Director: Jag Mundhra
Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews and Miranda Richardson
RunTime: 113 mins
Genre: Drama
Rating: TBA

Aishwaraya Rai – Bollywood superstar, Ms World 1994, Mrs Abhishek Bachchan, and now a mother who torches her husband alive? Hell has no fury like a woman provoked.

The question is: Can beauty queens act? (I mean, other than dumb) While her acting career has less hits than misses (remember Mistress of Spices?), her role as an abused wife has received a fair share of both compliments and criticisms. Based on a true story, she plays Kiranjit Ahluwalia who is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. On the other hand, female rightists are determined to win her freedom from the eyes of laws.

To be fair, Aishwaraya Rai does evoke some emotions when her big coloured beautiful eyes tear with desolation. But the makeup unit needs to convince us she is heavily abused. No manner how hard she cries, she still looks gorgeous. We know how hard it is for you to look ugly, but we need to symphatise. Remove the colourful saris, don't be an tai tai, and play the actual factory worker Kiranjit really was.

Provoked may remind many of Water which also discussed about female rights. However, the former lacks clear direction, technical expertise (strange camera works and audio pickup) and well-developed characters. The rest of the cast from the alcoholic husband to the cold-hearted mother-in-law are just one-dimensional. Scold her. Beat her. Don't pretend to.

Towards the end, the potentially strong story drowns into some melodrama with cheesy slow-mo flashbacks. That is more cringe than pain and violence.

Hardly provoking, the strong story and message on the Indian culture can still be enough to captivate its audience. For women who wants to feel better about themselves and Aishwarya fans.

Provoked - Strong story, weak melodrama

Eternal Summer 盛夏光年


Director: Leste Chen
Cast: Joseph Chang, Bryant Chang, Kate Yeung
RunTime: 95 mins
Genre: Love/Drama (Chinese)
Rating: R21

Most say Eternal Summer is a gay movie. But I would rather call it a movie about relationships.

Newbies Bryant Chang and Joseph Chang play two best friends who come a long way from primary school after they were paired off as motivational buddies by their form teacher. As the ‘third party’ Carrie (Kate Yeung) enters the scene, the relationship becomes more complicated. All three struggle with love and friendship – a line that can seem so clearly divided but is not.

With 4 nominations at the Golden Horses, this movie caused a stir in Taiwan, both in terms of theme and story. Fortunately, it did not sink into typical Taiwanese melodramatic mode. The director takes his time to unfold, filled with awkward yet genuine moments. Note the parallels that he draws, and the subtle contrast between scenes reveal more than what is said.

Many times, the audience may feel frustrated with the slow pacing, and wished that the characters would just acknowledge what they feel. Perhaps this is a reflection of individuals being unaccepted and different in society, whether you are a gay, migrant or loner. You may just identify with the 3 characters’ suppression and lack of ability to communicate.

With Lan Yu winning the Golden Horse, and Brokeback Mountain the Golden Globes paving the way, homosexual themed movies have started arriving to the shores of Singapore (with some censorship). Just a few years before, it would almost seem impossible that movies like Eternal Summer would be screen here. Liberation of the authorities or sophistication of the audience?

To emphasize, this is not just another ‘gay’ movie, and may disappoint those going for the wrong reasons. With the tagline "No One Wishes To Be Lonely, Neither Do We", it can be viewed as a beautifully shot movie on the pains of growing up, friendship and love.

Eternal Summer - A beautiful movie on relationships

Love and Honor 武士の一分


Director: Yoji Yamada
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan, Takashi Sasano
RunTime: 121 min
Genre: Drama (Japanese)
Rating: TBA

Like fine Japanese cuisine, Love and Honor has to be delicately consumed.

Perhaps this is not suitable for those expecting fights and killings in a movie about samurai warriors. In fact, the last piece of the trilogy after director Yoji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade differs quite a bit in terms of the style.

Simplicity is key. Such is the life of Shinnojo (Takuya Kimura) whose job as a samurai was to taste food for the clan’s lord. There is nothing exciting about his future, merely staying frugal with his dedicated wife Kayo (Rei Dan) and humble servant Tokuhei. After tasting poison accidentally, he not only lost his sight, pride as a samurai, and willingness to fight.

There may be nothing elaborate about the predictable storyline, but it is how the director cooks up a piece unlike previously overdone recipes of success. Watching the movie is like reading a poem, to be slowly appreciated. The film plays with metaphors and camera angles, and the patient audience must savour its dedication to merging art with entertainment.

Takura Kimura proves that he is not just only a pretty pop idol from SMAP, but one who can act as a blind with controlled emotions. His wife Rei Dan emits vulnerability and strength at the same time, which can remind many of the television character Oshin. The other supporting roles, namely the servant and nosey auntie who are the spices and comic relief, also provides a mirror to the realities of life.

It can be easy for such a film to fall into melodramatic tragedy or fast sword-fighting saga, but the film maintained its integrity. A movie of sense, sensibility and samurais, Love and Honor may not appeal to a mainstream audience, but the rest will slowly relish its fine taste.

