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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Opposites Attract

HELLO!

So I turned 19 on Monday and had a pretty cool birthday week. On Monday, instead of going to watch "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Ponyo" at The Astor Theatre, I hung out with some of my high school mates at a pub in the city in which they were awesome enough to shout me some beer and a pizza, haha. Adequate evening was more than adequate. And sorry but I don't have pictures from the evening cause I didn't feel like I had to.



As for presents, I didn't get any until until Thursday. Reason being was because "Dead Space 2" released that day and my two best mates pitched in for a copy of that as well as a set of new speakers. And while this doesn't necessarily count as a present, I bought myself an awesome poster for "In the Mood for Love" two weeks ago on eBay and it arrived the same day I recieved my birthday presents. I love walking into my room now.


Don't be questioning my masculinity. :)

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On a different note, I LOVE the Daiso store in Richmond. Everything there is literally $2.80 and I felt so compelled to buy more than I really needed (I was only there to buy a new pencil case and some pens for Uni - stationary shopping FTW). I even bought a whiteboard and whiteboard marker for no real reason other than the fact that it was just available. At least with a whiteboard I won't have to waste paper. =\


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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


As promised, this week I watched three select films from John Hughes' filmography. Hughes passed away in 2009 and left behind him a body of work that defined the teenage experience with films that are, to this day, still socially relevant. I chose to focus on "Sixteen Candles", "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" because these three films share a common theme: growing up a teenager. I would've included "Weird Science" however, I'd seen it in the past but felt it wasn't as consistent and relevant as those three aforementioned films.

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"Sixteen Candles" was John Hughes' feature film debut as a writer/director. The film stars Molly Ringwald - in a breakout role that turned her into a queen of the 80's - and tells the story of a girl whose sixteenth birthday is forgotten by her family and feels that her special day is anything but special. My biggest concern with the film was the script. It's similar to "The Longest Night In Shanghai" in that there was just too much going on with not enough focus and emphasis on the main story. These other subplots don't bring anything to the overall story and are best left out. Another thing that I don't generally like in scripts is when a character needs to talk to him/herself to explain to the audience what they're feeling. I don't mind it sometimes when I'm watching something but with this film, Molly Ringwald's character talks to herself a bit too much, I felt. While I didn't enjoy the film as much as I might have liked, there were a few redeeming qualities about the film. Anthony Michael Hall is absolutely hilarious in this film as a freshman nerd who tries to hook up with Molly Ringwald. The comedy works and is nice to laugh along with and amidst all the heavy drinking and partying is a sweet and sincere portrayal of teenage love. It's a coming-of-age tale that almost anyone can relate to. (Also try to spot a young John Cusack)


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Undoubtedly one of the most popular and socially relevant films to have come out of the 80's, "The Breakfast Club" holds up as one of those great cinematic achievements. Here we have a film that not only breaks down the barriers of teenage stereotypes but also delivers an important message. The film tells the story of five high school students who are sentenced to the longest detention of their lives. It is here that these students bond and reveal their secrets and insecurities and reach a common conclusion that appearances aren't what they appear to be. With "The Breakfast Club", John Hughes was able to craft a film that boldy tells a story that most filmmakers would have neglected. It is with this film that much of the teenage experience can be based upon. The pacing of the film is so meticulous and is wonderfully told. Each student is given enough screen-time to reveal to the audience just who they are and why they're in detention. The cast is absolutely fantastic and I've said this before but I love films that utilise one setting and in this case, it's the school. There's really not much to criticise about the film because I couldn't notice any bad things which is really a step up from "Sixteen Candles". "The Breakfast Club" is a powerful film that not only transcends it's "teen movie" label but is to this day still relevant and acceptable as a film that will define generations of teenagers to come.


The music at the end of the trailer is absolutely ridiculous and does not fit within the context of the film.------------

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There isn't one kid in the world that would love to cut classes and do something fun instead. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" tells the story of teenage kid who just wants to take a day off from school with his best friend and girlfriend. While I didn't enjoy this film as much as "The Breakfast Club", there's a lot to take away from this film. Once again, the teenage experience is shaped magnificently through Hughes' great script and direction. The emotional final moments of the film are quite powerful and while the film may advertise itself to be about a kid wanting to cut loose from school, underneath that is a touching story of a guy who's just trying to show his best friend that there's no need to be depressed and mad with the world - that there's more to life than what he thinks is out there. Matthew Broderick is fun to watch as Bueller; Alan Ruck puts in a somewhat nuanced performance as Bueller's best friend Cameron; Jeffrey Jones is hilarious as the Dean of Students who's out to expose Bueller and Mia Sara is so damn pretty as Bueller's girlfriend, Sloane (she doesn't add much but she's nice to look at). In a way, the film really isn't about Ferris at all and is more about Cameron's struggle to stand up to his parents and the pressures of moving to a new college. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is a nice coming-of-age film that most people should be able to get behind.



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Perfection is the very thing that Natalie Portman's character chases in the film and with "Black Swan" , director Darren Aronofsky, has crafted a film that damn near reaches that state of perfection. Set in the competitive world of ballet, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is chosen to become the new Swan Queen of her ballet company's new take of "Swan Lake" - a role in which she has to portray both the White Swan and the Black Swan. While Nina's personality and talent make her the essential choice for the White Swan, she doesn't possess the ability needed to effectively portray the evil Black Swan. With pressure constantly beating down on her in the form of her mother (Barbara Hershey) and company director (Vincent Cassel) as well as fear of losing her coveted position to a rival ballerina (Mila Kunis), Nina begins to slowly lose her grip on reality and her sanity in her search to become the Black Swan. Natalie Portman gives the performance of her career in this role and the range of emotions that she has to go through within the film is absolutely exhausting to watch. She's absolutely outstanding in this role, as is her amazing supporting cast who all give terrific performances. The film is gorgeously shot and Aronofsky cleverly uses mirrors as a means of showing that Nina is losing her mind and is constantly being judged for her imperfection while also highlighting the fact that she is always being watched and judged by someone. Clint Mansell's soundtrack is absolutely brilliant and while he does borrow some cues from Tchaikovsky's score for "Swan Lake" he uses it to a terrifyingly amazing effect throughout the film. The final few minutes of the film are breathtaking and, in a lot of ways, mirrors the final few minutes of "The Wrestler". While Aronofsky is able to create a disturbing and dark thriller, some "jump scares" could've been cut from the film as the cheapen the quality of the film and give off easy scares. "Black Swan" is a chilling thriller that almost plays like a loving homage to the Japanese animated feature, "Perfect Blue" (link to my review of that film), and nearly reaches that state of perfection. While I still prefer "The Wrestler", there is no doubt that "Black Swan" is a fantastic film and one that deserves to award Natalie Portman an Oscar for astounding performance.


