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Showing posts with label Film Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Film Reviews. Show all posts

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Megumi Yokata photo exhibition, TOKYO FILMeX Opening Ceremony + Tony Leung Ka Fai's 5 greatest roles

Originally, I've intended to write about both the TOKYO FILMeX opening ceremony, and then my thoughts on the opening film co-directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, LINHA DE PASSE (really good film). But I'll write my review in my next post.

I headed to Yurakucho rather early today because it's the opening of the TOKYO FILMeX and I wanted to make sure I can get tickets for LINHA DE PASSE. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there would be an opening ceremony before the screening of the film. Being one of the first to buy tickets at the door, I managed to secure two nice seats for myself and my friend, Mahmoud the Tunisian director. (Four rows from the screen)

Then as I waited for Mahmoud to come, I saw that there was a photo exhibition being at the next hall, so I went and had a look. It was a photo exhibition of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea in 1977.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[Tokyo International Film Festival] The Clone Returns To Homeland クローンは故郷をめざす

The Clone Returns To Homeland poster

I only managed to catch two films at the Tokyo International Film Festival last month before I got too busy preparing for the meetings at the Tokyo Project Gathering. The first one was the omnibus film headed by Mamoru Oshii, KILL. Which left me very underwhelmed, and immediately after that film, I went off to see THE CLONE RETURNS TO THE HOMELAND, because I was intrigued by its trailer and its title.

Kanji Nakajima's THE CLONE RETURNS TO THE HOMELAND is a rare live-action Japanese science fiction film, and even rarer, an arthouse sci-fi film more in the vein of SOLARIS (I haven't seen either Tarkovsky nor Soderbergh's version, but that's what this film's been commonly compared with in other reviews) than STAR WARS. And being modestly budgeted, the film's aesthetics reminds me of the much-underrated GATTACA. It's more about the ideas and philosophy behind the science, it is the cinematic equivalent of a 'hard sci-fi' novel (that all my life, I could never seem to finish), but instead of being too technical and dry, the deliberately-paced film won me over because it was so visually poetic and marvellously acted.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ICHI 市 starring Haruka Ayase

poster of Ichi starring Haruka Ayase

I first saw the teaser of ICHI back in June, it was shown before the other Haruka Ayase vehicle, CYBORG, SHE. And I was mildly intrigued by the idea of doing a gender switch on the classic Zatoichi character, of course, by the time CYBORG, SHE ended, I immediately took a liking to Haruka Ayase and made a mental note to watch this film.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 2) - PRIDE AND GLORY premiere, Colin Farrell hides from me as I walk down the red carpet

If you're interested, read the following posts (even if you don't want to read, there are tons of beautiful photos) before you read this:

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 1) - Grand hotels, real Italian pizza and Via Veneto!

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 2) - the EASY VIRTUE premiere with Jessica Biel, the bittersweet fun at the International Rome Film Fest

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 1) - Unforgettable sights during the half-day city tour

I think this will be the second last post of my Rome trip. (I'll wrap it up with some final thoughts of the trip and my own experience with BMW Shorties)

I would like to divulge a little secret that not a single soul at the Rome Film Festival knew during the night of the PRIDE AND GLORY (new film starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell) premiere.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Watching Hong Sang-Soo films, discovering Miwa Nishikawa. Researching for new short film.

My posting here had been erratic because I've spent the past few days trying to do some research for my writing. I intend to do another short film, and this isn't the ambitious one-taker that I've been talking about last month (I'm planning to do that in Malaysia instead). The ideas for this new film came during my time at the TIFFCOM, and I continued playing around with it in my mind when I was in Rome, and then Malaysia.

