Archive for June, 2002

Insomnia – Christopher Nolan

Posted By yonghow on June 29th, 2002

One of these days I should make it a point to get myself the Godfather series and have a look at them. I have only recently watched Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia and found Pacino’s performance so natural and subtle I could have easily believed such a character existed in real life : a fundamentally good cop, treading treacherously in the grey areas of right and wrong and realizing there’s no easy way out once you placed your foot in. The plot was simple and straight forward though not cliche; and it proves even more so that the main character’s performances was riveting enough to keep one’s attention on screen at all times. On a side note, it was interesting to read from imdb that Veteran homicide detective Will Dormer’s last name is a play on the French and Spanish verb dormir, “to sleep”.

Lots of in depth write ups and production notes at the official site : insomnia

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The Eye

Posted By yonghow on June 28th, 2002

Just watched the movie the eye . I must say its quite a commendable effort for a Singapore/HK joint effort although i’m not too sure how much local talent was actually involved in the production. The movie kicked off with some pretty interesting Braille symbols that told us of what was to be expected in the movie ahead, but those hands running behind that fabric effect wasn’t too original ( remember the Beast within, or Videodrome ) or scary. I personally though it was sorta sensual ! Ha ! But that’s just for me. Mostly I felt the editing and sfx was pretty well done, although as the story progressed it got more and more cliche and sorta languished to a slow and predictable end. However the Malaysia actress had a really laudable performance, with really believable acting.

Gatchaman told me about the lift scene and it really did built up to quite a scare but my mind immediately switched off as that old man’s missing face was revealed. Once again i’m convinced that in the face scares just don’t work for me, as would sadako climbing out of that tv wouldn’t. There is one notable point that I would like to point out though – much of the show’s better scares and mood was attributed to its somewhat eerie sfx and music that build up slowly and carried the audience’s attention as it flowed and ebbed. Unfortunately, the sfx and music wasn’t quite original at all – if you are a fan of Kenji Kawai’s music – they were mostly lifted from the Ring soundtrack with its screechy distorted sounds and pounding bassbeats. Take one listen to the Ring soundtrack and you will immediately recognize the unmistakable similarity in the music and sfx. One segment near the end of the show was so strikingly similar I wondered if they credited kenji Kawai for the music.

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The memory of memories

Posted By yonghow on June 13th, 2002

Just this evening I was tidying up one of my neglected cabinets when to my pleasant surprise I struck treasure. Its always funny how some very old things kept away for a long time can elicit memories drawn from that period of time. I’ve always had this foible of collecting movie ticket stubs and what I found predated my existing collection for a good three years. Its akin to an archaelogist finding some significant artifact that predates the existing ones. Hard to describe that feeling. Anyway it was this ticket stub of the closing film for the 9th Singapore Film Festival, held in 1996, titled Memories by the famed animator Otomo Katsuhiro that gave us Akira. It was an excellent film, but the memories associated with it was not least because of that but of a very memorable experience I had just before the show started…

Me and my friend had arrived early at the now defunct Capitol theatre and was making our way up the main entrance, and as we were walking up the steps we suddenly realized a huge group of people beside us also moving into the theatre lobby. With a little curiosity I took a casual glance at that group of people and saw that they were actually herded round this slightly plump, bearded man of about 50 years of age. My friend, ever in a mood for witty remarks, said : “That’s gotta be Otomo himself.” I laughed out loud, saying that it was a ridiculous thought, for he had better things to do than to come down to Singapore for just a screening of his movie. As we settled down in the theatre just before the show started, a commentator appeared on the stage and announced :”Here today we are indeed honoured to have the creator of the animation, Mr Katsuhiro Otomo, to say a few words…”

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Defending Dark Water

Posted By yonghow on June 12th, 2002

I’ve been getting relatively negative reviews about the movie Dark Water whilst I was in camp. No one seems to appreciate the movie for the very cinematic elements ( set design, camera work, editing and music, sfx ) that contribute to its moody and dark atmosphere. All my campmate’s attention were pretty much centered on “only the last part was scary” or “i was only scared when those bumbs appeared on the watertank” and in the worse case, “its a lousy show !”. Suddenly I found myself a self appointed defender of the movie as I argued for its worth, as I would argue for a thousand other movies my friends all deem to be bad. Yes, i agree its a horror movie, scares are necessary, but those few scenes are what I would label as “in your face” scares and had the least impact on me.

Which brings me to the debatable point here : Are movies in general, esoteric ? That means to say that they are only intelligible to those who have special knowledge, and in this context those who have a slightly better understanding of film aesthetics. Shouldn’t a movie be crafted in such a way that the majority of the audience would be able to appreciate its elements without prior acquired knowledge ? It certainly didn’t seem to be the case here. Or perhaps movie audiences here are just so awashed by mainstream hollywood movies that their acquired tastes are conformed to certain treatment, and they quickly reject alternate or different styles of work when they see one ?

I can’t help but relate this to the art scene in the early 20th century where the Paris Salon, the most established academy that exhibits and showcases art pieces, judges entry works by a certain predetermined standard and those not conformed to those are labelled as bad or unorthodox, unrefined. It was also here that the Impressionist painters, Cezzance, Renoir and the like bear the full brunt of the criticism by been different and it was not until much later when they recieved full acclaim for the pieces.

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Dark Water – Hideo Nakata

Posted By yonghow on June 8th, 2002

The Japanese film Dark Water is of the more satisfying horror films i’ve seen in a long while, far surpassing its Hollywood counterparts with their cliche, cheap scares consisting of little more than its fair share of blood and gore, incessant loud and in your face special effects. Dark water succeeds with its intensely eerie combination of dank, superbly lit sets and subtle, almost unbearable camera movement that beckons your eye to follow in anticipation. I was most impressed and petrified by its well lit, or rather under lit corridors, those long arches shrouded in a dark, perpetual gloom that seem to lead to a void of indescribable horror. No one is making me walk down one of those corridors. Though in my opinion the scare factor is still below that of the Ring , Dark water have like what my friend Gatchaman has mentioned, an added dimension of emotional depth that carries the film as more than just a simple horror show, plus at the same time a more subtle social lesson in order : neglect your children, and the worst nightmares that may come to bear will surface will terrifying results.

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