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My Short Films

Friday, December 30, 2005

Swifty Speaks About Video-Sharing Sites.

If you've paid some attention, you might notice the changes on my video blog entries. Instead of a link to Boltfolio where all my videos are archived, the videos are now embedded upon the blog itself. That's because I've changed my host to vSocial (a place I got to know about whilst chillin' at the Yahoo Videoblogging Group.

Now, don't get me wrong, Boltfolio is a good site, and I think the place will have a rather bright future ahead. I first heard about it from Techcrunch and there weren't anything about the services that I don't like when I started using it earlier this month. However, it only allows 100MB of upload a month, and each file has to be lower than 50MB. It wasn't that bad, but considering that I'll be putting up videos regularly on this blog, I can't really use Boltfolio for long anymore.

vSocial allows unlimited uploads, as long as each file does not exceed 100MB. Besides that, it has some pretty neat-looking features (*points at sidebar, below the Flickr daily zeitgeist*). It was pretty much flawless to me, thus my immediate transfer from Boltfolio to this site.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a catch, or maybe it's suffered only by me. I'm not sure, but until now, two videos (one was the Kenny Sia one, the other's my latest China Vacation video, both MP4, and each lower than 10MB, it's first time I've ever used MP4) of mine which I have uploaded during the afternoon are NOT READY for viewing yet, I'm not sure whether this is a glitch or what, but it seems to take quite a while for videos you uploaded to be ready. Which might severely slow down the updates for my vlog entries.

Now, if this tiny little problem can be fixed, I'll definitely be a much happy man, and you, my dear readers, will see barrages of videos unleashed upon you all.

Otherwise, maybe I'll have to alternate between using both Boltfolio and vSocial. Worst-case scenario will be me using my own swiftyworks.com server. Hm.

... and yes, I'll put up the latest video when it's ready.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Swifty Reviews 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'.


Edmund Pervensie had always been one of my favourite literary characters during my childhood. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that we share the same name, but when I first read the Narnia books back when I was 12, I was always annoyed by the entire 'goody-two-shoe'/ holier-than-thou/ sanctimonious attitude adopted by most of the protagonists. Aslan and the two elder Pervensie children had always been flat and lifeless, but Edmund was different, like normal humans, he possessed personal desires, dark emotions and such, obviously, I could relate more to him than to the others.

So, almost a decade had passed, and he, along with Aslan (of course), remained the only characters I could remember from Narnia. 'Edmund The Traitor', 'Edmund The Backstabbing Bastard' were the names I fondly remember him as. After all, if I were surrounded by annoyingly holy and patronizing siblings like he did, I would be pissed too.

I went into 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' wondering whether it would generate the same sort of emotions I had felt when I read the book all those years ago. Annoyance at Aslan and the elder Pervensie children, fascination of Edmund the Traitor, indifference to Lucy. Not that I intend to compare the film with its source material, since it is something I consider rather unfair to do. A film should be enjoyed, appreciated and judged for what it is, not whether it is a faithful adaptation of its original material or not (hence why I tend to enjoy Harry Potter films more than most hardcore Harry Potter book fans).

To a lesser extent, yeah.

Peter and Susan were annoyingly patronizing, but not as bad as I remembered. Edmund the Traitor was traitorous, but not as fascinating as I've remembered, Lucy was creepy and cute at the same time. Aslan, the fact that he didn't preach that much made me appreciate him more in the film. Ah, what have I done? I have just contradicted what I said and compared the film characters with their literary counterparts. A no-no.

Perhaps I've been pampered by King Kong. So blown away by the film in Christmas that I ended up feeling somewhat underwhelmed during the middling sections of 'Narnia'. However, the last thirty minutes of the film, after a major character sacrificed himself, it became from 'somewhat decent and nice' to 'pretty good'.

So yeah, Narnia is a very good film, I can't deny that. Not mindblowingly awesome like I have expected, and whether it will be in the year's top ten list of mine remains to be seen, but it is a visual spectacle. And rather likable. It is, after all, a simple tale:

Four children stumbled into a fantasy world, got sucked into a major war, and ended up becoming war heroes. Oh, and Santa Claus makes a cameo.

