Doubt (Film)

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Doubt, which John Patrick Shanley directed and adapted from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is a dialogue-driven showdown between traditional disciplinarian Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), the school's principal, and liberal, progressive priest Father Flynn ( Philip Seymour Hoffman).
She suspects him of having molested the school's only black student. The evidence is inconclusive, but Sister Aloysius' certainty is unshakable.
Meryl Streep's performance of the ice-cold nun with compassion sends thrills down the spine. Stripped of makeup, her piercing eyes and invulnerable speech is definitely Oscar-worthy. Sorry, I love Angelina and Kate too, but please let her win it.
Even Hoffman, one of my favourite actors since Capote, paled in comparison. But he had his moments with his delivered sermons. Watch out for the one when he talked about gossip.
The surprises come from the supporting roles. Amy Adams successfully moved from Enchanted's cutesy Giselle to play this conflicted young nun with much conviction, and Viola Davis as the boy's mother could hold her candle against Streep in her 10 minutes of restrained yet powerful performance.
75 Critics listed this as one of 2008 best movies. I have never watched such an intense movie for a long time that kept me gripping to my seat. Having studied in a Catholic school, I could identify (not much with the issues) with the uptight atmosphere and message sent throughout the movie.
Doubt - Without a doubt, one of my favourite films.


Vicky Christina Barcelona (Film)

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Ever felt that you had a perfect relationship, except that something was missing – like salt from the diet?

You may be able to see a part of yourself in the characters and relationships portrayed in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Vicky is a normal girl leading a normal life - practical, committed and engaged with the road ahead of her fully planned out. The spontaneous and gorgeous looking Christina has every reason to be confident, but the one thing she lacks is confidence in what she wants out of life. The couple from Barcelona, Juan Antonia and María Elena, are perfect for one another but not meant for each other.

Such contradiction. But definitely what we see in our relationships.

I could identify myself most with Vicky, sometimes setting myself high moral standards, and feeling there is a ‘right’ way to lead a life. She has a reliable but boring relationship like many of my own friends. Happy? Satisfied? I do wonder if they do desire something more of life.

There is a friend who was about to get married. And I casually asked, “Are you happy?”

“Yes, I am very kan cheong and nervous! All the wedding preparations… ” She never got to answer if she’s happy or not.

Is being standard and settled that bad a thing? It’s not up to me to judge. It’s human nature to want to see what’s on the other side. While most do not cross over, some people choose to step out, hopefully not to be found out.

You can probably see the ‘Christina’s around. She’s free-spirited, hangs around happening people, doesn’t think twice to be seduced, but is just floating about. You can see the same uptight people with ‘high moral standard’s criticizing or even condemning her, when they are not much better off themselves.

Some would quickly dismiss this as that ‘threesome’ or ‘infidelity’ movie. It’s not. And as Christina said, “Why subject ourselves to labels?”

As an audience, you sit back and observe the sad stories untold in an incredible and beautiful city of Barcelona. And you start to think about yourself and people around you. Beyond all these beauty and calmness, is there something going on?

In life, you also hear of such stories but never quite understand what happened or how it happened. It doesn’t quite matter as human relationships can be very intricate and complicated.

Sometimes we go on to rely on others to fill up the empty spaces in our hearts. I walked out of the cinema, reflecting that relationships can be never be perfect, and nobody should pass you that ‘salt’ but yourself.

Original entry available at: http://blog.omy.sg/danielang


Closing The Ring (Film)

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3 young men, 2 countries and 1 ring.

The story starts in 1991 with a funeral of a World War II veteran, with the ever reliable Shirley MacLaine and post-Scream Neve Campbell as her daughter. Everybody acts strangely. The movie starts moving back and forth to 1941, and from America to Ireland.

As more characters move into the picture, you wonder how they are all linked.

Closing the Ring may not be the first option of a weekend entertainment movie. In fact, it feels a little soap-operatic at many instances, like a less dramatic Pearl Harbour.

But if you patiently wait for the story to unfold between times and countries, you will slowly appreciate a bittersweet love story.

Old fashioned but touching nevertheless, close this ring if you like war time love stories.


Mama Mia! (Film)

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Mama Mia! gives you every reason to laugh.

Meryl Streep as Donna prancing around like a young school girl. 007 Pierce Brosnan sounded like he never been to a karaoke in his life ever, choking every time he needed to sing. Julie Walers, Colin Firth and Christine Baranski add on to the star-studded ensemble which shows that good actors always need singing lessons.

