Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Me Wanna See Movie!

Number of Best Picture/Best Director nominees (they're exactly the same!) at the 78th Annual Academy Awards: 5

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck

Number of Best Picture/Best Director nominees that have actually screened in Singapore: 1


Grrr. Fucking shitty distributors. And all you give me over the Lunar New Year weekend is fucking Memoirs of a Geisha and I Not Stupid 2. I hate you all.

Monday, January 30, 2006

He'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain When He Comes

I apologize for the title's over-abundance of innuendo. I couldn't resist.

Anyhow, I flipped open the Life! section of the Straits Times on Saturday night, and my jaw dropped in amazement when I saw the back page.

Brokeback Mountain has been passed without cuts in Singapore!

Holy shit.

Can't wait till February 16.

Funny thing was, the picture they used was that of Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander. Apparently, Zoolander, which was banned a few years back for depicting a Malaysian Prime Minister as a giggling idiot (fucking bureaucrats sucking our neighbor's dicks), is going to get a theatrical release.

Of course, since I love that movie (one of my greatest guilty pleasures ever), I'll have to catch that. Even though I've seen it so many times on DVD. Just seeing the scene where that gas station blows up, along with all the male models, on a giant screen will make my day.

Then there'll be all these movies to look forward to in the next couple of months: Munich, North Country, Walk the Line, Syriana, et. al. Sounds like fun, fun, fun.

Four Digits

I scratched my mom's car not once, not twice, but three times in the same day while trying to maneuver it out of tight spaces yesterday. So, like any good Singaporean, I went and bought 4D today, hoping to defray some of the costs. Plus, it would've been nice to start the new year off on a winning streak.

I didn't win anything.

But my cousin, who'd gone along with me on a whim, and bought some numbers on another whim, struck second prize. His S$1 bet multiplied a thousandfold.

His total investment: S$12
His winnings: S$1000
My total investment: S$36
My winnings: S$0

Goddamn motherfucker. But that's the way the game goes.

But hey, what's this little bit of cash when I could win the S$10 million Toto Hongbao Draw, right?

Fingers crossed. Fingers very crossed.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Worst Songs of All Time

We all love music, right? Well, at least most of us do, anyway. When a good song plays on the radio and it's something we like, it feels good, doesn't it? To hum along, or sing along, or simply just nod your head in time with it.

But a bad song... it's enough to make you wanna stick pencils in your ears. I'm a fan of good lyrics, so bad ones can really irk me, even though the tune is usually what gets me all riled up first. Anyway.

Presenting: The Worst Songs of All Time (well, maybe not All Time), in no particular order.

Note #1: I originally intended the list to comprise of 10 songs, but as more and more came to mind, I decided, to hell with it. If I hate it, onto the list it goes.

Note #2: Most of the songs are Chinese, since I listen to more Chinese than English music.

老鼠愛大米 (Twins, 郭美美, 楊臣剛, et. al.)
Mouse Loves Corn (Twins, Jocie Guo, Yang Chen Gang, et. al.)
Not only does this have a terribly simplistic, rural-type tune, the lyrics are peurile. The fact that so many people sang it just means that there are a million different cover versions, all of which are shit.

完美的一天 (孫燕姿)
A Perfect Day (Stefanie Sun)
What the fuck was she thinking? Probably included on her album because she was trying to pander to the Mainland China market. It's very wannabe-artsy but falls flat on its face because of the utterly stupid lyrics and lack of a tune.

寂寞保齢球 (張惠妹)
Lonely Bowling Ball (A-Mei)
I don't think this can even be considered a song, not when I can't manage to find a tune anywhere in it. And with lyrical gems like "當愛情讓我 feel so boring, 我開始愛上打 bowling," it goes straight into the Condemned List.
Translation: When love makes me feel so boring, I start to love going bowling.

Superstar (S.H.E.)
Three shrieky overgrown girls acting cute, prancing around and trying to do bad rock is enough to give anyone a headache. Actually most of their songs give me a headache.

心太軟 & 傷心太平洋 (任賢齊)
Too Soft-Hearted & Sad Pacific Ocean (Richie Ren)
It's hard to pick any one song of Richie Ren's, because they're all unequivocally awful. But some of the worst has to be 心太軟 and 傷心太平洋. Basically love anthems for the pining ah beng, with crass tunes and shitty lyrics.

