Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You Can Make a Lovely Hat

I was deleting messages from my Gmail account just now and when I was in the Trash folder, Google had these recycling tips and facts near the top of the page. You know, things like "Recycling a 3-foot-high stack of newspapers can save one whole tree."

That makes sense, but what I got was this one:

You can make a lovely hat out of aluminum foil.

I think Google's AI is going quite mad.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Moving Out

Holy shit, I can't believe it's been almost two months since I moved into my new place. Where did all the time go to?

Anyhow, I completely blew my budget (actually, is it technically possible to blow a budget when you didn't really have one in the first place?) and am now paying for it. The vast majority of my furniture is from Ikea, and this time I made an extra effort to color-coordinate. It also helps that furniture in white finish is cheaper.

Naked Ikea 1

Naked Ikea 2

Anyone who knows me knows I have loads of crap. So all of that crap had to sit out in the hallway while we fixed up my furniture.

Loads of Boxes

Speaking of which, word of advice for people getting furniture from Ikea:

Don't bother saving that measly 5%. Pay them to fix it for you. I was stupid and ended up spending two entire days putting everything together, getting aching arms and a roomful of sawdust in the process.

Anyhow, we were in a pretty sad state those first few days. Our communal bedroom looked like a refugee camp.

Refugee Bedroom

While the living and dining rooms looked like war zones.

Dining Room Mess

Living Room Madness

Stripping Cables

My cousins spent days stripping and piecing cables together. I cut myself helping them, although I expected that, with my clumsiness.

The only neat part of the house seemed to be the backyard.

Neat Backyard

But all in all, it was well worth it. I now finally have a place to call my own, plus it's a place with lots of character (some unwanted) to boot. Built around 1902 in the colonial style, it's a beautiful two-storey house with lots of space and peaceful surroundings. There's even a spacious outdoor deck on the second floor, which, strangely enough, is only accessible via a bathroom. But you do get a great view from there.

Neighbor's Houses 1

Neighbor's Houses 2

A month later, we finally got things together enough to have a little housewarming thingy. Unfortunately, it was mostly for family, so I couldn't invite as many people as I would've liked. Nevertheless, I had enough friends come such that I didn't have to spend any time in inane conversations with people I didn't give a shit about.

I have to apologize to my friends who came in the afternoon. I completely forgot to bring my camera out then, so we didn't get any pictures. Still, here are pictures from the night.

NU Peeps

Camille, who I hadn't seen in ages, came! We all had fun reminiscing about sharing our old apartment.

Dirrrty Girrrl

I don't have to say more about the above picture. It does speak a thousand words.

That night also happened to be my cousin's 22nd birthday, so 22 tequila shots were prepared and downed. He had help from friends and family though, so it's kinda cheating. Even his mom helped with a shot.

22 Shots 1

22 Shots 2

By the end of it all, the Birthday Boy was still standing, though not for too long.

Still Standing

We'll be here for the next two years at least, so here's to more good times!

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Whole Lotta Short Takes

Stuff I saw in the meantime that I haven't written about.

Charlize Theron turns in a good performance, as expected. But the whole thing is very, very rote, with no surprises anywhere. The Great Plot Revelation can be seen screaming and waving from a mile away.

Still fun, but loses something with each additional viewing. Now I feel it lags at times.

Great performances and a great soundtrack, but as a whole, it never seems to rise above being a decent biopic.

Mrs. Henderson Presents
Rather amusing, even though it felt as if Judi Dench could've done the role in her sleep. In true British spirit, World War II seems to be nothing more than a slight inconvenience. I'm not sure if that's entirely good.

Stunning visuals and a solid script. For once, Spielberg doesn't shy away from darkness, and it works well. The sex scene at the end just feels wrong though, and not in a good way at all. It made me want to giggle instead.

Darker and more complicated than her previous movie, but at times it feels like two separate movies are being shown simultaneously. If anything, the two stories felt like they didn't have too much to do with each other, even thematically. Not to say that they weren't good, just that they weren't that good when placed together.

人魚朵朵 (The Shoe Fairy)
So cutesy it made me want to puke, and so utterly fucking boring it made me fall asleep several times.

It's gratifying to see an actor of Philip Seymour Hoffman's calibre finally get a showcase he so strongly deserves, and it's a dark character study to boot. Rarely has an utterly self-absorbed and cruel human being been so compelling to watch. Sure, he's a little over the top in his mannerisms, but he also portrays Capote's downward spiral with such emotional abandon that you can't look away. The supporting cast is equally superb, and it all makes you feel sick and queasy, but in a good way.

A fine and compelling blockbuster that has more brains than the rest. The only thing I didn't buy was the romance angle. And it's a huge compliment when I say that the scenes of the people marching on the streets in their Guy Fawkes masks made me feel the same way I did when I saw Batman swooping above the streets of Gotham in Batman Begins.

Mad Hot Ballroom
Fun and infectious documentary. Spellbound was better, though. Good, nonetheless, even if it felt like fluff.

Gorgeous, meditative and poetic. Oh-so-slow, but I loved it. I don't even know why. I warned some people that they probably wouldn't like it, but they went and saw it anyway and hated it. I can't help it if people don't listen to me. I do agree with them that most of the posters are misleading though, and that the one that represents the film best would be the teaser one, which I've posted here.

