Monday, November 29, 2010


It doesn't help very much to keep your age under wraps when your idea of a Monday escape is to catch a movie full of Hollywood veterans - Bruce Willis [55 years], John Malkovich [56 years], Morgan Freeman [73 years], and Dame Helen Mirren [65 years] - you're either trying to act 'older' which should be a ludicrous intent unless you're trying to impress younger company, or you're in fact acting your age!

The start was age-appropriate [for those aged 40 and above]: Bruce Willis as Frank Moses chatting on the phone with Sarah [Mary Louis Parker's character] who works in a pension office. Both are single and have yet to meet. Conversation tone: familiar, cautious, very alone both sides. FREEZE THIS FRAME IN YOUR MIND: in this time and age, chatting on the phone is really only for those not hip or young enough to be on Facebook or Twitter. Frank is trying to have a 'normal' life and catching up with the help of romance novels while Sarah fantasizes about living life dangerously with a hero. Both got their ends of the deal when pursued by the CIA in their effort to clean up evidence.

I got my end of the deal on this cool rainy Monday just soaking in the drama, the action, the artillery power, the brilliant acting, and the synergy of maturity and wit among the cast. TOTALLY GRATIFYING.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

PRECIOUS [Lido Cinema 7 theatrette]

Now and then, there is a movie that comes along to remind you that the face of pain does not look the same on everyone, and behind the pain is a private box of dreams and hope and goodness ... especially, in a young person. PRECIOUS is such a movie. It reminds me that every life that I have an opportunity to touch is precious beyond my human ability to understand it. I just have to give every life my tender loving care because there's much more I do not understand about how much it means to God. 

This movie is definitely not for the faint-hearted: scenes of violence, rape, the mental, emotional and physical violation of a dependent, pain that numbs one into silence, and that these are the ongoing daily realities of some people make it heart-wrenching and cause your guts to turn inside. I was shaken, to say the least. 

Write what you feel. write what you are going through. Everything that comes to mind. Precious' literacy teacher, Ms Blu Rain, urged the class of about 10 illiterate girls daily. They wrote through their tears and fears. They were not to give up on writing and reading but go beyond where the pain and limitations in their lives would have them stuck. Empowerment through literacy is a choice and the only light at the end of the dark tunnels of their lives.

I chose this movie to open up myself to see social dysfunctions and got more than I bargained for. This movie will open your eyes to not only familial dysfuctions and how they destroy lives, but also to yourself as a person - vulnerable to be hurt - and to the degenerating effects of abuse to one's thoughts, choices and emotions. It evokes your compassion for another that transcends skin colour and socio-economic background,  cautions you that human dysfunction, survival and hope is universal, and reminds you (against the glimpses of the church and the whiff of gospel singing in the movie) that God's love releases the human soul in a way nothing else can.  

Go see it ... prepared.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Karate Kid 2010 [Cineleisure Orchard]

Great Sunday afternoon entertainment for the family, points of interest being Jacky Chan, Will Smith's son, 12-year-old Jayden Smith, and the unique combination of wit and comedy that comes through black and Chinese collaborations. The plot of this updated version stayed true to the original - single mum moving away with her son who's bullied in school because of his crush on a girl and in a state of being beaten out of his senses, the young protagonist found protection and defence from a handyman who turns out to be a kungfu master in the closet.

What's enjoyable and delightful about this movie for me is the absence of a Hollywood Asian actor adopting a fake Asian accent. What's authentic is that for once, in an action movie, Jacky Chan, as kungfu master Mr Han, didn't overact to show his stuff. The 12-year-old protagonist, Drey Parker, also wasn't trying too hard to be Chinese but was surprised that power or physical prowess begins with personal discipline over the smallest things in life such as picking up his jacket and hanging it on a stand - stuff that would please his mum. So it was no surprise that his kungfu master would pick up this lack of personal discipline and use it to hone his kungfu skills. As a mum of 3 teens who dump their clothes all over the place, this was the stuff of sheer pleasure and gratification! Even with black mums, even in China, teens should pick up their clothes!

Drey's morphing from prey to prowess was gradual considering of course that this is a movie. Scenes from Great Wall of China and other postcard quality locations became backdrops only because of the intensity and authenticity of Mr Han persona. My daughter's favourite scene was when Mr Han sat and cried in the car that killed his wife and son. For me, the frame for a poignant moment was when he recalled that on that fateful night, he was enraged over something that he could not even remember later but it was powerful enough to cause him to lose focus and crash, leading to their deaths. What an awesome reminder that we often lose the big picture over small stuff with our closest ones, leaving us with only mountains of regret and fragments of happy memories.

The development of the friendship between Mr Han and Drey Parker through the sharing of private pains made it real and vulnerable, and they left it as that. Which makes it real and not over-optimistic.

