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Just watched my first 2018 movie. Movie review for ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2018 by vincentloy

‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ is the third and last installment of the ‘Maze Runner’ film franchise which is based on a series of novel of the same name. In the first movie ‘The Maze Runner’ released back in 2014, Thomas wakes up in a maze with a group of other boys (Newt, Minho, etc) and later a girl (Teresa) with no memory of the outside world other than dreams about an organization known as W.C.K.D. He slowly remembered his past with clues he discovered in the maze and he attempted to escape the deadly maze with the others. In the second movie ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ released a year later in 2015, Thomas and his group (known as Gladers) continued their journey on the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with obstacles (particularly Cranks, the infected victims from the Flare virus that turned to zombie-like creatures) to find more clues about W.C.K.D.. They have uncovered their plan which is to torture the immunes and extract blood from them to be made as a cure to the virus. They have also teamed up with resistance fighters and Minho is captured in the end. Finally, in this last movie ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’, the group went into W.C.K.D. base in the Last City to rescue Minho and other captured immune kids.

With the quick recap of the whole story explained, now it’s time to move on to my review for this final film. I recommend you to re-watch the first two movies before going to this third one. This movie is quite long (over 2 hours plus) but I am engaged to it from the beginning to its end, thanks to the multiple exhilarating action-packed scenes. The movie is mostly about the mission to enter the enemy’s territory that involves a lot of guns, fights, explosions, and Cranks (the zombies). There is not a a single scene that feels draggy. From the opening scene that involves Mad Max-inspired train hijacking to encounters with Cranks in a tunnel, and then to breaking into the W.C.K.D. labyrinth-like base, everything is fast-paced and thrilling. Besides than actions, the movie also provides time for characters’ development and emotional moments. Conventional young adult films (like The Hunger Games or Divergents) would focus on romance, but this ‘Maze Runner’ series emphasized on friendship (and bromance) and that is what I’m happy about especially from this concluding film that tells a lot more on this aspect. Thomas do love Teresa but nothing much is shown in their relationship (only a quick kiss in the end…sorry for spoiler). Thomas focuses more on his mission to save his friend, Minho and he also reserves most of his emotion to Newt especially in the end when the latter turned into Crank, struggled and killed himself. This movie is doing all the right thing for Newtmas’ fans while staying true to the books. The ending of this movie is an emotional one and it provides a satisfying conclusion to the overall storyline and the friendship between Thomas and Newt.

Dylan O’Brien (as Thomas in the movie) has proven to everyone that he is a great young actor that can take on other more challenging roles from now on (evident from his previous work in ‘American Assassin’). Thomas Brodie-Sangster is perfect for the role of Newt while Ki Hong-lee is also good as Minho. Kaya Scodelario (as Teresa) is also convincing in these three movies altogether. Their chemistry is very good between one another. Although they are just mostly running around in this film series, but I still see effort from them to carry the story through with more matured performances.

The visuals are brilliant. It is obvious that a lot more money is spent on this final installment. The views of the dystopian setting the film is centered on (and views of the Last City) are breathtaking. The set design is also cool (particularly the W.C.K.D. labyrith-like base) while the score is fascinating as well to compliment the visual progression of the movie. This is a very satisfying conclusion to this film series. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ a total of 8.0. I enjoyed this movie a lot. At one point in the past, I was worried that this final installment will not get to see its release date because of a serious accident involving Dylan O’Brien during the early filming of this movie in 2016. The accident has delayed the production for around a year and filming only resumes last year. I’m glad that Dylan recovered and decided to finish the movie and I  compliment his effort in it after a tragic accident from it that almost took his life.

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

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Nomination list for the 90th Academy Awards and my predictions.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2018 by vincentloy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has just released its nomination list for the upcoming 90th Academy Awards (The Oscars) to be held on March 4th, 2018. After months of speculations and predictions on which movies, actors or actresses getting nominated for this prestigious awards, the nomination list is finally revealed. There are some snubs as expected, but overall, the nomination list this year is mostly predictable.

