THE BEST BAD IDEA

ARGO (2012)
5 out of 5 stars

THIS HAS GOT TO BE BEST, IF NOT, ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF THIS YEAR.

Everyone: Ar…go fuck yourself.

Based on a declassified true story about how a CIA operative, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), led the rescue of six US Diplomats from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

From the minute the fake movie was decided, every moment was filled with nail-biting excitement. Every foreign face  you encounter and every conversation hangs on the validity of that fake movie. And of course, there’s always something unexpected that crops up along the way and you wonder if the gang will ever make it out of Iran. To make it out alive, you have to think twenty steps ahead of these Iranians who graduated from American universities (oh, the irony!).

Ben Affleck looks good even with the 70’s hairstyle and moustache. It’s such a coincidence that we get to watch it in the month of Movember. Scoot McNairy is unrecognizable! I didn’t even know it was him till I went back to Google the film and it took a lot of comparing reel and real photos before I was convinced that guy was Scoot McNairy.

I feel like I’m not doing this film a justice with my short review but I don’t want to give anything away. So GO WATCH IT FOR YOURSELF and you will not regret it. I mean, I exited the theatre with a lot of flabbergasted faces so it’s definitely a good sign.

STAY FOR AN EXTRA SCENE DURING THE CREDITS where they will compare the real life and reel life characters and their stories. Well done for the almost similar appearances!

BEGINS, FALLS, RISES


THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
5 out of 5 stars

EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH THIS MOVIE.

The long-awaited conclusion to The Dark Knight Trilogy is finally here and running at 165 minutes, it does not disappoint and only serves to fascinate and blow your mind. Taking everything into consideration, congratulations Christopher Nolan, you have taken every mind for a good spin around Gotham.

Taking place eight years after the events from The Dark Knight, Gotham City is at peace until a new terrorist leader, Bane, surfaces. Batman aka Bruce Wayne resurfaces to protect the city he loves even as Gotham continues to brand Batman as an enemy of Gotham.

Well, most of the Inception alumni are back in this Christoper Nolan masterpiece and man, it’s so good to see them together. I really loved Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle here. There’s just so many layers to her character besides the obvious fact that she kicks ass fabulously and beautifully. Tom Hardy was brilliant as Bane and even though half of his face was covered, his eyes really tell a story of their own. I have to say his built kinda scares me though – his shoulders are just so broad. And it is good to see Cillian Murphy back!

It is in every sense, a fitting conclusion. GO WATCH IT!

 

“BECAUSE I HAVE A VOICE!”

THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)
– 5 out of 5 stars

King George VI: If I am King, where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because they think that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can’t speak.

The King’s Speech is a biopic on Prince Albert, Duke of York (Colin Firth) who later becomes King George VI after the death of his father, King George V, and the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII. King George VI, who has suffered from a speech impediment all his life, meets Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist, whose unorthodox and controversial methods of treatment put them off to a rough start. Eventually, the two of them form an unbreakable bond as Logue serves as a friend and part-time psychiatrist over the course of treatment. With the country at the brink of war and in need of a leader, King George VI would go on to overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that will inspire his people and unite them in battle.

Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
King George VI: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel Logue: They’re idiots.
King George VI: They’ve all been knighted.
Lionel Logue: Makes it official then.

I think it’s safe to say I was blown away by The King’s Speech. When it started with Prince Albert’s speech at Wembley Stadium, my eyes watered because you can see and feel how hard he tries to utter those words but it just wouldn’t come out. It was heartbreaking. The mood lightened up when Prince Albert meets Logue, whose unconventional methods (blasting classical music, jaw relaxing, rolling on the floor, singing and swearing among others) improves his condition. They soon become friends and confidants, which proves helpful as Logue helps find the root of Prince Albert’s stammer.

Lionel Logue: Do you know the “f” word?
King George VI: F-f-f-fornication.

One of my favourite scenes involves Logue provokes Prince Albert to start swearing, since his anger helps to fuel smooth enunciation, and the result is excellent. It also spreads a little to the titular speech at the end, when Logue mouths some swear words to ease the flow of speech.

Lionel Logue: Forget everything else… and just say it to me.

Both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush delivered truly brilliant performances. You can literally feel the frustration and desperation of Prince Albert each time he tries to speak. Whereas, the character of Lionel Logue is animated and quirky without being over the top. I liked those scenes whenever both of them appear onscreen together. Meanwhile, there were a few Harry Potter alumni in the cast: Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, wife of Prince Albert aka Bellatrix Lestrange; Michael Gambon as King George V aka Dumbledore and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill aka Peter Pettigrew/Scabbers.

