Category Archives: Screen Talk

So much more than a gay cowboy film

“I’ve seen Brokeback Mountain twice now, and each time have left the theater unutterably, helplessly sad. I cannot deny the power of true and passionate art to move us, and moved I was, even more after the second try. Yet I wondered about and even mistrusted the gray helplessness that for days I couldn’t shake”

The full commentary is right here – and it’s beautifully written.

Brokeback Mountain – The Shirts

The shirts are pivotal to the whole love theme in Brokeback Mountain – and it’s true.

You first see Ennis and Jack wearing them as they playfully wrestle each other on the last day of their fateful work trip together. Tumbling down the hill (which is kinda sweet), their tenderness turned into violence, when suddenly Jack punch Ennis in the face. Ennis’ nose burst into a spray of blood, of which he rubs using his sleeve (he was wearing the checkered shirt), and Jack trying to stem the flow of blood using his (Jack’s was the blue shirt). That was how both shirts were stained – with Ennis’ blood.

Just before they bid farewell to each other, Ennis said, “I can’t believe I left my shirt in the mountain”, to which Jack just shrugged.

Fast forward to some 20 years later. Ennis was at Jack’s house after learning about his lover’s death. Somehow the parents understood who Ennis was, and they asked him to see Jack’s room. Mrs. Twist has kept the room exactly the same way it was when Jack was a boy – the way he liked it.

It was a heart-wrenching scene. Ennis was in Jack’s closet, examining his boots – when he saw something hidden behind the pillars. To his anguish, it was a hanger with the blood stained shirts. The blue shirt was hanged over the chekered one. It was a sign of love, that Jack was “hugging” Ennis.

(If you still don’t realise it by now, this is the deal. When Ennis “lost” his shirt in the mountain, it was Jack who actually took it. As memory of Ennis? Perhaps. The shirt must has been kept in Jack’s house since the day they said their first farewell. It was four years later after the shirt was hanged in the closet before the lovers met again)

Ennis was beyond tears as he hold and smell the shirts. He rolled them into a bundle, and walked in to the Twist’s kitchen. The mother did not say anything, but put the bundle into a paper bag. “Say you will come and see us,” was all she said.

Fast forward a few more years. It was the final, and perhaps the most heart wrenching scene. Ennis is living alone in a cabin – just the way Jack had wanted. He opened his wardrobe to keep his daughter’s jacket.

The two shirts were hanging on the door, with a picture of Brokeback Mountain by its side. The only difference was that the checkered shirt was hung over the blue shirt. Symbolically…. it means Ennis “hugging” Jack.

The camera zoom out to Ennis. Tears were welling in his eyes as he straighten the shirt and the photo. One can only imagine his sorrow of losing the love of his life. Jack lives on in Ennis’ heart with the shirt – and the memories of Brokeback Mountain.

The shirt was sold on eBay for more than $100K in the name of charity. The studio has cleaned both shirts, but the stain was still there.

If I had the money, I would.

I watched the show for the second time today, and I realise there are so many layers to the story. The more I dwell into it, the more meaning I found, and the more heart broken I become. And I bought the book. The author actually wrote the story along with many other stories. Brokeback Mountain was only part of it, a very thin chapter. I was hoping for one whole book, but…

Yes, I am silly. I admit that. But how can one not be moved by the greatest love story of all time?

Brokeback Mountain

What broke my heart was the joy on Ennis’ face when he saw Jack four years later… and the passionate kiss they share under the wrenched watch of Ennis’ wife…

How Jack missed Ennis so much that it is difficult to stand it…

How Ennis struggle with what seems right but against what his hearts wants…

And how they exchanged postcards for their love “fishing” trips – until Ennis got one stamped with “Deceased”, knowing that his love is gone forever….

… leaving behind two soiled shirts to remember Jack by, and the memories of Brokeback Mountain forever to this heart.

It is indeed one of the deepest, most-moving movie I have ever watch. My heart is broken as I type this, as my mind remembers the pain in Ennis’ eyes when he saw the shirt in Jack’s closet…

That was, perhaps, the defining moment of the whole show.

Despite what he doesn’t want to be, Ennis ended up living alone on a ranch, in a cabin, just the way Jack had wanted… but perhaps, without Jack, Ennis will die all alone.

How can a love grew so strong, going beyond all boundaries of time, gender, and space, to render a man live in anguish for all his life?

it is a reminder to us life is too short to be without love. Seek love, and be loved. I think that is the reason for living.

The Family Stone

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I went for “The Family Stone” without much expectation, thinking of it as another Christmar flick. I wasn’t far from the truth – for it is a movie made for Christmas. All the comedy and feel good elements were there, and it boasts a great cast. However, I didn’t expect the movie to be something so deep and meaningful. I was pleasantly surprised.

