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Monthly Archives: January 2006

Fearless.

Strange how I feel scared in giving my piece of comments about the film, as opposed to its title.

And the more I feel my fear, the stranger it becomes since I grew up with gong-fu genre. Back in 1980s when Beta videocassettes ruled the world the way DVD does now, I was exposed to the world of martial arts films, thanks to my parents’ weekly visit to a video rental store nearby. Thus, I heartily understand that beneath a simple plot which usually revolves around revenges and preserving dignity of the main characters, lies words of wisdom flowing towards the end of the films. In addition, I am also aware that for male-centred stories, the ladies have to step aside to become backdrops of the films, but for female-centred stories, the guys will always be the sidekicks, or the villains.

The rules are what makes Fearless is a sacred film to look up to.

First, the film does not try to pay tribute or homage to the genre, nor it tries to enhance with overused CGI-ladden visual effects that work well with confusing Hero and not with plot-less The Promise.
Fearless gives indeed what an old time gong-fu flick had: a simple storyline that requires your brain to rest and to blink once in a while to alert yourself on your whereabout, and open your eyes widely for action sequences exquisitely choreographed by the master himself, Woo-ping Yuen.

Second, the inescapable notion that the film would be Jet Li’s last martial arts film affects our judgment, and as much as we laugh over predictable sequences, be them during action scenes or those very few dialogue ones, there seems to be a bound to respect his effort to be back to the root that brings him fame and fortune to the global world of film.

Fearless

Thus, it is only right then to applaud the filmmakers involved to choose a story which leaves no potential sequels behind to avoid any further cliche that would only bring down Li’s hard-earned reputation as a martial arts actor who ages well like a fine wine. Take a look at his multi-layered facial expressions in some dramatic scenes, a great departure from what he initially came up with more than two decades back.

I tip my hat off, take a bow, and salute Jet Li, leaving my fear behind and closing the chapter of his terrifying Hollywood years with what he knows best, a martial arts film. Period.

 
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Posted by on 01/30/2006 in English, Film

 

(have i been) back for good (?)

i guess now it’s time
for me to give up
i feel it’s time

i guess every move taken in this dearly life, it will eventually reveal its own dualism, something to reflect how desperately i’ve been fighting against one supposedly-dismissed thing prior to put my feet upfront: denial.

i guess every turn taken in pedestrian walks under the cloudy skies will get you thinking, why is it that you have to reduce your expectations gradually, leaving almost to nothing but hopeless particles of dust, centering in your skin, leaving pores here and there?

i guess every one who has lived long enough at his comfort zone will understand the meaning of on-hold sacrifice, never been fully released to its fullest extent, still holding on to it whenever possible.

whatever i say,
whatever i did,
i didn’t mean it,
i just want you back for good.

wherever i will go, i may roam.
wherever i will stay, i should venture.
wherever i will take this tiny feet to, i must make my presence felt.
and that’s good.

 
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Posted by on 01/27/2006 in English, Personal

 

Garasi

Let the music speak for itself.

But this is a film, right?

We are very much tickled with the above two statements upon watching the film which tries to revive a rock-film genre. As music is strongly linked to this kind of genre, Garasi does what it knows best: pulsating rhythms that make filmgoers tap in their feet despite the sorrowful lyrics or the gothic-look of the band’s members, the score that works within the same note of the soundtrack, altogether potentially gives a way for spawning merchandises, in particular, a rocking soundtrack album.

Set aside the music, what else do we have?

Sadly, not much.

Garasi

What draws me to the film prior to watching it is the premise of the film that tries to balance the narrative structure of storytelling with the rock genre as mentioned early on. What I have seen later is the imbalance of the two, leaving each one standing on its own, and not supporting one another. Thus, we will see the highly-energized scenes of the band’s performances do initiate our heads to bang and nod, but once they stop, we are retreated back to the literally dark scenes which will take our eyes for a while to get used to. Patiently waiting for the next few minutes, we will see Prima Rusdi excels in writing dramatic scenes and their twists, particularly the climatic revelation between the band’s singer and her mother (in addition to the slip-in of criticism towards gossipy news which is subtly done very well). And Prima knows not to dwell on this kind of scene for too long to create a good impact to the entire film, leaving the path back to the rock scenes to quench the thirst of the film’s intended audience, i.e. teens or youngsters with high aspiration in music.

