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My Short Films

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Swifty Reviews 'Hooked On You 每当变幻事'

Hooked On You poster


HOOKED ON YOU is the second Milkyway Image production I saw in two weeks (the first one was the entertaining EYE IN THE SKY). This Miriam Yeung - Eason Chan starrer is produced by Johnnie To and directed by Lau Wing-Cheong (who did the surprisingly good 2 BECOME 1 last year,the one about Miriam Yeung with breast cancer), the poster made the film look like a generic romantic comedy. But having seen the trailer before few weeks ago, I knew the film would be larger in scope, and definitely more serious.

This romantic drama is set in a span of ten years. From 1997 (the handover) to 2007. The story revolves around Miu (Miriam Yeung), who has to work as a fishmonger to pay off her father's debts. Her father's debts aren't the only thing she has to worry about, there's also this pesky rival fishmonger in the market (Eason Chan) whom she bickers constantly with. Of course, predictably, a friendship blossoms between the once-bitter rivals, and possibly leading into something more. But Miu feels that being with another fishmonger (or anyone working in the market) is beneath her, her interest being more in one's financial status and society rank. Will she put all these aside and end up living happily ever after with 'Yu Lo' (literally 'fish man'), who is so obviously the one for her?

Sounds like a generic rom-com, eh? Well, you'll be surprised by the results.

If it isn't obvious by now, this film is to reflect the ten years Hong Kong society has fared since the handover in 1997. And this film is probably more relevant for Hong Kong audiences than us, and its messages and themes will sail over the head of anyone who doesn't know anything about the changes HK has undergone since the handover.

The market Miu works at represents Hong Kong. Although there were claims that it will remain 'unchanged' right after the handover, the changes would be unexpected, inevitable and drastic. The vendors at the market had made a similar pledge, claiming that the market would remain 'unchanged' for fifty years, making them unprepared for what is to come. Throughout the film, Miu will attempt to keep up with globalization, gets involved in get-rich-quick pyramid schemes in preparation for the feared Millennium Bug, attempts to cut of own ties to embrace a new life, going through SARS and a few others. She represents an ever-changing and ever-adapting post-handover HKer. Eason's character, on the contrary, thrives in stability, happy to stick with his job, preferring a stable income, and helping those who needs help, perhaps he represents an older generation of HKers.

It's my fascination with this that kept me interested throughout the film, which is very well-acted (especially the two leads) and well-produced. Although I think many will be displeased by the unexpected ending, which, even to me, felt like a slap in the face. And no, this ain't a Korean melodrama, so neither of the characters is suddenly diagnosed with terminal illness.

Perhaps at first, the scope of the film reminded me a little bit of the wondrous Hong Kong classic film, COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY (1996) starring Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung. After all, HOOKED ON YOU is also a love story that takes place in a span of 10 years, with the main characters going through this on-again-off-again agonizing relationship, while drawing from the culture and history of Hong Kong. (COMRADES takes place in 1985 to 1995) But no, this film isn't really as good as COMRADES, more modest, less depth, film is so obviously a political metaphor that it occasionally overwhelms the sometimes affecting love story between Miu and Fish Man.

Still a decent movie though. Just that it might have gotten a bit too ambitious, and never reaching the heights I expected it to reach. Would love to hear what others have to say about this if anyone would still bother to go for HK films nowadays.

(Interesting. I review this film on the 30th of June, 2007. Posting this review a day later would've coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover.)


HOOKED ON YOU trailer



Music video of the theme song by Miriam Yeung

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dark City: Death Row (TV Review)

DEATH ROW, an episode of Dark City directed by Tony Pietra


DEATH ROW, the Tony Pietra-directed episode of the Dark City TV series is a prison drama/thriller set in a fictional Southeast Asian country where everyone speaks Malay, but peppered with a bit of English whenever someone ones to make a point.

No, I haven't seen the TV smash hit, PRISON BREAK, but the dark and gritty atmosphere, along with the sight of a sadistic prison warden made me think more of the 1987 Hong Kong film classic starring Chow Yun Fat, PRISON ON FIRE (instead of something like, say, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION), when I was watching this. But then, with its supernatural elements, it's really a bit more like THE GREEN MILE.

Prison films are always enjoyable even if their formula is familiar. We have a protagonist who ends up in jail because of some minor, audience-friendly crimes (even if it's murder, he did it out of self-defense, or by accident), tries to come clean while he was there, bonds with either one or two other inmates who are just as nice as he is, but has to take a lot of crap from not-so-nice gang of inmates, and they have to suffer in silence because the prison wardens are evil and sadistic too. Ultimately, we see how hero and his friends stage a revolt of sorts, finally achieving victory over those who treated them badly and preserving their own dignity.

DEATH ROW is NOT like this.

The episode is only 30 minute long, so we can't really know the characters well enough to feel anything when a prison warden is being absolutely brutal towards the inmates. Even though the narrator of this story was a sadistic prison warden, I found it rather difficult to feel repulsed by his actions. Maybe I was comparing him too much with the ultimate absolute asshole prison warden, Roy Cheung's character in PRISON ON FIRE. Man, that guy dished out more than just physical punishment, but emotional and mental torture as well upon poor Tony Leung Ka Fai and Chow Yun Fat. Like not allowing Chow Yun Fat out for a day to attend his mother's funeral, or deliberately turning other inmates against CYF by claiming that he ratted on them.

I also thought of this prison warden character in the seldom seen Tony Leung Chiu Wai film CHINESE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, where he invited Tony to his office for a chat, and he (the prison warden) was actually having a haircut. He offered Tony coffee, but turned out that this wasn't all. He placed bits and pieces of his hair in the coffee, forced Tony to drink it, then had his cronies slam a wooden plank onto Tony's stomach, which intensified Tony's pain because Tony was just forced to drink coffee with prison warden's hair in it. If I don't remember wrongly, he also raped Tony's girlfriend, threatening to treat him badly in prison if she didn't listen to him.

Oops, guess I've gotten too carried away. But anyway, I guess my problem with the episode was that I didn't feel too negatively towards the sadistic prison warden that I would really look forward to his comeuppance. And my indifference towards his fate really hindered my enjoyment of the show.

Although, I have to admit that my limited grasp over the Malay language did make me feel lost at times, since the episode was really dialogue-driven. While the plot may have been somewhat predictable, the words that flowed out of the characters' mouths could've been poetry and I missed all those because I was straining to understand what was going on.

