Archive for February, 2015

Movie review: From Vegas to Macau II (2015)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2015 by vincentloy

Oh my God! My over-a-week holiday is over! Have to get back to work tomorrow eventhough I’m still very much in holiday mood. Before beginning to stress myself with workloads waiting tomorrow onward, I enjoyed the most on this last day of my break by watching a Chinese New Year film; From Vegas to Macau II. It is a sequel to a film of the same name released on CNY last year. Chow Yun Fat returned as the main lead, while new casts were added (Nick Cheung, Carina Lau, Shawn Yue, etc). Also not to forget some very good cameo appearances from Wong Jing (director of the movie), Eric Tsang, Nat Chan, and Andy Lau.

m_FVTM2

After foiling the criminal plans of the international money-laundering syndicate DOA, Ken (Chow Yun Fat) from Macau is ready to sit back and enjoy life. Ken’s plan for a calm existence comes to a halt when his protégé, Vincent (Shawn Yue) join Interpol and asks for his master’s help in arresting the real mastermind of DOA, Ms. Aoi. In the adventure, he is involved with former DOA accountant, Mark (Nick Cheung) and his daughter. The story looks to be interesting and explosive. And it is. The movie is full of many action-packed sequences, but that’s not an overall good thing too. Why? I’m expecting more of gamble-related happenings in the film (as the movie’s title suggested). For CNY movie, I’m not eager for actions. Fortunately, the movie delivered quite a number of hilarious spots (particularly Ken’s robot) to get us engaged into the story as it progresses eventhough with very less gamble scenes (the movie deviates away from the theme already just like the first movie too).

VM60714

However, some of the comedic substances and timing in the movie are a bit awkward and appeared ‘forced’ rather than came in naturally for a real good laugh. They tried too hard to make some jokes work, but it didn’t. Exaggerated acting by the cast also could not make it happen. Luckily, at his present age, Chow Yun Fat is still great in comedic role. Nick Cheung is also good. There are a lot of explosions and gun-fightings which for me are distracting. Like I mentioned many times already, I am anticipating more of Chow Yun Fat and the other cast displaying their skill and comedy on the casino tables rather than on gun-fights.

From Vegas to Macau 2 Chow Yun Fat 1

The best scene in the film is during the mahjong game with Wong Jing, Chow Yun Fat, Eric Tsang and Nat Chan in the early part of the movie. But that was very short (how much I wished that the scene would last longer).

Nevertheless, the movie is still a very entertaining one and is good to watch during this festive Chinese New Year. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘From Vegas to Macau II’ a total of 7.2. I heard that this year’s CNY films are mostly bad and boring while this one is already considered the better one. So, I made the right decision by watching this then.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Advertisements

CNY 2015 trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2015 by vincentloy

There goes the end of my four days three nights family trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia. Landed safely at KLIA2 and got back home late last night with many photos, sunburn, heavier luggage, and tiring body. It has been four exhaustive days of walking and climbing a lot of steps. Nevertheless, the trip is a smooth one; we got to visit all the destinations covered in our itineraries in clear sunny weather and I enjoyed Jogjakarta, particularly from its beautiful historical temples of Borobudur and Prambanan.

First day of our trip was nothing but having half of the day spent in the airports from KLIA2 to the very much smaller Jogjakarta airport. The airport over there at Jogja is so small that once you passed through the immigration counter, the place for baggage claim is besides you and the space is as small as my bedroom. On the later part of the day, we stroll through the villages and visited some handicraft centres (ceramic and silverworks), chocolate store, an old mosque with a royal cemetery. Nothing interesting to observe on the first day. So, back to hotel (Crystal Lotus Hotel), a four-star hotel; quite nice but the room is too small.

IMG_7666

Now, the second day is when we truly visits Jogja with all the amazing places planned for the day. First, we went to the Malioboro street, a street with many stalls and shops selling local merchandise like batik, souvenirs, etc. But we are not interested into all that.

IMG_7690

 

Next, we went to the Mount Merapi, a still active volcanic mountain. When we were there, we can still see white gases (smoke) emitted from the tip of the mountain. To further enjoy the most from the area, we took a ride around the mountain by a jeep and observed a damaged settlement (caused by the volcanic eruption few years ago), a huge rock called Alien Rock (spewed out from the volcano), an underground protection chamber, and viewed the magnificent Mount Merapi from different angles and levels. Simply beautiful, but very dusty over there from the many jeeps and sandy roads.