Here below is the full nomination list alongside with my picks on preferred choice and predicted winner and my personal opinions for most of the categories:

NOMINATION LIST FOR THE 90TH ACADEMY AWARDS (aka THE OSCARS)

Best Picture

  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Preferred choice: The Shape of Water

Predicted winner: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Personal opinion: There are 9 movies getting the nomination for this top honor. I am surprised that ‘Phantom Thread’ and ‘Darkest Hour’ are able to sneak in. Notable omission includes ‘I, Tonya’, ‘The Big Sick’, ‘Mudbound’ and ‘The Florida Project’. The frontrunner in this race so far is ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. However, the movie didn’t get a directing nomination which could hurt its chance to win best picture. That also makes way for ‘The Shape of Water’ to climb to the top to snatch best picture as the dark horse. However, I think even without a best director nomination, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is still predicted to win.

Directing

  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
  • Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Preferred choice: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Predicted winner: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Personal opinion: It’s going to be Guillermo del Toro. He has outpaced Christopher Nolan by winning best director at Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice. Christopher Nolan is still a potential spoiler and is another wonderful film director. But this year, it has to be Guillermo del Toro. I’m shocked to see Paul Thomas Anderson getting nominated but not Martin McDonagh who has directed ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, the best picture frontrunner. Steven Spielberg is also missing here from his directing work in ‘The Post’.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Preferred choice: Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)

Predicted winner: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Personal opinion: Academy can put ‘Gary Oldman’ name on the Oscar statuette already. There is nothing in the path to obstruct him on getting his first ever Academy Award. His performance is good in ‘Darkest Hour’ but I actually prefer Timothee Chalamet for his very real, raw and emotional performance in ‘Call Me By Your Name’. Anyway, he is too young for an Oscar (he is only 22 years old) and there’s a long bright path for him after this. So, it’s certainly time to give this to a deserving veteran actor, and that is Gary Oldman. I’m surprised to see James Franco got snubbed here from his role in ‘The Disaster Artist’ (he won Golden Globe for best actor in musical/comedy) and I’m tired of seeing Denzel Washington getting nominated (his way of delivering loud performances is boring to me).

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Meryl Streep, The Post

Preferred choice: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

Predicted winner: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Personal opinion: Frances McDormand is the clear favourite and frontrunner after winning most of the precursor awards by now. This will be her second Oscar. She is good in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ but I don’t really like her strong and slightly aggressive attitude. It’s a pity that Sally Hawkins is not getting that much love from her inspiring work as a mute cleaner in a laboratory who felt in love with an amphibian in the movie ‘The Shape of Water’. I’m saddened that the voters out there didn’t realize how hard it is to portray a mute character while being able to deliver all the emotions perfectly and Sally Hawkins did that. On the other hand, Meryl Streep is nominated yet again. When there is Oscars, there is Meryl Streep. It is her 21st nomination (the most for any actors/actresses) and she did deserves it from her role in ‘The Post’.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Preferred choice: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Predicted winner: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Personal opinion: I’m giving the slight edge to Allison Janney over Laurie Metcalf because the former has a more prominent appearance and a character with louder personality in ‘I, Tonya’. Allison Janney has also won the Golden Globe, Critics Choice and the SAG. Hence, Laurie Metcalf’s position as the frontrunner previously is immediately replaced by Allison Janney.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Preferred choice: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Predicted winner: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Personal opinion: Willem Dafoe is losing momentum and is also giving the frontrunner status to Sam Rockwell by now already as the latter has won Golden Globe, Critics Choice and SAG. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is going strong here with 2 nominations.

Adapted Screenplay

  • Call Me by Your Name
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Logan
  • Molly’s Game
  • Mudbound

Preferred choice: Call Me By Your Name

Predicted winner: Call Me By Your Name

Personal opinion: Surprised to see ‘Logan’ getting its nomination here. Anyway, this category is weak this year and that makes way for ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to win this for sure as it is the only movie nominated here that is also nominated for best picture. Enough said.

Original Screenplay

  • The Big Sick
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Preferred choice: Get Out

Predicted winner: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Personal opinion: Out of these 5 nominees, both ‘Get Out’ and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ had script with brilliant fresh new idea respectively. I favor ‘Get Out’ more as it has a more engaging storyline. However, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ will win this and it’s a hint that this movie will win best picture too (to my disappointment). I couldn’t really get myself into this movie. I find it overrated.

Animated Feature Film

  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent

Preferred choice: Coco

Predicted winner: Coco

Personal opinion: Definitely ‘Coco’. The other nominees are just filling in the spots because they are far behind from ‘Coco’ in everything. ‘Coco’ is not only the best animated film in 2017, but also among the best of all the animated movies that I have watched. Besides that, this category is very weak this year.

