Reviews written by registered user
|234 reviews in total|
This is a great film and that's not an understatement. In fact, it is
one of the finest Australian films in ages. That's not exactly saying a
lot, but it is a tremendous achievement for the local film industry.
With the much missed director/writer John Duigan on board "Careless
Love" is deep, thoughtful, well-shot, possesses excellent
cinematography and filled with heart-felt performances all-round.
With all honesty, newcomer Nammi Le is a wonderful new talent. Le in the leading role of a prostitute paying her way through university is able to captivate the audience attention from the get-go. The manner in which she approached an extremely difficult character that is trying hard to conquer her own demons of having a double life and drawing a line between love, family and sex is nothing short of amazing to watch. Veteran Peter O'Brien ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine") stars as a customer who befriend Le, works extremely well in a paper-thin role and especially dialogue between the two adds some dimension to the movie. While Andrew Hazzard (from the local "Home and Away" TV series) is at home as the romantic interest, but offers nothing special. Others like Ivy Mak turns in an interesting supporting role as a fellow prostitute and her expressions in the scene when she is raped by an Aussie cop is nothing short of memorable.
All in all, "Careless Love" is a great Australian movie given its budget constraint and subject matter. What makes the film work is simply the exquisite performance from Nammi Le and credits to director John Duigan for delivering an engaging and touching situation that can happen almost anywhere in the world. While there are shortfalls when one look at the film in much clearer details, "Careless Love" remains one of the Australian films to beat for 2012 (Neo 2012)
Neo rates it 8/10
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as the mad King of Denmark, may not have been
given the title role, but he oozes with scene stealing presence in
almost every scene he appears. In saying that Danish historical drama
"A Royal Affair" is purely carried by Mikkel is by no means an
understatement. In fact, the film is rather disappointing with all
characters rather blend and uninspiring, apart from the King. Director
Nikolaj Arcel (writer of "The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo") is clearly a
much better script writer than at bringing the picture to life. "A
Royal Affair" could have been something enormous, but rather it all
seemed too much like clichés, too many boredom moments and some rather
predictable acting from Mads Mikkelsen as the Royal doctor. I am by no
means an expert in Danish cinema, but despite looking wonderfully
detail in its depiction of 1700s life, the film lacks a vital
ingredient of having a heart. There is no doubt that "Royal" is not a
bad film and will never be, but one cannot stop wondering what could've
been and once again the case of a missed opportunity.
As mentioned earlier, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard steals the show from far more acclaimed Mikkelsen ("Casino Royale"'s fame) and the Queen played by rising Swedish star Alicia Vikander. Mikkel is able to bring his mad character to life and more importantly a human naturalistic touch to it as well. It is a vital stranglehold that the film ultimately fails miserably at. In saying so, Mads Mikkelsen is extremely disappointing in a role that requires so much more. His stoic outlook and appearance certainly did not help the cause, but what really led him down is his inability to show the conflict between love, power and ideals that his character and the audience needed from him. Although it must be noted that despite the age difference, there is an underlying chemistry between him and Alicia Vikander. Moving on to Vikander, there is no question of her pretty face, but despite a promising start, she is never sure of the character that she is trying so hard to portray. At the end, the audience does not feel for either Vikander and Mikkelsen and while both actors should be blamed, a burden should be attributed to the director Arcel, by not being able to exploit the most at his disposals.
"A Royal Affair" is really a historical film about a time in the late 1700s when people are starting to challenge the status quo, the introduction of science, questioning of the Church and all of these leading to the times of being in the middle of the age of enlightenment. The famous Royal doctor Johan Struensee is being portrayed as a simple and straightforward idealist guy that bedded a Queen, but rather he is an interesting character that is driven with passion and ideal to change the world and in the midst of things got stuck in an affair with the Queen. However, he is nothing, but a simple character, as he is torn between assuming more and more power as well as his personal drive for ideals. Here, all we see is a simple black and white character where by the end of the film, he seemed more like a villain than a complicated yet flawed character he should have been.