During conversations with coursemates, I've half-jokingly said that I would adapt SNOW COUNTRY by Yasunari Kawabata, but instead of having a man and a geisha, I'll update it so that it'll be about a middle-aged salaryman and an Akihabara maid (or a waitress in a maid cafe). I just had images of two lonely figures traversing down the empty streets of Akihabara (which, unlike Shinjuku and Shibuya, seems really empty and isolated at night) The reason why I thought of using an Akihabara maid is because they are often figures of ridicule by the non-Otaku crowd, and the sight of Akihabara maids trying to give out tissues and leaflets to disinterested people at the streets always feel a little poignant to me. So why not try to examine a person behind the cute costume? After all, the 'subservient maid' is just a role they play at their workplace.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace poster

I just got back to Tokyo, but I managed to catch a preview of QUANTUM OF SOLACE on Wednesday night, before I flew off.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 2) - the EASY VIRTUE premiere with Jessica Biel and Ben Barnes at the Rome International Film Festival


When flying to Rome, I was in a mild state of panic because, while we were all told to bring along DVDs of our BMW Shorties-winning films (just in case we had screen it when attending the Young Directors Project Shorties Presentation at the Rome Film Fest later that night), I brought LOVE SUICIDES (my latest short film) instead of CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY by accident.

I was resourceful (when you're a disorganized and forgetful person, you'll end up learning how to clean your own crap), and came up with all kinds of methods to remedy this problem ever since we stopped briefly at Dubai for transit. I swiftly asked my sister to upload the ISO file onto Yousendit so I could download from there and burn a copy. Unfortunately, my resourcefulness was defeated by the ever unreliable Streamyx, and it was impossible for her to upload a 1GB file online without facing non-stop disconnections. I guess I've been pampered by the insane Internet speed in Tokyo, where it would take only ten minutes (or less) to upload a 1GB file.

In the end, knowing that I didn't have CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY with me, I was somewhat distraught, but told myself that LOVE SUICIDES was probably more suited for European sensibilities etc. anyway. It would be impactful to see a short film with devastatingly heartbreaking scenes of a mother force feeding her cute little daughter:

Monday, October 20, 2008

[Tokyo International Film Festival] Kill 斬, an omnibus film by Takanori Tsujimoto, Kenta Fukasaku, Minoru Tahara and Mamoru Oshii

[Tokyo International Film Festival] Poster of the Mamoru Oshii-supervised KILL
poster of KILL

I saw two films at the TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL today, the much-anticipated KILL (official site), and THE CLONE RETURNS TO THE HOMELAND, both Japanese films having their world premieres, I couldn't resist. Normally, I have a personal rule NOT to review films from film festivals I'm invited to (that's why I didn't review a single thing I saw at the SANTIAGO or HONG KONG film fests). I don't want to diss films that my own production is competing against because it'll make me look classless.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paco and the Magic Book パコと魔法の絵本 and its 'maximalistic' filmmaking)

Paco and the magic book

I was first exposed to Tetsuya Nakashima's filmmaking not through the internationally-acclaimed MEMORIES OF MATSUKO (which I was absolutely in awe of), but through a brilliant short film by him done quite a few years ago (could be 2004 or 2005, not sure), ROLLING BOMBER SPECIAL, which starred SMAP's Katori Shingo and totally makes fun of the Super Sentai (Power Rangers, Masked Riders etc.) genre.

This short film is a MUST-WATCH.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I like Satomi Ishihara, but I don't really get Flying Rabbits フライングラビッツ

Flying Rabbits Poster

As I watch Satomi Ishihara on TV right now, interviewing the singer and voice actress Aoi Teshima (known for voicing Therru in Ghibli's TALES FROM EARTHSEA, she has a fantastic fantastic singing voice!), repressed memories of two weeks ago came back to me and filled my heart with sorrow.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Impromptu Paul Newman tribute. Thoughts on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

Paul Newman

Frankly, up until he recently passed away, my impression of Paul Newman had always been vague. I remember more of the old Paul Newman than the young Paul Newman who was at the height of his fame. I remember him best in the awesome ROAD TO PERDITION. (And also for the Newman's Own food products I used to see at Perth supermarkets).

