The World According to Ploy

July 25, 2010

Inception, or: Reality is what you believe in.

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 4:41 pm
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My seventh grade math teacher, Mr. Davis, once started class by talking about paradoxes. One of the ones he told us was that this world might be a dream, and when we sleep, we might be transported back to our ‘real’ lives. I’ve always thought it was a cool concept, and since that day, every time I dream, I enjoy it. I’ve had dreams about aliens, skydiving, and whatnot, and, well, I must admit that there’s a part of me that holds it in my heart that I ‘truly’ experienced it.

Anyways, so I was really excited about watching Inception. I’d already heard from my friends that the ending was a bit weird, and I’d accidentally spotted a spoiler on the ending, so I must admit it wasn’t actually a surprise. But this is not about the ending, now, is it. I’m not writing a review today, but rather, how to watch it.

(I won’t bother doing a synopsis. While it isn’t impossible, it is very difficult, to summarize Inception!)

There are many more dream layers in Inception than in a millefeuille, and if you don’t keep track of them well enough, you will definitely get lost. This is not a no-brainer, action-packed summer blockbuster…Inception is a movie that requires you to be concious (no pun intended) for 142 minutes. It doesn’t necessary need you to think and dissect everything right then and there, but it would be much helpful to keep track of what’s going on – and whose subconcious they are going into – because, trust me, once the credits roll, you’ll be wanting to discuss it.

Also, pay attention to the details in the movie, i.e. the ‘totems’ used by each character, the recurring flashbacks. They will all be useful in analyzing the movie.

You could search for many interpretations of Inception, but here’s mine. Out of respect, the text is in white, so if you want to see it, please highlight the following: There is actually a reality. Not all of it is a dream. Reailty occurs in the shinkansen train bound for Kyoto, Mombasa, and the plane. I interprety it this way because, otherwise it’d be too cruel for Cobb and the others – I just want the characters to succeed in their job and go back to their lives, and, most of all, I want Cobb to have his redemption. I think that in the end, the people who definitely ‘escaped’ are Eames, Ariadne, Arthurt, Fischer, and Yusuf. Whether Saito and Cobb escaped, I don’t know. On one hand I’m leaning towards Saito and Cobb remaining in coma – Saito never killing himself to get him out of limbo, and Cobb somehow sinking further past limbo and constructed a life with his children and his father; on the other hand, I’m leaning towards Cobb successfully pulling Saito out (further redeeming himself), and the spinning top at the end, which was wobbling, finally did topple over. But maybe that is the symbolism of that wobbling, spinning top, that you actually never know if it is a dream or a reality…but Cobb was happy and smiling in it, and he now had his children and was reconciled with his family. Maybe that is what he wants more than the ability to distinguish reality from a dream. Maybe, at the end, he has realized that reality is only what you believe in. [End of interpretation and spoilers]

If you want a refreshing, thought-provoking, philosophical movie, go watch Inception, you won’t regret it. It’s packed with enough action to kep you thrilled, and there are some light-hearted moments in the movie. But it is confusing, if you don’t keep track of it well enough. I have warned you, not it is your decision!

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December 25, 2009

Sherlock Holmes, or: Sherlock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 12:29 am

A movie review. It’s been a while.

Also, before we begin: MERRY CHRISTMAS. The clock has just struck twelve here in Thailand. I think if I stay up late enough I might see Santa walk through the door. Yes, the door, because in Thailand we have no need for chimneys. Plus, if he can ride a sleigh pulled by reindeers across the sky, then clearly, picking a lock is in his powers.

But Santa gave me a Christmas present already! Namely, Sherlock Holmes…the movie. Before we go on, I must confess that I’ve never read any of the Holmes novels nor watch the original movies or TV series. So I walked in his without any preconceptions of Sherlock Holmes. Well, I do, a little: dude’s a sleuth. Dude is endowed with unparalelled of deduction. He smokes a pipe and wears nice suit jackets. His sidekick is Watson, who narrates the books, who is portly and, in my mind, is like the Holmes’ version of Bruce Wayne’s Alfred.

I think you can probably tell already, but I have no attachment whatsoever to the ‘classic’ Holmes. When I saw the trailer for this Guy Ritchie directed remake/redirection, I actually jumped up and down with glee. It’s not traditional, perhaps ome fans of the original would even consider it a blasphemy, but for someone like me, it’s a great update.

The Sherlock Holmes in this movie behaves not like the stoic, logical, reclusive Holmes of tradition, but rather like the typical Guy Ritchie hero. He’s tough, he’s sarcstic, and he’s manipulative. He’s a maniac-genius (he tests guns in his bedroom), he drinks excessively (sometimes his recreational beverages include drinks ‘meant for eye surgery’), and he frequents the 1890’s equivalent of a fight club (where he systematically analyzes, down to the recovery period, of how to knock his opponent flat out.) Holmes, as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., is thoroughly the modern hero: he has the quirky charm of Jack Sparrow, the sarcastic wit of Tony Stark, and the battle skills of Batman. My advice is this: Go into this movie without any expectations, and you will enjoy it.

