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Monthly Archives: June 2006

Sacred Heart.

Ferzan Ozpetek. The sole name and the mere factor that drew me to watching Sacred Heart, and leaving any expectation or pre-conceived opinion behind.

Well, I was wrong. I couldn’t resist occupying myself with certain hope that Ozpetek will once again embrace gay-themed stories as he did superbly with Facing Windows and Hamam, the former being one of my favorites. Yet, as I patiently waited for a little under two hours and after Barbara Bobulova took her clothes off in a public train station, I knew that I was in for something else.

This time, Ozpetek removes his usual clout: women having trouble accepting the presence of gay characters in their lives. Instead, he crafts a character inside Bobulova who has to walk through an unbalanced bridge of being a good Samaritan and a corporate leader at the top of her game. Irene (played by Bobulova) is best considered as an example of many of us who often question our lives instead of being in contentment with whatever things we already posses. Thus, as briefly glimpsed above about her full-frontal nudity in a public place, our heroine reaches the peak of her emotional troubles by having a larger-than-life outburst. Again, a deviation from the director’s staple of leading ladies who’d rather oppress their conflicted minds, and making the films intriguing to watch.

Wait. By saying that, does it mean the film in spotlight here not as intriguing as the others?

Intriguing, maybe. After all, the theme of doing unconditional good deeds to others while walking a fine line of living a fabulous life is always interesting to watch. Yet, if Ozpetek’s others are still enjoyable to watch despite their heavy-weight drama, this time Ozpetek fails to create the same interest in his audience, particularly the writer here. By the time Irene does her wandering, we hardly care about her motivation, because Ozpetek presents her, or rather, clothing her with only an outer mantle that somehow discourage us to get further peek inside her skin. As such, Bobulova’s terrifying act reminds me of what Christian Bale did in The Machinist: suffering-for-art not supported with a convincing work of art, i.e. good films.

Thus, a token of remembrance in this film would likely to come from the nudity scene of Irene, which by now might be gone off to become overmentioned. But apart from that, there’s nothing much to tell. The same theme worked more effectively in a comedy like Mr. Deeds Goes To Washington apparently.

 
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Posted by on 06/30/2006 in English, Film

 

Paradise Now.

Upon walking out of the cinema right after the credit ended, I couldn’t help wondering to myself, what caused that hyped controversy and commotion surrounding Paradise Now. Is it the heart-rending storytelling of a suicide bomber, or the lip-lock scene inside the car between one of the bombers and a girl?

I may not be exposed that much to the current upstream in Middle East country, but I couldn’t help getting myself jolted looking at a few good seconds of the kissing scene, with the backdrop of a chaotic country in the middle of war. Of course, to justify a little bit, the girl is a modern girl recently returned to Palestine after completing some studies. In what seemingly a stereotype-yet-still-valid depiction of someone from a developing country going home after spending some time in a more modern and established land, the girl is also shown wearing pants and tight shirt, instead of burkha like her fellow citizen.

The same modern-sentimental point-of-view as reflected in the above paragraph was unconsciously reflecting in my understanding towards the film. Not only applied to the kissing scene, which by now has irked me most as it actually is a very disposable scene, but also the understanding towards the story about the final hours of two suicide bombers. Storytelling wise, it couldn’t be more gripping with some hilarious scenes peppered evenly throughout the film. In particular, the scene where a suicide bomber is making a heartfelt goodbye speech to his mother before he goes on a duty, only to find that his speech is not recorded yet because the camera operator forgets to load the camera with a film.

Yes, folks. Sensing a deviation of talking about the heavy-weight theme of the story, and focusing to the light-scenes-that-matter-most is what I’ve always been aiming at. Again, I’m not in any fair position to discuss the suicide bombing, as I believe that it’d be best left to any political analyst around. What I’d like to believe most is the ability of the film to crack me up in a wide smile once in a while, soon to be replaced with gripping scenes of cat-and-mouse game between the bombers and terrorist groups marching ferociously in the film, and that’s more than enough to keep me glued to my seat.

That concludes that Paradise Now has given me a sheer joy of pure cinematic entertainment.

 
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Posted by on 06/29/2006 in English, Film

 

Superman Returns.

Like any thing we have to make in our lifetime, there’s no formula for success. There’s no pattern to guide us how to make an achievement of, aptly put, being successful. However, one thing that stands out above the rest is the passion.

The passion to treat the subject with a great tender, like carrying your own baby, and develop it well, so that he has a character evolution that also transforms the people around him. They will have their own distinctive characters that make them appear full of flesh, and we are keenly awaiting their appearance every time.

