Tuesday, July 19, 2011

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon


Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex



This is going to be quite a short review since I'm not a Harry Potter fan. I've never read any of the books. In the ten years that it took the movie adaptations of the books to come out, I've watched all of the films but purely for the visual effects. It was/is also a good showcase for some of the British film industry top thespians to amaze us with their brilliant acting skills. Great performances which hopefully will rub off on the three main leads of this film series. They sure have grown physically since we first saw them but their acting have sadly not improved a great deal.

Naturally it is imperative to refresh one's memory of the intriguing and complex storyline by re-watching part 1 of the Deathly Hallows. This I promptly did 2 days before viewing part 2. Although this last film was way better than the first part. I like how everything just folds up pretty nicely. Even for a non fan and non reader like me, this film was precisely what I'd expect a good conclusion to be. The special effects were top notch, the editing was seamless and the complex plot was precise and concise.

Of course it helps tremendously to have a sister who not only read all the books but is also really patient and kind enough to explain it to me whenever I kept hounding her with all sorts of questions. Questions which I asked her later as I didn't want to interrupt her during the actual viewing of the last chapter in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

THE CHEF OF THE SOUTH POLE

Eiga Sai 2011
13th Japanese Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex





This film is adapted from the autobiographical writings of Jun Nishimura, a chef. He served with the Japanese Coast Guard and was assigned to an Antarctic Exploration base. His essay received praise for its wit in depicting the everyday life of a group of men living in close quarters cut off from civilization under extremely frigid conditions.

The setting is in Antarctica at Dome Fuji Station, a Japanese research base, a team of eight men share a 12 month tour of duty. The men's lives are filled with equal measures of hard work, good times, heartache and homesickness. But a young chef's excellent cooking of familiar dishes sustains them during their harsh term of duty.

The film has an amusingly diverse cast of characters who deal with their isolation from home comforts in a variety of ways. The director derives most of the interest from the everyday behavior and the intrinsic nature of his characters as expressed by their idiosyncracies of dress, hair styles and personalities.

The minimalist landscape of white ice and blue sky is a sharp contrast to some charming exterior scenes with the men in their brightly coloured, thickly padded snow suits. Of course, we have to mention that the meals which the chef prepares which are shown with the use of vertical overheads visuals would certainly make you very very hungry for his delicious culinary creations.

The Chef Of The South Pole is a gently quirky film that will delight most people with its light-hearted take on the human comedy. It is a tasty blend of daily observation amidst elegantly simple aesthetics.

Despite the slow pacing of the film I would highly recommend it! Just be sure you don't have an empty stomach as you will get very hungry from the mouth watering dishes served by chef Nishimura!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel
Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand
John Turturro


Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex



Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is back. This time he has a college degree and a new girlfriend. Soon enough, he starts working in a low level position (mail station) in a company ran by some Richard Branson type (John Malkovich) with a bad tan.

Meanwhile in some parallel universe, the Autobots are now familiar fixtures and working for the government in some covert capacity. Until the Decepticons decide ONCE again to wreak havoc on the human race and earth in general. And this time their battleground unfolds in the windy city, Chicago.

That is pretty much the premise of this 3rd installment of this hugely successful franchise. Back with more or less the same cast (LaBeouf, Duhamel, Turturro) with new additions like (Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey) they all give credible performances in this action filled, edge of your seat popcorn entertainment.

Excellent computer generated scenes, special effects along with well choreographed action sequences, a somewhat plausible sci-fi storyline and a funny dialogue - they all contribute to a hugely entertaining movie.

After 157 minutes, I was just thankful that the movie theater had a good sound system and I didn't go deaf from all that extremely loud mayhem and destruction that unfolded on the screen.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

DEPARTURES

Eiga Sai 2011
13th Japan Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex




This is a repost of my review of "Departures" which is included in the roster of films showing at the ongoing Japan Film Festival at the Shang Cineplex.

When you hear the word "Departures", you automatically think about travel and airport terminals. So you might be surprised that in the film, it refers to a different type of flight - the one to the great beyond.

Daigo, a cellist is suddenly jobless after the orchestra was disbanded. He decides to go back to his hometown with his wife and start anew. He answers an ad thinking that it was a travel agency. Much to his chagrin and utter surprise, the task involves the cleansing and dressing of dead bodies before they are put in caskets. Not exactly an embalmer but an encoffiner.

The film beautifully presents this ancient Japanese tradition of casketing. It is a delicate and highly respectful ritual as the family of the deceased are present in the room during the entire process.

Several side plots of human drama prevails. Human interest stories about the life of the deceased are recounted by their relatives. It adds a certain poignancy to an otherwise sad occasion. A quirky sense of humor also sustains this film. Not that death is a laughing matter but mostly it is the way that Daigo slowly but surely adapts to his very strange occupation.

The film also emphasizes on the importance and value of human relationships. It is especially endearing to watch the bond that develops between Daigo and his mentor who is among a rare breed of encoffiners who still perform this ancient rite with unequaled passion. It is also interesting to witness the relationship between Daigo and his wife. How she reacts when she finds out what his job entails.

The movie also treats the tricky subject of death with much respect. Taking great lengths to explain that the spirit of the deceased lives on through the memories (good and bad) that s/he built during his/her existence.

Although a bit long with certain scenes of extreme sappiness which seem out of place, I highly recommend "Departures". It is definitely a must see!
 

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