10 Years of Harry Potter™

I started reading Harry Potter™ only when the first movie was about to be released in 2001, and back then only 4 books were released. I remember pre-ordering the 5th and 6th book and getting up real early to grab them at Popular bookstore, finishing them in one single sitting. I got lazy for the 7th and decided to pre-order and have them delivered instead; it got to me only at noon! All that anticipation after getting up at 7am waiting for the delivery to read the end of the series! MADNESS!

Anyway, the last of the last Harry Potter movie will be released this week. I am going to do the unthinkable by holing up in GVmax in VivoCity to watch ALL 8 MOVIES in ONE SINGLE SITTING from 13th to 14th July 2011!! I haven’t actually even done something like that at home for Harry Potter™, unlike I did for Charlie’s Angels, Sex and the City, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc. TOTALLY MAD!

The itinerary will be as such:

9.30am – Registration & Collection of goodie bags

10.30am – HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (152min)

1pm – Lunch

2pm – HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (161min)

4.45pm – Break

5.10pm – HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (141min)

7.30pm – Dinner

9pm – HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (157min)

11.40pm – Break

12 midnight – HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (138min)

2.20am – Break

2.40am – HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (153min)

5.15am – Break

5.35am – HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (146min)

8.00am – Breakfast

9.00am – HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (130min)

11.10am – End of Event

I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I will!!! It’s gonna be SUPER AMAZING and an SGD88 well-spent (SGD196 actually because I paid for my sis who got me to go)!! Especially since I’m also gonna get:

–  Admission to all eight Harry Potter™ films
–  Lunch, Dinner & Breakfast
–  Exclusive Retrospective T-shirt
–  Souvenir Photo
–  Goodie Bag & more

SUPER SUPER!

Brokeback Mountain

This infamous “gay cowboy” movie is certainly raising many eyebrows all around the world. Controverisal genre aside, Brokeback Mountain has garnered many nominations (and won quite a number of them) in film awards like the Golden Globes and the upcoming Oscars.

I’ve only watched 2 other films by Lee Ang; Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and The Hulk. Quite a number of films from Lee Ang are arthouse films that enjoyed commercial success, except for probably The Hulk, which is supposed to be a commercial film but somehow ended up looking like an arthouse feature. But that’s just Lee Ang; he simply looks at everything arty-fartily.

I enjoyed the serenity of the film that came with the gentle strums of the guitar. It’s so soothing and peaceful but yet able to penetrate deep into the heart to stir the emotions within. The love and friendship shared between the 2 men definitely struck a chord. All the warmth and happiness; all the confusion.

Hadn’t we all once tried to love someone, be it a family or friend, but yet unable to overcome the negativities and fears of all sort? If Ennis Del Mar is our sense of restraint and confusion, then Jack Twist is our sense of desire and passion, while Alma and Lureen are our sense of responsibility. All of which are subtlely reflected in the movie.

I love the performances by the cast!!! Great acting simply amazes me. Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams are all worthy of the nods they’ve been given at many film awards, while Anne Hathaway had a successful breakthrough from her Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted days.

This movie will be, or already is, a classic. It departs from the stereotypical gay antics and brought forth the message that true love can exist between all people, homosexual or otherwise.

Rating: 4 / 5

Zodiac, The Race Begins…

It was somewhat disappointing, for a movie touted as Singapore’s first 3D-animated film and featuring the excellent voices of Fann Wong and Dennis Chew. Content was weak, pace was slow, singing and dancing were unnecessary. What’s worse was that only 60% of the movie was animated 3-dimensionally!! What’s with the 2D cardboard-like sequences? Budget control? Nevertheless, I would say the animations were pretty ok, for Singapore’s first foray into the industry. The fluidity and movement of the graphics can definitely be improved upon, though.

Zodiac, The Race Begins… is supposedly to tell the origins of the 12 animals in the chinese horoscope; how they were selected and ranked through a race to look after the world.

However, this is no “on your mark, get set, go” type of race. It simply says that whichever animal, among the 12 chosen ones, reaches the final destination (the heaven, I think) first will be ranked first, regardless of when they start to embark on their journey. Thus there is this lack of a competitive element to bring up the intensity in the story.

Enter an evil tree spirit, attempting to thwart the formation of the zodiac, we see the obstacles the animals had to go through to get through the race. Pretty exciting, eh? Nahhh! The obstacles weren’t particularly challenging or breath-taking. No climax or anything close to that. I should actually be thankful that there ain’t any anti-climax!