All in all, "A Royal Affair" is really a missed opportunity. Although it must be admitted, that the screenplay and the best actor award seems thoroughly deserving in winning the Berlin Film Festival awards, but the film precisely fails to deliver in every other category. The film is also a tact too slow in the beginning and lacks tension even in the rather frequent sexual Royal affair. Luckily, the film is saved by the wonderful Mikkel Boe Følsgaard whose character despite being the least normal of the trio, stand heads and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. Perhaps the film-maker was right to focus on the pair of scandalous lovers, after all the film name is titled after it. Still, this could easily be a far better film, far better acted and far more deep and meaning. Perhaps, I am being a tact too harsh, but the result of "A Royal Affair" is not that it is a bad film, but rather it is far too average, far too normal and far too predictable to be involving and affecting. I should be crying by the end of the film, but instead, I almost felt nothing. Beautiful to look at, but ultimately I felt nothing (Neo 2012)
I rate it 6/10
"The Lucky One" is one of those films that if you want to enjoy it, you
have to suspend your beliefs and move away from reality. Think about
all the realities of life that would otherwise never happen in a movie
like this one. Love conquering all is usually the main and key theme of
author Nicholas Sparks' novels and his big screen translation are
usually even more exaggerated. People love watching his films or books
because real life is dull and his world is anything, but boring.
Likewise, "The Lucky One" goes about the same themes about love, only
with different actors. However, I just never clicked with this film and
the result is a film that is borderline average and rather unromantic
Zac Efron is obviously a good looking bloke, but his acting here is far too wooden and starry eyed to be anywhere near convincing. His chemistry with Taylor Schilling seems more conventional than natural and in many ways it feels more like a brother and sister relationship, rather than the later. It's a shame, as Taylor Schilling handles a character torn between past and present extremely well and come off a character that is most human of the lot. The grandmother played by Blythe Danner pops up here and there with some quirky lines and whispering words of wisdom. While the former abusive husband played by Jay Ferguson is constantly annoying and suffers from some of the worst overacting in years.
All in all, "The Lucky One" is probably a film targeted at a particular segment of audience. Despite my secret fonder of romantic dramas, this one just never clicks, too contrived and at times even a tad too long. That's not to say it is entirely a bad film, but in terms of similar films, this one doesn't make the cut. A borderline average film at best
Neo rates it 6/10
"Delicacy" works because Audrey Tautou is so amazing to watch. From the
moment the film zoomed in on her pitch perfect classical pretty look,
the film set its tone. However the part of the film that made it
spectacularly brilliant is the final quadrant. Just when you feel the
film moves toward melodrama, it turns over in full circle and finally
laughter filled the cinema screening. The awkward moments became funny
spots and the effortless unlikely romantic companion in Swedish
François Damiens is as funny as Hong Kong's iconic Lam Suet. "Delicacy"
is film that starts off sweetly, then bitterly and in the end unlikely
Audrey Tautou is simply stunning to watch. Not unlike Audrey Hepburn, they can do nothing and just frankly filled with close up shots and you will still be captivated. Her ability to own the screen is simply a pleasure to watch. Whether she is sad, happy, shocked or even random, Audrey can seamlessly connects with the audience at its very core. Equal to the task is the scene stealing Swedish co-worker François Damiens. Their romantic chemistry does not crash any computer screen, but there is something about them that makes then a couple to root for. His comedic timing is just absolutely "laugh out loud" moments. In fact, there was a time in the film when I uncontrollably laughed out loud and resulted in several turning heads and looks. However it was all worth it.
All in all, "Delicacy" is really one of the lightest hearted melodramatic yet romantic comedies of the year. It is one of those delightful films that are best served after a long day at work where you can sit back and appreciate the beauty of Paris and Ms Audrey Tautou. Ever since Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris", I have placed the city on top of my list and after "Delicacy", I can only say that love is not just a four letter word. A highly enjoyable bittersweet rom-com
Neo rates it 8.5/10
"Like Crazy" is one of those films that you either click completely or
disconnect in isolation. Not unlike "Going the Distance", the film
deals with the age old issue of long distance relationships. It is
never easy. Those moments when you look around you at a restaurant full
of romancing couple and there you are looking and holding sake glass
all by yourself, convincing that you have a girlfriend somewhere across
the Pacific. It's simply difficult and "Like Crazy" succeeds in
depicting exactly that very mood.
