Monster House


Director: Gil Kenan
Voice Talents: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Jason Lee
RunTime: 91 mins
Genre: Animation
Rating: PG
Will Appeal To: Growth up children, and child-like growth-ups

Monster House broke two of my records:
1) Chowder is the most irritating character ever seen in my animation (pushing that zebra from Madagascar to 2nd place.)
2) It is the most scary animation I have watched (even more scary that some ‘real’ movies. Boo!)

The story is pretty simple. Three kids discover the house opposite is actually a monster which swallows toys and people. Gasp!

The animation was superb, so much so that everything felt very real at parts. Yes, so much so that I feel like slapping Chowder and tell him to shuupppp.

I do not think Monster House is really meant for kids, or they have grown up so fast that we have not realised. I hadn’t heard any of the children in the cinema crying, but I think they prefer talking animals and automobiles. The themes and speeches involved are very ‘adult’. Oh wait, I realised something. Monster House is rated PG. Woo…

Monster House – An animation that can actually be scary

The Devil Wears Prada


Director: David Frankel
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Adrien Grenier
RunTime: 110 mins
Genre: Comedy
Will Appeal To: Fash Hags and Fash Snags (Whatever that means)

(This entry is contributed by Andy, my podmate who happens to own 42 pairs of shoes.)

The simple yet catchy design of the poster intrigued me so much that I was just anxiously waiting for the movie to be screened. I appreciated the poster even more after watching the movie! It’s simply brilliant! Kudos to the designer!

It has been quite a while that I've come across a sophisticated movie done stylishly without boring me to tears within the first five minutes. The simple plot talks about a naive young woman aspiring to be a top writer, arriving in New York and landing a job as the second assistant to one of the city's biggest fashion magazine editors, the ruthless and cynical Miranda Priestly. She unwittingly gets sucked into the whirlpool of high society and loses that which she cherishes – her "Self".

Meryl Streep was the "Diva" and the "Devil"! Her acting was so realistic that I almost believed that Miranda Priestly was a real life person! I found myself secretly wishing that Miranda Priestly would become my mentor!

Masochistic? Well, perhaps I needed the clever one-liners that drove home the movie’s messages with high-end sarcasm. Or perhaps, I could identify so much with Andy (played by Anne Hathaway), particularly her struggles and her realizations. The movie rang so many bells in my head that it felt like an entire cathedral of bells were sounding! The irony of losing oneself in the process of searching for oneself is cleverly and subtlely drawn out in this movie.

The Devil Wears Prada - A must watch for all. "That’s all". "Go!" Watch it, people.

Frostbite (Swedish)


Director: Anders Banke
Starring: Petra Nielsen, Grete Havnesköld, Emma Åberg, Jonas Karlström, Måns Nathanaelson Running Time: 97 minutes
Genre: Horror (Swedish)
Will Appeal To: Those who wants to catch every horror movie there is

This is my first Swedish movie, not a good impression to start with. The movie starts promisingly, with a sense of eeriness and mystique. It’s dark, very dark with some good sound effects.

Fast forward a hundred years, you get a mother and daughter who move a town of endless dark nights. Mother works in a hospital and daughter studies at a high school. They have no where new to base horror movies on huh? Hospitals and schools again huh?

In the school, you get a bunch of teenagers who desperate needs acting classes and spend time partying, taking drugs and kissing. It isn't very difficult to act cool in front of lockers right? Being very predictable, they all end up dying a horrible death (but a rather funny one too). Back at the hospital, the mother is chased by a vampire who seems somewhat wearing a latex costume.

Towards the end of the movie, you get an ensemble of jumping teenagers, a bunny-eating doctor, a hopping rubber vampire and a girl who saves the day. Did I mention the movie was very hilarious?

Frostbite – Next!

Lucky Number Slevin


Director: Paul McGuigan
Starring: Josh Harnett, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kinsley, Bruce Willis
RunTime: 109 mins
Genre: Action / Crime
Rating: R21

Will Appeal To: People with no other movies to watch, or "Tarantinoers"

A case of mistaken identity lands Slevin (Josh Hartnett) into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city's most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.

