Ocean's Thirteen


Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould
RunTime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Genre: Thriller / Comedy
Rating: PG

BanBan: Thank you to Mr TS for your review. I personally find 13 a lot more enjoyable and smart than 12. After a whole string of disappointing sequels, this is the one to catch!

Danny Ocean and his posse are back in this third installment! George Clooney and Brad Pitt reprise their roles as leads Danny and Rusty, both dashing and charming as ever, but a tad older and weary.

Ocean’s new target this time, power-crazy casino conglomerate W Banks, played by the devilish Al Pacino. Banks double crosses one of the original Ocean members, Reuben, and Danny and Rusty gather their team to get back at Banks. Their objective simple but ambitious: rig Bank’s Casino to let everyone win BIG time on opening night of his ultra-flashy, ultra-luxe hotel, thereby bankrupting him. The unlikely ally is Thierry (the villain from Ocean’s Twelve, played by Andy Garcia), hence the 13.

The plot is simpler and a lot more coherent than the second offering, and much more fun too, though a tad too exaggerated! I thoroughly enjoyed the various schemes and the length they go too to accomplish the mission, the twists (there a quite a few), and just the fun and easiness the rest of Ocean’s posse bring about! The film is peppered with humorous dialogues and scenes, like Matt Damon’s prosthetic nose, and a couple of scenes involving Oprah Winfrey.

My only grouse is that everything was cramped in 2 hours so it seemed like a blur, and I felt that some parts were a little exaggerated, especially in terms of the amounts of money and the technicalities involving a power drill!

Ocean's Thirteen - You guys broke the sequel curse

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time


Director: Mamorou Hosod
Voices: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Ayami Kakiuchi, Sachie Hara, Mitsutaka Itakuru
RunTime: 98 mins
Genre: Animation
Rating: PG

In an age where 3D animation is the rage, it is the motivating and simple story that will motivate and inspire. It reminds us of the Japanese's craft in animation and story-telling that have put Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away on the world’s platform.

The winner of Best Animation Film in Japan 2006, this time travel piece reminded me of Run Lola Run, where people have the second chance to change their lives.

Makoto Konno, a teenager that many could identify with, could "leap" backwards through time to improve her falling grades and bad luck. As she started to use this power to shape the future and her relationships with two boys, her final fate may become too hard for her to bear.

It was Makoto's million expressions and simple heart that would draw you into the movie as though you were part of it. Although the ending was a little haphazard, the process of following in her decision making was very thought-provoking.

You might also think about what you would do if you were in her shoes and had that same ability as well. Though I may want to leap back far behind, we must embrace the world we are in. That is sadly, the reality of life.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Hopefully, it can make you treasure your time a lot more

Surf's Up


Director: Chris Buck and Ashley Brannon
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Brian Benben, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, Jane Krakowski, Jon Heder, Mario Cantone, Michael McKean
RunTime: 88 mins
Genre: Animation
Rating: G

Do we really need another movie on penguins? Perhaps yes. While Happy Feet charmed the world with little Mumbles, Surf’s Up is a different ballgame all together. Let’s just say it is not so much a kid’s animation, but more for the older perceptive penguin lovers.

You can probably replace the characters with real human beings and find them all familiar. Cody (Shia LeBeouf from Transformers) the surfer unacceptable by his community, and Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) the weakling best friend, come face-to-face with Geek the big bully in a surf competition. And yes, winning is not everything.

It is the same old moral story of champions and respect, packaged in a more stylistic fashion. An animation mokumentary meets reality tv is indeed a very refreshing take and something you would never really expect.

The jokes and the dig in the genre may be too ‘adult’ for children to take, but there are also cute penguins to delight the young ones.

The story’s predictable but the cool animation and humour ensure you will have splashes of fun.

Surf’s Up - After 5 movies on penguins, this is still able to stand on its own.

Spider Lilies


Director: Zero Chou
Cast: Isabella Leong, Rainie Yang, Shen Jian-Hung, Kris Shie, Shih Yuen-Chieh
RunTime: 94 mins
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rating: R21 (Some Homosexual Content)

I admit that I had a crush on Rainie Yang when I first saw her as the Xiao You in F4’s Meteor Garden. You can imagine my ecstasy when the first autograph session I hosted was for her (!!). She wasn’t like what she portrayed in television, probably a lot more mature and strong.

Isabella Leong started her career as a schoolgirl who talks to bugs, only getting more recognition with her portrayal in Isabella. Thus, when two supposedly cutesy girls from different countries come together for some lesbian action, it would generate lots of publicity and attention.

While the attention was on their homo-exotic scene and Rainie acting as a webcam showgirl, Spider Lilies was about tattoos, lost memories and longing.

The other Taiwanese gay movie Eternal Summer was tighter in storyline and explored the theme of human relationships a lot further. Spider Lilies probably had too many characters and loose ends. The constant flashbacks slowed the pace a lot and did not elevate the movie further.

