Sunday, October 30, 2011

Local Cinema: Being Lost In Translation

*this particular post has a very localised (Malaysian) content

If you've ever seen the movie Lost In Translation [2003], you'll be familiar with a particular scene that I loved. It has Bill Murray's character (Bob) is in the midst of filming a commercial in Japan and the following conversation happens:

Director [in Japanese, to the interpreter]: "The translation is very important, O.K? The Translation."
Interpreter [in Japanese, to the director]: "Yes, of course. I understand."
Director [in Japanese, to Bob (Bill Murray)]: "Mr. Bob, you are sitting quietly in your study. And there is a bottle of Suntory whisky on top of the table. You understand right? With wholehearted feeling, slowly, look at the camera, tenderly, and as if you were meeting old friends, say the words! As if you are Bogie in 'Casablanca', saying 'Cheers to you guys'- Suntory Time!"
Interpreter [in English, to Bob]: "He wants you to turn, look at the camera. O.K?"
Bob [to the interpreter]: ".... that's all he said??"

That scene above perfectly demonstrates how much things are lost during a translation. Especially during a very poor translation. The effects of second hand information I believe.

Now this brings me to a related topic which is the translation of English movie titles to Bahasa Malaysia. Take for example this poster of Paranormal Activity 3 [2011] that I came across in a local newspaper. Forgive the poor quality of the photo for I have very shaky hands. Thank God I didn't end up as a surgeon like my parents wanted me to become all those years ago. ;P. Just click on it for a larger view. The second photo is for the movie Scent Of A Woman [1992] which I found on Arkib Negara X.

"Padah Amalan Pusaka"? Seriously? "Mengharungi Alam Dewasa"? Are you kidding me? How the hell did they come up with that? This made me think of the other ridiculous movie translations I've encountered throughout the years. The Day After Tomorrow [2004] was hilariously converted into "Lusa", The Incredibles [2004] miraculously became "Canggih", and Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring [2001] went on such a tangent it become something like "Himpunan... [something]... [something]... Sakti". Yeah, I can't remember the exact translation for that last one, but rest assured it was pretty darn absurd. There were plenty more that were so silly I can't even bare to remember them (anyone remember the translation for Quantum Of Solace [2008]?). It also works the other way around as local movie "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" was distributed in the U.K as "Clash Of Empires: Battle For Asia".

Oh, while we're on the topic of Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, anybody notice the slot/advertisement in the cinema from Yusry, the movie's producer. It is usually shown after the multiple movie trailers but before the KFC ad. You know, the one below:

He says something in the region that goes like: "Terima kasih, kepada yang membeli tiket wayang, DVD, dan muat-turun asli.... sokongan anda memberikan kami ruang dan peluang untuk terus berkaya."
Muat-turun asli? Legal downloads? I know other countries have iTunes and Netflix, but since when did we have legal downloads in this country? Am I missing something?

UPDATE: Just found a new one, this time for the movie Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark [2011]. Amazing how six words is translated to just one :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Whoa, Real Time-Traveler Footage!

photo credit to
Whoa, apparently my dreams all these times were true. Doc Brown really did invent the flux capacitor which makes time travel possible. Apparently George Clark, a filmmaker from Belfast believes he discovered footage of a time traveler while watching the DVD extras from Charlie Chaplin's 1928 movie "The Circus". The footage analysed is from the premier of that movie and shows what looks like a woman talking on a cellphone. A cellphone. In 1928!! What is even more intriguing is just like any time traveler would do, the woman seems to be in disguise. There's even reason to doubt that it is actually a woman. Yeah, I like conspiracy theories like these ;P. Watch the clip below to analyse for yourself. Could it actual be that time travel is possible? Yeah, I know its highly unlikely, but the kid inside me wants to say yes. Whoa, this is heavy!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: The People vs. George Lucas [2011]