Also, the sudden burst into singing and/or dancing is a big minus to the whole movie as they hardly serve any real purpose in the movie. This story is a legend, a folklore, not some mindless musical. It really isn’t necessary to include music and singing for the sake of sprucing up the movie. It’s a pain, especially, to watch the 2D “cardboards” “dance” to the singing.

Interesting and funny theories like how the rabbit lost its long tail or why the the owl has dark rings around its eyes are also included in the movie. Bet you didn’t know that rats were actually slaves to the cats before it won the zodiac race. Oops! Ain’t that a spoiler? *grin*

Kudos to voiceover cast, who did a great job in their vocal expressions. Who can expect Fann Wong to actually get all squeaky as the cat and maternal as the snake? Quite a feat, I would say.

Overall, the movie wasn’t impressive as Singapore’s first 3D animated feature. One can only hope for Singapore to get better in producing films of such genre. No more cardboards, please. Funding is always a problem for our local movie industry. Although money doesn’t necessary equate to quality, but it’s definitely good to have more.

Rating: 2 / 5

Memoirs Of A Geisha

The movie kept true the novel. It was well-condensed to nearly 2.5 hours, with the crucial plots un-ignored.

Factual accuracy aside, I truly enjoyed the story itself; how the young and miserable Chiyo overcome her odds to become a successful geisha, Sayuri, with evil interferences from her ultimate nemesis, Matusumomo. Not forgetting my favourite character from the novel, Mameha, the geisha who took Chiyo (who became Sayuri) as her protégé, and thwarted most of Matsumomo’s plans in stopping Sayuri from becoming a geisha.

Having read the novel twice (once in 2000 and another in Aug 2005), the movie had become totally predictable since it kept true to the book. The only thing that interests me was the performance of our Asian counterparts.

The men had it easy; either look interested, look lusty, look possessive or look charming. The ladies were the real draw, obviously, since it’s a movie about geishas.

Two actresses, who are credited as being “introduced”, did an amazing job. Suzuka Ohgo, the child actress as Chiyo, was convincing. Somehow, child actors/actresses usually shine brighter than their adult co-stars (in an adult movie, of course. We’re not talking about Harry Potter or Narnia here). Just look at Dakota Fanning and Haley Joel Osment. They’ve gotten great reviews in the movies they were in. However, the latter seems to have lost his shine after entering into his teens. Perhaps children are really better in expressing themselves.

The next actress is Gong Li (as she’s known here, not Li Gong), the actress who played Matsumomo. I’m very surprised that she managed her English quite well. I was expecting a poorer pronounciation of the language from her. As Matsumomo, she gave me the creeps with her every glare and stare. Even her tone and laugh depicts every bit of evilness the character possess. Credible acting!

I’m disappointed with Michelle Yeoh as Mameha. She’s not refined enough to be a geisha, and worse, she didn’t even put on any of the make-up, nor tie-up her hair, as required of a geisha, in the movie. Very unconvincing here.

As for Zhang Ziyi (or Ziyi Zhang as she prefers) playing Sayuri, well, I had higher expectations of her. I’m not sure if it’s because she was struggling with her English lines, or that her eyes (the colour) looked unnatural (even more so when she had her heavy geisha make-up on), she didn’t seem to be showcasing her acting skills, though her dance background served her well in the movie.

Was I wrong to think that she’s not bad an actress? Not sure how she got her Golden Globe nomination. I’m hoping she won’t be nominated for an Oscar, unless there really aren’t any more credible actresses this year, which I seriously doubt it. I think they might just nominate her to hype up the event. First Asian actress nominated for a leading role in the Oscars, you see. Big thing, like how Halle Berry got her Oscar a few years back.

Other actresses who did well in the movie were the ones who played Pumpkin and Mother. I shall not go into them since I’m unfamiliar with these people, but they really did put up a good performance. The former, who did Pumpkin, is a worth a mention because towards the end of the movie, she really let herself go and brought out the dejected and evil side of Pumpkin, as compared to the earlier timid and clumsy one. Powerful acting here.

On the whole, I’m pretty satisfied with how the movie turned out. The novel definitely has more details on the development of the plot, but the movie is suffice to relate the story.

Rating: 3.5 / 5