Casting the duo Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin are simply a stroke of cinematic genius. From their first encounter at the coffee, it was frankly awkward, yet there is something about the two that glues them together. The manner in which both interacts, embrace, touch and feel about each other is just astonishing to watch. The agony when the two are separated by a trivial visa issue is easily heartfelt and understandable. Of the two, Felicity Jones outshines the Anton Yelchin in the display of affection, emotions and relate-ability from the very beginning. She depicts that kind of affection and longing for someone that can only be relatable for those that understand the matter at hand. Hunger Games' heroine Jennifer Lawrence is wasted in a supporting role, but shines through sheer beauty and the moment she left Anton Yelchin's apartment one last time, the bittersweet look on her face is priceless.
All in all, "Like Crazy" is by no means a perfect film affair, but rather it is very much a personal experience to ensure. The filmmaker ingeniously leaves an ambiguous ending. In an interview director Drake Doremus said that he purposely opened the ending, as by the end of the film the audience would already be exhausted by the relationship and with girl stepping out of the shower there can really be one outcome. In other words just a matter of time. For that, the film earns extra points and at the end of the day, if you like the film, it is almost impossible not to be bias and for that I shall leave it at that
Neo rates it 7.5/10
A trying effort that falls just short
Sometimes, when you go into a film with no expectations or even expecting the worst, there are those occasions when it is going to be better than expected. While this isn't saying much, as it is a par below the refreshing Cocktail or Neo's favourite I'll Call You, this flick isn't half bad. Wife from Hell isn't really a thriller or horror as the title might suggest, but rather about the temptations and hidden ambitions that a married guy in his 30s has to go through. Given the limited budget, the director and his entire production team puts in a credible effort at an actual attempt of filmmaking. Neo have always admired people who try to make an effort and doing their best. Sure, the solution of the film may be flawed, but at least the effort is there. Yes, it is by no means perfect, but at least they tried unlike the atrocious, Wong Jing's Wise Guys Never Die.
Candy Lo is an interesting performer and one that is willing to act her age. She has always been an underrated actress and someone that deserves better than her given string of B-movie roles. Earlier this year, Lo produced a scene stealing performance as a regretful lover in Cocktail. There were moments of depression and drunkenness that show glimpses of her underlying acting talent. She isn't outright beautiful or cute, but there is something attractive about her that makes the audience notice her. Here, she is given a sleepwalking role and clearly her talents are suitably wasted.
Another B-grade actor that has improved in 2006 must be that of Andrew Lin, whose at times overacting is compensated with deep underlying emotions. In films like Heavenly Kings, Undying Heart and now Wife from Hell, Andrew is no longer emotionless and totally wooden, as he makes use of his limited ability by being more expressive. Sure this may lead to some exaggerated overacting, but luckily he is never to the point of annoyance as he is quite easy to watch. With that being said, this is probably his first juicy role and Lin handled it with full stead in what can be claimed as he best ever performance.
One must also mention the director, in most likely his first ever attempt, it is almost a full mark effort as he clearly translates on screen in the smoothness of the camera angles experimented and attempted. The scene of juxtaposition of the Heineken beer dripping to emptiness fits perfectly with the exact moment of sexual tension in Andrew Lin and the crazy seductive chick. It emphasizes intentionally or unintentionally about the random bar chick as just someone to enjoy temporary, like a bottle of beer, the effect does not last forever. Full credit to the terrific soundtrack done by the Japanese artist and once again the trying effort deserves some sort of complementation. One person of notable mention is the chick who plays the mysterious role of a prostitute. Her performance is noteworthy and her acting shows much promise. There is that sense of hotness about that seems to fascinate Neo and the constant use of numbers and time is clearly an asset to the film.