Don’t quite understand the plot? It doesn’t matter. Lucky Number Slevin is filled with complicated dialogues and plot twists, which may again be quite predictable. The movie also does a Tarantino with its stylish look and back and forward time line.

Although it boosts many A-list actors (including a well-missed Josh Harnett bombed by Pearl Harbour and my favourite Lucy Liu), it lacks something – soul. Perhaps it is trying too hard to be something it is not.

I have never seen a reviewer gave it more or less than a 3 star interestingly. Even my favourite movie website Rotten Tomatoes is giving a 50%. Being in the middle may not be the best after all. It doesn’t leave an impression, good or bad.

Lucky Number Slevin – Lying in the middle

Tony Takitani


Director: Jun Ichikawa
Starring: Issei Ogata, Rie Miyazawa
RunTime: 75 mins
Genre: Drama (Japanese)
Rating: PG
Will Appeal To: Poetry lovers

Synopsis: Due to his Western name, Tony was shunned by other kids and spent a solitary childhood. Then in middle age, Tony suddenly falls for a pretty young woman, Eiko Konuma. Eiko is like an angel in Tony's daily existence, and for the first time in his life, he feels connected to the outside world. However, Eiko does have one fault: she's a clothing shopaholic.

What happened:
- My friend sitting on my left slept throughout the movie after the opening shot.
- My friend sitting on my right, who usually has little patience for slow movies, is surprisingly attracted to the beauty and ‘rhythm’ of the piece. He calls it a ”poetry movie”.
- I (obviously sitting in the middle) was admiring every shot and dialogue initially, aesthetically filmed in a bluish tinge. Unfortunately, I soon started looking at my watch. (It was not a comedy as I thought.)

Tony Takitani – A" poetry movie", slow and beautiful.

Pretty Persuasion


Director: Marcos Siega
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, James Woods, Ron Livingston, Jane Krakowski
RunTime: 105 mins
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rating: M18 (Sexual References)
Will Appeal To: Viewers who liked Hard Candy

After released Hard Candy, Shaw has released another movie to show that teenage girls are not to be trifled with. Pretty Persuasion is an ambitious attempt to discuss about sex, paedophilia, lesbianism, fame, racial and moral integrity all in a high school drama.

Kimberly Joyce, an intelligent and beautiful teenager will stop at nothing to become famous. Believing the world is an orchestra and she is the conductor, Kimberly masterfully manipulates all those around her. She convinces her two best friends to join her in a campaign against their befuddled teacher, Mr. Anderson to sue him for sexual assault.

Like Hard Candy, it pushes buttons on who is the actual aggressor. Will people believe a 30-plus-year-old man, more than a seemingly innocent 15-year-old girl?

As a dark comedy, Pretty Persuasion succeeds in provoking thoughts, but never running too deep. It has the potential to address issues and would have provided entertaining courtroom drama, but unfortunately falls flat towards the end.

Although this movie made less than $60,000 in US and received mix reviews, I enjoyed its brave attempt to be fearless and wickedly funny in a high school drama. That to me is something different and persuasive enough to watch.

Pretty Persuasion – Unassuming and unapologetic.



Director: Randal Kleiser
Starring: Amanda Bynes, Chris Carmack, Jonathan Bennett
RunTime: 86 mins
Rating: PG
Who Should Watch: The Cineleisure Crowd

Cutesy Cutesy Cute Amanda Bynes (from She’s The Man) turns from the football crazed girl to the star crazed Jenny who just can’t get enough of her rock star idol Jason Masters (Chris Carmack). When Jenny ended stranded alone on a 'deserted' beach with her idol, she manages to hide from him that they are in fact on an island resort.

Wanting to get closer to Jason, she lies to him and gets food supplies from her good-looking childhood friend Ryan. She believes "Nobody will like a girl like her". Yah, right.

What you get is an ensemble of immature girls engaging in cat fights, a dumb and conceited rock star, and a puppy-eyed love swooned childhood friend. Cheesy storyline and bad CG aside, you do get to see many sun-kissed people walking around. That’s the only consolation?

Lovewrecked is like a typical beach drama (think South Beach) made into a movie, with its combination of teenage love, music, lame jokes and bikini-canned bodies.

Unlike She’s The Man, Amanda Bynes doesn’t score this time. But what’s amazing about her is that she can be so cutesy but not irritating.