There goes how the film will appeal, and for those who prefer to scratch their heads over its simplistic story line, let the comical scenes entertain you instead, for the film knows what it aims best, that is, to rock, the hard way.

 
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Posted by on 01/24/2006 in English, Film

 

The Constant Gardener

Keep telling yourself that this is a love story.

And to have a love story that could span into some other multi-layered stories enriched with complicated subtexts is what makes the film applaudable, and certainly what has put Fernando Meirelles as a director with an edge.

Recalling the quick-cut scene-changes style of City of God, Meirelles once again establishes himself as a director with a penchant for non-conventional narrative storytelling. Audience is forced to sit through the entire 120 minutes of the film to arrange the puzzle, despite some lengthy scenes, yet quickly redeemed with pulsating scores from Alberto Iglesias, and breathtaking looks of Africa as captured by Cesar Charlone, the cinematographer.

The puzzle itself may contain numerous characters whom at times seem to be merely passing by to enjoy their limited fame, although the same cannot be said of Bill Nighy, Danny Huston and Pete Postlethwaite who light up the screen with their dignified turns that make their scenes compelling to watch. Especially the latter, with the least screen time among the three, yet audience will root for more, only to get some salvation towards the end of the film.

The Constant Gardener

However, as the puzzling story is centred at the unconditional love story between the film’s two leads, so is the ensemble which would only work should there present the two leading actors, Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. Fiennes succesfully channels his transformation from a tight-up diplomat to be a tormented husband who listens to his gut feelings to save his love. Although the transformation here is far from the physical ones as what he previously did in Sunshine or Spider, the subtleness is felt throughout his entire presence.
While Weisz never gets a chance of character-transformation as her partner does, she radiates the screen with her fearless persona that bowl over every single character in the film. In short, without further spoiler of this write-up, the tagline stating “Love. At Any Cost” does indeed reflect and revolve around Weisz’s character, almost entirely. This surely explains why at times, the film seems to be on her shoulder.

And to carry the task effortlessly, Weisz has earned her own spotlight amidst the crowd surrounding her life with The Constant Gardener.

Once again, a love story never fails to prevail.

 
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Posted by on 01/24/2006 in English, Film

 

Revolver

Why do I find it hard to come up with any reviews on this film?

I came to the theatre with, I can’t help it, a high expectation on this film, knowing that it comes from the guy who blew my mind with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and made me believe Brad Pitt (once) did deliver a performance worth of praises in Snatch, although God only knows why he made Swept Away. Forget about the latter, Revolver is his latest vehicle supposedly showing his going back to the root of the former two films mentioned, a genre he seems to be at his utmost ease with: gangster.

Alas, his gangster films are filled with his penchant towards philosophical wisdoms, which serve well with British humor, and this film is no exception. From the time we see the extreme close-up shots of clues written in a white card for Mr. Green (Jason Statham) to the dialogues revealing the messed-up mind of his opponent, Macha (Ray Liotta at his most enjoyable performance), some intelligent audience will find the film a pleasant entertainment to pass two hours by, yet on the other hand, the average audience may find the dialogues tedious, and the only thing to keep them glued to the seat is the action scenes, generously scattered throughout.

Revolver

Yet, those who are familiar with Ritchie’s works know very well that violent action scenes are not his cup of tea. He will take you through the motifs of every single action slowly, feeding us with visually descriptive scenes to make us belief that behind every character’s gesture lies complicated thoughts that drive them.

Now, does it succeed?

It is up to you to measure the performance of A-list cast which includes the aforementioned Statham, Liotta, Vincent Pastore, Francesca Annis, yet the one who keeps us intrigued with his constantly focused act is none other than André Benjamin, also known as André 3000 of OutKast. He slips through every single scene he’s in with a charming presence that leaves us wanting more. The same feeling I had when I watched P.Diddy in Monster’s Ball.

At the end, my expectation may not be fully met, but seeing a director believing in his own style by not trying hard to redefine the genre he’s familiar with, is more than a relief to me.

 
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Posted by on 01/20/2006 in English, Film

 

The 63rd Golden Globes Awards – Post-Show Reaction

Seriously, the show kept me glued to my seat as it had a few surprises at the beginning, yet as other critics’ choices have gone so far, what followed towards the end seemed to be repetitions of familiar picks.