A screenshot from DEATH ROW, an episode of DARK CITYNow that I've gotten the bad out of the way, I'll move to the good. And that's probably the visuals, which was a hate-it-or-love-it affair for most people. For me, I had mixed feelings towards the moody and dark distinctive look Tony and his frequent collaborator, Jeffri Yusof, had given the film. There were times when I was annoyed, squinting at the really dark scenes, asking my friend, Peng Shien (not having Astro Ria myself, I had to run to his place, which was few houses away from mine, to watch the series) whether there was something wrong with his TV.

But at its best, the episode looked like something from a recent Frank Miller graphic novel (think: THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN, the one with thick ink outlines, strong digital colours, more impressionistic than realistic). Ultimately, Tony's visual style, which enthralled me in the music videos he did, were used with mixed results in this episode. Sometimes, they worked, sometimes, they felt jarring.

Working with a limited budget, the episode was a valiant attempt. But I honestly wasn't blown away. And unfortunately, I may be somewhat underwhelmed. Not good enough to have me wanting to tell more friends about the show, but not bad enough to make me want to stop following the show altogether. So it's likely that I'll review the next episode as well.

the cute guardAnd just as I've promised, I'll link to anyone who bothered to spend time reviewing the episode in their blogs.

The first person who reviewed this was Georgette, whose frank and humourous review of DEATH ROW episode really deserves a read. Here's an excerpt from her review.

"I think the best part of the whole episode is when that cute warden’s expression when from wordless shocked to wordless outrage in about 5 seconds."


Other than that, a couple of commentators on my earlier blog entry about DARK CITY have bothered to share their thoughts about the episode with us, so I'm highlighting their comments as well:

"I actually liked it very much, compared to the first two episodes. The first one was dog shit. The second one was better, but still below average.

If this entire issue came out two weeks earlier, and had you seen those genuinely bad episodes, you guys would've had every justification to rip up the show!

But DEATH ROW was different. You can rag it for its weaknesses, but from my point-of-view, its strengths ultimately outweigh the flaws. A solid effort all in all."

- Anonymous 1


"Being an aspiring filmmaker myself, I can see the director's effort to lift the episode above the usual technical and aesthetic standards (or lack thereof!) of local TV dramas.

It was atmospheric and visually stunning (some wonderfully inventive lighting and camera-work in there). It had great acting. It had a measured, lyrical pace that built up nicely to the conclusion.

It effectively evoked a sense of darkness, dread and despair.

The reason why I'm raving about all of these qualities is because YOU JUST DON'T SEE THEM OFTEN ENOUGH in Malaysian TV productions.

Local dramas are often so flat and "RTM" in their presentation.

So I give DEATH ROW kudos for attempting to raise the barre, and mostly succeeded, at least from a directing standpoint.

Perhaps the weaknesses mainly lie in the script? I'm not good at dissecting that. But overall, I thought the whole thing worked."

- Anonymous 2


"It had beatings, bleeding and shanking, too! On TV! I love beatings, bleeding and shanking on TV! And lots of latent homo-eroticism! Did anyone else notice? Graphic violence and male bond(age)ing! Now THAT'S pushing the envelope!"
- The Film Faggot


THIS IS SPAAAARTAAA!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Speedlinking: Dark City TV Series Controversy?

I plugged the local Malay-language TV series DARK CITY aired every Wednesday night in my previous post two days ago, but also mused whether Xeus, mastermind behind the anthology horror book of the same title had anything to do with it as she was approached months ago by a production company asking for a collaboration (of sorts), which she declined. She never mentioned anything about it since then.

I got the answer to my question yesterday. Xeus had nothing to do with this TV series at all, and was upset that the title was used without her knowledge. The following links are some reactions to this whole deal.

1) Bibliobibuli: Stolen City?
Even though DARK CITY is a common title, my homegirl Sharon Bakar pointed out why using the title for the TV series will leave a nasty taste in Xeus' mouth.

2) Ted's Thoughts: Review the Dark City TV Series!
Teddybear Mahsun (his wife is so going to smack me for calling him that) is telling everyone my offer to link any posts of the DARK CITY TV series, be it positive, negative or just a one-worder. He himself had chosen to boycott the show (... though he doesn't have a TV), but to still plug my offer like that is a testament to his niceness. Thanks, man.

"WHAT? JUST TWO LINKS?" You ask. Well... er, yeah. But mind you, both of the above DARK CITY-related entries (including mine) have sparked numerous interesting comments worth reading. The links above will tell only 50% of the story, you NEED to read the rest to know what's going on. Considering that Xeus herself had left her thoughts in both Sharon and Ted's blog entry (... but not mine *sigh*) regarding this whole issue.

Anyway, wait for my merciless dissection of tonight's episode directed by Tony Pietra once I've watched it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Check out the DARK CITY TV Series

Dark City poster


Received an email from filmmaker Tony Pietra few days ago regarding a new local BM-language TV series called Dark City (no relation to THAT other movie), which he was involved in making with other indie filmmakers like Khai Bahar, Virginia Kennedy and Johan John.

Viewership's been low due to the lack of marketing and promotion. In order to ensure the survival of this show, I'll help increase some awareness of this series.

Friends of mine have always accused local indie filmmakers for being much too self-indulgent and inaccessible, making inaccessible arthouse films aimed more for festivals and awards than actual viewing. Stereotyping? Or truth?

For this series, many of these filmmakers will be trying to reach out for a wider audience. I'm not sure whether it'll be good or not, but I don't think it'll hurt to give them all a chance.




NICHE FILMS present DARK CITY, a local 13-episode series playing on Astro RIA every Wednesday at 10:30pm (followed by repeats throughout the week).

In the tradition of omnibus shows like ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS andTHE TWILIGHT ZONE, DARK CITY brings you various tales of the macabre with a distinctly Malaysian flavor ... ranging from supernatural horror to psychological thrillers, and black comedies to noir-ish suspense.

With a roster of local cutting-edge directors such as Khai Bahar, Keith Chong, Johan John, Virginia Kennedy, N'aa Murad, Tony Pietra,and Rob Nevis, DARK CITY aims to break new ground in Malaysian TVdramas. So if you're looking for a full 30 minutes of homegrown thrills and chills , give DARK CITY a chance ... you might be in for a surprise!

In the next episode of DARK CITY (Wednesday/June 27, 10:30pm, Astro RIA):

DEATH ROW: A taut prison thriller set in an alternate Southeast Asian country ... and beyond the grave. Directed by Cyberjaya-award winning filmmaker Tony Pietra (and live-action director on the AIM-award winning Pete Teo music video LOST IN AMERICA) and written by Allan Koay, with a score by AIM-award winning electro-rock artist Rabbit.