There was one scene apparently from a mountain-top where a female kungfu disciple was perched outside a building in a stationary position facing a cobra. Drey stared mesmerized for a long time waiting for something to happen between the snake and the woman when Mr Han explained that it is not the woman following the serpent but the serpent mimicking the woman. Then Drey concluded, "She's controlling the cobra by doing nothing?" From Mr Han came the wisdom: "Being still and doing nothing are very different things."

Very true. I'm so aware that often times, when I'm alone with God that I'm more engaged in my thoughts than with Him! Indeed, being still and being available to God are also very different things!

Out of this movie, I love the Jacky Chan I saw, the China I saw, the persuasion toward things Chinese I saw, and the little Karate Kid I saw who looks he could be my nephew! Love the movie!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

DATE NIGHT [GV @ Vivocity]

The feeling of lethargy on a very hot day took me to chill in the air-conditioned theatre with this after-you-get-married-and-have-kids comedy about a couple facing marital lethargy. Tina Fey and Mark Carell is the endearing couple who is so married they forgot how to dress up and make dinner reservations in uptown New York City. But life escalated with excitement when they took another couple's reservation by impersonation and got more than the table they bargained for.

Fey and Carell played the fumbling too-married unglam couple as real as you can get. [I just suffered a TV reality show where a woman had her ex-boyfriend take over her 2 young daughters for a weekend to experience the 'reality' of raising kids! The way he was smiling through the two girls' incessant ill-behaviour and his own immaturity is unbelievable. So, off I went to catch a real movie to compensate for having endured a fake one passing off as reality TV.]

In the movie, Mark Wahlberg's role as a private security detective represented sleek city sophistication whose presence makes any married man polish up his manners and a married woman straighten up her back. His constant state of shirtlessness [baring a super-shiny upper torso] in his super urban abode had distracting and differing effects on both the husband and wife. But am I normal? I was swooned more by the ultra high-end IT getup in his home-office and his fleet of power motors!

Glad I went for the show today!

Friday, March 5, 2010


Alice returns to Wonderland with a sense of dejavu in more than one way. Then a curious child, now she's a full-blooded teen. And having a smiling Cheshire cat habitually and arbitrarily showing up in her dreams have made him the nocturnal visitor she has resigned to accept!

The story unfolds in a time when external appearances mattered more than personal preferences. We quickly see Alice making a statement against the decorum defiantly producing evidence of the absence of corset and stockings in her summer dress-up to her widowed and distressed mother. Ironically, she was on her way to a garden party that, unbeknownst to her, would take her to the threshold of betrothal.

Facing immense pressure to fit a prescribed role, Alice found courage from her inner voice, "Everyone expects me to [say yes], but this is happening so fast." Then, she continued before dashing away, "I think I need a moment."

Running away from facing a public marriage proposal where she was set up to say 'Yes', she found respite and growing clarity through a breakaway that gave vitality to her inner voice.

This breakaway involved falling into a hole and cascading down a long tunnel at the end of which she quickly found herself in a room facing a series of closed doors. The thing about doors is that it seems to compel you to reach for the handle.

She soon found the key and discovered that she had to be of the right fit to go through the right door. Surprisingly, for someone who had prior experience through the same passage, she fumbled getting into the right size for the right door. Watching her unobtrusively, a voice commented, "You'd think she would know!"

Once on the other side of the right door, Alice instantly came face to face with a path of uncertainty and the question of "Who are you?".

Those previously acquainted with the younger Alice soon observed a different persona in her that made them doubt her originality. The Cheshire cat declared, "You're not the same as've lost your 'muchness'." He was inferring to her previous sense of adventure.

Alice shot back a sharp retort, "I have been shrunk, stretched, stuffed into pot... everybody's telling me what to do.. this is my dream and I'm making the path... to find the sword to fight evil."

I'd gone to the movies to escape from 'processing expectations' and to find place for the 'me'. And so, in a strange way, I felt exposed by hearing what's in my heart spoken by Alice! Yes, it's one of those days you feel you're walking along the margins.

Right before the epic confrrontation between the inimitable Red Queen and the White Queen, the latter declared, "The armour is complete, now we need a champion."  Then, turning to Alice she said, "You can't make your choice to please others. You have to make the choice [for] yourself."

Once again, when it seemed like she was set up for an answer that would please others, this time however, she given the choice to be honest instead. And a Champion was indeed born by the empowerment of choice and honesty.

I begin to see that relying on a set up of circumstances rather than the empowerment of choice for people produce more casualties than champions.

Finally, Alice, finding herself, became the Champion who faced the formidable Jabberwock whom she was destined to take down. She drew courage from thinking of six impossible things that had become possible in her life. Much like the mental list of God's goodness that I draw on in times of desolation.

Truly, in many ways, I felt like I went through the tunnel with Alice and journeyed with her. Truly, it was a well-timed movie. Cathartic for anyone who needs the empowerment of choice!