IMG_7730

IMG_7704

IMG_7701

IMG_7719

IMG_7731

Next, is the main highlight of the tour and the main reason I came to Jogja; Borobudur. It is a huge historical Buddhist temple (monument to be exact) built over a thousand years ago. It contains several square platforms topped with three circular platforms and giant stupas with many Buddha statues. Along the walls of the platforms were carvings depicting mostly life of Siddharta Gautama Buddha. The monument is already massive and impressive when looked from the far. When you go in and look closer, there are much more to offer. Simply beautiful and astonishing!

IMG_7795

IMG_7745

IMG_7762

IMG_7753

IMG_7772

After spending most of the time at Borobudur, we also stopped by for a while at smaller candi (temples); Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut. We also managed to drop by at a traditional house (village home) and learn the locals’ daily lifestyle. We also tried on Salak fruit (snake-skin fruit), a very popular fruit over there at Jogja.

IMG_7803

IMG_7804

On the third day of the trip, we went for a city tour in the morning. First, we visited Fort Vredeburg, a fortress built over two hundred years ago by the Dutch. Now, it is a museum that informed to visitors their history through preserved historical items, 3D visualization of historical events (many scaled-down models and human figures with different backdrops) and heritage-style buildings.

IMG_7813

IMG_7826

IMG_7821

Next, we went to Keraton, the palace where the Sultan of Jogja and his family live. It looks ordinary and nothing spectacular. A humble-looking castle with nothing much to impress visitors. Nearby, we also visited Taman Sari, which is known as water castle. The place was once a splendid park of pools and gardens for Sultan to enjoy. Now, it is nothing more than a complex of dilapidated buildings.

IMG_7830

IMG_7833

IMG_7841

The last stop for the day is the Prambanan Temple, a huge Hindu temple (or monument) which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site like Borobudur. Another impressive and visually striking monument! This is like another Angkor Wat but with no single base platform. Very beautiful and intricate stone works. Before we left, we also had a short time for a great shopping nearby there for some clothes and souvenirs.

IMG_7846

IMG_7913

IMG_7893

IMG_7897

IMG_7918

Time flies. As there isn’t any programmes planned on the last day (fourth day) of the trip, we went out to Jogja City Mall which is located not far from our Crystal Lotus Hotel. I purchased some clothes at a very low price if compared to KL. There was a heavy thunderstorm in the afternoon (luckily there wasn’t any rain on the past few days) and that caused massive flood in the city. Observed that before we proceed to that small airport again for flight back home to KL.

That’s it. It’s a quick trip that took only four days and costs a bit over RM 2k per pax including things I bought from the vacation. It’s a tiring trip but worthy, as I really enjoyed visiting some places over there particularly the temples.

(Copyrights reserved for all the images in this post)

Full list of winners alongside with my thoughts for the 87th Academy Awards (Oscars)

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2015 by vincentloy

Finally, the wait is over. The most prestigious and famous film awards in Hollywood, the 87th Academy Awards (or simply known as the Oscars, name of the gold statuettes presented to winners) was held successfully on Sunday’s night, February 22nd, 2015. It’s the Hollywood’s biggest event! Fortunately, I got to watch some key parts of the awards ceremony live in my hotel room in the morning over at Indonesia during my vacation.

oscars-2015

 

Oscar Exhibition in Frankfurt Main

Hereby are the full list of winners for the 87th Oscars alongside with my thoughts on some categories I’m particularly interested on:

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
JK Simmons for Whiplash (Winner)
Robert Duvall for The Judge
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

whiplash_704_jk_0

Comment: A very much predictable outcome. JK Simmons is simply the best among the five nominees. Edward Norton, a strong dark horse could not catch up to Simmons’ tempo in this since the latter also swept most of the supporting actor awards available in the awards season before this Oscars. Very well deserved. He is fantastic in Whiplash.

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero (Winner)
Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
Maleficent – Anna B Sheppard
Mr Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Comment: Also another expected result. The Grand Budapest Hotel simply excels than the others in most of the technical categories but will not turn out to be the best picture winner at the end of the night simply because it lacks the ‘power’ of doing so from the style and type of the story the film delivered. Lovely costumes observed in the film, and so I can say it’s deserving too.