From Yahoo! Movie:

“The Stones, a New England family, have their annual holiday gathering. The eldest son brings his girlfriend home to meet his parents, brothers and sisters. The bohemian Stones greet their visitor–a high-powered, controlling New Yorker–with a mix of awkwardness, confusion and hostility. Before the holiday is over, relationships will unravel while new ones are formed, secrets will be revealed, and the family Stone will come together through its extraordinary capacity for love.”

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Sarah Jessica Parker played the uptight, prim-and-proper Meredith, who felt like a fish out of water stepping into the Stone’s family life for Christmas. It was enlightening to watch how she tried to win over the family by doing all the wrong thing. Those who felt themselves as introverted, an outcast in social settings will feel for her. On Christmas Eve, Meredith finally can take it no more and ran away from the house, despite having the support of her sister Julie (Claire Danes) who have just joined her. One thing leads to another… and Meredith ended up with the man who told her to stop trying and be herself. Heart-warming stuff, although not totally unexpected.

Sensitive issues such as racism and homosexuality were cleverly woven into the story. Thad Stone (played by Tyrone Giordano) was in a happy gay relationship with Patrick (Brian White). In one unfortunate incident after another, Meredith was misunderstood being a racist (Patrick was a black), and an uproar was caused at the dinner table when she offended Mama Stone (the incredible Diane Keaton) by suggesting that being gays are not normal. However, all issues were left aside as Thad and Patrick (towards the end of the movie) adopted a kid on their own – a black, no less. A very sweet couple they are.

Another two members of the Stone family provided many moments of laughter throughout the movie. Amy Stone (Rachel McAdams) was the youngest in the family who was inclined to make Meredith’s life miserable. Ben Stone (Luke Wilson) was the happy go lucky guy who eventually took the hand of Meredith from his brother Evarett (Dermot Mulroney).

Dermot gave an incredible performance as Evarett. Bringing Meredith into the lives of the Stone caused the much frictions into the family fabric – much needed for the development of movie plot. Evarett struggled to understand that he did not love Meredith despite all that he went through. But there is a silver lining in his confusion – as he in turn took Julie’s hand (Meredith’s sister) in a lovely, more-likely relationship.

The one character that shines throughout the movie has to be Diane Keaton. It is impossible not to be envy of the way she brought the whole family together, despite knowing in her heart she will not last long from a long-fought illness. A tender and heart-wrenching scene with her husband Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) on bed gave a shocking revelation – an incision across her chest where her breasts were taken away. As one realised it was breast cancer which will claim her life soon, it was possibly the first time for many of the audience to see the gruesome yet deeply moving sight.

All in all, The Family Stone was a great movie and I am glad it was the first movie I watched for 2006.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

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Other related links:
IMDB Listing
Reviews on Google
View trailers

Some Trivia:
1) I remember Dermot from an episode of Friends – the one when Rachel returns to work after giving birth to Emma, and Dermot was sitting in her office
2) Normally I wouldn’t a name like “Diane Keaton”, but I did because… Chandler was trying out the celebrities’ blazers for his wedding and Rachel reluctantly told him the blazer was Keaton’s

P.S: As you can see, I am really a Friends freak!

New DVDs

Bought another two DVDs today at HMV – Troy (because I adore Orlando Bloom) and Camp. I must have gone mad.

Chicken Little

I almost forgot to write a review for this movie. And there is a reason for this.

Watched this some time last month with Samuel with Great World City. Other than expecting the characters to be cutesy, I don’t have much expectations on the movie.

Synopsis: Chicken Little (Zach Braff) claims that the sky is falling but it turns out later that it’s not. Chicken Little is then mocked for the next year because he worried the town for no reason. A year passes by and this time the sky really is falling! So it’s now up to Chicken Little to alert the town and prove to them that the aliens are really here!

Oh gosh, it was worse than I thought. Pathetic is the right word. And hence the much delayed review. Maybe I shouldn’t even review the movie – I have better things to do at the moment. But here are some reader’s review over at IMDB:

The movie clocks in at a measly 77 minutes, which as many know is not nearly long enough for a movie. These days a movie should run no less than 90 mins and this film runs 13 minutes less than that. The whole problem is the story here, it starts off promising but then when the sky really does start to fall, the film feels rushed. The story definitely needed some brushing up on and I fear now for Disney that without Pixar they may really be in trouble. The problem was “Chicken Little” had so much potential and a great marketing campaign but the writers didn’t pay any detail to the story to help the film live up to it’s expectations.