Foreign Language Film

  • A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
  • The Insult (Lebanon)
  • Loveless (Russia)
  • Body and Soul (Hungary)
  • The Square (Sweden)

Documentary Feature

  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
  • Faces/Places
  • Icarus
  • Last Men in Aleppo
  • Strong Island

Cinematography

  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Mudbound
  • The Shape of Water

Preferred choice: The Shape of Water

Predicted winner: Blade Runner 2049

Personal opinion: I didn’t watch ‘Blade Runner 2049’ but I have heard a lot of good reviews particularly on its technical achievements. The dark horse in this category is certainly ‘The Shape of Water’.

Film Editing

  • Baby Driver
  • Dunkirk
  • I, Tonya
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Preferred choice: I, Tonya

Predicted winner: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Personal opinion: I am amazed by the editing in ‘I, Tonya’ but I think people have forgotten that and kept remembering how great ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ has performed in the major precursor awards earlier. I have a feeling that voters wanted to give out more awards for ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ and this may be one of them.

Production Design

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water

Preferred choice: The Shape of Water

Predicted winner: The Shape of Water

Personal opinion: ‘The Shape of Water’ stunned me with its amazing production design. The sets are awesome and gave me the feels to get myself immersed into the story and the movie. I would be mad if this movie lost here.

Costume Design

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Darkest Hour
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Shape of Water
  • Victoria & Abdul

Preferred choice: Beauty and the Beast

Predicted winner: Phantom Thread

Personal opinion: ‘Phantom Thread’ is in race for best picture and also in some other categories but it looks like it will not win anything. Costume design is the best shot for the film. The Academy will vote for it just for the sake of giving a consolation (a single win) to the movie.

Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Darkest Hour
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Wonder

Preferred choice: Darkest Hour

Predicted winner: Darkest Hour

Personal opinion: ‘Darkest Hour’ will take this one simply because the transformation of Gary Oldman to portray as Winston Churchill in the movie is phenomenal. I couldn’t even recognize that it was Gary Oldman in there and I have to compliment the very realistic make-up work put on him (must be a lot of effort). Hairtstyling? I think that make-up achievement in that movie is already enough for it to win. Academy should have extended this category to the normal 5 nominees, rather than just 3.

Original Score

  • Dunkirk
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Shape of Water
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Preferred choice: The Shape of Water

Predicted winner: The Shape of Water

Personal opinion: The simple yet magical soundtrack for ‘The Shape of Water’ should and will win this. Alexandre Desplat has yet produced another amazing film score here.

Original Song

  • “Mighty River,” Mudbound
  • “Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
  • “Remember Me,” Coco
  • “Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
  • “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

Preferred choice: ‘This Is Me’ (The Greatest Showman)

Predicted winner: ‘This Is Me’ (The Greatest Showman)

Personal opinion: Although ‘Remember Me’ is a very moving song, but ‘This Is Me’ is more powerful, meaningful and resonates more with the current society in the idea of respecting and treating minorities equally. Hence, I’m giving the edge to ‘This Is Me’. ‘Remember Me’ from ‘Coco’ is still a strong contender.

Sound Editing

  • Baby Driver
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Preferred choice: Baby Driver

Predicted winner: Baby Driver

Personal opinion: I am still confused by the difference between sound ‘editing’ and ‘mixing’. Anyway, I’m putting my bet on ‘Baby Driver’ as the movie did triumphed in sound categories and here is the only chance for it to come on top. I remembered the intentional synchronization of music with the actions by the cast in that movie. That was brilliant.

Sound Mixing

  • Baby Driver
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Preferred choice: Dunkirk

Predicted winner: Dunkirk

Personal opinion: Suddenly, I remembered that ‘Dunkirk’ also excelled in sound categories. ‘Dunkirk’ has loud, intense and climax-building sound works.  I think it will be battle between ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘Dunkirk’ in these two categories. So, why not each one winning one to make things sound fair.

Visual Effects

  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes

Preferred choice: War for the Planet of the Apes

Predicted winner: War for the Planet of the Apes

Personal opinion: I’m surprised to see ‘Kong: Skull Island’ getting a nomination here but I have to say that the movie do have some pretty visuals. But it won’t win. I’m putting my bet on ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ as it is the last film in the reboot ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise (time to acknowledge it) and that the apes in it really look very real.