I couldn't get too immersed into the film due to certain elements of it (the rather slow pace in the middle section and the fact that the characters, yes, even Edmund the Traitor, weren't really THAT interesting), but when everything exploded into the climax near the end, and you get to see how they became heroes (suspension of belief is required, obviously, otherwise you'll be spending your time questioning how a bunch of kids could actually lead an army so efficiently), things became much more interesting.

This film wasn't really aiming to be the next Lord of the Rings (an unfair comparison, really), thus it's unnecessary to have such high expectations of it. I enjoyed it, and I won't mind seeing more Narnia films in the future (although I feel that 'The Magician's Nephew', which is about the creation of Narnia, is pretty unfilmable, even if it does become a film, I doubt it'll be that interesting). However, Narnia made me look MORE forward to the film adaptations of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. But that's another story.

Oh, and the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) was badass in the action scenes.

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I'm Malaysia's Very First Video Blogger?

Well, the very first Malaysian guy with video blog to add himself onto the Vlogmap anyway. However, when I went off to check the map again just moments ago, it seems that there's this other Malaysian video blog too. I'm not... unique anymore. Ah well.

Swifty Notes
  • I have reached the 2nd disc of Xenosaga Episode 2. This, along with NBA 2K6, are the two games I play when I need to take a rest from editing.
  • Go to Opinmind! It's an interesting site where opinions of bloggers regarding all kinds of issues, things and people are gathered. For example, type 'Eliar Swiftfire' in it and you'll see positive and negative opinions about me by various bloggers. For now, I see only positive ones, and one of them is from Dawn Yang's blog. (It's the entry when she did a webcomic with me in it... months ago, before she appeared on papers)
  • This is a list of the most popular blog networks. I was going to say 'blog networks from around the world', but I'm not too sure about it.
  • Yes, I have downloaded Wordpress 2.0 this morning. I wonder what sort of new features are in there. Haven't uploaded it yet for my Swifty Works site.
  • I still haven't seen Narnia. *sigh* I am so ashamed of myself.
  • See the photo of that pretty Japanese lady below? Her name is Yuuki Maomi, and her video blog is currently my favourite blog... even though I don't know a single word of Japanese. I think she's a model, idol or something.
Image hosted by TinyPic.com


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Monday, December 26, 2005

Swifty Reviews 'Zathura', Zhang Yimou's 'Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles' and 'King Kong'

Man, I'm rather far behind with my film reviews, guess I'll have to cram all of them in one entry. Don't expect them to be long and in-depth.

Zathura
Remember Jumanji? I remembered liking it when I saw it ten years ago. I even had the laser disc (that was before the time of DVDs) and watched it numerous times. Never failed to like it. Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt were funny. And Kirsten Dunst was, well, young.

And Jumanji was the sole reason I went to see Zathura (both were based on books by the same author, and I believe Zathura was supposedly an unrelated sequel). All right, it did get some solid reviews at Rotten Tomatoes too.

Summary? Two bickering siblings find a board game at the basement of their house while their dad (Tim Robbins) is out for work. Then when they start playing, their entire freaking house is launched sent into space, and they meet scary aliens, killer robots and mysterious stranded astronauts. Things can only revert to normal if they can finish the board game, but can they put aside their differences and do so?

This is a decent and simple film. Just imagine Jumanji in space, but less complications and subplots, or probably less budget too. Basically, the film's centered around the relationship between the two brothers, and the child actors did pretty well in here, with the continuous argument and their intense rivalry. I won't really bother watching it twice (like I did with Jumanji, but then, I might have liked Jumanji that much due to my age back then), but it does have a nice little twist in the end.

Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (千里走单骑)
After making two consecutive big-budget martial arts flicks, the wonderful 'Hero' and the crappy 'House of Thousand Daggers', Zhang Yimou returns to making a simplistic and low-budget drama starring veteran Japanese actor, Takakura Ken.

