Friday, September 28, 2012

Honest (And Hilarious) Trailers


I can't believe it to me so long to view these clips. I think I've heard and read of them, but this is the first time I've actually viewed these "Honest Trailers". Quite frankly they're hilarious and more entertaining than most of the movies I've seen lately. Screen Junkies apparently have created these trailer clips for these famous movies where they point out every bad thing about the movie. They even read-out the users' comments on their Youtube page in the trailer! The embedding for The Hunger Games [2012] trailer has been disabled. But you can check it out at their YouTube page. For the rest, you can take a look below:

*** CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIES***

# Transformers [2007]



# The Avengers [2012]



# The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 [2012]



# Avatar [2009]



# The Dark Knight [2008]



# Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace [1999 / 3D Version: 2012]



# Titanic [1997 / 3D Version: 2012]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

List: Favourite Wes Anderson Movies



Finally! After months of waiting and feeling left behind by the rest of the world, I finally got to see Moonrise Kingdom [2012] last week. To my delight I found the legend to be true... this really is a genuine contender for the best film of 2012. In the months while waiting to experience this masterpiece, I entertained myself by re-watching the previous works of this wonderful auteur known as Wesley Wales Anderson.

Alongside Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino, this director's films are the most uniquely identified with its creator. Just spend a few minutes watching and you'll know its his film that you're experiencing (perhaps with the exception of Bottle Rocket [1996] ). Anderson seems to create an alternate universe with his movies where we know the characters aren't real yet we still find them highly relatable. Its also interesting that each of his movies have multiple characters that all stand out and have great complexity. Furthermore, I believe the charm of his films are in re-watches. Truthfully there aren't much laugh-out loud moments. But unlike those type of humour which kinda lose its initial impact upon re-watches, we still get to experience the same amount of amusement every time we revisit a Wes Anderson film. Now here's how I rank all seven of his movies:

#7 "The Spiritual Journey Accross India" ~ The Darjeeling Limited [2007]


Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Waris Ahluwalia

In terms of entertainment level, I found this to be just OK. I wasn't enamoured by it like some of Anderson's other work. But I do have to say that I completely love the twist & cameo it had. Usually twist comes late in a movie, but this one appears very early on and haves a massive impact! Its like we were supposed to follow a whole different movie if it wasn't for that twist & cameo (*uhuk..uhuk... Bill Murray*).

Selected Quote: "I wonder if the three of us would have been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people"

#6 "Let's Take A Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, Shall we?" ~ The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou [2004]


Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Willem Defoe, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldbum, Seu Jorge

I didn't fully get into this movie during its first half (or more), but then pirates came and the excitement levels went up drastically. The charm lies in Bill Murray's character and the quirky characters you would expect to be created by Wes Anderson

Selected Quote: "Don't point that gun at him. He's an unpaid intern"

#5 "The Full-Feature Debut" ~ Bottle Rocket [1996]


Starring: Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave, Lumi Cavazos, James Caan

I somehow feel that this is the most different of all the Wes Anderson movies. It doesn't exactly have the style and quirkiness that the other films have. Perhaps, it has to do with this being his full-feature debut. Its still hilarious though, and Owen Wilson always seems at his best in his collaborations with Anderson.

Selected Quote: "Anthony! Bob's gone! He stole HIS car!"

#4 "The Crush On The Teacher" ~ Rushmore [1998]


Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, Bill Murray, Mason Gamble, Brian Cox, Sara Tanaka

I haven't seen much of Jason Schwarztman in movies by other directors, so I very much view him as a perfect personification of a Wes Anderson character. I just can't separate his name with that of the director. His portrayal of Max Fischer in Rushmore is my favourite from him so far.

