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Saturday, February 11, 2006

My Recommended Valentine's Day Films Part 2: Japanese, Korean and Other Asian Films

While compiling the list for part 2 of my recommended Valentine's Day films, which will focus on Korean and Japanese films, I was suddenly struck by a chilling realization that had never occurred to me before. Despite watching quite a number of Japanese films, there just doesn't seem to be an absolute romantic film that really stuck to me. Unlike the Koreans, whose amount of sentimental and melodramatic romantic films are more than enough to flood an entire nation and make everyone die of diabetes, almost every single good Japanese film I can remember isn't exactly pure love stories. Just thrillers, action films, psychodramas, sci-fi tales, horror tales with maybe a bit of subtle romance tossed in as a subplot.

I wonder why. Maybe it's because the Japanese are somewhat more cynical than the Koreans, hence they don't really make all those fullblown romantic melodrama the Koreans are so famous for? But then, to be fair, the Japanese television dramas are entirely a different story, I can remember most of the finer classic J-doramas I've watched over the years that are great romances, mostly those Takuya Kimura stuff. One something light-hearted and sweet? Go for Love Generation (simple love story between two yuppies) or Long Vacation (simple love story between a pianist and a girl who moved into his place). One something that will make you weep? Go for Beautiful Life (simple love story between a hairdresser and a dying librarian).

But this is a list of films, not television, and it won't be a long list like the previous one since it IS very difficult to come up with GOOD Japanese romance films (as I haven't exactly been exposed to that many of them) and I don't intend to let an entire list flooded by only Korean films. Once again, I'm aiming more for happier films, or at least, bittersweet ones, not the depressingly sad ones. But I'll be separating them via categories.

Friday, February 10, 2006

My Recommended Valentine's Day Films Part 1 - Hong Kong Films.

Well, Valentine's Day is coming, and it's up to me, the Great Swifty, to recommend to you all some of the finest romance films (in my own opinion) to watch with your loved ones, or, erm, in my case, by myself just so that you won't feel so alone. All right, it'll make you feel more alone, but hey, who gives a shit when you're watching a good movie right?

So, for the next few days, I'll be providing a list of films from different countries to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Perhaps after HK, I'll look at Japanese and Korean, then Hollywood (which, naturally, will have a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG list).

My personal criteria for such films is simple, they should be mostly romantic, sweet stuff instead of angsty tragic stuff. But then, since tearjerkers do work fine too (for couples, so they can hold each other while bawling their eyes out, not recommended for singles, who will be driven to suicide by the overwhelming angst).

These films aren't in any particular order (well, maybe from the earliest to the most recent), and I shall provide ten of them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Well, since Valentine's Day is coming in a week, I have prepared to get myself into a romantic mood by watching some romantic flicks in the past few days. Two days ago, I went with the Korean flick Il Mare (currently being remade by Hollywood with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in it) and Tim Burton's animated feature, Corpse Bride, then last night, I checked out the much talked about 'The Notebook'.

Despite having the DVDs for quite a while, I've never gotten the chance to actually view it, but to most of my female friends whom I lent the DVD to, almost none of them told me that they did NOT cry at the film. Not knowing whether I could take another emotionally-charged film about Alzheimer's Disease after being emotionally-raped by the over-the-top emo Korean film, Moments of Love (sad and tragic tale of a young woman in her 20s suffering from Alzheimer whilst her poor husband had to suffer, read Lovehkfilm.com's review here), I had always left The Notebook in my shelf.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ang Lee's BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is heartbreaking

Everything that can be said about this film in a review has already been said by most American critics here. And based on Technorati, it's been the most talked about film for the past few weeks since its victory at the Golden Globes. So what can I say about Brokeback Mountain in this review of mine to make it not sound identical to the thousands and thousands of film critics and bloggers out there? Alas I am at a loss.

Even the Malaysian Chinese media, usually stingy over its coverage on the Awards season, has spent day after day reporting on its awards haul and raining praises on director Ang Lee. Chinese newspapers haven't paid that much attention to the Oscars since, oh, right, when Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came out. If Ang Lee wins the awards for Best Picture and Best Director during the Oscars, he will become the first Asian director to ever do so, not even the legendary Akira Kurosawa had done this. Even if viewer ratings are going to be low in America, I'm sure it'll set records in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Shopaholics 最爱女人购物狂 by Wai Ka Fai

This movie is a difficult one to review, since I walked out of the cinemas with mixed feelings after seeing it. One part of me felt that I was robbed, and agreed with my sister that it was a pretty lame film since everything was so inconsequential, shallow and over-the-top silly. After all, it was just days after I've seen the old Chinese New Year screwball comedy Eight Happiness (starring Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Cheung and Raymond Wong, along with Bobo Fung, Dodo Cheng etc), despite how dumb the latter was, it was a film with heart and sincerity, the scenes between the siblings and their loved ones were affecting.

