Comments, Rotten Tomatoes and the like

There is always room for improvement; leave a comment tell me what you think. And please, be brutal. Nothing like being eviscerated by the general public (though in reality no one reads this so maybe not so general public).

30 10월, 2007

Play's Just Like the Movies

I've decided that when it comes to Bollywood or things inspired by it, trying to be remotely serious will definitely sour anyone's mood therefore it will be taken as is. That means even though I knew exactly what was going to happen 20 minutes in to a 2-hour play, disbelief will be suspended or at least an attempt will be made to do so. Here's Introduction to Rom Com Redux, Bollywood-style: Naive, virginal bride lives with eccentric UK/Punjabi family, grows into her own and falls in love a.k.a, There's Something About Simmy.

We have Raj, the ne'er do well younger son of an immigrant Indian family who have the oh-so-brilliant idea of marrying him off to a trad Punjabi bride Simmy, and bringing her back to the UK. That's because obviously, the sense of obligation one gets when one marries a total stranger in a foreign country will suddenly turn a thieving moron into a model citizen of this here shores. Well Raj does a runner with his (frequently derided, white) girlfriend out the upstairs bathroom window no less. His bride is left to deal with the whims of his controlling mother, deteriorating grandfather, shrill sister, whipped brother-in-law, "aunties" and sullen older brother.

Simmy has no way of escape. Her passport has been seized by her mother-in-law, presumably for safekeeping, and her letters home are closely monitored and intercepted by the same sainted lady. Mommy dearest pressures Simmy to stay till Diwali (sort of like the Indian version of thanksgiving) to give Raj time to come to his senses and because someone obviously needs to be the scullery maid. Did I mention that this was supposed to be a comedy? Anyways, in steps the anti-Punjabi older brother Harry skulking home from uni for no apparent reason other to look hot and take his shirt off at every opportunity presented, and at this point we all know how the story goes. She starts to learn English, forges an unlikely friendship with Harry and...[fill in the blank].

Truth be told it was alright. Though much of the humour relied overmuch on Simmy's inability to speak Anglais, the histrionics of Simmy's sister-in-law and the sub-plot of the aunties sleuthing into the whereabouts of Raj, it was cute. We got the standard Bollywood song and dance (2 numbers), kitschy dialogue and passionless romance. It took me back to the days of Concordia's college productions right down to the sometimes overly dramatic acting especially with the secondary characters. I was able to sit through it and not pass out, I just won't pay money to go see it again. Props to Harry for providing us with many a tender, shirtless moment.

2.25 Out of 5. For getting me go see some theatre.

26 10월, 2007

The Heart of An Artist

It is the late 1800's and Korea is falling to bits. Dealing with both the Japanese and the Chinese nipping at their heels, the people needed a hero, someone who idealistically they could rally around as a source of pride for a nation battered into submission. What better medium than art, which holds universal appeal to rich and poor alike? Ohwon Jang Seung Ub luckily is on hand to provide such a service. Im Kwon Taek, one of the most respected names in South Korean cinema helms Chihwaseon (2002), meaning Painted Fire, and creates a compelling, somewhat meandering picture of Jang Seung Ub.

Dare I say it? This movie bored me just a little bit. Maybe because I was watching the movie a little too close to bed time or I was not in the mood, but about halfway through I started to fast forward the bits with conversation to get to the bits with no talking at all. When it all just focused on the painting or on what I must admit is some fantastic cinematography, I was enthralled. Im Kwon Taek really captured the dual nature that you find in the paintings themselves; stark backgrounds and landscapes with its winter references (North Dakota never looked this good in winter), accented with exotic dragonflies, lush greenery, like spring. I guess I just liked the sexy bits.

You get the vibe that Jang Seung Ub is a lost soul, constantly alone in his world where nothing is permanent. His women, his companions, his talent, and the favour he receives are all beholden to his whims and folly. A man constantly complimented for his extraordinary skill, he has this overwhelming need to test himself, to create from what the masters have laid down. He wrestles internally to be creative, to be new and fresh, but can't quite figure how to totally break from tradition and from what he already holds to be true about himself and his work. Even when he breaks free and becomes an individual he is criticised as a commoner with no respect for what came before, where poetry or words must accompany a picture in order for art to have meaning. Im Kwon Taek really does manage to portray the essence of the man on screen, thanks in no small part to Choi Min Sik.