The week after:

CELLPHONE: A tale of showbiz murder with our favorite daily gadget as the centerpiece. Written and directed by the Anugerah Skrin Award-winning Khairil M. Bahar (CIPLAK).





If you still need some convincing to watch this week's episode by Tony, check out the AIM-award winning Pete Teo music video LOST IN AMERICA he co-directed.


Pete Teo's LOST IN AMERICA music video


Good stuff huh?

The Dark City TV series may or may not have anything to do with the local anthology book by Xeus. On this entry written back in April, she was having some negotiations with the production company in which she would be credited for (I think) inspiring the series, but she wouldn't be getting any money for the rights (production company claimed to be working on a very tight budget). However, she was also asked to write three episodes for them as well (RM1100 for each).

Xeus turned them down the first time, I'm not sure how renegotiation went. There hadn't been any mention (nor endorsing) about the TV series in Xeus' subsequent blog entries (which hadn't been updated for a month). Otherwise, I would've been rather interested to see what the other local literary bloggers like Sharon, Ted, Tunku Halim, or Kenny Mah have to say about the show.

My offer's simple (this isn't directed only to the aforementioned literary bloggers). Review this Wednesday's episode, inform me (or link to me) and I'll post another entry linking to all reviews of the show (yes, be it praises or merciless ripping). See how things will go.

So, May Zhee, you wanna do this?

If I have the time, I probably try to catch DEATH ROW this Wednesday and see whether this is a show worth following.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Caroline Lufkin Live In Kuala Lumpur

I angsted about the fact that I had to go to Caroline Lufkin's live performance at KLPac all by myself on my previous entry. Since then, I tried calling numerous friends, offering to even buy them their tickets for them as long as they can go with me, but my efforts were in vain.

(There were some who said yes at first, but circumstances forced them to say no moments later. It was VERY frustrating for me.)

Humanity smacked me in the face. Hard.

Don't worry, Wota gang, I brought my little sister along instead.

I initially wrote this entry out of spite. I wanted to reproduce the wonders I witnessed at the performance, so everyone else would know how much they were missing. Consumed by hatred and disappointment towards humanity, I wanted them to know that by turning their backs on me, by embracing mediocrity, by refusing to accept something new, they missed the opportunity to witness one hell of a performance.

I took photos, I shot videos. Unfortunately, I did it only with my mobile phone, I was unaware that I could bring my trusty camcorder or digital camera into the place, until I saw a couple of others around me snapping photos and shooting videos (actually, quite a number of them were doing that, so I expect more uploaded videos of this performance on Youtube within the next few days)

The two supporting acts were good. The first one was Dian Bang, a local indie band whose music revolves a lot around Electro - shoegazing or experimental pop.


Dian Bang


The second one was Aspidistra Fly, a Singaporean band that combined their music (also of the electronica genre) with visual effects shown on a screen behind the band members (a guy and a girl, who spent their entire performance behind laptops... I've never seen anything like that before!)


Aspidistra Fly


I liked the supporting acts. I even started wondering whether Dian Bang wanted to do a music video or something with the help of... yours truly *winks*

And then, Caroline finally came onstage, and stood just a few feet away from me. Never have I been to a performance that felt so up close and personal!

But this is the part where I blame myself for overestimating the capabilities of my Sony Ericsson K510i mobile phone. The photos I took were grainy.

Many of you guys remarked that she was beautiful in those photos I posted in my previous entry. But you know what? Seeing her in real-life made me realize that neither of those photos really did her justice! This realization stunned me.

Some of photos I took of her.

Caroline Lufkin at KLPac 3

Caroline Lufkin at KLPac 2

Caroline setting up her laptop before performance

Caroline Lufkin at KLPac 1
Caroline singing


Perhaps it is better this way. My inability to completely preserve my experience at the performance had left me feeling a tinge of bittersweet regret. And things will linger longer for me because of this. In the end, the best video and photos I have of this performance are the ones that reside within my mind.

Many have said that she had a voice that could make angels weep. But I will not post videos of her singing, since the video quality is much too low. That were many audiences who couldn't stop snapping pics or videos, understandable at first, yet I felt that ultimately, they missed the chance to really look at Caroline with their own eyes, it was unnecessary to look at her through mobile phones, camcorders and cameras when she was just standing mere feet away.

Thus I took some short videos, mostly only when she WASN'T singing. The rest, I enjoyed and savoured with my own eyes and ears.


Caroline setting up her laptop before performance


Caroline speaking


Those speculations that she would perform to an empty room were unfounded. The Indiecine room at KLPac was really packed (there could be 250-300 in the room for each performance), though I'm sure many didn't expect to actually sit on the floor. I guess I have underestimated Myspace's reach over the Malaysian audiences, maybe with this, word-of-mouth will spread, many will either post photos of her performance on Flickr, or videos on Youtube.

Hmph. Maybe there's hope in humanity after all.

(UPDATED 25th of June: Check out Jin and MelzKC's blog entries about the second session of the performance, which sounded rather different from the one I attended)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Caroline Lufkin coming to KL

(Updated 25/6/2007: Go read my recap of Caroline's performance at KLPac)

Caroline Lufklin, in a photo taken by her sister, Olivia Lufkin


Caroline Lufkin is performing at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) tomorrow night. (yes, she's the younger sister of Nana's Olivia Lufkin)

No one wants to go with me.

Caroline Lufkin


I am disappointed with humanity.

Caroline Lufkin singing


Maybe I'll go alone.

Justin would've gone with me if he were here :(

(pictures from Caroline's Myspace page)

Swifty Reviews 'Eye In The Sky 跟踪'

Simon Yam in EYE IN THE SKY


It has been a bad year for Hong Kong films (or Chinese cinema, for the matter). The last decent HK film I saw was PROTEGE, way back in February. Since then, all we got were clunker forgettable romantic comedies and silly star vehicles for talentless idols. And then, there's also the repulsively pretentious MING MING.

Hopes were high for EYE IN THE SKY, a Milkyway Image film produced but not directed by my hero Johnnie To. This film is the directorial debut of Yau Hoi Nam, longtime Milkyway Image screenwriter and Johnnie To collaborator. He was the one who wrote (or co-wrote) the smash hit romantic comedy NEEDING YOU... (2000), badass crime dramas like HERO NEVER DIES (1998) and THE MISSION (1999), award-winners like RUNNING ON KARMA (2003), PTU (2003) and the two ELECTION films (2005 and 2006).

