Noah: provocative but thoughtful

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Directed by Darren Aronofsky      
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Anthony Hopkins      
138 minutes

After Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise, Cain committed the first murder and killed his own brother. His descendants have built cities and exhausted creation’s resources, wounding the earth and risking the survival of all animal species. Only a few descendants of Seth, Noah and his family, continue to live according to the Creator’s laws.

One day Noah has a vision of the punishment the Creator plans to unleash upon men: the flood. His task is build an ark to save the innocent animals. So he sets to work with the help of the Guardians (angels who have fallen to earth because of their love for mankind). But Tubal-Cain, a violent descendant of Cain, stands in his way and even… click here to read whole article and make comments



Divergent: another teen trilogy about growing pains

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Directed by Neil Hamburger        
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Jay Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q      
140 minutes      

A dystopian Chicago of the future. The few survivors of a terrible war a hundred years before have created a new society divided into five factions based on their virtues (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite). Each faction has its own role. Every year, all 16-year-olds take an aptitude test that will tell them to which faction they belong.

Beatrice Prior comes from an Abnegant family. Her test, however, reveals that she belongs to a rare and dangerous category called Divergent: people who have not one virtue, but several, making them uncontrollable. She has to choose one faction and she chooses Dauntless. It is the beginning of a dangerous path that will lead her to… click here to read whole article and make comments



Cinema classics: Dial M for Murder

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Dial M For Murder (1954)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Who’s in it? Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cumming

What’s it about? Pioneering at the time, Hitchcock’s colourful adaptation of Frederick Knott’s play was one of the first films shot in first generation 3D. When a rich tennis pro (Milland) suspects his high society wife (Kelly) of having an affair, he blackmails a retired soldier to kill her and make it look like a bungled burglary. He is convinced he’s arranged the perfect murder – but things don’t go according to plan. His wife fights back and kills her assailant. Using only two sets to recreate the stage play’s proximity to the audience, the Vertigo director wrings every ounce of suspense and drama out of the source material. Hitchcock famously quipped concerning the nascent technology that 3D was a “nine-day wonder and I came in on the ninth day”. The film’s… click here to read whole article and make comments



Cinema classics: Goodbye, Mr Chips

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Goodbye Mr Chips (1939)

Directed by Sam Wood 

Who’s in it? Robert Donat, Greer Garson

What’s it about? Adapted from James Hilton’s 1934 novel, Goodbye Mr Chips is a poignant depiction of the innocence of childhood and the childhood of innocence. A beloved public schoolteacher (an Oscar-winning Donat) moulds the young minds in his care into promising young men, only to see his former pupils conscripted into the army at the outbreak of World War I. This thematically ambitious biopic follows the key stages in the life of our eponymous hero, spanning two centuries from 1870 to 1933, as he meets his wife (Garson), falls in love, learns to live and lives to teach.

Memorable Moments? The sequence in which Donat’s socially awkward and sincere schoolteacher sees the love of his life off on the train as she says “Goodbye Mr. Chips”, is a neat metaphor for the film’s accessible nostalgia and hopeful… click here to read whole article and make comments



Quirky story with quirkier characters

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The Grand Budapest Hotel     
Directed by Wes Anderson    
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson  
99 minutes    

I came to appreciate Wes Anderson‘s films through his third feature film The Royal Tennenbaum a few years after its release in 2001. I enjoyed it but I didn’t immediately become a fan right away, his movies are definitely an acquired taste. Since then I have only seen three more from his work, The Darjeeling Limited, The Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.

This film centers on the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Bringing Laos to Hollywood: The Rocket

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The Rocket (2013)

Directed by Kim Mourdant 

Who’s in it? Sitthiphon Disamoe, Loungnam Kaosainam, Suthep Po-Ngam

What’s it about? Australian produced independent drama The Rocket, set and shot on location in an impoverished but vibrant post-war Laos, tells the incredible story of a young boy forced to emigrate with his family when their village is displaced by the construction of an enormous government funded Dam. In a dramatic and life-changing journey in search of a new home, Ahlo must come to terms with the prospect of starting from scratch in the face of indiscriminate misfortune and personal tragedy, which somehow manage to co-exist with the hope and happiness he finds in an unexpected friendship. A culturally intriguing and discomforting watch, The Rocket is a unique look at the ups and downs of life and the choices we make in response.

Memorable Moments? Ahlo scrounging in a cave (once the site of a wartime… click here to read whole article and make comments



Mr. Peabody & Sherman lacks sparkle

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Mr. Peabody & Sherman     
Directed by Rob Minkoff   
Voices of Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Leslie Mann, Stephen Colbert, Allison Janney      
DreamWorks animation, 92 minutes       

Mr. Peabody is a talking dog and the inventor of a time machine, who is the dad of a human orphan, Sherman. Father and son share secret extraordinary adventures, but that does not stop one of Sherman’s classmates, Penny, from cruelly teasing Sherman about his unusual dad. The fight gets so out of control that Sherman ends up with the head of the school so Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents over for dinner for some damage control. When his son shows Penny their time machine and the little girl ends up in ancient Egypt, Mr. Peabody has no choice but to go back to the past with Sherman and try to save the world.

Mr. Peabody… click here to read whole article and make comments



Classic cinema: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)   
Directed by Frank Capra

It’s always wonderful to see when ‘the actor and the role meets,’ that is when a role seems to be tailor-made for an actor that it’s as he disappears into that character. I felt that was the case with Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, and here, James Stewart seemed to have become Jefferson Smith despite not being the first choice for the role. The role was meant for Gary Cooper who was supposed to reprise a similar one he did in Mr Deeds Goes To Town (also by Capra), but he was unavailable. Having seen this film, I can’t picture anybody else but Stewart in the role.

What’s interesting about this film is that even though the subject matter is about American politics, it doesn’t concern a specific party; we’re never told if… click here to read whole article and make comments



Cinema classics: Sunset Boulevard

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Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Directed by Billy Wilder 

Who’s in it? William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Norma Desmond, Eric Von Stroheim

What’s it about? This classic film noir features one of Hollywood’s greatest opening sequences and a whole host of big name cameos, including legendary directors and silent era icons Cecil B. DeMille and Buster Keaton as themselves, in a story about a fading silent film star (Swanson) fantasising about a return to the silver screen and the failed screenwriter (Holden) lured into the ageing star’s intoxicating and precarious world of tainted glory and fragile hope. Winning three of the 11 Oscars it was nominated for, Sunset Boulevard is a bone fide classic of American cinema and was justifiably ranked 12thon the AFI’s list of 100 Best American Films of the 20th Century. The film was also one of the first to be preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry given its… click here to read whole article and make comments



Winter’s Tale

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Winters Tale  
Directed by Akiva Goldsman     
Starring Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Will Smith,
Jennifer Connelly     
118 minutes     

Let me preface this review by saying that Akiva Goldsman should stick to writing screenplays or producing films instead of working behind the camera. In his debut feature, Goldsman is wearing multiple hats as producer, writer and director.

The film begins in turn-of-the-century New York City, where the protagonist, Peter Lake, has a Moses-like beginning. His immigrant parents are denied admission at Ellis Island and his dad sets baby Peter adrift in New York harbor in a miniature model ship called City of Justice. Fast forward to about 30-some years and we find Peter (Colin Farrell, sporting an odd haircut) on the run from Irish gangsters led by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe, trying his best to mimic Farrell’s Irish accent).

Miraculously, he’s saved by… click here to read whole article and make comments


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