Love and Honor - Sense, sensibility and samurai

The Kallang Wave


Director: Yanfeng Lee, Mohd Hanafi
Featured Interviews: Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab, David Lee, Quah Kim Song, Godfrey Roberts, S Subramani, Jeffrey Low, P N Sivaji, Edwin Yeo
RunTime: 75 mins
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG
Release Date: 19th April 2007

Local film productions need all the support they can.

2006 was a rewarding year for the local movie industry. But while many films such as the documentary Singapore Gaga reflect the local culture, the concern is that they cannot reach out to an international audience or the masses. The Kallang Wave falls into the same category.

The release of this documentary on soccer is timely with the demolition of the National Stadium, which represented pride and memories. We see the decline of the local teams as contrasted with the uprising popularity of the foreign premiere leagues. This is also paralleled with the modernization of Singapore’s society. Who exactly is at fault? Globalisation or the other 'G'?

Interviews are plentiful and highly opinioned. Local soccer fans would be familiar with names such as Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab, Quah Kim Song, David Lee and commentators Jeffrey Low and Edwin Yeo. Indeed, it brought back many fond memories of the wave, spirit and cheers if you ever watched a match at the National Stadium then.

If you belong to the generation when 'ole ole' and ‘kelong’ (match mixing) were popularised, then you would have gained some insights into the rise and fall of the sport.

However, if you are clueless to local soccer, the movie would be very distant as well. Towards the middle, there were just too many talking heads that lacked focus and demanded full concentration from the audience. The clumsiness of first time filmmakers in dealing with scripting, editing and interviewing skills also showed. The voice over in a deliberate bid to sound 'Singaporean' lost its genuinity.

While The Kallang Wave is not a film about "society coming to grips with its place in a cold and unfamiliar new world" as described, it is a commendable effort to document this piece of history. Like Singapore’s soccer, our movie makers have a long way to go, but the progress has at least been promising.

The Kallang Wave - Commendable effort, slow performance



Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh
RunTime: 107 mins
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: PG (Some Coarse Language & Violence)

Few make good Sci-Fi Movies.

Most Sci-Fi movies opt for a mix of politics (Minority Report), disasters (Armageddon) or fantasy (Matrix) to assure box office success. The rest falls into the B-grade mediocre category, which diminished the genre’s credibility.

In the light of the rise of Sci-Fi shows such as Battlestar Galactica and upcoming Star Trek XI, Sunshine’s timing is appropriate. After all, it boosts big names such as director Danny Boyle (Millions, Trainspotting) and Fantastic Four’s Chris Evan and Michelle Yeoh.

Good Sci-Fi films have a mix of science, research and technology. It bases future predictions with possible and speculative scenarios with present findings. In this case, the sun will die and lose its heat 50 years later. The only sense of hope is by sending a team of 8 in spaceship to reignite part of the sun.

There are accidents, mistakes made and life endangering situations along the way. The excitement comes when the 8 struggles to survive, speculate and start losing their sanity. Mankind will not change, past or future. And the struggle to survive is their most basic instinct.

The story starts off promisingly. Every cast member is representative of a certain type of human behaviour from the selfish, to stubborn, to the sacrificial. It has a good mix of international actors (especially Asians), probably so because predictions say that the future world will belong to the American and Asian powerhouses.

Unfortunately, like the spaceship on the voyage, towards the end of the journey becomes mediocre and haphazard. Be prepared for an anti-climax. At least, the movie recovers itself before it falls into a bottomless pit.

Sunshine – Very promising start, mildly disappointing ending



Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Danny Glover, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas
RunTime: 124 mins
Genre: Action/ Adventure
Rating: NC16 (Violence)

Shooter is a 'for-him' movie, purely for entertainment. It's all about guns, explosions and conspiracies. Bang Bang.

In this action packed thriller, Mark Wahlberg plays a sniper who leaves the military after the last mission killed his best partner. He is asked back to service to prevent the assassination of the US president. There is more than meets the eye, and he is double crossed once again.

There are numerous action movies involving politics and gunfire. Assassinating the president is nothing new in cinema (Do so many people want him dead?). Add that to a supermarket list of cars blowing, houses blowing, heads blowing, buildings blowing, and a gorgeous female lead (with lot of skin), you can buy out your perfect Hollywood entertainment.

Despite being over 2 hours, there is non-stop adrenalin rush, and every shoot and explosion gets bigger and climatic along the way. So reminiscent of Die Hard. Imagine a better looking Bruce Willis walking in extreme slow motion with the American flag waving behind.

Mark Wahlberg went from underwear model, to a respected actor in The Departed, and now male lead of this US Number 1 movie. Make that three No 1s in a row. Never mind the lack of an intelligent plot, ridiculous ending, and what some critics say, this is what the masses enjoy.

There may not be too many plot twists to test your intellect though. With just plenty of heads being blown up, Shooter is one of those movies that you can safely park your brain away to enjoy.

Shooter - For Him Movie

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