Author Topic: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?  (Read 265862 times)

Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1185 on: July 12, 2019, 09:54 »


Crawl was just what I needed after a week of classes that just drained me out.

This is a genre film; it’s not rocket science. Nobody involved in this thinks they will be up for the Oscars, but that said this is surprisingly very decent.

The story is simple: A young woman (Kaya Scodelario), while attempting to save her father (Barry Pepper) during a Category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

For me, this is a straight-up survival film and I likened it to the problem-solving genre. There are some awesomely executed jump-scares that lifted me off my seat and many near-death close calls. There are also some gory deaths that put a smile on my face... yes, yes, I need to see a psychiatrist. The two characters are economically fleshed out within 10min, just enough to make you root for them. It is not without some false notes, like these two characters don’t bleed to death after being bitten by gators and even sent on a death roll. But I loved it, fricking loved it to bits. After a gruelling week, this is the adrenaline rush I needed. Super fun! And I can’t wait to watch it again at home... the sound mix is incredible!

You know... I always read these FB posts on Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Father-Daughter, Mother-Son (did I get all the permutations?) bonding over trips and food. Let me tell you... nothing beats the Father-Daughter bonding here! All their maligned history ironed out in a jiffy and their love and commitment to each other underscored in bold; all because of near-death situations.

Ultimately, I learnt one important lesson: don’t live next to an crocodile farm.

3.5/5



This is something easy and stress-free to veg out to on a weekend with a loved one.

It’s a rom-com and it manages to hit the right balance between the “rom” and the “com”. That’s not easy in this genre. Always Be My Maybe hits a home run because the affable chemistry of Ali Wong and Randall Park, and they wrote the script too.

The story is about a pair of childhood friends who end up falling for each other when they grow up, and of course in the game of true love nothing is and should be easy.

It doesn’t break new grounds in the genre, but there are enough cool flourishes to keep it zippy and fresh. That’s thanks to the featured delectable food (some pretentious ones) and a super-duper uber cool character who plays himself. I give you a clue - he is someone you call if you want to kill the bogeyman. We fricking laughed ourselves to a tummyache at the scenes that featured him. Another cool aspect that subverts my expectations is the original songs written and performed; one of which is “I Punched Keanu Reeves”, I kid you not and it is fricking hilarious.

This is a bubbly dish with cool grooves and it’s pure comfort food.

3.5/5

Others we have seen include Instant Family, Second Act, The Mustang, Thinner. On the TV series front we finally finished This is Us S3 and it was a terrible misfire and we won’t be following this anymore. Now we are into Little Big Lies S2.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 10:05 by westendboy »
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Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1186 on: July 23, 2019, 13:58 »


We tried a Lin Dai classic tonight, The Blue and the Black, Part 1 (1966).

This was released a few months after Lin Dai’s suicide and it’s going to be hard for us to watch Part 2 where they used a different actress. In fact, the final shot that featured Lin Dai wasn’t her and the director shot the back view of another actress.

蓝与黑 was Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind, set during the tumultuous times of World War II. But it could have fooled me - the only times I see the presence of Japanese are the front and the back. Everything in the middle is about stifling and crippling family traditions that forbid the star-crossed lovers from coming together.

This is impossible to watch with modern eyes because it will become a comedy of human behaviour. The man is so sad that he can’t be with his love that he weeps and punches the pillow, not once but twice. The girl is so idealistic and lovely that all the men in her presence become either incompetent or scumbags. With modern eyes, you will no doubt feel the piercing stab of sexism.

Thank goodness we could see this with “old” eyes. Watching this is like taking a time machine to a time when saying how you feel must be done through metaphors.

I just love the characters’ names like 醒亚 and 唐琪. I only know 小华 and 小英 😊. And Lin Dai is a classy dame. There is so much poise about her and she oozes sex appeal, yet there is something tender about her. I watched her scenes with a pit in my stomach, knowing she committed suicide before the movie was completed. Thankfully, all her scenes are intact except the final shot, but I guess one can see that last back view shot of another actress playing her role as a metaphor. (3.5/5)



We enjoyed Gloria Bell so much. Julianne Moore is phenomenal, this is her showcase all the way to the final celebratory frame.