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"The Fighter" is based on a true story of two brothers from Lowell, Massachusetts, Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. Throughout the course of the film, we see the relationship that these two have and Ward's struggle to reach the top of the boxing world. It's a great film that features some top notch performances from the cast. As "The Irish" Micky Ward, Mark Whalberg pulls in his best performance since Scorsese used him in "The Departed". Amy Adams is terrific as the compassionate yet strong-spirited Charlene and is clearly comfortable being the person in which Ward confides in. Melissa Leo is also wonderful as the controlling mother and manager of Micky but it's Christian Bale's outstanding performance as the crack-addicted brother and former boxer, Dicky Eklund that steals the movie. Bale completely inhabits the character and it's amazing how much of Eklund he really shows off. He gives himself completely to his performance and is most definitely worthy of an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Pacing was never a problem and was constantly moving at a fine and brisk pace and the story is told very well. You're always emotionally invested into the story as you do feel for these characters and their struggles. "The Fighter" is an absolutely quality film, one that has deservingly gotten strong praise.


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Next week I'll decide on another set of films to write on so I'll keep it a surprise. I've now seen six of the ten Best Picture nominees this year and am planning to watch "The King's Speech" and "True Grit" some time during next week. You can also expect me to catch "127 Hours" in the subsequent week too which would bring my number up from six to nine. Some really exciting stuff in the coming weeks!
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


OSCAR NOMINATIONS WERE ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK! I love awards season because it's such an exciting time where everyone is abuzz about cinema. 2010 brought in some truly fantastic films along with great talent that drove those films into award-worthy success. Below is a full list of the nominees this year.


BEST PICTURE:

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

DIRECTING:

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:


Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawks, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:


Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:


127 Hours (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network (Sony Pictures Releasing), Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Michael Arndt. Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit (Paramount), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone (Roadside Attractions), Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:


Another Year (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Mike Leigh
The Fighter (Paramount), Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson. Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception (Warner Bros.), Written by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right (Focus Features), Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Seidler

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:


Biutiful
Dogtooth
In a Better World
Incendies
Outside the Law

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:


How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Matthew Libatique
Inception (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister
The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company) Danny Cohen
The Social Network (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (Paramount) Roger Deakins

FILM EDITING:

Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter Paramount Pamela Martin
The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company) Tariq Anwar
127 Hours (Fox Searchlight) Jon Harris
The Social Network (Sony Pictures Releasing) Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

DOCUMENTARY:

Exit through the Gift Shop (Producers Distribution Agency) Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz A Paranoid Pictures Production
Gasland Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic A Gasland Production
Inside Job (Sony Pictures Classics) Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs A Representational Pictures Production
Restrepo (National Geographic Entertainment) Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger An Outpost Films Production
Waste Land Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley (Arthouse Films) An Almega Projects Production

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT


Killing in the Name (dir: Jed Rothstein)
Poster Girl (dir: Sara Nesson)
Strangers No More (dir: Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon)
Sun Come Up (dor: Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger)
The Warriors of Qiugang (dir: Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon)

ORIGINAL SCORE:


How to Train Your Dragon (Paramount) John Powell
Inception (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company) Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours (Fox Searchlight) A.R. Rahman
The Social Network (Sony Pictures Releasing) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

ORIGINAL SONG:

Coming Home from Country Strong (Sony Pictures Releasing (Screen Gems)) Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
I See the Light from Tangled (Walt Disney) Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
If I Rise from 127 Hours (Fox Searchlight) Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
We Belong Together from Toy Story 3 (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

VISUAL EFFECTS:

Alice in Wonderland (Walt Disney) Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Warner Bros.) Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter (Warner Bros.) Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
Inception (Warner Bros.) Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
Iron Man 2 (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment, Distributed by Paramount) Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

ART DIRECTION:

Alice in Wonderland (Walt Disney), Robert Stromberg (Production Design), Karen O’Hara (Set Decoration)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Warner Bros.), Stuart Craig (Production Design), Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration)
Inception (Warner Bros.), Guy Hendrix Dyas (Production Design), Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (Set Decoration)/span>
The King’s Speech (Paramount), Eve Stewart (Production Design), Judy Farr (Set Decoration)
True Grit (Paramount), Jess Gonchor (Production Design), Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration)

COSTUME DESIGN:


Alice in Wonderland (Walt Disney) Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (Magnolia Pictures) Antonella Cannarozzi
The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company) Jenny Beavan
The Tempest (Miramax) Sandy Powell
True Grit (Paramount) Mary Zophres

MAKEUP

Barney’s Version, Adrien Morot
The Way Back, Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

SHORT FILM, ANIMATED

Day & Night (dir: Teddy Newton)
The Gruffalo (dir: Jakob Schuh and Max Lang)
Let’s Pollute (dir: Geefwee Boedoe)
The Lost Thing (dir: Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann)
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

SHORT FILM, LIVE ACTION

The Confession (dir: Tanel Toom)
The Crush (dir: Michael Creagh)
God of Love (dir: Luke Matheny)
Na Wewe (dir: Ivan Goldschmidt)
Wish 143 (dir: Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite)

SOUND EDITING

Inception, Richard King
Toy Story 3, Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
Tron: Legacy, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
True Grit, Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
Unstoppable, Mark P. Stoeckinger

SOUND MIXINGInception, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
The King’s Speech, Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
Salt, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
The Social Network, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
True Grit, Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Truthfully, I'm quite happy with the list of nominees but the only problems I had were with the Academy not properly recognising Andrew Garfield, Barbara Hershey, Julianne Moore and Christopher Nolan. They might not have one the coveted award but it would've been worth including Nolan especially at least for Best Director as he did handle a really ambitiously huge budgeted original film with absolute care. I'm happy that Jacki Weaver's been nominated for her performance in Aussie crime-drama, "Animal Kingdom". At this point in time, my hope is that David Fincher wins for directing, Aaron Sorkin wins for his brilliant screenplay and that "The Social Network" would take home Best Picture. HOWEVER, I reckon that "The King's Speech" would ultimately take everything as that movie really does seem like the type of film that the Academy would LOVE. We'll see.