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier (Winner)
Foxcatcher – Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard
Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White

Comment: Ahhaa…The Grand Budapest Hotel again. Also expected, but I actually prefer ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to take this one. But, you know, Oscars don’t really like sci-fi superhero film to win.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Ida – Paweł Pawlikowski (Winner)
Tangerines – Zaza Urushadze
Leviathan – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Wild Tales – Damián Szifrón
Timbuktu – Abderrahmane Sissako

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
The Phone Call – Mat Kirkby, James Lucas (Winner)
Aya – Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham – Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp – Wei Hu, Julien Féret
Parvaneh – Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry (Winner)
Joanna – Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse – Tomasz Sliwinski, Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper – Gabriel Serra
White Earth – Christian Jensen

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley (Winner)
American Sniper – John T Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin
Birdman – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga
Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten
Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee

Comment: Happy for Whiplash to get further recognition besides only the supporting actor category.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman (Winner)
Birdman – Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge, Jason Canovas
Interstellar – Richard King
Unbroken – Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro

Comment: I knew it. The Academy would really wish to honour American Sniper, at least on this single category. Fine.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (Winner)
Laura Dern for Wild
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Emma Stone for Birdman
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods

patricia-arquette-boyhood-2014-movie

Comment: A very much expected result too. Patricia Arquette had been sweeping all supporting actress awards and this should not be an exception. She is lovely as the mother in the movie Boyhood. She deserved the award. Some are actually hoping for Emma Stone to win but I think her acting is not great enough in Birdman to win the Oscars yet.

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Interstellar – Paul J Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R Fisher (Winner)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

Comment: This is the only category that the Academy can really think of to at least honour Interstellar with a single Oscars. Interstellar is really a good movie, but since Gravity (another outer space film last year) had already won many Oscars in the last edition of the awards, the Academy will find it too quick this time to honour another outer space film again. So, Interstellar can only pull this one off. Nothing else eventhough I personally think Interstellar is seriously a very good and intelligent film.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Feast – Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed (Winner)
The Bigger Picture – Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees
The Dam Keeper – Robert Kondo, Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi
Me and My Moulton – Torill Kove
A Single Life – Joris Oprins

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Big Hero 6 (Winner)
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Untitled

Comment: I’m still not done yet with my frustration towards the Academy for not even nominating The Lego Movie. This is the biggest error they had in this year’s Oscars. The Lego Movie easily tops the rest of the films above. Anyway, the reality is it isn’t here. Big Hero 6’s win in this is also quite surprising since many predictors had expected How To Train Your Dragon 2 to win. This is a close race between that and Big Hero 6, but in the end, the latter wins. I enjoyed both films, and so I’m fine with any of those two winning.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock (Winner)
The Imitation Game: Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar: Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods: Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr Turner: Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Comment: The Grand Budapest Hotel is magnificent on its production design and effort. By far one of the most impressive works (in terms of production design) I have seen in recent years. Very well deserved win.

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Birdman: Emmanuel Lubezki (Winner)
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert D Yeoman
Ida: Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr Turner: Dick Pope
Unbroken: Roger Deakins

Comment: Another predictable outcome. Birdman stunned us on its excellent and beautiful cinematography. The use of single-shot style throughout most of the film is remarkable. Who else can beat Birdman on this? No one.

ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
Whiplash – Tom Cross (Winner)
Boyhood – Sandra Adair
The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
American Sniper – Joel Cox, Gary Roach

Comment: Didn’t expect Whiplash will win this too. This is quite a surprise. I expect Boyhood to take this one. It’s no easy to edit many scenes taken in the length of 12 years into a single film beautifully.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky (Winner)
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Glory from Selma – Lonnie Lynn (Common), John Stephens (John Legend) (Winner)
The Lego Movie – Shawn Patterson (Everything Is Awesome)
Beyond the Lights – Diane Warren (Grateful)
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond (I’m Not Gonna Miss You)
Begin Again – Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois (Lost Stars)

Comment: I knew the Academy is not going to let Selma down again by letting the movie’s song to win this. Selma is already snubbed in many nominations, so this is like a consolation for the movie. So now, everything is seriously not awesome for The Lego Movie.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Winner)
Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar
Jóhann Jóhannsson– The Theory of Everything
Gary Yershon – Mr Turner

Comment: Many said that it’s time to honour Alexandre Desplat. He had produced many beautiful movie scores in the past but never wins. So, I’m glad that this time he is recognized finally. However, I don’t really think his score in The Grand Budapest Hotel is as good as Johann Johannsson’s one for The Theory of Everything.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – Birdman (Winner)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
E Max Frye, Dan Futterman – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler

Comment: Wow…Birdman for original screenplay. Also quite a surprise. That means Academy do loves Birdman over Boyhood. The film’s screenplay didn’t feel that ‘original’ or superior than the other nominees. I actually prefer Nightcrawler to win this. Nightcrawler is a great film and is been shut off completely by Academy. That is so mean.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Graham Moore – The Imitation Game (Winner)
Jason Hall – American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson – Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

Comment: Happy for The Imitation Game to win this one at least. It is another excellent and solid film that had quite a number of nominations but is expected to come down maximum to only a single win. So, this is for the movie.