Yet, what turned out to be the delights of the night came from TV categories. Who would’ve thought that Geena Davis could be capable of doing ad-libs, and did it very well? Who would’ve guessed that Sandra Oh finally deserves recognition she’s been long to receive? And again, any show with the presence of Desperate Housewives’s stars would always be glamorous. Add Eric McCormack, the result is even more hilarious.

On to my comments now!

Best Picture (Drama): BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Comment:
It highly deserves so.

Best Picture (Comedy or Musical): WALK THE LINE
Comment:
See above. Biopic is always a tough dan likeable subject.

Best Director: ANG LEE (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Comment:
He can’t hardly wait for the coveted Oscar soon. And a nice tribute to anyone celebrating Chinese New Year soon!

Best Actor (Drama): PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (CAPOTE)
Comment:
I told ya, he’s been overdue.

Best Actress (Drama): FELICITY HUFFMAN (TRANSAMERICA)
Comment:
At least she should get one out of two.

Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): JOAQUIN PHOENIX (WALK THE LINE)
Comment:
Everyone’s darling, and …

Best Actress (Comedy/Musical): REESE WITHERSPOON (WALK THE LINE)
Comment:
… so is she.

Best Supporting Actor
: GEORGE CLOONEY (SYRIANA)
Comment:
The very first surprise of the night, right when the ceremony just started. I figured out that since it was not possible for win in the other two categories he was nominated in (Best Picture and Best Director), and in addition to the weak listing of Supporting Actor category, Clooney charms voters easily, especially when they recognize he had to put extra 30 pound for his role! Oh, how Hollywood loves sacrifice.

Best Supporting Actress: RACHEL WEISZ (THE CONSTANT GARDENER)
Comment:
What did she do with her hair? To look unrecognized?
What has been unrecognized is her consistently good performances in every single film she’s made so far. Frankly, I couldn’t come up with any predictions why Weisz could come on top, but her winning will guarantee her an Oscar nod, and now it’s a matter of eliminating stiff competitions from Maria Bello and Gong Li to proceed further.

Best Screenplay: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Comment:
A surprise over everyone’s choices on more serious theme in Crash or Good Night, and Good Luck., but a beautifully heart-rending story like Brokeback deserves a royal treatment.

Best Original Score: JOHN WILLIAMS (MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA)
Comment:
See? Having two giants in cello and violin never hurt a chance to win.

Best Original Song: A LOVE THAT WILL NEVER GROW OLD (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Comment:
See? A beautiful and tender song, indeed.

Best Foreign Language Film: PARADISE NOW (Palestine)
Comment:
See? No Man’s Land and Osama won in this category before, can’t you see the pattern?

There you go, the first glam show of the year. If there’s anyone to thank, I’d like to thank one particular smart cameraman who keeps framing Anne Hathaway despite her merely being seated next to Ang Lee. What a choice for such a luminuous beauty!

Oh, and thank you Anthony Hopkins. A short speech indeed for such an award, yet it doesn’t reduce your majestic presence in the film industry throughout.
(What I’ve been meaning to say is that you succeed in not doing what Barbra Streisand did when she accepted the same award a few years back. A 24-minute speech!)

Goodbye, and good luck.

... i win for Comedy/Musical?!

 
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Posted by on 01/17/2006 in English, Film

 

9 Naga

Imagine you are in a foreign country, being there for the first time, and you decide to hop on a bus, taking a trip that lasts for 105 minutes from one point in the West to the other end in the East.

When you jump aboard, you will see unfamiliar faces revealing their characters, yet you can’t trust your instinct to believe in face value, but you’d rather wait for them telling their stories which may transport you to disbelief, as the stories will actually reveal their multi-layered characters. Of course, part of the stories will bore you to death, especially if they decide to give the explosive parts within the first half an hour, while you still have more than one hour to reach your destination.
How do you fill the gap hole?
One option will tell you to enjoy the scenery, something you might need to keep you well informed about that new city you are in. Otherwise, you can (pretend to) nod in whatever agreement those people telling you, and slowly sink yourself to doze off, right until you see that the terminal of your last stop is within the horizon.

There goes how you should watch 9 Naga.

9 Naga

The unsteady pace in telling the stories might be exactly what you experience when a car you’re in hits a bumpy road, after a brisk pace, you are forced to take a few gears back, and slowly build up the speed again, right before hitting another bumpy ones.

