You jump, I jump!

Video review:
English Cantonese

I haven’t seen Wilson in anything lately.  I skipped his The Internship cause I’m pretty much sick of Vince Vaughn; so I was glad that he is finally in a leading role again and plus James Bond (Pierce Bronsnan) is in it as well!

So basically this film is about Wilson and his family going off to some place that probably is Thailand and then cause of some civil right movement, people start killing foreigners and lo and behold Wilson and his family are foreigners so a mad scramble to save their lives ensues.

Being a family movie, the family chemistry is really good here.  The family moves due to some mishap with Wilson’s job. His wife shows a bit of discomfort about the move but the kids are just totally kids and I really bought the whole family unit here. Having kids tagging along for the ride also increases the risk factor here and actually makes for some intense moments (though, one sequence could be considered taken too seriously and becomes humorous rather than tension-building). Wilson does a good job portraying a father who is seems lost due to his job but then is forced to take control as his family’s lives are at stake. Pierce Bronsnan needed more screen-time but when he is actually around he was utilized well.

The tension is really high throughout the film as you know the stakes are high and people are dying left and right. I actually forgot to check who directed this before I saw it so there were times where I was thinking would they do hollywood action or indie stuff, so that probably added on my tension and ‘thrills’.  Now having check who directed it, he has been working with small budgets to make big splashes and it’s clear here as well. There really isn’t much variety in terms of sets as they are just running around in alleys and damaged buildings.

In terms of actual plot, it’s a rather simple one and this is where I find problems. Having a simple plot means character development should be the focus.  However, there are many seeds planted in terms of sub-plots but they are never developed which is sad as it would have added more layers on a rather ‘solid’ escape film.  Furthermore, there aren’t many people in this films in where you care for them.  For sure, the family is the front and foremost character you care for cause we started with them but sadly the movie makes it rather a ‘superhuman’ aspect when there aren’t other people around experiencing the same things as the Wilson family went through.  I believe the film would have been a lot more enjoyable if there were more sub-plots and a bigger cast. Both of these things would have made the movie more realistic and tone down the ‘superhuman’ factor of how Wilson’s family even survives the things they survive.

Overall, this movie has a lot of tension and its great to see Wilson in a the lead role again.  But there are problems that could have been easily fixed. Though I have to say this movie is a lot … A LOT better than the last one I saw with Pierece Brosnan in (Survivor was horrible).


Half minus 7

Holy smokes. What did I get myself into? I knew going into this, it was about a girl having an affair with her mom’s boyfriend. What I didn’t know was, the said girl was 15.

15…having an affair with an a lot older man.

Okay let’s go through the ‘good’ stuff of this film. Bel Powley, the 15 year old, actually plays a convincing 15 year old despite being actually  23. The subject matter of being curious about sex and the need to be loved is done well.  You can really see the naivety from our protagonist as she becomes addicted to having sex as she believes that is what love actually is. So Powley shines here in terms of that.

Kristin Wigg plays Bel’s mom and Alexander Skarsgård plays the boyfriend. I think both brings what was expected of them for this movie. Wigg plays the distraught mother who is having more fun doing her activities than being a role-model for her kids but then again its the 70s, times were different back then.  Skarsgård has the right lines to play the affair boyfriend and the jerk who blames Powley about their affair than rather than himself for taking advantage of a 15 year old girl.

I would say I agree with what people are praising about this film which is largely that its honest and a bold way to explore coming-of-age type of films. But my biggest gripe with it is how it decided to portray the affair. It is brutally honest as you see a lot of nude and sex scenes and its pretty one-sided. Powley is 23 but she’s 15 in the story and its really awkward to watch a nude scene with at 15 year old and an adult man having sex. And it’s not just one or two, its like flashes of probably like 5 or 6 quick flashes of sex and than one long drawn out scene where she’s topless. This is totally my own morals and my line of comfortability.  I actually interact with 15 year old so it was pretty strange and awkward to watch a film with a 15 year old having an affair.