King George VI: ‘Cos you’re b-bloody well paid to listen.
Lionel Logue: Bertie, I’m not a geisha girl.

Go watch it!

As at time of post, Colin Firth won Best Actor at the 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards and 68th Golden Globe Awards among others and the movie leads with 12 nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards.

HANGING IN LIMBO

INCEPTION (2010)
– 5 out of 5 stars

Well, I guess the most talked-about film this summer is Inception. It’s not a sequel, not a reboot and it’s probably one of the most original films to come out for a long time.

Dom Cobb: What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it.

Inception revolves around Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), who specializes in the art of the extraction of ideas from people while in their dreams. The nature of his job puts him in a position against the law and he has a chance to right his wrongs with a “final job” that requires him to plant an idea in another’s mind via his subconscious – a very complex operation and it’s the complete opposite of what he does. Cobb gathers his team – a point man a.k.a. a right-hand man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an architect Ariadne (Ellen Page) and a forger Eames (Tom Hardy). However, Cobb’s past won’t let him go – or is it the other way? – and his dead wife, Mal, appears in his dreams, constantly wrecking his plans (or killing people).

I think it takes some getting used to while watching the film because you have to figure out whether you’re in someone’s dream or reality. Somehow, the dream within a dream concept is really brilliant even though it rarely happens in reality. Then you get to the physics of the matter and you wonder how they control everything in their dream. Though you would know that there are things, like a full bladder, which you can’t control. I’m very impressed with the layering of the dreams.

My favourite character has to be Eames the forger. Apparently, he can morph into another person’s identity. He’s one of the funniest on the team, like when he pulls out the grenade launcher against Arthur’s seemingly miserable run-of-the-mill machine gun. But my favourite scene has to be the hotel scene where Arthur fights without gravity because the van is falling. The sentence probably doesn’t make much sense unless you watch the movie. Man, I gotta say Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks good fighting anti-gravity!

Ellen Page also does well in the movie. She’s the one that really probes into Cobb’s troubled past and helps the audience along because she’s the newest member of the team. I thought she kinda broke out of her mould – playing troubled teens. It’s also amazing how the “kick”, a reflex action that most experience in the midst of their dreams and becomes so vital and excellently captured on film. Sigh, somehow I feel I don’t do the movie justice with my review – there’s more in my mind than I can form into words. Please watch it for yourself. 5 out of 5 stars.

SPOILER:

And I thought I would just add something which I found very useful:
(Source: Cinema Blend)

SWEAT, BLOOD AND TEARS

MONGA (2010)
– 5 out of 5 stars 

I watched Monga and I think it’s really nice!

YC was already asking me to watch it if it opens in Singapore back in March (she caught it when she returned to Taiwan in February) but was worried that most of the dialect vulgarities will be censored. That was one of the ‘pull’ factors because I want to know them! HAHA!

What I didn’t expect was a tale with lots of heart. And mind you, this is one of the few Mandarin films I have seen in the cinemas.

Mosquito (Mark Chao) is a new student in the town of  Monga and he was picked on because he did not pay protection money. When he stood up for himself, he finds a group of gangly gangsters waiting for him after school. A fight results and Mosquito’s retaliations (dog shit!) were being observed by Dragon (Rhydian Vaughan) and Monk (Ethan Juan). They soon induct him into their gang and form the Prince gang, consisting of five member with Dragon as their leader because his father is the leader of the Temple Front gang, the most powerful/feared in the district of Monga. The Prince gang enjoy their reign until revenge rises to the surface, and sows discord between members and rival gangs. The situation intensifies when the mainlanders try to get a piece of the profitable district and a power struggle ensues.

Like I said, the movie has a lot of heart. You empathize with Mosquito because he grew up without a father, has no friends and has finally found a sense of belonging in the gang. Naturally, he will hold on to everything that makes it possible. Monk, on the other hand, is sometimes hard to fathom though I feel he has some feelings for Dragon. He really stands out from the usual Prince Charming roles he act in idol dramas.  At the beginning, Mosquito questions where is there so much fighting and what is the meaning to it. He got his answer at the teary scene at the end of the movie. 5 out of 5 stars.

