EYEING THE BIG PICTURE

nowyouseemeNOW YOU SEE ME (2013)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Four magicians collectively known as the Four Horsemen pull of a bank heist in the midst of their show and draws the attention of the FBI agent, an Interpol detective and a former magician who earns his keep by revealing other magicians’ tricks.

First of all, JESSE EISENBERG! OMG I just love it when he rattles off like nobody’s business. There were a group of girls screaming for Dave Franco but I’m not really into him. Sure, his fight scene with Mark Ruffalo has got to be one of the most unusual and original ones I’ve seen. Flash paper, a slicing deck of cards, mirrors and all sorts of magical apparatus were used in this fight.

It is perhaps a little hasty to give it such a high score but my mind was really blown after watching this movie. On hindsight, it seems a little all-over-the-place and the conclusion may be a little hasty because I figured it completely during the end credits. What I liked what how they used simple magic tricks on a large scale (you have to watch to understand what I’m talking about). The whole thing may be a little mind-boggling but when was the last time your mind was boggled?

WHO IS JOHN HARRISON?

STID-1STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

When the Enterprise faces a force of terror from within their organization, Captain Kirk leads his crew to Kronos to capture the man responsible – John Harrison.

That’s just a really brief summary but I just want to shout out: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH! I didn’t catch the prequel to this so the main reason I’m watching this sequel is BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. His role here is kept under wraps but we do know he antagonizes Kirk and his crew so this villainous  role must be juicy! He even does some hand-to-hand combat here which really enhances the biceps of BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. Throughout the movie, you will question his motives and actions but it is all worth it.

The script is well-written and the action scenes pack a punch. Even the bromance scenes between Kirk and Spock are everywhere. Maybe I read too much in between the lines. Spock’s Vulcan sensibilities are at its height because everyone including Kirk and Uhura have had enough of his “honesty”.

STID-2

THE D IS SILENT

djangounchainedDJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Jamie Foxx plays Django, a freed slave who travels with bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to free his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from a cruel plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Since it opened last December in the USA, Singaporeans waited three months before it showed on the big screen and it is spectacular. Bloody mess, check. Humour, check. Badassery, check. What’s not to like?

Speaking about humour, the scene involving the KKK and their cut-out masks was really funny. There they were trying to be all macho and white supremacist, but they were all complaining about a mask they were too lazy to cut their own eye holes. To me, the most disturbing scene was the Mandingo fighting scene. That was really unbearable compared to the shootout and bloodshed towards the end of the movie. Got to see Walton Goggins as the villain and oh, he does not end well. Leonardo DiCaprio was menacingly good as the plantation owner, Calvin Candie. Did you know he continued acting the dinner table scene even though his hand was bleeding after smashing into glass? That cut was used in the movie and that blood you see on Broomhilda’s face – it is Leo’s real blood. RESPECT for him and please, he deserves an Oscar ASAP!

Dr. King Schultz: How do you like the bounty hunting business?
Django: Kill white people and get paid for it? What’s not to like?

CONSCIOUSNESS

sideeffectsSIDE EFFECTS (2013)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Emily Taylor is your average young woman, or is she not? After a botched suicide attempt after her husband’s release from prison, Emily starts see Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist, to treat her depression. When one of her sleepwalking episodes turn fatal, is it the side effect of the new drug or has it always been in Emily’s mind, waiting for an opportunity to strike?

I liked how this movie has many twists and turns and it really kept me thinking throughout the movie. Every action and reaction is crucial and relevant to the case. For a psychiatrist, Jude Law is really good at investigating. Without spoiling too much, I would say Rooney Mara did a good job handling her states of mind. I hope she won’t be typecasted to play extreme characters all the time.  The loudest gasps were heard when something happened to 2012 PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive. Whoops!

One of the best movies I’ve seen so far in 2013.

UNCLE CHARLIE IS BACK

stokermovieSTOKER (2013)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Written by Wentworth Miller (under the pseudonym Ted Foulke), the story revolves around India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) and the events after her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) arrives at her father’s funeral. An uncle whom she never knew existed, she is intrigued yet infatuated with this charismatic character.

India Stoker: He used to say, sometimes you need to do something bad to stop you from doing something worse.

I’ve come to appreciate Mia Wasikowska in various roles – she can be whimsical or serious and her face doesn’t give anything away. It’s a dark tale and I guess families all have skeletons in their closet, just that this skeleton is darker. One of the most intense scenes was the piano duet which I thought was well-executed by Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. Something happened and wow, it’s indeed intense.