All in all, Wife From Hell isn't by all means straight forward or a film that make any sense. It is flawed, full of plot holes, but at least the filmmaker and the entire cast put in a trying effort and a clear attempt at experimental filmmaking. As I said before, this flick is probably not as good as I claim it to be, but it is clearly a par above what I expected. There are meaningful moments to be taken from it, but the manner that it attempted to reach the audience lack the vital emotional punch. Nonetheless, it is films like this that shows that there are still people in the industry that still care about filmmaking. Sure the destination may not be totally fulfilling, but the journey is certainly worth the effort. Once again, full credit for trying, even though the outcome could be better
Note: Something worth noting is that the two producers of this flick also produced the acclaimed Dog Bite Dog, the above average Explosive City, the better than expected Midnight Running. It is an odd duo a Japanese in Shin Yoneyama and Sam Leung.
I rate it 6.5/10.
Wong Jing is the ultimate loser
Some movies are so smart that the viewers are overwhelmed. It is generally OK to look smart when you are humble. However, if you think you are damn smart and the fact that you are pretty damn stupid and lame, it just turns the audience "off". Such is the case in Wong Jing's Wise Guys Never Die and when you not only have Wong Jing as the director, writer, producer, but also the main leading role, this flick is really going to head one direction hell. It is a shame that after a flawed, yet promising Wo Hu, Wong Jing as expected, follow it up with a piece of lame crap. Then again, it's becoming more like social norm than the unexpected. Sometimes, you really wish this flick to just work, especially when you have several hot babes baring it all, the newly improved reputation of Nick Cheung and a pack of cards. With that being said, the flick is not only disappointing, but it makes you feel sorry for the stupidity the entire cast has to go through.
Sometimes it is good to have ambition, but sometimes one also have to be realistic. Wong Jing may be arguably at best a capable director, but he is by no means in any destinations a leading actor material. It is a disgrace to HK film industry and a full-on smack in the face to the leading actors of the tiny territory. Not only does he, not have the looks, but his acting is plainly crap and it is an insult for the audience to endure his face and unbearable antics on the big screen and the small screen. What's worst is the unrealistic portrayal of Wong Jing as the ultimate mastermind that seems to "know it all" plus a player. Seriously, Wong Jing bedding the hot chicks is like saying William Hung with Jessica Alba! Get real man, it is both lame and bad for the viewer's eyes. If this flick is directed by someone else, then at least, it makes Wong more credible, but when he is the one behind every one of those steamy hot scenes. It is clear that Wong Jing is more interested in touching and sexually harassing the hot chicks than actual filmmaking. All in all, it is a full on disgraceful performance that underlines a huge detrimental effect on the credibility of 2006 HK cinema.
With that being said, there are some better points, notably being the hot babes doing hot things here and there - including a pretty chick with just a piece of cloth, on the top of the HK peak. Extra points must be given to their brave performance as they handled the harassment of Wong Jing with grace and endurance.
As for Nick Cheung, who has become one of the better supporting actors in the last couple of years, mainly due to the Johnnie To's effect, shows once again that comedy isn't really his cup of tea. Whoever designed his hair must either hate accountants (Neo doesn't have a lame haircut like that) or he/she is just plainly bad taste. It is still a rhetorical question as to why Cheung actually starred in such a role, after receiving much praise from critics net wide. In a totally un- educated guess, Nick might have been coned by Wong Jing into thinking that this is a witty and smart drama. If that's the case, then Neo must say that Nick, you are really a stupid guy.
All in all, Wise Guys Never Die is not really a gambling film or a comedy, but rather a chance for Wong Jing to flirt and touch some innocent hot chicks. It is degrading and absolutely disgraceful to endure through the steamy spa scenes. To be honest, Neo does not recommend this flick in any fashion and if you have a chance, just stay away from it. Yes, it is an official warning. Yes, if Wong Jing is replaced by Tony Leung Chiu Wai Neo will probably praise it as a daring performance. Yes, it has the chicks. Yes, it is from Wong Jing, but it is so damn stupid and the though of seeing Wong Jing in a leading role is really like the end of HK cinema. For the goodness of the world sake, please do not make a sequel or a prequel and do not let this happen again
Note: All 3 rating points are given to the chicks that endured through this harassment event.
