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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tunnel Vision

HOWDY HEY.

Excuse you but I am Tiger Mask VI.

Been keeping busy with a few things these past few weeks so that's pretty much why I haven't gotten around to doing this blogging thing. You know, I feel like moving this operation to Wordpress or something (better format for posting).

Also, I know I say this a lot but I honestly do feel like turning this blog into a movie review blog since... that's all it's really good for right? I mean sure, the film news stuff is decent too but, if you've noticed in my last handful of blog posts, I don't really get around to it. We'll see where it goes from here.

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Anyways, ya'll need to get on top of the new Justin Timberlake and David Bowie albums. I mean if you dig sweet tunes, of course (which I hope you do). Now if we can only get Janelle Monae to get back into the studio - your third album is long overdue ma'am.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

So yeah, what's been on Hieu's watch list? Quite a bit in these couple of weeks but I won't write in depth what I thought because, time is of the essence and I quite frankly don't have enough of it now. To the best of my memory, these are the films I watched in the last couple weeks.

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I wrote about the independent American film, For Ellen, starring Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Ruby Sparks) over at Japan Cinema. I quite liked it and while I understand that it'd be incredibly dull and slow for some, I tend to find that there's a lot to take away from the realism of these films. I guess it's why no matter how much I liked/disliked Sukida, a lot of the film still resonated in me (which is why I'm excited for Ishikawa's new one, Petal Dance). Click the link above to have a read.

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I also wrote about the Melbourne Queer Film Festival For Meld Magazine. I took a look at three films from it, Chris Colfer vehicle, Struck By Lightning, American indie darling, Keep the Lights On and Israeli documentary, The Invisible Men. Check it out, please?!

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A fantastic documentary that provides an insightful look into Marina Abramovic's world of performance art. It legitimises this niche in art and forces the viewer to question why Abramovic's work is considered art at all. The moments that are shared on screen between Abramovic and her former love/performing partner, Ulay, are incredibly emotional. Their affection for one another is just so palpable. Also look out for a cheeky cameo by James Franco (and a blink-and-you'll miss it appearance by Orlando Bloom).

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Revolutionary Road was outstanding and in a lot of ways, set the mood established by a show like Mad Men. Powerfully acted, the Titanic team of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet give it their all as a domestic couple whose dreams of an idyllic marriage come undone by the doldrums of reality. A forthright drama about the disillusionment of married life in the American suburbs of the '60s. Of all the films I've seen Leonardo DiCaprio in, I'd argue that this is his best acted film to date.

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A box office success here in Australia, I Give it A Year might be a bit dysfunctional in terms of its uneven pacing but nevertheless succeeds in drumming up plenty of laughs. Though it veers into conventional territory every now and again (the film culminates into a last-minute dash to the train station!) but there still remains a fairly smart script that sets up our protagonists as two people who you're actually rooting against to be together (similar to how the characters in Knocked Up are). I liked it and not just because it stars Rose Byrne.

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Supposedly this film is meant to be Steven Sodabergh's final feature film and if it is, my hat is off to you sir. Side Effects is a slick-looking, mature thriller that brings to mind classic film noir of yore. Sometimes I forget that Jude Law is actually a good actor (I haven't seen many films he's in) so it was fun watching him here. Interesting that the film shifts focus away from Rooney Mara's character and onto Jude Law's character in the later half of the film though. Speaking of the Roons, she's aces in this as is the rest of the ensemble class (although Channing Tatum we need to have a talk about your incessant jaw grinding, man).

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I really love the idea of taking classic stories and adapting it into an entirely different environment which is why I guess I liked Treasure Planet (space pirates guys, SPACE PIRATES). Treasure Planet came out during a strange time for Disney where they were getting super experimental and pumped out some really interesting films, some of which may have gone under-appreciated. Treasure Planet is gorgeous though at the same time is fairly light on story and character development. Also, there's a really cringe-worthy montage set to some really bad music. Oh, kids films made between the 90s and the 00's...

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If I remember correctly, The Iron Giant released around the same time as Pokemon: The First Movie. I wouldn't be surprised if The Iron Giant bombed at the box office but that's okay cause director Brad Bird seems to have found a home at Pixar and has made some stellar animated films. The Iron Giant is fantastic and something of a revelation. It's amazing to think how a film like it was made at the time - an animated period piece that's equal parts Studio Ghibli and E.T. Although it is short (only 70 minutes long!), it tells an incredibly deep story with so many facets that it's understandable to see why The Iron Giant went under the radar at the time of its release become a cult favourite. Also, it's Vin Diesel's best role on film to date (old joke is old).

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Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe my feelings towards Cloud Atlas. The film tries to weave in grandiose themes relating to fate, souls and reincarnation through six loosely connected stories but altogether it's just an absolute mess of a film. Visually the film is gorgeous and musically it's breathtaking but aside from the stylistic nuances that make this film look and sound great, there's not a whole lot to latch onto. I think it's a case of the film being too big in and of itself. An ambitious feature that's more pretentious than it is meaningful. I'm only now beginning to realise that it's basically The Tree of Life. Oh.

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And in non-film consumption news, I've also managed to watch the pilots for two new shows, Top of the Lake and Bates Motel. I'd recommend people at least give a try (that's what pilots are for, right?).


Top of the Lake is a murder mystery series set in New Zealand that's created by Jane Campion and stars Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss and Australian, David Wenham. Moody and atmospheric, it's a slow-moving drama that I'm keen to keep going with (it's a mini-series so it really shouldn't take a whole lot to get through it).


Meanwhile, Bates Motel is something of a prequel to Psycho and focuses on a teenaged Norman Bates and his provocative relationship with his mother. It's drawn the understandable ire of a vocal lot on the Internet but I enjoyed the pilot. If anything, the series will be like foreplay up until the Australian release of Park Chan-wook's English-language debut, Stoker (of which I hope to god I am not disappointed by!).
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And that's all I've got today. Now for some music. Here's some Justin Timberlake for your ears - straight off his new album, The 20/20 Experience (from top to bottom, a flawless album in my opinion). Listen and love.


End post.

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