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shu-fen

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120 reviews in total 
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Dark smiles., 14 August 2006
6/10

The billboard reminded me so deeply of the ineffectual efforts on Johnny English that my interest was kindled only when the plastic disc came out.

While brisk discussions are mostly on Tamsin Egerton's seemingly under-aged topless scene, I find the deadpan Mr Bean's love scene (technically not exactly a sex scene) is also worth talking about because in the first place I didn't expect anything surprising or novel from him, but now this one is the one. A sigh to this sub-plot that the "body-seal defence mechanism" of the perpetually profanity-free comedian is pronounced insensitized and he goes with the Hollywood tide to get primitive with an actress and show some flesh as a "good fellow vicar", though the related plot is about normal conjugal behaviour. The time and tide peels off the coating of the Bean. Is this his virgin exposure? Might or could be. How many on-screen bed-mates has he had? Blank mind.

Skimming through the stellar cast list, my eyes got caught by the time-tested thespian Lady, Maggie Smith. Very sure acting has fused into each and every one of her cells. To see her acting is a high enjoyment. Without doubt, she is good at being characters of power like Mother General of a convent, the head of an illustrious family of nobility… Yet as a "little grace (Grace)" to the Goodfellows, she incarnates wonderfully a minister's daughter, a betrayed wife with crooked idea of justice embedded inside her head: I disapprove them so I drown them. In actuality, MS just needs to sit down and you then look at her, immediately what you can have is poise, patrician air, English elegance and refinement. Dame Maggie Smith is an exclusive label.

I would not say the Goodfellow's problems in the story are fabrication. On the contrary, the cruel reality is that they may be encroaching many families even in a vicar's home and not only in the UK: dysfunctional but supposed religious family or figures, sexless marriage, the affair of a vicar's bored wife, the physically weak (the pregnant English Grace Hawkins and also her aged version) killing the physically strong (Lance the American) by drowning, sending a murderer to help is God's mysterious way, a murderer mother whom you have never met suddenly appears at your doorstep… Mostly these are of some heaviness in life, yet they are dealt lightly or casually in the story. The black humour showcased is sheerly English (not even British).

The life of an everyone-knows-everyone closed society of a 57-head village is well captured. Neighbours watch the living of one another, they gossip, they wonder about the absence of the vicar's wife after the Sunday morning service, their time is spent on the trivia of Wallop. Another noteworthy feature is the wardrobe of Kristin Scott Thomas. It makes KS Thomas looks exactly like an English country housewife. I just recall her graceful appearance as a noble lady, a successful and well-off businesswoman or a rich man's wife in other works. A village vicar's wife? Cosmetic and clothes are much on demand to turn her into a down-to-earth and plain woman, and bingo! God's way is mysterious. And Grace Hawkins's way is also dark and mysterious too. The film had better be renamed: "Sneaky mum" or "Freaky mom".

My Nikifor (2004)
6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
True art is never lonely., 13 April 2006
6/10

I have never known the existence of the late Polish/Ukrainian naïve painter Nikifor (Epifaniusz Drowniak/Nikifor Krynicki/Nykyfor) until I saw this biographical movie of his. Interesting enough he immediately reminds me of a local Hong Kong artist whose head is totally chaotic and behaves in bizarre manner. His trademark claim is that he is Hong Kong's "Kowloon Emperor", that's Tsang Tsou-choi, the world's oldest graffiti calligraphy artist (works in Chinese characters), well, much earlier than New York's Keith Haring but the latter makes tons of $$$. (By the way, Emperor Tsang is now on the official list of "Hong Kong identity symbols to be protected". One piece of wood he painted sold for US$1,100.) I even can't help thinking about Vincent Van Gogh, David Helfgott or UK's Banksy (though no proof of his insanity, yet), artists who are either physically or mentally-challenged. The life of the said names tell us many tears-in-bitter-joy stories that true art, no matter how late, will be discovered and appreciated by the world.

What catches my attention is not the art of Nikifor, (to be frank, I have to confess that I need time to understand/digest his art) but Marian Wlosinski. How can he take that: the disillusionment of going to Krakow, the shattered future as an artist, the warning from his authority, the departure of his wife and two daughters… Why does he still insist on helping? How come his eyes see so differently from the others while no one cares about the frail old chap or his art? There is something about him that we can look into.

