Monday, July 18

Movie Review: Beautiful Lies

The talented Audrey Tatou and the altogether-too-delicious Sami Bouajila star in this lovely French Film about, well, essentially, the lies one tells to keep life beautiful for the ones you love. An alternative title could be "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

The basic premise is this - Jean, an intellectual turned handyman due to unfortunate circumstances pens a old-fashioned love letter to Emilie, his boss and owner of a hair-dressing salon. Emilie, who is consumed with the breakdown of her parent's marriage, forwards the letter on to her mother, who she feels needs it to cheer her up. This leads to a whole comedy of errors that keeps you in good humour, albeit being cringe-worthy at times.

Like when Maddy (Emilie's mother) has the most awkward conversation ever with the man who she thinks loves her, but he has no clue whatsoever why she is behaving so. The director makes no effort to spare the audience of the intense discomfort that one feels when you see someone making an utter fool of themselves. Her delusion and his confusion become your own - all you can do is squirm uncomfotable, giggle nervously and hope to God she will stop already.

I was particularly moved by Sami Bouajila's performance in this film. An actor previously unknown to me, his face was a vertitable canvas on which the director painted ever conceivable emotion. To watch him move through lovesickness, fear, confusion, betrayal, anger, coldness, hard-heartness, sympathy, pain, loneliness and finally fulfillment and love was a wonder to behold. Loved it.

I am glad my friend AJJ(J) made me watch this movie. I, in turn, highly recommend it.

Friday, February 11

Movie Review: Black Swan

Black Swan is my first Darren Aronofsky film, and if it is any indication as to his previous work, as implied by other reviews I have read, then I am glad I didn't see them. Not that Black Swan was not a brilliantly presented film, it is. It is just that there is only so much raw, visceral pain I can handle.

Nina(Natalie Portman) is the child-woman used in this genre, a stereotype if you will, of the fragile, innocent, sexually immature protaganist who either finds it in herself to steel herself up for the task ahead or go mad. Of course, in Black Swan, the latter happens, and the documentation of the process and visualisation of her inner turmoil and struggles grip everything voyeuristic in the audience's psyche.

Nothing beats watching another human being's struggle to battle inner demons, and in Nina's case, her perceived outer demons too, personified by evil alter-ego/ valley girl Lily (Mila Kunis) and ballet director/ seducer with the cruel lips Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). Aided and abetted by her domineering mother (whose art was designed to be creepy) and Nina's own paranoia and pursuit of perfection, the demons slowly consume Nina and transform into something she recognises all too well.

I loved the cinematography, the blue filters over all the scenes, the claustrophobic tightly framed shots, unsteady camera work.I especialy love the stark contrast of the mise en scene of her bedroom which is all pink and innocence and light compared to the bile-green decor of the rest of the house. Nina's frailty is placed in stark contrast to her mother's hard veneer, her bird-like eyes adding another element of terror to an otherwise terrifying alternate reality. The use of all the minor chord movements in Tchaikovsky's original Swan Lake compositions added to the mood of doom and disaster.

I love the seamless use of CGI in the film (the head replacements making up the majority), and was truly horrified everytime she morphed into the Black Swan. One of the CGI scenes made me go to the bathroom in my pants a little. TMI, I know.

Natalie Portmen deserved her Golden Globe, playing both good and bad girl with equal beleivability, making me want to slap some backbone into her with the former and applaud her gutsiness at the latter. Mila Kunis on the other hand did not seem to be playing anyone but herself, or at least a trumoed up version of her character in "That 70s Show". Losing 20 pounds for a role does not a nomination garner.

It was sheer joy to watch the masculine strength, virility and even cruelty portrayed by Vincent Cassel. The casting director made up for the Kunis error with giving him the role.

Watch this movie, even if, like me, you don't sleep a wink that night.

Wednesday, February 9

Mini Movie Reviews

Thanks to a steady steady bo pi pi movie buddy, I have watched more movies in the last 6 weeks than I have the whole of last year, probably. While I am immensely grateful that I have had the time, resources and company to do so, I also realise that I have been remiss in doing proper movie reviews for each of them. So, in a bid to document the movies I have watched, and to pen down my thoughts on them before they forever flee my memory, here is a mini movie review. (Thanks movie buddy for helping me remember them:) )

1) Gulliver's Travels
Like many Jack Black movies, this fell short of the comic genius it had the potential for. Unlike the passion and comic timing displayed in Nacho Libre or the intensity of School Of Rock, I felt that he was just phoning this in. Not cool, Jack, not cool. And I am a fan.