In addition, also change/erase your image of Watson. As most of you will know by now, Watson is portrayed by Jude Law, and ergo is neither portly nor clumsy nor just a sidekick. This incarnation of Watson is Holmes’ best friend, trusted ally, and an equal. It’s not a Batman-Robin relationship; they’re parters on equal ground. The chemistry between Mr. Downey Jr. and Mr. Law is amazing. And cute.

So erase all the things you’ve heard and go enjoy this. Also, keep in mind that this is a Guy Ritchie movie, ergo, you will see hand-to-hand fight scenes EVERY FIVE MINUTES. Sherlock Holmes is an action movie, not a crime thriller. It is ‘The Mentalist’-meets-‘Lock Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels’, not, well, the Sherlock Holmes of yore.

Rachel McAdams is a delight, too. Her role isn’t too large in this movie, though I think if there ever was a sequel (all my digits are crossed!) she’ll have a larger role to play. She plays Irene Adler, Holmes love interest/nemesis with so much confidence, yet at the same time she seems so vulnerable!

The rest of the cast member is well-casted and I don’t think anyone was one-dimensional. Oh, but except the villain. Which brings us to the only ‘meh’ aspect of Sherlock Holmes: the plot. The villains and their methods were readily predictable and, as stated above, aside from their antics, had uninteresting personalities.

I do hope there’s a sequel that comes out soon. Perhaps this movie wasn’t an A+ because it felt incomplete in terms of plot. But if you assume that there is something coming after, it’d be ok, because then this first installment would be just an introduction, Acts I & II, and as we all know, things get better in Acts III & IV. (And then everyone dies in Act V. At least in the Shakespeare that aren’t the comedies.)

I give this a….B+, because the conspiracy plot could’ve been more solid. But all in all…GO WATCH IT!

August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds, or: This Is How You Do It

Despite the fact that I went to watch Valkyrie and Inglourious Basterds in theaters, I do not like World War II movies. I don’t. What is the point of watching something when you know the end? Hitler dies in a bunker, it is a fact. So when a movie comes up about a group of brave souls plotting against him, I know it’s going to be a tragic drama, which is what Valkyrie turned out to be.

I didn’t like Valkyrie much. Not only did the plot not make sense (or actually, what they were plotting didn’t make much sense), but it was too melodramatic. The only reason I watched it was because at that time, there was nothing else in the theaters.

But for Inglourious Basterds, CC, Ginger, and I practically ran into the theaters. I must admit this was because of Brad Pitt – we are, after all, fangirls at heart.

To my surprise, the movie wasn’t Brad-centric at all. Despite having him on prominent display on the poster and his name, if I remember correctly, listed first, his role isn’t the most interesting. Sure, Brad Pitt’s Aldo “The Apache” Raine was funny, amusing in both his violence, hillbilly accent, and ridiculous attempt at posing as an Italian stuntman, but the stage goes to Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, the SS leader aka “Jew Hunter”

Waltz was, at once, funny, amusing, cruel, and crazy. Towards the ending, when he says, “That’s just bingo!” (before Aldo the Apache corrects him, “We just say bingo”), Landa was even cute.

My favorite character was Til Schweiger as Hugo Stiglitz, a former Nazi soldier turned the Basterds’ resident psycho killer. He’s quiet, sadistic…but in the tavern scene, we see that he also has a sense of humor.

At two and a half hours, yes, this is a long movie. The fact that it has more talk than action might make it seem even longer. Nevertheless, the dialogue, while not extremely snappy, is meaningful. Every word, every gesture, means something. To me, the dialogue felt like a fuse that was burning…but you didn’t know when the fuse was going to end and the bomb was going to explode.

It’s a war film without a frontline. It’s a war film without hundreds of soldiers in bunkers.

Inglourious Basterds, however, is what a war film should be.

You’d probably have heard this by now, so I’ll just say it: Hitler dies. Tarantino rewrites history completely, and since this is his film, he can. The fact that Hitler dies also makes me love this movie. I knew from the preview there’s going to be a great explosion scene…but I thought that maybe, perhaps, Hitler will have escaped, because he ‘needs’ to die in a bunker. But no…The theater is consumed by fire and two of the Basterds (played by Eli Roth and Omar Doom) are machine-gunning the scrambling Nazis to oblivion. It’s violent, verging on sadistic. But it is, somehow, exhilarating….not because of the screaming dying people…but because the fac that here’s one director who doesn’t give a damn about history and will do what he does.

