When I first heard that Danny Boyle’s new film Slumdog Millionaire has something to do with the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, I was kind of turned off. After seeing the film, however, I was stunned. Boyle has incorporated the game into the story in such a brilliant manner.
The contestant Jamal Malik (a fantastic performance from Dev Patel) answers the questions not based on his book knowledge, but his past experiences. Every time a question is asked, we get to see the flashback of Jamal’s life in the slum of Mumbai corresponding to the question. Right from the first scene, we get to experience the ghetto part of the city through a breathtaking chasing scene (polices go after the kids) with M.I.A.’s blasting beat.
With an incredible cast, stunning visual, brutal violent and sweet romance, Slumdog is simply irresistible and every scene will leave you breathless. Highly recommended.
Eric, my little nephew, got me hooked on Madagascar three years ago. I used to love watching him (two something at the time) imitating every animal in the movie every time he popped in the DVD. So when the sequel hits the theater, I have to take him and Samantha to see it. Unlike most of Pixar’s animated features, DreamWorks’ Madagascar 2 is strictly for the kids. Except for some quick laughs, I didn’t find anything inspiring, even the visuals. Maybe Eric would convince me when he has a chance to learn the characters. I should have waited until the DVD released then watch it with his live acting, but Eric and Samantha seemed to enjoy the film.
The title of Kevin Smith’s new film tells it like it is. Two best friends, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), make an amateur porn flick to pay their bills. They turned an acting scene into lovemaking romance on camera. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is thin on the plot but thick on profanity and soft pornography. I lost track of how many times the F bomb is dropped in the movie, but I would estimate one every five minutes. Sure there were boobs and dicks whipped out on screen, but the real deal is in the amusing dialogues and the race jokes. While the porn-turned-romance concept is creative, the film turned wearisome, predictable and unconvincing trying to make the transition from sex to love.
I don’t have HBO, but my sister-in-law does; therefore, my wife and I paid her a visit to watch Chris Rock’s Kill the Messenger. Although I was laughing my ass off, I felt kind of embarrass watching it with my sister-in-law and her husband. Rock has been vulgar, but I didn’t expect him to go all out like that.
His sex jokes turned into pornography. I tried hard not to laugh at punch lines like “Pussy is like visa. It accepts everywhere,” or “if he comes, it doesn’t mean that you made him come.” I guess you have to be with a different crowd to enjoy it. Luckily, my wife was reading her book.
Having been a fan of Chris Rock since Bring the Pain, I had an idea of his topics: racism, “nigger,” black vs. white relationships and, of course, politics. I was waiting for some hard blows on McCain, but he only mocked his age, like McCain wants to talk about the future when he “ain’t gonna be there.” The people who know Obama will be under investigation, but the people who know McCain get off easy (“all his friends are dead.”)
This election has brought up some racial issues. For instance, the myth is that black people vote for Obama because he’s black. Rock clarified, “We vote for him not because he’s black. We vote for him because he’s black and qualified.” He hit it right on the spot.
After all these years, Bush remains Rock’s favorite target. He called him “worse president of president.” Rock’s knock out punch is when he responded to the question on the mind of most people. Is America ready for a black president? His answer: “We should be. We just had a retarded one.” Can’t agree more.
Pixar steps up its game once again with a romantic robot animation that is fun for the kids and thoughtful for the parents. Underneath the jaw-dropping CGI, Wall-E raises awareness of environmental pollution and human obesity. The film’s success lays in the imagination of the future (living in space) as well as the humanness quality in the robots. Put simply, Wall-E breaks new ground.
At seventy, George Carlin admits—in his latest HBO comedy special, It’s Bad For Ya—that he is an “old fuck.” The advantage of being old is that you are not responsible for anything even when you “shit in your pants.” What I like most about Carlin is that he could blow an issue (religion for instance) out of proportion, yet still manage to make it laugh-out-out logical. He was a catholic until the age of reasoning. His view on child worship is dead-on: “No one cares about your children. That’s why they are your children.” How many times have you met the parents who only talk about their damn kids? My son is in the best college. My son has the highest GPA. My son has too many girls he doesn’t know who to pick. My son is god. At times I just want to say, “honestly, I don’t give a fuck about your fucking son,” but that’s not a nice thing to say. I am glad I am not alone on this topic. Rock on George!
