THIRTEEN FLOWERS

THE FLOWERS OF WAR (2011)
– 4 out of 5 stars

Set in Nanjing during World War I, Christian Bale stars as John Miller, an American mortician on his way to bury the priest when Japanese forces invade the city. He seeks refuge with the students at the convent and were joined by a group of prostitutes looking for shelter. Though all reluctant parties initially, Miller poses as a priest to help the ladies find a way to escape.

I think the worst thing to watch besides soldiers dying on the field were women getting raped. Literally anything that moves and is not a soldier can be a victim. The other one that touched me most was the lone soldier who brought down the entire group of Japanese soldiers even at his last breath. That was really good strategy there, and like any Zhang Yimou film, the explosion was really “colourful”.

And while you were almost certain that Miller might have a change of heart to help the students, I can’t help but be entranced by Yu Mo (Ni Ni), the English speaking prostitute, who turned Christian Bale into putty in her hands. She’s a classic Chinese beauty, and her gait is perfection. It’s little wonder she’s Zhang Yimou’s latest muse.

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FINDING THE LOST APPLE

那些年,我們一起追的女孩  YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE (2011)
– 4 out of 5 stars

I’m pretty sure the whole world watched it before me (some twice) but I finally watched 那些年,我們一起追的女孩 and it reminded me of simpler, happier times.

Anyway, the movie’s based on the teenage years of Giddens Ko, who also wrote the novel and directed the movie. It tells of five friends who have a crush on the same girl during high school and the eventual bond one of them shares with this girl.

It’s weird typing all that up there and if you really want to know the plot, there’s always Wikipedia.

First of all, nudity! Thank goodness nothing full frontal but there’s enough sexual references at the start of the movie to make one expecting something more sombre blush. My colleague thinks “the butt wasn’t firm enough” though. Second of all, the textbook incident! I think I almost laugh-cried at the same time because it does exist! It stayed with me during schooling years when I had a textbook around and slowly slipped away as the years past. Only then there were two people standing. I can’t think of a time when this emoticon :’) can be used except here. Last of all, I think only a few people can make you laugh at the same time when you’re crying badly.

I miss secondary school days even though I made incredible friends in JC. I think life back then seemed easier people were less complicated. So what about teenage angst. I love teenage angst. It kick-started so many things (good and bad). Comparatively, adult angst just sucked. Some days, I have no idea why I’m so frustrated at everybody, at the world. I doubt anyone would have lent me that textbook without thinking twice if I were in JC. Think too much, think too little – what’s the difference? I’m still waiting for someone who makes me laugh and cry at the same time and vice versa. So thank you, wherever you are, and may I not avoid you in buses or trains.

STAY AFTER THE END OF THE CREDITS FOR SOME BEHIND THE SCENES FUN!

好想再回到那些年的時光
回到教室座位前後 故意討妳溫柔的罵
黑板上排列組合 妳捨得解開嗎
誰與誰坐他又愛著她

那些年錯過的大雨
那些年錯過的愛情
好想擁抱妳 擁抱錯過的勇氣
曾經想征服全世界
到最後回首才發現
這世界滴滴點點全部都是妳

GO, GO, YAMATO!

SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (2010)
– 3 and a half out of 5 stars

This live-action adaptation of the anime TV series stars Takuya Kimura as Susumu Kodai, the tactical unit leader of the eponymous battleship. It is the year 2199 and the Earth has been under radioactive siege from an alien race known as Gamilas for the past five years. The surviving humans live underground but the end is near. Japan sends out its final space battleship, Yamato, to planet Iscandar, to acquire a device that can remove the radiation that Earth is plagued by.

Well, needless to say, the MAIN reason I watched it was Takuya Kimura! He’s still as charismatic as ever and I don’t care whatever reports are floating out there saying he’s lost his charm. Excuse me, who singlehandedly made pianists, hairstylists, hockey players, pilots, prosecutors and scientists cool again?

