Reviews written by registered user

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20 reviews in total 
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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Theatre boss, movie owner, 17 February 2006

Now now, what would you expect from a movie that starts off with a solemn British upper- class funeral with a very sombre Judi Dench crying on a boat in the middle of a lake? A long depressing hour plus journey through the rest of the film?

How wrong I was! From the moment Madam Dench parted her 'upper-crass' lips, the show was a totally enjoyable ride. How witty the dialogue! How endearing the squabbles! How enchanting the story!

Judi Dench stars as an ultra-rich English widow who has just inherited her dead husband's massive fortune. She passes by a run-down theatre called the Windmill and decides to buy and rebuild it in hope that it'll fill the boredom and loneliness in her life. Bob Hoskins co- stars as the theatre manager whom she hires to run the Windmill, and acts as the perfect foil to the feisty lady of the show. The chemistry is amazing between the actors and their conversations so natural that it is hard to believe that they are actually working on a script. Another actress who left an impression is Kelly Reilly who I personally feel has a splitting image to Julie Delpy. Her somewhat convincing performance as a tenacious young star however, inevitably falls short of the commanding presences from the leads.

Come to think of it, there is only one commanding presence in the film, which makes it easy to understand why Judi Dench is once again nominated for the Oscars. She switches from cheeky sarcasm to dead seriousness with ridiculous ease, which makes it such fun watching her strut her stuff on screen. As Mrs Henderson, she doesn't just own the theatre but owns the entire movie as well, so overpowering her presence that the pace drops significantly every time she is not in the frame.

Without giving too much of the story away, you can expect to hear plenty of good songs (the show's a part-musical), indulge in excellent dialogue, and witness many 'insightful' moments (alright alright, there are many naked ladies on stage). Lovely story, great acting, bright lights, nice music, eye-popping assets, free movie tickets... what more can I ask for?

Be with Me (2005)
16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Silent Inspiration, 12 September 2005

Be With Me is essentially a quiet film with minimal dialogue and action, but yet radiates a certain degree of power and influence on the audience throughout the course of the show. Three short stories are interwoven around a real-life docu-drama featuring the indomitable Theresa Chan, who although blind and deaf, displays more strength and hope than any of the other characters in the movie.

Did the film make me cry, as it supposedly did to many critics around the world? No it didn't. So you mean the show wasn't touching for me? Wrong. Do we have to cry when something touches the heart? Many times what goes on inside the heart does not translate to what comes out from the eyes. My emotions were stirred and I felt my heart clench at various moments when the characters suffered through the quiet desperation they went through.

It was an enjoyable movie, though the ambiance and overall darkness of the film may suggest otherwise. I felt most amazed at what Theresa Chan was capable of accomplishing despite her most unfortunate disabilities. Not just the physical aspects, where she showed us her astonishing ability to take care of herself, but also the mental and spiritual aspects of her life, where she is so strong in the mind and the faith in her God. It would be so easy to blame the heavens and let go of life but yet she displays a remarkable determination to make the fullest out of her existence. Her situation puts the other characters' plights in the shade and render our own complaints with everything around us irrelevant.

Be With Me not just provides a silent inspiration to audiences, it also showcases the many facets of local life rarely experienced in a busy world where everything revolves around us at breakneck speed. Take a time out and allow yourself to sit through an hour and a half of peaceful contemplation with what is it that really matters most in our lives.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Smittened with Mrs Smith, 13 June 2005

There are only three things worth watching in this movie: Angelina Jolie, her right boob and her left boob.

Of course, I'm kidding. The film is more entertaining than one would expect, especially from a movie that banks so heavily on the combined star voltage of Jolie and the 'I look much better than I act' Brad Pitt. The action scenes are expectedly explosive and spectacular, and hits the audience relentlessly. The surprisingly element of the film is the dialogue... non-conventionally humorous and bordering on being dark and slightly nonchalant at times. While not every joke hits the mark, this technique is effective in achieving what the director clearly wants to stress on with his 2 superstars: coolness. Everything about the show is made to make the audience go "woooah..", from the poses they strike, the pouts they make, the gadgets and weapons they wield and the lines they spout. For me, the comedic chemistry between the leads stands out as the most "cool" factor throughout the film. Credit to the stars, especially Jolie (ok, I'm a biased A.J. fan), for sizzling their way through the show with minimal effort. Trust me, you'll understand why Jennifer Aniston (formerly Mrs. Pitt) dumped Brad after you watch the Smiths get it on.

