It's nothing personal. I'm just…

“It has been said that to write is to live forever. The man who said that is now dead.”

Month: July, 2009

To Yasmin

Yasmin Ahmad, 1958 – 2009.

Yasmin

Local films & advertisements will never be the same again.

Sepet

Sepet, 2004

Talentime

Talentime, 2009

Param's Tricycle

Param’s Bicycle, Merdeka 2003

Tan Hong Ming in Love

Tan Hong Ming in Love, Merdeka 2007

“Our children are colour blind. Shouldn’t we keep them that way?”

Half-Blood

KV would just like to reaffirm here that he is behind those who believe the whole Moon trip is a massive conspiracy!

We all knew from the beginning no Potter movie could ever, EVER, come close to matching the ultimate experience of the Potter books. I only hoped that any of the movies could at least make an enjoyable cinema spectacle, or do some justice to the awesome world & plot Rowling created by transferring a little magic to the people who had not the chance to experience the books.

When Sorcerer’s Stone was made into a film, people complained it was way too kiddish & long. I adored the wonderful  choices of Rupert Grint & Emma Watson, as well as most of the rest of the primary cast, but cringed at Radcliffe. (Of course, I didn’t know at that time Radcliffe would require more than 3 movies to finally learn how to act)

Next was Chamber of Secrets, to which everyone agreed was better than the 1st, but still, too tailored for kids.

Then aboard came Alfonso Cuaron to make what is my favourite Potter movie, Prisoner of Azkaban. Thrilling & faithful to what was probably the best plot twist of all the books, only the casting of Gambon as Dumbledore laid a sole sour note on otherwise pretty much the definitive Potter movie.

Goblet of Fire was proof that a brilliant plot from one of the best books does not necessarily translate into a good movie. It was quite the Bollywood-ish mess, with a completely destroyed Yule Ball depiction & an embarassingly worsening mis-potrayal of the very much beloved Dumbledore (not forgetting Cho Chang).

Order of the Phoenix took the best aspects of its respective book & turned out to be quite excellent, though not without flaws. Gary Oldman, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter & Imelda Staunton were terrific in their roles, easily slotting Phoenix alongside Azkaban as the best Potter bigscreen adaptations to date.

Now, we arrive at Half-Blood Prince. Come to think of it, there’s really not much to complain from apart from the plot holes & drastic changes, so what made it such an unsatisfying experience? The whole movie was quite beautifully made on screen, along with stellar acting. It did have its engaging & chilling moments, so why did I left the hall feeling like it was the slowest unhappening movie ever?

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Yes, every Potter fan is not going to stop grumbling about the many changes & left-outs of the book’s complicated plot, from the roles of Dobby & Kreacher to the Gaunts memory. I didn’t actually feel too bad about those, understanding that condensing the books to fit a film is required, but admittedly, this movie has strayed so far from the books it begs the big question of how the movies are going to bring a justified closure to the Potter journey in Deathly Hallows Part I & II. The humour was aplenty & quite brilliant, but over-switching between all those subplots & the more crucial main story of the Horcruxes, Voldemort’s past & Malfoy’s plan made it quite confusing, losing all sense of urgency & significance of the final build-up towards Deathly Hallows. Despite a handful of scenes that were brilliantly executed (such as Katie Bell being poisoned), addition of new scenes & the exclusion of the roles of Fleur, Bill & Scrimgeour were questionable, while Neville as well as Tonks were wasted (especially Tena’s Tonks, who made such an interesting presence in Order of the Phoenix). Yes, most of the crucial scenes were polished & beautifully done, but honestly, all sense of suspense & build-up were lost all the way towards the end, culminating in a non-climatic way. Dumbledore’s death felt hollow on screen, & Snape being revealed as the Half-blood Prince, & more importantly, as a pivotal ambiguous character, did not have its predicted impact.

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Of course, despite all this, it’s still freaking way better than Twilight. Romance included.