The strange part about it is, the movie is rather artsy and uses a lot of ‘imagination floating around art’ to convey the narrative and  I liked that part but its like why couldn’t it handle the sexuality in an artsy way? Sure it is being ‘real’ with the audience as instead of alluding to these acts happening, let’s just show you? I would be fine if she was an adult or whatever, but a 15 year old? That’s really drawing the line for me. But what have you, if you are fine with those sequences, you probably would enjoy the movie more  than I actually did.

Another thing I appreciate it was the whole fact of how Powsley looked in the film. She looked pretty bland and average yet she attracted boys at school and her mom’s boyfriend. And it makes me wonder how realistic that is in terms of society. I mean it does point to the fact that some boys/men would totally be attracted to a person when sex is always on the table, no matter how that person looked physically or whether she was actually ‘attractive’.  It does goes against the hollywood notion that only hot chicks gets busy.

So all in all, this movie is honest about coming-of-age in terms of how some teens deal with sex and love. The actors do what they need to do. Slight problems with its narrative but it’s more about personal taste than anything else.

Strawberry Sundaes….yummy and life-saving!

Video review:
English Cantonese

Well, here we go again.

After last year’s Battle of Gods and the introduction of Beerus and Whis (who are now my favourite DBZ characters), we have the Resurrection of Freiza.

The plot is rather simple as Freiza has now been resurrected and he has trained to get his revenge on Goku.

Throw in Beerus and Whis and we have some interesting power scaling finally. Last year’s Battle of Gods expanded the world of DBZ and broke the ceiling that Goku was the strongest being in the franchise.  This really adds an interesting play on the narrative and I really enjoyed what they did here in Resurrection.

One thing that I didn’t really enjoyed about Battle of Gods was that it was basically about Beerus and Goku, as in they were the only ones actually fighting. I mean, I did enjoy the whole flipping DBZ Goku but it just didn’t feel right with the rest of the cast. Here on the other hand, did allow for some folks to show up and use their signature moves (seriously, makankosappo sounds SO MUCH better than SPECIAL CANNON BEAM, sorry, dubbed is just stupid for me).  There was also more (if you can call it that) development of the supporting characters than last time around, though it largely fell on the two new characters of the last movie; both Beerus and Whis got a lot more screen-time and a lot more to show off/remind us how powerful they are.

Now in terms of the actual narrative of this movie, I enjoyed it. I sort of didn’t see that ending coming and sure it wasn’t a FIGHT TO THE DEATH fight (those days are gone when you can have God-status / the good ole days of the anime) it still was an acceptable narrative as it was really a simple plot to begin with.

Now the fights, I would say improved on what was shown in the last one, the blend of both 2D animation and CG was almost not noticeable but it was when it got a tad bit more flashy than normal.

So with all that said, there was no really intense / super memorable moment in the film and I feel that is what some fans will have gripes about. I don’t blame them as the anime had some really intense and ground-breaking fights so if you can sort of not really have that expectation, Resurrection F is entertaining enough in both the character development, humour and action departments.

So please excuse me now though as I try to find Japanese audio for this.

Dread Pirate Roberts

So the dark net. I have been very curious about this side of the internet and lo and behold I randomly find a doc about that side of life.

This doc isn’t a general info dump on what the dark net is but actually it focuses on the events pertaining around Silk Road ( an amazon-like place for drugs and stuff) and covers the trial Ross Ulbricht, the supposed owner of the Silk Road.

A side note is that Alex Winter is the director and you might know him from Bill & Ted as Bill and Ted also shows up as the narrator.

This doc consists largely of narration, interviews and personal clips to convey the story of Ulbricht and his trials.  It starts off by introducing what the dark net is and then it quickly focuses on this particular case. There’s also a plea of defence vibe throughout as Ulbrict’s parents are interview and they insist that he is innocent of the more serious charges of his trial. Winters does a good job in terms of showing pretty convincing footage as to the Ulbrict might be more innocent than people think. I find this style much more engaging than just simply info dumping what the case is about and what led to his arrest and etc. You feel committed to the case to see if an innocent man is really as innocent as we are led to believed.