In this case, we are given a blowing promise within the first 30 minutes when Rudi Soedjarwo decides to lift the story up, pumping our adrenaline with some gritty scenes done exquisitely well, without either being banal or vulgar.
After all, this is the theme where Soedjarwo finds himself familiar with, having directed Mengejar Matahari which shares a similar brotherhood theme, and even Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? that puts a strong emphasize on sisterhood.

Yet, what follows afterwards is one big hole with overtly long, unnecessary scenes that seem to be filled in order to make the duration lasts longer than 90 minutes, something that Soedjarwo should be able to avoid. A conspiracy theory might predict that Soedjarwo tries hard to compromise the highly macho-theme with a touch of feminine side with a few light-hearted scenes, although the effect tends to prolong the film circling to nowhere.

Thankfully, the balance is more than enough to make the film as one of the rare films to bare the multi-faceted layers of its male characters. This is the field where Soedjarwo excels best, and he never shies away from exploring their emotional outbursts to a good extent. We get to see a tough man with a gentle heart and being responsible towards his family in his own way, whereas the other get to provide us with enlightening comic efffect, much needed in a film with such a ‘heavy’ theme like this.

No matter how heavy it is, your trip has ended, and when you look back, you realize that it shouldn’t take that long to reach your destination. But you are still grateful for the people you meet along the way.

Isn’t it a worth taking trip after all?!

 
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Posted by on 01/16/2006 in English, Film

 

feeling films.

When was the last time you feel good after watching films?

Ask the question to me, the answer is simply: last nite.

Living in a suburban area means I have to deal with the setback of not being able to scout any sophisticated cinemas, thus what you have is what you get. And among the selection of the films offered, my eyes were set on revisiting In Good Company after watching it sometime last year back then in my comfort zone.
What an experience indeed!
I remember I wrote something about the film here, which in this case was a praise, and what made me pleasant most was how the film got better after repeated viewing. For a feel-good film, it is almost flawless I say, since the film can make me feel good while I took mikrolet and becak to reach home. And I keep thinking, how films can actually make me feel good.

don't tell her what we do during lunch hour!

As the wind started getting into my skin, I tried recalling many emotional experiences I have encountered after I finished watching films.

It began when I was on my 4th/5th grade of elementary school, I remember I was hoping to become Jessica Lange’s son and getting involved in her father’s (which would make Armin-Mueller Stahl as my fictional grandfather) war crime after I watch her knock-out performance as a tormented lawyer in Music Box.
A year later, I often imagined that I was one of Robin Williams’s students in Dead Poets Society, and being surrounded with the pals like Robert Sean Leonard or Ethan Hawke.

alrite, you upstage me, you get the Oscar nod, and I'm acting rotten here, unrecognized?!

Of course I didn’t write any reviews at that time, as the habit only began when I was in Senior High School.
Dilligently I pasted ticket stubs at the back of this thick book where I wrote down my daily expenses, and I wrote a little comment next to the stubs. I remember how I started becoming critical after watching Independence Day, as I was mad at the film’s stupid plot. Yet, I forgave the cheesiness of Phenomenon, and chose to cry over John Travolta’s character, the same thing I did towards Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient. And I still shed my tears whenever the film started showing its scenes in a dark cave, after many repeated viewings.

we are looking at nothing but the sand, and soon we'll be Oscar nominated actors! how we love Weinsteins!

As I graduated, and went to colleges where both times I took English as my major, I find my penchant for reviewing films was increasing. From having one-line notes to become one-paragraph notes, I began listing down every single film I watched, be it from cinema or VCD, or DVD, which only came to my life three years ago.
And no matter what medium my film watching is, it’s the emotional experience that counts most.

It was a drizzling night when I took a long walk after I watched The End of the Affair, which made me think about love and faith to be co-existent all through the night. Reading the source novel a few months back enhanced my understanding about the characters more, which needless to say, it is also an indication that the film successfully captures the spirit of the novel.

ralph, i'm not gonna give this hat to you, even you did me good those steamy scenes

And exactly around this time last year, I remember I took the same long walk in Bangkok after watching Closer, one film that made me shut my ears for its frank dialogues. Again, the film’s brutal yet honest look on love made me thinking about all the relationships I had.

And it took me a while to grasp my breath when I finished watching Hiroshima, Mon Amour on DVD, knowing that love actually hurts when it gives the most faithful commotion one can ever ask.

