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26 reviews in total 
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Owen Wilson spoiled the movie for me., 4 March 2012

I am not a fan of Woody Allen, but I do watch his movies from time to time. This particular movie is quite a gem, as it does not feature Woody Allen's needy Jewish guy character. But... Owen Wilson is not the right person for the role. He made what would be a nice sophisticated romance movie into a run-in-the-mill romantic comedy. At least romantic comedies are funny... This is not.

How can a movie with all the right elements: Great settings, great story, great plot and plot devices, go so wrong? Because the central character is wrong. I almost wished Woody Allen's usual character is the protagonist. I would have believed in the movie more.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A taste of a different kind of love., 23 June 2011

I thought it was a great movie, beautiful shots, bold statements. Why should every love story be about happy endings? This is about a woman who was abandoned as a child, and cannot believe that anyone would truly love her. Her first and only love wouldn't touch her. Her first attempt at selling herself was disastrous. Naturally, when finally a right person comes along, she runs as far as she can.

I hated that she sold her body to earn her school fees. But yet, I understand that deeper than needing the money, she craved the touch of a man. The only man she would ever love never touched her, never kissed her, never satisfied her. Turns out he loved her with all his heart, but can never love her with his body.

I hated that she cheated with this other man who turns out like a douche. BUt yet, I understand why she could not get away from him. His strong assertive nature, his flair and his no strings attached made her feel empowered. He was willing to give her what her true love cannot.

This is a very beautifully shot movie. THe colours, the atmosphere, the locations are just stellar. It doesn't need the big budget stuff. In fact, the only spectacular crane shot was from the very beginning. And I was mighty impressed. Simplicity is the key to sophistication.

Barbie Hsu, Eddie Peng and Zhang Xiao Quan did a fantastic job in my book.Barbie just blows my mind away. No need for over-emoting, no need for huge dramatic declarations. ALL her acting is in her eyes, almost like a female Tony Leung.

I understand why it may be a little confusing, and almost unrealistic. But truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. And this completely new take on love relationships is refreshing and gritty. The only thing that didn't work for me was the movie's namesake (In Mandarin, it says Love, practiced with musical notes), the DO-RE-MI act breaks did not add to the story at all, rather, it is almost distracting and out of place.

Definitely deserves my 9. And those that have not seen it. Give it a go.

P/S: Film scoring I like very much. It is the sounds of Mavis Fan.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A load of fun over all., 5 January 2011

I just want to say that I noticed the show because I am a big big fan of Sarah Shahi. And watched the pilot for the same reason. But I am sure glad I did, because I became hooked to it and wished the episodes would come out sooner.

I hate horror/ghost shows, movies or TV. I am just a chicken at heart and cannot stand being spooked. But this show is really refreshing as it does not go for cheap thrills like in so many other horror shows. Instead, it explores the different themes and urban legends. Yes, it might sound clichéd. But it is really interesting for me that they explored the different legends.

The best part is, I can sit thru the whole entire show without haven't my guts jump out at every turn.

True that they need to feature less teen beautiful girls. But at least it doesn't play out like other shows that the leads get to wine, dine and bed the girls in different episodes. Contrary, it is very refreshing to see a show that does not have a boy-girl relationship going on.

I like the writing of the story, it is paced pretty well. I also like the acting, easy and comfortable. But what grabs me most is the high production value they have. great shots and great lighting.

One bad point though... the special effects could be a lot better. And the editor has to take note that the blue screens still can be spotted. Please do a cleaner job in taking out the blue screens.

I like to end saying that I love Sarah Shahi even more now. Because she has led me to a show that is totally worth watching.

Religulous (2008)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Rather entertaining., 9 September 2009

I would consider myself an Agnostic Theist. I truly believe that there is something out there, however, I do not believe in organized religion. And that is what's wonderful about Bill Maher's documentary. The questions he asked, are the questions I throw out on a regular basis, especially when I am being preached to.

While it is true that the documentary is very skewed, I also expected no less from Mr. Maher himself. In fact, I am pleasantly surprise at how mild he is with his interviewees, considering how opinionated he is on "Real Time".

And while this documentary does not teach me anything new about the religions (I don't think it is meant to), it does show the humanistic side of it. The believers truly believe, and it is a rather touching thought, though a very scary one.