I saw this film in Shanghai on the 22nd of December, the day of its release. And I think it's going to flop badly in the box-office... considering the fact that MY DAD AND I WERE THE ONLY ONES SEEING THIS FILM IN THE CINEMA! I kid you not, this has NEVER happened to me before, even when I saw the aussie flick, The Preposition, there was at least two other people, a couple, in the cinema with me.

And so, there we were, father and son, seeing a film about father and son bonding. I'm generally okay with most Zhang Yimou pre-'Hero' flicks, Not One Less, Happy Times, To Live etc. They are all good films. Unfortunately, 'Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles' is a disappointment.

The film begins in Japan, an elderly fisherman returns to Tokyo to find his estranged son suffering from terminal illness. After watching a video footage filmed in China by his son, where he (the son) voices out his interest in Chinese opera to this opera singer, the old dude decides to go to China and film a Chinese opera for his son to mend the relationship that was ruined years ago. It could've been a good and moving film, but it fell flat. The son remains off-screen throughout the entire film (you never see his face), thus everything becomes more of a one-sided affair for the dad, it's all about his guilt and his desperation to know more about his son from the Chinese people his son had befriended.

But things were just too generic, predictable and worst of all, MANIPULATIVE. There are scenes which have groups of grown men weeping like bitches for the sake of hoping that audiences would weep like bitches too. But for crap's sake, what they wept for was so inane and illogical that I ended up shaking my head in disbelief. I won't say that this film sucks, but Zhang Yimou is seriously losing his touch.

King Kong
Saw King Kong yesterday on Christmas. I agree with Roger Ebert's review (and most other US critics') . This is one of the best films of the year.

I had my doubts with the film when I first saw the trailer (the one that came with 'War of the Worlds'). It looked nothing more than some generic loud, special-effects heavy blockbuster. If it weren't directed by Peter Jackson, I wouldn't even have ANY EXPECTATIONS of the film AT ALL.

(After all, we all know the story, filmmaker and his crew found big ass gorilla, took him back to New York, big ass gorilla escaped, climbed onto Empire State Building with screaming woman. Big ass gorilla got shot, and fell to his death. The end. Baboom. Yawn.)

I was wrong.

I'll never, EVER, doubt Peter Jackson again. My god, what a mindblowing job he had done with King Kong.

"What do you think?" My friend, Sebastian, asked after we finished the film.

"Spectacular." I said. I couldn't think of any other words to describe it.

Yes, it was a bit too long. And yes, like Sebastian said, there were too many longing looks between King Kong and Ann (a splendid Naomi Watts who made the forgettable Ring 2 entirely forgotten. She is forgiven), but still, it was dramatic. The film's an epic masterpiece.

Everything in it works, the drama, the action, the thrills, the romance etc. The characters here are people you care for, even if they aren't, you'll still feel that they are real people, something you seldom feel in most big-budget Hollywood films. I'm not going to analyze each and every single actor and tell you how I feel about their acting, after what I said in the previous sentence, you should know already.

The major action scenes were just insane. The ones in Skull island. King Kong vs the three T.Rexes, the stampeding Brontosauruses, those icky slimy thingies that appeared after the stampede. I was already 'whoa'ing at them (something I've ceased doing these days). And the ones in the beautiful 1930s New York. To see King Kong running around, jumping from one skyscraper to another, him breaking things up, wrecking cars, tearing buildings apart, I was STUNNED! BLOWN AWAY!

But like I said, it's not just about the action. It's dramatic and poetic too. It's totally Oscar material. (Although I wonder whether it'll have any chance based on its Golden Globe snub. It should, since it's winning quite a number of awards from those US critics associations)

Argh, enough with it. Go see this film now.

Oh, and the trailer doesn't do the film justice. Many of the less than impressive looking parts in the trailer aren't actually in the film itself.

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Swifty's Video Blog Entry: Kimono-wearing Dancing Little Sister

Taking a break from editing my China vacation videos. So did a short video I shot almost a month ago when Maiko, my Japanese friend, was staying at my place.