Quentin Tarantino does it right. Inglourious Basterds is how you do it.

August 18, 2009

Push, or: More Like A Half-Hearted Poke

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 1:26 am

If I’d paid 140 baht to see this, I’d probably scream and shout and go all angsty. Fortunately, I rented Push for 20 baht (roughly 40 cents), and so I’m just going to mumble, grumble, and write a note. And truthfully, I didn’t even spend two hours on this. Well, technically it was on for two hours…but I paid attention for around seven minutes. You see, I turned it on while planning my (imaginary?) trip to Barcelona. I had my guidebook out and a notepad and I was furiously scribbling where to go and how long it’d take (by the way, according to my plan, it’d take 10 days, that’s 9 days for Barcelona and 1 for Montserrat.)

Oh, where were we?

Right. Push.

I…don’t know…I just don’t know. The acting was horrible. Camilla Belle can’t really act, and that Flame On! Guy Whose Name I Can’t Remember is also a mediocre actor. Dakota Fanning was, as usual, a great actress, but her lines were so horrible they overshadowed her talent. Djimon Honsou? I love the man but he got the same problem as Dakota Fanning.

There is A LOT to the plot, but that entire lot is rather predictable, so it’s actually safe to say there’s not much to the plot. You see, Camilla Belle plays Kira, is a psychic who can control peoples’ minds. She is the first survivor to a certain drug test by a division of the US government called, quite creatively, The Division. So Kira runs off (quite easily, considering this is a super secretive, state-of-the-art facility and all)…and somehow ends up in Hong Kong.

Ok, fine, I’ll buy Hong Kong. I do realize that China is a really big market and all of Hollywood wants to appeal to the Chinese. Why else would you make Tomb of the Dragon Emperor?

Ahh, but I digress.

In Hong Kong, Dakota Fanning is a 13-year-old girl “who looks at least fourteen” named Cassie. She barges in, literally, into Mr. Flame On!’s apartment (it says something here that I don’t even remember his character’s name.) Cassie’s mom is being held by the Division, and to free her mom Cassie must find Kira and this briefcase she apparently stole. She sees that she would need Flame On!, who has telekinetic powers, to help her. And that’s how we assemble our lead cast. And suffice to say it’s a happy ending for all.

Despite running for two hours, nothing goes on much. There’s not even a car chase scene. What kind of action movie doesn’t have a car chase scene? Look, I’m not particularly enamored of car chase scenes…but it’s like a contractual obligation. I go to watch an action movie…and I know there’s going to be a car chase scene…and I know I’m going to hate it. It’s that simple. Take out the car chase scene and that leaves me really, really confused.

I’d rather have some reaction than no reaction at all.

At one of those few random minutes that I actually looked up at the TV screen, I saw a Thai buddhist monk. And then I paid more attention and saw that the people on the screened looked very Thai….et voila …then there was a building with Thai writing on it and please do not tell me that Hong Kong has a Thai town because it does not.

Anyhoo, the hilarious thing was Mr. Flame On! (as you can see, I am too lazy to google up his name) was walking down that street and then turns into a Chinese restaurant. Yep, from Thailand back to Hong Kong that easily.

Hollywood thinks we’re all interchangeable. Hooray.

So there’s not much. There’s really not much that I can say. It’s not funny, it’s not touching, it doesn’t have a moral or a message (even Rise of  the Silver Surfer attempted to say something about the environment), it doesn’t have a good soundtrack. It doesn’t have anything.

It doesn’t even have proper special effects.

August 14, 2009

Preferred Alternate Endings to Twilight

1) It ends at the Preface. That is, it ends with the sentence “The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.” She dies!

2) It doesn’t even begin. Now that would solve a myriad of problems (mostly chronological and oftentimes grammatical), and save me from nights of headaches.

3) Edward agrees to bite Bella’s neck with the canines-that-must-not-be-named. But then he gets too drunk with her blood and accidentally overdrinks, and she dies.

4) The entire Clan Cullen dies, from Vampire Flu. Bella runs off in the sunset – or, if you prefer, moonrise – with Jacob Black. The last paragraph could be her (or rather, Stephanie Meyer) waxing poetic about how soft his chest hair- or fur, whatever – is.

5) Jacob is hungry and eats her. Because her blood is so delicious.

6) It turns out that Bella’s father is actually also a vampire. This would cause loads more family drama!

7) It turns out that Edward is NOT a vampire, but actually some other type of supernatural being with fan—- ahem, sharp teeth and a glittering chest who is masquerading as a vampire because he knows that girls find vampire sexy.

 

Ok, I have to stop. The more I think about Twilight, the more nauseous I become (this could perhaps have to do with my recent tea biscuits binge, but I’d rather blame Twilight.)

Do you have any alternate endings you want to add? I’m sure they’ll be better than the one currently in print.

