Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apokalips X [2014]

Director: Mamat Khalid
Writer: Mamat Khalid
Starring: Farid Kamil, Jehan Miskin, Iqram Dizly, Adam AF, Peter Davis, Pekin Ibrahim, Zoe Tan, Vasanth, Miera Leyana
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: General
Verdict: "In typical Mamat Khalid fashion, it felt like he made things up as he went along..."

So the world ends. Might have been a movie about people in this post-apocalyptic part of the world struggling for control. I'm not so sure. But, urmm... Farid Kamil was cool in it. So were Jehan Miskin and Zoe Tan.

What to Expect
1. Unsuccessful attempt at an ensemble cast
2. Some really cool ideas
3. A world that looks lived-in
4. But inadequate worldbuilding
5. Some memorable performances
6. Contrived romantic subplot
7. Bizarre uses of jump cuts

What NOT to Expect
1. Coherent narrative
2. A clear sense of plot and pace
3. Rhythm, rhyme or reason to anything
I've forgotten most of it by now

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why Do You Make Movies? (or Film Criticism 101 For Film-makers)

I don't know how it's like everywhere else because I can only speak from experience, but over here, a film fan apparently deserves to be slammed by film-makers for not liking a movie. Of course, this doesn't extend to every Malaysian film-maker out there, but there are quite a few who seem to think that way, and they can be pretty vocal about it too.

But I'm not here to point fingers. I'm just speaking generally. And also, I'd like to ask, "Why do you make movies?"

#1 For money?

If you do, no one can (or should) fault you for this. But if you do it for money and money alone, I gotta say there are easier (and less risky) ways to get rich. Showbiz is tough, often times due to bullshit reasons that I might have talked about a couple of times in the past, and I'm not a huge fan of repeating myself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Take Me To Dinner [2014]

Director: Gavin Yap
Writer: Gavin Yap
Starring: Patrick Teoh, Susan Lankester, Thor Kah Hoong, Ben Tan, U-En Ng, Michael Chen, Jia-Wei Loo, Chew Kin Wah
Genre: Drama
Rating: General
Verdict: "Will entertain regular patrons of KLPac, but the rest of us might find the incessant monologues taxing to sit through..."

Edward (Patrick Teoh) is an aging contract killer who decides that he has had enough of this life, and would like to leave the business for good. He strikes a friendship with a woman named Jennifer (Susan Lankester), with whom he tries to make a meaningful connection in the days leading up to his retirement dinner, where he will be retiring more than just his career.

What to Expect
1. Practically a play
2. Solid performance from Teoh and Lankester
3. A clever script, but-
4. Tons of monologues
5. Anglophile supporting characters

What NOT to Expect
1. Jason Bourne
If there's nothing better to see that day

Saturday, March 8, 2014

5 Coolest Movie Trailers (In Recent Memory)

You know, whenever we talk about movie trailers, there's always the question of whether or not we are overblowing their importance, especially here in Malaysia; where posters and trailers are - more often than not - just there to fulfill some sort of a requirement, as opposed to what they are: powerful marketing equipment.

You'd think that this only applies to films that are funded through questionable means. But half the time, even movies made with earnestness end up looking like nobody gives a crap about the end product. The former can't be helped since the people behind them are in it for the wrong reasons, but people in the latter are actually interested in show business and in the industry, so it pains me to see how they squander their resources sometimes.

It's not exactly a mystery to me how it keeps happening. I've made hypotheses in the past, and to sum it up here: we just don't have that many things to play with. Until changes or improvements are made within LPF and Finas; and the way our creative workforce gets treated; don't expect things to get better any time soon. If that sounds very bleak of me, I'll have you know that I believe change is coming.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Journey to the Top

By now, you most likely would have heard that Chiu Keng Guan's The Journey has earned the top spot as the most profitable local film in Malaysian history, and I could just imagine studio execs scratching their heads in unison and wondering out loud, "How?!"

In many ways, the film went against many - if not all - of the rules stated in the How to Make a Local Film playbook. For a film that cost in the neighbourhood of RM 3 to 4 million, you'd think they'd be tied down to oh-so many demands and stipulations set by the investors; maybe they still had to bow down to some, I don't know. But from an audience perspective, it didn't seem like the vision had been tampered with.

'cause if it had, the poster might have ended up looking like this;

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Aaron Eckhart On Working With the Late Heath Ledger

A few weeks back marked the sixth year in the passing of the gone-too-soon Heath Ledger. Not that I keep track of these things, but as the world mourns the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I was reminded of him as well. Nothing to do with drugs, but everything to do with how I'm gonna miss seeing them up on the big screen.