2) Love and Other Drugs
The poster for this movie completely belied the sheer intensity of emotion and pathos that this movie presented. Brilliantly casted, Anne and Jake really made you care for the characters and made me cry, time and again.

3) The Tourist
Johnny, were you saw enthralled about making a film with ice queen Angelina, that you accepted all the flaws in directing and editing this movie? She really ruined it for all of us didn't she? And there you were, trying so hard to be real, making us feel your heartache, when she displayed all the emotional range of a Vulcan.

4) Green Hornet
Is it me, or does Jay Chou look like John Cho when he has that mask on? The highlight of the movie for me was "Gangsta's Paradise'. Everthing else was merely meh, or cringingly bad.

5) Burlesque
Cher and Christina make an amazing vocal combination for this vocal-crazy movie. I loved all the showmanship and costumes and man, can that Christina belt! Cher is really under-rated as an actress, I thought she pulled off the role incredible well. This is definitely one of the better movies I have seen this season, although it was faintly reminscent of "Moulin Rouge". Did anyone else think that?

6) Yogi Bear
Fun-filled movie, lots of slapstick and predictable gags. Watched it with my kid. Good entertainment.

7) The Fighter
This is the closest competitior so far for "Love and Other Drugs" as my fave movie of the year. A atypical bromance of two brothers, based on a true story, and the indescribable excellence of Christian Bale. I really hope he gets an OSCAR for this.

8)Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I loved this movie for the Jesus moments, or Jesus jukes, as some people call them. But I really do love me a good allegory. Tell me, whose hair didn't stand on end when Aslan showed up? We all knew what, or Who, we were seeing. I love that Lucy has grown up into such a lovely young woman and can't wait to see her in other movies.

And that's it for now. Watching Black Swan tomorrow. Hopefully, there will be a full review of it.

Sunday, January 23

Thank You

It was an awesome reminder at sermon yesterday.

Unspoken Gratitude is Ingratitude.

So often, we feel thankful for someone or something, but pride, momentary madness or sheer forgetfulness prevents us from saying those two little words.

And of course, we have been on the receiving end of that also.Doing something nice for someone and not receiving any thanks for it.

So I will find people to thank today. People I haven't thanked in a while, but whose presence in my life, I will always be grateful for.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, January 19

Settling In

19 days into 2011 and I finally feel like I am settling in to the year and the routines that it will entail.

I must remember to keep my tri-fold focus for the year.

1) Help Hanan pass his PSLE
2) Improve comms for church
3) Do something about the elephant in the room by end-2011.

As for resolution-y stuff, this is what the list looks like
1) Write to people more. Meaning love notes, poems, prose and proper letter things.
2) Eat at home more.
3) Cab less.

Sounds easy,right? Ha ha. Lets see what this will look like at the half-year mark.

I am very grateful though. Grateful for my job(s). For my friends. For my mum. For the sweet little boy who is fast becoming a man. Still sweet though. And for the God who never witholds anything from me if I ask.

"Seek ye first".

I will, Lord. I will. Help me when I forget.

Monday, October 25

Difficult and Necessary

I think God had a good idea of how hard it is to reconcile stuff with our family, which is why he made special mention of it.

Anyway, it is done. I am not happy with the outcome, but its always hard to do the important things. Otherwise they won't be worth doing.

Monday, October 18

Stuff and Service

Two things were highlighted to me this weekend.

1. Stuff. We spent waay to much of our life just collecting it. The pursuit of happyness does not equal how much stuff we have, but how many relationships we have blessed by our time and our resources. I was painfully made aware of the fact that this is a principal that must be taught and taught well, because it is in direct opposition to how the world operates. And before I teach it, I must internalise it and live it as well.

2. When you serve in church, it is very easy for the things you do to become about the things you do. I was reminded by a dear friend, S., to remember to bring my service attitude everytime. That what I do is not for me, or even for people, but to glorify my God. When I was in corporate employment, I reminded myself frequently that my job was to make my boss look good. And I think that still applies, if not even more so now.

Making God look good means to bring a servant heart to every aspect of my ministry. And I need to constantly remember that.