Just like other films depicting lives of artists, this warm and direct storytelling offers no shocking food for our sensory cells but one, at least to me, Nikifor is interpreted by an actress! Krystyna Feldman accepts this role and tested the audience's response by disguising as a beggar soliciting money at the spa! Well, she is as freaky as the role itself. Queerly coincidentally, she shares the same birth year of our Kowloon Emperor. Well, no matter how old you are, you can have your eccentric fun as much as you want to.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sexual curiosity is eternal., 9 April 2006
7/10

=== Minor spoiler ===

From time to time I keep a couple of red Flamingo Lily either in office or at home. Never, never have I made any possible analogy between this flower and the male genital! Yet it's a wickedly clever comparison just by thinking about their similar outlook. What's more devilish is that the flower in the story ejaculates (love potion) whenever it sees a female, no matter dog or human, real or just on photo!

The comedy may easily be taken as another American come-of-age teen flick yet very German elements exist: 1) Ziege's parents are overjoyed while hearing sexual moans and groans from his bedroom. They giggle happily and think that their boy has finally grown up. In American version, surely two worrying faces (one from mom, another dad) may fill the screen. 2) Ziege and Häschen beg Sven to help find out how much time it takes for the aphrodisiac to be in effect and also its fade-out. I just exploded in loud guffaws when they utter so decisively together that they do it "für Wissenschaft!" (For the science!). In actuality, the entire process of demystifying the floral juice is absolutely highly scientific. If the flower is found by three American boys, they would yell and cheer, "For the chicks!"

Frankly speaking, it looks pretty "filthy" as you see semen on ceiling, Häschen's farting while seeing girls, flower gets nutrient from pizza with green mold. Thank God we have the young handsome faces of André Kaminski and Joseph Bolz as antidotes, promising young actors.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Dare to take the challenges of a known destiny?, 22 August 2005
8/10

A highly delightful surprise is what I earned, ichiban! In the two-hour story, though the first 105 minutes is a like a Japanese oil painting of still objects which is static and quiet, the last fifteen makes the whole enchilada a dynamic feast. The early plots may make the viewers presume it another chick flick yet the two-side (one told by Mio, another Taku) story telling goes on in a well-woven manner with no excessive long-winded shots or dead air, that's pleasantly captivating.

An impressive ending and a skillfully arranged time-line of future, past and present usher the movie into houses of thundering applause, which is pretty rare among Japanese productions these years. Besides the unexpected ending, crucial elements which contribute to its success resemble those used in Shunji Iwai's "Love Letter": a deceased beloved one, flashbacks rekindling warm memories and moments (or explaining the present happenings), unrevealed teen love, missing the important time or marks, hidden treasures or secrets, picturesque landscape (late vernal rain, tranquil and strikingly green countryside, detached houses, huge sunflower fields of a rural southern Europe ambiance, etc) and of course the campus setting. Other elements employed like children's firm belief in the stories told by mama or papa in younger days, constricted reunion time (six weeks here) and the mysterious emergence of the deceased Mio create both suspense and poetic power. On top of this, another credit should go to Akashi Takei (Yuji) for his vivid and natural acting.

Romance on the surface, the flick may trigger philosophical reflections: if your destiny is known to you, like Mio's: health suffers a lot after first childbirth, dies young at 28, spends only six years with the husband and the child..., and you are given a choice to take or break. Will you still choose to let them come true in your life? Mio knew exactly what would happen (that's why she describes in the picture book she give to Yuji about the place she would go after her death as "The Archive Star" as this is something KNOWN) and BECAUSE OF LOVE, she boldly steps on the way paved by Destiny. She does not seek advices from tarot cards, feng-shui, witches, crystal ball or gypsies. Solely out of love, she holds an attitude of "come what may" and treads on that predestined path. Are you courageous enough to take the challenges of your destiny even if you knew it? Or, you just shun it?

On the screen, the wife has to leave the husband and their young boy; in reality Yuko Takeuchi (Mio) and Shidô Nakamura (Taku) got married in June 2005 and they are now expecting their first child. A fitting compensation to the sadness and tears of the touched audience.

9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
And the song fades..., 20 May 2005
7/10

The movie was not known in my philistine city, don't mention the awarded original production on stage "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice". To most of my townspeople, "LV" forever stands for Marianne's "Louis Vuitton" reticules, the association of John Bull's "Little Voice" ridicule would never come out, very unlikely.