What was quite disconcerting and probably what made it a tad difficult to get into the movie was Choi Min Sik playing someone supposedly in his 20's somewhere which I'm sure he would have been able to pull off when he was 15, maybe 16 (I kid! No, actually, it was more than just a bit creepy. The man should not have attempted such) but not so much at the age of 40. It made it hard for me to connect with the story of his early years because all I could see was some old dude who couldn't get his act together. However as the story progresses he becomes more age appropriate and you can actually feel his desperation as an old man who realises his mortality and tries to perpetuate himself through the time honored way of procreation, hanging on to the very last moment.

The movie is like a 2-hour character study, where we follow this man through his life and see him as he is. A national hero to be sure, but at the same time a man who was selfish, choking on talent, brash and dared to defy the norm. I guess maybe the tortured artists and the rise and fall never ends well was why I wasn't so keen on this movie, but I liked most of it. Maybe I wasn't so bored after all

4.5 out of 5 for truly great insight, and some kick-ass cinematography (is kick-ass hyphenated or no?)

24 10월, 2007

Life's Little Surprises

So, I downloaded the Japanese movie Like A Dragon, which is supposed to be another great movie experience from the enfant terrible of Japanese cinema, and lo and behold who shows up? Well, I was taken aback by a surprisingly flawless Korean accent and was kind of curious to see who this Japanese dude was. Upon closer inspection and a minute or two of "why does he seem so familiar?" questions to myself it clicked that he was actually supposedly one of my favorite K drama dudes, über hottie Gong Yoo of Coffee Prince (which by the way is being made in to a play? WTF? So soon? Why?). Unfortunately movie doesn't have subtitles as of yet and I am fast running out of HDD space on both fronts so I'm not sure I'll actually be able to watch it before I have to get rid of it. Considering his two or three year hiatus depending on what path he chooses in the army, its nice to know he was branching out of dramas into the movie world, and with Miike at that.


22 10월, 2007

Say it Loud! I heart Nickelback 4 Life!

One of the most reviled musical acts of the modern era, Nickelback, also happen to be my absolute favorite modern rock band. They actually create music that sounds great, is easy to listen to and doesn't try to be more than it is: a good time.

Some say that their music sounds too much alike and that in fact, they rip off their own music. As does the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queen, the Boss or even Abba. It is called a signature sound. It is what differentiates them from all the other bands that are out there. Yes sometimes it may be a touch repetitive, but as opposed to a whole genre (read: almost any supposedly 'alternative' pop band that is out there) of sound alikes, we have just one band who sound distinctive. Big effing deal.

Another criticism is that their sound is over polished. Excuse me? You're hating on the music cos it sounds too put together? As opposed to the sound of high school kids playing together in the basement a couple of hours then having a gig at the O2 Arena ( the Staple centre for you Yanks) at the end of the week? Yes garage chic, emo rock is in. It is anti establishment, anti pop. Yay. Cue dudes and chicks in the skinny jeans, heavy eyeliner and a bad case of affected ennui. I don't much care for it, as in, it irritates me in way akin to me wanting to slit my wrists. I have no problems if others like it. Just don't knock it if people want their music to sound like someone tried. You know, like they rehearsed, tuned their instruments and maybe employed the occaisonal use of metronome to keep on beat.

No one, but no one mentions that Chad Kroeger can outsing most of those emo and rock bands any day of the week. His voice is rich, powerful, dead sexy and resonates with character. The rasp may be annoying to some, but to me it has individuality written all over it. His voice is reaches out from him and into you, and each word that he's written resonates with emotion that he sings. Fake or no it can be angry, tired, bitter, happy. Like a great blues singer he works his voice to the best advantage, it is never monotone or boring. He doesn't rely on screaming or growling or whatever gimmicks other "hard" rock singers think is some semblance of a substitute for actual singing.

He doesn't write overcomplicated, oblique-reference burdened lyrics that in the cold light of day don't hold much water in the making sense dam. His lyrics are for lack of a better word, touching. He managed to have enough edge and angst to take the lyrics far away enough from the bubblegum pop lyrics end of the spectrum, but still manages to keep it true enough that it connects with an audience. His recent collaboration with Carlos Santana is a good fun, with light lyrics that still manage to spin a tale of love at first sight that works, and isn't a James Blunt type wailer.

