THE STAKES AT SEA

captainphillipsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013)
4 out of 5 stars

WATCH IT BECAUSE…
1) You want a balanced POV of both parties – Captain Phillips and the Somali pirates. Yes, you actually feel for these pirates.
2) Tom Hanks puts in one-hell-of-a-performance.
3) Max Martini saves the day. Again.

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THE WORST DAY

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (2011)
– 4 out of 5 stars

Based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, it centres around Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a boy who lost his father on 9/11 and starts an adventure on his own when he finds a mysterious key in his father’s belongings. He tries to find out more information about the key – where does it fit, what does it open and to whom does it belong to – and slowly finds closure.

Finally, a book-to-movie adaptation which I have read the book! While reading the book, I was actually more interested in the Renter – brilliantly portrayed by Max von Sydow, who captured an audience without words. To those who didn’t read the book, he may seem like the comic element with “Yes” and “No” tattooed on his palms but his back story was actually quite tragic. The book itself was another marvel – filled with written notes and pictures. I’d definitely recommend the book though the movie isn’t too bad.

At the end, when you find out what the mother (Sandra Bullock) did for Oskar and you can’t help but laugh/cry at the same time because it seems like the first time mother and child connected after the death of Oskar’s father (Tom Hanks). I liked the scrapbook that Oskar did all the people he met while finding out the truth about the key and the final scene when his mother pulls the tag in the opposite direction was slightly hopeful.

AT SPEECH 217

LARRY CROWNE (2011)
– 3 and a half out of 5 stars

Larry Crowne gets fired from his company because his lack of a college degree has made him “unpromotable” despite his good performance and seniority. He enrols at the local community college to get a degree. In the process, he learns useful skills and reinvents himself.

One thing I could identify with Larry Crowne was that we both really love highlighting! There’s a scene where he highlighted the entire page of words but it happens, because when you don’t know something, everything seems important. Hell, I even got scolded during Secondary 2 for highlighting the entire page in different colours, as if it was that teacher’s business. Thinking about it now, I can think of at least 50 rebuttals.

The “courtship” between Larry Crowne and Mercedes Taibot (Julia Roberts) seems to be something out of those ’90s romantic comedies but that could be because Larry Crowne is a pretty old-fashioned guy. With Talia, he made friends who ride bikes together and she helped to rev up his outfits (cool haircut, shades, tuck out shirts) such that it revealed a younger him and his inner self. I really liked his final presentation speech because it made me cry.

THE CLAW FASCINATES

TOY STORY 3 (2010)
– 4 out of 5 stars

Wow, I saw Toy Story 3 and it’s really very nice!

To be honest, I’ve never seen Toy Story 1 & 2 and probably wasn’t interested in this franchise at all. But the good reviews (verbally and online) makes it too good to pass up, so here I am!

The toys’ owner, Andy, is entering college and he must decide between keeping his toys in the attic or discarding them. A turn of events lands the toys in the donation box to Sunnyside Children’s Daycare Centre. The toys think they are in paradise because they will no longer be obsolete and they enjoyed a nice welcome from the toys there – their leader, Lotso the strawberry-scented bear and his minions. The children turn out to be ’tiny terrors’ who lick, suck, dismantle and dip toys in paint while Lotso and his minions aren’t as kind as they appear to be. Soon, they hatch an escape plan to get back to Andy before he leaves for college.

Somehow, I don’t think I played with my toys the way Andy did – the opening sequence is out-of-this-world but totally possible with the creative minds of young children. It’s always heartwarming to see how these toys stand up and protect one another, perhaps even better than us, humans, do. Certain parts of the story induce tears and at times, I’m inclined to make a swear word involving “bear”. Barbie does a good job of showing girl power as compared to “girls’ toy” Ken. The Potatoheads are also adorable, with their easy-to-fix body parts, which is especially useful for an escape.

LET THE ANGELS BE YOUR GUIDE

ANGELS & DEMONS (2009)
– 3 and a half out of 5 stars

 Saw Angels & Demons today and I must say it was way better than The Da Vinci Code. The movie was well-paced and I can’t really compare it with the book cos I last read it three years ago and haven’t found the time to re-read it yet. But going on a tour of churches and rich Catholic history with Robert Langdon was sure fun, though I didn’t like the gory parts about the abandoned eyeball, branding and deaths of the good people. Vittoria was amazing – running around Rome with heels and her tight pencil skirt. I also liked how she tore the page out of the book – cool! The “sacrifice” of the Camerlengo made me tear a little, but after that I’m not sympathizing with him even though I understand the reasons that made him do it. The means just don’t justify the end. Oh, I thought the guard who was locked with Langdon in the Vatican Library looked cute. 3 and a half out of 5 stars.

Of course, how can we forget about ambigrams? Fascinating, isn’t it?

SO DARK THE CON OF MAN

THE DA VINCI CODE (2006)
– 3 and a half out of 5 stars

Good thing: it was as thrilling as I thought it to be. Although I must say I got quite many shocks when Silas appeared, cos he kept ‘BUMP’ appear from nowhere and THUD’ hit someone or kill that someone. Sad to say, his nice figure is full of scars.

Anyway, the book is much, much, much better. Maybe the sense of thrill and anticipation is all gone when the actors reveal the clues a little too quick without much thinking. But of course, there’s lots of sight-seeing and the revelation at the ending. A little bit different from the book, the last part, or did I remember it wrongly? The actors gave solid acting, especially Ian McKellen (Leigh Teabing) and Alfred Molina (Bishop Aringarosa).

Oddly, those people who haven’t read the book all gave it 4 stars and above..