Sunday, August 29, 2010

Linkin Park - The Catalyst (Official HD)

Amelie (Revised)


The last time I told someone about seeing Amelie and it is added on my list of favorite movies, one part I talked about was Audrey Tatou and how charming she was in the role. Then that someone asked me 'Is she better than Scarlett Johansson?'. Answer is maybe. But she looks like a French equivalent of Anne Hathaway who both had big eyes, lips and pale skin.

Anyway, I bought Amelie for my birthday that was part of a collection of arthouse and foreign films that was shown in an indie cinema called Dendy when these films couldn't be widely released. Last time I seen it was great. It was the first time I seen a foreign movie and I want to see it again and last night once i saw it, unlike every updated DVDs, it wasn't a dissappointment.

This is the story of Amelie Poulain who had a somewhat bizzare childhood. Her father thought that she had a heart ailment, so she never went to school and was lonely and begin playing with imaginary characters. Her mother died so young from a person commiting suicide in a Catholic Church. Time goes by and Amelie is waitress at The Two Windmills so when on the night Princess Diana had died, she found a box of children's toys in her flat, she decided to go find that person and later succeeded. She then decides to become a secret guardian angel for the people around her. She goes around making two people fall in love, playing practical jokes on bullies and.. helping her dad get tricked into thinking her gnome had gone travelling. Meanwhile, Amelie also help herself by making a person named Nino fall in love with her in a series of unconventional yet unique methods.

Amelie develops all of its characters from a hydrochondriac, a jealous lover, her detached father, a mentally challenged grocer to a neighbour with broken bones. These characters get a head start of who they are, thanks to a useful narration from the beginning. We get a lot of character depth

The cinematography is almost unique, the screenplay makes Amelie into this clever, optimistic and yet original but charming movie. It goes into several storylines between Amelie's relationships with her colleagues at The Two Windmills.

What Amelie nails is testing your patience. The storyline between Amelie and her love interest Nino is almost endlessly mind bending and could be inspired by that "follow the rabbit hole" from Alice In Wonderland that go in multiple paths of returning Nino's photo album and to make both Nino and herself fall in love.

I actually find the humour enjoyable. It blends in from dark to intelligent and I laughed a lot. A bit of the film is somewhat erotic, with Nino working at an adult shop, several sex scenes and Amelie... guessing how many people are having orgasms, playing out the generalisation of the French as a sexualised race.

Audrey Tatou proves to be a wonderful talent playing as Amelie who is pretty, charming and likeable as the title character. The rest of the cast are also well played.

Amelie is now considered as one of the greatest world films all time and it is. So chic, so French so Amelie

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review of Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut

Beware the bunny... Donnie Darko is almost a classic!

There are two kinds of people who seen the cult classic Donnie Darko: the ones who buy or rent the Director's Cut having an excited feeling of having to see extra bits of one of the most divided movies of all time. And then there are this people who known the movie for a guy dressed in a bunny suit and are curious of who's in it.

Donnie Darko is almost a movie that person would enjoy by the time he's in a rental store looking for something really good to watch. That person is me.

The year's 1988 and the month's October. Donnie Darko is played by Jake Gylenhall who is a mentally disturbed teen who constantly sleepwalks in some mysterious place meeting up with his imaginary friend Frank who is a guy dressed as a rabbit. If there was any point into meeting this guy its that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end.  From flooding the school to burning a house of a beloved person of his high school Darko intends to believe that and commit a series of crime that involves vandalism and pleasure for this teen as he obeys everything he says.

By the time I've reach the first moment of the film, I've realize that it's almost magnificent in its own. It seems like a generic psychological thriller and it isn't. The film blends in with teenage movies, science fiction, film noir and romance. So it's almost a mish-mash of genres.

IF you're thinking of watching Donnie Darko and after watching you thought the whole thing is surreal, think again. There are many ways of interpreting Donnie Darko and it is about the days of a disturbed person who's stuck in a conservative suburbia full of rich, snobby, religious people. The character is actually an intelligent prtson and yet people won't recognise it. His personality shows a lot of sections dealing with the deep blue angst of a person, waiting for something he really want. And director Richard Kelly thrives on bringing out these expansive ideas in the title character.