Animated Short Film

  • Dear Basketball
  • Garden Party
  • Lou
  • Negative Space
  • Revolting Rhymes

Live Action Short Film

  • DeKalb Elementary
  • The Eleven O’Clock
  • My Nephew Emmett
  • The Silent Child
  • Watu WoteAll of Us

Documentary Short Subject

  • Edith and Eddie
  • Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
  • Heroin(e)
  • Knife Skills
  • Traffic Stop

That’s it for the nomination list. ‘The Shape of Water’ leads with 13 nominations. It almost ties the record for being the film with most nominations which now stands at 14 (several other films in the past had reached that record before). It is still an astonishing feat for ‘The Shape of Water’ with that many number of nominations as expected earlier.  ‘Dunkirk’ has the second most nominations, and it is actually far behind with 8 nominations. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is closely behind with 7 nominations and is predicted to win in most of the categories it is nominated, particularly in the acting ones and also for best picture. ‘Phantom Thread’ is getting more love than I expected with 6 nominations. ‘Darkest Hour’ also has 6 nominations. ‘Lady Bird’ has 5 nominations, while ‘Get Out’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’ has 4 nominations respectively. ‘The Post’, the remaining contender for best picture has 2 nominations only (best actress and best picture) and it is obvious that this movie is not getting much love from the Academy. Overall, there is not much major surprises for this year’s nomination list.

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

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is the latest film to join 1-billion dollar club and movie review for ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’ (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2018 by vincentloy

As expected, the latest film in the Star Wars film franchise, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ has grossed over US$ 1 billion on its worldwide box office recently. The movie reached the milestone only about three weeks from its release date. As of 2nd January 2018, the film has grossed US$ 1.056 billion (US$ 533 million from US and Canada and US$ 523 million from all other markets). It is very seldom that the international intake is more than the domestic intake for a film and this ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is an example. It proves that this film franchise is intensely popular in US. On its release week, it has the second largest opening ever if I’m not mistaken.

The movie is now one of the four films in 2017 that grossed over US$ 1 billion respectively. It is currently the 22nd highest grossing film of all time but that ranking is expected to rise further as the movie still observes high attendance from all parts of the world and that it has not even released in China yet. I’m expecting that it will have a final box office intake of somewhere around US$ 1.5 billion. It will not come close to 2015’s ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ that has gained US$ 2.068 billion to become world’s 3rd highest grossing movie of all time (unadjusted for inflation). ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ will ultimately topped the chart as the highest grossing 2017 film, defeating ‘Beauty and the Beast’ that stands at US$ 1.263 billion. The conclusion is; whenever you are producing a Star Wars film, you are sure to get over 1-billion dollar box office return. I’m not a fans of this franchise and I have not watched it yet (no huge interest on it).

Now, let’s talk about another movie and I’m giving my quick review to it now. It’s ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’. I watched it two weeks ago. It’s a sequel to the first ‘Jumanji’ film in 1995(and 2005’s ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure) and has its story set 21 years after the first film. I remembered those two films and I loved both of them. The plot now follows four teenagers who are transported into the video game world of Jumanji, playing as the characters they chose, and must beat the game in order to return home. It is no longer based on a board but rather on a video game. The movie starred Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, etc.

I had a great time watching it. There was so much fun in this movie. Hilarious moments in almost every scenes, gorgeous visuals, likable cast, and great actions. This is one of the most entertaining movies that I have watched in recent years. I’m happy that Hollywood decides to remake ‘Jumanji’. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’ a total of 7.8. I am seeing Dwayne Johnson everywhere. He is taking up so many movies (Fast and Furious franchise, San Andreas, Journey to the Mysterious Island, G.I.Joe: Retaliation, Central Intelligence, and upcoming Rampage, etc) right now, and is a much needed actor for movies that require an extreme body physique.

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

 

New Year 2018 fireworks from across the world!

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2018 by vincentloy

Happy New Year once again!

I went to KLCC yesterday to join in the countdown and watch the fireworks display at the stroke of midnight. As expected, the area is very crowded as KLCC is the biggest venue for new year countdown every year in Malaysia. I think there is around 300 000. Try to imagine that you are one of the 300 000 and you are surrounded by all the people, all the noises and all the chaos. Well, it is still a one great experience to be able to observe such happening atmosphere and celebrating the arrival of new year with so many people including both locals and the foreign tourists. While others were busy blowing the horns or cheering, I was concentrating on looking up to admire the beauty of the Petronas Twin Towers in the evening. I won’t be bored seeing the towers all these years.