And I couldn’t move myself to do things for days after I watched The Hours at the time when my life was full with uncertainties, and I questioned the meaning of happiness I long to have in my life.
The same feeling gripped me hard when I watched Blue from Kryzstof Kieslowski’s first installment of his Trois Couleurs trilogy. Seeing Juliette Binoche had to come to terms in dealing with her loss made me think of what I have had in life.

question is, am i seen on a big screen? am i? gosh, being a diva in france means to suffer a lot!

The list would go on, and not often they included my harshness towards bad films, in this case what I remember most is Troy, when I really felt like throwing my sandals to the big screen, and rip the screen into two, mashed it to pieces, and asking for my $8 back.
That showed you how much I could be on films I dismiss most.

And of course, the opposites as mentioned in the previous paragraphs is more than enough to convey what I want to say, that to experience films is a pleasure unlike any other kind.

Another question will raise though. How long will I be able to do that?

As much as I want to answer the question with ‘timeless’, I realize that there may come a time when I won’t be able to experience those emotional feelings.

repeat after me: nicole never won, nicole never won ... darn it!

Last night, after sorting out my feel-good moments, I realized my own doings in a way that put me into bewilderment. As most of you know, my decision to move to the city here was filled with hopes of working in the field that has become my passion all this time: films.
Yet, many obstacles seemed to prevent my way to going further than being a distant appreciator. Disappointment of one kind met with another, there weren’t many jolly experiences in store so far.

However, I made peace with that.
No matter what I do or end up doing, it’s hard for me to reduce or decrease my likings towards films, the way I appreciate them in my own way that no one will dare to intervene or prevent me from doing.
When things go awry, I turn to films for a two-or-three-hour of plunging myself into a different world from mine. And even if I fail to secure any jobs in film industry, film remains one thing I treasure most, the one I’m willing to spend my money on, the one I crave most to make me intelligent. Sort of.

Perhaps just like in Sabrina when she asks her father why he chooses to become a chaffeur, he replies with a smile, “So that I can spend much time reading books”.

thank god it's not those bloody horrible padme amedala again

Thus, to feel films is what I’ve been after, and will always be.

 
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Posted by on 01/16/2006 in English, Film

 

The 63rd Golden Globes Awards

UPDATED: January 16, 2006

One good thing about film awards in Hollywood is that you don’t have to watch every single film to give your comments, and on a way lesser degree, your prediction. All we need is the endless supplies of news on many critics’ associations which would tell to which direction the ultimate award event (aka The Academy Awards) will go to, and of course, the gut feeling resulted from skimming and scanning through every single news we encounter. A comprehensive, thorough reading needs not be done in assessing the list, because the same films and names will keep appearing on different critics’ choices. If you find the fact hard to believe, kindly visit Oscarwatch and The Envelope or even the Mecca of film fans, Internet Movie Database to prove my words there.

Again, welcome to the Golden Globes, the only award event where we can see the stars getting drunk on their tables before their names being called to come on stage to accept the awards. This is also the only award where A Star is Born is deemed a classic film on a history of filmmaking despite many critics’ thrashes, the only award where you might remember Christine Baranski’s toilet tissue peeking out from her shoes rather than undeserving Goldie Hawn being nominated for a trash like The Banger Sisters, and the only award where a non-English language film can not compete in both Best Picture category.

Yet, a Golden Globe is a Golden Globe after all, a glitzy, glamorous event where popularity is important above many others, and a path before we involve further in Oscar betting.

Consider this a warm-up, alritey?!

On with the predictions.

BEST PICTURE DRAMA
Will win: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Should win: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Comment: More than the fact that the film has been listed numerously in many other critics’ awards, the film needs to win to prove how Hollywood has departed from its conservative constraints. At least, they recognize Elton John, why not for a much better cause?

BEST PICTURE COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Will win: WALK THE LINE
Should win: PRIDE & PREJUDICE
Comment: Hollywood loves stories about their own inhabitants who struggles with their fame status, and make that alcholic, drug abusive, and many other crimes to contrast with their talented skills. And Hollywood also loves the fact that both leads belting out their own voice to portray their characters. Yet, the reason why I push Pride and Prejudice to win is simply the fact that it brings back a feel-good quality as done in its true-to-original adaptation of literary works.