The story is simple: A free-spirited woman in her 50s seeks out love at L.A. dance clubs. Okay, I took that from IMDb because I am lazy, but it’s way more than that. It feels like a rumination on loneliness in the 21st century and a character study of a woman whose best years are seemingly behind her.

This is one of those rare movies that I hope never ends. Even if it is just showing us her everyday life, it is engrossing and nuanced, full of little treasures. (4/5)



Murder Mystery is about a murder mystery aka Agatha Christie style with an ensemble cast where everyone has a motive. I find it entertaining without it pushing any envelope. It’s hilarious and self-awared of the genre tropes, but not cool enough to cross into the wow-this-is-so-clever parody territory. The characters are colourful without much of an ounce of authenticity to them and the twists and turns felt tacky. But what ultimately sold the movie was the effervescent chemistry between Sandler and Anniston. That is a match made in heaven.



Another croc movie. The Pool predates Crawl and it’s by the Thais. This one is fricking insane - one man, his girlfriend, one dog, a sofa, a crocodile; all these in a 6-metre deep pool with no ladder and no way out.

If you can look past the questionable CGI and some contrived moments, this is minimalist genre filmmaking at its best. This one has more twists and turns and tick tock close shaves than the average Hollywood movie. My wife and I were like screaming away at all the close calls. The movie never once forgets how to entertain the hell out of you. (3/5)



We did a double-bill the other day.

The first one lived up to its long title - Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. It’s the story of Ted Bundy, the serial rapist-killer. If ever there’s a movie to tell you that evil lurks anywhere and anytime, it’s this one. I enjoyed watching how the narrative trek unfolds and how it doesn’t humanise Bundy. It essentially begins by telling the story from Liz Kendall’s point of view; very well acted by Lily Collins. She was the girlfriend of Bundy. The approach was fresh and I particularly like how the movie never sensationalised the gruesome killings. Just by using voice narrations of the murders easily sent chills down my spine because my brain was connecting the dots. But I did find it odd that midway in the film, the POV shifted to Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy. It did sway back to Liz’s POV in the last act. I must say Efron gave quite a career-defining performance. The guy is one wicked killer behind a killer smile. That’s his greatest weapon and his utter lack of remorse will put a chill in your heart. (3.5/5)

Then it’s the Japanese remake of Gideon Ko’s supermassive hit, You Are the Apple of My Eye. You know how people always say casting is everything. Choo and I found it so hard to be totally engaged with the movie. My wife hated the guy’s curly hair and eyeliner-ed eyes. Me, I couldn’t stand the actress. She can emote almost like the floor of my living room. Plus, the story is exactly the same, likewise with all the major plot-points of the original. The Taiwanese original manages to hit the bullseye depicting the precocious nature of teenage romance, nostalgia and all the horny feelings that come with it. This Japanese remake is a pale shadow of the original. But still our goosebumps rose up and a hitch built up in our chests at the last wedding scene. The movie is a good reminder that first love don’t always work, but with its demise comes a maturity. Who marries their first love anyway? I doubt there are many. (2/5)

Others we have seen include The Barbarian Invasions, Alita:Battle Angel and Punch-Drunk Love and Miss Bala.
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Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1187 on: August 08, 2019, 15:14 »


Five Feet Apart is another teenage critical disease of the week weepie in the vein of The Fault in Our Stars. It is mawkish and rides the tropes like a rodeo king, and it doesn’t reach the heights of TFiOS, but I am giving it a free pass because the leads deal with all the emotional trappings with gusto and most importantly it serves as a good reminder that all of us should count our blessings.

Seventeen-year-old Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) spends most of her time in the hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Her life is full of routines, boundaries and self-control all of which get put to the test when she meets Will (Cole Sprouse), an impossibly charming teen who has the same illness. There's an instant flirtation, through restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them. As their connection intensifies, so does the temptation to throw the rules out the window and embrace that attraction.

What is the first thing you want to do when you fall in love? I am giving you a few seconds to think about this... nope, it isn’t that... wipe that silly grin off your face 😊... it’s a touch, a human touch. “Human touch. Our first form of communication. Safety, security, comfort, all in the gentle caress of a finger. Or the brush of lips on a soft cheek. It connects us when we're happy, bolsters us in times of fear, excites us in times of passion and love. We need that touch from the one we love, almost as much as we need air to breathe.”