I picked the VCD solely because I was attracted by the bankable casting: Brenda Blethyn, Ewan McGregor, Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, they seldom let fans down. Yet, apologies, apologies. I don't have the slightest iota of a clue about who Jane Horrocks is… well, maybe voice widely heard (in the UK) but face rarely seen (in the Universe). And now I logged on IMDb and am made dumbstruck by the 134 comments. Why has it never been shown in my town? Not even in small movie house. (Shall we bludgeon Hollywood to cranberry jam? Hegemonic, preponderantly.)

Some viewers think that the flick does not deserve so many commendations. To me, my vote 7 goes to mainly the acting, the singing and the casting. If you intend to look for something else from it, disappointment is inescapable. Seeing the wardrobe and the look of BB, MC (funny outdated curly hair) and JB, I can't help thinking about the outrageous 1960s. Time seems to have "frozen" itself in sleazy Scarborough, North Yorkshire but not the wrinkles on people's faces and nor the weight on their arses. In actuality, the music and setting form an appropriate match, old songs in worn-out area.

BB offers me lots of jolly good fun. I always like her acting. Her portrayal of a lonely, horny and vulgar mother of mercenary spirit is so life-like. I can imagine a Cantonese copy with roving eye, someone like the landlady in "Kung Fu Hustle" walking down the street in the red-light area at Wan Chai right after the evening twilight has just arrived. Terpsichore graced EM's feet five years later in "Down with love" where he is a dancing beau at the end of the film. If he were presented the flair earlier, he might have danced in LV's little voice.

LV reminds me of Charlotte Church, the girlish diva. Her mother may not have experienced Mari Hoff's (BB) "predicament" after her daughter's refusal to continue to sing. Nevertheless the turbulent relationship and lavish spending of this opera babe do worry people. All her fans, though I am not one, we don't want to have "The Rise and Fall of A Teen Soprano" on show (too soon), it is forever good to have a prolonged "The Rise to Stardom of a Welsh Cherubim".

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Obligation, 7 March 2005
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

== Possible spoiler == Just to keep the consistency, seemingly I am obliged to drop a few words for the sequel because I have written some about the first one some years ago.

The three actors have grown a little older but still star quality acting. Story or plot is a copy of the first fatty one. The most startling so far is the lesbian Rebecca yet unconvincing acted. A big host of fine British actors appeared at the subplot of law society banquet is a bonbon to me. If the book is kept, a better production for sure would be resulted. At times, we cannot trust our creativity.

Matured, yes, BJ has grown up and become more down-to-earth finally though just a little bit, thank God she still can keep her innocence and hope to people. BJ III? No, no, please don't torture Renée Zellweger. And let Cinderella's myth go on and so the Prince and Princess live happily ever after (ups and downs in life).

My Girl (2003)
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
I was one of them., 5 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I share the generation of Jeab and Noi-naa, for instance we played the same games like using rubber bands to make a long jumping ropes and a group of neighbourhood children gathered together to compete after school. We divided ourselves into different gangs, today enemies, tomorrow coalition. Friends or classmates moved from the vicinity to faraway newly developed areas or even migrated to other countries after the 1982 meeting between Deng Xiao-ping and Margaret Thatcher on Hong Kong's future.

Though we speak different languages, I feel that I am one of those little children in this sincere nostalgic production, I even share the feeling of the grown-up Jeab when he returns to his hometown to attend Noi-naa's wedding: everything's facelifted, the bridge that the school bus used to pass has been changed into a sturdier one, just like my city, an ever-changing and moving city.

The most delightful surprise should be the parody of two Hong Kong TV dramas which were widely popular among the Asian countries in the late 70's and 80's, "Silk" and "Yesterday's Glitter". It made me recall many of my long-forgotten younger episodes. The flick should be kept in the DVD library of the thirty something as a proof of "collective memory" of those born in the 70's. Two or three decades later, the warmth will still pervade when we review it.

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Correct to be faithful to history. But is it the rise of Neo-Nazi?, 13 December 2004

Film is a cultural product more or less reflecting the trend of a time. Thus, I was made alert when I was watching this slow-tuned movie. Why in such a sudden in the past few years, movies like "Rosenstraße" depicting the humane behaviour of the Germans at wartime mushroom? "The Pianist", "Der Untergang" join the rally.