But enough about that, if I were to continue debating about the plot I could construct a whole thesis out of it. There’s also not much to shout about Nicholas Hooper’s scores, notably since I felt the best moments of the film happened to have no background music. Quite frankly, the later Potter film scores have never been the same since John Williams left. Now I’m going to have to give it to the spectacular performance of the cast that made the movie a much more bearable experience. The main trio have outdone themselves yet again, bringing Harry, Ron & Hermione’s maturing lifes to screen amazingly. Radcliffe, I must admit, was quite awesome in that Felix Felicis scene. Watson & Grint were simply perfect during those romantic scenes, & Lynch continues her stellar quirkiness. Helena Bonham Carter was incredibly seductive, newcomer Jessie Cave was a perfect & hilarious Lavender, & Rickman gave an impeccable performance as Snape. Gambon does improve, but still does not channel Dumbledore’s aura in any way. Oh, don’t forget both the actors who played the young & teenage Tom Marvolo Riddle; those were chillingly engaging performances! I would especially like to remark upon the intensed captivating Tom Felton as Malfoy, which without doubt is the outstanding performance in the movie. Finally, he gets the screen time he deserves!

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Of course, getting more screen time is not always a good thing, as Bonnie Wright displayed. Throughout all the Potter movies, the castings have rarely been wrong, rather more astonishingly spot-on (think Ron, Hermione, Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid, Malfoy, Lupin, Sirius, Trelawney, Umbridge, Luna, the Weasley twins, etc), with the exception of Gambon’s Dumbledore & now more glaringly, Wright’s Ginny Weasley. Wright lacks so much of the feisy personality Ginny is known for, instead giving us a mundane & unflattering Ginny.

At this rate, they should really just do all of us a favour by making Harry go get it on with Hermione or even Luna, seeing that they are way more interesting & share much more chemistry together in the movies.

KV is finally beginning to bang his head to the tunes of Paramore’s “Ignorance”.

Read KV’s review on Order of the Phoenix here.

I Finally Read Dan Brown

Hats off to Roddick, totally owned Fed. But I guess Fed is the ultimate player of the century for a reason, eh? Mad final match, I’m surprised Fed’s wife did not go into labour right there in center court.

Sorry Mr. Brown for taking this long, I am deeply ashamed & regret this very much. But more about that later.

I’m baaaacccck from Bali with me UTP bros & sistas. We fought valiantly against the swines & all the As & Hs & Ns & 1s, we wore sarongs, we discovered that anything that had land space qualifies as a road in Bali, we witnessed the overpopulation of motorcycles, & we discovered we were naturally talented in swallowing Kuta waves rather than surfing. Especially Suet Yeng, to whom I had to play Baywatch saviour to keep her from overdosing herself with salt water.

Kuta Beach

The closest we ever got to successfully standing on the board at Kuta beach

I would have loved to say Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was totally awesome but who am I kidding? It was one heck of an unbalanced movie, so thankfully I checked my brain at the cinema doors. I had no idea what the plot was all about frankly – something about Megatron working under The Fallen, a big gun that would shoot the sun or something hidden in the pyramids, & Megan Fox working in a bengkel – it was just plain ridiculous, but really who cares since we were there to see the robots & outrageous action-packed almost-pornographic shots of Megan Fox CGI spectacles. Minus the irritating twin Autobots (which the Devastator should have easily tapao’ed) & the many additional generic pointless Decepticons (& WHAT THE F**K WAS THAT DECEPTICON CHICK ALL ABOUT?! Tiba-tiba felt like Species pulak), Bay did not disappoint when it comes to cool robot action. The Optimus action scene in the mountains in the middle of the movie reigned supreme & was the spectacular moment of the film, it left me completely breathless. Bay really shouldn’t have attempted to do so much & draw out so many unnecessary scenes that just seemed to go on & on. Shia did a commendable job by the way, holding his own against the mighty presence of the robots.

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Optimus giving some serious prime ass whooping in the mountains

With this holidays completing its first month, I have been catching up with the one favourite thing I last religiously did with the last Potter book – reading. I finally, finally, gave a chance to Dan Brown, & first started off with Da Vinci, & now I’ve also completed Angels & Demons followed subsequently by Deception Point. I must say, regardless whether factual or not, Dan Brown sure knows a whole load of shit & is exceptionally gifted in creating outrageously superb plots, though I was occasionally tired by the sudden flashbacks & some overdrawn descriptive points of Angels & Demons as well as Deception Point. The Brown books could not however match my feverish fetish for Potter, but it would be unfair to compare Potter against the Dan Brown novels, due to their different writing styles & plot structure. Let’s just put it this way; I enjoyed tremendously the intelligence & thrill of Dan Brown, but I skipped meals, sleep & toilet trips for Potter. Nevertheless, I would not hesitate at the least to give a two-thumbs-two-toes-up & rate The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons & Deception Point as must-reads.