對面的女孩看過來 & 大肚腩 (阿牛 陳慶祥)
The Girl Across Look Over Here & Big Belly (Ah Niu Chen Qing Xiang)
This guy's obviously from the kampung (village) in Malaysia (I mean, his nickname is Ah Niu, meaning "cow"), so it's no surprise that his tunes are overly simplistic, bordering on the inane and so are his lyrics. Can he be blamed for that? No. Can I hate him for it? Of course I can.

小薇 (黃品源)
Xiao Wei (Huang Pin Yuan)
Another ah beng favorite. Crap on a stick. Next.

月光 (王心凌)
Moonlight (Cyndi Wang)
The neverending song that goes around and around and nowhere in general. I tire of her breathless squeak.

新鴛鴦蝴蝶夢 (黃安)
New Mandarin Ducks Butterfly Dream (Huang An)
Um, the title loses quite a bit in the translation. Basically "Mandarin Ducks" is also a term used for a loving couple. And butterfly... I dunno. Same thing, I guess. So probably it should be translated as New Lovers' Dreams.
Anyway, this song was overplayed when it first came out over 10 years ago. I hated it then and I still hate it now, and not just because of the overly-traditional arrangement.

中國人 & 馬桶 (劉德華)
Chinese & Toilet Bowl (Andy Lau)
The former stinks to high heaven of nationalistic pride (probably pandering to Mainland China) - the wording 中國人 refers more specifically to Mainland Chinese than 華人 (Chinese) does. And the latter... do we really need a song about how the toilet bowl washes away all our troubles and is our best friend? I don't know about Andy, but I'm rarely on such intimate terms with my crapper, unless it's after a crazy party.

I'm a Slave For You (Britney Spears)
Besides looking like a whore, she also sings like one. Whenever I hear the over-the-top arrangement and moaning, I want to throw the radio out the window. If I wanted to hear dirty talk, I'd watch a porno.

Dragostea din Tei (O-Zone) and all other re-interpretations
I blame Disney for inflicting this on me. That fucking Chicken Little trailer was so bloody irritating, I wanted to pick up the nearest cheering child and hurl it at the screen. And now there are countless covers and cellphone ringtones, making it almost impossible to not hear it at least once a day.

Axel F (Crazy Frog)
I actually didn't know of this song until I read some truly horrible things about it. Then of course I had to download it and see how bad it was. It's really bad. Not that the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop was an amazing work of art, but to sprinkle idiotic "frog noises" all over it while setting it to a shitty techno beat is too much. The frog looks positively evil, with his tiny froggy genitalia dangling for all the world to see.

Lemon Tree (Fool's Garden)
A huge smash hit in the mid-90's also means overplay like nothing else. Even a good tune might sound grating after a while. This one had a mediocre, artificially-poppy feel (and by that I mean they sounded like they were high on Prozac), which really got on your nerves after hearing it for the umpteenth time. "I wonder how, I wonder why..." this piece of crap was such a hit.

OK, I've run out of songs to list at this point in time. Please feel free to write in with your own suggestions and justifications. This should be fun.

Coming Up

Lots of things on the front.

If all goes well, my cousin will sign a two-year rental lease for a two-storey house in Townerville on Tuesday. This means that I will finally be able to move out into a space of my own. This also means that I have to ask for a raise and promotion soon, so as to be able to afford rent.

It's a beautiful house, pre-war (World War II), with lots of airflow. It's been refurbished, and looks real nice. It's also close to town, close to an MRT station, and there are lots of buses. I can get home after clubbing for S$5.00! The surroundings are nice and peaceful, very conducive for work. And according to the expert my cousin brought in, it's "clean" in terms of, um, "unwanted company". Which is always important, especially in these old houses. You definitely don't wanna wake up and see someone floating across the ceiling.

So yeah, house parties and movie nights to follow, hopefully. Not forgetting all-night mahjong sessions.

I showed my feature screenplay that I wrote back in 2002 to E, and he suggested I apply for a writing grant for that. It's S$6000 which I could definitely use, plus he said in terms of character and story, I really didn't need to spend that much time on it, so that's not too much work. That's definitely on the cards in the future.