June 29, 2009

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, or: Wow, Just….Wow.

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 11:23 pm

So I finally got to see Revenge of the Fallen. Armed with a large bucket of popcorn and an iced tea each, Ching and I braved the theaters of Paragon to go see what is possibly the most talked-about movie this summer, except for Harry Potter, but then again, Harry Potter is like it’s own category.

Anyways, Ching and I laughed at the first scene. Ching actually thought it was a commercial. I was screaming “10,000 BC!”, except that it was actually 17,000 BC. It looked alike though. And are there really tigers in the desert? Were there tigers in the year 17,000 BC. I am confused. (And for a moment just now, I had to google to check that Michael Bay did not direct 10,000 BC.)

So apparently our robotic aliens have been around since, well, a long, long time. The scene then switches, rather abruptly, in my opinion, to present-day Shanghai where Decepticons (I will never get over how ridiculous this sounds) are fighting with a special unit called NEST, a joint force between the US Army, led by Commander Lennox (my very own favorite Josh Duhamel) and the Autobots (I still roll my eyes everytime I say or type this name), led by Optimus Prime (cue eye-rolling right here too).

Then we get another scene. Sam Witwicky (Shia Lebouf) is leaving for college, and his family makes for a very comic scene. His mother is being overly emotion while his father is trying not to. One of Sam’s dog is humping another one of Sam’s dog. Hmm. Hah. And we get to see Megan Fox, in the roll of Mikaela, when Sam calls her. She is fixing a motorcycle, but her position is really just…it prompted me to think “Do people actually fix motorcycles in that pose? Really?”

But she was pretty. Really pretty. Super-hot pretty.

The movie did have a plot, of sorts. Sam discovers that the power of the All-Spark, some kind of Transformers holy-grail, has been transfered to him. Now the Decepticons want him for his knowledge, and added to the mix, the CIA also wants him. The plot isn’t bad, per se. I mean, plots like this are used all the time: your average guy gets hold of something everyone wants, said everyone hunts him down, average guys gets a totally hot girlfriend in the process, and at the end, average guy proves himself courageous and brave and smart and beats the bad guy, then rides off in the sunset. Or something of the sort.

There were no parts in this movie that shocked or appalled me. Actually, the scenes alternated between “Oh, right. Ok, I get it. Move on, please” to “Wow, just…wow. Are you serious?”

Since the former type of scenes are obviously not of interest to you (or me either, for that matter), I’ll just tell you about the latter. Actually, the following content is ABOUND WITH SPOILERS, so I suggest if you want to see the movie, go see it first and come back to read this. If you dont’ have plans to see Transformers 2 to begin with, read away!

Note: These “Wow, Just…Wow” moments, which are in no ways the same as the “Wow…just…wow” I reserve for those really hot pictures of Akanishi Jin. These “Wow, just wow” moments, are, as you will read in a few sentences, totally the other type.

1) How is it possible that no one notices these gigantic robot things!

Just a few minutes into the movie, Sam discovers a little piece of the All-Spark, which still has the power to spark life into electronic gadgets in his kitchen. Soon things get out of hand and Bumblebee, who is living in Sam’s garage, has to come out and blast the little things to oblivion. And then Sam yells, and I say YELLS, at B to go back inside the garage because people might notice, or something along those lines. But…like…seriously? How can neighbors not hear? How can there be a giganormous robot in someone’s front lawn and you can’t see? ‘Matter of national security’? Are you kidding me?

Then, in one scene, Optimus Prime has a talk with Sam at a cemetery. In the middle of the day. Why is there no one else there in the vincinity. Sure, a cemetery is not a public park…but what are the odds that there is no one else there? Actually, think about this: Mr. Prime is taller than your average tree, so technically, according to the Pythagorean theorem or something similar, should one not be able to see him from at the very least, a kilometer away?

2) Decepticons & Autobots can generate human tissue?

Alice (Isabel Lucas) is a Decepticon who takes the form of an uber-skinny, blonde-and-bronzed college co-ed. In her Decepticon form, she is a tiny robot whose general size isn’t that different from her human form. She probably uses projection to appear as human, that would make sense, right? But somehow, in her human form, she has human flesh…well, at least Sam didn’t seem to notice that her limbs were cold steel. I really, really don’t understand.

3) A robot heaven? You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Yep, ’nuff said on that front.

4) They were looking for “The Matrix of Leadership”

The fact that they were looking for said matrix wasn’t the funny part. The funny part was, clearly, “The Matrix of Leadership” I laughed so hard and so loud, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the lady next to me whacked me with her drink. Wow…just…wow…”The Matrix of Leadership”?!?!? THE MATRIX OF LEADERSHIP. THE MATRIX OF LEADERSHIP!?!?!!?!?