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dance of the Dragon 龙之舞 is... er, special

Fann Wong and Jang Hyuk in DANCE OF THE DRAGON

My dad suggested yesterday that I should try to go to the cinema and catch DANCE OF THE DRAGON, a film I've never heard of starring Fann Wong and Korean actor Jang Hyuk ('Volcano High' and 'Windstruck'). He said that he heard the film had won numerous awards at some film festival lately, which made me a little curious, so I tried to check its info on the newspapers, and on its tiny poster, it listed out the glorious awards it won at the inaugural WEST HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (WHIFF), including BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR (Jang Hyuk) and BEST ACTRESS (Fann Wong).

So I went online to find reviews about the film, and managed to stumble upon somewhat positive reviews of the film here and here, and was... convinced. I was also intrigued by its cast and crew (seemingly all white, including co-directors and writers John Radel and Max Mannix, the latter an Australian). A Singaporean film with an international cast and crew? Might be interesting.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

20th Century Boys 20世紀少年'

Poster of 20th Century Boys 20世紀少年

Aside from PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA, this film is THE Japanese film event of the year. The first installment of an ambitious, sprawling trilogy with a reported total budget of 6 billion yen (that's 60 million USD, posters claim that it's an all-time high) starring Japan's most popular actors and comedians (it's the most star-studded Japanese film I've seen since Mitani's THE MAGIC HOUR) and based on a 24-volume award-winning manga series by Naoki Urasawa (same guy who did MONSTER).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM the Jackie Chan / Jet Li pairing I've been waiting for?

Pardon the lack of updates, been busy writing a 400-word short story, having a MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA marathon, pondering the ending of my new script, and, well, some other stuff. So, here you go, a review of THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM I watched this morning.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

TOKYO! omnibus film by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon Ho

I was in a cafe at Shibuya two days ago, struggling to write the script for a new short film. It went well except for the fact that I just couldn't figure out the damn ending.

After sitting there for three hours, I thought I needed a break, and most probably inspiration. So I headed off to see TOKYO! An omnibus film featuring segments done by French filmmakers Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho. The only connection between the three half-hour segment is that they're all set in Tokyo.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chacun son cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema)

Chacun son cinéma

I was originally planning to see SKY CRAWLERS or anything offered at the Shinjuku cinemas after meeting up with Maiko the producer regarding the status of our short film, YUKI (she's going to Kyoto end of this month for a 2-month internship at Toei, so had to see what to do next). But then she mentioned about her watching 'Chacun son cinéma' sometime ago at Shibuya. 'Chacun son cinéma' is an omnibus film commissioned last year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

'The Incredible Hulk' isn't better than Ang Lee 'The Hulk'

THE INCREDIBLE HULK poster directed by Louis Leterrier, starring Edward Norton

Just saw it today.

When I first heard the news of this 'reboot' of the HULK franchise, I had mixed feelings. Firstly, the HULK, being such a well-known Marvel character, might have the potential to become a franchise, so I understood the need to do a more commercial and action-packed HULK film for the masses so they can erase the bad taste from Ang Lee's 2003 film.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The Dark Knight poster

THE DARK KNIGHT premiered in Tokyo yesterday. I finally got to see it. The wait was excruciating! The hype of the film had been colossal, it's been breaking one box-office record after another and judging by its momentum, it is most likely going to be the second top-grossing movie of all-time in the US (behind Titanic, before adjustment to inflation).

After seeing the film, I'm a little baffled by the crazy amount of money it's making. It's quite a dark and intense film, not as cheery as the Spidey films, not as family-friendly as Shrek 2 or Pirates of the Caribbean 2), yet in just 3 weeks, it made more money than the likes of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Spider-man 1 etc.

I think it's probably due to a few factors, like this being Heath Ledger's last complete role, the goodwill from the previous film Batman Begins (read my review here), the insane hype generated from fan anticipation, marketing campaign etc. And this film's proving to have legs because of the extensive media coverage it had gotten with each of the box-office record it had broken, sparking curiosity from people who weren't initially interested in superhero films, and even those who didn't see the first film.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008