Breathing is hard for these CF patients. A touch is impossible. A kiss, don’t even think about that. The things all of us probably take for granted.

I love seeing how they struggle to make sense of their love in this cruel scheme of things, and I can appreciate why they want to take the bull by the horns by risking that one little feet. It’s their little victory in this game called life.

Sting once sang “if you love someone set them free”. That’s not BS. I was talking to a colleague the other day about how I broke off with my girlfriend by doing one last loving act for her... nah, I won’t share here, but it was a final act that gave both of us wings to soar again. I think to love is better than be loved. The last act Will does in the movie is a great one.

Don’t underestimate the healing power of a touch. So if you're reading this, and you're able, touch him. Touch her. Life's too short to waste a second. (3.5/5)



Fast Colour is what Dark Phoenix should have learned from. The latter had the ludicrous budget but simply got crushed with the expectations and the slip ups. The former, on the other hand, manages to tell a coherent superhero story with a fraction of the latter’s budget. It is an intelligent coming of age tale and a resonant family drama. I admire its aspirations even if it’s solemnity threatens to drown it. (3/5)



The reason I wanted to see The Little Drummer Girl is Park Chan-wook (Oldboy and The Handmaiden) is the director. This 6-episode mini series is based on John le Carré’s novel about an English actress recruited to infiltrate a terrorist cell. It will be a mission that will require her best acting talents and suffice to say, it’s going to be an Oscar worthy performance but alas nobody outside the circle will know what she has accomplished. Knowing Park, I am not surprised to see every scene meticulously rendered with a superb sense of place and time. It is buoyed by some A-class acting talents and Florence Pugh put in the best performance I have seen on the TV front this year. There is a vulnerability and fragility in her, but there is a quiet and focused drive in her as she toils with understanding who she is in the scheme of things. This is a bit of a slow-burn and people will say it is a 4-episode story stretched to 6, but I didn’t feel that way. (3.5/5)
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Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1188 on: September 08, 2019, 09:08 »


Old school magic meets the modern world in this epic adventure. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical sword in the stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Sir Patrick Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.

Those of you who lament that there aren’t enough family oriented movies, look no further than this King Arthur story transposed to the world of post-Brexit Britain. There are some great quips that had us in stitches. My fave was the one about Burger King. The CGI is terrific and never overwhelming and the kid actors are great, especially Andy “Gollum” Serkis’ son.

That said, the boy is the strongest and also the weakest part of the movie. Much of the expositional dialogue consists of him talking, instead of him whacking somebody, anybody. Everything pivots from him. But the boy has the charisma for me to forgive a lot.

The Kid Who Would Be Kingcould have shaved off some minutes from the middle act, but just as it nearly descended into a slog of a quicksand, it has a way to lift off with some truly inventive scenes, like the training montage with sentient trees. It did over-reach, trying to do a lot, but the kids are so hilarious that I didn’t want to put on my critic’s hat too much.

Writer-director Joe Cornish did the excellent Attack the Block (2011), and he has come back with another solid effort. This one can be enjoyed by the whole family, young and old. (3.5/5)



Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right.

The Hate U Give is based on a Young Adults bestseller which I have not read, so I can’t compare. It starts off quiet, and then it isn’t. It begins comfortably, and then it isn’t. It doesn’t reach the heights of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989), but it manages to make you understand the racist world we live in that can crack any moment. It reflects the current state of race relations in America to a T without being preachy.

The movie nestles snuggly within the narrative track of a coming-of-age tale and also as a warm family drama. All through it the issue of racism threatens and looms. It is about how a girl learns about her roots and strength, ably acted by Amandla Stenberg in a star-making role.

The target audience isn’t just young adults; it hits all the demographics. It is a piece of stirring cinema with a powerful message. It doesn’t condescend and manages to present a complex problem accessibly. It is worth 2h 15min of your time. (4/5)



Twice, it has happened this year, seeing a bright star of a TV series die ever so slowly.

It happened with This Is Us S3 which was so painful to watch. How can something that could make us laugh and cry turn out so bad. Of course, this is all in-our-opinion territory. Please don’t take offence if you are still enjoying it.