The two reviews I read about this film, one at LoveHKfilm and one by Yvonne are pretty positive, obviously this will not reach the dizzying heights of Johnnie To's films, but I know it's going to be a solid film.

I was glad that I didn't walk out of the cinema disappointed. EYE IN THE SKY is a good film, definitely one of the best HK films of the year. That's not saying much, since the only other 'good' HK film is PROTEGE. But this film does bring back memories of earlier Hong Kong crime thrillers like EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, which were more about, er, crimes and thrills. It isn't bogged down by character backstory, there are no attempts to create moral ambiguity by making the villains more sympathetic, everything is black and white, it's a simple cat and mouse movie, it's all about seeing whether the cops can catch the robbers.

In this case, the bad guys are a bunch of bank robbers led by Shan (supremely suave and charismatic Tony Leung Ka Fai), while the good guys are the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB), the surveillance branch of the Hong Kong Police led by Wong Man-chin, codenamed Dog Head (Simon Yam, uglified and fatter than he usually looks). The central character of this film is actually Bo, codenamed Piggy, a newbie cop (played by former Miss Hong Kong Kate Tsui) who has just joined the unit and is learning the ropes from Dog Head. Thanks to Bo, we get to learn how this secretive unit actually works via Dog Head's explanations.

The cop procedures and philosophy these surveillance officers adhere to are shown in detail, and they are very interesting (and educational... unless the director has taken some creative liberties). One has to learn how to put their human compassion aside, like watching someone beaten up and not do anything because it will blow your cover. Or doing whatever it takes to follow a suspect, even if your own colleague is mortally wounded and needs assistance. These are the numerous dilemmas Bo is forced to undergo as she learns to be a surveillance officer. And also, a surveillance officer does not get into action-hero mode like their heroic counterparts, the CID or the SWAT team. Just do their duties by finding out the positions of the baddies, then take a step back as the 'action heroes' do the rest.

Simple and modest in scope, this film's messages and karmic themes are really clear. The film's title, EYE IN THE SKY, is the literal meaning of the word 'surveillance' in French. But in Chinese, the all-seeing 'eye in the sky' is related to karma, how one can never escape from the cycle of 'cause' and 'effect'. This can't be any clearer as everything ties up neatly towards the end, based more on luck and coincidences instead of the actual abilities of the SU members.

All these years of working with Johnnie To (whom he refers to as 'sifu', as in master or mentor) have given Yau Hoi Nam an assured and subdued directing style. He doesn't try to mimic Johnnie To, going more for quicker cuts, tighter shots and more camera movements (lots of handheld shots, something very rare in actual Johnnie To's films). The acting of the cast, mostly made up of Milkway Image regulars like Maggie Siu (funny as the sophisticated-looking but potty-mouthed commanding officer) Lam Suet (the constantly eating lackey of Shan's, who doesn't utter more than five words in the film) and Eddie Cheung (finally in a non-stuttering role after the two Election movies and Exiled!) is top-notch.

The performances from the 3 actors are great. Simon Yam plays Dog Head more like a kind uncle than the 'cranky middle-aged cops' you're used to seeing. Tony Leung Ka Fai's Shan could've been a 1-dimensional villain if it isn't played by him. Shan is dangerously unpredictable, we see him playing Sudoku a lot while wearing reading glasses to pass his time, and becoming murderously violent when necessary.

And Kate Tsui is surprisingly good (I don't really expect much from film debuts of former pageant winners), handling her emotional scenes effectively and immediately showing more talent than, say, a Cookies member. Guess getting her share of training from TVB does help her a lot.

So yeap, go watch EYE IN THE SKY, it might restore your faith in Hong Kong cinema.


EYE IN THE SKY teaser

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Swifty Reviews 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer poster


I actually looked forward to seeing FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (I'll refer to it as FANTASTIC FOUR 2 here), solely because the teaser that featured a (relatively) thrilling chase scene between the Human Torch (Chris Evans) and Silver Surfer (Doug Jones, but voiced by Laurence Fishburne)



The first FANTASTIC FOUR film was a guilty pleasure. It was quite a bad film, but because it didn't take itself so seriously, being more light-hearted and campy, having a number of humourous moments that make it more like a fun bad movie than a bad bad movie. In my mini-review of the film three years ago, I just said that I was entertained because I had (VERY) low expectations, but pointed out that the movie version of Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) was one of the most idiotic Marvel villains ever.

Dr. Doom actually returns in the second film, but thankfully, the filmmakers have probably read my silly whining, and decided to show him without his mask. And the dastardly villain tries to harness the powers of the powerful Silver Surfer from outer space, who is the herald for the planet-eating Galactus!!!!!!! Meanwhile, Reed Richards AKA Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd, whose CG moments are still VERY wince-inducing... look at the bachelor party dancing scene) and Sue Storm AKA Invisible Woman (yummilicious Jessica Alba) try to get married. Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch remains the coolest character in the film, and Ben Grimm AKA The Thing (Michael Chiklis) is relegated to nothing more than a sidekick character (though his moments with Johnny Storm are still pretty good... and cliched).

FANTASTIC FOUR 2 is better than FANTASTIC FOUR...

... but it's still pretty bad.

It's cheerfully dumb and unpretentious, it has funny moments that work more for the pre-teens than hardcore comic book geeks, it's vastly inferior to the much-reviled SPIDER-MAN 3, but other than that, there's really not much I can say about the film. Among all characters, Johnny Storm has... some kind of a character arc, while the other three are just underdeveloped.

The highlight of the film might just be the iconic Silver Surfer, who is badass because he sounds like Laurence Fishburne, and looks like, according to my mom, like a silver Oscar statue (yes I watched this with my family), and the coolest effects are reserved for Silver Surfer as he lay waste upon numerous international landmarks. However, the final battle with Dr. Doom in this film is definitely a gazillion times better than the one in the first film. But Galactus' final appearance... *sigh*

So no, I'm not repulsed by the film like I was with MING MING, but I'm not going to recommend this to anyone. You aren't missing anything if you don't watch this.

(even someone like my little sister does not look forward to a Fantastic Four 3...)

Haven't been a good year for summer Hollywood blockbusters (Spidey 3 and Pirates 3 were just okay, even with my low expectations, Shrek 3 was forgettable, Surf's Up is all right but light), I can't believe I'm gradually placing all my hopes in a Michael Bay film now. But come on, it's TRANSFORMERS.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some Thoughts About Short Films Screenings

I've attended three local short film screenings since February that screened my short films: Filmmakers Anonymous 2 (check out my video diary), Malaysian Shorts (check out my video diary) and the most recent Cinejam that was held last Friday.

