e shtunë, 18 tetor 2008


i've reallocated. or more like, decided to start anew since this blog reli wasnt working out XD as u can see, it managed only 2 posts so far. Check out my new blog at thirdeyejoel.wordpress.com

e shtunë, 29 dhjetor 2007

and I thought Terengganu was boring... AVP2's worst

"Greetings :D" His drained fingers paced ever so dejected, upon the surface of the black board, what tired will that's left of him, forces a punch of 9 stone hard keys: 'G' 'R' 'E' 'E' 'T' 'I' 'N' 'G' 'S'.
And just as the body stumbles back - a-rest on his dull plastic chair - suddenly, like a gush of the eastern morning breeze, so suddenly, the pictures of what lousy predalien fight scenes began to swarm in - that awful jog he had after thus long... - the fact that dinner paid off just nice with only a cent left - and much further back, digging past layers of brain membranes, into the realm of memories: the lamp - fishing - the dinner - risk - christmas - parents - etc. And now, those selfsame fingers stretches a little, that somber colour that had once coated them undrapes as a luminous spread uncovers and sprawls, they were now placed above the black board, eager to punch tales of what happened since he last blogged.

Hola! :-D
The blog has been dead for a good 10 days now as I had to be back in Terengganu - Celebrating christmas / Keeping in touch with old friends / family bonding / extended family bonding / meeting LOBO (best dog the world's ever seen) / yada yada... Point is, I wasn't able to blog as I was cought up in an endless web of activities. And the fact that Terengganu has NO cinema, really didn't give me a point to blog at all. Back in my hometown, there were certain 'happening' events and things that I'v done that I would like to share with you, thing is... them pictures are not with me and I reckon it'd be best that I keep em stories till I have the pictures to share them with. Anyways anyhow, today, I shall talk.. yes.. literally TALK about a movie I saw this evening: Alien vs Predator, Requiem. Oya! I actually went to the gym today :D Since not a single soul back in K. Trg would allow my ears the mercy from words like "Omigoodness" "What happened to you?" "Banyak sihat yer..." or even more blatant ones: "You're fat! Hahaha" "Joel kai pui lo..." Going to the gym wasn't really a choice. Back to the movie, if there's anyone of you who's not seen the film yet, I BEG YOU, STAY AWAY FROM IT! AVP2 is by far the shittiest thing I've set my eyes on this entire year (so much for wanting to be the baby Jesus of the year, the movie's premiere on the 25th of December's is a HUGE disappointing christmas present). I honestly feel that it should not be rated any more than 0.5/10, and before I am judged as being excessively critical, allow me the benefit of a hefty explanation:

Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem
Directed by Brothers Strause
Genre: Action
Cast: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Ariel Gade, Johnny Lewis
Synopsis: Similar to its previous installment, AVP2's about Aliens and Predators that decided to use earth as their battleground -humans caught in between. Duh~

This is not even a review, I'm seriously gonna just 'talk' about it (forgive me if I'm rude, it can be most disheartening to have high expectations hammered constantly for a good 105 minutes). I've always been a big fan of the Alien and Predator movies, beggining from the first movie "Alien", which was directed by Ridley Scott, and of course the first "Predator" movie which stared Arnold Schwarzenegger, these early movies were rather prone of playing with the audiences' nerves - suspense was the main element in the films. However, as the franchise prolonged, most directors (except Cameroon) seemed to opt a different approach in terms of style to both the Alien and Predator movies. What happens is that you get movies like the first AVP, which was literally a box of beautifully choreographed fight scenes -and thats all. Still, the fight scenes were worth a watch, and the rather bizzare story line, still acceptable. AVP2 however, found itself caught in between - as the directors tried to maintain the original look to the movie, I felt that they had taken all the wrong concepts from the original. Take for instance Scott's "Alien", the creature was never really seen throughout the film until only the later part. Even so, the film had stunning close-ups of the alien (with lotsa of water drippin', I don't know why) which actually served to terrify both the players and the audiences. Half of the film actually places the audience along side the actors, as they don't know what was attacking them, putting them in shoes alike. As for AVP2, the story began with a blatant image declaration of both the Aliens and the Predators, well.. fine, so you want to opt a more agressive look to the film, more combats and fight scenes, go ahead, but just then when you thought you would expect pure action (since there's no longer a point for suspense), the directors suddenly bombard the screens with repetitious close-up of alien heads doing the same repetitious tongue sticking thing I thought was cool 'till this movie. Why the hell with the close-ups man? You happily introduced us the Predators space-craft and the baby aliens jumpin' on old folks faces, and then when the real Aliens appear, you suddenly decide to restrain all expected action, and show... only their faces. Thumbs up... wonderful~