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The 2010 Razzies Nominations were also announced this past week. For those of you who don't know what the Razzies are, they recognise the worst cinema had to offer in that year. Here's a list of the unfortunate nominees.


WORST PICTURE

The Bounty Hunter
The Last Airbender
Sex and the City 2
Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Vampires Suck

WORST ACTOR

Jack Black / Gulliver’s Travels
Gerard Butler /The Bounty Hunter
Ashton Kutcher / Killers and Valentine’s Day
Taylor Lautner / Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Valentine’s Day
Robert Pattinson / Remember Me and Twilight Saga: Eclipse

WORST ACTRESSJennifer Aniston / The Bounty Hunter and The Switch
Mylie Cyrus / The Last Song
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis & Cynthia Nixon / Sex & the City 2
Megan Fox / Jonah Hex
Kristen Stewart / Twilight Saga: Eclipse

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessica Alba / The Killer Inside Me, Little Fockers, Machete and Valentine’s Day
Cher / Burlesque
Liza Minnelli / Sex & the City 2
Nicola Peltz / The Last Airbender
Barbra Streisand / Little Fockers

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR


Billy Ray Cyrus / The Spy Next Door
George Lopez / Marmaduke, The Spy Next Door and Valentine’s Day
Dev Patel / The Last Airbender
Jackson Rathbone / The Last Airbender and Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Rob Schneider / Grown Ups

WORST EYE-GOUGING MIS-USE Of 3-D

Cats & Dogs 2: Revenge of Kitty Galore
Clash of the Titans
The Last Airbender
Nutcracker 3-D
Saw 3-D (aka Saw VII)

WORST SCREEN COUPLE / WORST SCREEN ENSEMBLE

Jennifer Aniston & Gerard Butler / The Bounty Hunter
Josh Brolin’s Face & Megan Fox’s Accent / Jonah Hex
The Entire Cast of The Last Airbender
The Entire Cast of Sex & The City 2
The Entire Cast of Twilight Saga: Eclipse

WORST DIRECTOR

Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer / Vampires Suck
Michael Patrick King / Sex & The City 2
M. Night Shyamalan / The Last Airbender
David Slade / Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Sylvester Stallone / The Expendables

WORST SCREENPLAY

The Last Airbender, Written by M. Night Shyamalan, based on the TV series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko
Little Fockers, Written by John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey, based on Characters Created by Greg Glenna & Mary Roth Clarke
Sex & the City 2, Written by Michael Patrick King, Based on the TV Series Created by Darren Star
Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, Based on the Novel by Stephenie Meyer
Vampires Suck, Written by Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

WORST PREQUEL, REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL


Clash Of The Titans
The Last Airbender
Sex & The City 2
Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Vampires Suck

I love how some of the actors/actresses who are nominated aren't just nominated for their performances in one particular film but also in whatever film they starred in that year. These "awards" aren't serious and in past years, actual recipents have personally accepted the awards and make fun of themselves. Last year, Sandra Bullock personally showed up to accept her "award" for Worst Actress in "All About Steve" at the Razzies and then was awarded Best Actress at the Oscars for "The Blind Side" that subsequent evening. So yeah, just a night of fun and laughter before the big event.
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THAT'S ALL THIS WEEK! Now this had me laughing for a good minute or two...



End post.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Nude

This blog post was brought to you by the boys from Radiohead.



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A return to normalcy this week as I wasn't involved with any outside volunteer work.
Yesterday I went to @Con which is basically a mini Manifest (Melbourne's most popular anime festival). The venue looked nice but everything else kinda crappy. My friend and I made the most of it and sat in the theater acting silly and yelling random things during the trivia, cosplay parade and karaoke sessions. Time well spent, I say. Other than that, the rest of the week was a blur.

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The Golden Globe Awards also happened this week. I watched it. Here's what I thought:

- So a lot of Hollywood is mad at Ricky Gervais. I happened to think that he did a great job humouring and entertaining the crowd.
- Most of the awards were what I expected to win (hooray for "The Social Network").
- Why did "Glee" beat "Modern Family"?
- The Golden Globes are a poor man's Oscar (people shouldn't take it too seriously).
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

Shoot, I was too busy getting all caught up with my assessment of Julianne Moore's films last week that I completely neglected the fact that I saw two other stellar films for the first time - "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "My Neighbour Totoro". As you may be aware, I'm currently visiting The Astor Theatre in St Kilda to catch a few of Hayao Miyazaki's films that they're screening throughout this month. This week I watched "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" - two films that I've seen before and one of which I haven't seen on a big screen. I'll only write on the Nausicaa, Totoro and Mononoke though as I have not written about them before.

AND I know that I was meant to have seen some of John Hughes' films but I was in a bit of a lazy mood this week and wasn't up for watching films at home. Next week I'll definitely be his films though.

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"Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" is a powerful debut feature film from Hayao Miyazaki that truly lays the groundwork for the rest of his films to follow. I like watching the first film a director makes because it's clear that some of the themes and techniques employed in that first film will be brought on over to subsequent movies. What originally was a series of manga novels that we're also created by Miyazaki himself was turned into a two hour epic. While I didn't have to many problems with the film, my major gripe of the film was the pacing. I don't know if anyone else would agree with me on that but I thought it felt a bit sluggish at times and needed to pick up. Also, the ending was a bit too rushed and we're not given enough time to truly absorb the resolution. Having said that, Miyazaki is able to give us an original film with an important message about the preservation of nature (a major recurring theme throughout most of his films). We also see Miyazaki's fascination with flight in the film which again is exploited throughout the rest of his features. What I liked most about this film was the fact that so much thought went into making it. The world in which these characters inhabit are truly unique and an a joy to explore. I liked this, though not as much as I probably should have. This film may bare much resemblance to "Princess Mononoke" but I much prefer the latter.