The story of young Sophie in search of her daddy shouldn’t be unfamiliar to many, especially when the musical based on ABBA songs was on stage a few years back.

Critics slammed it. The very idea of ‘serious’ actors breaking out in song and dance sequence of Chiquitita and Voulez-Vous out of the sudden is very, very strange. Chilling.

But just let your hairs down, sing along and enjoy the cheesy acting. And look out for ABBA’s Benny Andersson’s cameo as a piano player.

Singaporean audience actually clapped at the end (would call for encore if we could). Thank You not for the movie, but for the Music.


The Love Guru (Film)

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L ove Guru by Mike Myers is
O ver the board
V ery ridiculous and
E ntertaining during the song and dance parts but
G ross and
U ninspiring compared to Austins
R idiculously
U nderperformed TM


Red Cliff 赤壁 (Film)

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One of, if not the most anticipated Chinese epic this year, the news revolving around Red Cliff has been rampant.
Tony Leung out, Chow Yun-Fat quit, Ken Watanabe replaced, Tony back in, Tony criticized for looking stupid instead of heroic, Takeshi found himself in a different role, Lin Chi-Lin criticized to be a vase, and a stuntman died in the clause of filming. And yes, this is Asia’s most expensive film at US$80 million.
The “Chronicle of Three Kingdoms” is one of the most iconic stories in Chinese history. For us raised in the pop culture era, THAT very famous computer game was based on this story.
I found myself walking down the red carpet yesterday with a big bag carrying groceries accidentally. (How unglam! Should have won nicer clothes.) But the rest armed with cameras are waiting for the group of John Woo, Lin Chi Ling, Zhang Zhen and Zhang Feng Yi just behind me.
With an immense opening music score, the film sets in tone that it is going to be huge. The grand sets, ambitious battle scenes and impressive scenery were highlights of this epic.
But it was also little moral stories and strategies by Zhu Ge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) which brought out the beauty of the story.
Some of the lead casts look misplaced though. Zhang Zhen and Tony Leung didn’t bring out the strength of the characters, and Lin Chi-Ling never looked more awkward in bed and bandage.
However, Takeshi Kaneshiro was suitably good bringing out the wise character, and my heart cheered for Guan Yu (Basen Zabu). But it was ‘Little Sparrow’ Zhao Wei who stole the show for me. Her minor role as the fierce tomboy Sun Shangxiang had more character and disposition than many of the guys.

Not forgetting John Woo’s signature dove which is symbolically used in all his movies from A Better Tomorrow to Face/Off makes its presence felt at the end.

Red Cliff doesn’t disappoint. After running for more than 2 hours till close midnight, I still wanted more. But the best has yet to come. 4.5*


Shaolin Girl (Film)

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Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Cast: Kou Shibasaki, Toru Nakamura, Kitty Zhang, Tin Kai Man, Lam Tze Chung, Takashi Okamura, Yosuke Eguchi
RunTime: 113 mins
Genre: Comedy


This Shaolin Girl is just rubbish.

Produced by Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, CJ7), Shaolin Girl tells the story of a girl by the name of Rin, who is compelled to take over her late grandfather’s kung-fu dojo. She endures 3,000 days of brutal training at the Shaolin Martial Arts School in China before returning to her native Japan. But what awaits her is a dojo that lies in tatters and students who have abandoned the true discipline of Shaolin kung-fu.

Shortly after the dojo incident, Rin joins a university to play Lacrosse (a full contact team sport played with a stick and rubber ball) with a bunch of kawaii girls. There are other subplots such as a university principal with unknown mercenary plans, a kitchen chef who became the Lacrosse coach (suddenly!), his comic Cantonese-Japanese speaking sidekicks, and not to mention a female ‘good’ friend.

This female friend (Kitty Zhang) looks at Rin with a ‘different’ tendency, and speaks bad Japanese. She suddenly gets kidnapped and suddenly appears at the top of the tower in a cheongsam and high heels and suddenly wakes up at the right time.

The film progressed from a kungfu to sports to to a Kill Bill meets Matrix meets some computer game ending. (Give me the Lacrosse girls anytime.) I can really let it go to see a single Japanese girl fight over hundreds of armed men, but the ending was really what-the-heck.

Shaolin Girl – A laughing stock


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