Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Acting Auditions Are Guilt Trips!

(Note: this post has nothing to do with the Takashi Miike movie, Audition)

I've held a few auditions for several occasions, from my own short films last year (VERTICAL DISTANCE and GIRL DISCONNECTED) to the two tv movie productions I'm involved in this year, I find auditions rather exciting but sometimes frustrating.

Last Day In Taipei. Tried the Stinky Tofu!

It's my last night in Taipei, will be taking the morning flight back to Malaysia in a couple of hours.

One of the most distinctive features of the city, to me, is the unbearable odour of stinky tofu emitted from their many stalls around Taipei. They smell like a combination of sewers and rotting carcasses, I cannot help but feel all puked up whenever I walk past one of these stalls.

However, being my last day in the country, I wanted to go home and tell everyone that I'm gutsy enough to try out the infamous stinky tofu, so I decided gather my courage and try one at a roadside stall:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trying understand Tsui Hark's career arc

Dad had finally finished his conference, so he could finally join us (that's me + mom + Uncle Beau) on our Taipei exploration.

First place of the day we went to was the Guanghua Market, which is Taipei's equivalent of Low Yat Plaza or the Digital Mall (or Japan's Akihabara)

KURUS Production Diary - Photos from Semenyih

Four photos I took with my mobile phone when I was location hunting with Ming Jin the Mentor at Semenyih for our upcoming production KURUS (I posted about the problems I faced with casting the main role few days ago). It was the day before I flew off to Taiwan.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Taipei Film House, Ding Tai Feng and street vendors of Taipei

I tried out the Tonkatsu Burger in McDonald's for lunch for one reason:

It's pork.

We don't have pork burgers in Malaysia.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Raohe Street Night Market

I'm in Taipei right now. Arrived just a few hours earlier. Came with my parents. Dad was supposedly going to have a meeting regarding some music publishing stuff, so he has two of his colleagues with him, so mom decided to tag along, and since mom tagged along, I decided to tag along as well, and since I tagged along, my uncle (mom's cousin) decided to tag along too, so now we have six people going to Taipei together.

Reached Taipei around seven in the evening, wasn't too impressed by the airport as it didn't look that different from the last time I visited... 11 years ago (I've never actually been to the country, but had stopped by at the airport during several occasions for transit). After checking in at the Donghwa Hotel, we decided to go for food. One of the receptionists (who bore a slight resemblance to Elva Hsiao) recommended the Raohe Street night Market just a few blocks away from the hotel, and that's where we went.

The place looks really beautiful at night, and reminds me of Petaling Street (which is also one of those places which looks much better at night compared to the day).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Film adaptation of STARDUST, my favourite Neil Gaiman book

Charlie Cox and Sienna Miller in Stardust

I saw Stardust in Perth last month and had long wanted to review it, but never had the time. While I like some of Gaiman's works, Justin and I had been rather outspoken about our problem with Neil Gaiman. I never understood the fuss about AMERICAN GODS, I found it underwhelming and paled in comparison with his earlier works, STARDUST and NEVERWHERE and even the short stories he wrote in SMOKES AND MIRRORS (won't be bringing the graphic novels into the fray).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

KURUS Production Diary - The Quest To Find A Skinny Malay Boy

The next production I'm going to get involved in will be another telemovie for NTV7 called KURUS. Borrowed the DA HUANG office last Friday to organize an audition. Was casting the three main roles, the skinny protagonist (the title character, a Malay boy), his plump comic relief sidekick (can be a boy of any races) and a Hermione Granger-like girl (can be a girl of any races).

Many turned up for the audition, the youngest was 12, the oldest was 22, half of them accompanied by parents, and almost all of them were girls (in fact, only two were males but neither skinny nor plump nor look the age of 15). So, while we had a pool of actresses to choose from, the other two main male roles remained a problem.