If this is written by Wentworth Miller, I can’t wait for his other works.

DON’T BE CREEPY

warmbodiesWARM BODIES (2013)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

R: God, we move slow. This could take a while.

OMG!!! This is one of my most anticipated movies of the year!!!

Based on the book by Isaac Marion, R is a zombie unlike the others. Sure, he has an appetite for human brains but he also has an eclectic taste in music and a longing for a more cultured afterlife. He meets Julie on a raid and keeps her safe in his lair. What happens is an unconventional love story between a zombie and a human being.

Well, this is another movie that’s being marketed as the next Twilight but please, it is so different! There’s little variation from the book except the part of the zombie wife but that wasn’t really relevant anyway. Some parts were funny, like R’s inner monologue and how his awkwardness with girls makes him want to die all over again. R’s relationship with Julie sparks a revolution among the zombies and they are on the run from humans who wants to kill zombies and the Boneys (zombies who have lost all trace of humanity) because they sparked a revolution among the other zombies.

M: They say… “Fuck, yeah!”

While R has the most lines among the zombies, his friend, M (Rob Corddry) does steal the scenes when he speaks. It is quite strange to see solidarity among zombies but it goes to show not all qualities die along with civilization. The final scene is slightly different from the book but fan wouldn’t be disappointed. I won’t spoil too much of the story but it is a really nice story and everyone should go watch it. The zombies aren’t as scary as those on The Walking Dead (which I am currently crazy about) and there isn’t as much gore so people who are afraid of blasting brains should watch in ease.

THE WRONG SHIH TZU

7psychopathsSEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

It all started with Marty (Colin Farrell) trying to write a screenplay titled “Seven Psychopaths”. His best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell) partners with Hans (Christopher Walken) to kidnap dogs (or is it “dognap”) and return them to their owners after a reward has been offered. All goes well until they kidnap a shih tzu belonging to Charlie Costello, a gangster who loves his dog a lot.

Billy: You can’t let the animals die in a movie… only the women.

The back stories of the seven psychopaths were very interesting and the one that intrigued and scared me the most was the one about the Quaker, who stalked his daughter’s killer for decades. How all the psychopaths’ stories weave together in the end was pretty marvelous.  Though Billy’s version of the screenplay does have lots of shootouts and gunfire. He does have an active imagination.

Zachariah, the psychopath with the rabbit is also interesting considering his back story and his love for the white animal. And who knew the sight of so many rabbits can be so pleasing in a violent movie!  Also, the film pokes fun of Colin Farrell’s Irish ancestry and his drinking problem. So glad to see Colin Farrell back in movies after his career slump after Alexander.

Zachariah: You didn’t think I was what? Serious? You think I’m not serious just because I carry a rabbit?

STAY DURING THE CREDITS FOR AN EXTRA SCENE!

CLOSING THE LOOP

LOOPER (2012)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Caught this amazing movie a while back and it still blows my mind.

Who would imagine that telekinesis would be possible in the future and that it was  so crass that only losers use it to pick girls up? Not to mention, time travelling.

JGL plays Joe, a looper, who is paid to kill guys that are sent back from the future. It’s a job that pays well and it’s all good until you realize that you have “closed your loop” – meaning you shot your older self. Then, you have 30 years to enjoy before your “untimely” death.

What happens when you don’t close your loop? Horrible things, as we have seen with Paul Dano’s Seth at the beginning of the movie. I hope he was sedated and not passed out from shock. The story gets interesting when Joe’s older self escapes being killed and Older Joe starts hunting for the now-young Rainmaker, the man behind organized crime in the future.

Watch it because it’s one of the most original ideas seen in movies in recent years and be amazed by JGL as well as his prosthetic nose bridge (so he looks like Bruce Willis).

GET PITCH-SLAPPED

PITCH PERFECT (2012)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Gail (Elizabeth Banks): Nothing makes a woman feel more like a girl than a man who sings like a boy.

I watched Pitch Perfect today and I loved every minute of it! First of all, there were very subtle Supernatural references – 1. Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son, and 2. Brock Kelly. Are you kidding me? Every time I hear that Kansas song, I could almost sit down and cry. Though Brock Kelly appeared less than a minute but his eyes, his hair and his lips are so mesmerizing! Second of all, references to The Breakfast Club. OMG, this reminds me of Easy A from last year, or is it the year before? I was overpowered by tweens while watching this therefore I think it is safe for me to say none of them ever heard of the movie. Boohoo to them. It probably explains why I shushed them when they started talking when the characters were watching TBC. So rude! Just so you know, I cried during the finals’ when I heard the TBCsong!