Anyway, I thought certain parts of the movie reminded me of Star Wars – like the space leap and the R2-D2 wannabe (Analyzer). But I really didn’t like those aliens, especially their stabbing limbs! The crew onboard were really brave, each willing to give up their life for the greater good. One character I really liked was Hajime Saitō, played by Hiroyuki Ikeuchi. On their last transmission to Earth, he was trying to put on a brave front for his mother who was really worried for him. That scene and his final scene was so sad! The ending was all right though the part regard the anti-radiation device was confusing at first. And I think the sublimal message in the film was: if Earth is ever in danger, don’t forget to procreate – especially if you are Takuya Kimura. ;)

IT’S A GREAT GREAT TIME

IT’S A GREAT GREAT WORLD (2011)
– 3 and a half out of 5 stars 

Okay, I saw It’s A Great Great World few weeks back and it’s really nice! I mean, if you’re the kind of person who dreams of going back in the past where times are much simpler – it’s definitely the show for you! If not, it’s an eye-opener to the beauty of that Great World-era.

A whole load of Mediacorp actors star in a collection of stories where their lives revolve around Great World (Tua Seh Kai). There’s plenty of laughter, charming and heartfelt moments in these little stories. What I really loved about this movie was that they all spoke in their dialects – Teochew, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hakka – and only some of the dialogue was in Mandarin. It makes the whole thing so charming and authentic and unique! For example, eating vegetables in Hainanese could be eating excrement in Hokkien. I enjoyed watching it and it makes me want to brush up on my own dialect too!

THE HEART NEVER FORGETS

THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (2010)
– 3 and a half out of 5 stars

This is a live-action adaptation of Toki o Kakeru Shōjo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time).

When Kazuko Yoshiyama, a pharmaceutical researcher, gets involved in a car accident, she tells her daughter Akari to go back to February 1972 to find someone from her past, Kazuo Fukamachi, using the liquid she has formulated in her laboratory. A distraught Akari remembers the wrong date and returns to April 1974 instead. She befriends Ryota, an aspiring film-maker and science fiction geek, who helps in her search for Kazuo.

I hate those self-righteous fellows who insist on doing memory wipes in time traveller movies. There’s one in here. Arghh! As expected, Akari and Ryota fall in love, even though they both know Akari belongs to the future and even if they meet, Ryota will most likely be a father figure to her. The movie banks on the simplicity of life and relationships in the ’70s. Akari even meets her father, an absent figure in her current life. The saddest part (cue buckets of tears) of the movie happens when Akari views the 8mm movie Ryota directed, after she returns to the future, and she was crying even though she had no memory of what happened.

THE ULTIMATE REVENGE

KOKUHAKU (2010)
– 4 out of 5 stars 

Kokuhaku (Confessions) is a chilling adaptation of the novel by Minato Kanae. Takako Matsu stars as Yuko Moriguchi, a junior high teacher who announces her resignation after revealing that her four-year-old daughter was murdered by two students in her class. She adds that she injected HIV-positive blood into the milk cartons of these two students. What follows is the aftermath of her confessions, as well as those of the two student-murderers, the mother of one of the latter and a fellow classmate.

I didn’t expect there to be so much blood. Sure, the murder of a four-year-old might be gruesome, but wait till you see what goes on in the minds of these kids. But their obsession with murder and death seems to stem from the lack of parental love, friendship and companionship, which are simple pleasures that a kid yearns. The ending involves possibly the worst form of revenge that one suffers – one that lasts a lifetime.

INTO THE GUNFIRE

71: INTO THE FIRE (POHWA SOKEURU) (2010)
– 4 out of 5 stars

This is based on the true story of how 71 student soldiers defended their post in Pohang during the Korean war. A letter found from one of the 71 deceased soldiers inspired the movie.

Well, no surprise there – all 71 of the student soldiers died, which is no mean feat considering that the North Korean side has a few hundreds against them. These 71 student soldiers were forced to grow up and fight for their country even when they had a chance to surrender. Every bullet counts, even more when they kept fighting with blood spurting out of their wounds. You realize that the enemy is also being forced to fight this war and they long for their mothers too. T.O.P. from Big Bang and Kwon Sang-woo star as Jeung-bum and Gap-jo, the two soldiers who are often at loggerheads but later made up for a greater cause. Not considering the fact that I was crying almost throughout the entire movie, I thought the movie conveyed real emotions of war and I liked the part during the credits where they interviewed real war veterans who survived but wished they were with their comrades instead.