There were still touching moments, and with most Taiwanese movies, beautiful scenery and lines which would mean more before translation.

And yes, Rainie Yang and Isabella proved that they are more than just cutie pies, but credible actresses like flowers not fully bloomed.

Spider Lilies – Watch not for the wrong reasons

Fantastic Four: The Rise of The Silver Surfer


Director: Tim Story
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon
RunTime: 92 mins
Genre: Superheroes/Action
Rating: PG

Most people either watch Fantastic Four because it is Marvel, or the very hot Jessica Alba and Chris Evans. Unfortunately, this sequel is not marvelous and would not sizzle the screen.

Invisible Woman can’t wait to get married to Mr Fantastic and get babies, and Human Torch can’t wait to get more babes. Is there more to it? Perhaps a short shirtless scene from Chris Evan would add temperatures. Nah, I think not.

There is a new villain, The Silver Surfer, who destroys Earth (think Independence Day) as he races around on his surfer board. As he crosses from country to country, his one-dimensional character and monotonic voice (oh, it’s Laurence Fishburne) do not add value to the doomed state. (On another hand, I must count the number of times the London Eye is destroyed in disaster movies, and China is portayed as some brightly-lighted slum.)

While there was time for some character development in the first movie, this is a straight forward story telling of heroes meets villain. There’s lots of cheesy lines, half the fun and none of the emotions. More for the young. Next.

The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: Fall of a simple sequel

Shrek the Third


Director: Chris Miller, Raman Hui
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, Julie Andrews
RunTime: 92 mins
Genre: Animation
Rating: PG

While Shrek One and Two were full of heart and simplistic charm, Shrek the Third seems to be a messy fanfare of princesses and silly villains.

One mesmerized the world with its fairytale satire and life of our favourite green ogre. Two paved the way for the wide-eyed innocence of Puss In Boots. Three introduced the angry Princess Squad (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty), a whimsy heir Artie voiced by Justin Timberlake, and a forgetful and easily forgotten Merlin.

The jokes just do not work anymore, and it lacks in freshness and smart humour which was present in the last two. Enough of fighting princesses and ugly orge babies. Beyond the razzle dazzle, what we want really is more of the green ogre.

Shrek The Third – Fun, but somewhat disappointing



Director: Douglas McGrath
Starring: Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sigourney Weaver
RunTime: 118 mins
Genre: Drama
Rating: M18 (Some Mature Content)

Sometimes, it’s all about timing.

Released after the Oscar winning Capote where Phillip Seymour Hoffman walked away with the Best Actor, Infamous would always be seen as the second fiddle. Although I personally preferred Hoffman’s performance which was sharper and colder, Toby Jones (last seen in Painted Veil) does a credible job playing the eccentric and effeminate Truman Capote.

Also, Infamous came right smack in the middle of blockbuster sequels, seemed doomed to its fate despite its recognized cast. Among which are Sandra Bullock who plays the his lifelong friend and famous author Nelle Harper Lee (To Kill a Mocking Bird), and Bond Daniel Craig as the torn murderer Perry Smith.

Same two stories. Two different treatments. While Capote was dark and intense, Infamous felt more real with its emotional struggles and documentary styled treatment. The relationship of Truman Capote and Perry Smith became a lot clearer with this

If the witty lines are not enough, you should just watch for the emotional rise and collapse of the author with the highest IQ in America. With thought provoking themes centering around relationship and self, I did walk out of the cinema feeling heavy and disturbed.

Infamous – Different from the last, but just as good, if not better.

Meeting Kelvin Tong


Meeting Kelvin in person has erased all of preconceptions of this talented local director. There were several questions that came to mind before that. Would he be aloof? Can he even speak Mandarin? I was pleasantly surprised.

I have been quite a fan of Kelvin, ever since Channel U’s The Frontline. He somehow managed to make television and a cheesy script look really good. It also reminded me that I rated The Maid 4 stars, which truly sent shivers down my spine.

He was jovial, sincere, very grounded, and could speak really good Mandarin. We discussed about films and the local film industry. At times, I was a mix between film critic and an excited fan who had watched his films since university days.

My first question, “Why Men In White?” He said that he just wanted to do something different, something illogical. People would expect him to do another horror, but he just wanted a project in between to keep his mind of. That he strike me as somebody true to his feelings, without much consideration of the reviewers or the box office. People who have watched his Love Story would also understand.

Again, he cast a group of first-time movie actors for a feature. It was a risky move, but his willingness to give young talents a window of opportunity was admirable.

When I expressed my worry when he is going for the 'social-commentary comedies' genre, something synonymous with Jack Neo's works. He said “Jack is Jack. I am I.” Indeed, he is someone who does not allow himself to be pigeon holed, and just to try out new things.

He does still look aloof when he doesn't smile. But behind that, I could see this 'boy' in him, true to his passion, with an element of 'fun'. This meeting allowed me to see him and his works in a different light.

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