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
Will win: PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (CAPOTE)
Should win: HEATH LEDGER (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Comment: Hoffman has many overdues from his leading role in Flawless, Love Liza, Owning Mahony, to his scene stealing roles in many films, Talented Mr. Ripley being one of them. His portrayal of a respected author should be highly regarded, yet knowing Ledger plays a cowboy with a tormented soul might be another interesting option to watch.

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BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
Will win: FELICITY HUFFMAN (TRANSAMERICA)
Should win: FELICITY HUFFMAN (TRANSAMERICA)
Comment: Looking at the list of nominees, we can only wonder what Maria Bello is doing here instead of being in the Supporting category. Inserting Gwyneth Paltrow only gives a false hope to her, and both Charlize Theron’s and Zhang Ziyi’s chances dim along with poor reception of their films, commercially for the former, and critically for the latter. Thus, there’s no way Huffman does not win in this category, period.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Will win: JOAQUIN PHOENIX (WALK THE LINE)
Should win: JOAQUIN PHOENIX (WALK THE LINE) or JEFF DANIELS (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE)
Comment: Listen to Joaquin Phoenix belting out Johnny Cash’s tunes, you’ll understand why he suffers from mental exhaustion upon completing the film as much soul has been given to his character.
The only biggest threat in this category will come from Jeff Daniels who has earned the best critical raves in his career so far, by far.

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Will win: REESE WITHERSPOON (WALK THE LINE)
Should win: REESE WITHERSPOON (WALK THE LINE)
Comment: Refer to my comment for Joaquin’s above, with another addition on the fact how lovable Reese is within Hollywood community.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will win: PAUL GIAMATTI (CINDERELLA MAN)
Should win: MATT DILLON (CRASH)
Comment: It is interesting how many critics’ awards suddenly find themselves rushing to give their awards to Giamatti after he said in a certain magazine that he feels lack of confidence in winning the category. The tactic works very well indeed, and remember how Hollywood likes to redeem its past failures, in this case, not recognizing his more heart-rending performances in both American Splendor and Sideways that surpass his presence in the nominatef film. On the other hand, Matt Dillon proves that he matures well with his most challenging role to date, and an Oscar nomination to the very least is not much to ask.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win: MICHELLE WILLIAMS (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Should win: SCARLETT JOHANSSON (MATCH POINT)
Comment: Hollywood likes to reward actors portraying characters of long-suffering spouses, perhaps suggesting that there are many of them living in the town. Yet, when was the last time an award is given to a femme fatale?

BEST DIRECTOR
Will win: ANG LEE (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Should win: ANG LEE (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Comment: He is a master of storytelling involving several characters’ point of views without sentimentalizing it a la Steven Spielberg, or without making it visually grand a la Peter Jackson, or without wits a la Woody Allen, or without quick-cutting, fast-paced style a la Fernando Meirelles, yet Ang Lee always carries his films ahead with emotional touches that often knock us from within.
George Clooney might be considered as a newbie in this category.

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BEST SCREENPLAY

Will win: CRASH
Should win: GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
Comment: It’s only my gut feeling that Good Night, and Good Luck should win on this category, as the film’s premise looks good to me, in which it bravely puts no holds barred in depicting one of the bleakest moments in American history. However, at the times of heightened self insecurities in a multi cultural world, Crash will win for its brave initiative in tackling racial issues fairly well, to which no stories overlap one another in this multi-layered film.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Will win: JOHN WILLIAMS (MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA)
Should win: JOHN WILLIAMS (MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA)
Comment: He gets helps from two maestro in classical music, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, and imagine all of them sharing the same stage on the grand night on March.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Will win: “A LOVE THAT NEVER GROWS OLD” (by Emmylou Harris, from BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Should win: –
Comment: Personally, I find Wunderkind feels too gothic for a family-friendly film, unlike any songs from “Lord of the Rings” series with its similar eerie feeling that serve the series well. Other than that, Travellin’ America has too much country twang as sung by Dolly Parton in her iconic voice which may not be a cup of tea of Hollywood. And the country feels of A Love That Never Grows Old never goes out of pitch with the tendering and comforting feels as provided by Emmylou Harris’ voice.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Will win: PARADISE NOW (PALESTINE)
Should win: KUNG FU HUSTLE (HONG KONG)
Comment: Too bad the Stephen Chow’s labor of love is not listed as official entry from the country, opting for mediocre Perhaps Love instead. And with the commotion over the distribution of The Promise which surely will diminish its chance to win, Paradise Now should be able to encounter the sentimentality of Joyeux Noel.