Why am I comparing Eighth Happiness with The Shopaholics? It's simple, The Shopaholics is directed by long-time Johnnie To collaborator, Wai Ka Fai. And Johnnie To was the one who directed Eighth Happiness (long before he became known for shooting his gritty crime drama and stylish triad films, Johnnie To was known for Stephen Chow movies like Justice My Foot!). And during their collaboration, both Wai Ka Fai and Johnnie To have done some great comedic gems like 'Needing You' (the film that entirely changed my perception of Andy Lau), 'Love on a Diet' and 'My Left Eye Sees Ghosts' (this film made me believe that Sammi Cheng, despite her commercial success, had always been very underrated as an actress).

I have wondered how Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai collaborated in their films, if I ain't wrong, I think Johnnie To was the one who did most of the planning whilst Wai Ka Fai would be the one directing the people on set. And The Shopaholics might have confirmed my assumptions about their collaboration. Johnnie To is the storyteller, Wai Ka Fai's the technical guy.

Friday, February 03, 2006

VIDEOS: The beautiful Green Dragon waterfall at Wuyishan & a 4-year old Chinese tea-making prodigy

Malaysia's most prolific vlogger strikes again! I've spent the entire day editing these four video clips. Basically, it's a continuation of my China vacation videos (yes, it's incomplete). All these clips were shot on the same day, but since some of the stuff I witnessed were so interesting then that I've decided split them, so you can enjoy them separately.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

VIDEO: Mi Ki's Birthday

Been a while since I've actually posted a video done by myself. Just returned from my Grandmother's house. There should be numerous Chinese New Year-related videos to cement my place as Malaysia's most prolific vlogger, just give me some time to edit them all. Updates might be pretty few until I'm done with some videos.

As for this birthday video, it is of a friend's, done almost a year ago. I'm uploading it here after receiving permission from Mi Ki, the birthday gal in the video. Have fun.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

FEARLESS, Jet Li's Last Martial Arts Film?

Jet Li's Fearless Film Poster
Visiting the cinemas thrice in five days can be quite mindnumbing, but nevertheless, it is the Chinese New Year period, thus it is a little tradition of mine to see every single Chinese movie that's showing at the cinemas.

Fearless is widely-publicized as Jet Li's very last martial arts film and is a highly-fictionalized account of Huo Yuan Jia, founder of Jing Wu Men, a martial arts school in Shanghao, and a semi-prequel of sorts for Bruce Lee's film, Fist of Fury, and its 1994 remake, Fist of Legend (a Jet Li film!). (Huo Yuan Jia is the master of the films' protagonist, Chen Zhen, played by Bruce Lee and Jet Li)

There are a couple of reasons why this is the most looked-forward Chinese New Year blockbuster:

Friday, January 27, 2006

My Kung Fu Sweetheart 野蛮密笈

There are times when I want to become Malaysia's Wong Jing. I know this is a startling revelation for you all, that I would choose to be Wong Jing, instead of, say, Wong Kar Wai, or Ingmar Bergman, or Truffaut, or Godard, or Fellini, or even Tarantino, but the fact is, judging by the current indie film scene, Malaysia needs a Wong Jing-type guy.

His productivity is just simply prodigious (he made 5-6 films in a year, I struggled to finish one short film in a year), and the way he capitalizes and exploits the current popular trend in Hong Kong to rake in some cheap bucks clearly shows that he's a damned good businessman.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stunning Photos of Waterfall, Rude Babies and Cute Puppies That Will Make You Cry

Yeah, I still have quite a number of photos taken during my trip in China that I haven't posted yet. The reason being that I wanted to finish making the videos of the trip (yes, it's still ongoing) before showing y'all this, but I guess it doesn't really matter. (If you want to view the earlier videos of my trip, check out my vlog section.)

Just click the photos for the large versions and their descriptions. They are all arranged in chronological order, taken at Wuyishan, China. The rest (from Shanghai) will come later.