Here’s the video that I captured during the countdown to usher in year 2018 and the fireworks display from the KLCC Park. It is about 10-minutes long.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It took almost an hour for most of the crowd to disperse and leave the area after the fireworks. Traffic congestion stayed for another two hours. That was insane. I was only able to reach home at around 2.30am and sleep at 3.00am. Although it was a cool experience, but I don’t think I will be joining countdown anytime soon again.

Alright, here comes the much more better new year 2018 fireworks displays from other parts of the world:

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – there is no fireworks this year at the Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building), and it is replaced with a spectacular light show instead.

Taipei, Taiwan – usual fireworks display from Taipei 101 with visual projection on the building.

Hong Kong, China – fireworks display from the Victoria Harbour with the breathtaking city skyline as the backdrop.

Sydney, Australia – one of the biggest new year events in the world with massive fireworks display from the Sydney Harbour and the bridge. The fireworks in Sydney never disappoints.

London, United Kingdom – fireworks display from the London Eye ferris wheel.

That’s it for the fireworks’ videos. Have an awesome year!

(All videos from this post are from YouTube and they are not of my possession except the first one)

 

 

Had just watched the first two Oscar-bait films of the year, and they are both coincidentally LGBT-themed.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by vincentloy

A lot of Oscar-bait films are usually released in December to leave more impression and effects to the critics and awards’ voters. This is also the month when film studios would release a lot of screeners for guilds and film’s associations to vote for the best of the year. Hence, you would see some films that have recently or have not yet been released to the public and yet have their clear-version copy out there in the torrent sites. The first two Oscar-bait films of the year that I have recently watched are ‘Battle Of The Sexes’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’. They are both coincidentally LGBT-themed. This particular theme is getting a lot of love recently as the general public is now more open towards accepting it.

‘Battle Of The Sexes’ is a biographical sports film loosely based on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Robert Larimore Riggs. The film dramatizes the events leading up to that match between King (Emma Stone) and Riggs (Steve Carell), and their personal lives, particularly touching on the affair between King (she is married) with her female hairdresser. Billie Jean, a successful female tennis player, fights for the equality treatment of women and challenges the general perception during that period of time that women are ultimately weaker than men in sports. She accepts the challenge by a veteran male player, Riggs who boasts a lot of himself and relaxes before the tournament. King defeated Riggs in the legendary match.

It is a very solid film. It stands out without requiring any over-dramatic scenes but relies heavily on excellent performances by Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. Emma Stone is fantastic in this role and her performance here is even better than her last year’s role in ‘La La Land’ that won her Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Up till now, I still disagree on her Oscar win. She just won because she is popular, well liked by a lot of people, and ‘La La Land’ is getting a lot of love. Her performance in ‘La La Land’ is nothing extraordinary. Her role here is much better and challenging. Does that mean she will have a chance to win it again this year? Nope. She just won it last year (Academy wouldn’t want to award a young actress another trophy that soon). Steve Carrell is also wonderful but I think getting nominations is the furthest he can go. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Battle Of The Sexes’ a total of 7.5. This is an Oscar-bait film but is not getting much buzz lately. Hence, it will get a number of nominations in the coming awards but will mostly likely not winning much.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ is different. This movie is getting more buzz and has received standing ovation during its premiere in film festivals earlier. It is a romantic coming-of-age drama film that chronicles the romantic gay relationship between Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old living in Italy, and his father’s American assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The story is set in Northern Italy in 1983. The movie explored the tension between pain and pleasure experienced by Elio whom is a teenage boy and in the midst of experimenting with his sexuality and falling in love with a guy.

Timothee Chalamet is a young actor whom nobody will recognize on the streets. Now, you have to remember his name. He is the star of the film. At such a young age and with such a daring role, he portrayed Elio with absolutely genuine acting. He is getting Best Actor nominations in a lot of places and having won some. He truly deserved it. The ending scene alone is enough to make audiences weep for his story with Oliver in the movie, and be moved by his performance. Armie Hammer has also done a great job as Oliver and delivered his character in an intimate and restrained way. The chemistry between the two of them is exceptional. Some scenes are quite graphic in the movie but I think it’s fine as in the end, no explicit content is shown. This self-discovery story is moving and is enhanced with great cinematography, scores and performances as highlighted earlier. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Call Me By Your Name’ a total of 8.0.

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

 

Review for TVB drama ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ (2017).

