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About me

"There are too many ideas and too many people. And too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something, is that is whittles the world down to a more manageable size." - Susan Orlean, Adaptation (2002)

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Recent reviews

All reviews - Movies (25) - Books (38)

Secret Window review

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 8 November 2010 06:23 (A review of Secret Window)

It's hard to enjoy a mystery/thriller when you can see the twist 5 minutes into the film. It's even harder to enjoy it when it's badly acted and directed. Johnny Depp is sorely miscast here as a tortured novelist on the edge of madness, and the movie lacks the kind of subtle acting and directing that would make it work.


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Match Point review

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 8 November 2010 06:15 (A review of Match Point)

What do you do to make an unoriginal script interesting to the critics? Get big name stars to say the lines and Woody Allen to direct it and then wrap it up with an existential ending/twist. Voilà, here's your "tour de force"!


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Amateurish

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 6 December 2008 07:56 (A review of Resident Evil: Degeneration)

Bad animation, cheesy dialogue, bad voice acting and the none existence of any character development make this movie a bore for anyone but the undiscerning fanboys of the games. Think of all the bad Hollywood action movie cliches, put them together and your get this cheap piece of unoriginal junk. You'd think that the filmmakers would at least make an effort to make the animation look good. Instead, the 3D animation was so bad that at times it felt like I was watching action figures instead animated characters 'acting out' a scene. The characters had absolutely no facial expressions, and the accents the voice actors put on were just plain painful. In the end, this movie was made to make money off of the fanboys and nothing more.


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[Film] Hotel Rwanda

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2008 07:26 (A review of Hotel Rwanda)

I love this movie. Based on a true story, the movie succeeds in evoking all the right emotions in the viewer while accurately portraying one of the most horrific events in recent human history. To put it simply, Hotel Rwanda is the kind of movie that conveys its message effectively while at the same time providing the audience with an entertaining movie-going experience. The filmmaker's choice to put the focus on the family of Paul Rusesabagina and the human stories in the face of the atrocities makes it easy for the audience to relate to the story and the characters. The film becomes personal and emotionally involving as the audience go through the same fears, anxieties, hopes and sorrows the characters go through in the movie. The acting certainly helps. The performance of Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo who play the Rusesabaginas (try pronounce that) especially deserve props; they are very convincing as a loving couple trying to hold their family together among the chaos around them. To its credit, the movie never once falls into the trap of corny sentimentalism. There is even a touch of humour in the midst of danger and grief. The cynicism of a world that has failed to respond to the disaster has met its counterpart in the heart of Rwanda the unfaltering and hopeful human spirit. It shows humanity at its worst and its best. The movie has it all. It is educational, moving, intense, entertaining and eventually uplifting. It is cinéma at its best.


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[Film] Little Miss Sunshine

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2008 07:24 (A review of Little Miss Sunshine)

This little independent flim is quite a charmer. Almost completely written and directed by newcomers, Little Miss Sunshine is by no means perfect, but what it lacks in film techniques and plot depth is made up by its heart and emotional honesty. The scope of the story does not go beyond a small family made up of quirky characters - the heroine-addicted grandfather, the unsuccessful motivational speaker father, the mother who can't quit smoking, the Nietzsche obsessed teenage son who has taken a vow of silence, the suicidal unemployed Proust scholar uncle and the little girl who dreams of winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. This family is as dysfunctional and neurotic as your average sitcom family, but the characters are more real and interesting than their sitcom counterparts, thanks in large part to the capable actors who bring honesty and emotional depth to their characters. The young actress who plays the little girl Olive is quite a revelation; she plays the innocence and awkwardness of an insecure not-your-conventionally-cute girl so well one can't help but root for her in her endeavour to win the contest. Her character also brings out the best in her family, who comes together in the process of helping her realize her dream.

Little Miss Sunshine is unabashedly sentimental, charmingly quirky and incredibly funny. In spite of the somewhat predictable and contrived plot line, the movie is just as adorable and entertaining as its characters, not to mention hilarious. I dare anyone not to laugh at the third part of the movie that deals with the actual pageant itself. It is really to the movie's credit that it manages to portray the ridiculous if not disturbing nature of child pageants while at the same time making the audience laugh their heads off. The movie's messages are simple but effective: be honest, be who you are and try your best. The film certainly lives up to what it preaches. Like Olive who manages to be who she is among the hypocritical and phony beauty contestants, Little Miss Sushine manages to be a breath of fresh air in this summer's line-up of vain blockbusters and campy thrillers.


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[Film] Rent

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2008 07:18 (A review of Rent)


Forget about the simplistic storylines or the naive political stance of the film. Rent is simply a celebration of youth and idealism in the face of decadence and disease. It is about being a rebel with and without a cause, it is about not giveing in or giving up, and it is about love, friendship and rock'n roll. The music is catchy, the New York setting is nice, and the overall performance from the cast is great. Columbus, whom I usually dislike, did a good job with this film, which, like its musical counterpart, is really a tribute to the spirit of a particular time, place and group of people. Despite some of its flaws, I believe the film has captured the energy and essence of the musical.