The followers in the truck stop chapel were surprisingly nice, and it comforts me to know that there are big hearted Christians out there who allows the difference of opinion.

And I am mostly unsurprised at the insights of the two catholic priests, one tells of how it is impossible to have science in the Bible, and another essentially stating that the stories in the Bible are 'pfff'. They understand that the stories in the Bible are metaphorical, and they are not to be taken literally (or literacy as the senator said). And that to me makes the most sense in the entire documentary.

I liked this documentary. It's very Bill Maher, but it is definitely not for the believers. But for what it is worth, I actually hoped that he took on a more ridiculing tone in it. It feels a little neither here nor there. I would say that if he wanted to go all the way, he should have gone all the way!

22 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Dealing with the consequence., 9 December 2007

Isn't what life is all about? Dealing with decisions made without regret? I don't know about others, but I find this completely refreshing and utterly different from all Western takes on Lesbianism.

There isn't one villain in the entire story, all conflicts and all problems are internal, making it completely realistic and real. No one is there to 'seperate' them, but they have to deal with the consequences of leading a gay life.

I am Asian, and can completely understand the perils of coming out and frowns of society in Asia.

About the story. This is an adaptation from a manga of the same title, Love My Life. It stars Yoshii Rei as Ichiko and Asami Imajuku as Eriko, who are two university students deeply in love. Ichiko decides to come out to her father, and finds out that her parents were both gay, and got married to start a family. This serves as the first consequence of the decision she made.

Like in the film, Ichiko narrates that "When you make a decision, you have to deal with the consequence, and it would be like dominoes falling, a chain reaction that seems never ending". She meets her deceased mother's lover, meets her father's lover, meet with the disapproval of Eriko's father and on top of it all, has to deal with school and her job.

The cinematographer seems very interested in the voyeuristic aspect of life, as if the audience are a fly on the wall in the everyday lives of Ichiko and Eriko. With this in mind, it doesn't really matter if the lighting is a little off sometimes, or that there are parts that are blown out. Or even if the edits are not too perfect... These are not important stuff. These are minor... The story is the gem...

Speaking of story, Manga, though branded a lot of times as juvenile and childish, sometimes has the best stories, they don't have to keep up with pretenses, they tell a story the best way they know how, and this is reflected in this film.

Nice, fluffy, realistic, romantic. It doesn't have the melodrama of Western films, doesn't have the angst and problems of other gay (western) films... it has a sincerity that is very rarely reflected even in other Japanese film.

I think it is great, and probably if you are not too concerned about it resembling anything like Hollywood or American Independent movies, you will understand the Gem that is hidden away in Little Japan.

I give it an excellent grade. And will now go hunt for the manga.

Secret (2007)
6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Excellent little story, 13 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am NOT a fan of Jay Chou, in fact, I cannot stand his music. But this movie has gotta be one of the best little ditties I have seen in a long time. Jay does a commendable job as director, writer and actor. I watched this movie without knowing much about it, because anything with Guey Lun Mei (Rain) in it, I am there. But after coming here to the trusty IMDb, I had the shock of my life.

I wouldn't have noticed that it is a first time director (nevermind if he is Jay Chou) on the helms because this definitely looks like a work from a season director. And although I would have guessed that Jay is the Music director, since he is such a 'pop legend', it still impressed me because the entire movie did not have any of his signature fancy-smancy stuff... Indeed, I am pretty in awe, and I think I might just have to view Jay Chou in a different light.

The story, while it is a little slow in the beginning, is fresh and original. In the beginning, Jay (Jay Chou) and Rain's (Guey Lun Mei) interaction had me thinking that I already know the ending, that Rain was a ghost. That completely had me smirking, and I was thinking nothing of it. But when the big reveal was about to happen, I realize that it was too soon in a movie for a simple ghost girl story. And I was indeed much surprised that it wasn't anything about ghost, but more of a suspension of disbelief. It reminded me of 'The Classic' and 'Il Mare' and other Korean greats, except with a very original twist! I spent about 15mins, just staring and wondering how something so simple could be so captivating.