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2017 by vincentloy

Time for review to another TVB drama that I have watched completely after it aired its final episode just now in the weekend. ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ which has 21 episodes in total, starred Kenneth Ma as a taxi driver who has accidentally awaken a kind-hearted spirit with power and duty to take down devils roaming on Earth. The drama also starred Mandy Wong, Hubert Wu, Hugo Wong, Moon Lau, Anthony Ho, Susan Tse, Ram Chiang, etc.

I didn’t have high expectation to this series before I started to watch it. To be honest, I decided to watch it because I have nothing else to watch at the moment. In the end, I was surprised by how good this drama turned out. It is not a lousy or ordinary paranormal-themed series. It’s not just about people seeing ghosts and catching demons in a heroic fashion. This series stood out over the rest in this particular genre due to the addition of some very moving storylines, heartfelt characters, and excellent performances by the cast.

First of all, the eyes of the series is on the lead actor; Kenneth Ma. After his success and popularity from his role in 2012’s ‘The Hippocratic Crush’, he didn’t have many good roles later on. This paves way for newer actors like Ruco Chan to speed ahead of him in the race to win best actor. Another newer actor, Vincent Wong is also on the rise very quickly with many fantastic roles in recent years. I’m starting to worry that Kenneth will be left out very soon if he didn’t have a good drama and a good role to take on. Finally, he is back to be noticed again with his role here as ‘Ma Kwai’ in ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’. His acting is very natural and this character gave him opportunity to showcase his acting skill through the many emotional scenes in this series. He nailed this taxi driver’s role perfectly. With his excellent performance here (and also another great work in ‘My Dearly Sinful Mind’ released early this year), I’m supporting him to win best actor at the Hong Kong’s TVB Anniversary Awards.

The other cast members were doing exceptionally well too, although they are mostly lesser-known TVB artists. Susan Tse is very convincing as Kenneth’s foster mother and I don’t mind her winning Best Supporting Actress again. Ram Chiang, Moon Lau and Hugo Wong are outstanding too. I think this drama really puts their acting to the limelight besides Kenneth. This drama also propels Hugo Wong to higher popularity from his very challenging villain role in this drama. He usually took very minor roles in the past and after this drama, I’m sure that he will be given more opportunities to take on bigger roles soon. He is also solid in ‘Recipes to Live By’ released early this year and hence, I have no doubt to support him for ‘Most Improved TVB Actor’ this year.

As mentioned earlier, this drama has a very good script. The loop scenes involving Kenneth’s dead parents, conflict and relationship between Kenneth and his foster mother, friendship between Kenneth and the stone spirit, Ber Ber (Moon Lau)’s relationship with Kenneth and her death, Anthony Ho’s tragic death, etc are all very sincere and moving. Even the action scenes involving demons in this drama are produced with effort as not to make them too typical, lousy or emotionless. Besides that, the two theme songs for this drama sang by Hubert Wu are also nice to listen too and they suit well to this drama. Well, there are still some areas in this drama that can be improved like the production designs, the CGI, some exaggerated acting (but still acceptable due to the nature of this story), etc. But overall, it is a highly enjoyable, fast-paced series that will also makes you cry several times. The ending for this series is also surprisingly good. The last scene is a great one when the stone spirit that sat in the taxi was actually Hou Zai (Kenneth’s younger brother’s soul). This is one solid, entertaining and touching drama that is not to be missed. It defies my expectation. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ a total of 8.0. This is the one and only drama in the year 2017 that gets over 8 points from me.

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

Winners at the World Architecture Festival 2017.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2017 by vincentloy

World Architecture Festival 2017 was held recently in Berlin, Germany from 15 to 17th November. This annual festival contains events for the architecture industry and one of the main highlights of the festival is the awards presentation. The festival honors architectural projects across the world in various categories and will select a project to be declared World Building of the Year. Here below is the full list of winners for this year’s World Architecture Festival:

Completed Buildings

Civic and Community – Streetlight Tagpuro, Tacloban, Philippines (Eriksson Furunes + Leandro V. Locsin)

Display – The Smile, London, United Kingdom (Alison Brooks Architects)

Housing – Superlofts Houthaven, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Marc Koehler Architects)

This housing project receives this year’s newly created award; Director’s Special Award. 

A new co-housing concept that aims to create a global network of local building co-operatives, judges said the concept is “a game changer – a replicable and transferable model which could extend in terms of scale.”