Needless to say, what's there to comment on a plot where the most delicious couple in the world find out that the other half is a top-notch assassin and both are assigned to kill each other? Married for 5 or 6 years without a sniff of a clue of each other's real identity? Some killer instinct I must say. Well, this movie's not about story anyway. So suspend all belief, sit back and enjoy the sexiest couple in the solar system prowl, scowl and make out on the big screen.

Rating: 7.6

Millions (2004)
10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Mixed bag, 24 April 2005

Before I watched the show I knew that 'Millions' has generally garnered favourable reviews from tons of critics, with a local reviewer raving about it and allocating it the full 5 stars. With great reviews come great expectations.

Disclaimer: I have yet to rid the disease of reading too many reviews of a film before watching it. Perhaps I'll carry that sickness forever, because I simply love to read about movies, every single one of them, regardless of whether I'll be watching them or not.

That said, the movie did not meet my expectations. 'Over-rated'... the initial thought. But first, the good points. Alexander Etel is perfectly cast as the highly imaginative and innocent young protagonist. Through the many 'appearances' of godly beings throughout the film, the audiences share his holy world, a world of angels and saints which he uses to replace the loss of his late mother. The boy convinces with his doe-eyed expressions and intimate heartfelt conversations with the saints who visit him every now and then.

The cinematography is unique, the settings are interesting and the way the whole movie was shot is very unusual... which could be a double-edged sword in terms of plot development. For me, this style achieves cinematic originality but compromises on the flow required for simple story-telling. There are far too many interjections and interruptions in the story... there are many moments when just as you are about to catch hold of something, the scene stops abruptly and leaves you dangling midway. This is all a little bit frustrating really, which ultimately results in a lack of emotion and inspiration in my mind as the movie reaches it ending.

The film is definitely watchable and deserves to be commended for having many special features not commonly seen in other movies. Whether these features are pulled off effectively is a matter of subjectivity; they didn't work too well for me but may leave a huge impression on you.

Rating: 7.4

Sideways (2004)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A very fine after taste, 31 March 2005

Having watched it some time ago and now thinking back about the film, I realised that I really did like it. And still do, as a matter of fact. Like fine wine, the show grows on you with time and leaves you with great moments to smile about. Metaphorically appropriate, since wine appreciation is the chosen theme of the movie.

It's great to walk into such a show, with a cast of relatively unknown actors and without any conjured image of how the film will be like. I mean... a road trip with two middle-aged men who meet two middle-aged women who're not particularly stunning, visually at least... what can you expect? Yes yes, good 'o' shallow me. But I have set the record straight; I really liked the show, the cast, the script... yup, I really loved the dialogue. I've since read through a list of quotes and wow, one single movie can have so many verbal gems in it! Credit must surely go to the author of the novel the film was based on, Rex Pickett. Note: I must grab hold of a copy.

The actors, Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, fully deserve whatever accolades and acclaim they've received for their performances. They were really a joy to watch, an unlikely pair of buddies with very different personalities and agendas, yet such chemistry between them. They didn't even seem like they were acting; they were tailor-made for their roles, not the other way round. The beauty in their characters lie in their flaws. We can all identify with their weaknesses, their perceived failures in life, their desperation for any sort of success. Giamatti should have been given an Oscar nomination at the very least and Church has since snagged a plum role as one of the villains in Spiderman 3. Not bad at all.

Forgive me if I fail to acknowledge the actresses, because they just didn't leave as much impact as the two male leads. I certainly can't see how Virginia Madsen got nominated for the Oscars, hers was a subtle performance at best, a rather forgettable one at worst. A mention though, has to be made about Alexander Payne, the director who seems to have such an innate ability to portray sad lives with such subtle impact. How contradictory and how unique. His previous film, About Schmidt, similarly covered depression in life, was also a joy to watch. I don't enjoy watching the characters go through their periods of sadness, but I'm definitely made to feel for them and feel with them.