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[Film] The Triplets of Belleville

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2008 07:07 (A review of The Triplets of Belleville)

Weird is the best description for this French animation. Quirky doesn't even cut it. It is the strangest animation I've ever seen. The style is unusual, but even more unusual is its nonsensical story. Nothing makes sense in this movie, and I guess nothing has to since it is supposed to be artsy and different. I can appreciate its weirdness for weirdness's sake, but I had a hard time getting drawn in to the story. It's just... too bizarre.

The entire movie is basically mute, with the characters speaking no more than two words in total and the constant unintelligible French running on the background. I thought it was kind of neat as the quirkiness of the characters and the strangeness of the situation are conveyed vividly without the help of dialogue. However, the story is just too bizarre for my taste. The soundtrack was cool though and the only song in the movie was rather catchy. The characters are memorable because they are nothing like what you'd expect, especially The Triplets. They are the weirdest bunch by far. Also beware of frogs.


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[Film] Tokyo Godfathers

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2008 07:01 (A review of Tokyo Godfathers)

"Tokyo Godfathers" was created by Satoshi Kon, who also directed "Millennium Actress", a film that I absolutely adored. The concept of "Tokyo Godfathers" is less obscure and abstract than "Millenuunium Actress," and some might say less accomplished. It is however a very entertaining feel-good movie. Set around the time of Christmas, the movie centers around three hobos that include a middle-aged drunkard, a runaway teenager and a transvestite. This odd trio lives together in a shelter made out of carbon boxes and bickers their days away. Their days get interesting however when they find a abandoned baby at a dumpster, and instead of going to the police, they decide to find the mother themselves with little clues they could gather. The search takes them all over Tokyo, and in the process of finding the mother, they also find out something about themselves and each other.

The movie is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. The director managed to make the subject of homelessness light-hearted without cheapening the grim reality of it. It is also interesting for someone like me who have never been to Tokyo to get a glimpse of the city through the eyes of an animator. I don't know much about the technical aspect of making an animation, but I'm always amazed by how many subtle and thoughtful details were put into a film after watching the extras. DVDs are really good in this respect. They help the audience gain a better appreciation of the film-making process and therefore of the film itself.

The story of "Tokyo Godfathers" is like I mentioned very light-hearted. There is no in-depth analysis of social issues or homeless people in Tokyo. The plot is borderline absurd, and yet there is something to it that is sweet and hopeful. You can't help liking and rooting for the eccentric characters. In short, it is a very fun movie to watch.


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[Book] An Introduction to English Poetry

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2008 06:55 (A review of An Introduction to English Poetry)

Instead of An Introduction to English Poetry, this book should have been named An Introduction to Why No One Reads Poetry. The word "introduction" fooled me into thinking the book would be a great guide for people like me who know very little but want to know more about English poetry. I didn't know when I picked up the book, I would be trudging my way through all the obscure technical terms that sucked all the fun out of poetry. My eyes glazed over from words like choriamb, catalectic, dactyle, doggerel, trouchee, tercet and villanelle. I can't pronounce them and don't know what they mean even with the definitions provided. The book bored me as much as it confused me. It was like reading a technical manual on how to assemble a clock, and I admit I skipped a great deal despite it being so short. In the end, I learned nothing at all about poetry, and this book is going back to Chapters.


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National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 7 January 2008 10:20 (A review of National Treasure: Book of Secrets)

A conversation between me and my boyfriend after seeing the movie:

Me: That was a special movie.
Boyfriend: Very special. What a waste of time and money.
Me: The movie made no sense at all. And where were the 'amazing special effects?'
Boyfriend: I dunno. At least we learned that all you need to improve the relationship is a little treasure hunting.
Me: And we got to watch Nicholas Cage in a wig for two hours. That alone was worth the money. The wig's acting was pretty good.
Boyfriend: Yep, it was very believable. I never doubted for a second it was really a wig.

My boyfriend and I walked into the theatre hoping to see something that might be "vaguely entertaining," but the movie didn't even live up to that low standard. Even though I didn't watch the first one that spawned this sequel, I could tell that it was very similar to the original just from the trailers I've seen. Everything about this movie - the story, acting, dialogue, action scenes or special effects - is forgettable and trite. The only thing that lingers in my memory is Nicholas Cage's wig. Seriously, what is the point of getting a hairpiece if everyone can tell it's not real hair? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? And I've no idea what Helen Mirren was doing in this movie. Guess it's trendy to hire Oscar-winning British dames to appear in shitty Hollywood movies, and who can blame her for taking the money? I just wish I didn't wast my $13 on this piece of junk.


"Hmm .. maybe this will make a better hairpiece"


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