In A Nutshell:
A documentary-movie exploring the love-hate relationship between Star Wars creator George Lucas and the massive legion of fan-boys of that universe. Focuses mainly on how Lucas achieved God-like status with the original Star Wars trilogy and how he eventually became a hated figure with the prequels.
Thumbs Up:
+ Hey, come on... this is a documentary-movie discussing STAR WARS... no movie geek can resist that
+ The multiple spoofs especially the many amateur videos made by fans
+ They actually managed to get interviews with major Hollywood figures like Gary Kurtz (collaborator and producer for A New Hope [1977] and The Empire Strikes Back [1980]), Dave Prowse (Darth Vader), and Francis Ford Coppola (Legendary director of "The Godfather" trilogy)
+ The segment showing the anticipation towards opening day of The Phantom Menace [1999] reminds me what pure geek orgasm feels like.
Thumbs Down:
- I'm being rather nitpicky here but I would've liked to seen more interviews from Lucas himself.
The Verdict Is In:
Star Wars. The movie geek holy grail. I don't know a single movie lover who doesn't have at least a tiny affection with the franchise universe. They say imitation is the best form of flatery. So, just search the internet and you'll find a gazillion of fan-made footage. Even Hollywood is getting in on the act as everyone from Family Guy to Robot Chicken are making spoofs. Even the non-geeks (normal people... aka boring people... hah, take that) have at least some awareness of Star Wars. It has become that ubiquitous in pop-culture.

The exception of course is here in Malaysia. My first realization of how isolated movie geeks in this country are with the rest of society was back in 2009. I went on a thorough search across the entire Klang Valley for a Darth Vader helmet which was apparently then out of stock. When I asked the shop assistants if they had any of the helmets left, I was often given clueless expressions. "You know, that guy from Star Wars", I would say. "Ooh, that one", they would answer confidently only then to show me a helmet of.... A STORM TROOPER!! "Not he same ahh?" they would ask. Err, HELL NO! We're talking about one of the greatest villains in cinematic history being compared to some random low-rank soldier. Duh! Its just as absurd as Steven Gerard's claim back in 2010: "Joe Cole is on the same level as Lionel Messi". Yes Stevie, you are senile. So, without the helmet I decided to visualize the vision in my head using an illustration instead. This was the result:

Okay, the above story had nothing to do with this review :P. Moving on then. This documentary shows the love turning into hate for Lucas beginning with his restoration of the ground-breaking original trilogy. Then it just blew up when the prequels started to come-out. I particularly loved the interviews right before the premier of Phantom Menace [1999], "What happens if the movie sucks?" was the question. Reminds me of the ending in the movie Fanboys [2008]. A fellow blogger found positives gained from the prequels in his blog post. I would add a Weird Al Yankovic song to that list. :)

Anyway, this is the first documentary movie that I've seen this year. Last year was pretty good for this genre with Catfish and Exit Through The Gift Shop. Hoping to get my hands on Project Nim next.
8 out of 10

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Halloween: Tribute To Horror Movies

I know that Halloween and Trick or Treat is more of an American culture and not really practiced in other parts of the world but I just can't help being fascinated by the entire thing. I would loved to had a childhood planning and making different costumes every year for the event. I also get excited by fancy dress parties but unfortunately living here in Malaysia, they are pretty hard to come by. Maybe this is why attending a Comic-Con, possibly the ones in New York or San Diego is high on my bucket-list.

With Halloween just a week away, I had originally wanted to come-up with a new list for this blog, this time for my favourite horror movies. But then I realized that I haven't watched enough horror movies to create a good enough list. You see horror isn't actually my favourite genre. So I'll try to add to my movie-reserve and hopefully come-up with a decent list come the same time next year. But as for now, I'll just leave you with this video tribute to horror movies which was shown at the 2010 Oscars. See how many of the movies you recognize or have seen? I have no idea what Edward Scissorhands [1990] and Twilight [2008] are doing in the video though. I love Edward Scissorhands [1990] but no way is it a horror movie. As for Twilight, seriously? Twilight? Maybe the acting was so awful that they thought it was a horror movie. Also don't forget to check out the pure and utter joy visibly seen on Quentin Tarantino's face at 3:26 of the video. That was the expression of of a true and genuine movie geek. Priceless. (Oh yeah, he's also in the actual tribute along with George Clooney for From Dusk Till Dawn [1996])

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gordon Ramsay Is A Ninja Assassin

The Malaysian version of MasterChef makes its debut tonight and I for one am really excited about it. I've been watching the US and Australian versions so its refreshing to see the show from a local perspective. I must admit though my culinary cooking skills are very basic but I do love watching these cooking shows. My favourite celebrity chef by far is none other than Gordon Ramsay. Yeah, that guy notorious for his foul mouth, hot temper, and aggressive attitude. He is just so darn entertaining. Many people watching his abusive behaviour on TV say they feel like wanting to slap him in the face. Well take a look at this clip below and see what happens when someone actually tried to do so.