Hate 'em or love them, they still are outdoing many of the more 'real' bands out there. And it's because they are good, plain and simple.

Here is Chad singing Someday off my favorite album of theirs, The Long Road.

20 10월, 2007

No More! Never Again! Gouge me eyes out!

Okay, so it may be a bit unfair to describe them as execrable, but honestly I don't think I could watch anymore Chinese-language dramas. This is a tirade against a few Mandarin ones I've seen so far. The problems are many and my patience is short so;

The Women (or rather, girls. 'Cos it seems that anyone over the age of 21 is a fun-hating bitch just waiting in the wings to make our poor sweet young innocent's life miserable and steal their man/true love/future breadbasket, whilst looking fabulous rockin' a designer suit and looking like they actually have something to do. I'm twenty f... something gosh darnit, what did I do to deserve this!!)
They tend to be really, young, naive, uncomplicated girls. They lack finesse and are good girls with good hearts, plucky even.They are sooo shhweet. They also tend to be poor ( not middle class, just straight up poor) and working some menial job. These lovely girl just couldn't make it through school cos they were just plain ol' stupid. Just one thing. No a couple of things. They tend to be vapid. They, for all intents and purposes, are educationally stunted about the age 12 and have suffered from the longest adolescent akward-stageitis as a collective. Their bevy of loyal, equally retch inducing friends all drank from the same poisoned well. The 1980's valley girl and whine is reborn in Mandarin with the same fashion sense, albeit with no money, no malls to overrun and a serious case of filial piety. Education, personal growth and reasoned thinking is seemingly anathema to these creatures. On the contrary for these girls clear, reasoned, methodical thinking seems to be what's wrong with the world today. We must feel!! In short, they are retards of the first water. I'm surprised some of the girls have something between their ears that enables them to communicate with people, as it seems all they can do is pout, cause chaos and say the word ker ai (as an aside, the Japanese say kawaii, sound a lot alike I wonder if they have the same etymology) which means cute. Blech.

Yes i know they are characters and aren't real. I guess they are meant to appeal to a certain demographic, chiefly anyone young enough to think that Girls Aloud is the pinnacle of music. But seriously, when one is rooting with all my might for the Baroness Schrader type characters (also known as the villainesses) you know there must be something wrong. What makes the bad girls so awful you ask? Well, they work and actually earn the money used to keep themselves in a style I would like to be accustomed to. They actively used their brain cells. They do stuff like, I don't know, think. Usually any form of female frontal lobe use is portrayed as evil, scheming whore who will do anything to steal the man but these women actually plot and manipulate quite well. They wear clothing that don't look like they were rescued from a burning pile the teletubbies rejected. They've got goals and are working towards them. True, that might involve running roughshod over a few people and shoving your future mother-in-law down the stairs, but you do need to break a few heads (or eggs) to make an omelet, right? They also happen to suffer ( a freaking hell of a lot!) from unrequited love, or lose their man to the pure soul cos obviously career oriented women are ball-busting harpies.

The Men
Portrayed as heartless bastards who can only see the bottom line and how it affects their business, and are supposedly obscenely wealthy. We also have obscenely wealthy bad boys who have nothing better to do than torment the afore mentioned doe-eyed beauties, whilst wearing a leather jacket. Nothing more to be said, really. Oh yeah, majority have fantastic head of dead sexy hair that falls across the face just so.

Sigh. Oh, where do I begin? Is it the countless voice overs? The zooming into the face for a reaction shot. Is it constantly flashing back to an occurrence only a couple of seconds ago? Nay folks, it is all that and more. I have a litany of complaints about the production, but i will leave it to a couple and chalk the rest to low budget. Here are the highlights.

Somewhere the writers seem to have gotten the idea that the posing was too much for the actors. They said, "You know what? Instead of some actual semblance of emotion or acting from you, we'll just write you a voiced over, internal monologue bit where we'll explain everything that is supposed to be going on in that itty bitty mind of yours so you don't have to worry your wittle, oh-so-photogenic head 'bout nothin'!". We then get a lovely high angled shot of someone's damnable fringe (or bangs) and moue, accompanied some long, unnecessary mind sapping exposition that ultimately either explained what just happened, was going on or what will happen next. The supposedly tense, exciting music kicks in. Exciting, to be sure.