Now, it’s the turn of Big Little Lies S2. IMHO, S1 was so refreshing and the way it ended was so audacious. It felt right - fricking woman power. If it ended there and then it would have been perfect, but no, due to its success, it drags out Liane Moriarty’s novel (which ended in S1) to no man’s land.

At first we were thrilled that they managed to sign up Meryl Streep for a major role, but it’s like a case of 大材小用. Her role isn’t strong and she couldn’t lift the story with a script like this.

Conflict is what drives drama, but how the writers draw the conflicts here feel arbitrary. And wow! I could have seen how everything will end up in a court case - a battle between Kidman and Streep. It’s David E. Kelley’s old game, the man is synonymous with the law and the court, with TV series like The Practice, Boston Legal, Ally McBeal etc. But it’s a court battle that is weak because the journey to that point is a bore. Nothing lift off for us throughout S2.

What a waste of so many talents. The good news is that I am dumping This Is U and Big Little Lies from here on out.



I can’t believe I have never checked The Newsroom out... till now. Thank goodness for Anna Pitoniak’s Necessary People.

The first episode left us breathless. The dialogue is Sorkin-ese - the characters don’t talk, they rattle bullets at each other like they have gatling guns for a mouth. On a good day, it sounds like fricking rock music, on a bad day it will give you a lovely headache. I fu*king love this!

This is about a newsroom getting a huge shakeup. The news anchor has to work with a new team of producers and reporters to tell news the right way - ethically and morally right. It is about telling the news right so that it reaches out to 10 persons, rather than sugarcoating it to reach thousands.

The pilot episode actually uses real news - the oil spill at Deepwater Horizon to tell its story. It has such a vibrant and economical way of introducing characters that become instantly memorable.

The direction is slick and sexy, the characters are vivid and the dialogue is oh-la-la splendid. Nobody writes dialogue like Aaron Sorkin.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2019, 12:36 by westendboy »
Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

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Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1189 on: September 08, 2019, 15:51 »


In this offbeat comedy from Finland, Turo is stuck in a small village where the best thing in his life is being the lead vocalist for the amateur metal band Impaled Rektum. The only problem? He and his band mates have practiced for 12 years without playing a single gig. The guys get a surprise visitor from Norway-the promoter for a huge heavy metal music festival-and decide it's now or never. They steal a van, a corpse, and even a new drummer in order to make their dreams a reality.

I have a few friends who are into heavy metal and they are the nicest dudes I know ever. Yes, they sometimes wear black tees with skulls and have long hair tied up in a ponytail like scalp-collecting Red Indians, but they are the sweetest chaps ever. Music does not maketh the man. Like them, the four dudes in Heavy Trip are the nicest dorks in evil-looking garb. Care has been meticulously taken to not make them cliches.

This is a superb crowd-pleaser. You would probably enjoy it more if you are a metal fan because some of the band references and metal elements won’t sail over your head. But trust me, the missus and I aren’t metal fans and we were laughing like crazy. The vibe is full of free swinging gusto and I love how the guys are portrayed - full-blooded anti-establishment zealots with a heart.

Heavy Trip feels like a love letter to heavy metal, satirising many genre elements linked to metal music, including blood, vomit, corpse and inverted crosses, but it is all in good goofy fun, never becoming stupid. Heavy Trip had me in its balls when a douchebag asks them WTF they play and one of them replies with a straight face: “Symphonic post-apocalyptic reindeer-grinding Christ-abusing extreme war pagan Fennoscandian metal.” 🤣(4/5)



Just saw Bodies At Rest. Surprise surprise, this is actually a lot of fun. The cool thing about it is that it uses only one location - the morgue. Directed by Renny Harlin, this feels like Die Hard in a mortuary. Lots of twists and turns, cat and mouse games, as Nick Cheung and Richie Jen goes mano a mano. I find the setting refreshing and the movie uses it in some very unexpected ways. It doesn’t reinvent the action genre, but it does give it an adrenaline shot. (3.5/5)



Surprise, surprise. Line Walker 2 is one crackerjack of a movie.

We are not fans of the TVB series. We saw a few episodes and gave up and we never saw the first movie. My mom had free tickets and she gave them to me. I was really expecting it to be crap and crappy movies are fun to rip apart. However, it surpassed my wildest expectations.