Would I see this movie again? Maybe once, because I actually like the animation. The tranformations from cars into robots was so smooth and just simply beautiful. But not twice, certainly not twice, because one can only take that much of reality-defying plotlines. And this comes from a person who likes The Mummy and Underworld. Yeah.

PS. By the way, did anyone else think that The Fallen (eye-roll) looked like Predator? Thank you very much.

May 30, 2009

Terminator Salvation, or: I Don’t Think You’d Like It…

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 7:21 pm

I didn’t like it, either.

Okay, so I’m not saying we have the same taste. I’d rather bet a good part of my fortune that we have totally different tastes. But really, it’s going to take a person with a very specific kind of taste to enjoy Terminator Salvation (which henceforth will be referred to as T4.)

I’m partial to bombs, wars, monochromatic color schemes (think Underworld and 300), and things sci-fi. And even I didn’t like T4. So if I didn’t like it, who’s going to like it? Die hard Terminator fans? Not really…I mean, this has nothing to do with the first 3 movies, at all, except for the character names. You don’t see anything get transported into the past, you don’t see Sarah Connor…although, and this may be a spoiler, you get to see Arnie. Or maybe it’s computer generated; I’m not sure. Well, most likely it’s not him, he’s too busy trying to fix California’s debt problems.

T4 starts with Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a prisoner on death row – we’re not told what exactly he did, but it did involve the death of two officers and Marcus’ own brother. He is approached by Helena Bonham Carter, in the role of a cancer-ridden scientist, Dr. Kogan, who asks him to donate his body (dead, of course,) for some kind of research. Now Marcus, sensible man that he is, realizes that he doesn’t have use of his body after they kill him, anyways (brilliance! really,) so he agrees. But he demands she kiss him in return. Dr. Kogan agrees, but then again, Marcus is hot, who wouldn’t. After he kisses her, however, he goes on to say, “So that’s how death tastes like.”

Ouch.

Then we are transported 15 years into the future. 2018, to be exact. And from there, the movie proceeds to be a total mess. It’s loud. It’s confusing. It’s like being in a battlefield, which, well, is the setting for much of the movie.

John Connor (Christian Bale) leads a faction of the Resistance that’s somewhere just outside of Los Angeles. He’s moody, brooding, and really, really hates terminators. In times of confusion, he’d listen to the tapes his mother recorded for him. There was a point in the movie where she advises, “Just follow your heart.” Look, that had NO RELEVANCE at all to the movie. John’s our hero, but he’s busy shouting and screaming and shooting all the time, and he never really has to make any decisions, much less one that includes his heart. I think they just included that sentence, because, well, all action movies seem to tell heroes to follow their heart. Cliched, non?

Shoot. Bomb. Run from Terminators. Blow them up. Get down. Roll in mud. Get up and shoot their heads off. Run. Shoot again. Out of bullets – oh no. Get caught and thrown at an iron beam. Pick yourself up – because in the T4 universe things such as broken bones and fractured spines do not exist. Someone throws you another gun. Shoot more machines.

This morning I actually debated between T4 and Angels & Demons. But I have this thing with seeing action movies on the big screen (just the thought of having to watch Watchmen on my TV makes me cry…) Plus, I don’t have much faith in Tom Hanks. Never had, really. I don’t usually trust men without cheekbones. Does that make me superficial? Hell yes, but it also makes me happy. So there.

But look, even Christian Bale’s cheekbones didn’t save this movie. I wanted to like his character, but John Connor was just angsty, too angsty. I found myself rooting for Marcus Wright (who I’m quite sure had even more screentime than John Connor)…but then he couldn’t save it either. It was just to much of a mess for two very good pairs of cheekbones to cut through.

You know, actually, at first I was going to say “I Don’t Think You’d Like It….But I sorta did.” I was ready to overlook its defiance of the laws of physics, biology, and even general healthcare and sanitation……..You know why I changed for “sorta-well-it’s-not-that-bad-I-could-live-with-it-it’s-not-such-a-big-waste-of-money” into “WOW I wouldn’t see this again if I could go back in time? You want to know why?

Two words: Sony Vaio.

The Resistance troops use some kind of touch-screen device to communicate to each other, and from the shape of it, you can tell it’s a Sony device. It’s shaped like a PSP, for the sake of christ. Then, just in case some people can’t recognize a PSP, in the one scene where John Connor breaks into Skynet, trying to free human hostages, he pulls out said device and plugs it into the lock. And they zoom in on the device. And it said SONY VAIO. And I promptly choked on my frappucino.

“Sony?” The lady sitting next to me echoed.

I wanted to turn to her and say “Do you feel my pain, too? Do you????” But I was still choking.

John Connor’s been running all over battlefields, ducking from enemyes, getting hurt and bloodied. He carries this thing around in his vest and surely it should be scratched and all. But the screen and the SONY VAIO looked brand-spanking-new. It was painful. It was the worse product placement I’ve seen in like, EVER.