Oh, how I wish there was someone to watch 80’s movies with me!!!

Lilly: I think I have an idea…
Fat Amy: Excuse me bitch, there’s no need to shout.

Then, there were really cute characters. Rebel Wilson steals the show as Fat Amy. Everything she does is hilarious! Horizontal running, mermaid dancing and all her one-liners. Then, there’s Anna Kendrick who plays Beca who’s really good with deejaying and Brittany Snow whom we haven’t seen on the big screens for a long time. Last but not least, SKYLAR ASTIN who plays Jesse! First, he stole hearts air-guitaring to that Kansas’ song and then he stole hearts the moment he started singing, talking and breathing. Right now, I’m trying to get a hold of movies starring Skylar Astin but there’s not many so I’m really looking forward to 21 and Over, which also stars Justin Chon and Miles Teller!

Jesse: You’re one of the acappella girls. I’m one of those acappella boys, and we’re gonna have aca-children. It’s inevitable.

STAY FOR AN EXTRA SCENE DURING THE CREDITS and if you, like me, really like to stay till the end of the credits so you can see all the songs featured in the movie, there’s an extra BEATBOXING VOCAL CLIP at the end of credit roll.

HOPE YOU ALL LOVE THE MOVIE LIKE I DID!

*****
Saw this for a second time and I’m really into the songs featured in the movie. Maybe it’s the second viewing, but I actually paid more attention to the sounds they made with their mouths, like the “zum zum’s” and “twang’s”. Whole new appreciation for a capella music right now!

And Skylar Astin looks really hot when he sang “Right Round”. What was he thinking, moving his hands the way he did? Plus the jacket swish during the Riff-Off.

OOOH! Can’t wait for the DVD to be out!
*****

THE WICKED CURVEBALL

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

An ageing baseball scout, Gus Lobel, goes on a recruiting trip with his daughter, Mickey, when his vision starts to fail him.

Gus Lobel: Being comfortable is overrated.

I really liked the movie after watching it even though I’m not a fan of baseball or Clint Eastwood. Maybe because there aren’t many father-daughter bonding films around (if there are others, please let me know!) and I liked how the story of this father-daughter pairing goes. Amy Adams is very charming as usual and I liked how she’s tough and independent, whether it was at work or helping her father watch the players. The only time she was vulnerable was when she dealt with abandonment issues.

The final scene where Mickey “redeems” herself with her father and Johnny was screaming with girl power because Mickey knows the game better than some underhanded type-everything-in-my-computer guy (Matthew Lillard – when did he like playing such assholes? First in The Descendants, now here?).

The movie probably wowed me more because I don’t know the game and maybe because I like Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, though it doesn’t mean I like both of them together. They banter well, but just don’t have that romantic spark to me.

SIX BOOKS, A CAT AND A RECORD PLAYER

MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

It’s been a long time since I laughed and cried in the same movie and Moonrise Kingdom has got to be one of my favourite movies this year.

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop, two pen pals who made a secret pact to elope in the summer of 1965 on the island of New Penzance. They plan to reach a secluded cove and camp there. The elopement of the young lovers send the scouts camp and the girl’s parents into a frenzy as they try to find them before a hurricane makes its way towards the island.

Sam: I love you, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Suzy: I love you too.

I like that scene when the young couple find their secret cove and start to make declarations of love to each other and dance to fancy chanson on the record player. Gilman dances wildly while Hayward tries to be as sophisticated as young girls wanted to be at that age. The cat in the basket deserves some sort of prize for being cute throughout the movie.

Jared Gilman is such a precious human being! He’s really sweet and he really tries his best to fight for his and Suzy’s happiness even though his size really puts him at an disadvantage. The ending was really sweet even though I was afraid the climax at the church might end differently.

I liked the start and the end of the film where they played classical music from Benjamin Britten, where each instrument in the track was introduced by a child. Very lovely!

Sam: Why do you consider me your enemy?
Redford: Because your girlfriend stabbed me in the back with lefty scissors.
Sam: She’s my wife now.

IT’S ALL IN THE HEAD

HODEJEGERNE (HEADHUNTERS) (2011)
4 and a half out of 5 stars

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbø (Norwegian crime novelist), it is the story of Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), professional headhunter who leads a double-life as an art thief to support his lavish lifestyle. A chance meeting with Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at his wife’s gallery opening creates opportunities for Brown as Greve is the perfect candidate for a job opening and he has a valueable painting in possession. Unbeknownst to Brown, Greve has a game of his own.