This concoction is 50% Mission Impossible, 30% James Bond and 20% 无间道. Get ready to be slammed left right centre with twists and turns. There are some superbly staged gun-fights and that last action sequence involving the running of the bulls in Spain is OMG crazy. I hardly felt the 100min runtime which means it is outrageously entertaining. This is like Hobbs and Shaw orient styled. (3.5/5)



I don’t think I want to write a long review for Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood so this will do.

Every scene in the first two acts is meticulously constructed and shot. The whole thing feels like a love letter to filmmaking in the 60s. The performances have bravura and the banter is textbook Tarantino. That said, this has got to be my least favourite Taratino movie because it’s uneven, flat and hollow. It just doesn’t have a main story stem that keeps me invested. It was indulgent filmmaking with many scenes overstaying their welcome. Then came the final act. Oh my goodness... that saved it for me. You need to brush up on your Hollywood 60s history to get it. Just wiki Sharon Tate before you go see it. (4/5)


Others we have seen include The Professor, Bel Canto, Girl, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Sunny (Japanese remake of the Korean original), Children of a Lesser God, Kursk, The Highwaymen, Bonnie and Clyde and Happy Gilmore.


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Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1190 on: October 04, 2019, 18:28 »


Love in the Time of Cholera (2007) is based on the book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s on my book shelf together with One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I have yet to read them.

Half an hour into the movie, I have the nagging feeling that the book is infinitely better than the movie.

The story is about a young man who falls in love with a young woman like a thunderbolt. He writes letters to her (that’s how they woo girls then), but the father disapproves of the love because he considers the man of low status. So he sends her far away and she gets married to a doctor. Meanwhile, the young man decides to wait and stay chaste for her... for over 50 years until her husband finally passes on. By chaste, I mean he still has sex with over 600 women (he documents them). He believes that as long as his heart is with his true love he is not being unfaithful. Guys, if you are reading this, don’t use this excuse hor 😬

What’s wrong with this movie is almost everything. The casting feels wrong - so many characters feel miscast, like a square peg being forced into a round hole. The tone is dry - when it should dance on water, it feels like a march through mud. The two leads don’t look convincing with Javier Bardem drawing zero sympathy. How to feel for a man who cries when she isn’t in his eyeline? That’s the definition of a weak man. New age sensitive man, my foot.

However, I think the most criminal element is Mike Newell’s direction which is as dry and arid as the Sahara. There is no guile, no magic and all labour, like a cut and dry process with zilch life.

One day, I will give the book a chance, but probably not this year. This movie made me feel like I had caught a disease.(2/5)



Cold Pursuit has all the ingredients in place for a dark and riotous take on the revenge genre, but it’s hard to put a finger on why it missed the mark in every department. Mind you, it is a good movie, but it could have been a great one. You have Liam Neeson, the dude with a particular set of skills, but he couldn’t propel the movie. The characters fail to be memorable, even the ways they bite the dust should elicit guffaws, but it didn’t work. Some characters like the wife and the newbie police are conveniently forgotten in the last act; Laura Dern playing Neeson’s wife vanished in the first act. I have no idea what purpose she served in the plot.

Talking about the plot, it seems to be borrowed liberally from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, but it doesn’t even come close to that masterwork.

If done well, Cold Pursuit could have been a blast. Seeing bad guys die in all manners of death would have you punch the air in joy, but like the freezing setting of a town in Denver, Cold Pursuit is a frigid and turgid mess that never thawed.(2/5)



Woah! The Metacritic score for this 5th Rambo movie is at 29/100. What is wrong with these critics? We had so much fun with this that it’s criminal. Even the couple sitting behind us were cheering when the scumbags drop like flies. That’s how you make a revenge flick.

Almost four decades after they drew first blood, Sylvester Stallone is back as one of the greatest action heroes of all time, John Rambo. Now, Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. A deadly journey of vengeance, RAMBO: LAST BLOOD marks the last chapter of the legendary series.