BEST DIRECTOR
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman (Winner)
Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Comment: It’s a tight race between Alejandro and Richard all the way. But in the end, Alejandro wins as all the waves are riding high for Birdman. I actually prefer Richard to win. Hey…he used 12 years to make Boyhood film. That’s already an achievement in the history of the cinema. Pity for Richard.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything (Winner)
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper
Michael Keaton for Birdman

Oscars_2

 

TheTheoryOfEverything

Comment: Yes. I’m excited that Eddie Redmayne wins. He stunned the world from his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything. He nailed the role so well that you actually thinks that it’s Stephen himself in the movie. Before the Oscars, many said this is a very close call between Eddie and Michael. Michael is good in Birdman and I actually had a bit of worry that Michael will take home this too in the current high momentum of Birdman. But fortunately, the Academy made the right decision and honour Eddie instead. A very deserving win.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Julianne Moore for Still Alice (Winner)
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Oscars I_4

 

Still_Alice_Still

Comment: A very much expected result, and I’m happy that Julianne wins. She is overdue for this awards and she had been nominated four times previously in the Oscars but without a single win. This is her time to shine, and yes, she won it. A very professional and great actress, Julianne’s portrayal of a woman struck with Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice is remarkable.

BEST PICTURE
Birdman (Winner)
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

birdman

AAII_2

Comment: Finally, all results revealed. Birdman took home the biggest prize of the night. The best film for the year 2014 recognition by Oscars. I’m fine with it since I personally enjoyed Birdman more than Boyhood. This is a close battle between Birdman and Boyhood from the very beginning. In the end, Birdman flies for the win. Quite deserving eventhough I personally root for The Theory of Everything (but I never think it will win).

Overall thoughts and summary:

  • Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the biggest winner of the night, winning four major prizes: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Now, there is no more reason for you not to watch Birdman if you haven’t. The movie which centred on the excellent acting by the cast, did not actually win anything in the acting categories ironically. Everyone nominated from the cast is second in line to win in their respective categories (Michael behind Eddie for Leading Actor, Edward behind Simmons for Supporting Actor and Emma behind Patricia for Supporting Actress).
  • Boyhood ended the night with only a single win (Best Supporting Actress) disappointingly. It lost out the major battle to Birdman. The movie first is predicted by most to score big in the early awards season, and it did so. But as the season is drawing closer to major guilds and the Oscars, it somehow loses momentum, and that makes way for Birdman to fly high.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel also ties with Birdman as film with the most number of wins. The film won 4, all in technical categories; Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up and Hairstyling and Best Original Score.
  • Whiplash performed better than expected in the Oscars, winning three awards; Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
  • Each films nominated in Best Picture won at least a single award.
  • I personally think that Neil Patrick Harris actually hosted the Oscars better than Ellen deGeneres last year, but most others out there think the otherwise.
  • Overall, the 87th Oscars delivered some very good results to overcome the backlash the Academy received earlier (for this year’s Oscars being the whitest, major snub for Selma, Nightcrawler and The Lego Movie, etc).

neil-patrick-harris

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Happy Chinese New Year! Let’s have a very ‘goat’ year!

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2015 by vincentloy

There’s nothing more important right now than to wish all Chinese a wonderful Happy Lunar New Year! This greeting is particularly extended to my family, relatives, friends and neighbours eventhough it is very unlikely for them to see this. Gong Xi Fa Cai! May all be blessed with great joy, health, wealth, luck and prosperity in this new year of ‘goat’! Yes, this marked the end of the year of horse and the arrival for year of goat! And that’s my Chinese zodiac sign.

30541073-2015-Chinese-New-Year-of-the-Goat-eastern-elements-composition--Stock-Vector

Today is already the Chinese New Year’s Eve! This day will be incomplete without a fulfilling reunion dinner this evening where all family members gather for the last dinner before the beginning of a lunar new year. If you haven’t return to your parents or to your hometown, better get it going now! Priority is on family reunion and celebrating the festival in harmonious and joyous mood together with your close ones. On those returning to hometown, I wish you a safe and relaxing ride home in the middle of inevitable traffic congestion in major highways now.