I also asked for advice on how to actually get it made, which is probably the hardest part. It's character-driven, has no hook, and isn't high-concept - which means it's a very hard sell. Oh well, one step at a time, I suppose. He did say it could be made - on film, no less - for half a million. We'll see if I strike the fucking Hongbao Draw for the lottery.

Of course, if I do strike the lottery, first thing I'm doing is buying myself out of this hellhole.

On the last day of shoot, Mark also asked me to write a screenplay based on an idea that he gave. If I do write it, he'll bring it to Jack and get it made. Even though I don't agree with Jack's sensibilities most of the time, a script sold is a script sold. That's also something to mark down for the future, if time permits.

Right now, what do I have to do? Some transcripts, and another screenplay for TV. Possibly some editing too. That should keep me busy for a week or so.

Oh, and it's Lunar New Year too. Happy New Year, folks.

Yessiree, this is shaping up to look like a good year.

Now, if some hot babes are also on the cards, that would be perfect.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Long-Overdue MOS Post


If you were even remotely interested in clubbing, you definitely would've hit the new (well, relatively new) Ministry of Sound at Clarke Quay by now. It opened in December, so I'm sure bloggers from all over Singapore have been raving about it for quite a while. That is, if bloggers ever get out. So I shan't write too much; I'll just be lazy, slap some pictures on and call it a day.

MOS Wide

Some quick facts though: The website claims that this is the biggest MOS establishment in the world, at 40,000 square feet. There are tons of rooms, ranging from the huge Main Arena to the über-cool lounge Pure.

MOS Entrance

What I like most about it is that it's big enough so you don't feel claustraphobic, like you can get at many small clubs. For the same reason, here's an added advantage for the ladies - reduced chances of getting felt up by random weird-ass men (unless you go for that sort of thing). If you're ever sick of one genre of music you can always move to another room. Unfortunately if you move, you lose your table, pretty much, which can be rather sad.

circular motion

What I don't like about it: The fact that Pure, my favorite room in terms of décor, plays deep house. This is a genre of music which I find, to my utter amazement, I am physically incapable of dancing to. Which makes no sense at all, because as any aficionado of deep house can tell you, there are very strong beats all over the damn place, and everyone knows that once you have a beat you can dance, right? You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. Maybe it's a physical defect that I have, or something. I wonder if I can apply for a disability sticker so I can park in handicapped lots. Probably not.

red light district

Anyway, I went there a few days after it opened with some colleagues. It was rather fun, ooh-ing and ah-ing over all the different rooms, and since the bartender was someone's friend (only in Singapore - it's just too fucking small) we got some real drinks. These made everyone get quickly from this stage...

4 of us

to this stage. The one-for-one offer helped too.

mouth agape

connie with d wackos

mindy getting kissed

And for some, even to this stage.

Drunk on Table


Anyway, having to piggyback a drunk person home is not fun. It's only made slightly better by the fact that the piggybackee weighs very little. If you're rather big in stature and want to get shitfaced, please don't go with me. I'm not that strong.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A World Under Apple

Thanks to Tim and Cameron for this news. Since I hardly read anything vaguely news-related, other blogs are one of my big sources of information, especially about goings-on in the good ol' US of A.

Anyway, Disney has bought Pixar, apparently.
The terms include giving (Steve) Jobs an estimated 7% stake in Disney and letting Pixar's top creative executive, John Lasseter, have a key role in advising Disney in creative matters.
While some may disagree, I think it seems like a good deal for everyone. Disney gets a share of the huge Pixar profit pie, John Lasseter gets to teach Disney how to make good movies all over again (for the last time, people, a good script matters more than adorable cuddly character designs), and Steve Jobs, also CEO of Apple Computer, gets one step closer to realizing his plans for world domination.

For everyone else, it just means better entertainment in the future, hopefully. And no more shit like Chicken "someone please exorcise that fucking annoying song from my brain!" Little.

Monday, January 23, 2006

To Someone

I know it's really your project and not mine. I just don't understand why you're compromising the integrity (and believability!) of the story by being so afraid of the censorship department. It's just the silliest thing.

But hey, I felt it was my duty to tell you, and I did. If you want to disregard it and simply brush me aside for attempting to interfere, then so be it. I can't be bothered. After all, it's not my baby.

And thinking I'm not up to doing drama? Come on, drama is my life. But I think you'll quickly learn that.

