Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gone, But Not Dead...

Although it is true that people leave this world everyday, the feeling of lost is not often felt. However, the same cannot be said about some fine individuals who had left us recently. Barely two months ago, the world of cinema was shocked by the death of the venerable Kung Fu star, David Carradine. A month after, the King of Pop exited the Stage of Life, and that caused a media frenzy. You may have heard of it.

More recently, on July 25th, another great name returned to meet her maker. FPBM! would like to take this opportunity to pay a little tribute to the very talented Yasmin Ahmad.

She first caught my attention with the romantic comedy, Sepet [2004]. Before then, I must confess, I would not even take a glance at a local movie. I did not realise until then that there are local movies not only watchable, but also enjoyable. She proved that there is no need for a million Ringgit budget or star-studded cast to make a great movie. All you need is a good story that people can relate to in one way or another. Almost single-handedly, she paved the way for me to explore other local productions aside from the polluted mainstream Malaysian cinema.

And then my interest to her body of work increased dramatically when I found out that she was the creative mind behind the countless of television commercials, often dubbed as "Petronas Commercials". These commercials and ads became a documentation of how lovable our country actually is. You get the feeling of warmth in your belly; glad and proud that you are part of what makes Malaysia so unique. The same kind of feeling you get from watching the films by the great Tan Sri P. Ramlee. Pure nostalgia.

Now, all of these sudden deaths may leave the impression that nowadays, people are dropping like flies. However, you have to put into perspective that people die everyday. What makes the death of these great names such a bereavement is that these are the people who made the most out of their lives. More importantly, however, how much they have touched the lives of others.

So to Yasmin Ahmad, I dare say you are gone too soon...


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince [2009]

Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Genre: Fantasy/Thriller
Points: *[Invalid]
Rating: Teen
Comment: "Just when you think the Harry Potter movies could not get any darker..."

FPBM! must say that David Yates has been the best Harry Potter director thus far. Honourable mention goes to The Prisoner of Azkaban director, Alfonso Cuaron who in our opinion, had set the mood for the following Harry Potter movies. Now, we are talking about the directors because fantasy movies is something of the delicate sort. In the wrong hands, what should be a good break from reality might come out as silly.

FPBM! confess that we are very biased when it comes to the Harry Potter franchise (and also Star Wars) hence why this review should be taken as a personal opinion (well, all the reviews here are FPBM!'s personal opinion). Having read the books since the age of fourteen, FPBM! feels like he has been growing up along with the cast of Harry Potter. The fuzzy warm feeling he gets as well as the kind of escapism he gets from the movies are difficult to put down into words.

Enough about that, here is the review.

The sixth installment picks up immediately where Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [2007] left off. Harry, along with the other main characters had been battling Voldemort and the Death Eaters in the Ministry of Magic's own headquarters. The battle may have been won, but the war is far from over. Now that the evil wizard is back on the loose, along with his influence reaching into the-once-impenetrable Hogwarts itself, just making it through a day is getting more physically and mentally demanding for our young heroes.

Needless to say, the movie is not as encompassing or as fulfilling as the book. But we need to stop drawing comparisons between the two entities. Personally, FPBM! thinks that the production team did a fair job in translating a six-hundred-page book into a-hundred-and-fifty-minute movie. Rather than trying to cram as much as they can into the movie, they had seemingly re-wrote the entire book for cinematic purposes - probably something they learned from the atrocity of Goblet of Fire [2005]. Now you get the chance to empathise with what the characters are going through in-between scenes.

Speaking of empathy, this is probably the only Harry Potter movie that could appeal to non-fans as well; provided that they are into movies exploring themes of teenage angst, puppy love, etc. Growing up on the set had definitely done wonders to the cast - everyone gives such memorable performances that it will be such a bereavement when it is all over.

Speaking of which, FPBM! wonders how are they going to end the movie series. It's no secret how the Harry Potter novels end, but FPBM! can't wait for the final two installments to see how are they going to end the movie franchise.

Points Calculation
*Unavailable due to FPBM!'s biasness towards the Harry Potter franchise

Friday, July 10, 2009

Public Enemies [2009]

Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard
Genre: Crime/Drama
Points: 50 out of 100
Rating: Teen
Comment: "What could have been a dry, tasteless movie is rescued by performances from the lead actors..."

Sometimes due having too much hype, or more significantly, too much expectation can really spoil the movie experience. Public Enemies is one such example. Michael Mann rarely disappoints, and the same can be said of Johnny Depp. However, FPBM! would have to say that this film is just as dry and tasteless as Michael Mann's previous film, Miami Vice [2006].

The film pretty much counts on the charisma of the two lead actors; Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard. However, since the production team opt to stick as close to facts as possible, combine that with the pace of the film, they had rendered the actors' talents to being underused. Especially Christian Bale who seems to be doing a really bad impression of George W. Bush.

Another weak point of the film is that it rely too much on the viewer's knowledge of the background of the film. Now, FPBM! is not saying that they should be spoon-feed us on whatever is going on in the film. But one can't really get what Public Enemies is trying to sell. Are they trying to make Dillinger into some kind of a modern-day Robin Hood? If that is so, it hardly shows on screen.

A good thing however, reliable sources confirmed that this movie remains faithful to history, and the story is told in such a way that you do not really feel like you are simply watching a stylish documentary.

As far as character interaction goes, the only one enjoyable are the scenes involving Johnny Depp and French actress Marion Cotillard. No offense to Christian Bale (who is a charismatic actor in his own right), but this movie could seriously do without him.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Johnny Depp, baby!

The Bad [-50]
- Slow pace

100 - 50 = 50 points
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