Jay-Z sort of gave away the movie in his rhymes: “Like Frank Lucas is cool but I ain’t trying to snitch.” Based on a real story, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster is built and fictionalized around the rise and fall of Frank Lucas, CEO of a brand-name dope called “Blue Magic.” Denzel Washington is indeed cool, slick and ruthless in control as Mr. Lucas while Russell Crowe is quiet, nervous and aggressive as the good cop Richie Roberts. Like most mobster flick, this one is laced with bloods, needles, cash, powder, profanities and naked ladies. Listening to Jay-Z’s new album with the same title after having watched the film, references creep up everywhere in his songs.
Ang Lee’s new film, Lust, Caution, tripped up quite a few American critics. Words used in reviews include slow, sleepy and snoozy. The best one is from Anthony Lane’s of the New Yorker: “…ninety-five. That is the number of minutes that elapsed, by my watch, between the start of the film and the start of the sex, and from that you can calculate your own schedule.” A typical Hollywood erotic motion picture would start with a sex scene before the story unfolds. Whereas Lee makes you wait an hour and a half into the film to give you the lust part. Your patience will be rewarded, my friend.
Lee shows no hesitation when pushing the sex button. If he had succeeded with gay sex in Brokeback Mountain, what is there to hold back? The media has always portrayed Asian male as sexless, but Lee has proved them wrong. Lust, Caution reveals a dark, juicy affair between a school-play performer and a cold-blooded traitor. Tony Leung, a handsome, bohemian actor who has never been afraid of walking down the path he has not taken, gives his superb performance as a misogynist bastard who is in ruthless control yet bangs like porn star. Tang Wei has a luscious-yet-innocent look that could melt a frozen heart and increase tremendous testosterone level. Together they bared almost everything—even bushy armpits and pubic hair (Lee is a detail freak).
Lust, Caution clocks in at 158 minutes, yet the progression isn’t tedious at all because Tang Wei, the exotic visual, is in almost every scene. Lee has once again demonstrated the genuine master of his craft.
Revenge of the shitheads. One of the shittiest films of 2006.
Upon viewing Charlie Nguyen’s The Rebel (Dong Mau Anh Hung), I hope the Vietnamese action flick, unlike Vietnamese pop music, won’t be a Chinese-infected entertainment. As soon as the daughter of a secret anti-French leader Vo Thanh Thuy (Ngo Thanh Van) was captured and escaped with the help of Le Van Cuong (Johnny Nguyen) whose mission was to use Thuy to get to her father, Yimou Zhang’s House of the Flying Daggers rings the bell. I am not suggesting that the story was copied; I am just disappointing with lack of originality.
The Rebel relied too much on the fighting scenes to carry the pace. The chorography became repetitive after a few fights. Try to count how many spin kicks Johnny Nguyen had used. Ngo Thanh Van took plenty of beating and slapping. Acting wise, Dustin Nguyen stole the show as a badass villain. He looked tough, heartless, and had the most charisma out the main cast.
The main issue of The Rebel is the dialogue. Sometimes I have to read the English subtitles to understand what Johnny Nguyen, Dustin Nguyen and Nguyen Thang (damn, too many Nguyen) speak in Vietnamese. How ironic is that? The funniest term is used when Nguyen Thang calls Ngo Thanh Van “cho cai” (“bitch”). I have heard a much worst degrading term for female in Vietnamese, but never heard “cho cai” being used in that context.
“What makes you proud of this film?” In an interview, Johnny Nguyen’s answer was: “The fact that Vietnamese could make action film too. We have our own style of fighting.” Sure, bro. But the problem is we’re still short on invention.