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One thing I admire about Miyazaki is his ability to not only be able to bring mature epics like "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "Princess Mononoke" to life but also be able to make films for kids as well (that are actually good, no less). I was very excited to see "My Neighbor Totoro" because I've heard so many great things about it and I was very impressed with what I watched. If I had kids, I'd definitely show them this film because there's so much to love about it. The title of the film is misleading however as I was expecting more of the big and lovable creature but for whatever time he had on screen it was memorable enough. The film is able to mix genuine moments of humour with a poignant story about two sisters and their ill mother. While it may be suggested that Totoro is the heart of the film, that honour undoubtedly goes to Mei, the little girl who finds Totoro. It's hard not to fall in love with this character because she's an absolute bundle of joy. Great kids film.


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I don't think I've spoken about "Princess Mononoke" on my blog before so here goes. This film is probably the most mature of Miyazaki's films as there is quite a bit of violence that some may find to be out of place within the context of Miyazaki's body of work. What I love about "Princess Mononoke" is how all the fundamental elements of a film come together to form something incredible. The score for this film is probably Joe Hisashi's best score for any of the Miyazaki films and feels absolutely epic which it should as the film is a wondrous journey into the unknown for our protagonist. Again the themes of nature and war remain prevelant throughout but it's the story and characters that one feels for most in this film. The story is told so well and for a two hour film, it goes by so quickly. The characters all likable and once again the world in which Miyazaki conceptualises and creates is one that's unique and amazing. This is my favourite of all of Miyazaki's films.


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My first official film in cinemas in 2011 was the new Chinese epic by Benny Chan, "Shaolin". The film stars Andy Lau as a warmongering general who is betrayed by his protege in Nicholas Tse. After being overthrown and losing everything, the general seeks refuge and salvation from a Buddhist temple who accept him despite his past crimes. The film isn't as great as I had imagined it to be but it is however entertaining. Other than Andy Lau's general, the other characters are fairly one dimensional and don't bring too much depth to the story. Andy Lau was fantastic in the film, I thought, but everyone else is seems rather underused. The story and pacing is also another problem. The story feels the same as most films of this genre (minus the fact that they're not fighting an invading Japanese threat) and suffers from what feels like a rather long film. As for the action, the fights are great and they actually do a good job of making non-fighters like Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse look formidable. Jackie Chan's cameo is a nice comic relief from an otherwise serious film but oftentimes feels awkwardly out of place. "Shaolin" isn't a bad movie, it just isn't a great one. While it is a nice looking film that features some great shots of exotic locations, ultimately it's bogged down by lack of depth and pacing.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


A major announcement was made this week that aroused much vocal emotion within the fanboy community. Warner Bros announced that Anne Hathaway was officially cast as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in the third of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, "The Dark Knight Rises". Additionally, it was also announced that Tom Hardy, who had previously been cast but was not given a character, has been set to play Bane. In the comics, Bane is most famous for having broken Batman's back while Catwoman is most famous for being the on and off romantic interest for Batman. I like these choices and don't mind Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. My reason for this is a fairly good actress and if Nolan sees potential in her to bring to life his vision for this character then I say let him cast her. Nolan hasn't gone wrong with his casting yet so I trust him to bring us something we haven't seen before.

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The full trailer for Catherine Hardwicke's "Red Riding Hood" was released this past week. It features a lot of familiar visuals from the original teaser and throws in some new footage. The music that's featured in the trailer feels so completely out of place and there's a really strong "Twilight" vibe to it which is pretty disconcerting. I'm hoping this is better than what is shown here.


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The official trailer for "Scream 4" released this past week and while I haven't seen any of the "Scream" films, this actually does look pretty good. My only gripe with the trailer is the fact that it looks like it gives away too much. Also, Courtney Cox looks like she's had way too much surgery done to her face.


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And finally some new images surfaced this week from Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" which will be released later this year. The above photo has me a little concerned to be honest but I'll still watch this film only with a little more trepidation. I'm mostly interested in how the 60's will work into this film (and Rose Byrne, of course).



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And that concludes this week's post. OMFG, I'M TURNING 19 TOMORROW! :O



End post.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Lisztomania



Well it's not everyday you can start off your post by showing a picture of yourself licking Natalie Portman's crack, lololololololololol.
I can't wait for "Black Swan".
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This past week I was busy with some new volunteer work with the Polyglot Theatre, a theatre company that does innovative and creatively different shows with primarily with children.
Myself and my friend Angela decided to volunteer and help out with their latest project, "We Built This City", which was basically a project where kids would come into this open space filled with mountains of boxes and just build and create cities and structures out of them. Most of the volunteers just did manual labour sort of stuff which I didn't mind, honestly. Much of what I did there was just making boxes, destroying boxes and transporting boxes, lol. My experience with those Tetris blocks during Manifest definitely came in handy, hahaha. Unfortunately there were a lot of rainy days so we had to move the space we had set up outside and use one of the rehearsal rooms in the Arts Centre as our temporary space.

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So I found this to be pretty cool. That above image is from an abandoned television idea for a teenage Batman series that almost made it to TV. Had the series been actually picked up and produced, it would've saw Bruce Wayne go to school with his famed rogues gallery in their teenage incarnations. I would've watched it - it's a silly idea but it's one that was brimming with that element of curiousity. You can check out the other abandoned artwork on Celeste Green and Jeffery Thomas's blog.

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Check out my purchases this week! Purchase one comes in the form of a book titled "Must-See Movies: The Essential Guide to the Greatest Films of All Time". I scored this for only $5 in the city. It was printed in 2010 so it's very recent and still very relevant. I checked the retail price online for this book and turns out it's normally valued at $20. Talk about bang for your buck. I am determined to one day get through all the films in this list (and boy are there a LOT).