Here's a little something I saw a while back; The Dark Knight co-star Aaron Eckhart talking about his experience working with the late Heath Ledger, and if you aren't already aware of Ledger's dedication to his craft, this will elevate it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kami Histeria [2014]

Director: Shamyl Othman
Writer: Rafidah Abdullah
Starring: Sara Ali, Mila Jirin, Diana Danielle, Umie Omar, Nad Zainal, Nur Fazura, Izzue Islam, Afdlin Shauki
Genre: Comedy
Rating: General
Verdict: "If you're going to watch just one movie this coming month - local or international - make it Kami Histeria..."

The end of the semester break also marks the reemergence of Histeria, a rock band fronted by Laila (Diana Danielle), featuring Bad (Sara Ali), Peanut (Nad Zainal), Jojo (Umie Omar) and Airin (Mila Jirin). Due to financial reasons, the ladies move to a run-down flat in a secluded neighbourhood, where they achieve their greatest success as a band with the help of... something. But when it's time to pay the piper, will they be able to?

What to Expect
1. Ninety minutes of fun
2. Kickass soundtrack by LoQue
3. Crafty visuals
4. High production value
5. A refreshing take on horror tropes
6. Lovable characters & memorable performances

What NOT to Expect
1. Ghostbuster Imam or bomoh
2. For it all to be a dream
Best film to start off your 2014 with

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jonny Gossamer Thrillers: From the Film "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" [2005]

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005] is one of those films that kind of fell through the cracks, which is too bad because I had plenty of laughs watching it. It's pretty unique in the sense that it's a funny noir film, you should really check it out. But before that, a little background info on the film;

Written and directed by one of my heroes: Shane Black, probably best known here for having directed (and also co-written) Iron Man 3 [2013], but his screen credits goes as far back as 1987, mostly as screenwriter. Even if you've never heard of the guy, you have seen or at least heard about his other works - Lethal Weapon [1987], The Last Boy Scout [1991] and The Long Kiss Goodnight [1996].

You might also remember him from Predator [1987], an all-time favourite movie of mine...
What makes the film so special, as with any screenplays penned by Black, is his brand of humour. This blogger says it best, "One of the things I enjoy so much about Shane Black's screenplays is that his love of reading - especially his interest in mysteries and pulp paperbacks - always manages to cut through the gunfire, explosions and wall-to-wall wisecracks, and it's what ultimately makes his work so distinctive."

The look of the film is spectacular, especially the art direction; one of the things that keep me re-watching it. I won't even try to capture it in words, but I do want to feature one aspect of it, which is a series of fake Jonny Gossamer pulp novels that serves as an important piece of the plot. Like him, I too have a huge love for reading, and my first love had always been the arts.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Where Do We Go Now: From a Writer's Perspective (or, 5 More Ways to Improve Local Cinema)

Another year, another string of losses. I am, of course, talking about local films that saw release throughout 2013. I don't know, man. I mean, I talk a lot of smack about the quality of our films, but I don't revel in their failure. Not all of 'em, at least.

It doesn't seem like we'd be off to a good start for 2014 either, with movies like Rumah Sewa RM50 leading the way, which I'm sure will tank at the box-office. I mean, just look at it. Everything about it just screams of incompetence; the poster, the translation (might I suggest, "You wouldn't last a single night"?), the aspect ratio of that trailer on YouTube, and how I couldn't feel a damn thing watching it - granted, in part due to how desensitised I've become with horror flicks, especially local ones.

Going back to the subject at hand, 2013 wasn't altogether a bad year for local movies. There's KIL, for instance. Calling it a game-changer might be overstating it, but you can't deny it caused quite a ripple and got people talking about how much of a difference real talent can do to a movie. And it's good to see that it's being acknowledged for it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Dee", Our First Telemovie

I've written quite a few things for television over the past two years. I don't think I've ever talked extensively about them, not here at least. So what makes Dee so special? I guess with most of the stuff I've done in the past, they were in the neighbourhood of ghostwriting, where I helped other people bring their vision to life. This wasn't the case with Dee.

Click on image to enlarge
It's finally coming out in a day's time! I haven't seen the final product myself. I just hope they didn't Oh My English-ed it (i.e. go crazy with sound effects and cartoon noises), even if it is made for Astro Ceria. I don't think they did, though. But hey, I'm excited regardless. If you get the chance to catch it, do let me know what you think!
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