Keanu Reeves does a good job narrating as he keeps his calm and cool throughout while dealing with this subject matter.

Overall, this is a solid documentary. An overlying subject matter and then a focus on a specific thing but yet still keeps audiences engaged in its subject matter. If you knew nothing about the dark net, this would be a doc for you as it keeps things rather general and then focuses on this case which enables people to learn more about the culture and the types of people potentially lurking around these sites.

Confessing honestly.

Finally back with a Korean film. I randomly stumbled on this while looking for another film called ‘Confessions’. I wasn’t going to watch this but then I saw the plot summary and thought why not?

So, three childhood friends are in a shamble when 2 of them caused an accidental death.

From the get-go, you get to know their characters as they are pretty stereotypical characters of a childhood type thing. You have the silly dude, the calm and responsible one and the not so responsible nor calm one.

In terms of acting, each lead does their thing well. The story reinforces that as the movie start off with them in high school and then proceeds into their adult lives.

We all have seen this type of film before but again it’s always nice to know the how more than the what. From the get-go, audiences knows the truth but the other characters don’t.  So mostly you ponder about how are things gonna go down and end. In terms of that, I always welcome these types of plot lines but I feel they could have gone a lot farther than they did here.

There’s a lot of potential but they didn’t really use it well. Many side-characters could have created more interesting sub-plots throughout the film but it seems the production was totally fine with just dealing with how the brothers would react to what happened in the film. Though, I do have to say the ending does end on a more emotional mindset than the rest of the film in where I didn’t really expect that to happen.

In terms of cinematography, the vibe and atmosphere is done well but again it’s been done before and audiences knows what to expect. With that said, I do appreciate the usage of the movement of camera in terms of revealing what a character is thinking. Some examples are when the lead is in the center of the shot and something happens off camera, the camera pans to include both the lead and the thing that happened.

So all in all, Confessions is an alright film for its genre. It doesn’t go into any risky territory despite its genre. I would say this is a good movie to reintroduce yourself to how Korean films nowadays are and how they are different to your typical Hollywood ones.  Mind you, I like this movie in terms of that I can’t get a good one in this genre in Hollywood, so there’s that.

Things Feat. Music

Holy smokes. TFong, what did you get me into?

Okay. Koyannisqatsi was recommended to me without anything said about it beyond “it’s a movie you’ll either really like or you’ll hate me for recommending it”.

I had no idea what it was about. It soon hit me that this was no mere ‘documentary’. I thought I needed subs so I was going through the file to see if there was subs or I had to get them somehow and lo and behold, there wasn’t any dialogue. I skimmed further and still no one was talking nor narrating. Then I finally gave up and searched this movie up on wikipedia.

I knew I was in for a ‘ride’ when I read this portion of the wiki.

“The film consists primarily of slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and many natural landscapes across the United States. The visualtone poem contains neither dialogue nor a vocalized narration: its tone is set by the juxtaposition of images and music. Reggio explained the lack of dialogue by stating “it’s not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live.”

Then it was time to settle in and watch this documentary of pure cinema.

Okay. So it’s a doc that is 1 hour and 26 odd minutes. No narrative, no dialogue and no characters. Right there is the biggest foil/contrast this doc has to any sort of movie/documentary/entertainment I’ve seen. I watched movies such as Holy Motors and Upstream Color where silence and music is used to convey the plot and I still was not prepared whatsoever for what this documentary had in store.

The overall plot I could understand mostly from reading that blurb from the wiki. You can see where the movie starts and comes full circle about how life is. The vastness in the beginning with all those shots of nature and then transition into the human world, the busyness and repetition of our world is clear to see and it contrasts greatly with the nature shots.  The dictionary definition of the film’s title also reinforces the themes of the movie.