I laughed out loud reading comments on the Youtube page such as "Gordon Ramsey is a JEDI KNIGHT!!", "Gordon Ramsey has freaking ninja reflexes!!", "Gordon Ramsay trained under Chuck Norris!!" and "He should have been in the London Riots, he would have taken them all down by just shouting at them". Now we know why he always has his hand up by his face. One comment even said that this was taught in karate as a "defensive stance when you don't actually want to look like your in a combative stance". I don't know any karate so I don't know how much of that was true, but I'm going along with it. What is more impressive is not only how quick he managed to block the slap but how he moved his face away in the same swift motion. 

Hey, I have an idea. Seeing that he is kinda old and portrayed as some kind of bad-ass, why not cast him in the next Expendables movie? Yeah, that was a lame joke I know.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

List: 5 Favourite Football (Soccer) Movies

I don't have a crystal ball but I do know what my immediate future holds for me. Starting this weekend and up to a month or so I will morph into an insomniac zombie. I will be deprived of sleep, food, or any other normal activities (including watching movies). For this weekend marks the release of FOOTBALL MANAGER 2012!!! Yes, I am terribly addicted/obsessed with the simulation (see, I even call it simulation, not game... talk about obsessed) to the point that it becomes bad for my health (and work). I remember a sequence of: *staying up for 29 hours-4 hours sleep-stay up 22 hours-5 hours sleep-stay up 19 hours*. And with very little food too. So, a couple of years ago I vowed to limit myself playing only a little over a month each year (a VERY packed month nevertheless). So, to keep the theme running, I've decided to come up with my list of favourite footie movies. Yup, I call it football not soccer.

I've also just noticed that all the movies that made my top 5 are not Hollywood productions. Well no surprise there actually. Seeing that the US has never fully embraced The Beautiful Game, so how can we expect them to make a decent movie regarding the sport. Heck not only did they make some awful movies but they also couldn't get the rules even close to being right like that mega-disaster known as Soccer Dog [1998]. And Hollywood actually made a sequel too!! I believe the most expensive football movie ever made was Goal! [2005] and that in the end was only half-decent of a movie. On to the list now:

#5 Shaolin Soccer [2001]

Image by chinaguy16@deviantart
This probably marks the start of much more modern/big-budgeted/CGI-filled movies from Stephen Chow but he still manages to keep that trademark goofiness and silliness that we all love.

Selected Quote (translated): "I want to say hello to my parents and my Kung-Fu master, but they're all dead".

#4 The Cup [1999]

Tells the story of young Tibetan monks and their quest to watch the 1998 World Cup final. The story of their lives inside the monastery is both amusing and interesting as it shows monks too have a sense of humour just like everybody else.

Selected Quote (translated): "Do you know why we monks shave our heads? So girls will think we're ugly. But it doesn't help. They're so painfully beautiful. Its not fair".

#3 The Damned United [2009]

To the current generation of football fans, Jose Mourinho is the ultimate celebrity-manager. Successful, arrogant, intelligent, smooth-talking, charismatic, and controversial. But there was in fact someone before him with very similar attributes, and his name was Brian Clough.

Selected Quote: "I wouldn't say I'm the top manager in the country. But I'm in the top one".

#2 Mike Basset: England Manager [2001]

An absolutely hilarious take on English football and the English National Team. Just goes to prove the absurdity of football obsession in England.

Selected Quote: Interviewer: "This must be a very proud moment for you". Mike Basset: "It is. I just wish me dad could see me now. You know... he was like a father figure to me". Interviewer: "Well... obviously!".

#1 Looking For Eric [2009]

Okay, I admit it. I am a devotee of Manchester United, and yes, only Roy Keane surpasses Eric Cantona as my all-time favourite player. But that doesn't change the fact that just like Eric Cantona himself, this is a pretty darn entertaining movie. Ooh! Aah! Cantona! (sorry couldn't resist).

Selected Quote: "I am not a man.... I am Cantona!!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Real Steel [2011]