Almost every aspect is a head trip. When you enter Donnie's dreams, it's almost dark and trippy. It's almost informed by the cinematography that's almost excellent and robust, shot in a traditional style of camerawork. Even more incredible is the soundtrack that makes Massive Attack, INXS and Radiohead a hybrid that turns it into a highlight of the movie as well as the cover version of "Mad World" that is part of the highlight.

There are some quirky bits of dark humour that made me laugh like the first scene where everyone say the F word and Donnie telling his gym teacher to go shove his work up to her anus.

Donnie Darko brings in massive amounts of deep and emotional depths of the character not just in his mind and dreams that intends Darko of escapism but also around him that captivates multiple storylines and ideas and Jake Gylenhall is almost mesmerising. Gylenhall's performance is so unique its brings almost a nature of force and destruction to Darko.

The relationships with almost everyone surrounding him with his girlfriend played by Jenna Mallone, his family (his sister is played by Jake's real life sister Maggie) to his teacher (Drew Barrymore) and the motivational speaker (Patrick Swazye) are good. Everyone is good. The relationship between Donnie and Frank is almost simple. Frank's an imaginary character that manipulate Donnie into a sociopath. His appearance is almost the symbol of pessimism and death. Therefore all of the performances are bliss.

I don't how this was never widely released at the first place, but there was a conspiracy theory that the movie was limited released because of the 9/11 attacks which featured part of the plane crashing down killing everybody. But it was grateful that it was widely released in a director's cut.

Donnie Darko is a deep movie about angst and that will initially scare a living person and bends the person's mind. And it deservedly voted one of Australia's favourite movies 5 years ago and I got to say this. Bravo Darko. Bravo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stop creating foreign remakes

The first time (and only) I've seen a foreign film was Amelie because I was curious with the person's smiling face and how it turns out to be a huge movie classic in this century of films. Amelie became one of my favourite movies and this made me think non-English movies are better than the opposite films in the 2000s.

Don't take the smile away. Why do we have foreign remakes?
But this time there is a growing trend in Hollywood with foreign remakes. Movies originally made outside America and are really well made and shows great magnificance. I don't know why remake movies that are so great but remaking foreign movies for any kind of logic is like remaking classic movies like Godfather, Citizen Kane and Gone With The Wind or Breakfast with Tiffany because today's people never heard of these films.

One movie I like that was a foreign remake was The Departed which is not a surprise for many Hong Kong action fans where it is a remake of Infernal Affairs in which the film became a franchise for Hong Kong's cinema. The Departed, which is directed by Martin Scorcese and stars Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon was about two people on a cat and mouse chase. One of them is a cop, the other a criminal. It was crippling good and Scorcese deservedly won his first ever Best Director Oscar (which would have gone to him a long time ago with Goodfellas) as well as a Best Picture for 2007. It shows not only that it was the first foreign remake to win this presitigious award, but proves that foreign remakes actually work in Hollywood.

Foreign remakes are currently one of the main principles of Hollywood and with that principle filmmakers would think "OK. How about remaking a movie and we'll make some money". Movies that are foreign remakes and will come out include Let Me In, which is from Sweden's Let The Right One In and Death At A Funeral which was from England's original movie with the same name. Both seems really bad once you will get to see both of them unless you would actually enjoy one of them (possibly you would enjoy Let Me In because Death is turned into this African American comedy with no sense.)

It came to my notice when The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is about to begin filming where they did not sign up Scarlett Johansson (a sigh of relief comes up) for the main role. I mean seriously, it was a foreign movie, it was great, but why remake it? I don't know. Maybe the people making this movie would need bunches of profits. Or a need for money?

As foreign remakes tend to become more undemanding, more people who are so bankable auditioned for these kinds of movies, originality now's forgotton and it will force non Hollywood filmmakers to revive them. Try asking Wes Anderson or Sofia Coppola if you wish.

For example if you try to remake Amelie but in English mode, you would look for people like Anne Hathaway, who is one of my favourite actresses, because she looks similar to Audrey Tatou. It wouldn't be the same if Hathaway plays Amelie because no matter how she does, well or over the top, it's like if the character many French people would feel their hearts towards had an unwanted cosmetic surgery of the nose.  

The reasons why I begin to despise this trend and one more would make me hate it, is because it's not original and even though people get to be granted permission by the original filmmakers to "remake", it is just plagiarism and no one would know about it.

So when Casablanca was shown in colour mode, a historian made a quote comparing it to giving arms to the Venus De Milo. It's a masterpiece for god's sake, it's supposed to a pure movie. Can't we keep World Cinema as it is because what that kind is giving us how important film is in many countries whose official languages are not English.