I'm going to kick some ass. Boo-yah.

My Selects

These were my final three selects for Eye é City. I don't think they were necessarily my absolute favorites in terms of the stories behind the images, but composition-wise, they certainly seemed the most striking (and least been-there-done-that) of the lot.

On the Bridge

Studio High
Goggle Box

Death Sentence
Sentenced to Hang

Will I get in the exhibition and book this year? Who knows? I'm too tired to care.

And yes, I know I'm cheating, and this isn't really an original post at all. Too bad.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

What a Waste

You look good, have nice hair and seem to have a fun personality.

Those are all plus points.


If you're proud of the fact that you bought front row seats for a Kenny G Concert, you're automatically condemned in my book.


What's the world coming to?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Have Yourself a Bloody Little Christmas

Cameron has a theory that the first movie you see in the new year dictates how that year turns out. If that's really the case, then this year will be pretty damn good for me.

My first movie of the year was a nice little film noir called The Ice Harvest. Not only is it a genre that is rarely explored nowadays, it does it quite well too. You have your basic noir archetypes: the femme fatale (Connie Nielsen), the everyman loser that's drawn into all the shit (John Cusack), the gangsters (led by Randy Quaid) , and the slimy backstabber (Billy Bob Thornton). They even threw in the ultimate loser best friend (Oliver Platt).

I've always had a soft spot for John Cusack, who has a way of making his everyman characters seem endearing and identifiable, even when they're complete assholes. Billy Bob Thornton is typically reliable, delivering lines like, "He said, 'Tell me where the money is or I'll shoot her (his wife).' I think he was counting on a level of commitment that just wasn't there," in a beautiful deadpan. Connie Nielsen hit every note, with just the right mix of seductiveness, vulnerability and danger.

The humor, of which there's quite a bit of, is as dark as you'll find. This makes it the perfect contrapuntal note to the manufactured cheer of the Christmas season. But yet, beneath its black, throbbing heart, there is still a shred of warmth and humanity to be found. It's precisely because it exists in a world that's so fucked up, that it's all the more precious, and that makes this a much better Christmas movie than the feel-good crap studios churn out during the season.

The most unfortunate thing about this movie was the marketing. It seemed to be marketed as a comedy - the poster and the trailer all screamed "Generic Holiday Comedy" when it couldn't be further from the truth. You're not going to find easy, brainless laughs in here. It's funny, for sure, but there's so much sadness in the humor, especially in Oliver Platt's character. These men have no fucking clue what the hell went wrong in their lives, and the realization of this brings them over the edge. You can't help but feel conflicted even as you're laughing at their pathetic attempts to make their grand statement. Oh yes, and you'll be laughing at the multiple killings too. They're funny.

So yeah, the marketing sucked, and probably resulted in a lot of unhappy customers. Apparently this was the marketing strategy in the US as well, which makes me think that they simply did not know how the fuck to sell this movie and resorted to slapping something together and hoping audiences fell for it. What a tragedy.

Director Harold Ramis blew me away with Groundhog Day over 12 years ago (still one of my favorite movies of all time). Sure, he's made mostly shit since then, but this is a definite renewal of my faith in him. Here's hoping he'll continue to make good movies, regardless of genre.

It's a Wrap

It's all over. Principal photography (Ha! That sounds so pretentious) has wrapped on this season.

It seems like not so long ago that I was doing casting on season 2, and now season 3 is in the can, as they say.

It's been a wonderful ride, with a lots of first's for me. First time directing a comedy, first time directing in this company, first time directing real artistes, first time being so involved in a series' conceptualization, first time having a script of mine produced here without feeling it's been torn apart by sharks...

I really have to thank M for giving me a chance, and E for lots of guidance and patience with the script. You guys rock. And of course Michael for letting me tag along, and CY for so generously sharing your scenes. Not to forget the helpful and on-the-ball ADs.

You know, they always claim this kind of thing happens, but I've found it so rare. Where people involved in the show are so enjoying themselves, they don't want it to end. Every day on set or working on the show is so much fun, the cast feels so right together, it's amazing. And when it all ends, for the first time since JC theatre, I feel a sense of loss. I don't know if anyone else does, but I certainly do.