In A Nutshell:
Set in the future, where robots have now replaced humans in boxing matches, former boxer Charlie Kenton (played by Hugh Jackman) is struggling to get his life in order. Needing cash, he reluctantly agrees to take care of his 11 year old son that he gave away, Max (played by Dakota Goyo). Max finds an old-tech sparring robot in a junkyard and eventually gets Charlie to train the robot into a winning boxer.
Thumbs Up:
+ Fun & exciting fight sequences
+ Heart warming scenes
+ Good chemistry and performances especially from Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo (despite him looking very much like Jake Lloyd. Haha... sorry but I still haven't forgiven Lloyd for ruining the entire Star Wars franchise. Well him and a few other reasons such as Hayden Christensen, Jar-Jar Binks, the awful romance dialogue in Attack Of The Clones, and the over-use of CGI at the expense of story line).
+ Olga Fonda who plays Farra Lemkova in the movie is my current flavour-of-the-week celebrity crush (yeah, I know, I sound pathetic :P )
Thumbs Down:
- from start to finish packed with movie clichés
- the opening scene where a robot battles a rodeo bull is kinda made in bad taste.
The Verdict Is In:
Despite being predictable and full of clichés, Real Steel is still a fun and enjoyable watch for both adults and kids alike. Although nowhere good enough to challenge that other movie about a boy-robot relationship, Brad Bird's outstanding 1999 flick The Iron Giant (more people really need to check this movie out because its awesome!), Real Steel still has more heart and character depth than all three of the Transformers movies put together.
7.5 out of 10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trailer: The Avengers [2012]

Argghhh.... nerd-gasm... I'm having a full nerd-gasm!! Feeling nothing but pure geek-tasy righ now!!
Yes, as I am writing this, only a few short MINUTES has passed since the first official trailer was been released to the eyes of the world.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

Visionary Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs passed away yesterday after a long struggle with cancer. He was 56. Most people will know him for his recent achievements with Apple such as iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. But few will know that he was also the first person to commercialise the use of Graphical User Interface (GUI). Without him we might still be using Command Line (we would have to enter codes to accomplish everything). Plus, its way much easier to do things with a mouse... just click!

So, what does this have to do with a movie blog like this? Well he was the one who bought the Graphics Division of Lucasfilm and turned it into Pixar!! One of the most important milestones in computer animation history not to mention the birth of a studio that has provided so many great movies.

Here's the trailer of 2007's documentary The Pixar Story featuring amongst others Steve Jobs himself:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you've found it. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until  you found it. Don't settle" ~ Steve Jobs

Now here's the trailer for Pirates Of Silicon Valley [1999], a TV movie about the history of Apple and Microsoft. Steve Jobs is being played by Noah Kyle while Bill Gates is being played Anthony Michael Hall. For the record though, this movie is kinda crap. Lets hope now that they go out and make a better one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Parody: How I Met Your Mother Opening FRIENDS Style

Both How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) and Friends are amongst my all-time favourite TV shows and they share quite a few similarities between one and another. Both series' main theme is about friendship. Both have a main character ending up marrying another main character (Marshall & Lily/Chandler & Monica). They also both have another main character having a long standing crush and eventually have a relationship with another main character (Ted & Robin/Ross & Rachel). Both have a character work as a professor (Ted/Ross) and mostly importantly for this post they both have an awesome opening theme song.

So, why not combine the two shows together. There are quite a few videos made on Youtube having HIMYM's opening played to Friends' theme song. Here are two of the best (although the first video is clearly head and shoulders above the rest) that I found. Enjoy!

List: Favourite Tarantino Movies

Quentin Tarantino is a legendary film maker. His movies are probably the most distinguishable and easily recognisable out there. Heavy conversational dialogues, violence, musical influences, pop-culture references, movie homages, and stylish directing are his signatures. As a former video rental store clerk he is undoubtedly the ultimate movie geek. When people asked if he ever went to film school, he would answer: "No, I went to films". Classic.

Here is my countdown of his films. This list only includes the ones he has directed so movies which he wrote like From Dusk Till Dawn [1996] (which was kinda cheesy but I still loved because it was a whole lot of fun), Natural Born Killers [1994] or True Romance [1993] is not featured. Also the films should be fully directed by him so that means no to Four Rooms [1995] and Sin City [2005] while Death Proof is included rather than the double-feature Grindhouse.

#7 Death Proof [2007]

The Tarantino movie that I didn't fully enjoy. It had its moments but it was quite easy to position at 7th place.

Classic Tarantino Conversation: The discussion on why girls should carry guns.

Selected Quote: Abernathy: "There are other things you can carry other than a gun. Pepper spray." Kim: "Uh, motherfucker tryna rape me? I don't want to give him skin rash! I wanna shut that nigga down!"

#6 Jackie Brown [1997]

The only Tarantino movie which is not an original story. Quentin adapted the screenplay from the novel Rum Punch.

Classic Tarantino Conversation: The scene with Ordell (played by Samuel L. Jackson) watching TV with Louis (played by Robert De Niro) while discussing which guns to buy.