Selected Quote: Rosemary Cross: "Has it ever crossed your mind that you're far too young for me?" Max Fischer: "It crossed my mind that you might consider it a possibility, yeah"

#3 "My Favourite Dysfunctional Family" ~ The Royal Tenenbaums [2001]


Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Owen Wilson

I managed to catch this upon its initial release and at that time thought it was fairly average. For years after, it remained the only Wes Anderson movie I saw. During this time I kept hearing people proclaiming that this was a masterpiece while I kept thinking to myself that this movie was so overrated. Then on a very boring night in 2006 it was played on the telly. I couldn't sleep that night and with nothing to do, decided to give this another go. It was like I was watching a whole different movie. Suddenly it was brilliant!! It felt like the first time I watched this I "had eyes but cannot see". Multiple viewings since had conformed this as one of my favourite films. Plus, a very recent viewing had my wondering, what the hell happened to Gene Hackman?? I miss him!

Selected Quote: [Royal Tenenbaum's Epitaph]: Royal O'Reilly Tenenbaum. 1932-2001. Died Tragically While Rescuing His Family From The Wreckage Of A Destroyed Sinking Battleship.

#2 "Because I'm A Wild Animal" ~ Fantastic Mr. Fox [2009]


Starring (voices): George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Wallace Wolodarsky, Bill Murray, Eric Chase Anderson, Michael Gambon

Go through this blog and you'll discover that I'm a massive Pixar and animation fan. My favourite non-Pixar animations are The Iron Giant [1999], Tangled [2010] (I don't care what you say, I stand by this), and this masterpiece right here. The more times I see it, the more I'm in love with it. Special mention goes to the music score by Alexandre Desplat. Amazing!

Selected Quote:
Mrs. Fox: "Ash, I know what's its like to feel... different (*hands waving like in the photo above*)..." Ash: "But I'm not different... am I?" Mrs. Fox: "We all are... him especially (*points to Mr. Fox*). But there's something kinda fantastic about that, isn't there?"

#1 "The Innocence Of Young Love" ~ Moonrise Kingdom [2012]


Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, France McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, Eric Chase Anderson


Believe the hype. It is that good. Two outcast 12 years old kids fall in love and decide to run away together. Charming and poignant, I truly believe this will be a future classic. Why, oh why did it only have limited release? I'll be furious if this doesn't land any major nominations come awards season.


Selected Quote: Sam: "I love you. But you have no idea what you're talking about" Suzy: "I love you too"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Dredd 3D [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 20 September 2012 (Malaysia), 21 September 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Pete Travis
Written By: Carlos Ezquerra
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, Warrick Grier
Duration: 95 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Set in the dystopian future of a mega-metropolis called Metro City One, the law is being upheld by "Judges" who combines all the powers of a judge, jury, and instant executioners. One the best of these Judges goes by the name of Dredd (played by Karl Urban). One day he is assigned to evaluate a rookie Judge named Cassandra Anderson (played by Olivia Thirlby) out in the field. This evaluation is needed  because Anderson did not pass the normal qualifications of being a Judge but does posses superior psychic abilities. The duo go to investigate a report at the 200-story slum tower block called Peach Trees. While over there, a series of events sees them locked inside the tower block by the criminal lord of Peach Trees, Ma-Ma (played by Lena Headey) and being hunted down by the criminal gangs.


Thumbs Up:
+ Nice gritty action
+ Solid performances from Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, and Lena Headey
+ Excellent use of 3D, now that's a complete rarity
Thumbs Down:
- Although it made the 3D sequences look so much better, there was a little too much use of the slo-mo technique for my liking
- Not much character development, understandable for Judge Dredd, but the other characters could have used it


The Verdict Is In:
Although Dredd 3D will draw the inevitable comparisons in storyline to The Raid: Redemption (Serbuan Maut) [2012] which was released early this year, I'd have to say this is the far superior film. To be honest I wasn't fond of The Raid. It had jaw-dropping fight sequences, but the story and characters was uninteresting and it also had too many implausible elements for me too enjoy. Now that's not to say that Dredd 3D is very plausible (it is an action movie based on a comic book after all) while the story is thin but the difference here is that there's still enough in there for it to be engaging.


In fact the stripped-down story works in its favour as it gets straight down to business and delivers the great action (which are stunning in 3D). But we do get enough in the story to care about what is going on. Karl Urban performs well in his role as the no-nonsense title character and so does Olivia Thirlby. Lena Heady meanwhile is just menacing a villain. If I were to do a new list of Favourite Female Villains, she might just grab a spot.