Photos of that night were posted in this entry earlier this month.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Swifty's Video Blog Entry: China Vacation 2005 Part 1

Merry Christmas, my lovelies! I don't really celebrate Christmas, but I shall present all of you, my dear readers, a treat today: A newly edited video of my trip in China. A long-awaited video blog entry! This time complete with commentary and such. Further explanation is unnecessary, just click and watch the video yourself. Even Santa's incapable of giving such sumptuous treats.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Swifty's Photos Of China's Stunning Scenery! (Part 1)

First of all, Edrei, Char, thanks for guestblogging for me during my absence. My shoes are hard to fill, and no mere mortal can do it easily, but both of you have done an, ah, admirable job. Guestblogger Justin's been busy too, as you can see from his last entry.

Anyway, no, I'm not going into detail about what truly occurred during the last two weeks in China, I have filmed them all and will attempt to edit (shitloads of) videos for my video blog entries, I mean, let's face it, I'm sure everyone's more interested in seeing my transform the entire vacation into a narrative video/music video than to have me droning on and on about what happened to me via written word.

Therefore, what I'm going to do now is merely upload the photos I've taken (mostly digitally manipulated to make up for the shortcomings of my own digital camera) throughout the entire trip (yes, basically, I had a camcorder in one hand, and a generic camera in another, which made mountain climbing more ardous for myself).

Wuyishan City


For some brief yet useful information about Wuyishan City of Fujian Province (it's translated as Wuyi Mountain), click here. This is a place known for its fine tea, its great scenery and all kinds of stuff.

Click photo for explanation. And larger version.

The Inn I Stayed In

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inn

The Dahongpau (Big Red Gown) Tea Growing Area

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Hm. I think I'm a pretty good photographer.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Obscure Cynical-Idealist reviews Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in Swifty's absence

Now that the Great Swifty has briefly left the midst of our blogosphere, it is my duty to follow after the Great Kamigoroshi's footsteps and guestblog on the Great Swifty's online abode.

Oh, but who am I to speaketh on the gloriously beautiful pages of this blog?

I, am none other than the ever humble fencetop lover, the one who has gladly sunk into obscurity in search of inner peace, the one and only Cynical-Idealist.

Okay, flowery language aside, I'm not here to spam this blog and whore mine, although my link is up there just in case no one remembers me. I've come to sing praises of a book.



I've just finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke's first ever novel and currently a well-acclaimed bestseller. I've had such a delightful time reading it that I've decided to kickstart my guestblogging here by reviewing this book.

Synopsis:
Magic was once very much alive and flourishing in England, but when the Raven King left the country, magic began disappearing and faded into obscurity. By 1806, all traces of magic have seemingly deserted England. Magicians were still abound, but they were nothing more than theoretical magicians, scholars who met just to argue about ancient texts and theories of magic, and no practical magic was ever done at all.

But when it seemed that all traces of magic have left Britiannia for good, an eccentric old man was persuaded to step forth into the limelight and show himself to be the remaining practical magician in all of England. He was Mr Norrell.

Taking upon himself the task of bringing back Magic into England in an orderly fashion, Mr Norrell began making himself useful by resurrecting dead women and by aiding the government in their ongoing war with the French.

Thus began the revival of magic upon English soil by Mr Norrell and his only pupil, Jonathan Strange.

While Mr Norrell is secretive, vindictive and utterly unsociable, Jonathan Strange is young, happily married and popular due to his hearty ways. Mr Norrell is content casting spells from his study, while Strange is the one on the frontlines with the British soldiers as they battle Napolean's armies with brawn and magic. Mr Norrell's brand of magic shuns the Faeries, and sticks to tried and true spells in ancient texts, while Strange's magic is free form and self taught at times, which sets him leaning towards the very arts of the Faeries that are forbidden by Mr Norrell forbid.

Both men are equally stubborn and equally talented, and eventually take differing paths in life. But unbeknownst to them, mischief is being wreaked by a malevolent force right under their very noses. All things intertwine, and eventually culmulate together to wreak more havoc across England than anyone would have expected.