Selected Quote: "I'm serious as a heart attack"

#5 Reservoir Dogs [1992]

Quentin's directorial debut about a heist although the film never actually shows the heist taking place. I can honestly say I was hooked by the movie from the very first scene (see below).

Classic Tarantino Conversation: Opening scene in the diner where they discuss the merits of tipping waitresses. Honestly coming from a country where tipping is a foreign culture, I have always been curious why people do it in western countries, so I can totally see Mr. Pink's (played by Steve Buscemi) point of view.

Selected Quote: "You gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?"

#4 Kill Bill: Vol. 2 [2004]

The more dramatic and talkative of the Kill Bill series. If Volume 1 is  a homage to Japanese Samurai films, volume 2 is clearly influenced by Spaghetti Westerns and Chinese Martial Arts movies.

Classic Tarantino Conversation: Bill discussing which are superhero's true alter-ego

Selected Quote: Bill: "How do I look?" Bride: "You look ready"

#3 Pulp Fiction [1994]

I know most Tarantino fans will put this on their number one spot. I think this movie is fantastic, its just happens that I enjoyed two more movies better. Probably Quentin's most recognisable movie. Even people who has never seen the movie would probably identify with the picture above.

Classic Tarantino Conversation: Take you pick from "what they call a Quater Pounder with Cheese in France" or "what giving foot massages represents" to "why its not good to eat pork".

Selected Quote: "If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions"

#2 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [2003]

The Bride (played by Uma Thurman) is the coolest female assassin in cinematic history. Wait, hold on to that thought. I take it back. She is tied at the number one spot with fellow character from the movie, Gogo (played by Chiaki Kuriyama).

Classic Tarantino Conversation: This is perhaps the only Tarantino movie without a memorable conversation. I can't think of one.

Selected Quote: "Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with samurai sword"

#1 Inglourious Basterds [2009]

Christoph Waltz puts in a legendary performance as Colonel Hans Landa. Proof of Quentin's growth as a director and screenwriter is shown in the two conversation scenes featured below. He always had a way with dialogues but these two scenes now have the added element of suspense.

Classic Tarantino Conversation: The opening interrogation scene or the bar scene.

Selected Quote: "Oooh, its a bingo!"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Welcome Back TV Shows!!

The summer has now ended which signals two things: (1) the end of big summer blockbuster movie season, and (2) the start of the fall TV season. I kind off miss my favourite TV shows, although having said that I still managed to keep myself entertained with a few new shows over the summer. The one that I was most hooked on was Suits. The show is completely brilliant and I am seriously waiting for its new season. Other series I followed last summer was Alphas, Death Valley, and the second season of Masterchef.

The past few weeks however marks the return of more familiar favourites of mine:

How I Met Your Mother (season 7)

The news out there is that the show has been renewed until season 8, so that means we still won't know who the mother is this year. Has anybody else notice that nowadays there's even less of Barney's signature catch-phrases like "LEGEN.. wait for it.. DARY", "SUIT UP!", "True Story!!" or any mention of "The Bro Code"? Truth be told, for the last couple of seasons the show has pretty much been on a decline. But its still entertaining enough to keep me on as a follower.

Modern Family (season 3)

The second season wasn't as strong as its first (although it was back to fine form for the final few episodes) but it still managed to dominate at the recent Emmy Awards. They've replaced baby Lily with  a much older actor now who can speak so it'll be interesting to see how that works out.

Community (season 3)

There was much disappointment that the show didn't manage even a single nomination at the Emmy Awards. It really is a gigantic mystery because Community is without even an ounce of doubt in my mind, one the best comedies been made in a very long time.

Parks And Recreation (season 4)

I started watching this show rather late (during season 3). I have now since laughed my head off through the earlier seasons and am sure it'll be the same for season 4.

House MD (season 8)

New season only starts this week, and boy have I been waiting for it. I'm extremely excited to see how things will unfold following the big cast shake-up. Rumours has it that this will be the final season, if that be the case, hopefully it'll bow out on a high.

30 Rock (season 6)

Also only starting this week. Interesting to see which stars will be made guests this season. I'm pretty confident it'll be great no matter who they are because to me Tina Fey possesses a Midas Touch.

*update: apparently the new season has been put on hold because of Tina Fey's pregnancy

New Girl (new series)

Okay, I'm giving this show a try mainly because I like Zooey Deschanel and her quirkiness. The season premier wasn't that good but I'm still willing to give a few more episodes a try. The second episode showed improvements, but it still has a long way to go to challenge the likes of Community or Modern Family.
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