Much unlike the massive Sony Tropfest in Australia, which is held every end of February at a huge open space with food stalls and people bringing their own food, picnic cloths and resting chairs (click the link and see the photos I've taken), the local ones are relatively small events that are more often attended by others of the film industry than a regular joe, perhaps because films screened there may not appeal completely to the masses like the short films at Sony Tropfest.

Nevertheless, I find these screenings beneficial because of a few things:

1) Getting to meet other filmmakers, and a number of them are actually pretty nice and friendly.

2) Wide variety of short films shown, from music videos to documentaries to narrative fiction to experimental videos. Some mindblowing, some not my cup of tea, but nevertheless, it's good to see so many different types of filmmakers with vastly different styles in the country.

3) Unlike posting my own films online, I get to gauge audience reactions in real-time. And these audiences, not being my own friends and family, and not knowing who I am, are going to be more objective. I tend to pay attention to the audiences whenever a short film of mine is showing.

So yes, that's one of the reasons why I usually try my best to attend these events. Just so I'll be the first to see if there are people jeering and throwing stuff at the screen when my films are showing. :D

All three events I mentioned tend to end with a Q & A session, where all filmmakers are invited to sit before the audiences to either introduce themselves and then talk briefly about their films. Now, this is one of those segments which I have a love-hate relationship with. I love it because it brings audiences closer to the filmmaker (and the film), I hate it because these sessions are occasionally filled with awkward silence and are not as lively and interesting as I would've expected.

There are times when a film seem to leave a deeper impression for audiences, most usually a documentary about a controversial issue, or a gut-bustingly funny comedy, thus the filmmakers of these films often have the privilege to be... peppered with questions from audiences. While the other filmmakers are... neglected and forgotten. It's all right for some who prefer not to be asked anything at all, and prefer to remain as secretive and inconspicuous as possible. But I DO wonder whether it's all right for everyone?

After sitting through so many short films for nearly 2 hours, I think it's hard for audiences (I would also include myself as one of them) to remember every single short film when everything has ended, or some might even missed out the films that were played first (during FA2, my GIRL DISCONNECTED was the first film to be screened, and I was nearly mortified to see that many people coming in only when the film was about to end!).

So yes, I've sat through two Q & A sessions, one at Filmmakers Anonymous 2 and another at Malaysian Shorts. (The one at Cinejam was called off as the screening ended prematurely) Most who attended FA2 may remember me for dominating (or, to put it bluntly, 'hogging the limelight') the session after being asked a question by DMJ (of course, without her, I'm sure I would've gone through the whole night without anyone asking me anything at all, haha... sigh). After feeling rather bad about what I did in FA2, I became self-consciously quiet during Malaysian Shorts, merely giving a lame introduction of my film, and then shutting myself up as soon as possible, absolutely generating a "well, don't think this cute Edmund Yeo guy is that interesting, let's not ask him anything or he'll fall apart" response from some audience members... okay, that's just me being my usual neurotic self.

What occurred to me is that maybe either one of these short film screenings should try to have ONE Q and A session with the filmmaker after EACH film is shown. So yeah, after a film is screened, invite the filmmaker of that short film to come out to introduce his or her film, or let audiences (or the emcee) ask him/her questions. The memories of the film will still be fresh in audiences' minds, allowing them to comment and ask whatever they want to ask before they forget. The filmmaker will feel less self-conscious about using other people's time (as long as the emcee or organizer know when to stop him/her). It'll be like AMERICAN IDOL (!!!), but instead of having three judges, we'll have audiences interacting with the filmmaker.

It's more personal, it'll probably be more productive. (But that might also mean that some filmmakers might leave right after their own screenings and personal Q & A sessions)

Just an idea. Let's see whether those behind the aforementioned screening events or fellow filmmakers have anything to add to this.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Community service message: Fight Sexual Harassment on Public Transport!

Too long! For too long we have lived in fear of sexual harassers when we take public transport! TOO LONG!

(No, Swifty, I am not talking about your member's size, don't look at me like that. Justin, on the other hand ... *whistles*)

Anyway, back to sexual harassment. I just need a little help from you guys. Do you think you can visit this blog and leave a comment? I'm very worried that a potential sexual harasser will chance upon that blog, look at the pathetic amount of support there and think to himself, 'Muahahaha no one supports such campaigns I shall go harass more people.' Though I doubt sexual harassers can talk in such coherent sentences. They are usually sick idiots.

On another note, Swifty! Talk about Heroes! I know you don't usually review TV series, but Heroes is the most awesomest TV series ever (this, coming from an avid fan of Desperate Housewives)! Surely there's an exception for that? Or maybe not. Just ignore my pointless ramblings.

Here's my two cents for the Kuala Lumpur thing (yes, I am superior and so I don't have to post in the comment box =P No lar, I'm just lazy)
1. Traffic (yeah, made me thirty minutes late for my own birthday party once)
2. Weird-looking, weirdly dressed people! (they are found in abundance in KL. At least in Klang, where I am staying, the condition is not that severe because it's a tiny town. In KL! Oh my God! Total eyesore! Really gaudy hair colors and horrible tattoos. The girls wear skimpy and shoddy miniskirts or damn short tubes. No glamor at all.)
3. Cab drivers try to cheat your money!!! (or so I've heard)
4. Oh we're only supposed to give three? But my three reasons are so mediocre! =( Okay nvm.

Swifty Reviews 'Surf's Up'

poster of Surf's Up


The press screening of SURF'S UP last Saturday was a horrible experience.

It has nothing to do with the film itself, which is a fine and entertaining little movie (will get back to that later), but the horrifying audience members who sat nearby during the screening.

Toddlers sitting in front of me running and crawling around while their moms tried desperately to shush them.

Old grannies sitting behind me starting to whine and moan and babbled about how bored they were by the film.

It was difficult to concentrate on the film, I haven't felt so annoyed since watching MONSTER INC. years ago and some dumb kid behind me just kept on asking his grandparents what was going on, and his grandparents just spoke back without, like, you know, lowering their voices.

And of course, there was a guy sitting behind me who just couldn't stop pointing out the obvious. Once is all right, but repeating numerous times "hey, he's Big Z!" before the 'twist' is actually revealed FIVE MINUTES later wasn't cool.

I wanted to just turn around and say "yes, thanks a lot for pointing out, captain obvious, can we just watch the film in silence?"

But of course, snapping at the guy will result in me being beaten up by the already cranky and impatient grannies sitting behind me anyway.