Friday, February 19, 2010


I find the emotional transparency of the key characters altogether riveting and refreshing. Emotional wasabi! NINE first grabbed my attention when the entire female cast appeared on Larry King Live. Seven superstar actresses helped deliver the necessary vibes and intensities for the story to come alive.

The key female characters in the life of the maestro [played by Daniel Day-Lewis] carried different cognitive and social symbolisms.

Judi Dench as the stage costume designer, Lilli, respresents the wisdom and refuge every man wants to run to every so often.
Sophia Loren as the mother describes the invisible but solid imprints a mother has on her son's heart that no woman can contend with.
Penelope Cruz as Carla is a symbol of the extent of lies and secrecy that a man would craft to contain a lawless life.
Nicole Kidman played Claudia, the maestro's muse who represent the 'better half' man always imagine exist where his wife lacks.
Marion Cotillard as Luisa, the maestro's wife, represents the stability of truth that a man needs but may contend with all his life.

Luisa sings her private pain of living with a husband who lives an illusionary existence,

"My husband makes movies,
To make them he lives a kind of dream,
In which his actions aren't always what they seem...
Some men run banks, some rule the world
Some earn their living making bread
My husband, he goes a little crazy
Making movies instead
My husband spins fantasies
He lives them and gives them to you all
Like Michaelangelo he paints his private domes
But can't distinguish what is work and what is home
Some men sells stocks, some men punch clocks
Some leap where others fear to thread
My husband as author and director
Makes up stories in his head.

Guido Contini, Luisa Contini
Number One genius and Number One Fan
Guido Contini, Luisa Contini
Passionate woman in love with this man...
Long ago, long ago ..."

Have a listen to this riveting song on Youtube - 

For me, the surprise twist was to see that in spite of the complexities of lies and fantasies that the maestro inveterately lived out, when his wife left him, his fantasies could not sustain him and the mental and real life scripting stopped. Faced with the prospect of making the movie 'Italian' without a script, he was confronted by the reality he had always avoided - the reality of home and his wife.

After a two-year hiatus from the theatre, Lilli [representing the voice of wisdom] encouraged him to write not fantasies, but what was from his heart. The maestro thus began scripting about himself and his wife. And as the play came into being, Luisa, drew near.

In all, NINE stages a boy-man growing up, and is a powerfully emotive musical with great theatrics to match.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


72 Tenants of Prosperity

As this was an Eric Tsang movie - a sequel to its decades-old predecessor - was hoping it'd be in Cantonese. This was a Chinese New Year family movie but the 'daddy' was caught sleeping through it! Frivolous plot combined with Bollywood-style dancing and low-grade actors, I found my loyalty to Jackie Chung wearing thin over 60 minutes... 

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Valentine's Day
A star-studded romantic drama released on the Valentine's season. A super star-studded movie with all the stars flicking in and out in quick succession - it's exhilerating! For the rare movie-goer, this could make up for many movies to see the many super-stars. As a V-Day feel-good prelude, it delivered the good feel! Especially memorable is Taylor Swift as the ditsy high-school cheerleader!

Afterwards, felt impulsed to invite an old friend for dinner on the actual V-Day and dinner eventually lasted 5 hours! What a memory!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Caught another Sandra Bullock movie with cousin Chin Mei to celebrate her birthday. Totally gratifying for both of us - we sunk happily into the wide and luxurious red wine-coloured seats in the back row of a small theatrette. Very happy to find a story with solid-gold values unfold before us. No comedy here for Sandra Bullock who plays Leigh Ann, a super-efficient woman with wealth and a good head on her shoulders - which in itself is a rare combination. Sharp-eyeing a wandering black student, Michael Oher or Big Mike, she boldly offered to take him in for a night which soon turned into a permanent arrangement.

She provided housing, protection, guidance, education and relationship to Big Mike all with the same degree of firmness that delivers a solid dose of the love and family that he never knew nor know how to respond to. While her actions and intentions were public, her emotions and pain were private. [I can relate to her role and experiences.]

Coming from a highly dysfunctional family and living only with foster families all his life, Big Mike took time to develop emotional connection with anyone and proved challenging even to those with the best of intentions. Eventually, he began to accept Leigh Ann and her family as his.

The high point for me was when Big Mike finally secured a football scholarship at the college of his choice after tremendous hardwork and long-suffering tutoring by Miss Sue [played by Kathy Bates]. As he was saying goodbye to his new adoptive family on the college grounds, Leigh Ann gave him a firm cold hug and quickly retreated to her car to cry privately. But this time, she would not be left uncomforted for by now, he had become more emotionally wired to interpret her moves and understand her love gestures.

Those into American football would find this worthy of their time because real-life coaches also starred. This is a movie I can curl up and watch anytime anyday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Love Happens
about a woman happy doing what she's doing, and being single and confident is not a signal that she is on a love-hunt.