The passion to believe that what you want to achieve is a success, in every aspect, in every target market. While it often deemed almost impossible to bridge a critical and commercial success, remember that miracle does happen. You know you’re taking care of a big name, but remember, by now the big name has grown. You’ll only need to grow it a little higher.

The passion to have a little faith on faces you’ve doubts of pulling the charactes through, yet, once they get a deft direction, they will work wonderfully. That even applies to the villains.

The passion that the legacy lives on.

The passion is what makes Superman Returns.

And he will.

 
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Posted by on 06/28/2006 in English, Film

 

let’s derive.

What drives you most?

What excites you?

What leads you?

What thrills you?

What have you done to achieve those?

What?

Nothing?

Or a little something?

What if you fail?

What if you succeed?

What if you finally quit?

What if you decide to march on?

What happened?

Who knows?

Where else can you go to make your passion your profession, at last? At the very last?

But, what if you realize that you are best left out being appreciators rather than the main players in that field of your interest?

What if you realize that if you don’t have the cut there?
The persistence?
The resistance?

What if your admiration has to stand quite afar from the spotlight?

What if you’ve been right all along?

What if your sacrifice fails to bloom?

Mark that word. Sacrifice.

 
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Posted by on 06/27/2006 in English

 

The Dorm.

There are many good things to talk about The Dorm. Apart from the hardly arguable fact that they make the film compelling to watch, they lead to one obvious matter: the film stays away from the horror genre, and plunges to a terrifyingly good dramatic works.

Gone are the mindless, often numbing, creature-filled horror Thai films, which actually revive the film industry in the country to be one of the most sought after in the world. Yet, the director Songyos Sugmakanan, who was also on the board with My Girl a few years back, chooses to follow the path of his fellow comrades whose penchant over crafting a masterful storytelling win over predictable shocking values often way too much to see on any horror films.

Instead, Sugmakanan cleverly presents the film more as a father-and-son story, a theme often reliable to provoke thoughtful minds, like The Return. Indeed, it is interesting how the overall plot is triggered from a coming-of-age endurance the main character has to go through while he is facing obstacles from somewhat a full-of-misunderstanding communication between him and his father. And once we are settled in this dramatic territory, we will forge the temptation to get silly scared over the creepy background, which in many surprising ways, never overwhelms the film’s tender, touching story.

Alas, if we think that Thai film industry is at the brink of overexposed tiresome, perhaps this film in spotlight is a rejuvenating, and outstanding, work the industry should be proud of.

 
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Posted by on 06/26/2006 in English, Film

 

makin’ whoopee

Let’s just say we make love.
Once, twice, thrice a day.
Even more, even less.

But do they mean anything to you?
The stroke of whoever fingers on the back
The sweet tender words whispered through our necks
The gentle tap on whoever shoulder

Let’s just say I have enough of that
Yet I yearn for more
Let’s just pretend we never endure deeper than that
Yet we constantly, religiously, and tremenduously embark on it all the time

Maybe you never get to experience our sensuous sessions
You go for quickies, I go for embraces

But today
I think I tickled your senses.

PS: what would it be if I kissed you back at that time? Will it be a greater love than ours? Will it be an eternal regret?

 
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Posted by on 06/25/2006 in English

 

Cut Sleeve Boys

Beauty pageant. Colorful furs and wigs. Steroid bodies. Hunky studs. Fashion equips.

Just every common stereotype labelled to the campiness of gay life is mentioned, we’ve got to see all of them in Cut Sleeve Boys, the title itself refers to a slang, sort of, used to describe gay Asian male in UK. Whereas the premise of cultural clash of East vs. West has been brought up to the big screen through a hardship look (Yasmin), or a bone-tickling manner (East is East, Bend it Like Beckham), here the first-time director Ray Yeung chooses to focus instead on the ‘fabulous’ side of gay, leaving the cultural distinction of the characters being both Asian and gays at the door.

Which means, while the film does an almost knock-out premise, it never takes itself seriously. The film opens with the story of Gavin, a closet gay working menial jobs, who encounters death while involving in a slightly unfavorable sexual intercourse with a stranger. From this point on, the story begins, and we are required to determine ourselves how the death makes an impact to Gavin’s two best friends, Mel and Ash. Their lives as two Asian gays revolve around the listed words right below the title above, and more. Yet, they remain within the jovial side of the chosen life, while the enduring part of their cultural lives remains a yearning for us wanting for more.

As such, who can’t resist watching a maniacal ego man is having a silly catfight with a beauty-pageant-obsessed balding guy? Yet, while its fun lasts for a good an hour and a half, one can’t help looking beyond the horizon as often inserted in a few scenes of the main characters making out with their Caucasian partners: that above every campy life, there’s substance to make everything becomes contentment.

 
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Posted by on 06/24/2006 in English, Film