People may say, "Time heals!" "We need to do justice to the German". True, true, true, doubtlessly, there must have been German citizens who were holding opposing ideas against the Nazi government's. There must be kind-hearted and righteous Germans who protected Jewish people and later got persecuted by their own people. And there is a need to make movies reflecting the true historical facts. These films are 100% not party or government propaganda. My concern here is "timing". Tellingly, why didn't these movies come up in the 70's, 80's or 90's? But early 21st Century when the Neo-Nazi is rising quietly bit by bit today in Germany. I cannot but easily associate these movies to what is really happening in this country.

Garçon! (1983)
9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Alone again, naturally... Spoiler, 10 December 2004
7/10

The movie from time to time flashes across my mind after I discovered the songs of Yves Montand. He sang well and I always want to see whether he acted well.

Just my luck that DVD of this title was and is still not easily available in town. Why? It is not a movie for green whippersnappers or precocious imps but the well-aged wise. It was filmed some twenty years ago and I then exactly lacked twenty years' maturity. My big thank you to the 27th French Cinepanorama held in this month, after having gained twenty more years experience in life, now I know how to enjoy this movie. If I saw the movie right after it was freshly produced in 1983, I am very sure I would not understand the main plot or subplot, the observant director Claude Sautet, not to mention his ideas. After all, Yves Montand is now lying six feet under inside the cemetery Père-Lachaise in Paris and Jacques Villeret (Gilbert)'s head has gone half-bald in the French box-office hit "Le Dîner de cons" where he plays the tricked "François Pignon".

The restaurant setting reminds me the frantic and noisy kitchen in "Dinner Rush": shouting chef, cooking heat, fire and smell, the orderly mess, clicking sound of cutlery and crockery, conflict between waiters and chef.

There are usually many subplots in Sautet's works because he was able to capture human sentiments, especially those of ordinary people leading ordinary life, well in details and display it with an undertone of melancholy humour, even for serious subjects like human alienation, one of the ideas showcased in Garçon!.

Resourceful Alex was once a tap dancer, though not very accomplished, he seems to be respected in the dancing room. With limited funds and resources, this maturing restaurant waiter aspires to start an amusement park on the beach and he makes it! "Jerry Maguire" is the American version of Alex. Both men are capable of winning the heart of many. Every one around them likes them. They go around women one after one pretty successfully, it's nothing novel to see that they have two or three at one time. For instance, Alex has frequent trysts with rich poodle Gloria, from whom he tactfully draws out a free-interest loan of FFr100,000. Besides, he is concurrently after Claire, an English language instructor whom he knew seventeen years ago at her father's wedding on a boat. On top of these two relationships, he keeps a punctuated contact with the down-and-out Coline.

On the surface, both Jerry and Alex are candies to all. Cruelly and honestly, it is Gilbert, Alex's room-mate and colleague, who is sharp at pointing out their common blind spot: they are not related to anybody, both American Jerry and French Alex only think about themselves. What different is, Jerry's ending gives us hope while the final rainy scene of Alex at his well-received amusement park tells us what reality tends to be like: remaining alone.

When Alex is successful with his career, his dream park, all his women left: both Gloria and Claire return to their husbands, Coline follows a younger waiter of the restaurant. To Alex, the lyrics of the golden oldie should be revised to be "And 'NOT' in my hour of need, I truly am, indeed, alone again, naturally."

0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Salvation? No. Retaliate with a vengeance through and through., 5 October 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just by chance I watched the very last episode of M2 on TV yesterday evening. At the beginning, I cannot tell exactly whether it's a USA or UK production because the language is not specific. Then I found out it was filmed in Northern Ireland with American actors. Demystified.

I need to track down the first few episodes, and I am also waiting for M3 as the local TV channel promised, then I can draw a fairer conclusion later. Solely on this episode, the plot is predictable and a little out-of-moded. What attracts me is that I wanted to see how the revenge would be done. When Anna (Sara) threatened to end the life of Duncan's boy, I thought, just like in most US TV series, she would stab the scissors into his neck, kick him from high and try to flee. When she let him off, I thought she would be running off. She did none of them, instead she stabbed her own neck and fell down in front of Duncan and Red. She did it out of despair, I suppose, when she was told her ex-judge father protected his male lover all through his life but not her.

When hatred enters and harbours in a heart, if it is not released, it festers and grows stinkingly. The avenging angel (devil?) Anna finally loses almost everything but the hurt she did on Duncan. I don't see any salvation in this "Messiah", I need to dig out why it is titled as such. I hope M3 will come sooner and see how the "promise" is fulfilled. Now what I should do is to look for M1, it should be interesting to see how Michelle Forbes manage to learn sign language within six days.


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