Now, I am one of those who unashamedly watched the movie version of Angels & Demons before reading the book, so I did enjoy the movie, but now after reading the book, I realize why many of Dan Brown fans are unhappy with how Ron Howard tremendously simplified the plot (almost completely taking away the science aspect & role of the book) & only concentrating on the battle against the Vatican. The many layers & complexities of all of Dan Brown’s stories are one of the best things about the novels, & more notably for Angels & Demons, since this particular book is where Dan Brown first attempts at intertwining science with controversial religious plots. Keeping faithful with the book would have given the Camerlengo’s role much more crucial resonance & substance on the big screen. 

Speaking of which, guilty of the sin of watching both Ron Howard’s big screen adaptations before reading Dan Brown, I robbed myself of the powerful exhilaration I would have experienced facing Dan Brown’s plot twists in Da Vinci & Angels head-on first time, & I only have myself to blame for not giving a chance to Dan Brown up till now. Anyway, just like Sir Ian McKellen in Da Vinci (as Sir Leigh Teabing), I admired the inspired choice of the brilliant Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo Ventresca/McKenna. Tom Hanks is definitely not the Langdon I imagined from the books, but at least I enjoyed Audrey Tatou (as Sophie Neveu) much more than Ayelet Zurer’s disappointing role as Vittoria Vetra. The one thing I truly was fascinated from the Angels & Demons movie, however, was how the grand sequence of the Camerlengo saving Vatican from the antimatter explosion was visually depicted. It was quite breathtaking on screen.

Camerlengo McKenna

Ewan McGregor was brilliant!

& again, because I watched both the movie versions of both Da Vinci & Angels before reading them, resulting in me imagining the respective movie characters in their roles when reading, I could not help but do the same for Deception Point. Of course there’s no Deception Point movie (yet, I guess?), but I couldn’t restrain myself from imagining particular actors/actresses playing the characters in the movie as I read. Interestingly though, from the moment Rachel Sexton (what an irresistable name!) appeared in the first few pages, the first actress that came into mind was relatively unknown Rachel Nichols, & I seriously do not know why! Call it male intuition? Anyway, you can see her in previous movies like Charlie Wilson’s War & P2 or in the coming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, since you probably do not know who I’m talking about.

Which begs a rather intriguing but insignificant question, who would be suitable to play the roles of the characters in Deception Point should there be a big screen adaptation in the future? Now, I figure the probability of a Deception Point movie is much less compared to the likelihood of Dan Brown’s soon-to-be-released The Lost Symbol being made a movie first, keeping in mind how we love the controversial Vatican & religious scandals as opposed to the government conspiracies of Deception Point, but what the hell, it’s the holidays for me. Oh, I’m going to take Rachel Nichols out of my mind for a more realistic choice (even though she stubbornly stucked in my mind all throughout my reading). Here’s KV playing director, for pointless fun.

Possible Rachel Sextons?

Rachel Nichols, Bryce Dallas Howard, Evangeline Lilly & Jennifer Garner

Rachel Sexton – Bryce Dallas Howard/Evangeline Lilly/Jennifer Garner
Michael Tolland – Ewan McGregor/Robert Downey Jr.
President Zachary Herney – Steve Martin. Joking! Harrison Ford?
Senator Sedgewick Sexton – Russell Crowe/John Travolta
Corky Marlinson – Paul Bettany
NASA Administrator Lawrence Ekstrom – William Peterson
William Pickering – Liam Neeson
Marjorie Tench – Judi Dench
Gabrielle Ashe – Marsha Thomason/Zoe Saldana
Delta-One – Clive Owen

This all-star cast is nuts, but Deception Point would make quite a kick-ass movie. Besides, who could possibly resist such a movie of which its protagonist carries a name like Rachel SEXTON?

So, anyone wanna lend me a copy of Digital Fortress? & by September, The Lost Symbol?

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