To conclude. I don’t think you would like it. I don’t like it. Don’t see it. Or actually, go see it so I’ll have someone to diss-cuss it with. Cuz I saw this alone. No one else I knew wanted to see it. And I think they were right. But I need to share this pain. OH, this pain.

May 27, 2009

Frozen Flower, or: On Sex in Motion (Pictures)

Filed under: Movie Reviews,Uncategorized — by Ploy @ 10:12 pm

During lunch this Monday, my good friends B, G, and KK brought up the topic of “Frozen Flower,” a Korean movie (South, of course. If the North ever made a movie, it would be called “Hail Our Great Leader And His Wonderful Haircut”.) From their description of it, I was intrigued. Well, who wouldn’t be with a summary that included the words “nudity”, “explicit sex”, “boobs”, and “gay men”?

So yesterday night, after having watched numerous performances of ‘Gee’ and concluding that at least 2 out of the 9 girls in Girls’ Generation can actually sing (because honestly, I’ve never had much faith in Korean girl groups ever since S.E.S. broke up,) I was in the mood for more Korean-y stuff. Then “Frozen Flower” popped into my head. So, thinking “Here goes,” I searched for it and launched myself right into the 3rd clip. Because I suspect the first twenty minutes would’ve been just talk, talk, talk…and I wanted the action.

And wow. I got action. (That’s in italics, mind you. Anything in italics is, as a rule, special.)

The king and his bodyguard were in action. I have nothing against the idea of that. Directly nicely, acted out convincingly, it could have and quite possibly would have been a good scene. But it wasn’t. They looked like they were trying to take a bite of each other’s neck. In a rabid way. Not in a sexy way. It looked forced. Later, I scrolled down to the comments and someone wrote “They should’ve gotten the actors drunk first,” or something in that vein, and I agreed. I actually laughed.

But onwards I continued, because later, said bodyguard gets into action with the queen. It’s a love story of two men and one women, set against a political backdrop; but unlike your typical story, here the two men are in love and the women comes between them. The conflict that runs parallel to this is that the more powerful neighboring kingdom (where the queen is from) demands that they produce an heir, or it will forcibly install a crown prince. The king realizes that in that scenario, he’ll just be a figurehead. He needs an heir. But he can’t bring himself to sleep with a woman.

So he orders his bodyguard to sleep with his queen (and that’s where we were before I went on tangential-flashbacky on you.) The first time the bodyguard tries to sleep with her, it was a rather touching scene. The king comes to see her in the bedroom, gives her a kiss (which is probably the most intimacy – physical or emotional – that he’ll ever show her) and leaves to call the bodyguard in. The bodyguard enters, looking awkward and troubled, but attempts to do his task. The queen just lies still, but then tears start to fall. And he realizes he can’t do it.

The expressions on their faces…I actually felt a pain for the three of them in that scene. She looked resigned and so hopeless. Bodyguard looked like he would rather just disappear, not because she was repulsive, but because he’d slept with her husband and now he’d had to sleep with her. And the king, who I’d hated up until that point for being such an unemotional prick, I actually felt sympathy; he kissed his wife, showing her at least a modicum of kindness. He couldn’t have been that pricky, then.

But things took a turn on the second night. In the first night, the queen had her nightgown on. In the second, she took it off, which threw me off: Why agree all of the sudden? Maybe she realized the dire consequences if this didn’t happen. but still, wasn’t it too easy? Ok, whatever. I continued watching. Things got graphic. To me it was pointlessly graphic. Good news was..in the second night, mission was completed. But then somehow, queen and bodyguard fell in love…and they went at it every night, it seemed. Like, it seemed like an entire eternity went by with them going at it like Leporids…in all positions. Fine. You love each other. You lust after each other. You are passionate for each other, even though you know you’re doomed. Fine. I get it. Would you stop now? Please?

Alas, it went on.

At which point I found B on MSN and typed “NIGHTMARE…NIGHTMARE!!”

The nightmare wasn’t the sex itself. It’s the pointlessness of the sex. In the case of Frozen Flower, I felt like I was watching a sex tape/porn. Why include so much sex? Why show so much skin? WHAT IS YOUR POINT, DIRECTOR? Your leading actors have great abs. I can see. I drooled, all right? Your female lead is petite and cute, and yes she does have a great body, not to mention I covet her skin. But Jesus…WHAT IS YOUR PLOT? STAR-CROSSED LOVERS? Shakespeare wrote one hundreds of years back and no one needed to see Romeo getting it on with Juliet to cry at the end.

Sex with a point is good. (I did not mean to suggests anything. You shouldn’t even be thinking that I am suggesting anything. I would like to keep my blog PG-13, thank you very much.)