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There goes my predictions, and do drop by after Tuesday morning GST+7 or +8 to say anything you want to blurt out!

 
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Posted by on 01/15/2006 in English, Film

 

Jarhead

An anti-hero is a hero of our times.

Need proof?

Rambo is something of the past that only reminds us how silly it once had been to praise a one-dimensional look of a hero, or basically, anyone who kills their enemies while wearing uniform showing off their macho quality.
Moving forward to the end of 20th century, we get to see Three Kings which shamelessly exploits the capitalist minds of George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube in seizing every single opportunities to make them rich after the war ends.
In an almost similar note, the guys in Jarhead as led by the buffed-out Jake Gyllenhall and Peter Sarsgaard combine both films’ premises, in a more heart-wrenching way.

These Marine guys were still at the peak of their self-discoveries stage of their adulthoood when they were launched to the battle in Iraq during the Gulf War. Thus, it is highly acceptable to see the once-innocent American guys can get changes of characters during their entire service time as they have to face the harshness of the military life.

Jarhead

Taking from this point, it is what makes the film compelling to watch. The war turns out the be a mere backdrop of the film’s plot which is more suitable to be seen as a passage of adulthood. Think of Stand By Me or The Lost Boys in desert, and we may feel empathy towards every single marine guys in their battle to become a hero on their own terms. Some may succeed, some may not, and some choose to surrender to the desert which gave them nothing but a warm reception when they come home.

Thus, as Gyllenhaal’s Swoff character says, “Every war is the same”, the statement could not be more attuned in defining the characters of each and every marine guy upon completing their time in a war, that they become an anti-hero on their own lives.

 
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Posted by on 01/14/2006 in English, Film

 

Memoirs of a Geisha

“A story like mine should have never been told”.

Then why should it be?
The statement that begins the film is meant to invoke curiosity among audience over a sacred quality of the life of a geisha. Apparently, it turns out to be highly sacred that the filmmakers chooses a particular point of view which does not differentiate the life of a geisha from any other women. The view is on turning the story into a Japanese Cinderella.

Consider this.
A poor girl must face obstacles put by another girls living under the same roof in order to gain her destiny, as destined by a man she longs to be with ever since she meets him incidentally.
I shall refrain myself from telling the end of the story, although by now we feel familiar with the story as has been told many times under different backdrop, such as Gary Marshall’s Pretty Woman and many other followers. And thus, those who expects Memoirs of a Geisha probes more on the nuanced lives of Japan’s highly acclaimed courtesan, will bound to be disappointed.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Perhaps what sets the film apart from many others is the director’s ability to lure the best of the film’s technical aspects. The collaboration of John Williams with two giants of violinist, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, gives the film a grand atmosphere without ever succumbing to the trap of Oriental music as might be blatantly used to emphasize the film’s Eastern-penchant look. The same goes to Colleen Atwood’s deft costume design which does not intricate in unnecessary details, yet in many ways it is enough to convey us the pivotal look of geisha in 1940s as the story is told.

Yet, the lives of a geisha should be more than parading of extravagant Oriental looks. The intricacies of their lives are the qualities that made the novel which the film is from became a highly praised novel that earned both commercial and critical success in late ‘90s, and these qualities are mercilessly excised from the film, leaving Sayuri’s voice haplessly saying:

“This is memoirs of any other kind.”

 
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Posted by on 01/13/2006 in English, Film

 

The Tin Mine

Before we begin talking about the film, let’s see how AMPAS often unfairly puts its preference towards period films when it comes to nominating films from (Eastern) Asian countries.
Randomly over the past two decades, we see The Twilight Samurai (Japan), The Scent of Green Papaya (Vietnam), House of Flying Daggers (China), and many others being nominated in the Foreign Language Film category, and ultimately, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took home the coveted Oscar five years ago. The unstoppable trend results in other countries following the same pattern when it comes to submitting their films to be considered in the aforementioned category, for example, Gie (Indonesia), last year’s Putri Gunung Ledang (Malaysia), and now, Thailand’s The Tin Mine is hoping of the same luck.