What I liked:
What makes this novel stand out is the way in which Clarke has woven history and fantasy together. Many historical events and characters make an appearence in this book, and readers are presented with a new twist on these actual events and people. Sort of a "what if" had magic really been commonplace in 19th century England.

Clarke's writing is very descriptive, and she is able to present readers with an engaging and entirely believable world within the pages of her book.

Another thing I particularly enjoyed about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the Britishness of the entire book. The pages drip with dry British wit, especially during the moments of dry humour, and that was what contributed greatly to my enjoyment of this book.

I must make a mention of this too. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is written in such a way that there many many footnotes contained in every chapter that provide further explaination about the topics mentioned. Rather than making my reading more tedious, I actually found that these footnotes greatly enriched my reading experience, much like how hyperlinks give blog readers more context.

Another thing I particularly liked about this book was the underlying theme of knowledge and learning. Clarke presents magic as an academic endevour, making a good part of this book sound pretty scholarly. There were times when I felt like I was reading from a textbook, but a highly interesting one at that. That's part of what gives this book a very distinct feel from all the other fantasy books out there.


What I didn't like:
If you're a fan of hard and fast fiction, this book might move a tad too slow for you, as proper action happens much less than the dialogue and descriptions do. But if you like things well fleshed out, then this won't be too much of a problem for you.

Also, principle characters don't get introduced right away. You'll have to get past a significant portion of the book before you may meet another key player in the chain of events.

There will be historical inconsistencies, but since I'm more ignorant of English history than Clarke, it's not a problem for me. I'm entertained enough and that's what a good book should be like. (The Da Vinci Code is an exception an a horribly written book; this I have to mention in case anyone dares to draw a comparision between how both authors twist history to their ends.)


Therefore:
If you like faerie tales (the real faerie tales and not the Disney versions), history, haunted houses, magical feats and good scholarly banter, then this book is for you.


I said that I would not publicise my blog, but I didn't say that I won't publicise another blog which technically speaking, isn't mine.

If you're Christian, if you're hungry for God and if you've been looking for a place on the blogosphere to hang out, by all means, do visit Have Faith.

Have Faith
contains wonderful daily meditations as well a collection of forwarded articles and original posts gathered to inspire, inform and encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in their walk with the Lord.

So please do visit Have Faith!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Webcomic Dawn Yang Did (That Has Swifty In It)

Posted with Dawn Yang's permission: (it was originally from this entry of hers, posted a few weeks before she appeared on newspapers and became... internationally known)

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Swifty Reviews 'Perhaps Love' and 'Aeon Flux'

Right, saw two movies in the past few days. In fact, I saw Aeon Flux just hours ago. So let me start reviewing it now.

Perhaps Love
This is the first Hong Kong musical in almost three decades, and is the country's Oscar representative. The four main cast members are from four different countries, Jacky Cheung (HK), Takeshi Kaneshiro (Taiwan, although you can put Japan in there if you want to), Zhou Xun (China), and Jin Ji Hee (Korea).

Summary of the story. A director (Jacky Cheung) is making a musical romance starring Kaneshiro and Zhou Xun's characters, and the movie within the movie happens to parallel with the lives of the director and actors. (It's a love triangle). Kaneshiro and Zhou Xun's characters were past lovers, reunited after a decade for the production of this film, to the consternation of the director. Jealousy and angst ensue. Jin Ji Hee plays the muse, cupid, narrator dude (um... think Antonio Banderas in Evita, someone who pops up from time to time, but really has nothing to do with the plot)

In my opinion, this is a pretty good film, no one can argue anything about the acting in it (although having Jin Ji Hee's voice dubbed into Chinese is... weird I was wrong, he DID speak in Chinese in the film), the scenery, my god, I wanted to go to Beijing immediately after seeing this film. However, this is NOT everybody's cup of tea. Despite being a musical, it is not fast-paced like Chicago or Moulin Rouge, in fact, I would say that it is something like a romantic drama with songs performed from time to time (kinda like, ah, Disney cartoons). The pacing of the film is languid and lingering, and I think that will most easily put people off. (there were a couple of people walking out during the premiere)

But if you are patient, and you can sit through the whole thing and marvel at the scenes unfolding before your eyes, I think you might enjoy it. But as I've said before, this is a DRAMA, not your typical madcap Hong Kong rom-com or actioner, so it's really not everyone's cup of tea.