The wiki has a plot summary but I haven’t read it and I’m not really sure if I want to.

Clearly this movie is not for everybody. It’s really strange when compared to what is in theatres nowadays. This was done in 1982 and its quite a feat really.

I feel like all I can talk about is my impression of this film.

What a grand vision. I do not even know where to begin to think of how a director can film something like this and put it together with such music. It is just great. All those shots capturing such mundane activities but have it stand and represent something is just surreal.

The camera usage is great as well. Many of the shots are ones we don’t normally see in movies and even if we do see them they never linger for that long on that one shot. The best comparison I can make is that there were a lot of shots that would be in an anime film which would be used to represent the busyness of that particular scene. The scenes themselves don’t push the narrative but rather makes the setting that much more realistic and authentic. 

The sped up traffic sequences were really cool and much faster than normally used shots of traffic and it matched with the music really well. I will forever remember that one shot of the pop tarts having their innards squeezed into tart and having that scene match the music. I was so captivated that I watched that sequence like 5 times.

I would say that I was a bit lost as to what it was trying to do for the first 50 minutes but once it hit that 50 minute mark and it sped up everything and the music was just so great, the theme was very apparent then.

I feel like this is more of a personal reflection upon life and entertainment rather than ‘actual’ entertainment though I did laugh once when they transitioned from real life traffic to a racing video game.

I think this movie has that immersion where you only feel it is off when you stop the movie. I wonder how it would’ve been watching this in the theatre. I probably would have fallen asleep as I did have portions where I had this running on one screen and I was multi-tasking something else.

Would I recommend this? I definitely would as I believe everyone should get a taste of pure cinema. The self-reflection and appreciation to both cinematography and music and also the lack of what we have taken for granted (narrative/character/dialogue) is a very interesting experiment.

I’m Phenomenal!

He has done it again. After Prisoners, came Nightcrawler and now Southpaw.
I didn’t see Enemy but heard great things from it. It seems like Jake is a person to watch out for nowadays. So I wonder how he’s gonna do in Everest (he was hardly in the trailer).

Anyway, Fuqua’s last film was Equalizer and that was a horrid thing to watch so when I saw he was directing I would say I was surprise as the trailer seem pretty decent and it had Jake in it, so it must be alright, right?

Well, yes, in a way, it was fine and enjoyable.

First off, the plot is rather simple. Champion goes through life-shattering changes and has to pick his life back together and redeem himself. I wished the plot went farther in some way. It was fine as it was but I wanted more, especially near the redemption part, it just felt like it was lacking something, say an actual rival with substance?

So before I expand on that, let’s just say Jake was great here. He played an authentic character that went from riches to ruins. His relationship with his daughter, played by Oona Laurence, was another highlight of the movie. Her acting was really great and they had great chemistry within the family. It was heartfelt during the tougher times in the movie when she’s struggling with her current family situation.  Rachel McAdams was also great here as she was playing the understanding mother and wife. It was nice to see her play it off as she’s the one in charge and taking care of everything for Jake while he’s off fighting. So the family dynamics is definitely a highlight of this movie.

As I write this, I feel that a lot of the movie could have been fleshed out a lot more. Just a few would have been 50 cents, Miguel Gomez and Forest Whitaker’s roles. I just felt these three could have been fleshed out a lot more. Sure Whitaker has a lot of screen time but it’s all very subtle and when the end is near, there’s this explosion of character that comes from nowhere.  50cents being Jake’s manager could have been used better as he was just there but no actual impact but playing money games. Gomez is Jake’s rival in this film solely because Gomez thinks he is a tough guy and can totally take Jake but it just felt like a lot of hot air and no substance. Furthermore, the actual redemption-starting part was ‘good’ and all in terms of showcasing Jake’s fighting abilities but it really lack a lot in terms of character.