I like Rambo’s world - there’s no gray, only black and white. If you are not a good person, you deserve to die in the hands of John Rambo. There is not much of a story here, the plot is paint-by-the-numbers, but I didn’t care. If you want Academy Awards stuff go buy a ticket to see Ad Astra. Me? I just want to see lots of dead bad guys. Woah! I see deep fried bad guys, bad guys on satay sticks and bad guys perforated with more holes than your talcum powder holder. It’s hammer time! And I mean that literally. It was so fun swimming in a bloodbath (I am making an appointment with my shrink after I post this) and this is the worst tourism movie featuring Mexico. The whole country basically only had 2 good persons and I love how simple it is to draw a bad guy. If you have tattoos, wear singlets, have bulging muscles, wear chunky necklaces, have an automatic stuck in your waist band, have a leery moustache, rape girls with your eyes and talk with bad grammar, you are a f$cking bad guy. If only the world is so easy to spot a bad guy.

Don’t believe it when they this is the last one. The next one should be call Final Blood where John will train his protege (perhaps a son he never knew he had) and the franchise will reboot with New Blood. (3.5/5)



Just past the hour mark, Choo asked me when will the torture be over. I told her we are not even halfway there. She stared at me, wide-eyed, her mouth hanging open in disbelief, any longer I think blinding light will shoot out like Godzilla in the movie poster.

If there were problems with Godzilla (2014) it was because there were too little monster and too many lame human characters. With this sequel, we get quadrupled the monsters and the same bunch of lame human characters.

Monster movies don’t need a convincing plot. To me, the key is making it fun. It isn’t to make it believable because we all know it’s hogwash. But this movie tries so hard to make it relevant by putting in big concepts like climate change and the need to reboot mankind. They only stop short of shafting how plastic is killing the earth. The story is quite dense if you seriously want to switch on your brain power. Me, I don’t switch it on for movies like these.

The strength in a monster disaster movie is always in the spaces in between the monster mayhem. This one has everyone looking all so serious, and the characters are as flat and thin as a flattened tissue prata. Who cares about the broken family and the estranged members’ exploits? As with all of these genre flicks we get scientists who spew nonsense. I find the casting of Zhang Ziyi weird. She is probably there to fill some Chinese quota so that the movie can open in China. First half of the movie she has nothing worthwhile to say. Second half of the movie she becomes a cultural spokesperson with too much to say. IMDb says she plays two roles. I don’t know man... I only saw one.

Seriously, nobody watches this type of movie for character development. Everyone just wants to see monsters mash and to get your destruction fetishes satisfied. In that department the fights are gorgeous, but I just couldn’t watch it with child-like eyes. I have to say the Atmos sound design is pretty awesome though.

Lastly, bashing these quick thoughts out is my way of getting my brain back. It’s back (2.5/5)

Others we have seen include Brightburn, The City of Lost Children, Rocketman. There are lots more, but I can’t remember.


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Offline YANG

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1191 on: October 13, 2019, 22:59 »
all angmoh cast and production crew in a TiongKok firm production investment film is a big NONO...

Offline westendboy

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Re: Your All Time Favourite Movies & Whathaveyoubeenwatching?
« Reply #1192 on: October 16, 2019, 17:49 »


If I were to write the tagline for this movie, it would be “A death destroys their friendship, another death mends it, and the truth will set them free”. That’s probably too long, but it sums up the three acts beautifully. This made in China film is slightly over 3 hours, but I hardly shifted in my seat. When it was over, I felt like I had learnt a great human lesson.

So Long, My Son is freshly minted at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival with Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei winning the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively, and most deservedly so. Their performances are so measured and lived-in.

In this epic saga, spanning 30 years, Yaojun (Wang Jingchun) and Liyun (Yong Mei) are a couple who struggles to cope in a society of constant change. After their son’s death, Yaojun and Liyun are haunted by memories of a once-happy household. To make a break, they move to a city where no one knows them, forming a new family with an adopted son. But this offers no comfort: lack of fluency in the local dialect isolates them and their son rejects them. When he disappears one day, the couple is forced to consider returning to the site of their lost hopes.

I am not a parent, but if I were to hazard a guess, I think the worst thing a couple can ever go through is to witness the death of their offspring. The pain is all the more pronounced here because the son is their only child, the result of China’s population control policy. There is a scene I watched in disbelief with righteous anger nearly boiling over – the couple found out they are pregnant again but they were urged by the higher authority to abort the child (at that point their son is still alive). At last they were awarded an award for Best Family at the factory they worked in. What a farce!