Lovewrecked – A typical beach movie only for teenyboppers

Adams æbler (Danish)


Director: Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring: Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen
RunTime: 94 mins
Genre: Comedy
Who Should Watch: The believer and cynic in each one of us

(This entry is contributed by Vonjie, my room mate in office.)

I don't think I ever quite understood this genre (black comedy) nor liked dark humour until Adam's Apples. My room mate (author of this blog) recommended it to me because of its religiosity but I assure you there's nothing preachy about it.

It hits at the heart of the faith of Ivan, the priest who was trying to rehabilitate a neo-Nazi, who ended up trying to convince him out of what he considers is the blindness of his faith. Each time he does, Ivan literally bleeds from the ear.

What will floor you are the counter-instinctive actions and reactions of the priest to those he's trying to help and the sheer absurdity of the circumstances, which still somehow managed to seem very believable.

The film was also beautifully shot in the Danish language (with English subtitles), and helped me appreciate European films even more. The other must-watch this season is Sophie's Scholl.

Adam's Apple - When faith and extremism collide in absurb hilarity

Chai-Lai Angels (Thai)


Director: Poj Arnon
Starring: Bongkoj Kongmalai, Jintara Poullap, Supaksorn Chaimongkol
RunTime: 98 mins
Genre: Action Comedy
Who Should Watch: People who want to leave their brains at home

I would like to call this a Thai spoof of Charlie Angels, right down to the action sequence on the plane and slow motion acts by the beach. Five undercover angels called the Chai Lais (with ridiculous names such as Rose, Hibiscus and Lotus), are tasked with foiling the evil plans of an international crime syndicate.

They must use all of their skills, intellect (?) and assets (em…) to fight their evil nemeses as they arrive in Thailand to pursue the key to their national treasure.

Let me say that this movie reminded me of one of those Hong Kong comedies you will watch in the 80s, most likely starring Veronica Yip. If Singapore were to film its own Rojak Angels, the 5 most likely candidates are Ann Poh, Fiona Xie, Michelle Chia, Michelle Saram and Patricia Mok. Well, you need a mix of those with assets, those who can make you laugh, and some who can’t act for nuts right?

Guys, be in for a treat of girls clad in stewardess costume, bathrobes, towels, uniforms and skimpy bikinis fight in out with a group of useless men, a funny bakpok and a cross eyed killer. Of course, take note of the never ending soundtrack and the girls dancing in a Thai version of Pussycat Dolls’ Don’t Cha. Ah huh.

This should be a good lesson for girls out there. If you need to fight an aggressor, either slam him with your bosoms or kick his groin with your stilettos. Ouch!

These gorgeous girls happen to be here in Singapore now and I was invited for a press conference. Actually, I just have one question to ask them, “Are those real?”

Chai Lai – It’s so bad you have to watch it!

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (German)


Director: Marc Rothemund
Starring: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Alexander Held, André Hennicke
RunTime: 117 mins
Genre: Drama (German)
Who Should Watch: All Students

The true story of Germany’s most famous anti-Nazi heroine is brought to life in this nominated film for Oscar’s Best Foreign Film. It traces the last six days of Sophie Scholl, the sole female member of the White Rose during the 2nd World War.

Sophie and her brother were captured while distributing anti-war pamphlets on the school campus. Following her arrest, the next six days became a wrenching journey from interrogation to a trail and her final sentence.

Julia Jentsch who stars as the courageous and strong Sophie exhibited much resilient and willpower that can be called a world class performance. This is especially so when you can feel both her fear and control during the riveting trial.

This is not only a history lesson, but one who reminds us of the strength and will of an ordinary student who stays firm on her beliefs. Definitely puts a lot of us to shame. Life can be a lot better if we face the sun – as what Sophie truly believes.

Sophie Scholl – Powerful and Provoking

The Break-Up


Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn
RunTime: 106 mins
Genre: Romance
Rating: PG
Will Appeal To: People disappointed in love, Fans of Friends

The story isn’t great and neither romantic nor funny. Sorry Vince Vaughn, I know you are humorous and sincere, but you look like a slob beside your new girlfriend Jennifer Aniston. Even though the two of you felt in love, we couldn't feel the chemistry.