In pooling my thoughts to review this movie, I am so highly disappointed that good animation is its only high mark. In this pivotal point in the history of The Walt Disney Company, where its relationship with Pixar is still on the rocks while a new president is stepping up, I wanted this movie to be a smashing success. I wanted this to be the movie that starts another Golden Age revolution, where it is possible that Disney takes the top spot in producing awesome animated movies.

Of course, your opinion may differ than mine. Check out the rest of the (mixed) reviews here.

Ratings: 2 out of 5

View the trailer
Visit the official site

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King Kong

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It was not every day that I went to cinema alone. In fact, this is the very first time I watched a movie alone, accompanied by nothing else but my armful of snacks and drinks.

King Kong is a highly acclaimed movie by Peter Jackson, who brought us the incomparable Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have waited for this movie in much anticipation – with its tear-jerking moments, gory actions and amazing CGI effect.

I was not disappointed. With much attention to details, Peter Jackson has weaved his magic into the entire three hours of the movie. Some of previously commented that the initial part of movie was a bit draggy – but I found it to be very entertaining instead. The first half an hour (at least) was built to introduce the various characters in the movie.

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Naomi Watts was simply fantastic. Yes, one might say she played the “damsel in distress” role in King Kong, but she played it to heart-wrenching perfection. The horror of realising she was the captive of the Skull Island’s monster, and the awed look of her realisation that the King Kong was in her love with her were spell binding.

Jack Black, as the movie producer who shamelessly exploited the captured ape, shown great versatility in the movie, provided many moments of “what the fuck was he thinking?”. Even Adrian Brody who played the screenwriter falling in love with Ann (Watt’s character) deserve mentions as well.

Here’s a synopsis from IMDB:

“Set in the 1930s, this is the story of a group of explorers and documentary filmmakers who travel to the mysterious Skull Island (near Sumatra) to investigate legends of a giant gorilla named Kong. Once there, they discover that King Kong is a real creature, living in a massive jungle where creatures from prehistoric times have been protected and hidden for millions of years. As the explorers search for the great ape, their quest puts them up against both Kong and his dinosaur enemies. Ultimately, it is the attention of a beautiful human woman that soothes Kong long enough for him to be subdued by the explorers and shipped back to New York, where his bleak future involves being put on display in front of humans… but how long can even the mightiest shackles of man hold back an ape 25 feet tall?” – from IMDB

This is one of the best action flick of all time. Although “King Kong” ended on a sad note, it will be one of the greatest movies that I’ll remember. I won’t be surprised if it picks up a few nominations at the Oscar, including Best Picture.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

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Chicken Little

You have seen this many, many times before moves start. Now… see it once more. Cute stuff.

8 Reasons Why Harry Ruled The Box Office This Year

My favourite writer, Neil Humphrey penned a piece on Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire and how it stormed the movie box office everywhere it goes:

The boy wizard is No 1 in North America, Singapore and every one of the 19 other countries where the movie opened last weekend.

And the box-office takings are staggering. At a time when a measly US$2.11 million ($3.59 million) is enough to keep Pride and Prejudice in the American top 10, Harry’s fiery goblet took US$101.42 million.

The rest of the top 10 COMBINED still don’t come close to that figure.

I am deliriously happy, of course. I enjoyed the movie so much that I can’ stop myself gushing about it.

Neil then invited readers to write in with their views why Harry Potter ruling (note to Neil: it’s not rulling) the box office. Here’s my take:

8 Reasons Why Harry Ruled The Box Office This Year

#1 Awesome movie trailers. Those available on Apple website and the official site can positively set any true blue Harry fans’ blood running. The effects are awesome, and the cast was thrilling. It was with the barest constraint that I stopped myself running to the cinema and advanced book my movie tickets the moment it was available.

#2 Widespread promotion. You see it everywhere. On buses. Inside buses. MRT stations. At bus stops. In magazines. Warner Brothers obviously didn’t hold back any advertising budget to make sure everyone, Harry’s fans or not, knew the movie is coming. Even my office was buzzing with it. Those that wasn’t really interested in the movie/book series were really intrigued by all the buzz.

#3 PG Rating. This latest installment of the movie franchise (there will seven in all) is rated PG – with some frightening scene. Parents might hesitate to allow such horror to contaminate their children. But yet some are making the movie-going like an annual family outing. The previous three Potter movies were all rated “General”. By rating this as PG, it automatically get people talking and wanting to see what’s so terrifying in Goblet of Fire that warrant such a label. After watching the show myself, I have to agree – it is one dark movie.