This languidly paced movie has it all: forced abortion, enforced labour camp for listening to pop music, extramarital affair, death in the family and attempted suicide. The rippling effect of the death of their only son plays out in the couple’s lives through three decades of China’s changing economic landscape. It is a world that has forgotten them, making them empty shells, merely existing.

It looks like a cry-fest on paper, but co-writer and director Wang Xiaoshuai is not interested in going down the path of maudlinness. The camera is pulled back during the death scene; we see running shapes and hear horrendous sobs. Our minds connect the dots, our senses grab every subtlety and nuance written on their mien. The drama never feels cheapened and when revelations arrive in due course there is a series of small measured explosions of the heart.

The plot of So Long, My Son does not unfold in chronological order and characters’ motivations are not explained in clarity, but we are in the hands of a great storyteller who lets the scenes breathe and the characters flourish. In the end, the Chinese tight-lipped stoicism melts away, the why is explained and the rendering is cathartic.

It is easy to view So Long, My Son as an anti-government film, but I don’t see it that way. I see it as a narrative about a couple’s emotional memories, numerous threads of unfulfilled dreams and regrets intermingled, trying to hold on to the memory of a lost son and as memories go, nobody thinks in linear. Yaojun and Liyun are but two of many forgotten cogs in the great economic machine of China. They are simple and good people, but yet the most devastating of events descended upon them. It feels like a confluence of good intentions (I borrowed the line from Thomas Shelby of Peaky Blinders S5).

The cast is impeccable, especially Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei, whose nuanced portrayal of the ill-fated couple is spellbinding. My senses hinged on every little expression on their faces and their entire being; their performances are empathetic and rooted in the Chinese reality. Their pain feels real and it is utterly heart wrenching to see what they have become. Fortunately, Yaojun and Liyun’s character arcs experienced a much deserved upswing that never becomes contrived. I felt so happy for them and wanted to believe it is the start of something beautiful.

The themes of guilt, forgiveness and acceptance are prevalent in dramas, but in the hands of Wang they come like a tsunami of feels. “Less is more” is an axiom that is never easy to achieve without making a movie feel pretentious, So Long, My Son exemplifies it and makes it look easy.

4 / 5

PS - this is being screened at the Oldham Theatre as part of the Asian Film Archive’s New Releases programme. Tickets at solongmyson.peatix.com


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I call myself a movie buff but there are still many cinematic masterpieces I have not seen. This evening we scratched one off the list, Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961).

It’s weird watching a movie that I have heard so much about and even seen the Sergio Leone’s remake, Fistful of Dollars and Walter Hill’s modern remake Last Man Standing. But none of them comes close to Kurosawa’s visionary movie.

By now, everyone would already know the story. It’s about a ronin, played by the incomparable Toshiro Mifune, who finds himself in a desolate town ravaged by two rival gangs. The person who has the best business in town is the coffin maker. The man with no name, decides to hang around to wreak havoc and ultimately rid the entire town of all the scumbags.

Yojimbo came at the wake of a series of luminous films like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood and many others. Yojimbo doesn’t make you ponder about humanity like Rashomon; it doesn’t have the sweep of Seven Samurai and the melancholy of Throne of Blood, but it is nevertheless compelling and absorbing. I think this is the most I have laughed in a Kurosawa film. Mifune’s Sanjuro is a master manipulator, a God of mischief and the incarnate of Loki. His method of pitting both sides against each other is an elaborate plan. It resembles a chess game and he is holding both the black and white pieces. The man makes himself indispensable and both sides want his services. The dude is employed as a bodyguard who does everything but that. In modern context, he is a superhero.

It is easy to see the western influence in Yojimbo and compared to his entire oeuvre this is practically an American Western with swords. With his pompous swagger and a toothpick in his mouth, Mifune is the epitome of cool. Now I understand why this is considered one of greatest films of all time.(5/5)

Others we have seen include Sanjuro, The Kid and Ma.
Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

My movie and music blog:
http://reelthoughtsfromageek.wordpress.com

All things books:
http://fictionmattersfromageek.wordpress.com