My second purchase comes in the form of a film DVD, "Fallen Angels". You may remember me talking about this film and the works of Wong-Kar Wai previously before on my blog. Anyways, this particular copy has sat on the shelf of the World Cinema section in JB Hi-Fi on Lonsdale for the longest of times it's price never went down cause it was the only copy JB Hi-Fi had in stock (the one on Bourke didn't carry it at all). That and this copy seems to be particuarly rare. Luckilly, there's another 20% sale on all DVDs, CDs and Blu-rays there so that factored in my decision to purcahse the film. Had I not known about Wong Kar-wai's work thoguh, I probably would've bought this film based on the cover alone cause goddamn it is beautiful. Very minimal and yet so evocative. It also comes with an essay by a guy whose work I used to write my WKW essay on, lol.

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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

Okay so this week I decided to watch a few films from Julianne Moore's filmography. I think she's a fantastic actress and it also helps that she's a beautiful woman. Some of these films have been on my watch list for quite some time now.

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ImageShack, share photos, pictures, free image hosting, free video hosting, image hosting, video hosting, photo image hosting site, video hosting site

"The Hours" is a film that sees three interlinking stories about three women from different time periods who are all affected by the novel, "Mrs. Dalloway" and who've had to deal with suicide in their lifetime. It's a really fine film, I didn't have too many problems with it other than Nicole Kidman's performance. It's a good performance, don't get me wrong, but I question the Academy for awarding her Best Actress at the Academy Awards of that year. It just wasn't as enthralling or captivating as Meryl Streep or Julianne Moore's. Other than that, I was pretty interested in the struggles of these women and how they're all connected. Ed Harris especially was great in this film and it's a shame he didn't win for Best Supporting Actor that year as his performance was the most memorable for me. It's a really quality film that's made in such a way that I almost felt like I was watching a film from the Hollywood's Golden Age which was in itself charming. Being that this was Julianne Moore week, it wouldn't be right if I didn't comment on her. Her range in this film might not seem all that broad but the way in which she presents herself and speaks to her son and husband are terrific. You really get a sense that there's a quiet discontent bubbling underneath her motherly affection which is pretty scary, if you see the film. Anyways, I'd recommend this film - it's slow but it latches on if you really invest your attention. Fine film-making to be found here.


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From the beginning, this film looked like an immediate B-movie. I like B-movies though because the camp and absurdity from these films is almost endearing. The premise for "Blindness" is that there's a blind epidemic that strikes the world and causes everyone to go blind. Everyone is affected by this except for Moore's character who is not given a name and is simply known as Doctor's Wife. Fearing further infection, the first wave of blind victims are instantly removed from society and quarantined in an incredibly decrepit hospital where they are made to take care of themselves without the help of a proper medical staff. Moore's character pretends to be blind in order to stay with her husband (Mark Ruffalo) and take care of him. I'll admit that this film does not have a lot going for it. There are far too many questions that went unanswered such as "Why does this happen?", "How did it happen?" and "Why is the Doctor's Wife immune to it?". These questions made it far too distracting for me as I was constantly wondering what the hell was going on. Among all the questions though, I found that I a different interpretation of the film than what most people had. While most are quick to dismiss this as a really mediocre film (and it is), I saw something interesting lying within it. To me, the film raised the question, "How do we rebuild society after all is lost?". It explored this question and it was something positive that I took away from the film that made it a bit more watchable. I mean if the world ends and a few are left to survive, who's the leader? Would we live under a monarchy or a diplomatic government? These questions just made the film that more interesting to me. Anyways, it's not that great of a film - clocks in at about two hours which is fairly long for what this was trying to be and had a truly horrible ending that only raised more and more questions.



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Most of you probably know Tom Ford as a fashion designer, but did you know he also made a a fantastic debut feature film in 2009 that starred Colin Firth and Julianne Moore? "A Single Man" tells the story of gay English professor, George, a man who tries to cope and live through his days after hearing about the death of his lover eight months previous. First of all, it's an absolutely gorgeous film and features some some really beautiful cinematography. Almost too beautiful. It almost felt like I was watching a Wong Kar-Wai film at times as some of the music was provided by Shigeru Umebayashi - who provided "In the Mood for Love" it's now famous theme - and also features a lot of slow motion that is used to dramatic effect. The acting is, as you'd expect from Firth and Moore, of the utmost brilliance. Moore's performance as Firth's one time lover-turned-best friend is fun to watch as she plays almost against type as a fun vivacious English woman (her English accent is hawwwwt) with problems of her own. But it's Firth's performance that really makes this film what it is. The story may seem like something we've seen before and are somewhat familiar with but with Firth's great performance and Ford's direction, you really feel for his character and feel that something huge has been lost in him and that nothing could ever replace that. Supporting performances also by Nicholas Hoult, a student of George's, and Matthew Goode, George's deceased lover, are also particularly noteworthy. My main gripe with the film however was the constant saturation and desaturation of colour. I got what Ford was trying to convey in the film and it works to some extent but after a whle it gets a bit tiresome and gimmicky. Otherwise, a truly fantastic film. Should Ford decide to write and direct another film, I'd be there to watch it.


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If you're gonna open your film with an almost naked Amanda Seyfried dressing up while she narrates a monologue about her duties as a high end call girl, you've got me giving my utmost attention. "Chloe" sees a middle aged wife (Julianne Moore) growing increasingly suspcious of her husband's behaviour (Liam Neeson) and questions whether or not he is faithful to her. To expose him, she hires a call girl named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her husband and see whether or not he is unfaithful to her. It's a remake of a French film, "Nathalie..." and I while I presume the original is superior to the remake, I found that I really didn't get much out of this in terms of story and depth. The only interesting character (and I'm not even saying this out of bias) was Chloe. And I guess as the title character of the film, you'd have to show some interesting qualities. This could've been so much better and for a sexual thriller, not much ever happens. There's no impending threat or fear of danger around the corner and there's never really any build up. Still, the actors do the best with what they've got.