Nothing says startled quite like zooming in to someone's face. We can't just zoom in once, no, no, that wouldn't give the viewers time to fully absorb the gravitas of the moment. Twice, feels a bit too uneven. Third time is the charm. To reinforce what just happened, we flashback to the occurences of a few moments ago, be it the voiced over internal monologue. Or a the slo-mo "you just missed each other walking down the same hallway" coincidences. Or someone tripping and falling. Or someone brushing by and stealing something. The list goes on and on. In fact, there doesn't seem to be one moment that is not overladden with syrupy emotion. I won't even talk about bad sets, lighting, camera work and the like. I can't. It would be too depressing, and also i have no bloody clue about my word count limit here.

Lastly, The Acting
An unbelievable amount of mugging goes on in these shows. Any emotion apart from dead seems to require the efforts of both facial muscle groups at the same time. The women whine incessantly and pout. The men are one barrel and a tricorne hat away from a Captain Morgan pose in every scene. Where anyone with a modicum of sense would tell him "boy, you better stop with that sh*t you are a grown-ass dude. Man up!", it seems they are encouraged in such manly behaviour. I think it is supposed to make women swoon. Few make the jump from television to movies, as it seems TV is the wasteland for every second rate acting hack that looks good. That may be a bit harsh but man, can't stand them.

I can see why the hallyu wave swept the rest of Asia, if I had to watch these here steaming piles of turd constantly, I would at least want to watch the better produced (read: more money well spent) crying-jag inducing dramas from Korea. I will never again watch more than the first episode of a bad drama. My psyche has been damaged enough already. The end.

19 10월, 2007

Some Campy Fun

Sumptuous. That word has nothing to do with the forthcoming J Drama but the has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of days now, and since I have not seen anything to warrant such a description, right here will do.

Back to business. J dramas are worlds apart from the K dramas that are currently drowning East and Southern Asia in a weep-fest of overwrought wrist-to-forehead, woe-is-me storytelling. When funny, they stay funny. When gravitas is called for, it is definitely not brought about by male posturing and insipid women caterwauling. For the most part, the good ones are balanced, well acted, and have great dialogue.

Vampire Host falls somewhere below that benchmark, but is still some unweighty good stuff. Like many other J Dramas before and after, it is based on a manga Blood Hound, involves high school girls and a strange dude who is very into cosplay (Google it). It is light, very amusing, and good-natured fun about a vampire who investigates cases that end up being of a supernatural nature. Each case is over 2 episodes 12 episodes in all.

Okay, sorry, nothing remotely clever to say.

17 10월, 2007

Quick Note

To my shame, horror and general bemusement I am still a proud Backstreet Boys fan. Oxymoronic, I know. However, the BSB are coming out with a new album Unbreakable who's lead song is "Inconsolable", which sounds like (take a deep breath) "incomplete", "more than that", "I still" and the list goes on. I know all the lyrics to most of those songs just because they were so awesomely sing alongable and i had great pretensions that my voice did not actually cause dogs to go beserk. This album won't do so great because frankly the market is done with this type of music and they really are "getting too old for this". Kudos to them for bringing some much needed pop to the pop world, instead of the post-modern, dark is sexy(back) sort of thing. For your Viewing pleasure, these two dudes lip sync one of my favorites "I want it that way" and do a bang up job.

Reenvisioning the Samurai Tale

For a movie that I avoided watching for weeks, Samurai Fiction (1998) was definitely a welcome surprise. Director Hiroyuki Nakano revisits the samurai movies with a tongue-in-cheek flair that tickles but still contains the sincere homage to those who had come before. Akira Kurosawa comes readily to mind (looove him!). Set in the Edo period and filmed almost totally in black and white, one would think that this would end up as a bland rehash with some window-dressing to make it appealing to the younger crew and in some ways it is, but only in the best way and not with the bland rehash bit. He took a genre that I am personally a great fan of, and did all the right things to reinvigorate it.