I rate it 3/10
1000 too many undercover cops
Eric Tsang is fast becoming the next Danny Lee, but just a direct switch of the same role. The later is probably the most well-known cop in the HK cinema history as Lee Sir. So much so, that some jokes that Lee Sir probably thinks he is a cop in real life. Such is the case for Eric Tsang, who after the success of Infernal Affairs has appeared in endless films as the triad boss. Sooner or later, he too will think he is a real triad when he goes down the street, then discovering he is a head too short to be recognised. Still, when thinking about Eric Tsang, one can not help but come up with the image of the moment he pushed all the food of the police desk. It was a moment of cinema classic and likewise a moment to remember. So why the hell is Neo going on about Eric, well you probably guessed, he is playing a triad boss once again. With Wong Jing in the production line and his usual collaborator Marco Mak as the letterhead, together they produced something interesting to watch, even if the ending is a bit too flat. Like Colour of Truth, it comes to prove that when the maniac Wong Jing is serious, he can work wonders, and when it comes to comedy, let's talk about something else.
Undercover cop infiltrating the triad society sounds a lot like a little movie called Infernal Affairs. Luckily or unfortunately, Wong Jing attempts to be somewhat original within a load of clichés, by emphasising on not one undercover, but 1000. Yes, you heard me right, 1000 freaken undercover cops. How the hell did the police force manage to force that many young aspiring cops to become Tony Leung Chiu Wai-s are really beyond our imagination? Perhaps, the only reason is that they all aspire to be as cool as Chiu Wai. Actually, I should really care less about how this idea came about and rather concentrate on the quality of the movie.
The movie started off extremely promising, and the idea of 1000 undercover is absolutely intriguing to watch. However, my initial fears was coming to life as the movie drag on and on, the focus becomes not on any one of the 1000 undercover, but rather Eric Tsang. Sure, Eric is an interesting face, and probably can make most people laugh when picturing him as a triad boss in real life. Nonetheless, he is really a great supporting actor, and when thrust upon the leading role, this is where the most went down the wrong hill. Luckily he is ably and terrifically supported by someone with the name of Francis Ng.
Ng scene stealing cameo in Herman Yau's On the Edge was memorably breathtaking, and here he plays a similar role, if only a little more comical. As usual Ng's overacting is immensely fun to watch, including a hilarious scene when Ng and Jordan Chan gather a bunch of wanna-be gangster. With that being said, Jordan Chan is the weak link of the trio, and despite a somewhat funny performance, which include the funny scene of his girlfriend's ring tone is the chick in a sexy voice "lo gung lo gung, continue la". Chan isn't choosing the right roles, a more than capable dramatic actor, deserve far better than this nonsense role.
One thing that Infernal Affairs lacked is any sort of romance. Here, Wong Jing shows a typical modern-day romance in a cynical yet true way. As Neo love to proclaim in a WKW manner, love is all about timing, its no good meeting the right person at the right place, but at the wrong time. In other words, it's no good meeting someone too early or too late. Sure, it sounds very pessimistic, but from time to time, there are exceptions. It was by pure chance that Eric met Sonja Kwok. From there they started a relationship that seems more realistic to a couple of young adults. Still, despite the obvious age difference, the chemistry is still there. The romance is random, yet there is this feeling within the audience, which almost reminds them of their own past and the manner of how most of their relationships started. Then all of a sudden you realise that Eric is not 30, 40, but 50. Then again, this is a Wong Jing's flick.
All in all, this is really a flick that shows more about the triad bosses trying to offset each other, rather than a flick that stresses upon the glorified genre undercover. It is shocking to realise that director Mak didn't follow in what Neo acclaimed it as "an original idea from a well worn cliché." The lack of development of any real characters and some unnecessary overacting, are really the downside of Wu Ho. Sometimes, you wonder, when will HK make a great movie again, and in a scale of probability, it is already pretty low, let alone a movie by Wong Jing. Seriously, maybe I was expecting too much, but it can't be my entire fault, when the main attraction of the film is the 1000 undercover cops. To be honest, this isn't exactly as bad as I am sounding, as once again, it is still slightly above being wholly average. This isn't necessary a bad thing, as most Wong Jing movies are a par below average, but still, I expected more. Call me a realist, or whatever, no matter what this flick is still a missed opportunity
I rate it 7/10.