I liked it a lot more than I expected, even though some of the scenes didn't make much sense. Why, after you set your scripts aflame for heat, then proceed to throw everything downstairs? I understand that it looks pretty, but it shouldn't be all about that. Still, it's Chris Columbus, so I'm not surprised. When I watch the musical, I always feel an overwhelming need to get some close-ups instead of seeing everything as a wide shot, and this movie fulfills all those desires, I suppose. So I shouldn't complain. Plus, it's just fun when you can sing along to most of the songs in a movie.

What else can I say? Still love the movie. Parts of it are enough to give me mental orgasms. However, action scenes do not translate well to Imax at all. The wide shots are gorgeous though.

The Producers
Lots of fun, and the leads have great chemistry. Uma Thurman camping it up instead of going kill-crazy is a nice surprise, and I chose this poster for the sole reason that you can see more of her in this one. Unfortunately the pacing felt rather slack, especially in the buildup.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mirrormask Here

Dave McKean's Mirrormask is finally coming to Singapore. I've seen it before at a preview, and I'm heavily in debt, so I probably won't go see its theatrical release, but take my word for it, it's incredibly interesting. The visuals are nothing short of breathtaking in their originality and complete rejection of what constitutes "good" CGI, going purely for stylism instead of realism. And it works incredibly well. Also, it's written by Neil Gaiman, who turns in good stuff even on his off days. All in all, a coming-of-age tale like no other.

It screens at Golden Village Tampines and Plaza Singapura. Sneaks are from April 13 to 16, and its theatrical run is for four days only, from April 20 to 23. More details here.

Now go see it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bored University Students

A post that has nothing whatsoever to do with cinema or my life. In lieu of actual new content, here are some fun things revolving around university or college life.

A closer look.

Don't worry. The letter has been identified as a hoax.

But the first article on this page isn't one. Still, it's pretty funny, and he does have a good reason, I suppose.

And I'm pretty sure this is done by university students. It seems very college-type humor. Of course, freaky babies are always funny.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sharpie Nostalgia

For no real reason other than nostalgia, a picture from one of my earliest short films, eugene, way back in 2003 (note: information in the link isn't completely accurate).

I drew all the tattoos on with a Sharpie marker.

Now that's production design.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Yesterday's Today

So my letter was printed in Today, albeit in a much truncated form (it's on page 34 of the plus section).

Inside Man Today Thu 6-4-06

Still, it hardly looks like UIP is going to do anything about it. They're completely unapologetic.

Spike Lee should sic his dogs on them. Bastards.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Need a T-Shirt?

Just a quick plug for my buddy's online store - The Clothes Store.

If you like to design T-shirts, you can try your hand at the semi-regular design contests they hold. If you're just plain lazy, you can buy stuff with exclusive designs from them too. He also does bulk printing, for schools and other such organizations.

So go shop. Don't let the fact that you're not in Singapore stop you. I'm sure he'll ship abroad too, but you do have to contact him via email. Tell him I sent you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fuck U(IP)

I am a fan of Spike Lee’s films, and so I was understandably excited to see his latest work, Inside Man. I even booked tickets online and went to the 11.50 pm sneak preview screening at GV Marina last Saturday, April 1, 2006.

Once the film started, I was appalled to discover that all the expletives had been muted. This was not done in an unobtrusive way; there was no way anyone could fail to see that, especially in all the close-ups. I had a horrible experience because this was incredibly distracting, and it completely marred my enjoyment of the film. If you don’t think this is so, just try leaving gaps in your speech when you talk and see if you can follow yourself easily.

I discovered through a search on the internet that the MDA had originally classified the film as NC-16 for language. Later, there was another version submitted, which had been edited (presumably for the expletives) and passed under PG.

It was apparent that the blame for this lies solely on the shoulders of the distributor, United International Pictures Singapore. Having had a choice between an age-limited rating and one without, they chose commit artistic rape on the the film and go for the choice that could get them more money, in their opinion.

I understand that sometimes films like these have to be toned down for general consumption. For example, it is routine that these cleaned-up versions play on national TV or on airlines. However, there is a real possibility that kids will be watching in these situations, because they are free-to-air and easily accessible.

One must stop and consider: How many kids under 16 are watching this film in theatres anyway? The stars are Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen, not exactly your teenybopper idol type. It is a smart heist movie, which requires thought and analysis, something that the typical young teen doesn’t rate very highly on his list of must-haves for a movie. And true enough, at the screening that I attended, none of the audience was under 16.

Taking all these into consideration, United International Pictures Singapore has undoubtedly made a wrong decision. They decided to have an edited version play in cinemas in order to tap the under-16 demographic, when in reality that demographic doesn’t even want to see the movie in the first place.

In the process, they have rendered the film unwatchable, insulted director Spike Lee by doing this, and more importantly, insulted the entire audience. This is completely unacceptable.

I urge the company to withdraw all prints of the PG-rated version and replace them with the NC-16 rated one. I also feel strongly that UIP needs to apologize to everyone who has been subjected to this torture and issue them with replacement tickets.

Let’s hope integrity still exists in this world.

I sent this to all the papers in Singapore. Who knows if they'll publish it? But yeah, Inside Man is a damn good heist movie. A much more eloquent (sans the rant above) review here. I'm too tired to write more. Apologies to Tim for stealing.