Aeon Flux
I went to see this just now even though I KNEW it would be a pretty shitty film. After all, its film company chose not to hold pre-screenings for the critics like most other films do, and, hell, come on, who in the hell REALLY expected this to be a good film? There wasn't even that much hype in both Malaysia and Australia, I didn't even see a single trailer.

And, er, actioners/vanity projects starring actresses shortly after they win the Oscars are generally shitty films. Look at... Tomb Raider and Catwoman (shame on you, Halle).

So, why did I see it? Well, it was the only film showing during the time I was at the cineplex. Umm... I'll just make this simpler by listing out the pros and cons of the film.

Pros
  • Charlize Theron's costumes. (face it, that's the main selling point of the film)
  • Passable action scenes.

Cons
  • Everything else

I think this film would have benefited from a bit of humour (there isn't any).

When you go for a movie like that, you should already know what you're getting. Don't expect anything more and you won't suffer that much.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Swifty Attends 'Perhaps Love' Film Premiere. Tries To Meet Takeshi Kaneshiro, Director Peter Chan and Zhou Xun

Malaysia needs their own Daphne Teo, as in, someone who brags non-stop about her wealth, her boyfriend and other privileges she gets in her life, someone who portrays herself as an overachieving overachievier with unsurpassed wealth who also whines about the stupidest of things and then starts massive attention whoring campaign to have my own name shot up to Technorati's rankings. I will now make my bid for this very appealing role by bragging about the 'Perhaps Love' premiere I managed to attend just hours ago. (BTW, Daphne Teo was wondrously portrayed by Otto here so that you peeps can have an idea what she was mostly about)

If you have bothered to read the Swifty Notes carefully in my previous entry, you may remember me mentioning that I was going to the Malaysian premiere of the film 'Perhaps Love', and was hoping to take some photos with the stars of the film along with its director.

'Perhaps Love' is the first HK musical in almost thirty years (maybe more), and stars HK musical icon, Jackie Cheung, Taiwanese superstar Takeshi Kaneshiro (the guy in House of Flying Daggers and Chungking Express), rising Chinese actress Zhou Xun (the chick in Balzac and the Chinese Seamstress and Xiu Xiu) and Korean TV star Jin Ji Hee.

It all began when my dad received an invitation from Astro (Malaysia's satellite TV company) to attend the premiere few days ago.





Mom was supposed to go with him, but wasn't feeling it. So I went on her behalf... more than willingly, because I knew that Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhou Xun were here. And I was desperately seeking to take photos with them to post them on this blog for bragging rights:

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Takeshi Kaneshiro


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Zhou Xun

Hell, I wouldn't mind taking photos with director Peter Chan Ho Sun either since the guy had won multiple awards for making some of the most memorable HK classics in the 90s (he merely made one movie during the 2000s, a short segment in the horror anthology '3', which helped his lead actor Leon Lai in receiving a Best Actor award for the Taiwanese equivalent of the Oscars).

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Therefore, I immediately got my camera ready for this event, and once again took a photo of myself and admired my beautiful looks first before going to the premiere with my dad. As you can see from the photo below, I can barely contain my excitement.

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After that, we reached KLCC, the shopping mall situated below our Petronas Twin Towers, the place where the premiere would be held. There was free dinner for the VIPs at Dome Cafe. Despite having eaten, I was soooo excited about meeting celebs that I took snapshots of the entire function. For the sake of having MORE bragging rights.





A stage was erected not too far away, with hundreds of people gathering before it. Two emcees were there to promote the film, asking questions, giving out freebies. It got me totally pumped when they mentioned that director Peter Chan, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhou Xun were there too.

Then they came onstage amidst the deafening cheers of the fans. I couldn't see them since I was too far away, but I could hear them. Even more excited.

... but that lasted only for a minute when my dad told me that none of us will be able to meet them.