Once in a well, some random movies pop up at my door step that I either never heard or never expect to see. Some of them become some piece of gem Love Battlefield and some quite frankly a piece of crap Silly Kung Fu Family. Without Words, certainly isn't an art house film, but the good news is that it isn't totally commercial and it stars Neo's favourite Ella Koon! Ella Koon looks like a cute little duck, but her acting range shows much promise without distracting from the fact that she is damn hot! Yes, Neo is bias when it comes to stuff like that, but in many ways, I was expecting a pretty crap movie, but what turned out to be more meaningful and cliché that I ever imagined. In that way, it is good news, as it turns out to be a pretty surprisingly good heck of a film. Then again, there is Ella and there is a dog, how can that possibly go wrong.
Without Words isn't exactly anything new, but what it does well is using cliché to portray something that touches the audience. While the movie isn't on the same level as Love Battlefield, Cousin Mak is a director of much promise. In many ways the movie may seem to be a mixture of a variety of Korean movies and stuff we have all seen before, but the process is peaceful and definitely feels good. Mak uses adequate camera angles without being showy and the scenery of the sea provides a sense of hope in a rather sad movie. The story of the Little Tide is touchingly memorable about those who left will remain in our hearts forever.
Ella Koon puts in a credible debut leading performance and while her range is still questionable; her performance here is brilliant and easing to endure. The scene where she keeps saying "I love you" is memorable to endure and pleasing to remember. A touching performance nonetheless which definitely show Ella as an actress with much promise. Lawrence once again shows exactly why he is a worthy talent and continues to improve from underrated performances in AV and Eye 10. In another twist, Eric Tsang's son continues to appear in movies at the rate of Chapman To, like his father, he seems to be heading towards a good supporting career.
Without Words isn't exactly the freshest movie of 2006, but the overall feel of the movie is seemingly touching and worthwhile. There are movies that you watch and at the credits one would feel wasted and regretful, but Without Words, uses cliché to trick the audience into a feel good mode. While Mak doesn't reach the heights of Derek Yee's romantic dramas, but given the low budget and less commercial voltage, Without Words is better than it should have been. In the state of HK cinema right now, a movie that surprises the audience is deemed to be a good one and under any circumstances Without Words is a damn good movie. While it is probably something like a collection of films we have all seen before, this film succeeds at being just that simple yet deep, touching without being emotional and Ella without being bias. All in all, Without Words sum the theme up well and by the end, Neo himself is without words and thinking
I rate it 8/10.
"For every jerk, there lies a broken heart inside
Taiwanese cinema has proved to be the next Asian powerhouse. Love (2012) is a feel good romantic comedy about what else, but love. Headed by International star Shu Qi and Mainland superstar Zhao Wei, both carries the film broadly on their shoulders. However it is the love stories that make the movie a romantic affair. What makes Love a good movie is the fact that it doesn't go overboard in the overtly romance notion. It tries to deal with some real issues yet at the same time providing a true Hollywood experience. In along the reins of Love Actually and countless Hollywood Valentines' day events, Love is a good movie and works well within its defined boundaries without being truly special.
Shu Qi being the biggest drawer of International audience is able to create a likable and realistic character despite being mostly materialistic. Although her resulting relationship with Ethan Ruan is quite laughable, she is able to convince the audience in the scene where she packs her clothes and decides to leave. Likewise, Zhao Wei excites the audience and her dance tease is quite a treat. Eddie Pang does well and Ivy Chen shows good potential in a difficult role, while fellow Taiwanese actress Doze Niu is thoroughly cute and endearing.
All in all, Love is not really movies that inspires or deflect from genre conventions, but there is an undeniably good feel about it that makes it impossible to dislike. With good production values, decent semi realistic love stories and attractive actresses to boot, Love will not win any awards, but for a day called Valentine, it could be far worst. A good film for what it is worth
Neo rates it 7/10
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