Foreign remakes. Quite literally bullshit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World


The summer of 2010 hasn't been a great year for movies. If you're a smart person who loves his movies, you'll be smart enough to avoid summer movies like The Karate Kid, Grown Ups, The A-Team, Twilight: Eclipse which happens to be so overrated, and the list would go on. Sadly, the only movies available to watch which happens to be really awesome are Toy Story 3 and Inception. But here's a movie that will be part of the closing ceremony of Summer 2010: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Meet Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). He's a Canadian loser/slacker/wanker who lives with his gay roomate in a small storage area in Toronto and plays bass in a small band called Sex Bo-omb. Pilgrim's fallen in love with a 17 year old Chinese girl named Knives (Ellen Wong) until he finally sees the girl of his dreams (literally). A girl who dyes her hair every weekend named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and he does really stupid things to get with her. All that worked well, but in a bizzare situation and a plot that directly follows the plot of Kill Bill, Pilgrim must defeat her seven ex-boyfriends or in this case her Seven Evil Exes. He must do so in order for him and Ramona to continue dating or he'll get his ass kicked.

Scott Pilgrim is a mish-mash of genres. From comic book movie to teen movie to sci-fi to kung fu. The list goes on and on and it is a huge mash up. The last time I watched a mash up of genres was Kick Ass which was a teen/slasher/superhero flick. But like Kick Ass, Scott Pilgrim is unintendedly the most divided movie in here. If you're like  Richard Wilkins who is not a T-meter critic or like every conservative, they'll say it's messed up and is like a movie for a video game. If you're any critic against them, you'll say the same thing but explains the creativity of the movie.

Scott Pilgrim is niched for a teenage audience because it's almost a crazy, unconventional but yet visual experience to watch. You get massive onomatopoeia like "Wham", "Whoosh" and "Thonk" to make itself thinking that it's a comic book on a big screen. Most of the dialogue involves teenage issues and it's hilarious like how they bleeped profanity from the mouths of people.

It is almost an awesome thing to see that it is a video game even though it didn't came from a video game. There are many references from the music from Zelda to the way they start off the battle between Pilgrim and the ex, excellently choreographed with the Street Fighter/Tekken video games. One obvious reference is how one part of a scene is at least 8-bit. Besides with all that referencing, Scott Pigrim is basically a pop culture sandwich. Video games, TV all of them squished together to make that film. Didn't I mention there is a lot of product placement?

The plot unfortunately is so repetitive. It goes into this samesy pattern - Scott does something stupid, he faces an evil ex, Scott does something inappropriate, he faces another evil ex. However one highlight I actually was impressed was the music that makes the movie look real. Not the soundtrack but the score. Interestingly it is composed by Nigel Godrich who is producer and "sixth" member of one my favourite bands Radiohead and is really impressive.

Michael Cera is actually splendid as the title character who would go on to be the reluctant hero but part of his personality will be disliked by others. Much of his character is like the Tony Stark personality from Iron Man. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also pleasent as Ramona Flowers. Wasn't impressed with Ellen Wong though, she's so sweet at the beginning but then turned out creepy.

It's a shame that this movie lacks chemistry between Scott and Ramona. Comic book movies have a lot of action. I mean amazing. But when it comes to the characters filmmakers usually have that character part of their brain switched off. I mean there's something so good happening between the two characters (Scott and Ramona) and it's interrupted by a crazy-out-of-his-mind character coming to Scott and they have to fight, it lost much of the screentime for that storyline.

However the best performances in Scott Pilgrim is almost the supporting cast. Kieran Culkin who is Mackaulay Culkin's brother and plays Pilgrim's gay roomate steals every scene with Cera each time he sleeps or make out with a guy. Anna Kendrick who returns from the horrible Twilight: Eclipse steals her scenes as Pilgrim's disapproving sister. But she plays the same person as that sweet, politically correct yet bitchy girl she played in Up In The Air, which you might of course knew the movie that nominated her for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. But one person who steals every scene is Aubrey Plaza who, like Kendrick, plays an angry girl hating Pilgrim. I have to sit there thinking to myself: "Are teenage yet smart girls really so angry?"

Scott Pilgrim is almost epic, but it's not much that I would enjoy.

 Verdict: Scott Pilgrim wins this round!