And again, it's so rare in this company that people actually take the time and effort to make sure the end product is something to be proud of. The actors have commented that the scripts are getting better and funnier each season, and the stories are getting deeper and more meaningful - no small feat for a sitcom.

And in terms of actual writing, I can honestly say that we do our best to work different levels of comedy into it. If you're a silly ten year-old, you'll find something to laugh at. If you're a smart 30 year-old, chances are something will be there to tickle your funnybone which will go right over the heads of the kids. If there's one thing we don't believe in, it's talking down to the audience.

Unfortunately, many factors work against us getting a larger audience. First, the show is marketed at the lowest common denominator, and the snooty professionals tend to ignore it, labeling it as crass and silly. Second, while one of the leads may command a big market share in the Chinese language market, we don't know how much of that market is carried over to the English channel. Additionally, he's also not the most highly regarded actor by the better educated.

If only they'll give us a chance, I think they'll like what they find.

I can honestly say that this is the first show I've worked on back home that I've loved. Really. I love this fucking show. Of course there are flaws, but I still love it all the same.

Now there are so many questions hanging over the fate of the series, I don't even dare think about it.

For one, we don't know if we're gonna get renewed. It all depends on ratings, I suppose.

Second, we don't know who's going to be in charge of the next season, if there is one. Something good can always be killed so easily, and there is no better killer of comedy than Palpatine. It'll be dumbed down and given the whole unfunny overacting shtick, and in the blink of an eye, it'll sink. That's a huge problem when the corporation owns the product. It can do whatever the fuck it likes with it.

Third... I don't wanna go on. It just depresses me.

For now, all I can do is look back on this wonderful ride, and cherish the moments that I remember. It wasn't easy, but damn, it was a good time.

And there's still editing to be done, I suppose. Ah, technicalities.


Lily Happy


First Scene

Future Daze

Who's Chicken?

Big Hair

Studio Small

Studio High

Studio Everyone

Dollah Sword

Glenn Rock

Old Timey Kids

Hossan Finger


Wakey Wakey

Lily Sword


Men On the Roof


In the Forest

Nawi Silhouette



Let Them Go

Golden Scissors

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Final Random Awards

Now for some random awards.

Best Fight Choreography
A draw between the 4 minute-long Steadicam shot in Tom-Yum-Goong that follows Tony Jaa up a spiral staircase while he takes out baddies en route, and the intense knife-and-baton fight between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing in an alley in 殺破狼 (SPL).

Best Sex
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Of course, they also win for Best Kiss.

Worst Sex
A draw between all the stupid sex acts in 桃色 (Color Blossoms) and all the stupid sex acts in 天邊一朵雲 (The Wayward Cloud). Bring your own leather strap, mineral water bottle cap and watermelon.

Funniest Sex
The puppets in Team America: World Police.

Shittiest Stripper
Jessica Alba in Frank Miller's Sin City, for being the only stripper in the world who doesn't actually strip.

Best Superhero Movie
Batman Begins, hands down.

Best Comic Book Adaptation
No, make that Best Adaptation, period.
A History of Violence, also hands down.

Best Use of Location
Be With Me, for making the Wheelock Place steps both gorgeous and unrecognizable.

Most Cheekopek (Dirty Old Man)
The dirty old man in The Bow who hides away a young teenaged girl in his boat to marry when she becomes legal.

Most Stylish
Frank Miller's Sin City for it's gorgeous black, white and splashes of color.

Most Original Visuals
Mirrormask, basically a door into Dave McKean's dreams. Finally, he gets to create an entire world.

Best Support for Euthanasia
The anthology Eros, where Antonioni shows that he's way past senile.

Funniest Movie
The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Although 獅子城 (Lion City) was a very close second, and bloody hilarious too, albeit unintentionally.

Scariest Movie
The Descent, for being the only decent horror I saw last year (that was not made over ten years ago).

Scariest Musical Number
Probably any one of the songs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Best CGI
King Kong. Need I say more?

Best Use of a Song
Damien Rice's The Blower's Daughter, in the opening scene of Closer.