You see, in 300 there was this sex scene between Gorgo and Leonidas, and I thought that it was beautiful. And this may sound weird, but to me, it was choreographed well. You could actually sense that those two people loved each other. And there was one scene in the entire movie, but you realize the ties that bind these two people, which made the end even sadder. If you haven’t watched 300, go watch it. And if you have, then go watch a scene from Frozen Flower. And then…well, compare.

Excessive sex is boring, it becomes pointless. It doesn’t add anything to the storyline. When a movie has ‘excessive sex’, it essentially crosses over into porn category. Honestly, this felt like porn with a historical twist. Minus points also to the fact that the sex seemed forced. Seriously, booze would’ve helped, not just the king-bodyguard couple, but also the bodyguard-queen couple. And if in the story, the king had gotten himself drunk enough to sleep with his wife…maybe no one would’ve had to die in the end. *Sighs* But then we wouldn’t have had a movie.

On the bright side, the scenery and costumes were pretty, so kudos for that. The lady who played the queen was a pretty good actress; her face could possibly convey a thousand emotions, so she gets props. But then the props get taken away because I got so sick of seeing her breasts.

Oh, well. Next target: Terminator 4!

May 23, 2009

Star Trek, or: Their Phasers Are Set To Stun

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 11:22 pm

Have you ever watched “Lady in the Water”?

A few years back, while we were at the DVD rental place, my sister added “Lady” to the stack that I was holding. “Isn’t this supposedly horrible and you absolutely hate it?” I asked with a puzzled frown.

My sister nodded. “Precisely, which is why you need to see it.”

At that moment, I thought of the events that had occurred recently, but none of them seemed to involve me in any kind of dispute with my sister. The motive of revenge discounted, I put the DVD back on the shelf. “You’re kidding, right?”

She puts it back in my hands again. “No. You need to see it, because it’s so bad. You have to watch it so you’ll know what a bad movie is”

And so we went home with “Lady,” and my sister saw it that I was sitting in front of the TV and turned the movie on. I couldn’t move; if I tried, she’d immediately wail that I wasn’t paying attention and that I should.

I cried throughout the whole thing. Well, almost. The tears of boredom never physically manifested, but really, I could feel my heart wrenching.

It was horrible. And halfway through the movie, I realized why. It wasn’t only the plot (though that does take half the blame, I guess), nor exactly the casting (cast yourself in a movie? Jesu Christi!) but rather…the lack of music. Yes, there was a period of around 30 minutes or so in “Lady” that there was complete silence and characters moving around. If you should ever want to try torturing anyone, seriously, chaining them to a chair and forcing them to watch “Lady in the Water” should be a viable option.

But this is not about “Lady,” this is about “Star Trek,” which has gone into my book as the best movie I’ve seen so far in 2009, and most likely probably will be the best movie I ever see this year.*

My friend Ginger (who ‘guest-stars’ here quite often) and I rushed into the theater just as our evil villain Nero (played by Eric Bana! I didn’t know this until I looked it up in Wiki a while ago) was attacking the USS Kelvin. Acting-Captain George Kirk (i.e. Kirk Sr.) stays behind to attack Nero’s ship while everyone else gets on their pods and escapes the melee. Everyone here also includes his pregnant wife. They communicate via an intercom of sorts as she goes into labor and he is attacking Nero’s ship. The baby is born and named just seconds before his father kamikazes the Kelvin into the enemy ship. It was probably the most touching scene in the movie.

And do you know why?

Because it had a score.

Star Trek’s been getting commendations for the casting, the script, and the sequences…but really, the score should get some credit, too. As an action movie, it does get pretty loud, but mostly, the blasts and bombs play to a background score that makes the scene seem grand rather than just pure guns. Or laser beams. Whichever. There, do you understand why I mentioned “Lady in the Water” now? If not, here’s a whack on the head: THE SCORE MAKES UP HALF THE MOVIE. One doesn’t realize that until it’s gone. Ever since “Lady”, I’ve learned to realize the importance of background music…and oh hell, “Star Trek” has really, really good music.

On to the cast. When I first saw the poster, I was apprehensive because well, Chris Pine? The last time I saw Chris Pine was in “Just My Luck”, and while he was rather cute in “Just My Luck”, well, would he make a good Kirk?  

You know what? He made a SUPER EXCEPTIONAL, RIDICULOUSLY CHARMING, SLIGHTLY REBELLIOUS AND EXTREMELY ENTERTAINING KIRK. (Ahh, the English language, one wishes you would contain more capital letters so I can really express how happy I am.)

James T. Kirk, as played by Chris Pine, reminded me of all my favorite movie heroes. He’s flirty and charming, like Rick O’Connell. He has witty quips and sarcastic remarks, like Tony Stark. And his facial expressions are hilarious, like Jack Sparrow’s.