Yesterday on my last day of work before my lengthy CNY break, I told my colleague that my happiest CNY memory is during the time when I was still a small kid, particularly excited on the second day of CNY when we spent almost the whole day at my eldest aunt’s home with all my aunties, uncles and cousins. It’s a very happening scene with everyone gathered in a huge home chatting, enjoying all CNY snacks, watching TV, playing video games, gambling, playing fireworks and dinner together. I am very fond of those times in the past, which will never be observed again now as people gets older and went on their own way away.

Nevertheless, I’m now filled with very positive CNY mood, and I’m ready to collect angpow, ready to visit my relatives, ready to enjoy all the CNY snacks, and ready for my upcoming oversea trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia with my family beginning this Friday till next week. Hoping for a very great and happy Lunar New Year time ahead, and hope that you will enjoy your CNY too! For others who are not celebrating, Happy Holiday too!

IMLEK

Last but not least, I would like to wish again to all Chinese across the world who are reading this, a Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Spring Festival and Gong Xi Fa Cai! Let’s have a very ‘goat’ (sounds similar to ‘good’) year!!!

best-chinese-new-year-greetings-words-sample-1

 

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Movie review: Triumph in the Skies (2015)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2015 by vincentloy

‘Triumph in the Skies’ is the first film of 2015 that I watched. It is a Hong Kong film and it is an adaptation of a successful TVB series franchise of the same name. However, the movie version is not related to the storyline in the two television dramas from that particular franchise. It brought back some original casts (Francis Ng, Julian Cheung, Kenneth Ma, Elena Kong) but with addition of more (Louis Koo, Sammi Cheng, Charmaine Sheh and Amber Kuo) to add up the glamour to the film version.

Triumph-in-the-Skies-2015-1

What I dislike mostly regarding the film is its plot that is broken down to three separate love stories; Francis and Sammi as a pair, Louis and Charmaine as another pair, and lastly, Julian with Amber. I’m already not a fans of romance movie, and this movie even had three of those to deliver. Oh my God…I can’t stand it. Focusing on one pair is already enough. Eventhough each of the three love stories are quite interesting on their own, but putting them up all together in a single movie is a bit too crowded and makes way for things under-developed. There isn’t enough story development to create spark in this romance-based film, but if they want to go with that, then we might even end up with an over three-hours long movie. A big NO to that too.

Wait…I thought this is supposed to be a pilot-centred drama in the first place. Now, it’s about romance and relationships all over the place. After a scene had shown enough of this pair, then it will switch to the next one, and we saw just the repetition of that in the entire movie till each stories end with very much predictable happy ending. The outcome is quite a boring movie that is only saved by some beautiful sceneries captured in the film. No doubt that this movie delivered fantastic cinematography. I’m worried that it is the only compliment I had for the movie. Ahh…one more…I also enjoyed some light-hearted and hilarious moments in the movie. But those are very little. This isn’t a comedy after all.

As for performance category, nobody stood out since everyone of the main casts had their fair share of time on screen. The only most interesting character in this movie is T.M., portrayed by Sammi Cheng. I like the scene when she performed ‘hit wall’ moves for a commercial with the awkward Francis. I also enjoyed the scene when she explained how she had the ‘T.M.’ nickname. But like I said earlier, none of the characters is given the opportunity to excel in this film that emphasizes too much on the ‘love’ matters unnecessarily.

133992059_14237884535931n

After watching this movie, you will find yourself loving the TVB series (Triumph in the Skies I and II) more. But this movie is still recommended especially for those sweet couples planning to spend their lovely Valentines together in a cinema. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Triumph in the Skies’ (film version) a total of only 6.8. Disappointing. I am expecting things would turn out good when the movie started with the popular theme song by Eason Chan. It raises the bar but everything just went downhill with all the unappealing love stories. It fails to triumph in the skies.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

The much anticipated Chinese New Year is now just few days away.

Posted in Interesting Encounters on February 13, 2015 by vincentloy

‘Dong dong dong chiang…dong dong dong chiang!!!’ This is what I’m hearing frequently nowadays whenever I pass by a Chinese restaurant or when I’m in a supermarket or a shopping mall. It’s an obvious sign that the Chinese New Year festival is coming! Or to be exact, we are now just 6 days from the Lunar New Year celebration. My CNY mood is escalating and with the huge amount of workload I’m burdened with lately, there is a strong desire in me hoping that Chinese New Year will come quick!