Overall a solid and entertaing movie. In a time when everyone including me is complaining about remakes, I'm actually glad this one was produced. That being said, the bar was set very low by Sylvester Stallone's 1995 original version. No worries though because no one really remembers that movie.
Rating:
7 out of 10

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Express Reviews: Death Of A Japanese Salesman & Ninja Kids!!!

There was no interesting Hollywood movies opening at my local cinemas for the last couple of weeks. I didn't fancy going to Resident Evil: Retribution [2012] while The Master [2012] still hasn't got a release date in my country. The week before had movies I was even less interested in: The Cold Light Of Day [2012] and The Watch [2012]. Luckily there was a Japanese Film Festival being held for limited time at a few selected cinemas here. Out of the 12 films shown, I managed to catch only two, which will be reviewed here. I was actually quite surprised both was a full house.

# Ending Note: Death Of A Japanese Salesman (Endingu Noto) [2011]



Genre: Documentary
Directed By: Mami Sunada
The Story: A documentary which focuses on Tomoaki Sunada, who after working in the same company for 40 years retired at the age of 67. In 2010, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 abdominal cancer. His daughter records the final months of his life as he prepares his funeral and completes his of "To Do..." list.
The Verdict: I've always been fascinated with the concept of "Carpe diem", "Living life to the fullest", "Enjoying life's pleasures" and the such, although I rarely get to practice it now. The thing about death is it focuses one's perspective to the joy of life. We want to do what we've always desired to do. Interesting here is, most of Tomoaki's "To Do" list involves spending a lot of time with his family. The Japan Times named this 1 of the 10 Best Japanese Films in 2011, and it is very well deserved. This is a very heartfelt and touching feature. I don't think there was a single dry eye in the entire theatre by the end of the film.
Rating: 8 out of 10

# Ninja Kids!!! (Nintama Rantaro) [2011]



Directed By: Takashi Miike
Starring: Kato Seishiro, Kimuru Futa, Hayashi Roi, Miura Takahiro, Terajima Susumu
The Story: For generations, his family has been nothing but just low-ranking ninjas, so Rantaro (played by Kato Seishiro) is sent by his father to the Ninja Academy with the hope that he turns into the best ninja there is. The academy is full of eccentric characters and Rantaro strikes up a close relationship with Shinbei (played by Kimuru Futa) and Kirimaru (Hayashi Roi).
The Verdict: Based on the anime, Nintama Rantaro, and directed by Takashi Miike who is known for cult horror film Audition (Odishon) [1999] and also last year delivered the fantastic 13 Assassins (Jusan-nin no shikaku) [2011]. This film will probably distinguishably divide the camp that loves it with the ones that hate it. I actually experienced both feelings in abundance while watching it. The complete bizarreness and creepiness that only Japanese cinema can provide (see photo above for example) is sometimes too much for me to take. But then again there are plenty of hilarious moments and by large this is a very entertaining flick. Maybe the problem is I'm mostly not very used to the world of Japanese cinema and anime yet.
Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie Vault Review: Confessions Of A Superhero [2007]


Background:
Year Of Release: 2007
Genre: Documentary
Directed By: Matthew Orgens
Starring: Christopher Dennis, Maxwell Allen, Jennifer Gehrt (Jennifer Wenger), Joe McQueen
Duration: 92 minutes
Thumbs Up:
+ Characters with very interesting personalities and back stories
+ The struggle to live the dream in Hollywood
Thumbs Down:
- Perhaps if there was a true conflict taking place, it would have taken this documentary up another notch
In A Nutshell / The Verdict Is In:
"Hollywood is a place where dreams are made and dreams are broken. Everybody and their mother wants that lead role," Christopher Dennis tells us early on. Well Confessions Of A Superhero is a documentary that shows us exactly that. Everyone that comes to Hollywood dreams of becoming a star but only a very few actually succeeds in doing that. Here we follow four people who dress-up as costumed characters (also known as "street performers") at Hollywood Boulevard and accepts tips for every photo taken by tourist with them. No one however actually is obliged to give them tips and the law prohibits them from charging people money for photos. The tips they receive can range from $5.95 a day to $200 or $300. They also cling on to the hope of making it big in Tinseltown by attending auditions every now and then.