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"The Kids Are All Right" is a film that sees two teenage siblings (Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska), both of whom were concieved through artificial insemination, track down their biological father (Mark Ruffalo) and welcome him into their family. Julianne Moore plays a lesbian who, along with her partner, played by Annette Bening, have carried and raised these children for their entire lives. The film's not too bad in that it has an interesting premise and explores these very well. The acting all across the board is great but there were a few things in the film that I could have done without. A few subplots emerged and vanished and their purpose was to serve as character development which would've been fine if the film hadn't made it look to be an important thing. There are a few genuine moments of comedy in the film which is good because if a film is touted as a dramedy, you expect the comedy to be at least as satisfying as the story you're offering. The biggest mistake a comedy film could make is to not be funny. I liked the film and thought it was okay. I would've liked to have seen this at the Nova last year.



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So I'm thinking maybe I should watch a few of John Hughes' films like "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" as well as a few other films next week. No major theme to it or anything next week, just keeping things light and easy. (Y)
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

This week provided a few reveals. Let's begin with the biggest one - the reveal of Andrew Garfield in costume as Spider-man.


Don't know about you guys but I really do like this new suit. Obviously they had to go in a different direction from the previous three films but with what they've got here, they've managed to tackle that gritty and contemporary feeling that the studio had promised in this new film. It's a design that stands far away from the more traditional look seen in Sam Raimi's trilogy. Also, if you look closely, it would appear that there are web shooters from his wrist which means they're going with the classic non-organic web shooters (Spidey never produced web from within his body, he had to make it himself). Anyways, I like this and am glad Sony decided to release this official image first before fanboy criticism would attack leaked set photos from the film.

And for anyone keeping not in the loop, here's the rundown of the Spider-Man reboot project so far. Sony Pictures ordered a reboot of "Spider-man" and hired "(500) Days of Summer", director, Marc Webb, to direct the film. The film is currently untitled but already has it's stars. Andrew Garfield signed on to be Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone followed thereafter to play the primary love interest in Gwen Stacy. Garfield and Stone are joined by a supporting cast in Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary and Irrfan Khan. The film has already begun shooting and we can expect it next year.

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Chris Evans in costume as Marvel’s iconic superhero, Captain America. I saw crappy scans floating around and then saw this clearer resolution version and decided to share that instead.

The second reveal which was completley overshadowed by the Spider-man suit reveal was the Captain America suit reveal. It's not an official image like the one above and looks more like smoething someone snapped while filming but at least it's something, right? I like this as well. It's ncie that he doesn't have the wingtips on his head cause that would've made it look even more ridiculous. The early concept art was pretty good but this completely sold me.

"Captain America: The First Avenger" will release this year and stars and Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan and Dominic Cooper.

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And finally, our third reveal this week is of a barely recognisable Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Sander, the heroine of the best selling novels from the "Millenium" trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Mara, last seen dumping Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network" has completely transformed into her character - so much so that she not only chopped off all her hair and dyed it but also got four piercings just for the role and admits that she doesn't even have any piercings on her body before it. It's a really startling transformation from Erica Albright to Lisbeth Sander. For more pictures of her new look head on over to W Magazine's official website.

The books have already been adapted into films in Sweden and have been very successful critically and commercially throughout Europe. The American adaptation which sees Mara working again with David Fincher ("The Social Network", "Fight Club") will be released in December this year. She will be joined by Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright and Christopher Plummer.

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With the near-bankruptcy of MGM studio, the future of the James Bond franchise was in a lot of danger. Those fears were silenced this past week as Bond will indeed live to fight another day. MGM announced that the 23rd Bond film will indeed be going forward with Daniel Craig set to return. Sam Mendes, director of such films as "American Beauty", "Road to Perdition" and "Revolutionary Road" is attatched to direct the 23rd installment.

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And finally, in trailer news, the third trailer for Battle: Los Angeles was released this past week and this film actually looks damn good. I hope I'm right when the film is released though and am not sorely mislead and disappointed by the final product (see, "Skyline"). Now, I know that this film is basically a huge popcorn film where the real motivator for seeing it is the action but I'm happy with that.


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And that's all for this week! Now for something lol-worthy.

Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.

End post.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Climbing Up The Walls

What the heck did I do this week?.. I don't even remember most of this week except for the events of yesterday night since... it was yesterday. Yesterday night was good since me and my friends hung out at a mate's place enjoying a barbeque at his. Most of my night was spent playing pool at his place and losing my voice in Band Hero many, many times. We pulled an all nighter and as I write this I feel absolutely terrible. I'd sleep but I don't wanna destroy my sleeping patterns... I've taken two naps throughout today so that at least gives me a bit of energy for the time being to power through until the night and take a much deserved sleep then (at the proper time too).

Look at that beast of a rockstar in the red cap!


I still can't get over the fact that he has a pool table in his house. Boss.


We be chillin'.

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Actually now that the words "barbeque" and "friends" is brought up, I also had delicious Korean barbeque this past Monday as well. Myself and three other friends had All You Can Eat Korean Barbeque at Seoul House on Russel Street and stayed there for a good three hours simply buying as much as we could. It was $28 per person which was a pretty good deal, I thought, for Korean Barbeque anyway... =\

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Genius.

Anyone reading this who lives in Melbourne may find this to be useful to them! It was Japanese animation director, Hayao Miyazaki's 70th birthday this week and to celebrate, The Astor Theatre will be running a Hayao Miyazaki retrospective throughout the rest of this month, every Monday at 7.30PM. Each week, there will be a double feature of select Miyazaki films. For more information, click the link above.

10th Jan - Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbour Totoro
17th Jan - Princess Mononoke, Spirted Away
24th Jan - Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo

I've been fortunate enough to rewatch "Spirited Away" in a cinema enviornment earlier last year for cinema studies and can't stress enough how amazing it feels to watch that particular movie in an actual cinema. I can't wait to see "Princess Mononoke" and "Howl's Moving Castle", my two all time favourites from Miyazaki. As for the others, I've yet to watch them so it's a good oppurtunity for me to familiarse with them on the big screen. I'll definitely be hanging out in St Kilda the next couple of weeks, lol.