Fueled by desperation (and the lack of time, I'm flying off to Taiwan tomorrow), I decided to ask people I know whether they know any skinny 15-year-old Malay kids that we can cast for the protagonist last night. The first person I asked was my cousin, who had just finished his PMR (and bears an uncanny resemblance to me, albeit more rotund, look at photo below!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brothers 兄弟 starring Eason Chan, Andy Lau, Michael Miu Kiu Wai

Poster of Brothers starring TVB's Four Tigers

The generically-titled 'BROTHERS' is a reunion for four of TVB Five Tigers (five of the most popular TV actors in Hong Kong during the 80s): Andy Lau, Michael Miu Kiu Wai, Felix Wong Yat Wah and Kent Tong Chun-Yip

Produced by Andy Lau's Focus Pictures (same one who brought us Ho Yuhang's Rain Dogs), BROTHERS is a triad film about brotherhood and honour, which is just like the hundreds of other Hong Kong triad films out there, it doesn't help that director Derek Chiu takes a laidback, craftsman-like manner to make this film, taking a seat back and relying solely on the charisma of the actors.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Triangle 铁三角 by Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To

Triangle poster

TRIANGLE is a wet dream come true for HK film purists. Three iconic Hong Kong directors, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, working together on a film. They have known each other since their TVB days 30 years ago, and the idea of a story being handed to a director to develop and film separately came from Tsui Hark.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

'Dear Frankie' made me weep like a little girl.

Pardon my lack of updates these days, been busy setting up casting sessions for an upcoming film, while working on submitting mentor Woo Ming Jin's film, The Elephant and The Sea to the local censorship board (some re-editing for the film had also been done, coupled with some new background music composed by yours truly), and I also had this new addiction for ENTOURAGE (watched the first two seasons) and HEROES (watched the first 8 episodes). Ah well, just your usual producer stuff.

Anyway, I watched 'Dear Frankie' on DVD yesterday. It's about a 9-year-old deaf boy, Frankie (Jack McElhone), who writes letters to his absent father all the time, but the letters he received from the father are actually make-believe letters written by his mother Lizzie (Emily Mortimer), telling the boy his adventures as a sailor in exotic lands on the ship HMS ACCRA (a name invented by Lizzie).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Conversation on 'Brave Story ブレイブ・ストーリー' with DMJ


It's rare to have a Japanese animated film shown in local theaters, not a single Ghibli film had ever gotten theatrical distribution in Malaysia, yet this year, I was surprised to see not one, but TWO anime films screened in theaters, the first one being a Doraemon movie (Nobita's Dinosaur 2007 or something like that) and BRAVE STORY.

I'm reviewing this film with DMJ because she's an anime specialist. I said specialist, because she is self-aware, cynical, witty and intellectual enough NOT to be a mere constantly squealing anime otaku fangirl.

HOWEVER, our exchange contains MAJOR SPOILERS and is better read if you have already seen the film and is interested to jump into a discussion with us.

Otherwise, if you want more conventional, spoiler-less reviews, you should check out A Nutshell Review's... review, Saffron Star's review or SHTUFF: Anime Blogage's review

All I can say is that it's a visually amazing animated film that sucks you right into its fantasy world, but is plagued with a weak storyline and underdeveloped characters and subplots. Enjoyable, but not mindblowing.

Friday, October 12, 2007


The one semi-cool scene in Resident Evil 3, where Milla Jovovich was burning infected crows and shit
The one semi-cool scene in Resident Evil 3, where Milla Jovovich was burning infected crows and shit

The Resident Evil films are an important part of video game adaptation history. It is the first and only trilogy of live-action films based on video games (disregarding spin-offs and straight-to-DVD sequels) so far. We haven't had a Tomb Raider 3, yet we have the privilege to endure a third Resident Evil film.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Goodbye old laptop. Hello new laptop.

My old laptop died early last month. It happened in an afternoon without warning. Just the sounds of clicking and whirring from the insides, and everything froze, the LCD screen went black.

I never understood what happened. The motherboard got fried, along with other things inside. Repairing it would cost nearly as much as buying a new laptop, so I made a painful decision. She was put down.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Detective C+侦探 by the Pang brothers

When I saw 'THE DETECTIVE' (Chinese title of the film translates as C+ Detective, a Cantonese wordplay for 'Private Detective') the newest film from the Pang Brothers two nights ago, my immediate thought was that Chewxy would have benefited a lot from watching it if this film had came out before he did his debut short film.