Talking about action, I am so glad there’s a lot of shots where it seems to be Jake in the ring and the punches are brutal here so Fuqua did deliver the action here. So the cinematography here is fine for a boxing film.

The soundtrack was awesome and it was just pumping adrenaline in those action sequences and it just built great atmosphere. I actually bought it after I finished the film and the CDs been in my car ever since.

So with all that said, Southpaw is a good showcase of Jake’s physical transformation and his chemistry with a 13 yr old actress. Unfortunately, the plot is rather safe and a lot more fleshing out could have been done for a lot of the characters.

Ethan Huntress a.k.a Ilsa Faust a.k.a Rebecca Ferguson

The Impossible Franchise has returned!

Let’s start off with a bang!

Rebecca Ferguson playing Ilsa Faust is Ethan Huntress. She is totally Ethan Hunt’s equal.  Thank god for the writers for writing the way she is. Thank you so much. Finally I can add another actress/character to the great list of ‘strong’ female characters of recent memory (Emily Blunt/Edge of Tomorrow and Charlize Theron / Mad Max).

She was just great. She pretty much is the highlight of the movie. Well written, well layered, emotional attachment, man, she is everything you want. You care for her well-being. You want to know more about her and where she really stands in all of this.  Thank you, thank you.

So with that aside, let’s talk about the rest of the cast.

Tom Cruise, played normal Tom Cruise so no complaints there really.  Simon Pegg as Benji had a lot more screen-time compared to our last trip and he played a lot of humor so it was great to see him in his element.

Jeremy Renner has been reduced further since his debut in 4 and pretty much played an admin role.  Renner was totally fine being scaled back since 4 was his rise to fame but people were still cool for Cruise so I like what they did with his character. He dealt with Alec Baldwin’s character in the politics and slightly more ‘drama’ heavy scenes and I’m totally cool with that.

Ving Rhames as Luthor (the only char in all missions) was scaled back even more but he shined and was ‘needed/justifible’ whenever he showed up and his skillset totally reflects of what we know of him from the franchise, in other words, he was used well.

Jens Hulten was used well as a recurring menacing villain and Sean Harris as the big baddy was done well as he was a calculative dangerous bad guy/ (think Javier Bardem in Skyfall but his genius schemes actually made logically sense).

And lastly, Alec Baldwin was used well as a the head of CIA.

So with all that said, I can safely say the supporting cast was great. used well and enjoyable.

Now in terms of plot, I would say this was an interesting direct sequel to 4. Nothing seem illogical in terms of the overall evil genius plot but there were times were Cruise figured out things rather too nicely. There were a lot of great action sequences though the one with the BMW is when you start using Fast and Furious physics and you’ll be fine.  Also, the set up for certain things were great.  This movie definitely had moments where the how was much more important than the what. Thrills were there when these ‘hows’ were taking place but other times thrills disappeared due to the reality of Hollywood troupes.  I wouldn’t want to spoil it here but all I can say is that you’ll be glad things didn’t turn out the way you thought it was going to turn out.

Now to the disappointing parts of this movie.

The practical effects. Before this, there were many talks about the impressiveness of the hanging on a plane and underwater sequences.  I was rather disappointed in those sequences as pacing and editing disrupted the gem of the scene which was the practical effects. Why bother with practical effects if your editing takes audiences away from said scene or why bother when the scene isn’t even that long and used well?

Now lastly, in terms of plot, the 6th film has already been announced in terms of green-light production. I just wonder where it will go, I sort of wish they connect it more with 4 and 5. I feel the whole ‘adventures of Ethan Hunt’ is getting old and if it was rather a direct sequel it would be more interesting and risky.

So at the end of the day, IM5 is enjoyable. Strong female lead. Good action. Good supporting cast. The only bumps are physics defying action and editing (and this is only if you knew the hanging on plane was a practical effect and the underwater scenes were actually shot with Cruise underwater for 6 minutes).