The special effects in the movie, isn't very consistent. There are some parts that are done exceptionally well, and other parts that had me rolling my eyes. But technical faults can be forgiven, as long as the heart and the soul in the story is there. And indeed, it is. Jay wrote the story, and so the connection with music is inevitable. Yet, Jay did not paint himself as a hero, or as a great man, he was just an average Joe who fell in love with an average Jane (but I am bias, Guey is one of the most attractive girls in my book). The development of the love between Jay and Rain has gotta be one of the most believable in recent years. The interaction, the dialog, reminds me of young love. *gush* But for a movie to work, the acting as to work. And boy did the acting work in this one. Jay, (feeling much like a broken record for saying his name so many times), is surprisingly natural. He doesn't have the deliberateness of many 'seasoned' actors, and I liked that. Underacting as opposed to overacting is always good. Anthony Wong (Jay's dad) as always, is one of the best actors of our time, and it shows. Even though he doesn't have much to flex his acting chops, he does so because he doesn't over shadow anyone else. The best actors are the ones who can play at his player's level, and Anthony has shown that he could do that. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Jay is good or bad as an actor, but Anthony definitely toned down and accommodated the feel of natural acting in this movie, which is completely different from the Hong Kong high energy stuff he is probably used to.

But Most of all I would like to gush (Here it comes!) about Guey Lun Mei. She isn't a very frequent actress, and at last count, i think she had only about 3-4 films. But her acting, oh god her acting, she has gotta be one of the best up and coming actresses ever. I believe her happiness, i believe her sadness, i believe her anger, i believe her desperation. I believe everything she emotes, because she is so good at emoting. She doesn't have a signature laugh, or a signature cry like so many others, but she has a kind of natural talent that draws me closer to her character Rain. I am so glad Jay chose her as the female lead, because I don't think anyone else in Taiwan would be able to pull of her kind of subtle acting.

So in conclusion. Watch this movie. Don't judge Jay Chou for Jay Chou. and start falling in love with Guey like I am. Story's great, cinematography's great, music is fantastic, actors are great, definitely a 10 overall.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Good for what's its worth, 11 September 2007

I just recently watched this movie on IFC. And was pleasantly surprise when i first started watching it. But as it progressed, it just boggles me at the execution of it.

Firstly, commendable performance from Jessica Alba. I am from Singapore, and the setting is close to my heart. For an American, she has definitely convinced me that she was local. Her accent is shaky, but then again, what's the right accent? But i think she played the role well. The other actors however, feels pretty flat. No ups no downs.

Secondly, for the genre and the setting, this movie can be so much more. The script is very flat, the highs are not high enough, and the lows are not gripping enough. I do not feel for the characters, and I do not care for what this young British is going through.

Thirdly, I couldn't tell that this takes place in the Malayan archipelago until I was told so in the movie. It just seems so contrive, for the lack of a better word. I should be angry, I should feel sad, I should feel that this is the most unfair world to live in. Yet... All i could see is, Jessica Alba doing a great job.

I wish someone would re-write this screenplay, and add to this story, take away the crap that is completely unnecessary and make this as magical as it potentially could be.

795 out of 1357 people found the following review useful:
Awful... Really awful., 19 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ever since I have seen Infernal Affairs (IA), I said to myself that Hollywood would not pass up on a story like this. And true enough, I heard Brad Pitt bought the rights to the show and that he and Tom Cruise are slated to act in it. When I heard that the whole ensemble changed, I still was looking forward to the film. IA, with a much smaller budget, looks more expensive than The Departed (TD).

Character development -IA, is all about heart. It is about how the mole in the police, Ming, is torn between his identity as a mole, and his conscience, and the mole in the mafia/gangland, Yan, is torn between doing right for the police and his own dilemma about his identity. Ming is not bad, nor is Yan good. TD, like all other Hollywood cop movies, is about black and white. Costigan is wholesomely good, and Sullivan is utterly bad. Their characters are so one-dimensional, it's almost like the screenwriter doesn't trust his audience to be intelligent enough to know that good and evil are degrees of grey.