#4 The 4th book is arguably the best. Prior to the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I was 100% convinced that Goblet of Fire is the best book out of the (then) five published. There are plenty of new elements you get to read in the book. JK Rowling weave magic like no other – teen’s angst, magical tournaments, murder (yes, someone got killed), deformed professor, irritating journalist… The book got people like glued for 2-days straight doing little else – naturally, we were all looking forward to it being brought to life on the big screen.

#5 Daniel, Emma and Rupert. The three teen celebrities got so much coverage in the press. Particularly Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) who turned 16 this year, and set many female fans’ hearts on fire. Emma Watson (Hermione), the youngest of the lot, has blossomed into such a beautiful young woman, it’s difficult not to gasp when she appeared all groomed during the beginning of the Yule Ball. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) grew so much taller and, coupled with his long, red-flaming hair and hilarious antics, reminds you of a rock-star in the making. Put these three on the same poster and you get yourself a movie blockbuster.

#6 The Asian Element. Yes, some new Asian actresses were introduce in this movie. Much speculation has been on who will be playing Cho Chang – the pretty witch who was Harry’s crush in the book. It turned out that Katie Leung, a beautiful Scottish actress of Chinese descent was cast for that role. To my surprise, the Patil sisters – Parvati and Padma – were portrayed as Indians! I didn’t realise the name should be Indian names, so it was a pleasant surprise to see more Asian representation in the movie. It might not be too strong a pull for movie-goers at this part of the globe to flock to cinemas, but it is one of the many reasons nonetheless.

#7 A new director. Mike Newell is the third director helming the movie franchise. As many of us (myself included) were a tad uncomfortable with how the previous director did the third movie – Prisoner of Azkaban – we were definitely looking forward to see a different style in this new movie. After all, Newell was well known as the directors for some great movies, such as Four Weddings & One Funeral and Mona Lisa Smile. I was hoping for more emotions, heart-stopping action, perhaps some sex (wahahaha), and I wasn’t disappointed.

#8 Cho Chang & Cedric. In the books, Rowling has portrayed two Hogwarts students, Cho Chang (which I have mentioned in #6) and Cedric Diggory as very good looking. In fact, it was Cedric that Harry was jealous of as he was the one Cho Chang chosen as her dancing partner in the Yule Boy. Described as “handsome, strong and intelligent”, Cedric Diggory was played by Robert Pattinson, a 19-year-old British actor. It was, of course, a brilliant casting decision, and it’s not difficult to see why.

Okay, I must admit I started this post with the intention to list ten reasons why Goblet of Fire is such a hit. It’s tougher than I thought – I mean, I cannot mention things that actually happened in the movie. It gotta be things that the audience experienced before the movie. At #8, my brain freezes and refused to work anymore.

Have any more to add on? Add a comment.

Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire

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The movie was darker, deeper, grander and more exciting than I thought.

When I first saw the trailer, I was very, very excited. It seems to be a great movie, and I can’t wait for it to launch.

When it did, I didn’t manage to watch it right away. My blog list has mixed reactions towards the show. Some loved it, some were not impressed.

So it was with much anticipation that I went to catch the show earlier on at Great World City with Samuel (and he reminded me I watched Prisoner of Azkaban with him last year too!). The moment the show began, I knew why it is labelled PG.

The movie is dark. The very first thing you see is a oile of rotten skull, with Nagani (snake of Voldemort) slithering out of one of them and through a darkened jungle. And the first scene is of a very disgusting looking Voldemort as a foetus-like creature killing an old man.

Without giving much away, let me list my favourite scenes:

1) The arrival of students from Dumstrang and dunno-what-french-school
2) The battle between Harry and the Hungarian Horntail
3) The dialogue between Harry and Ron when they made up after the Yule Ball
4) The flirting scene between Harry and Moaning Mrytle in the prefect’s bathroom
5) The revelation of ghosts from Voldemort’s wand and how they protected Harry

All in all, the new director did follow the book very, very closely, with a few minor changes – no doubt for the sake of cinematography. The stars – Harry, Ron and Hermione – are now in the their teens and they carry the emotions of their character very, very well.

Particularly Harry. I used to cringe when I see Daniel Radcliffe as Harry in the first three installments of this series. I thought his acting was below par and too “fake”

Harry shined brilliantly in this new movie – so bright it outshine Emma Watson as Hermione. Perhaps the fact that Daniel is already 16 in real life (Harry is only 14 in the movie) does help to portray the character of Harry very well.

The supporting cast was simply outstanding. The new characters – Alastair “Madeye” Moody, Rita Skeeter, Cedric Diggogry, Cho Chang – are marvellous additions to the strong cast who has been with the franchise since 4 years ago.

Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire is indeed a blockbuster in its own right. A movie that I would love to watch multiple times – even if I am broke!