By now, I have to work for two more days (next Monday and Tuesday) before I’m off for quite a long break during CNY festival. I will be away for a short getaway to Jogjakarta, Indonesia next week and will only be back during the last week of February. I’m very much looking forward to that! So…my holiday mood now is inevitable! I believe that applies to all the non-Chinese in Malaysia too who will be certainly enjoying the four-days weekend break next week in conjunction with holiday for the first and second day of CNY that falls on next Thursday and Friday.

It’s time to put up CNY festivities up in my blog here. Here, I would like to share a Chinese New Year song (MV) this year performed by our local artistes (from Astro and MYfm). Beautiful and joyous just by listening to it!

Chinese New Year is also not complete without a touching or at least meaningful advertisements by local companies every year for us to appreciate and to think again. This year, an advertisement managed to pull it off nicely. Not only it has a touching CNY-backed story, but the clip also promotes racial unity, particularly important for us in Malaysia as a harmonious multi-racial nation. Here it is:

This is already the last weekend before CNY next week. Have you go for your CNY shopping? New clothes, new accessories, CNY biscuits, cookies, snacks, drinks, etc….. So many to buy, and yet so little money! Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that everyone will enjoy this coming Chinese New Year celebration! Here’s an early ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’ greeting from to all who are celebrating the coming Lunar New Year! It’s the year of goat by the way, if you don’t know.

(I do not own any of the clips in this post which are shared from Youtube)

 

3 movies in a week! ‘Under The Skin’, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and lastly, ‘Birdman’

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2015 by vincentloy

It’s now less than 2 weeks before the Oscars and it’s the perfect time for me to watch some remaining Oscars-nominated films this year before the awards presentation which is scheduled to take place on 22nd February 2015. ‘Under The Skin’ is the first one I watched this week. Eventhough it is not nominated in the Academy Awards, but it gained largely positive reviews and was named one of the best films in 2014 by over 100 publications. So, I will give it a go.

IMG_2027

In the end, I am very annoyed. The movie had just wasted my time. The movie starred Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who preys on men in Scotland and with subsequent event that lead her to begin a process of self-discovery. Looking from this kind of plot, it should be exciting or intense at some points. But not at all. It is more of an artistic film that never suits me. It is very plain and boring. I’m not into this type of movie. The plot betrayed me. I am expecting that this may be a good or exciting science fiction thriller film, but it’s not. Things are creepily dull and silently ‘dead’ in this film. I can’t really appreciate the ‘values’ or the ‘meanings’ from this film. Out of 10 points, I can only rate it 6.0.

Grand-Budapest-Hotel

Next, is ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. This film won Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical in Golden Globe Awards and received five awards from the British Academy Film Awards. It also secured 9 nominations in the upcoming Academy Awards, being the film with most nominations together with ‘Birdman’. Those achievements above encouraged me to try this one. And fortunately, I did. The film is strangely beautiful! It starred Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. The storytelling is interesting and engaging. Ralph Fiennes’ performance in the film is also notably excellent. When I hear his voice, this would always come into my mind automatically; ‘Voldemort’ is back. Haha…The best thing of the film is from its wonderful and creative production designs. Extremely distinctive, fresh and the arts here worked for me. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ a total of 7.8.

birdman

Lastly, it’s time for ‘Birdman’ or ‘The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance’. The story tells on Riggan (Keaton), a faded Hollywood actor famous for his superhero role struggling to mount a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver story. I watched this for the main purpose of checking out Michael Keaton’s performance here that won rave reviews and he is then considered a hot favourite to take home Best Actor in the coming Oscars. For me, I don’t think so. I still prefer Eddie Redmayne in ‘The Theory of Everything’ after seeing both of their performances. Michael Keaton is great in ‘Birdman’. This movie is there to propel Keaton into stardom again. This is his great comeback! But his role here is nothing that challenging compared to that Redmayne’s take on Stephen Hawking role.

Besides than Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone also delivered brilliantly in ‘Birdman’ as supporting casts. Now, everyone is saying that if JK Simmons and Patricia Arquette aren’t in the awards season this year, then it shall be Norton and Stone’s victories in best supporting actor and actress categories. And I agreed on that. Naomi Watts is also great in this movie. Another compliment to the film is on its technique of shooting that appears as a continuous long take throughout most of the whole movie. That is interesting as the director said ‘we live our lives with no editing’. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Birdman’ a total of 7.9. ‘Birdman’ isn’t only a film; there lies a lot of mystery or uncertain meanings behind the story that makes the movie exceptional.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)