Sideways is definitely worth a viewing, even if you have absolutely no interest in wine (that's me), which is besides the point anyway. Let it linger and grow on you.

Rating: 8.2

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A million dollar question, 23 March 2005

Million Dollar Baby... a good film? Yes. Good enough to be the year's best picture? I have my doubts. Don't think it deserves the best picture Oscar, although the best director, actress and supporting actor awards were richly deserved.

Clint Eastwood has always been an intense character, whether in his acting or in his film-making. He displays his vast directing experience and channels it out well through his own, as well as his co-stars' acting performances. Hilary Swank once again shows that she is in complete control and command of the tough characters she takes on, snagging another Oscar after Boys Don't Cry. The danger though is that she runs the risk of being typecast for such masculine roles and limits her versatility, thus restricting her from taking on other roles. To me, Morgan Freeman is the one who truly deserves his accolade. It's tough to find such a humble and well-respected actor in plastic Hollywood, and even tougher for him to put in such understated but highly influential and impressionable presence in every show he has been in. His superb touches in gems such as the Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy alone more than makes up for the many crap films he has taken a part in.

So why is it that the film, with masterful directing and convincing performances from the actors, fail to stir up my emotions? I hope I have the answer, but even I'm stumped. It's just one of those movies that has almost everything, yet a vital 'something' is lacking and leaves you feeling not completely satisfied with it. Perhaps it's the way the show gradually ended... it could have taken a tad too long, which could have taken away much of the emotional impact it had intended to make.

Who should watch: Fans of superb acting and audiences with the patience to sit through lenghty and intense dialogue

Who shouldn't watch: Boxing fans, because there isn't really that much punching going on

Rating: 7.9

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Constantly entertaining, 22 March 2005

Sometimes I don't understand certain "professional" reviewers. When you watch a comic book movie like Constantine, what would you expect? A solid and realistic plot? Oscar-worthy acting? Come on, it's a freaking superhero movie, for God's sake. For me, it's simple... just entertain me! Cool special effects, mad explosions, crazy fight-scenes... whatever, as long as the film keeps me glued to my seat.

Constantine succeeds as a movie of its genre, because it catches my attention from the start and never lets go of it. The film is well-paced and its action scenes are pretty well-executed. Keanu Reeves is definitely a surprise choice for the lead character, since he is so different from the comic book version. Many die-hard fans may feel that he did not do the 'real' Constantine justice, but to me he is a suitable choice. Who else can personify superhero coolness as much as the post-Matrix Keanu? You can find traces of Neo in his John Constantine, which may not necessarily be a bad thing since John shares the same 'chosen one to save the world' character as Neo. In fact, I find his 'world-weariness' even came across as quite convincing... considering how much of an actor some critics think of him.

The rest of the cast probably do not deserve any mention since acting-wise they're pretty average. But this doesn't stop this flick from being one helluva enjoyable ride. Just concentrate on being entertained.

Who should watch: Casual comic book or superhero movie fans

Who shouldn't watch: Satan... he might get inspired

Rating: 7.8

Collateral (2004)
61 out of 116 people found the following review useful:
Tom the Bad Guy, 23 February 2005

For once, Tom Cruise isn't the good guy. I was beginning to get sick of his typecast American Hero role in every movie, perhaps apart from the dismal Vanilla Sky. Then came the role of Vincent, a hit-man who is ruthless and relentless, yet at times displaying streaks of compassion and empathy towards his hired taxi driver, played by Jamie Foxx.

Sometimes you have got to 'pity' Tom Cruise. Year after year, he's hoping to get a shot at the elusive Oscar, ever since he got nominated for Jerry Maguire. Last year's majestic The Last Samurai saw his hopes of landing an Oscar nod take a blow as he was completely overshadowed by Ken Watanabe, who deservedly landed himself a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nom. Similarly this year sees Cruise taking on an uncharacteristically villainous character in Collateral in hope of fulfilling his wishes, and yet again he gets trumped by the more impressive 'supporting' performance of Jamie Foxx (strange, considering 'supporting actor' Foxx takes up more screen time than Cruise). God, he must really hate Foxx... not one but two acting noms in a year. At the end of the day, what Cruise has are just his 20 million bucks paycheck per movie to console himself with. Poor guy eh? I didn't find Foxx's role particularly memorable, so it is a surprise that he was nominated and will be a shock if he does get the gold for this show. The movie though, is masterfully handled throughout by Michael Mann, who in my opinion, deserves an Oscar nom more than Foxx for this film. A tight story, great action scenes, steady pacing and excellent chemistry between the two leads are all characteristics of this entertaining thriller. Even the much criticised ending, which I found was not that lame and unbelievable, fails to make this overall an enjoyable movie experience.