So, how's the film?

SURF'S UP will most definitely sail past the heads of most Malaysian audiences, because of some pop-cultural references and quick witty humour (it has its share of slapstick humour for the kiddies, but it's generally more subtle and sophisticated compared to... Shrek 3), and the fact that it may be a bit too intelligent for someone expecting to watch something like, again, SHREK 3.

After all, despite being another one of those 3D animated films, this film unfolds like a mockumentary! It's supposedly a parody of surfing documentaries. The characters of the film are constantly being interviewed by a duo of unseen filmmakers voiced by the film's actual filmmakers, Ash Brannon (co-director of Toy Story 2) and Chris Buck (Tarzan).

The story of this film isn't the most original, and its central twist can be seen from miles away. But I like the mockumentary-style tremendously since it does separate the film from the others.

(Actually, my last short film, GIRL DISCONNECTED, a tale of a girl flying to the moon to seek her love, was originally planned to be a mockumentary as well)

I'll just copy and paste the synopsis of the film from Wikipedia:

Surf's Up profiles teenage Rockhopper penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming surfer, as he enters his first professional competition. Followed by a camera crew to document his experiences, Cody leaves his family and home in Shiverpool, Antarctica (a pun on Liverpool, England) to travel to Pen Gu Island for the Big Z Memorial Surf Off (Big Z's a legendary surfer worshiped by Cody). Along the way, Cody meets surf stoner Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), Don King-like promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), surf talent scout Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone), and lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel), all of whom recognize Cody’s passion for surfing, even if it sometimes goes too far. Cody believes that winning will bring him the admiration and respect he desires, but when he unexpectedly comes face-to-face with a washed-up old surfer named Geek (Jeff Bridges), Cody begins to find his own way, and discovers that a true winner isn’t always the one who comes in first.


No points for anyone who can guess Geek's true identity. (which, thankfully, was revealed pretty early on in the film)

So, like I said, the story isn't that original, it's pretty similar to last year's Pixar movie, CARS.

It's also unfortunate that this film will also be written off because it's released just half a year after the much heralded and Oscar-winning penguin film, HAPPY FEET (which Surf's Up did refer to).

I enjoyed the movie, despite having to endure the crap shoveled at me by the other sadistic audience members.

No, this isn't as good as HAPPY FEET (and I don't think it's aiming as high as HAPPY FEET did), but it's still better than Shrek 3.

But like I said, too bad this unique little film will most probably end up unappreciated.


SURF'S UP trailer



Saturday, June 16, 2007

[OPEN THREAD] 3 Things You Hate About KL

Doing research for my next short film.

For me, the three things I hate about Kuala Lumpur are:

1) Traffic.
Even a zen monk can be frustrated with the traffic jam we have. LRT is the preferred mode of transportation.

2) Littering.
Sorry, I'm a clean freak. I feel disgusted when I see people simply throwing crap on the floor when there's a trashcan nearby.

3) When it's hot... it's unnaturally hot.
Everytime I go to Petaling Street at a hot weather, I feel like fainting. Doesn't help when I'm constantly pestered by pirated DVD vendors.

Leave your comments.

Swifty Reviews '28 Weeks Later'

Teaser poster of 28 Weeks Later


I saw 28 WEEKS LATER nearly 28 days ago. (note: I originally started writing this review back on the 6th, but put it aside and was too lazy to complete it until now)

My sister was aching to see PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3, wanted company (her friend was busy). Dad and I had seen it few days earlier, so I wasn't interested in seeing it again (dad relented). Desperate to watch something myself, I had to choose between a 28 WEEKS LATER and SUMOLAH! (both films were showing at the same time, my first choice was actually that Zhou Xun-starring action thriller MING MING, but it wasn't showing in the morning)

Hungry for some blood and gore, I chose 28 WEEKS LATER (sorry, Zona!) despite having not seen its 2002 prequel, the Danny Boyle-directed 28 DAYS LATER starring Cillian Murphy.

Since George A. Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), zombies are often used in films as a vehicle "to criticize real-world social ills - such as government ineptitude, bioengineering, slavery, greed and exploitation - while indulging our post-apocalyptic fantasies" (from Wikipedia). Therefore, what separates zombie films from most other horror films is the fact that they are usually social commentaries, where the true monsters depicted in the films aren't really the zombies but humans themselves. Facing a threat like the zombies, some would be at their selfless courageous best, some would be at their selfish opportunistic worst. The zombies themselves are mostly mindless, flesh-hungry undead, they have no character, there aren't any stories behind them like their vampire or werewolf counterparts, or those 'Asian ghosts with a sad tragic past' you see in Grudge (Ju-on) and Ring (Ringu) films.

I didn't review 28 WEEKS LATER immediately after I saw it because I wanted to watch my DVD copy of its prequel first. Although both films have standalone stories (28 WEEKS LATER happens six months after the events of 28 DAYS LATER, and has a different cast of characters), I thought viewing both would be essential for me to understand the whole picture.

I wonder whether I can really call them zombie flicks? They seem more like a combination of different genres. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi + zombies + character study etc. Like RESIDENT EVIL (... I'm thinking of the games, not the movies) The zombies in these films are not really undead creatures, but biologically-infected people, thus giving them zombie-like characteristics.

And both films really focus more on the human characters than the zombies. To me, 28 DAYS LATER and 28 WEEKS LATER are really more about the bond forged by people during times of crisis, how some people would be at their best and some would be at their worst, without knowing it. The protagonists of these films tend NOT to be mindless one-dimensional 'character types' lining up to be murdered by the monster.

28 DAYS LATER is a more ponderous film, 28 WEEKS LATER is leaner and more action-packed. I like the fact that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo opts to do something different with the movie instead of blatantly trying to emulate what Danny Boyle did. And I definitely loved the stylish visuals employed by him, the camera work and the rapid fire cuts, he never went over-the-top like MING MING did.

Robert Carlyle running away from ZOMBIES!The plot: Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) are hiding in a cottage, sheltering from the RAGE virus that has hit Great Britain. Then they got attacked by zombies (RAGE victims), Don manages to escape, leaves Alice to die. Bad husband, bad bad husband.

28 weeks later, the virus is successfully contained, the US army finds an area in London for survivors to repopulate. Teenager Tammy (Imogen Poots) and her younger brother Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) manage to reunite with their father, Don, after returning from a school trip (that kept them safe from the Rage virus outbreak), and learn from Don about their mother's death. Of course, Don didn't really get into details.

