Thursday, March 20, 2008

August Rush

august rush movie poster
First, before you guys say that this movie is a bit old for a cinema review (as the DVD is already out), well this is because the movie is only making its rounds here in Singapore now :)

The Plot
This Academy Award nominee is about a young boy who is in an orphan's home, and has not seen since his parents since birth. However, Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) seems to knows that his parents are alive somewhere and can connect with them by listening to the music around him.

There is flashback in between showing how his parents were connected, and are musicians themselves. It starts with the parents first meeting each other and knowing one another, before a turn of events see them being seperated, before the baby was born. And their child was given away without even the mum (Keri Russell) knowing about it - a move done by her dad - making her believe that the child died at birth.

august rush movie, Keri Russell,Johnathan Rhys Meyers
However, she has always imagined of her son and hence the flashback continues on nearer and nearer and finally seeing the present lives of all 3 - father (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), mother and son.

The son in the meantime is in his own journey - running from the orphanage's home into big busy and bustling city of New York. He face challenges of making new friends and then running away from them as they are to cheat his money, and finally ending up in a church where he gets to be schooled for music. His talent is so great that he has his very own concert!

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you are into dreams come true, this movie is a good fairytale story. This movie also has a good happy ending - a must for some movie goers.
Most of all, if you are into music, this movie will definitely touch your heart - from learning how to experience music, be inspired like the lil boy does, and simply get connected to it and through it.

The music scores are great as well (is also nominated in the Oscar Awards for Best Song).

Conclusion & Overall Rating
A good movie for a laidback time, especially on a stressful day. Besides it does have a feel good theme to it.

3.5 stars.

Secret Sunshine

secret sunshine poster

The Plot
This 2007 Korean movie is making its rounds in the arts circuit. Filmed & named after a place in Korea, Milyang, this movie sees a single mum life's journey.

After losing her husband, Shin-ae (Do-yeon Jeon) shifted to her former's husband's hometown with her son. She made good attempts at adopting to a new life and making new friends despite some were sceptical of her.

secret sunshine poster
However, one day, her son is kidnapped & killed. From there onwards, her life takes a dramatic turn and her emotions swing. She found Christianity to help her but eventually fall out from it.

Why Watch This Movie
If you are a Korean movie fan, or if you are an art fan. It will also appeal to those who want to know more on Korean's culture, especially of a smaller town compared of that to Seoul.

secret sunshine poster
It may also be worthwhile to watch the superb acting for Cannes Film Festival 2007's (Best Actress) - Do-yeon Jeon, which reminds a lot of Jodie Foster's movie roles. In fact all the actors here played their parts well, including Kang-ho Song (playing a bachelor who is in love with her) and her young playful son.

secret sunshine poster
However, it's 'hanging' ending despite a build up in the story may leave some very unhappy audience, even the ones who love art films.

Conclusion & Overall Rating
2.5 stars.

Secret Sunshine has won Best Film, Best Director (Lee Chang Dong) & Best Actress (Jeon Do Yeon) in the Hong Kong's 2nd Asian Film Awards.

Monday, March 17, 2008

10000 BC

10000 BC is an epic movie of prehistoric days. The director known for his use of visual effects (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), Roland Emmerich once again uses stunning visual effects in the movie.

The Plot
The film follows D'Leh (Steven Strait), a young mammoth hunter who is the son of a hunter that abandoned the village. He grows up rather lonely as his friends do not want to mix with him, except for Evolet (Camilla Belle). The village lives mainly through hunting, and no farming.

Hence when a mammoth herd was to come, the men hunters were to kill it for food & survival. D'Leh did this though his fight was a mere coincidence, as he couldn't let go from the net actually. Hence, although he was given recognition for his bravery, he declined it later.

Later, the village was ambushed and kidnapped many of his tribe mates and Evolet to be used as slaves. The journey then begins with D'Leh with the help of Tic Tic (Cliff Curtis) following the signs to save and rescue Evolet plus their tribe mates. He goes into a world beyond his, learning about the other tribes with different cultures and the big wide world - from jungle to the desserts.

In between he learns about his father and his role that is to not only save Evolet, but also to help all the other tribesmen who have been kidnapped as well by the make-believe gods, who were creating a huge pyramid.

Why Watch This Movie
For its stunning visual effects & cinematography. The top views at the mountains are stunning. And the visual make up of the pyramid is astounding and looks very real.

Even the scenes fighting the huge mammoths all seem very real.

Conclusion & Overall Rating
This movie has set high standards based on its publicity, but fall short on its rather simple & straight forward storyline. Still this is a good watch for movie buffs with time to spare.

2.5 stars

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Leap Years

Based on the novella by local Singaporean author, Catherine Lim, this is an English movie attempt by homegrown label, Mediacorp's movie arm - Raintree.

The Leap Years is about a hardworking studious girl, Li-Ann (the younger version played by Wong Li Lin; the elder lady by Joan Chen) whose birthday is on February 29. Being always teased by her friends, she finally fell in love with a stranger, Jeremy (Ananda Everingham) on one of her birthdays.

She is 'heartbroken' as the meet with Jeremy is only short as he had to fly home, and their next meet was 4 years next. This continues despite the fact that there are others interested in Li-Ann, and she even nearly got wed. However, her heart seems to have sealed with Jeremy.

At the same time the movie brings forward to the present on one day, which sees Li-Ann already married with Jeremy, and hoping for him to recover from the hospital.

Shot entirely in Singapore, and in the more hip areas, this movie showcase the modern & heritage part of the island-city (places like the Esplanade, central business district, CBD). Unlike most other Singapore films, this one clearly minus the HDB flats - giving the city the postcard views, just like what the tourism is promoting.

It does showcase a true part of the lifestyles of the middle-upper class Singporeans to one extend. The English used also sounds quite local - minus the slangs of 'lei' & 'lor' - the type of English you will hear when in business meetings. And Wong Li Lin has the looks to portray the typical career girl here - modern and successful. The only part that doesnt really reflect Singapore is the use of Cantonese in between, rather than the more popular Hokkien dialect. This is most likely done for 2 reasons - Cantonese is more marketable and secondly, to give the more 'atas'/ high class image.

This English movie attempt is worth the watch. And I was surprised the cinema was fully packed.

The only minus is that as the movie didn't managed to show how different the past & modern Singapore. Each 4 years still looked pretty similar, which is something not quite true in this fast changing city. And the movie does get a lil draggy at times as well.

Saying all these, this is one good step to more Singapore English movies to come, and hopefully like they say, will later bring them an acclaimed Oscar award.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

Set in the 16th century, this movie revolves around the marriage between kings to strengthen position and power. King Bharmal gave his daughter's hand, Princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) to Emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan).

However, this marriage was not as simple as it was because it was a marriage of 2 different cultures & religions - Jodhaa was a Hindu while Emperor Akbar was a Muslim. Her insistent of wanting to remain a Hindu was allowed by the Emperor, but with lots of learning, understanding and giving in by both parties - and that was part of the focus of the movie.

Beautiful videography and with one of the best music scores, this movie is Bollywood's answer to Hollywood's big epic movies, or even the Chinese epic movies. The story which shows that despite the conflicts & misunderstandings of 2 religions, there is much to gain when respect is given.

The music scores fits well in the movie. It still has the Bollywood style music and dances, though less than the usual Bollywood movies, and done at very appropriate moments. This will definitely go down well with the audience, and not to mention, the beautiful Aishwarya Rai with her beautiful captivating eyes.

Just see the posters and one can get the picture of this beautiful epic, where one will learn and appreciate both cultures, religions and amazing architecture.