Returning to the filmmakers' roots, THE DETECTIVE is set entirely in Thailand, and the film begins with a Thai song. The story is simple, like an old-fashioned film noir, a nearsighted private detective Tam (Aaron Kwok) is visited by an acquaintance, Fat Dragon, one morning, who seeks his help in finding a woman named Sum (Fat Dragon claims that the woman is trying to kill him). So Tam takes this seemingly innocuous case that becomes increasingly complex as it goes on, especially when each lead he gets will bring him to a dead body.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Birthday to ME

First off thanks to everyone who wished me Happy Birthday in the last post from Swifty. It was truly an amazing night involving handcuffs, baked goods, and far too much liquor. I am now officially an old man of 23.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles Pilot! Me luv Terminators!

Terminator 2 is one of my favourite action films of all-time, until this day, I don't think it had aged. The film IS. A. TIMELESS. CLASSIC!

The first Terminator, due to its low-budget, understandably didn't age very well, but it still has some good parts. But man, Terminator 2! So many awesome action set pieces balanced with great character moments that blockbusters these days are incapable of doing. Hell, I have to say that for me, Terminator 2 is THE ultimate James Cameron movie! (... you weren't expecting me to pick TITANIC, were you?)

I enjoyed Terminator 3 too, it knows that it'll never top Terminator 2, so it became a bit more self-referential and comedic, and seeing Arnold getting his butt whupped by a skinny chick in a toilet was just too funny. However, one thing that made Terminator 3 good was its nice 'twist' ending, where wimpy John Connor will finally assume his destined role as the leader of humanity after failing to stop the nuclear war. Without the redemptive ending, the movie would've sucked a lot!!!

One thing that bothered me was Sarah Connor's death in Terminator 3 (it happened before the events of the film). The idea of having the heroic Sarah Connor lose the fight against leukemia despite being able to survive and invincible cyborg like T-1000 is kinda sad. WHY????? (true story is that Linda Hamilton doesn't want to do T3 cos' she thought the script sucked)

When a Terminator series called The Sarah Connor Chronicles was announced last year, I felt a mixture of excitement and worry. Excitement because I'm a Terminator fan, worry because I fear the TV series would belong to the land of suckness, and it's just another stupid attempt to cash in on a venerable franchise.

My 'LUST, CAUTION' review quoted on Taipei Times!

Didn't know anything about this until Sebastian left me a comment at my 'LUST, CAUTION' review. Wow, my review got quoted by Taipei Times.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mogwai - Hunted by a Freak

In this Mogwai video, CGI-animated animals are thrown off a building and die. That's all. I find it strangely satisfying and beautiful. It would have been rubbish with a different song, one that tried to 'play it up', but the somber music contrasts well with the visual style. Every time I watch a 3D animated film I usually imagine the annoying pseudo-cartoons dying in some way, so this was a huge relief. This is how they should all be killed: dispassionately, dropped from a great height, soundtracked by Mogwai. There's a great moment where it looks like a turtle is going to be saved, only to be immediately run over by a car. And another one where two animals try unsuccessfully to embrace in midair.

'Nana 2' needed Aoi Miyazaki

Watched NANA 2 during my flight home from Perth last week. I liked the first NANA a lot, the 2005 Japanese box-office champ was consistently entertaining and featured a powerhouse performance from Nakashima Mika (til this day, I tell everyone that I prophesized her superstardom when I first heard her 'HELPLESS RAIN' in 2001) as the gothic punk rocker Nana. And there was good chemistry between her and 'the other Nana' (Hachi) played by Miyazaki Aoi, so despite the film seemingly not resolving anything much (it was obviously leaving lots of room for a sequel) and I could never really buy into Nana's romance with Ren (Ren's too bland and boring for Nana), the first Nana film still managed to make me feel satisfied.

Satisfied enough to not ask for a sequel because it had a good enough open-ended ending.

I should have treated Nana 2 as some straight-to-DVD Disney sequels and disregard its existence, because, with the overhaul of cast members (three major characters are played by new cast members... including Hachi), I figured that the cast change thing will feel more like SPEED 2 and not DARK KNIGHT. Miyazaki Aoi had made Hachi her role, infusing the characer with such (sickeningly irresistible?) cuteness that replacing Miyazaki Aoi with Yui Ichikawa is like replacing Keanu Reeves with Jason Patric, it's not going to make the fans cheer like replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal in the upcoming Batman film!

Despite knowing that the film's been both a commercial and critical disappointment, curiosity got the better of me, and I chose to watch the film.