Culture – The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine (Heneghan Peng Architects)

House – Binh House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Vo Trong Nghia Architects)

New and Old – Post earthquake reconstruction and demonstration project of Guangming Village, Zhaotong, China (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

This project is also the winner for World Building Of The Year.

The project was initiated in response to the catastrophic Ludian earthquake in 2014, which destroyed most of the traditional rammed-earth buildings in the village of Guangming. When replacement materials such as brick and concrete proved to be too costly for most of the village’s residents, the architect team developed a new technique of constructing rammed-earth homes that will be more resistant to future seismic activity.

A prototype house built for an elderly couple was completed last year, proving the method could provide a safe, economical, comfortable, and sustainable reconstruction strategy for the village and the wider region of Southwest China.

The judges believed this to be an extraordinary project in terms of the scope of ambition, exemplified in the addressing of profound problems facing ordinary people. They applauded the re-use of traditional material and construction methods but with the addition of new technology – combining ancient wisdom with modern know-how.

The judges were also impressed by the iterative research process which could be re-applied to anywhere in the world affected by seismic problems and low levels of wealth. “The architects succeeded in translating ‘four walls and a roof’ into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes a project that is much more profound,” WAF Programme Director Paul Finch commented. “This building is a demonstration that architecture is just as relevant in the poorest of communities as it is in the richest.”

I am delighted that the juries decided to go for architecture that is really useful and resistant rather than picking those fancy designs. This is a fresh direction.

Office – Co Op Kyosai Plaza, Tokyo, Japan (Nikken Sekkei)

Production, Energy and Recycling – The Farm of 38 – 30, Afyonkarahisar, Turkey (Slash Architects and Arkizon Architects)

School – East Sydney Early Learning Centre, Sydney, Australia (Andrew Burges Architects)

Sport – US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, United States of America (HKS)

Health – Westbury Clinic, Johannesburg, South Africa (Ntsika Architects)

Higher Education and Research – Maersk Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark (CF Moller Architects)

Hotel and Leisure – Vegetable Trellis, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Cong Sinh Architects)

Mixed Use – Westminster Bridge Road, London, United Kingdom (Allford Hall Monaghan Morris)

Religion – Bushey Cemetery, Bushey, United Kingdom (Waugh Thistleton Architects)

Shopping – Victoria Gate, Leeds, United Kingdom (ACME)

Transport – Transformation Chemnitz Central Station, Chemnitz, Germany (Gruntuch Errnst Architects)

Villa – Bach With Two Roofs, Golden Bay, New Zealand (Irving Smith Architects)

Future Projects

Leisure-led Development – Bodrum Loft, Bodrum, Turkey (Tabanlioglu Architects)

Competition Entries – New Cyprus Archaeological Museum, Nicosia, Cyprus (Pilbrow & Partners)

Health – Desa Semesta, Bogor, Indonesia (Magi Design Studio)

Experimental – Sharjah Observatory, Mleiha National Park, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (3deluxe Transdisciplinary Design)

Office – Viettel Offsite Studio, Hanoi, Vietnam (Vo Trong Nghia Architects)

Civic – Consulate Building, Staff Housing & School Complex, Karachi, Pakistan (edgeARCH)

Infrastructure – The Bridge, Ras, India (Sanjay Puri Architects)

Commercial Mixed Use – Battersea Power Station Phase 2, London, United Kingdom (WilkinsonEyre)

Education – Aga Khan Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios + SHATOTTO Architecture)

Culture – Kulturkorgen – A Basket Full Of Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden (Sweco Architects)

Kulturkorgen6-Sweco Architects

House – Queenstown House, Queenstown, New Zealand (Monk Mackenzie Architects)

Masterplanning – Sydney Fish Markets, Sydney, Australia (Allen Jack + Cottier Architects)

Residential – Goksu Residences, Istanbul, Turkey (EAA Emre Arolat Architecture)

My country, Malaysia did have few projects that were able to make it to the finalists. However, none of them succeeds to be listed as winner. It shows that there are a lot to do to improve the architectural field in Malaysia.

(Images and information in this post are from Archdaily)

References:

https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/

https://www.archdaily.com/883888/guangming-post-earthquake-reconstruction-project-wins-world-building-of-the-year-2017

https://www.archdaily.com/883761/2017-world-architecture-festival-announces-day-1-award-winners

https://www.archdaily.com/883814/world-architecture-festival-reveals-day-2-category-winners-of-their-2017-awards