To end the post, I’d like to share this tagline from the poster:
我混的不是黑道 是友情 是义气

WITH NO POWER COMES NO RESPONSIBILITY

KICK-ASS (2010)
– 5 out of 5 stars

Hello! I’m fresh from watching Kick-Ass and it’s really kick ass!

The film revolves around comic book-loving teenager, Dave Lizewski, who wonders why no one has ever became a real superhero and fight the blatant crime that’s been all over their neighbourhood. He orders a scuba diving suit online and decides to become Kick-Ass. He fails miserably (got his ass kicked) – after getting beaten, stabbed and knocked down – but is “reborn” when his accident left him with damaged nerve endings and metal bone holders. Apparently, they help him withstand pain better. He later meets Big Daddy and Hit Girl, who rescue him when one of his missions go wrong. Unknown to Kick-Ass, all these henchmen are under the payroll of the local crime syndicate leader, Frank D’Amico, who decides to hunt the superhero down. At last, a superhero showdown between the good and the evil.

First of all, Hit Girl is AMAZING! Played by Chloë Grace Moretz, last seen in (500) Days Of Summer and Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, she steals the show. She can handle her weapons well – the butterfly knife, guns, knives, etc. She can even kick walls and deliver great kicks!

She was awesome during her first scenes when she rescues Kick-Ass, rescue Big Daddy and the final scenes where she was gonna take out Frank D’Amico. She took on a warehouse full of armed men! That’s plenty of gusto for an 11 year old!

She’s currently 13 years old but she shot it at 11. That’s uber cool. What was I doing when I was 11? Playing block catching. There seems to be lots of controversy regarding her use of “coarse language” – it’s rated M18 in Singapore – like the C-word, F-words and whatever words I wouldn’t type here but could say it in the next second. Oops. But really, I think they don’t really know what’s happening in schools these days. I think I have heard worst.

Anyway, the funnier parts of the film occur when these not-so-super superheroes get into action. Like when Kick-Ass and Red Mist meet in the dark alley; both are actually just teenagers but they are trying to put on their toughest front. The relationship between Big Daddy and Hit Girl is actually kinda cool, if you can get around the fact that she does not have a childhood revolving around dolls and all things pink, cute and fluffy. Those things do not help you when you get bullied in school.

I thought it was really empowering to stand up against crime like that. Of course, all this is just fiction and comics and all, but it was really enjoyable to watch. Slightly bloody at first, especially after Hit Girl appears, but hey, she’s like my idol now. (I’ll watch it again if time permits!)

TALLAHASSEE: TIME TO NUT UP OR SHUT UP

ZOMBIELAND (2009)
– 5 out of 5 stars

Anyway, I’ve just seen Zombieland and it totally kicks ass! It takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where there’s a zombie virus and almost everyone has become those filthy flesh eaters. There are only a handful of humans left and one of them is Columbus, who probably survived due to his lack of human interaction and his book of rules. He meets Tallahassee who’s a mean zombie killer with a vulnerability for Twinkies. While on a Twinkie mission, they encounter Wichita and her sister, Little Rock, whom they join forces with after several misunderstandings. Together, they form a formidable group against the disgustingly undead. 

Seriously, of all the monsters, zombies are the worst! They enjoy human Happy Meals, suck human bone marrow and absolutely crave all of your human juices. Eewww! The initial onslaught of bloody insides are not the most comfortable opening scenes but you’ll start to laugh it off after a few minutes. Throughout the movie, I was greatly entertained by Columbus’ narration and his rules. Some of those mentioned in the movie are: –

Rule #1: Cardio
Rule #2: Double Tap
Rule #3: Beware of Bathrooms
Rule #4: Seatbelts
Rule #17: Don’t Be A Hero
Rule #18: Limber Up
Rule #22: When In Doubt, Know Your Way Out
Rule #31: Check the Back Seat
Rule #32: Enjoy The Little Things
(More rules can be found here.)

You can see these rules popping up on the screen, like mental lessons, especially Rule #2. The surprise cameo by a well-known actor almost steals the show and just adds more laughs to the zombie comedy. All was well until I got frightened by an old female zombie at the Haunted House. I screamed a little but luckily, my scream was drowned out by the gunshots that followed. Phew. The climax at the theme park was good and hilarious at the same time. I wouldn’t mind watching it again.

There’s news of a sequel in 3D! Plus, Jesse Eisenberg is kinda adorable in his own geeky, neurotic way. =)