Who should watch: Anyone who doesn't believe that Tom Cruise can actually act 'evil'

Who shouldn't watch: Taxi drivers who do night shifts

Rating: 7.7

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Convincing Co-stars, 23 February 2005

If you think this movie is made up of only Johnny Depp, then you'll be seriously mistaken. Never have I seen Depp being actually outshone, at times, not just by one, but by two others from the cast. No doubt his presence is commanding, but his performance alone wouldn't be substantial enough to carry the entire movie, definitely not without the outstanding efforts by Kate Winslet and Freddie Highmore.

Kate Winslet has come a long way since her very prominent but not universally "well-accepted" role in Titanic. Frankly speaking, I thought she was crap. But she has really proved her acting credentials since then, taking on one challenging role after another. In Finding Neverland, Winslet touches hearts as a widow struggling to handle her four boys and her true feelings for the married Barrie (Depp). She brings the audiences along on her emotional journey and they in turn emphatise with her in her plight.

Freddie Highmore is even more amazing; a young boy his age overshadowing the famous, Oscar-nominated Johnny Depp is truly no mean feat. Even Depp himself endorsed the massive potential this kid possesses. Forget the "has-been" Haley Joel Osment and the progressively irritating Dakota Fanning... this boy is the real deal. He is so matured and convincing beyond his years that you wonder if he's constantly possessed while acting. Or is he even acting? He is that scaringly good.

I've concentrated purely on the extremely strong cast simply because the film is really just about those characters. Finding Neverland is a simple, uncomplicated and beautiful biopic that tells a story as pure as Peter Pan the play.

Who should watch: Fans of simple story-telling through great acting; day-dreamers searching for more inspiration

Who shouldn't watch: Day-dreamers who have killer bosses; better not unleash the "potential" and risk getting the sack

Rating: 8.2

Wimbledon (2004)
12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Match begins at love all, 9 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Erm... no offence to Tim Henman and his fans, but here's one hell of a sporting fantasy for you: a professional British tennis player actually winning Wimbledon. Wow. Well, as we all tennis fans know it, such a scenario can only happen in the realm of movie magic.

Paul Bettany stars as Peter Colt, a fading tennis player who is resigned to retiring from the professional circuit with the fact that he'll have nothing to show for it. The only time I've seen Bettany was in A Beautiful Mind, which elicited a rather haunting performance from him. And so it was to my delight that he managed to fit into this role with such ease and charm, as if he had been doing romantic comedies all his life. He displays the typical British dry wit and slightly dark humour effortlessly, almost to a fault (excuse the pun). Not the best performance from Kirsten Dunst, but she does give a pretty convincing portrayal as the brash American world number one female player.

Speaking of brashness, it's a pleasant surprise to see the notoriously foul-mouthed John McEnroe in a cameo appearance, as a commentator giving his two-cent's worth during the tennis matches. His presence adds a nice touch, giving a certain "real tennis" feel to the fictitious tennis players in the film.

Despite not having real professional tennis players in the acting roles, the action sequences in the matches do look very convincing, thanks to the amazing cinematography. You certainly realise how far cinematic technology has progressed over the years when you see Bettany and Dunst belt out those groundstrokes and smashes almost as beautifully as the real-life, seasoned pros would.

All in all, an entertaining date flick that holds even more appeal for tennis fans.

Who should watch: Those who don't mind suspending their belief about British tennis to simply enjoy a lovable romantic comedy.

Who shouldn't watch: Tim Henman, all English tennis players and English tennis fans. They may actually believe they CAN really win a grand slam.

Rating: 7.5

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