The plot is quite basic as the it is in itself it a take on a particular genre of movies. A ronin Rannosuke Kazamatsuri (the acting debut for Hotei Tomoyasu) initially hired by a clan and given the privilege of guarding the clan's prized possession, ends up stealing the weapon. He is given chase by the clan's administrator's son Heishiro Inukai and his two best friends, also known as the three stooges. One roadside battle, a near-fatal injury and a dead sidekick later, Heishiro is rescued by a pacifist samurai Hanbei Mizoguchi, and is nursed back to health by Hanbei's beautiful daughter. Kazamatsuri for some odd reason decides to chill at the local gambling den run by Lady Okatsu, Mari Natsuki in a scene stealing role. Throw in a few ninjas for good measure and you have way too many characters and not enough time. Or so you think.

In making this, Hiroyuki truly got the feel of the old-school samurai movies, from the movie back-lot-sets look, to the feel and pacing of the movie. He brings his slick modern MTV touch to it adding flashes of colour when dealing with death and fire. He also has an awesome soundtrack composed by Hotei Tomoyasu, a pop singer withon his off days. It is all woven together in a surprisingly uncomplicated plot that does leave us with a few lose ends. Mari Natsuki did a fantastic job as Lady Okatsu and dominated every scene that she was in. A tough uncompromising, manipulative character she really did give the others a run for their money and one would almost wist the movie was about her instead.

The vibe that you get from this movie is that a director took the script from 5 different movies genres put it in a jar, shook violently and poured the result onto celluloid. With great success I might add. What we get are like little vignettes of a road movie, a romantic comedy, period drama, and of course the rogue samurai. The movie plays around with the expected conventions of each archetype for instance Kazamatsuri is an accidental bad guy for the most part and erstwhile hero Heishiro can't do much more than get in the way and bleed from his nose everytime Hanbei's daughter flashes some skin. His attention to detail is also quite amazing, right down to the lack of blood on the swords anytime someone killed. I can see why Tarantino was inspired by this, it is great fun and a fantastic reminder of what good samurai movies consist of.

4 out of 5 for some offbeat, good fun and keeping me interested!

12 10월, 2007

The Reason I wish I Spoke Korean More Fluently

So I've been trying to teach myself Korean and have stalled somewhere at learning how to read it, but having no vocabulary or grammar basics on which to build on. That's code for too lazy to progress any further without intervention. In steps rap group Epik High with their 2 Disc album Remapping the Human Soul (2007). Consisting of Tablo, Mithra and DJ Tukutz, Epik High is one of my new found favourites, and I can only hope that their music truly progresses an improves. I love this album for both rekindling my somewhat flagging fervor for the Korean language, and for making me realise that contrary to what Nas said, hip-hop is not dead, it's just morphed and moved somewhere far, far away.

Now one big part of why I like this group is Tablo. Canadian-Korean by birth, he graduated from Stanford with a Master's in English Literature, and he now is a rapper that manages to straddle comfortably both the pop and conscience driven world he works in. He nevertheless comes across as an easy going, fun dude who dances a little too much like a girl. His English lyrics are just as moving and telling as his Korean ones, which as long as they don't degrade women, glorify violence or stultifyingly boring i couldn't care less. I give them props for trying to have a message and delivering.

The other part has to be DJ Tukutz. Even though most of the time I have no clue what either Tablo or Mithra are saying I can listen to this album over and over again solely because of the production of the music itself. At times reminiscent of 90's euro-pop other times paying homage to hip hop great Dr. Dre, this album is definitely set up for some good listening, which I fully intend to do for a good long while. He also grooves in the same sort of vibe that another Korean favorite of mine, Clazziquai, does, reaching out to a lot of genres to create a smooth well connected sounds that sort of rests quietly in the background while the MC's do their thing

Below is the video for my favorite track (a.k.a my current ringtone) on the Album: Fan. Enjoy!

Hollywood Invades Bollywood; Botches it Again.

As India becomes more of global economic force, one unintended side effect is hollywood's belated realisation that there is a film market out there that outdoes them in ticket sales and number of movies made: Bollywood. To that effect, there have been some recent forays by Los Angeles denizens into the world's largest movie industry, the boring crapfest (sorry!) also known as Marigold being the last disastrous toe dip into those particular waters. Then along came Brad Listermann who took his personal story and made it into a stomach churning bollywood film.