Christopher Dennis, who resembles the actor who actually played Superman, Christopher Reeves is the unofficial leader of these street performers. He is a obsessed with The Man Of Steel and his house is full of Superman merchandises and posters, which he estimates is close to $1 Million in value. Christopher also considers himself a Superman historian and keeper of artefacts. We get to see that he is a heavy smoker when at home but keeps to a noble code of never doing so when in costume out in the public. He also claims to be the son of Oscar winning actress, Sandy Dennis. While Sandy's family acknowledges the fact that she was a very private and secretive person they do not believe she ever had a child. Also interesting about Christopher is that he lives with his girlfriend who is a PhD student in psychology.


Next we have a George Clooney look-a-like named Maxwell Allen, who dresses-up as Batman. This is a guy with anger management issues who keeps talking about a dark past doing dirty work for, in his words, "a very Italian" rich man in Texas. We get to see interviews from the other characters saying how hard it is for them to believe Max's stories. Even his own wife tells us that "his bark is worse than his bite" and perhaps only 50% of what he says is true. He boasts to having black belts in various martial arts and having weapons training. We then cut to a scene where he is attending a martial arts class and completely sucking at it. He also confesses to his therapist about leaving a huge body count in his past. I swear there was a moment where even the therapist carved-out a tiny smirk hearing Max's claims. In my opinion, anyone who has even little knowledge on body language can detect he is lying. Telling these stories while nervously touching ears, scracting hands, etc. How did he get out of his dark past? "Either you die or everybody else dies," he tells us. Apparently everyone else was killed and he was the last man standing. Suuuure.


We also have Jennifer Gehrt (now know as Jennifer Wenger), a former cheerleader who dresses-up as Wonder Woman. We get to see tension between her and her husband whom she married on a whim at Vegas. As this documentary progresses we get to see.... surprise, surprise... her move out of their house to live with her friend.


Finally we have Joe McQuinn, who puts on the costume of The Incredible Hulk. He arrived in Hollywood during the Rodney King riots and was homeless for four years. We get to see him get some good news as he is called to star in a movie called Finishing The Game: The Search For A New Bruce Lee [2007] directed by Justin Lin (whom of course now has recieved fame for Fast Five [2011] ).

Confessions Of A Superhero is a fascinating look into the lives of these flawed characters in Hollywood Boulevard. A quick look on Rotten Tomatoes shows only 12 reviews so far which means not many people have seen this. But it is interesting to mention that all 12 reviews list this as "Fresh" which results in an overall rating of 100%.
Selected Quote:
"Sure a doctor saves lives, but is he remembered? Is he there for all times, like, people are still talking about Marilyn Monroe. People are still talking about, you know, Elvis Presley. People in the entertainment business are forever here".
Rating:
7 out of 10

Friday, September 7, 2012

Movie Vault Review: A Few Good Men [1992]


Background:
Year Of Release: 1992
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Wolfgang Bodison, James Marshall
Duration: 138 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Two Marines, Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson (played by Wolfgang Bodison) and Pfc. Lowden Downey (played by James Marshall) are accused of the murder of a fellow Marine. Navy Lawyer, Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) is appointed to defend them. Kaffee is assited by Lt. Sam Weinberg (played by Kevin Pollak) and an Internal Affairs officer, Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Gallaway (played by Demi Moore). JoAnne is convinced that Dawson and Downey had acted under a "Code Red" order. This in turn results in their commanding officers, Colonel Nathan Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) and Lt. Jonathan Kendrick (played by Kiefer Sutherland) brought into the picture. The prosecutor for the case is Kaffee's friend Capt. Jack Ross (played by Kevin Bacon).



Thumbs Up:
+ Some of the best dialogues and verbal sparring in cinematic history
+ Majestic performances from Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise which is backed by solid exploits from the supporting cast: Demi Moore, Kevin Pollak, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon
+ Engaging characters on display
+ Riveting story which brings up some pretty interesting questions for debate
Thumbs Down:
- The musical score could have been better <--- nitpicking at its grandest. I just needed an excuse for this section
The Verdict Is In:
Recently I have been completely obsessed with the legal show on TV, Suits [2011 - ] which has just completed its second season. One of the many aspects from that show that has me hooked is its characters constantly quoting and referencing various movies. One episode had two characters bonding (and feeling attraction) with each other after a few quote exchanges from this very movie that is being reviewed, A Few Good Men.