I was bloody irritated by the fact that all the action scenes were super lousy, firstly because the lighting sucked (everything was dark and gloomy, yes, it would've been awesome if it was prone horror/thriller, but hello? action scenes! predators whacking aliens... and all in the dark? trying to actually see whats going on was already a problem, leave alone distinguishin aliens from predator), and the fact that most of the action scenes were either medium shots and close ups, barely long shots... GOSH! That aside, comparing the fight scenes to the first installment, once again, AVP2 is a flop as none of the fight scenes are original. Everything was more or less a remake of what (largely) AVP has done before or what the other alien or predator films had accomplished - not that the Strause made it any better, most disappointing. Especially the finale... the only way I could tell predator from predalien was the tail hanging on one of them back, that too, given that there was rather sufficient merficul shots that allowed me a clear look, most of them were just 'things' flying from one end of the screen to another.

Another problem I had with the movie was seriously their acting... I don't get how B-film quality acting was any near snatching the world's attention from Jesus. John Ortiz's performance in American Gangster was awesome, but in this movie: Buuu. I don't get it. I mean, com'n, just look at the Millitary mother's daughter, all she did was to merely shake as an indication that she was scared (in the gun store), her bulbous eyes and barely pale face..? Geez... "I want Dad to read it" "Remember how you've always missed mummy and you're afraid to tell her? Its okay to tell her." "Okay" "Erm Mr. Director, shall i recite the script again?" As for the others, I honestly did not feel convinced at all. Was it some audition shots they took and placed it in the film? One girl he loves so much, dug shit and all, saw her tits pass 'em bras at the pool, and when she died... all you saw was him yelling with a loaded gun, running towards the Predator. Huh?! Seriously, I don't buy it... It was a catastrophe.

Yet, one thing I'd love most to talk about... Is seriously the film's direction. Probably I lack the wits to grasp the film as a whole, but most parts really sent me "Huh?" I mean, woaw, Mr. Predator felt generous and decided to do some social work by cleaning up the dead bodies with his/her/its high tech blue goo, er.. why? Oh! Probably so that the humans will not be alarmed - not be aware of the existence of the predators and the aliens. Ok, ok, I got it. Just when I huddled comfortably with that conclusion, the Strause decides to hang a dead man on a tree, "skinned alive" so to speak, Huh?! And what happens next is, Mr. Predator decides to change his mind and be a good boy again, back to social service it is, he decides to evaporise an entire pool. *Claps* Or better still, the military mother that came home all dressed up like she was ready for Iraq, when escaped to the gun store with her daughter, instead of seeing her all tough and mighty, military style, probably teaching some of the people there how to use a gun, checking which guns are better, giving commands etc. the Strause decides to have her holding a towel and wiping her daughter's face - and thats all, Huh?! Then why bother introducing her as an army person? Oh! I get it, just so you can have someone to operate the chopper later in the film. *claps* In my opinion, the two directors should have spend more screening time on character development than those boring repetitious shots of baby alien jumping on peoples' faces, aliens coming out from stomachs, biggy aliens with their joy for giving tongue-jobs. I mean, showing all those just once or twice was enough eh? But the film had to go on and on with it, beginning in the woods, the sewer, then the kitchen, and then the pool, the hospital, THEY WERE ALL THE SAME. And what with that snippets of government talk: "This is not a democracy" "The government never lies" "The world is still not ready for this technology" Huh?! Down from the start till the end, the film floated in from nowhere, and floated out to nowhere, once again, round of applause to the Strause Brothers! *Claps*

e diel, 16 dhjetor 2007

Resettin' the BLOG =)