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Surely you must have heard of Ted "Golden Voice" Williams by now! Through the power of the Internet, this man, went from being a homeless recovering drug and alcohol addict to being the voice of Kraft and recieving offers from everyone wanting to use his talent in the course of two days. What stared out as a viral video became something more and it's amazing how much this man's life has turned around. This made kind of news made me feel good about the world and made me really acknowledge the power of the Internet.

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So I guess, other than having barbques with friends this week, I've had a fairly standard rest of the week. As per usual, I stayed home and watched films. It was good to know that "Modern Family", "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" returned to airwaves this week though (I hate when shows have to to take a long while off during this time period cause it just means I have nothing to watch). Anyways, this was a good enough segueway into What I've Been Watching, I think.

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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

What was originally going to be just one film screening this week turned into several. The original plan was to ONLY watch "Three... Extremes" but I realised I had a bunch of Asian films left so I dedicate this week to Asian cinema. I had intended to watch "Drunken Master" and "God of Gamblers" but unfortunately there were some mishaps with those two films so they got lost in the viewings for this week.

So without further adieu, prepare yourself for a major wall of font! Here are my thoughts on the following films!

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"The Longest Night In Shanghai" follows Naoki Mizushima (Masahiro Motoki) a Japanese celebrity stylist who visits Shanghai for a music awards show where he beautifies celebrities backstage. Longing for a break from his repetitve lifestyle, Mizushima decides to impulsively ditch his entourage after the awards show closes and opts to explore the streets of Shanghai alone. Along the way, he befriends Chinese taxi driver, Lin Xi (Vicki Zhao), who, after hitting him with her car, mistakes him for a tourist and offers to drive him around Shanghai. Most people would probably consider this to be an underrated film, and while I can see why they may say that, I'm not sure that I share that same sentiment. While the film may be very formulaic, what works is the chemistry between the two leads. Despite the language barrier between the two characters (neither understand each other and both speak broken English) the two of them share some great on-screen chemistry which is exmplified through their body language and the way in which they speak to each other. The film's cinematography is quite beautiful and really makes one feel very much taken in by the beauty of the city as much as our leading man is. The soundtrack is also quite lovely and fits into the film very well. Unfortunately, while the two leads, cinematography and soundtrack are noteworthy aspects to the film, it's brought down heavily by the script. The film not only follows Lin Xi and Naoki, but it also follows Naoki's entourage and observes how they spend their night in Shanghai. There's far too much happening with way too many things to follow which is disappointing as it only makes the film feel much too long. Oftentimes the film also straddles the line between cliche and downright ridiculous with its subplots which is, again, very disappointing. "The Longest Night In Shanghai" features lovely imagery and is at times quite an enjoyable film but the many subplots brought the quality of the film down, in my opinion. Had the film followed our two leads and one particular subplot, it would've made the film feel a lot better. Just sayin'.



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Forget the spaghetti western and sukiyaki western - the kimchi western is where it's at. "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" is Kim Ji-woon's ("A Tale of Two Sisters", "A Bittersweet Life"), alternate retelling of Sergio Leone's epic, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly". Set in the 1940's in Manchuria the film basically follows a bunch of shady characters - some good, some bad and some just plain weird - who are all out to find one map that will take them to spoils and riches. The film doesn't completely borrow everything from Leone's film and only uses the main plot as a basis for this crazy adventure. I couldn't help but compare this film to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" because it really did have that sense of grand adventure coupled with spectacular set pieces that are sure to leave mouths gaping in awe. While the film lack depth in story and character, it's still far more engaging than most Hollywood blockbusters. In fact, the action here is far better than what most Hollywood action films offer and that's thanks to the great editing and camerawork. The film also features one of the best chase scenes I have ever seen commited to film and features an amazing train robbery scene. Song Kang-ho (The Weird) is utterly hilarious in this film - he's an actor that I've come to admire in Korea. Lee Bying-hun (The Bad) plays his character so well that you just love to hate the guy. Jung Woo-sung (The Good) also does a decent job with his role but he's no Clint Eastwood. "The Good, The Bad The Weird" is just insanely entertaining and downright hilarious - a lot better than Takashi Miike's bizarre, Engurish laden, "Sukiyaki Western Django" (which I actually do like). I have to say that this new wave of Korean directors has really produced some great films over the last decade and that this film has just become one of my new favourite films to recommend.



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I really wanted to like "I Come With The Rain". With an awesome cast and a seemingly great set up for a Hong Kong-based thriller, how could this not be great? Well unfortunately, it falls by the wayside and is really disappointing in my estimation. While most people would regard this as a quiet mediation on the suffering of man, others will find this to be a hugely grotesque and disturbing feature. I fall somewhere in between both camps. I can understand what director Tran Anh Hung was trying to accomplish with the film and it's an admirable enough effort but too much of the film is spent meandering and not getting to the point of things. This is made worse by the fact that two of the film's stars, Takuya Kimura and Shawn Yue, feel completely awkward speaking in English and make the film all the more uncomfortable to deal with. It's an agonising two hours that throws a lot at you and the Christianity symbolism is unrelenting as well. This film really could have been a lot better and it's something that, on paper, I should've liked but I just felt like it was a movie that tried too hard to be edgy and cool. Other than that, I'd have to say that the acting all around was pretty decent, not good, just decent enough to keep me involved with the film. I do think that Josh Hartnett has the potential to be a good actor and it's movies like this that show that he really is being serious about the profession. Though I couldn't help but feel that he did this film just so he could go to Hong Kong and take a trip, haha. The soundtrack, mostly provided by Radiohead, also works really well into the film but at times seems a little too jarring and takes away from what's happening in the scene rather than adding to it.


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With the Park Chan-wook retrospective currently running on SBS throughout the rest of January, I thought it would be nice to check out more of his material. I decided to check out "Three... Extremes", an anthology of short films directed by reknowned "horror" directors (I wouldn't place Park in that title but there's no denying that his work has brought up some rather confrontingly violent and gruesome images).