Jason Lewis of Sex and The City (and some oh so steamy Aero chocolate ads) fame stars as Alex, a struggling writer who has a chance meeting with Reena (Kashmira Shah) while buying their morning chai. Over a four day period, the two meet, frolic in LA and fall in love. She disappears and, armed with no more than a name and the neighbourhood she lives in he flies his American butt all the way over to India to find this woman. How does a white dude armed with the most generic of first names find someone in a city with a population of over 16 million? He looks up and she's miraculously plastered on one huge billboard. Oh, and in those halcyon, starry-eyed four days, she forgot to mention that she was the biggest Indian film star, in like, everrr. Talk about lie of omission.

Now, granted this would not have been too bad of a premise if it didn't lunge into the pitfalls of hackneyed writing we have come to know so well from bollywood. We have the disapproving parents who want to marry her to a wealthy yet brutal friend of the family. We have the sidekick friend who falls in love with his former best friend, but abandoned her in the village/small town/hicksville once he acquired fame and fortune. And we have the standby of movie within a movie as a justification as to why there are any dance sequences at all. All this is tied up in a bow made up of what is rapidly becoming my pet peeve in these half and half movies; two Indian people having a very trying time to wise crack in stilted, albeit good, English.

I should mention at this point that Kashmira Shah was, during the making of this movie, Mrs Listermann but sadly their relationship came to an end. I wonder if that's what Brad was thinking when he regurgitated that overused line "somethings look pretty, but are too spicy for a foreigner to handle" or something to that effect. Sour grapes, mayhaps? And we do have to give Mr. Listermann credit as it is his first time out, working in a foreign market, so some slack will be cut.

Getting back to the movie, it ends as we all know it, with some really lame shenanigans masquerading as a plot twist. At this juncture, I would like to point out that the acting and the dancing weren't too bad, with a great cameo of Cruella de Vil as Reena's mum (just kidding, but man, they look eerily alike). Thought I'd throw that in there, after all this is a review.

0.5 out of 5. That was because they at least tried to act.

NB:- Mr Listermann is making a movie about a "fixer" trying to find a girl sold into the sex trade. Screen Play by Gregory Roberts directed by Anthony Mandler (who directs lots of big names' music videos) called Allegra. First dibs on calling it a disaster.

10 10월, 2007

Time Travel and the North/South Divide. Yes, Someone Made it Into A Movie

When I read the blurb on Cheongun I was a bit stymied. What was this movie trying to be? Social commentary, a comedy or both? It seemed at least be worth a watch with a premise that seemed just a tad bizarre. At the DMZ (demilitarized zone, border between North and South Korea), the two Koreas have come together to design the world's best nuclear weapon. Scary, I know. The only problem is this: The West is none too pleased with this development and demand that the weapon be handed over to safer hands, meaning the Americans ,whom, as we all know, are so great and are in no way lead by someone who has less understanding of geopolitics than the average twelve year old. Now some patriotic North Korean would rather die than see that happen (which I totally sympathise with by the way) and so rounds up a team to steal said weapon, kidnaps the principal nuclear scientist (the lone female character in this film) giving his southern compadres the unpleasant task of bringing him back. Now due to some wacky cosmic event, the two teams plus the scientist get sent back in time.

The movie is surprisingly effective as it is essentially 3 movies in one and rookie director Min Joon Ki does quite a nice job treating all three topics. On the one hand the movie is It skirts around the divide between the two Koreas, on issues such as propaganda, national pride, leadership and heroism. The other is the fish-out-of-space-time-continuum a-la A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court thing which we always have so much fun with. The third story is that of Lee Sun Shin who, by all historical accounts was a great warrior who staved off the Japanese from invading Korea. By the way, that would be the South Korean version, the North Korean version has something to do with their immortal leader being alive in 1572. Who knew? When they meet him, he's a thieving loser who just failed the army entrance exams, and has stolen their entire cache of weapons. Fun times.

Of course the comedy is very much laden through the first half of the movie, the second half deals with marauding barbarians trying to overrun several villages in the area and here is where Lee Sun Shin comes into his own. And of course they are trying to get back to their own time and deal with a ticking time (nuclear) bomb.