And then there was Zachary Quinto’s Spock, who seemed to be more angsty than the original, more emotional yet also still adorably, stubbornly logical. The other cast members are strong, too: Simon Pegg (“Shawn of the Dead” & “Hot Fuzz”!), John Cho (oh, Harold, sweet Harold), Anton Yeltchin (I’ve never heard of him before, but his “…victor, victor two…” line will endear him to me possibly forever), Karl Urban (whom I remember more as from “LOTR” than from “Pathfinder”), and Zoe Saldana (she appeared briefly in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean”)…there’s more. And they’re all perfect.

I won’t say much about the plot. One, because of course, that would be a spoiler, and two, well, when you come down to it, there is actually not much in terms of a plot. Bad guys want to destroy earth. Good guys therefore must defeat bad guys. Yes, it does lack philosophy or important issues or whatever you want to call it…but the point here is how they present the story. It’s pure fun, a summer blockbuster movie in every way.

So walk into the theater and enjoy the ride. You will be stunned.

 

*When I say “best,” please note that I am partial to all things sci-fi and/or fantastical. I’ve said a quite a few times that I love costume drama, right? But more than that, much, much more, I love adventure. I love science fiction and fantasy. I love mummies and spaceships and swordfights and laser beams and monsters, and so on and so forth. Viva Geekdom!

May 20, 2009

The Duchess, or: Trapped

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 1:08 am

The Duchess is one of those movies that I wanted to see and didn’t want to see at the same time. I hate anything stressful, but then again, I love anything with period costumes. And then the costume-loving part finally won the internal conflict and voila, I found myself renting it from the store, and finally forced myself to watch it on the final day (note to self: must return tomorrow, oodles of overdue DVDs debt is not beneficial, as you know)

The costumes are pretty. Keira Knightley is pretty, she has that regal bearing, and she’s very convincing as Georgiana, our eponymous character. The movie opens with her as a young, vibrant girl, happy and all smiles. When she learns of her marriage to the duke of Devonshire, she’s even excited and happy. Any 17-year-old girl thinking that 1) the man they’re going to marry is in love with them and 2) they’re going to be a duchess would be happy, right?

The first tragedy, however, strikes on her wedding night. I almost cried in that scene. It was utterly depressing. You could see it on Georgiana/Knightley’s face…at first she seemed nervous, and then it was just painful. I wished I could’ve jumped into the screen and bashed Ralph Fienne’s head with a baseball bat (on a tangent: I bought a baseball bat a while ago at Jatujak. So yes, my threats are quite real. Somewhat. While I have the tool, I’m still hindered by the fact that I exist in the nonfiction world. We’ll overcome that some day, somehow.)

Ralph Fiennes/the Duke, is a bloody bastard. Maybe not in bloodlines, he’s too pompous an arse for that, but really, his behavior is atrocious. He’s cold blooded and unfeeling. His lack of interests in political matters also paints him as having less intelligence than a pot of petunias.

Well, he may not be that stupid, however. As the movie progresses, you do realize that the duke manipulates people quite well. He is, apparently, “the most powerful peer in the land,” and he knows it. He’s also a husband, which gives him all the power, and the wife none at all. The more I watch it (I’m using the present tense because the last 15 minutes is still playing right now) the more depressed I get. It’s unfair to Georgiana. It’s unfair to her lover. And even though Georgiana’s best friend, Bess, betrays her, I sort of have an idea of why it happens. Read: the damned duke.

This is an unhappy movie. I don’t recall any moment of comedic relief in it. At all. AT ALL. It is sad and depressing and while it won’t give me nightmares, I don’t think I’ll have good dreams tonight.

(I wish I could’ve watched, instead, The Mummy for the 1283249025th time. I’d really love to dream that I’m shooting some 3000-years-old corpses to oblivion. )

It’s almost ending right now. The duke has just walked over to the window to see his children playing, and said, “How wonderful to be that free?”

He turns to look at his wife, who gives him what isn’t exactly a sad smile, but more like a resigned look, as if she’s always, always wondered the same thing, and when she finally had it in her grasp, he took it away from her.

Would I recommend you watch this? Yes and no. Yes if, and only if, you’re a sucker for costume drama like me. In addition to the costumes, the setting and the scenery is beautiful. There’s also the use of light and color, which makes the film aesthetically pleasing. The reason I wouldn’t recommend this to you is because of the plot, or rather, the lack of one. When it comes down to it, The Duchess is just two hours about a woman who lives in a society that is confining in terms of its rules, laws, and also clothes. I wished they could’ve added in more about Georgiana’s political campaigning (there was a brief glimpse of that during the beginning of the movie); maybe perhaps I could’ve felt admiration for her…but as it is, the only thing I feel is sadness.

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