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, I bid you, Good Day! Indeed, I'm at the utmost ardor upon welcoming YOU, dear beloved readers, to this renewed, post-emo, blog of mine. :D My spirit doth sail on a sparkling spread, eager to inform you that this blog, from now on, shall be dedicated primarily for the appreciation of MOVIES. And occasionally, some of my writings or poetry, or even anything artistic I've or will do. Enough with what formal introductions, and without further hesitation, I present you today's article:

Last night, I was out with Joanna, my sister, for some brother and sister bonding time. Bonding was never so good as we decided to spend most of it sitting in the middle back of a cinema theater, eye feasting a Chinese epic movie: "Warlords" (a.k.a. Tau Ming Chong). Not that I'm being bias towards Chinese methods of directing, but since "Internal Affairs", there's barely any that appealed commendable enough to captivate my attention. Nonetheless, I succumbed to my sister's persistent wish, finding myself ironically fastened to my seat at almost every moment of the film.

The Warlods
Director: Peter Chan
Genre: Action
Cast: Jet Li
Andy Lau
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Synopsis: It's a heroic tale of three blood brothers and their struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on "The Assassination of Ma," a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story about the killing of general Ma Xinyi. source: imdb

After 160 minutes of intense fight scenes, Chan's dull yet gory mood of picture, intelligent composition of plot between the three main characters, considerable slow-downs of pace for audiences to reflect on the characters and beautifully crafted breathtaking key moments, this $40 million chinese epic is definitely worth a watch. I give it a 8.5/10 rating, partly for Jet Li's carefully choreographed fight scenes, the twist in plot, and the bombastic images of a humongous scale of production. However, what really intrigues me is how Peter Chan succesfully depicts the dynamic characters of the trio (Jet Li, Andy Lay and Takeshi Kaneshiro), leading the audiences alongside a strong blood brotherhood bond as the trio emerges victory throughout their various war campaigns and yet, at certain points, forces the audiences to penetrate pass the 'brotherhood' front, and to see the trio as individuals -human beings that share different standings and mindsets as well as values- here, tearing the audiences apart as they struggle to take sides. The arising conflicts eventually made way to the brotherhood's downfall, and the death of the trio. One of the main elements that impresses me the most is the performances of the trio; their acting commences such quality that it seizes even a split second of mind-slip.

I enjoy especially Chan's usage of close-ups to highlight the actors facial performance, it was fantastic. Never thought I Jet Li is actually capable of acting since his many hollywood flunks assured me he'd best retire as an actor and live off his remains as a fight scene choreographer. After this film, Li, I apologize. One of the shots I remember clearly of Li's acting is the part when he finds out that his lover was killed as he was wiping his face. Having the towel remaining on his face, Li wept painfully -what can be seen is only the somber movements of his fingers as they held the towel tightly to the face. Unlike conventional methods of depicting emotions (if he's gonna cry, give a close up of 'em teary eyes man!), I am very impressed by Chan's direction as I realized that by hiding Li's face behind a towel, the pain is felt even more. Throughout the entire film, death is everywhere, and everybody weeps -from the mother of fallen soldiers to the shedding of tears of victory, tears were plentiful in the film. Yet the most significant sorrow is the death of General Pang's most beloved woman, his inamorata, his life as Kaneshiro quoted in the beginning of the film as a voice over. How then would he portray the most significant tear? It was by not showing it, it was by hiding it behind a towel -and allowing the audiences to imagine it themselves. And that, to me, was brilliant.

As for Andy Lau, I particularly liked the moment he was in chains and when he was arrowed to death, these key moments couldn't have been any better if not for his acting that elevated them.Still, throughout the film... Andy Lau was really just being.. "Andy Lau". If you're a big fan of his acting, you'll leave the theater with a fat grin.