Anyway, I'm not going to reveal much, but eventually, a carrier of a virus enters the quarantined area and infects everyone with the virus again. Chaos ensue. The US army, incapable of containing the virus, has no choice but to kill everyone in the area. Tammy and Andy, protected by US Army medical officer Scarlett (Rose Byrne) and sniper Boyle (Jeremy Renner), try to leave the place from both RAGE victims and other soldiers of the US army.

The events transpired in the film really parallels the Iraq war. And this film is pretty harsh towards the US army and their self-appointed roles as protectors. I have read numerous complaints about this film, either being too predictable, or not having enough action, yeah, this certainly isn't a mindless shoot em' up like RESIDENT EVIL, nor is it a mish mash of comedy and horror like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but I still think 28 Weeks Later is a surprisingly enjoyable film, with really nice visuals and a great soundtrack (love the score used in both this film and 28 DAYS LATER). There are moments of this film that made me lean forward and stare at the screen in front of me, making me go 'wow'.

Anyway, there is one scene in the film that involves a helicopter, its a propeller and a horde of zombies that's worth the admission price by itself. I don't mind waiting for 28 MONTHS LATER in the future (presumably set in Paris)

Anyone else who had seen 28 WEEKS LATER? What do you think? Am I the only one who enjoyed it?

BTW: Pretty interesting to see Rose Byrne in a Danny Boyle film (SUNSHINE) just weeks ago, and then see her again in a sequel of a Danny Boyle film. Will I see her in more Danny Boyle films?


28 WEEKS LATER trailer


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cinejam screening of my two short films "Girl Disconnected", "Vertical Distance"

Poster of CINEJAM, June 2007


I'm going to CINEJAM tomorrow night (14th of June) at KL JAM ASIA. Not one, but TWO of my short films, GIRL DISCONNECTED (watch previews here and here) and my earlier work, VERTICAL DISTANCE, will be screening there, along with a few others. This marks the FIRST public screening of VERTICAL DISTANCE.

I'll be sticking around for the Q & A session, so see you there.

(In case you can't see the poster above)

CINEJAM
Thursday, June 14, 2007. 9:30pm.


at

KL JAM ASIA
No. 19-1, Jalan 22A/70A
Plaza Crystalville
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Amber Chia at 'Fine Dining' TV Shoot

Shot the last episode of 'FINE DINING' today in Bollywood Restaurant at Tengkat Tong Shin (near Sungei Wang and Low Yat Plaza) in Kuala Lumpur.

It's a very interesting-looking Indian restaurant designed by the owner himself, Taj.

Bollywood Restaurant Interior

Bollywood Restaurant Interior 2

Bollywood Restaurant 3


And the food, of course, is REALLY delicious. The chef is Taj's wife Sania.

I mentioned in this previous post about 'Fine Dining' about a mystery guest for the show whom I will not divulge until everything's done.

Well, the mystery guest is actually Malaysia's supermodel Amber Chia. She also dabbles in acting, appearing in the local movie 'The Third Generation' ( go read my much-talked about epic trashing of the film) and the Astro series 'Trio and A Bed' (go read my rather positive review of the series pilot)


Amber Chia and Fay the Hostess
Amber Chia and Fay the Hostess

Amber Chia, her business partner Shan and Fay the hostess
Amber Chia, her business partner Shan (they have just opened a boutique together) and Fay the hostess

The first thing that struck me when Amber Chia walked into the restaurant with her business partner Shan) was how humble and nice she actually is. After shaking hands with director Woo Ming Jin, she immediately shook mine as well while introducing herself, a gesture that actually surprised me slightly.

Anyway, to those who are curious... yes, Amber DOES know about the song (The Cha Cha Ska) of Amber Chia by the band, BEN'S BITCHES (go to Earl-ku's or myAsylum 's entries for the lyrics or the MP3 downloads). She even saved it into her mobile phone as a ringtone! Let us all listened to the song while we waited for the shoot to start. BEN'S BITCHES must be proud.

Director Woo Ming Jin and I looking at the monitor
Director Woo Ming Jin and I looking at the monitor

Amber Chia and the others waiting between takes
Amber Chia and the others waiting between takes

Blurry photo of Amber Chia and others during the food-tasting
The food-tasting


Amber was magical in front of the camera, the way she maintained eye contact, the way she interacted with the camera, how she seemed to invite, with her eyes, audiences to share this private moment with her as she was eating the food, how effortlessly she just turned the show into her own. While Amber Chia the actress hadn't really impressed me much (I do admit that she'll be better as a comedic actress than a dramatic one though), Amber Chia the Supermodel/Endorser was flawless and mindblowing.

After we finished the food-tasting, she was asked to demonstrate her expert make-up skills to us all (as she was the one who helped her business partner Shan with the make-up, despite the presence of a make-up artist on the set!).

The two following photos were taken when she was showing us how she made her nose bridge seem higher!

Amber Chia demonstrating her make-up skills

Amber Chia after make-up!

Hardcore skills, man.

Anyway, when the shoot ended, Amber actually started thanking not just Director Ming Jin, but everyone in the crew. Touching my arm briefly when she left, saying a very friendly thank you.

I shook my head in disbelief after she left, telling director Ming Jin that I am absolutely MOVED by how down-to-earth and unpretentious she actually is. (the interview and food-tasting she did was really fun) Admitting that I'm starting to feel, well, a little guilty about the epic trashing I gave 'THE THIRD GENERATION' last year.

Me, with Amber Chia, her business partner Shan and hostess Fay


Of course, I have to say that by standing next her in this photo, I looked pretty... fat. :(

I think I'm going to miss doing this show. Haha.

Read about my first and second day at the 'Fine Dining' production shoot.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Swifty At NAANA NEEYA Soundtrack Album Launching Ceremony

'Fine Dining' shoot postponed to tomorrow, so I went to the Naana Neeya soundtrack album launching ceremony at Mid Valley with my dad today instead. Naana Neeya is a Malaysian Tamil-language comedy produced and directed by vocalist Dharmavathi.

I'm not sure what the movie is going to be like, but after listening to its soundtrack earlier this morning, I was very intrigued. The album is, as described by the press release, is 'a fusion of Indian and Western music such as Alternative, Ballad, Funk, Techno, Hip-hop and R & B', songs are also sang in Tamil, English and Malay.

The soundtrack album actually has the title track, Naana Neeya in 3 different languages, and it comes with the music video of the title track and also a trailer of the movie.