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The first segment of the anthology, "Dumplings" comes from China and is directed by Fruit Chan. It's about an aging former actress who discovers special dumplings that grants the person eating said dumplings the magic of youth rejuvination. However, the contents of the dumplings aren't as nice as they seem. I thought this was a great short and was, in some ways, kind of fun. The ending is really quite smart too. It's probably the lighest of the three and while not necisarrily scary it's still pretty wicked and disgusting (let's just say, I can't look at dumplings the same way anymore).

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The second segment, "Cut" comes from South Korea and is directed by Park Chan-wook. This short sees a film director being forced to play a game of life and death which also involves his wife. It has Park's style and themes all over it and is the most disturbing of the three which also makes it the strongest as well. I literally had my mouth gaping the entire film and Park's element of dark humour had me laughing as well. Most people would be "comfortable" (I use that term quite loosely) with this film as it looks and feels like a "Saw" movie which is fine. It was my favourite of the three segments, that's for sure.

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The final segment, "Box", comes from Japan and is directed by horror extraordinaire, Takashi Miike. The film follows a woman who is haunted by her past and is constantly having the same dream about being trapped inside a box. This short is a bit of a letdown after watching the previous two which is a shame but there is an element of eerie creepiness to it. Unfortunately, not much else happens in "Box" which is disappointing as it could have been a lot better had it cranked out more of the creept atmosphere that it had going on earlier in the short. It's definitely made me want to check out more of Miike's work though as the only film I recall seeing from him is, "Sukiyaki Western Django".

I'd say give it a shot - the shorts aren't all that creepy or scary but more shocking and confronting which is completely fine and as it works as a collection of horrific stories. I like that you can really tell what the horror genre means to each country and how the three directors have approached it which I think says a lot.


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I'm a small fan of Bong Joon-ho's work - I enjoyed his monster film, "The Host" and absolutely loved "Memories of Murder". This week I watched his first feature film, "Barking Dogs Never Bite" and thought it was interestingly strange. Hear me out. It's interesting in that the story itself is interesting and that it's themes and subject matter are intriguing. What's strange about it is how this story is executed. It's a dark comedy that follows two people - one a struggling would-be college professor who is annooyed by the incessant barking of his neighbour's dog and the other a woman that helps the owners of these dogs who've mysteriously gone missing. I found the whole idea of "chasing sucess" in the film to be quite a powerful thing and I liked it a lot for that. The first half of the film felt long but the second half felt a lot better. I did laugh at some of the jokes in the film but not all as dark humour oftens flies right by my head. Bae Doona, a Korean actress that I've come to recently admire more of (you'll see why soon), includes a great natural performance. Lee Sung-jae also turns in a great performance as a guy who at first, seems very unlikable but would later on become a much more sympathising character that most can relate to. I'd say give this film a pass if you're not into dark humour or slow pacing but give it a try if you want to explore some of Bong Joon-ho's films and if you're good for anything different and unique.


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Another Bae Doona film! This time around though it's "Air Doll" a Japanese production. The film tells the story of an inflatable sex doll that comes to life and explores the city she's kept in. Upon visiting a video rental store, she falls in love with the store's clerk and along the way, learns about life. While this might sound like a film thats atypical of an Asian romantic comedy or even something life affirming, it's far from what this film . What we have is more arthouse and is a rather beautifully told story of heartache and emptiness. The beauty of the film is found in it's tragedy which I thought was orchestrated wonderfully by director, Hirokazu Koreeda (he also directed the heartbreaking "Nobody Knows") At times, the film would look like it's losing the point and straying away from the plot only to return later in subsequent scenes with much deeper meaning. As a Korean working in a Japanese language film, I have to commend Bae Doona not only on her Japanese (which was great) but her performance. It makes complete sense to have her there as her character, much like her, is a fish-out-of-water envionment. Her performance is fantastic in this film. Her eyes are really what make her stand apart from everyone else in the film as they're quite hypnotising and filled with curiousity and child-like wonder. Being that her former life saw her as a model, she really does come off as a precious doll and it's a perfect casting choice in my opinion. Simply put,"Air Doll" is a quiet contemplation on the lonely and suffering in this world.



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CONGRATULATIONS FOR MAKING IT TO THE END OF THIS SECTION!

Seriously, I'd have exited out or skimmed pass everything already (although chances are you probably skimmed it anyway, haha). Next week I'll be having a week dedicated to actress Julianne Moore and will watch a few of the films she's been in. I honestly do think she's a fantastic actress and I think the select films I've chosen to screen will only further cement these thoughts.
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

emma stone andrew garfield kiss 07

The first photos of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy have surfaced online! The two of them look great together though I can't help but feel as though Garfield has way too much hair. I mean, wouldn't it clump up if he's wearing the Spider-man gear? Oh well, this is them performing a kissing scene. Enjoy the rest of the photos HERE.

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The "Star Wars" Blu-rays were announced this past week at CES 2011 (Consumer Electronics Show) and are slated for a release sometime in September. The Blu-ray transfers of the now immortalised Star Wars series will contain all six Star Wars features along with three extra discs packed with bonuses and special feature. Damn you Lucas, this is just what I needed... Stop tempting me into buying new transfers of your films, it just makes my relationship with you feel so much mroe awkward. Ah man.

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World reknowned film critic, Roger Ebert, announced that 24-year old blogger, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, will be his partner in his new television film critic show, Roger Ebert Presents At The Movies. It's basically a newer incarnation of the old Siskel and Ebert/Ebert and Roeper film critique shows that had to be put on hold due to Ebert's conditions. Lucky man. This is like my dream job, to be a blogger who can at least use his skills online and transfer them into something as meaningful as HOSTING A TELEVISION SHOW WHERE ALL I DO IS TALK ABOUT FILMS! Jealousy and hope emerge from this at the same time.
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Who wants to see how Christian Bale has physcailly transformed himself through some of his films in his career? Here's an infographic show this for anyone interested in the changes this man makes to his body for the art of acting.

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And that's all for this week. And now, here's something from the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World extras that I thought was like woah. Closeups of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers being absolutely desirable. You wouldn't fight seven evil exes to get to her?

fuck-yeah-tumblrs-best-posts: Ramona….

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