Timeframe - The time frame is just ridiculous in TD. Are we expected to believe that in the short span of 4 months, Costigan is able to infiltrate the mafia and become Costello's left hand man, given that everyone (so 'cleverly' explained by Queenan) knows that he was a cop and that Costello doesn't trust people easily? Are we also to believe that Sullivan can rise through the ranks of the police force so fast, considering that (also 'cleverly' explained by Ellerby) they don't trust people with perfect records? In IA, it is a convincing many years. Both characters are allowed to grow into their environment enough to be torn. TD just throws it in our face.

Acting - How can people say that the acting is superb? Matt Damon doesn't emote at all. Leo Dicarprio is so whiny, if he isn't whining to Queenan, he is whining to the shrink, or Costello and Mr. French. Martin Sheen is like a vase, so weak and wimpy, he doesn't have the air befitting of a Captain. Mark Wahlberg's character, sarcastic as hell, for what? It's a wonder that he is even there, he has no role to play at all. An omission of his character wouldn't have made the movie any less. The shrink sleeps with both Costigan and Sullivan, and we are expected to feel sorry for her? And Jack Nicholson, so painful to watch. Even the extras are so miscast-ed. The Mainland Chinese characters are so obviously 3rd generation Cantonese speakers, with the American accents, I am not a native Cantonese speaker and even I know it's all wrong.

Screenplay - This has to be one of the worst screenplays ever.

a. Costello, if he is a big time gangland boss, and that he is dealing with international crime lords, why is he and his right hand man still going round the hood to collect protection money? The writers cannot decide if he is a big-time crime lord or a smalltime mafia boss.

b. the time-line.

c. Costigan sends the tape to Madolyn, gets Sullivan to meet him at the building Queenan died, and expects to do what? It is just a cheap shot at trying to mirror IA's intelligent rooftop scene.

d. The fact that the cast says F*** every other second makes the movie cheap and crude instead of realistic.

e. the subplots are so unnecessary and so poorly intertwined. The double crossing of the mainland Chinese, the FBI informer subplot, the letter that was never heard of again, the love triangle between moles & shrink, the time in cadet school. All these subplots should be omitted, then maybe the director can concentrate on the real story.

f. What's up with the ending? First Costigan is shot (Which is a ripped off from the original), and then everyone else gets shot in the head except Sullivan. Is there a need for all that gore? Or is it just cheap thrill? And then Dignam kills Sullivan. Does Dignam have a great enough agenda to do what he did?

g. Did I mention that a lot of scenes of the movie are ripped off from the original? Even the dialog of some of the scenes is directly translated from the original. I read that the writer claims that he didn't see the original. Is he trying to claim the great parts of the movies as his own? Isn't that plagiarism? Which brings me to

Production value - Scorsese bombed, big time. He has ran out of tricks, the movie started out good, but the ending seemed so rushed, like he has ran out of time, or interest. I love GoodFellas, and his style and techniques at that time seem fresh and ingenious. But the second time he used the pinhole effect in TD, I realize that Scorsese has ran out of ideas. There are even scenes that he took from the original shot by shot, making it seem like he cannot make his own out of the material.

Over all I am very MAD. MAD at the people who say this movie is brilliant. It is brilliant only because the original is brilliant and they had taken almost every element of it. I am MAD because of the disregard of respect on the part of Scorsese's team, not giving the credits when credits are due. Is he going to get an academy award for something that is not his? Something that he so blatantly took from someone else and did not even bother to credit? That would say a lot about Hollywood and their disregard for anyone else. I am MAD at the way the movie ended and I am just disappointed that the audiences are treated like idiots and they don't know it.

11 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Best Period Drama in recent years., 7 October 2006

I don't think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was that great. It sucked really bad IMO, and I had preferred Tsui Hark's works from the good old days. And recently, all these so-called Chinese Epic Dramas, they are so blatantly catered for Hollywood, that I actually laugh at their attempts of defending themselves. Well, if you look pass the obvious catering for the western market, you could find some gems, like "Hero" was magnificent, and "House of the Flying Daggers" was not too bad, but the other attempts, shall just slip away into oblivious history.

That being said, I was pleasantly and gratefully surprise at "The Banquet". When I heard that it was in production, I was anticipating it (just like I did with all the other Epics that promised but does not deliver), mainly because I heard of the stellar cast for the movie, Zhou Xun, Daniel Wu, Ge You, Huang Xiaoming(okay he is cute) and I was promised Gong Li. Somehow, I didn't realize that Gong Li was replaced by the younger Zhang Ziyi. That fueled my disappointment and I almost didn't want to watch this movie, if not for the great love I had for the other cast members.