Me: WHAAAAAAAAAT? WHY??
Dad: We are getting the VIP treatment, not the fan treatment.
Me: We aren't going to see them at all?
Dad: Nope. Guess not. As I've said. We are supposed to be the VIP of this premiere, not fans. At least we get free food.
Me: (noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!)

So, no, I didn't really get to meet them, but at least I got to hear their voices from almost a kilometer away. I'll post up my review of the film some time tomorrow.

When the film ended, I took a photo of the Petronas Twin Towers. For no reason at all, just to illustrate the emptiness of this entry even more. But fret not, my dear readers, I will keep you all updated if I get, um, some stuff to brag about.

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P. S. Why the hell is Japan on top of the Technorati rankings suddenly?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Swifty Reviews Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire And Gives It A Thumbs-Up


I tend to enjoy the Harry Potter films more than my little sister does, probably because I don't expect an entirely faithful adaptation of the books. I regard the films as completely separate entities from the books, in fact, I even totally DISREGARD the existences of the book when I'm watching the films. And that's why I usually compare the Harry Potter films with EACH OTHER instead of with the books.

Just to brief you peeps on what I thought about the three previous Harry Potter films before I proceed with the latest one.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone = Came out just two weeks before Lord of the Rings, when my expectations for fantasy films were MUCH LOWER. It introduced me to the world of Harry Potter, and I could still remember the sense of wonder I felt when I first saw the likes of Hogwarts and Quidditch games put onscreen. Technically, it might not be that good of a movie, but it wins in terms of, well, freshness.

Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets = Not much improvement from the first film. Even regard it as a step backwards. Despite seeing it twice in the cinemas, I was disappointed with it. Moaning Myrtle was funny though.

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban = A Harry Potter film after a one-year hiatus, and wasn't entirely anticipated after the disappointment with the previous film. Intense and versatile he may be, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was a weird choice. But the film benefited from a change of directors (Chris Columbus who did the first two films was replaced by Alfonso Cuaron) . As Cuaron was more determined to inject his personal vision into his work, the entire atmosphere and visual style were rather different from the last two films.


And now, my thoughts on Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire:

Daniel Radcliffe had grown increasingly comfortable with his role as Harry Potter and he had ceased being the wooden kid he was in the first two flicks. While Emma Watson (Hermione rules) and Rupert Grint have already proven that they were good in the previous flicks, this film showed that both of them have developed a pretty good chemistry with Radcliffe. The scenes between them have grown really natural, and less 'stagey' (I stopped remembering that they were acting).

The rest of the ensemble cast is solid as ever (Alan Rickman as Snape = Godly. Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldermort = Badass... if only he has a nose).

This film is visually stunning, made even more stunning because unlike the previous films, these eye candies don't try to draw too much attention to themselves like previous films did. The focus was on the characters themselves instead of the latest wonders they have encountered, thus I ended up becoming increasingly attentive to the background or the settings, and then admiring them even more.

For me, the highlight of the film, besides the numerous impressive setpieces in the Tri-wizard Tournament, is the Yule Ball, as you watch both Harry and Ron undergoing all kinds of pain to get someone to go to the ball with them. As the characters grow, the Potter films become less cute and kiddy-ish.

Well, there's nothing much I can complain about this film unless I've truly wanted it to be more faithful to the book (Goblet of Fire is my personal favourite in the series). Okay, yeah, maybe Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) became a wee bit TOO intense compared to his counterpart in previous films (not the books), hell, it seemed out of character, I've expected him to be, well, calmer at the face of adversity. And yeah, my enjoyment of the the last 30 minutes of the film was lessened because my bladder was about to burst, but other than that, I still think it's a pretty good film that deserves the monstrous box-office grosses it is getting now (it's the fastest Harry Potter film to reach 200 million, and has the fourth highest opening of all-time, behind Spidey 2, SW Ep 3 and Shrek 2).

Harry Potter fans should just take into account that the films will NEVER be page-by-page, line-by-line adaptation of the books, and some stuff that work well in the books will never work in the film, so just enjoy the films for what they are.
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