But that's exactly what this movie's strong point is... it's a quote-lover's heaven. Long before Aaron Sorkin wowed audiences with his verbal prowess in The Social Network [2010] or TV show, The West Wing [1999-2006], he wrote this powerful courtroom drama. To the regular readers here... yes the tiny handful of you, let's face it, this seems like a perfect match. Because, one, movie lovers like us just adore quotes, and two, as bloggers, we have an affinity with words.

The performances are genuinely amazing while the story compelling. It gets better after repeat viewings as we can see exactly how Tom Cruise's character provokes Jack Nicholson to explode. Yes, the Cruiser. No matter what controversy happens in his private life, I still regard him as one of the better actors when on screen. This performance is just one other evidence.

Rob Reiner has directed a lot of movies that I enjoyed like Stand By Me [1986], When Harry Met Sally [1989], Misery [1990] and The Princess Bride [1987]. Heck, I've even adored his recent feature, Flipped [2010]. But assisted immensely by Sorkin's screenplay and strong performance from the cast, A Few Good Men is Reiner's true masterpiece! Now, have I made myself clear? .....Crystal! 
Selected Quote:
Rating:
9 out of 10

Monday, September 3, 2012

Express Reviews: Premium Rush, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band Of Misfits

I originally didn't want to review these following films but since the number of my monthly posts have been steadily declining, I decided to do a striped-down version (as if my reviews weren't already short enough... I believe in letting people know as little as possible before seeing a film) and combine three movies into one post.

# Premium Rush [2012]


Directed By: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Wole Parks
The Story: Manhattan bike messenger, Wilee (played by JosephGordon-Levitt) picks up an envelope but soon discovers that he is being pursued for the contains of that envelope by a guy named Bobby Monday (played by Michael Shannon).
The Verdict: Exhillarating and adrenalin-pumping feature that keeps us on the edge of our seats. Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows us why he is one of the most seeked-out actors working in Hollywood today. I'm pretty sure CGI was used to create the traffic action scenes, but it was barely noticeable, the way CGI should be. Director David Koepp does a nice job in visualising the way Wilee sees traffic and how he plays out various situations in his head. Predictable and illogical in some parts, but still acceptable. Oh, I hear there's an after-credits scene too. I missed it, but no, I don't think Nick Fury was involved!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

# ParaNorman [2012]


Directed By: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring (voice): Kodi Smith-Mcphee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Bernard Hill
The Story: Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smith-Mcphee) is a young boy who can see and interact with spirits of the dead. Because of this he is marginalised by society, and to make matters worse, by his family too. His ability however is needed to save the town from a long standing curse.
The Verdict: Beautifully animated with a very interesting story. I particularly like the underlying message about being afraid of people that are different. Ghosts and curses are used to convey that message and provides the emotional core of the story. The final third however takes a turn in direction that I thought was unnecessary. I feel the jokes were supposed to be funny, but somehow I wasn't really laughing. I do suspect however this was largely contributed by me being dragged to see this after work despite feeling extremely exhausted and sleepy.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

# The Pirates! Band Of Misfits [2012]


Directed By: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Starring (voice): Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek
The Story: The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) has always had one major dream: to win The Pirate Of The Year Award. He however is nowhere as good as rivals Black Bellamy (voiced by Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (voiced by Salma Hayek). But an encounter with Charles Darwin (voiced by David Tennant) gives him the opportunity to finally do so: by entering The Scientist Of The Year Awards.
The Verdict: Once again stunning use of stop-motion animation. This has to be one of the most funniest films I've seen so far this year, with Darwin's sidekick ape deserving a special mention. I love Brave [2012], but The Pirates! Band Of Misfits must be the favourite to win Best Animation at awards season it seems.
Rating: 8 out of 10
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