This is quite a sinister thriller especially after you learn about Greve’s background in tracking people. Even though Brown is at fault for stealing art in the first place, you cannot help but root for him to get away from handsome yet scary man Clas Greve! It also makes you think about what people do in order to survive – like going under a vat of faeces! OMG I was cringing so much at that scene!!!

At the end of the day, I have to say Roger Brown is a very, very, very lucky man.  It is a MUST WATCH for anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

GIFTS AND CURSES


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)

4 and a half out of 5 stars

Yup, it seems too early for a reboot but it was a different approach to the beginnings of Spider-man (Andrew Garfield, who looks like he needs protection himself). There’s this mystery surrounding Peter’s father and his work in Oscorp,  Spidey makes his own web-shooter and his love interest is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Pity I couldn’t find a nice poster to represent the Garfield ass. Oops.

While everyone knows what happens to Uncle Ben before Peter Parker became Spider-man, I’m sad to say I didn’t feel as sad as I did in the previous Spider-man movie – sorry Martin Sheen. However, I cried when the construction workers helped Spider-man when he was injured. The crew, led by Thomas Howell, deserves thumbs up all around.

Cringe-worthy parts include the one where many, many spiders start to fall on Peter Parker and the other scene where there were many, many lizards. While I’m slightly more familiar with The Lizard than the other villains we’ve been introduced to in the past (Sandman, Green Goblin etc.), I won’t say this Spider-man movie blows my mind. In my heart, Spider-man 2 is still my favourite Spider-man movie ever. Best soundtrack too.

STAY FOR AN EXTRA SCENE DURING THE CREDITS!

WE’RE A TIME BOMB.

THE AVENGERS (2012)
– 4 and a half out of 5 stars

By now, who hasn’t seen The Avengers?

So Nick Fury, director of SHIELD, assembles Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow to form the Avengers, in order to stop Loki from enslaving the human race.

Iron Man: If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it.

The action scenes were to die for, especially when they were showing off and fighting among themselves. What can I say, I love havoc. I didn’t watch the Iron Man movies so I wasn’t introduced to Black Widow earlier but I was pretty impressed with ScarJo and her dexterity. Guess I should make time to watch those two Iron Man movies before they release the other Marvel movies. I didn’t like the aliens much which I attribute to their disgusting vertebrae structure.

Hulk: Puny God.

Funny scenes are aplenty, with each superhero trying to outsmart and outwit each other. Most of it came from the cocky billionaire philanthropist Iron Man and the Hulk – both created a good bromance considering both of them share a science background. Of course, my fangirl heart melts whenever they offer a helping hand to each other.

Needless to say, STAY FOR THE EXTRA SCENE after the first credits. You’ll get a glimpse of who’s the next villian now that Loki’s back at Asgard, hopefully with some TLC. For those living outside the US, don’t bother staying till the end of the credits for that Shawarma diner scene.

HAPPY HUNGER GAMES!

THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
– 4 and a half out of 5 stars 

This is possibly one of the most anticipated movies of the year and man, it didn’t disappoint. I mean, if a movie can make one cry and make one root for the underdogs and also go against the system, I’m definitely in.

For the uninitiated, The Hunger Games is based on a series of books by Suzanne Collins. In the country of Panem, one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts are offered as tributes to participate in the annual Hunger Games. Only one makes it out alive. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers when her sister, Primrose, was picked to be the female tribute for District 12.

Jennifer Lawrence makes one mean Katniss. I watched some of the behind-the-scenes footage and she did almost all her stunts! Wonderful! Especially when she had the bow and arrow. The most brutal and chilling scene had to be at the Cornucopia, where the Games begin. For those who haven’t seen it, just mentally prepare yourself although you can’t really. As the Games progresses, it’s not only survival of the fittest but also the slyest and the smartest.

I thought the other more prominent tribute was Rue from District 11. She made me cry and when Katniss did the three-finger salute, it stopped the tears momentarily because you knew that was the start of more to come. (BOOKS 2+3!) But like any book-to-movie adaptation, there isn’t enough spotlight on the other characters and so hopefully I can get my hands on the book fast enough so I can really understand the whole story in its entirety.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard – The Hunger Games opened with an astounding US$155 million – surpassing all the movies in the Twilight Saga!

China Glaze – The Colours of the Capitol Collection