Best Use of a Food Item
Wine in Sideways - as story, as metaphor, as life.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Let the Shit Hit the Fan

The Worst Crap of 2005

Avatar - This makes me ashamed to be a Singaporean filmmaker. All that money... just to make this huge ego-trip of sci-fi shit.
桃 色 (Color Blossoms) - Lots of people wander around pointlessly and lust after each other... I think. At least those were the parts I wasn't sleeping. Boring as hell, and completely ridiculous.
長恨歌 (Everlasting Regret) - A stupid woman sleeps with lots of people, never learns her lesson and gets killed by one of them. There, I just saved you the admission price.
Initial D - My nostril hairs have more acting ability than Jay Chou. And who the hell thought it was a good idea to set all the races in one fucking location?
Install - Intensely annoying score and a story that goes nowhere, and takes forever to do it.
阿 嫂 (Mob Sister) - Has the most irritating lead actress ever. I was jubilant when she was finally run over. I was just pissed it wasn't a bigger vehicle.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - Does anyone actually give a flying fuck anymore? George Lucas needs to retire. Right now.
(T)Raumschiff Surprise: Periode 1 (Dreamship Surprise: Period 1) - Tries painfully hard to be funny, but never manages to really be.
天邊一朵雲 (The Wayward Cloud) - Who cares if it's a Tsai Ming-Liang movie? It sucks ass. In more ways than one.
Zombie Dogs (a.k.a. Eat, Shit, Fuck and Die) - Masturbatory, overlong (at 61 minutes) and runs on hot air all the way.


The Bow - Kim Ki-Duk's new film just didn't have Truth like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring did. And it was boring as hell.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Wonderful first act, pity everything else except production design seems to fall apart once you enter the damn factory.
黑社會 (Election) - Singapore got the fucking China version with the fucked up moralistic ending that completely throws the rest of the movie out the window. So this is in response to that.
Flightplan - Oh, Jodie, whatever possessed you to sign up for this movie, with its ridiculous, implausible plotting?
Ondskan (Evil) - This is a contender for the Best Foreign Film Oscar? Oh, please. Spare me the clichés, then maybe we can talk.
Prime - Sounded like a good premise, pity about the clumsy execution.
七劍 (Seven Swords) - Tsui Hark's big comeback was a nonsensical whimper.
War of the Worlds - Great until the forced happy ending.
天邊一朵雲 (The Wayward Cloud) - Oh, Tsai Ming-Liang, how far you have fallen.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust - A plodding pace is a no-no for anime.


Be With Me - Yeah, yeah, I know, standing ovation at Cannes. But that doesn't make up for the fact that it has a couple of major flaws.
A Bittersweet Life - Bittersweet? Blah is more like it.
Frank Miller's Sin City - Looks amazing, hands down the winner of the Style award, but the pacing kinda blows.
Labu dan Labi - I don't care how much of a classic comedy this is, it isn't funny in the least.
The Maid (女佣) - What's all the fuss? It's just a standard horror flick. One with ludicrous, overly-telegraphed plot twists.
Napola - Elite für den Führer (Napola: Hitler's Elite; a.k.a. Before the Fall) - Another big cliché-filled yawn.
如果‧愛 Perhaps Love - A movie about love in which I somehow feel completely detached from the characters. Fail!
Ray - Besides Jamie Foxx, this is episodic and rather boring.
Der Untertag (Downfall) - Another episodic and slow-moving film, another Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee. Are we seeing a pattern here?
A Very Long Engagement - Very pretty, but also very, very long.

Actually, to be fair, I liked Be With Me. The only thing was, the problems I had with it kind of diminished the overall strength of the film, so all the media acclaim seemed a little excessive to me. As for the rest of the Overrated List, "Meh" would probably sum up my feelings towards them.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Top 10 Guilty Pleasures of 2005

And now for the flicks last year which I enjoyed, but feel a little apologetic about enjoying because, you know, they're not film. In alphabetical order (and according to hanyu pinyin too):

Æon Flux - See Charlize run! See Charlize fight! And all in a hot skintight costume!
Constantine - What happens when Neo gets into the occult? Oh, and throw in a scary Tilda Swinton too, just for kicks. Keanu Reeves is still a piece of wood, though.
The Descent - A genuinely frightening ride.
The Legend of Zorro - Swashbuckling adventure and Catherine Zeta-Jones' décolletage...
Mr. & Mrs. Smith - Brangelina = So fucking sexy.
Night Watch - Russian vampire hunters! You gotta admit that's cool.
Red Eye - Just a good, tense, and very very tight little thriller.
獅子城 (Lion City) - Unbelievably hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons.
Transporter 2 - So ludicrous, it's loads of fun.
Tom-Yum-Goong - Holy fucking Tony Jaa-style ass-kicking! Pity about the crap (i.e., the non-action scenes).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Best of 2005

Disclaimer: Only films seen in 2005 are included in this list - it is not representative of the films that were released in 2005. We often get films, especially arthouse films, released much later here than in the US. Films which were released more than a year back and now screened as retrospectives, etc. in festivals are also banned from the Top 10.