The difference between this one and it's overly pretentious predecessors, is that it has a little of everything but does not over do anything. It has a play of colors, but not as brutally used as "Hero". It has beautifully choreographed fight scenes, but not as overly-enthusiastic as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". It has remarkable sets and astounding scenery, but not shamelessly used like "House of the hidden daggers". It has beautiful costumes, but not ridiculously extravagant as "The Promise", I could go on and on, but it doesn't matter, what matters is that this movie, has everything in an appropriate proportion.

Well, maybe not everything, I wish there were lesser scenes with the adequate but nothing great Zhang ZiYi. I understand that Ziyi Zhang is the name the westerners would recognized the most, thus the hard sell, but seriously, the more they focus on her, the more it is obvious that she is only an adequate actress. Some may say that she excelled in this role, well, this role is tailored for Miss Zhang, if she did less than what she did, she really doesn't deserve any recognition at all. That being said, I believe that I can name at least 3 other Chinese actresses that could have done an equal or even better job then Miss Zhang would ever do.

Zhou Xun, who plays Qing Nu, on the other hand, is perfect (well, in my eyes anyway), all previous roles she had done, "Perhaps Love", "Suzhou River" had proved her versatility. Here, she is saccharine sweetness, not pitiful, nor sympathetic. In the little screen time she had, she had shown a powerful character. Longing for her prince, but not to the point of wimpy. In fact, the purest form of acting (as shown by Zhou Xun) is not emoting by practiced expressions (like Zhang) but emoting by just a stare, a look, just the eyes told an endless tale.

Ge You, a respected actor, proved once again that he is a great actor of his time. He was believable as the king in lust for his queen, the old saying "The kingdom or the beauty" is well portrayed by Ge. Even that forced ending where he drinks the poison that the Empress bestowed him, was quite heart-wrenching, and human really.

Daniel Wu, a brilliant young actor, is sadly under used in this movie. His character proves too one-dimensional, and if not for the great acting Wu pulled off, I would have said sheesh. Huang Xiaoming, a new actor, is someone to look out for, handsome, dashing, and mostly, great acting.

As much as Hamlet is referenced, and mentioned over and over again by literally everyone, I don't see much of a resemblance. I can see the plot line being similar, but then again, isn't there like a million movies out there that has similar plots? Maybe I am just a sucker for period movies from the early 50s to recently, but I can clearly remember many movies that has similar plot lines and story arcs. I find this movie even more similar to "The King and the Clown", the korean movie of 2005 (Watch it... it is magnificent), in the way they used theatre from the first scene to the end, where they used theatre to tell the treachercous story of betrayal and usurped. "The King and the Clown" is probably the only period drama of that era from recent times taht is worth more salt then "The Banquet". And anyone who enjoyed, or thought that "The Banquet" sucked, should watch "The King and the Clown"

Feng XiaoGang, whom I adore, pulled off this wonderful epic, the best in recent years. My only complain would be, and that is true about almost every Chinese movie to hit the screens is the weak and anti-climatic ending of the 3rd act. This movie is adequate enough, if they did not add that awful monologue that Miss ZHang goes into, but it was quick to redeem itself with that "Who killed the Empress" ending. All in all, an awesome movie with an awesome cast.

13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Timeless Classic, 25 September 2006

I have never liked the 70s and the 80s, I think these are the eras of mistakes. BUT "The Blue Lagoon" is not a mistake. It is one of the best ever movies that came out of that era, and probably the few good things that ever did survive.

It is simple, nothing fancy, the plot is convincing (Probably because of the direct adaptation from the highly successful book), and the acting of the two teenage actors are superb.

I wonder why they never make movies as simple as this one anymore? Survival, love, dependency, courage, fear, and growing up, the themes of this movie is universal, and yet woven together in a nicely paced movie without the complications of the modern world. But even in that primitive land, is it without complications?

Watch this movie, save for the dated hairstyles, you can watch this 30 years later and still it would be beautiful and easily understandable. What am I saying, it is almost 30 years later!

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