However, this is one movie I can most identify with. People in relationships will.

After two years falling in love, the two break up over 3 lemons and some computer games. It really wasn’t about the failure to wash dishes or the lemons or the games. Ask yourself how many times have you taken your other half for granted?

Even the two were still in love, they found words to spite each other. They tried ways and means to make the other party jealous, hoping to get back their dignity and love at the same time. Is this what you would do?

I really liked the ending. As for the final shot when you see the two walking, it was as real as it could get. Probably what I would do and feel. It’s such a simple word, yet people fail to see it…

The Break-Up – Can be painful and real

See No Evil


Director: Geogory Dark
Starring: Kane, Christina Vidal, Michael J. Pagan, Tiffany Lamb, Samantha Noble
RunTime: 79 mins
Genre: Horror
Rating: NC-16 (Violence & Gore)
Will Appeal To: Slasher Flick Fans

I grew up loving all kinds of slasher flicks from Nightmare on Elm Street to Friday the 13th. Most of those in recent times (Saw, Final Destination) require some form of brain work, but these B-grade movie survive precisely because they are mindless.

I remember writing a competition on "A Family" during my secondary school days. The family I wrote about ended up killing each other and eating body parts. Well, I got an "A" for that. Hmm...

You know the drift: 8 sex-craved or money hungry teenagers move to a dilapidated hotel and start dying one by one. They 'deserve' to die because they are hooligans, cheap, stupid and have nothing in their minds but sex or money. There can’t be anything more unoriginal.

There you have it, the cheap thrill of watching Kane the wrestler kill them off one by one. Some after they make up, some after the shower… you know it. As to why this movie is called See No Evil, the victims have their eyes gorged out.

It becomes kind of scary (and also so funny) that people laugh when the poor vegetarian girl gets thrown down 9 stories, cut by glass and then eaten by hungry dogs. Everybody dies in a different, but sick way. Blood, sex, gore… You name it. You have it. La La La... Ha Ha Ha...

See No Evil – You will like such a movie only if you like such movies

Hard Candy


Director: David Slade
Starring: Ellen Page (X-Men 3), Patrick Wilson & Sandra Oh
RunTime: 104 mins
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Rating: M18 (Mature Content)
Will Appeal To: Net Chatters

We often read news stories of young girls meeting other men after chatting online. Some end up in romance, but most were preyed by olden men. Hard Candy is based on this premise, but with a twist.

14-year old Hayley (Ellen Page) meets her Internet chat friend, a 33-year old charming photographer Jeff (Patrick). They end up going back to his home alone and she ends up stripping some clothing off. Just as Jeff thought it was his lucky day...

The twist happens.

Hard Candy is a psychological thriller playing on the reversal of roles of victim and aggressor. It has almost only 2 characters in the whole movie (Grey Anatomy's Sandra Oh having only a minor role.) Yet it was able to sustain interest through out with its intense portrayal and gritty look into the world of pedophiles.

Hated the ending, but marveled at how Ellen Page (last seen as Kitty in X-Men) can hold on to an entire movie on her own.

Hard Candy - Is it scary? Not really, but it will make balls shrink.

The Beat That My Heart Skipped (French)


Director: Jacques Audiard
Starring: Romaine Duris, Niels Arestrup
RunTime: 108 mins
Genre: Drama (French)
Rating: NC-16 (Sexual References)
Will appeal to: Artsy French film lovers and piano players

He is a thug, who job is to beat up squatters occupying property he is eyeing. His father is a gangster; mother a piano player who has passed away. When the opportunity comes for him to become a piano concert player, he goes all out to perfect his piano skills.

The movie is about conflicts – between influences from his father and mother; communicating with his Vietnamese piano teacher who doesn’t know a word of French; and the woman he sleeps with, who happens to be his friend’s wife.

The title plays a clever pun on the word "beat" which can beat a heart beat, time beat or even the beat of a music piece. So which is the beat that he has skipped?

French movies are know for its stylish editing, camera movements and compelling storyline. As the Winner of 8 Cesar Awards and Best Film at the BAFTA Awards 2006, The Beat That My Heart Skipped is a winner.

The Beat That My Heart Skipped - J'aime ce film

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