Yet, the move may prove to be a backlash towards the country itself which has already itself as a country inhabited by fresh and original ideas as seen from the staple of their horror films (Shutter, Nang Nak), drama (Last Life in the Universe), or even the notoriously difficult genre, if not impossible for Asians to conquer, i.e. Western (Tears of the Black Tiger). Seeing The Tin Mine indeed leaves me with a serious question of whether the amazing advancement storytelling from Thai filmmakers starts taking its toll, and choosing to play-safe as suffered from filmmakers in many developing countries.

For a start, the most obvious drawback of the film lies on its indecisiveness to make the film as an adolescence story, or the rise and fall of a tin mine in which the film is titled from. The use of voice-over from the main character seems to suggest that the film tries to bridge the gap between the two, yet at the end of the film, we are left with no impression to reel ourselves in a nostalgic feeling forcedfully appearing on a tad length of the duration that racks up to more than 120 minutes.

The Tin Mine

Although the breathtaking look of the film’s cinematography may be one redemptive quality to make the film still bearable, it does not make a sense at all to keep on waiting every alternate minutes to see the postcard-quality images.
A film is about a story being presented on a big screen for audience to feel, and when the story fails to choose among many of its multi-layered subtleties, it simply fails to connect.

 
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Posted by on 01/12/2006 in English, Film

 

another day of the same paradise

today marks the first anniversary of having someone called as twinnie in my life.
yet, as you can see in both blogs, there has not been any mushy words, in contrast to what both pages look like exactly a year ago.

has the world taken its toll in greatly different way?

if the answer is ‘yes’, how come there’s still a recognition or acknowledgement of the day’s sacred status on the opening of this entry?

there can’t be no definite or satisfying answer to understand the tread that has been linked between two emotional souls. there should not be any interference from external parties to shake the sytem of trust (particularly) i have been trying to build ever since the declaration was unspoken, yet being executed nicely.

walking through figuring out the roots of your country through the museums, hanging out with friends you can count on for good laugh and jolly times, mulling over worth reading books, those are the qualities that define how majestic an anniversary is.

and thus, i celebrate mine.

 
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Posted by on 01/10/2006 in English, Personal

 

wishing of washing

In every single phase of a new life, one has to seek what to do to occupy himself within the first few days. Even if it means screwing around, be it then, no harm done, as long as he’s got himself protected, from any kind, and by any kind.

If getting dirty has falsely been accused with the notion of sexual activities (of any kind), then my getting dirty surely will turn you off. By any means, my getting dirty involves me doing what Doris Callebaut did to launch herself as a sex-bomb of 70s, i.e. doing household chores in a very suggestive way. Well, it was many of them, indeed.

look, it's not my problem if the steering gets wet!

Imagine me in a loose white shirt and batik pants courtesy of Ite, brooming and sweeping the floor mercilessly, chasing every single dirt and dust away, and soaking with foams and bubbles of soap washing my clothes.

This is not the end though. Tomorrow, and the days afterwards, the kitchen and dining room will be the places I crave my lust over everything neat, and tidy.

Now, whoever says I don’t possess any habits of becoming every single one of Desperate Housewives?

 
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Posted by on 01/10/2006 in English, Personal

 

(it’s not even a spring!) cleaning

The first 24-hour of my (new) life begins with, literally, spring cleaning.

Collected dust was getting thicker than the last time I came here, and that was merely less than a month ago. There I was, once again being a king of neatness, tidiness, cleanliness, who already planned out what and how to organize the house in order, and this left me occupied at least for the next few days.

Whew.

And tonight, I chose to occupy myself with John Irving’s The 158-Pound Marriage which took me until its 90-something page to spot Irving’s usual quirkiness, surely provides as a major relief in otherwise sexually-charged literary work.
In a perfect world, the novel should be read with the companion of energetic Joshua Bell’s strings in The Red Violin soundtrack to provoke the erotic passion in myself to absorb the story.
Yet, as tonight marks the eve of Idul Adha, a Muslim festive holiday in accordance to the annual pilgrimage in Mecca, I managed to finish the book with the companion of takbir and tahmid.

I follow the two by heart, I read through the words on the novel by turning on my mind.

Believe me, the chanting gives an inexplicable effect to my reading, unlike any genre of music I’ve relied myself on to.

Talk about spring cleaning, make that cleansing though, of animal-instinct behavior.

cleaning feels like slaving!

 
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Posted by on 01/09/2006 in English, Personal