seriously under rated writer and director (He wrote and directed most of his franchise films Rambo and Rocky. Who would’ve thought?)

Respect.