Top 10 for 2005 (in alphabetical order)

Batman Begins
This one's pure bias. I love Batman, and I loved Chris Nolan's treatment of the mythos. This is the very essence of what Batman is all about. Dark, disturbed, yet very very human. And cool as fuck.

While a tad manipulative and convenient, the structure's tighter than a muscle mary's shirt. The duality of human nature is convincingly explored by the top-notch ensemble cast, with special mention going to Matt Dillon.

A History of Violence
Viggo Mortensen is the heart and soul of this film, a fascinating study on the cause and effect of violence. It cleverly and disturbingly implicates the audience in the blood-letting, and the open ending is one of the best I've seen all year.

Gut-wrenching and deeply moving examination of the capacity of human beings for mindless brutality, with brave and unforgettable performances from Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo. People can be so fucked up.

Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood gets almost everything right in this slow-burning yet touching film, a sports movie unlike almost every other sports movie out there. The direction the story takes in the final act is like a kick to the groin - shocking and unbelievably painful - but in the best way possible.

Danny Boyle makes an uncharacteristically sweet film full of heart, yet never gives in to saccharine sentimentality. When he stages a moving moment, everything is well-deserved and it never feels falsely uplifting. A seemingly simple story with surprising complexity, it is beautiful executed, and probably one of the best Christmas movies made, bar none.

Mysterious Skin
A heartbreaking tale of abuse and trauma with a simply jaw-droppingly stunning and fearless performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (formerly the kid on Third Rock From the Sun). Stirs up a complex mix of emotions in the viewer, ranging from pity to disgust to shock.

My favorite Singapore film of last year, and definitely one of my top 5 local movies. Lim Kay Tong is almost unrecognizable in the lead role, simmering with pent-up anger and violence, and Sunny Pang is scarily hilarious as Angry Boy Lee. An excellent depiction of the voice of the common people and the ones who have left behind in our race towards whatever the fuck it is we're after.

A hilarious but deeply personal and intimate exploration of human behavior and love, in the shape of a road trip movie. Paul Giamatti is excellent, as always, and through his journey of self-exploration, leads us to examine ourselves as well. And who can forget the scene where everyone falls in love with Virginia Madsen? The characters are fully-formed human beings, loveable in spite of all their flaws and imperfections. Just like you and me.

Revenge, while being a dish best served cold, may not always be sweet in Park Chan-Wook's latest offering. While not as big a mind-fuck as Oldboy, it still goes places few others dare explore, and its final act examination of vengeance by the common man still manages to shock and invite discussion. And all this while still being stylish and cool as hell - Lee Young-ae as Geum-ja (the titular Lady Vengeance) especially kicks ass.

Close, But No Cigar (or, the best of the rest)

36 Quai des Orfèvres - dark and disturbing police thriller
The 40 Year-Old Virgin - hilarious sex comedy with lots of heart
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - how Douglas Adams would've wanted it
La Mala Educación (Bad Education) - delicious melodrama
King Kong - stirring epic, a worthy remake with a touch of humanity
Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside) - moving essay on euthanasia
Singapore GaGa - a bustling slice of Singaporean life and sound
Team America: World Police - offensive and loud, and so fucking funny
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride - quirky and gorgeous stop-motion animation
The Woodsman - the climax alone (no pun intended) is worth the price of admission

Best of Fest (movies from years ago)

An American Werewolf in London - funny, scary, and hugely entertaining
Forever Fever - lots of fun and disco, what's not to like? Also in my top 5 local films
My Life As a Dog - a beautiful and sad coming-of-age film
Persona - still has the most erotic scene I've ever seen on film
Repulsion - disturbing and sharp portrayal of one woman's descent into madness