Artists of this album include Vizz Da Blizz, a 12 year old boy who sang 4 out of 8 songs, G-tha, a 15 year old teenage girl, MC LOGA from the group Hyperkinetix (he does most of the rapping) and DJ Hazel. There's also one song by Phat Babu and two songs by producer director Dharmavathi herself (I think her YENNENGAL NEEYA might be my favourite song of the album).

The ceremony, held at Mid Valley, had some song performances from the aforementioned artists.

MC Loga and Vizz Da Blizz performing NAANA NEEYA
MC Loga and Vizz Da Blizz performing NAANA NEEYA

MC Loga and G-Tha performing UNNE NENAICHE
MC Loga and G-Tha performing UNNE NENAICHE


And then, the actual album launching ceremony...

The album launch

See the only Chinese guy on the stage? That's my dad, with the other sponsors and artists of the album.

My dad and other sponsors with the Naana Neeya artistes


I shot some videos of their performances, but realized that resolution and sound quality of videos shot with my mobile phone ain't that good (like DUH!).

So here's a music video of NAANA NEEYA instead:



The truth is, I'm not very exposed to the Malaysian Indian filmmaking or music industry, but based on their press release, they do face problems similar to us Chinese. The masses are more accepting towards the works of foreign countries than their own, so the biggest competition of these Indian musicians and filmmakers in Malaysia are, ironically, from India. Just like how the majority of people would choose to watch Hong Kong films and listen to Taiwanese singers than local ones.

I quote what Marcel Proust wrote to Mme. Strauss:

"People of the world are so imbued with their own stupidity that they can never believe that one of their own has talent. They appreciate only people of letters who are not of their world."
Pretty harsh, but not without reason. What Proust said can also apply to musicians and filmmakers. Just like how Justin is more in love with the literary works of other countries BUT his own, I am also, unfortunately, more receptive towards the films of other countries. Why? Because the creative works of our own countries reflect what we see everyday, hence anything from another country with a much different culture will be a breathe of fresh air, or a great chance for escapism. It's just human nature.

But the album's pretty good, definitely not something I've expected from a local Tamil album. :)

The official Naana Neeya website is here.

YE CHINE RESTAURANT: Photos From 'Fine Dining' TV Production Shoot

There was another 'Fine Dining' TV production shoot today, this time at a Chinese restaurant. This Chinese restaurant is called Ye Chine (pronounced like 'Yi Shin') and is situated right next to yesterday's Mezza Notte Italian restaurant (in fact, both restaurants have the same owners). Both restaurants are opposite Sheraton Hotel, KL.

Unlike the two segments yesterday, there aren't any guests for the show, the focus is placed solely on the head chew, Chew Kia Sek.

Outside Ye Chine restaurant


It's a classy-looking, stylish Chinese restaurant.

Ye Chine Restaurant interior 1

Ye Chine Restaurant interior 2

Head chef Chew in action
Head chef Chew in action while Paul the Cameraman shoots

Food waiting to be served
The dishes Head chef Chew cooked up for the show

Baked lamb
Baked lamb

Wanton shimp
Wanton shrimp

Dessert
Deep fried avocado puff rolls

Fay talking to head chef Chew
Fay interviewing chef Chew. Chef Chew went to Beijing this April for a culinary competition and won a gold medal!

Director Woo Ming Jin and intern Ah Chia
Director Woo Ming Jin and intern Ah Chia

Oh, and of course, we had free dinner too.

Our FREE dinner at Ye Chine


There might be another shoot tomorrow, with a mystery guest I shall not divulge until everything's really done.

Will keep you all updated!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Great Photo of Mishima



Incredible photo showing his style, along with the current mayor of Tokyo.

Also check this:



His English is unfortunately camp, but look at his smile while he talks and notice the massive contempt and disgust for everything showing through. Beautiful.

Photos From The 'Fine Dining' TV Production Shoot. Babes Galore!

I received a phone call two nights ago from Kannan (director of the TV movie I worked on), asking whether I could fill in for him at the production shoot of the upcoming TV dining show 'Fine Dining'. It was a pretty simple job, so I went.

The director of the show is Woo Ming Jin, whom I know through Kannan (we went to see Mukhsin together). We had to do two segments yesterday (meaning, two different locations), here are some photos I've taken.

At MEZZA NOTTE, an Italian restaurant + Jazz bar:

Hostess Fay with Jit Murad and Zahim Albakri
Hostess Fay with guests Jit Murad (read about him here) and Zahim Albakri

Fay and her 2 guests taking photos with a waitress at Mezza Notte
Fay and her 2 guests taking photos with a waitress at Mezza Notte

Director Woo Ming Jin in Action
Director Woo Ming Jin (the one standing) in action

Italian Chef Max demonstrating to Fay
Italian Chef Max showing Fay how to make Salmon Tartare


The most wonderful thing about doing a dining show is that... you get FREE (and DELICIOUS!!!!) food! Here's what I had for lunch:


Free food from Mezza Notte

Free food from Mezza Notte 2


Unfortunately, bad news came while we were eating. Like all productions, we ran into a couple of unpredictable problems, in this case, we lost one of the guests for the next segment (the other guest is actress and beauty queen Zoe Tan)!

The director and the production manager started making numerous phone calls, hoping to find someone who could fill in as a guest. Carmen Soo was busy. Ditto with Amber Chia. The rest couldn't come in such short notice (they were supposed to come in two hours for the next segment).

Ming Jin said that it wasn't compulsory to have a celebrity as a guest, just someone pretty enough on camera, and not shy enough to speak out.

So I started to think of people I know who aren't afraid of the camera, and I only had a couple of choices. One of them being Grace, who played the Rabbit Fairy in my last short film, GIRL DISCONNECTED (watch her in this short preview), and will be the lead actress in my upcoming short film RED BEAN SOUP (tentative title).

Grace happened to be nearby, so she could go to the Al-Nafourah restaurant in Meridian Hotel, a restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food.

Here are photos from the second segment shot in Al-Nafourah:

Make-up artist working on Grace
The make-up artist working on Grace

Grace undergoing a make-over
Make-up artist fixing Grace's hair

Grace, prior to shoot
Grace, with Fay in the background

Hostess Fay interviewing Lebanese Chef Ibrahim
Hostess Fay interviewing Lebanese Chef Ibrahim

Grace, listening to director Woo Ming Jin
Grace listening to instructions from the director

Hostess Fay and her two guests, during food tasting
Hostess Fay and her two guests, Grace and actress Zoe Tan, during food-tasting

Hostess Fay with Grace and actress Zoe Tan
Make-up artist Shin, taking photo with Fay, Zoe Tan and Grace


And yes, after the shoot, we had great food for dinner too.


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