Lastly: Takeshi Kaneshiro. This dude seriously ain't just a pretty face. Despite given a few repeated lines (that if he had conducted poorly would have him as a retard rather than a warrior), and loads of shots in which he doesn't say a single thing, Kaneshiro's depiction of the character Zhang Wen-Xiang made him no less a good actor as the other two. Kaneshiro's asset, if I were to commend, would be his eyes -those big eyes that could he pose for male mascara would've earned him a fortune, he resided to using them as as a tool for manipulating the audiences emotions. Now no wonder he gets more close-ups than the others would! Still, to say that Kaneshiro's blooming performances is only limited to close-ups would not be exactly correct. Note the part when he encounters Er-Hu's dead body -and the fact that there's no close-up, but a semi long shot of his body movement going towards the dead body and then before reaching it, paces backwards. This one shot definitely reminds me of Fredo Corleone from the Godfather as he witnesses Don Corleone's dead body and dares not advance to it, rather, stays where he is in disbelief and cries. Kaneshiro's version, however, is so much better, cheers. Besides that, I recall also a close up shot of Kaneshiro repeating the lines "Big brother is right" -and the fact that I really loved the effect the shot gave to me (a hypnotic feel), but had a few audiences around me that took it otherwise and kept laughing out loud, sadly, I can't but deem them as people poor in wits and unworthy of the watch. All in all, the trio was a perfect combination of actors, once again, urging you, A MUST WATCH!

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Movie reviewing aside, I have here a written piece that I'd like to share. It was written as an essay for my University application. "Write a one-page profile of an original fictional character, whom you consider to be truly unique. Do not describe an acquaintance or take a character from an existing film, television program or book. Describe this person in terms of appearance, social background and psychological attitude. What makes this person interesting?" I must thank my beloved xiao for helping me with the grammars especially, I could not have written it if not for her.

"Je m'appelle Leon, Aimé Leon." his pouty lips spoke. Gazing with what mellow droopy eyes of his as his long fingers brushes through his brown curly hair – and then, so charmingly as by habit, his index finger gently cruises down his bulbous nose ever so lightly before it advances down to his chin, and there it rests – what a picture, like the picture of 'the thinker' – what charm! Everybody loves him, everybody loves Aimé Leon – especially when he attempts "Apa khabar? Nama saya Aimé Leon." in that French tongue of his, everybody adores him!

Aimé Leon, son of a renowned couple of tycoons and entrepreneurs – Papa and Mama Leon, flew from the love-laced streets of Paris to Malaysia's tropical grace at the tender age of 5, as his parents prey on opportunities of the tropical tourism industry. The 5-star chain Hotel La' Leon, branched in just about every high-end area in Malaysia, adorns each city with its majestic splendor. As Aimé aged into adolescence, and the fame of the Leons soared – him being the sole heir of Papa's empire, prospered in the eyes of everyone. Oh, the connections he had! The sons of rulers of the country, the daughters of men who can afford nations; every function has his name on the VIP list – the daughters and mothers fawned over his chiseled features, features so distinct from the locals. Mingling amongst the rich and the powerful – the superior inclusions, special invitations and lavish dinner parties – Aimé is significant and indispensable; through such reserved experiences, Aime grew mature.

However, although he is obscenely rich, Aimé Leon is not smug or proud like most of his peers. A philanthropist at heart, Aimé yearns to reach out beyond the gold-coated gates of the upper class, to the poverty stricken dwellings of the unfortunate. Being the natural leader – the Leo in his great circle of friends, Aimé's speeches broadened horizons and influenced minds. As with what natural charm he possessed, Aimé believed that he can utilize it to heal the world. In the light of this, Aimé started foundations for the poor, enthusiastically and in fervor. Aimé thinks... no, knows that he can bring his "do-good" philosophies to the far reaches of the Earth, to influence them all, to influence the whole world!

Ironically, what makes Aimé Leon interesting is not the suave gestures; or the big heart; or the big-time connections; or ambitious mindset. Rather, it is his utter obliviousness and childlike ignorance towards the veritable truth. The veritable truth: was it charm they saw in that bulbous nose? Or rather, the dollar bill imprinted on his forehead? - was it maturity he saw when attending the countless important functions? Or rather, the senseless spending of the rich alongside an image to uphold, never any meaning to it. - Did he see himself significant? But not note that he is probably just another rich-man's-son-figure to merely beautify the banquet? - What with the many foundations he recklessly erected? Did he not cringe at the many deficit bills the foundations ran under? Oh, Papa and Mama had shielded him from them, out of love! - And seriously, feed the poor? Aimé never lived a day without food! - And to influence the world? What world has he known of other than the one of his own?

The fascinating thing about Aimé Leon is that he reflects all of us – humans – as oft times, we think we are what we are not, and live through life oblivious of the veritable truth. More interestingly, is the thought this character poses to us: Will he, when eventually confronted by the harsh reality of truth, still remain as Aimé Leon?
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