Now this movie is definitely not of the earthshaking variety, but it is fun to watch and has all the elements but (thank the saints) a half baked romance. It still manages to get several digs in about the state of Korean governmental affairs and the mind-set of the people forced to live with it, but I never thought a scene with a hand grenade could make me laugh so hard, but it did and it still does every time I go back and watch it. A thoroughly enjoyable popcorn flick that takes a serious turn half way through.

3.75 out of 5, just for the grenade scene alone!

Vengeance is oh so Sweet!

For the one person who actually plays video game and reads this blog (i'm talkin' to you bro, you'd better be reading this!) this is one of THE funniest apologies I've watched in like, forever. Just because, having lived with game freaks and fanatics (again my dear brovver, you) I know how ticked off people get, and adding the spoiler on the end? Priceless. BTW you ought to read the death threat he got. So hilarious!

Did forget to mention the video game? Microsoft's hallowed Halo 3, released after much hype and media fanfare. All the comments posted cursing him to perdition, did not take into consideration that the swag landed in a freaking bush, and so would probably have suffered little or no harm from the 20 or so ft drop. Also that the spoiler wasn't real, but the fanboi's (derogatory term for anyone who is a diehard fan of a particular product) seemed to have lost all sense of a smidgeon of a connection to reality.

My first favorite asian (actually asian/american) dude/dudette of the month, Mr. Brian Lam, Editor of Gizmodo.

To Be Unfeeling

Freesia: Icy Tears is another Japanese cinema offering, this time from indie director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. In an alternate near future Japan, revenge killings are sanctioned and regulated by the Nihon government. Any family seeking revenge hires an agency which in turn gives those targeted a time, a place for said killing and even the option of hiring state or private body guards to protect you. Hiroshi is a newly hired contract killer working for one of those agencies, helmed by a woman with more than a little vengeance on her mind. He's cold, ruthless and gets the job done without any unnecessary fuss. He and his boss share a secret past: the military tests a weapon on thirty orphans leaving a lone orphan girl and a child soldier who witnesses the crime. The movie essentially has dual stories intertwined, one being boss lady seeking revenge against Toshio who, fifteen years ago, led the orphans on the test site on orders and abandoned them there. The other path being watching Hiroshi do his thing. None of the story lines are particularly fulfilling.

The reasons I like this movie; it is quiet. There are no particular highs or lows, in this movie, which is also reflected in the soundtrack. Instead, there is this steady, almost plodding, pace heading towards the finish line. There are no big twists or massive revelations that shock the heck out of you. There is also a certain allure to Hiroshi. His silence emotes, weirdly enough, this tortured, scarred soul whose life is without fear, plagued by the recurring image of the second witness but unable to react to it in any visceral way. He seems to be reaching out for something to connect to and when he finally does, races out and does something which makes no sense to me at all. Go figure.

The reasons I don't like it? It is predictable as all get out. There are no real surprises. The movie has got a real sort of show down in the wild west with gunslingers vibe, with deathly enemies and noirish femme fatale-like character, but is some what disjointed. The major characters in this movie all have a direct link to the military experiment and we get to see the role that each plays in each but somehow, the director manages to screw it up and it does not come across as a cohesive narrative. There were so many threads that were picked up woven into the story line, only to be suddenly abandoned and the viewers are left to figure out exactly what's going on. Other plot sequences make no contribution to the storyline other than to move characters to the final showdown location, which, really, should not happen in ANY good movie. Secondary characters and storylines eat too much into what should essentially be a story about 3 people coming to terms with their past, period. Instead it tries to become a character study waaay too late into the movie, where frankly, we could care less.

To be honest the most riveting thing about movie was observing the cinematic tricks the director utilised to make the movie. Things like using sepia tones through most of the movie, draping the lead male in the only bit of colour in the movie, and the boss lady suddenly draped in red after a turning point in the movie. Even to me, a cinema theory idiot could spot them a mile away. I kind of hate it when they are that obvious, it's kind of like "really, that is all you could come up with?" sort of thing. The movie does have some intriguing questions raised, and could have easily been a great movie instead of a so-so one.

3.5 out 5 for a great attempt.