Category Archives: Movies (Highly Recommended)

Emotional Colour

I remember one instance when Ho Yuhang recalled I-Lann asking him this question when they were to shoot “Rain Dogs”: “What is the emotional colour of the film?” to which Yuhang scratched his head and said, “Yellow?”. Something like this if I remember correctly. According to the Wikipedia, “Yellow can represent light and the sun’s rays. It can also be a sign of cowardice.”

According to another Wiki entry for an album by Tom Waits with similar name, “Rain Dogs” are dogs which become lost because the rain has washed away their scent. Tom Waits has compared these dogs to homeless people, drunks, etc.

As for the Chinese title, “Tai Yang Yu” (lit. Sun Rain), when we get wet in the rain that falls in broad sunlight, my mother always say that it will make us fall sick.

All the above are what I felt after watching “Rain Dogs” (although Yuhang will laugh it off characteristically).

I think it is an excellent film. The characters are multi-layered, each character suggests a story behind them but Yuhang revealed enough to get you notice the depth of the character but is restrained enough to not to reveal too much so that the yearning to know remains (or maybe he can do follow up movies for his characters later).

Liu Wai Hung (we know him better as Ah “Chan”) is just great in the movie as well as our dear Yasmin Ahmad.

The music is superb, particularly the choice of the theme song, Odetta’s “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child”. The cinematography is very good and proves that HD can do a marvellous job.

The final static scene will remind you of Abbas Kiarostami, long camera shots observing something that is happening far away, as if we are merely an observer and the story of the characters in the movie has nothing to do with us. In this case, we will see a static shot of a tree against the backdrop of the sky with a rainbow across it and some birds flying past accompanied by Odetta’s sometimes haunting song with just enough time for you to reflect on the story and the characters. While Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel shocks you by looking at you in the eye at the end of “Les Quatre cents coups”, Yuhang does the opposite but achieves the same effect. Perfect ending.

Oh, and I wonder if anyone else felt the same, I somehow felt that the main character (Kuan Choon Wai) in the movie is like Leslie Cheung’s character in “Days of Being Wild” and the similarities that “Rain Dogs” has with “Days of Being Wild” do not only end there but also the basic structure of the movie as well as the narative style. Only thing is that Kuan is still a kid but Leslie is merely a bigger kid. Kuan’s character may one day grow into Leslie Cheung’s character.

“Rain Dogs” is really a profound film and for anyone who appreciates good cinema, go and get your tickets, sit back, relax and enjoy :)

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Some movies

I sometimes wonder why I enjoy watching movies. I have no solid answers to that but the closest answer is perhaps I am addicted to the deep feelings that arise inside me after watching a great movie. I want those feelings to be repeated and I keep on searching for movies that will give me that feeling. This feeling is not a singular feeling but a symphony of feelings, of joy, of sadness, of sympathy, of empathy, of hope, of admiration, etc.

A recent acquaintance asked me if I can recommend some movies for him to watch and he is interested in world cinema. He likes to watch movies too but they are of more recent ones (read: Hollywood). Well, I told him modestly (which is the truth) that I have not really watched many movies and compared to some people I know, what I have watched or know is like a speck of sand in the desert. I have never been to a film school and whatever I know or have watched is by way of recommendation from friends and also own curiosity.

Anyways, here’s the list that I gave him and it reflects the movies that I feel is great (therefore subjective). In no particular order:

1. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
2. City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
3. Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini)
4. Shanghai Blues (Tsui Hark)
5. Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa)
6. Charulata (Satyajit Ray)
7. Salaam Bombay (Mira Nair)
8. To Live (Zhang Yimou)
9. Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata)
10. Kes (Ken Loach)

Two European, Two Indian, Three Japanese, Three Chinese. I hope the choice is ok and not too heavy and I am not too carried away. It is not quite easy as so many movies popped into my head and to choose only a handful is so hard. For example, from Taiwan, Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi” and Tsai Ming Liang’s “The Hole” comes to my mind instantly but I have settled on “City of Sadness”. From Hong Kong, Tsui Hark and Wong Kar Wai popped into my mind immediately but Tsui Hark is more representative I thought but which Tsui Hark? “Peking Opera Blues” and “Shanghai Blues” popped up but I have always have a slight bias for “Shanghai Blues”, probably because I love the theme song but “Peking Opera Blues” is truly a magnificent movie. What about Majid Majidi’s “Colour of Paradise”? From Kurosawa, would “Ikiru” be a better recommendation compared to “Dersu Uzala”? Should I recommend one from the “Apu Trilogy” or would “Charulata” be a better introduction to Satyajit Ray? Would “La Strada” be a better choice compared to “La Dolce Vita” or perhaps “Nights of Cabiria” would be a more accessible Fellini? Where is Totoro?? and on and on and on….

Well, it’s a short list of 10 movies and after he is done with that and is still interested, the plan is to give him the next 10 anyways. So there is still a lot more time in the future. This sounds like fun :)

Here’s the video clip of the Theme Song from “Shanghai Blues”. Enjoy!

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Once Upon A Time In India

I have never been a Bollywood movie audience before I came to India to work a few months ago. If in April 2006, you ask me how many Bollywood movies I have watched, I could not get past my five fingers and the latest one that I watched would be “Choker Bali” shown on the Astro Box Office Channel and the second last being “Dil Se”.

However, it is fortunate that I am in India now and with a lot of time in my hand, I am able to now catch up on the movies that I have missed and I really like what I have seen so far. Just in less than a week, I have watched three Bollywood movies, each of them great. “Fanaa”, “Omkara”, and the 2001 classic, “Lagaan”.

My favourite male Bollywood actor now is Aamir Khan.

I agree with my friend when he said that everyone on Earth should watch “Tokyo Story” at least once in their lifetime but after watching “Lagaan”, I must also add that everyone on Earth should watch “Lagaan” at least once in their lifetime. It is unbelievable that I have missed this movie and this reinforced the truth that we must give everything a chance. You will never know where gems can be found.

Just go watch this movie if you have not done so.

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One watched last night

Despite the world cup fever, I managed to watch “Mohabbatein”. I told Jack that I am a sucker for love stories and he recommended a few and one of them being “Mohabbatein”. I like that movie very much.

Shah Rukh Khan in his character on his girlfriend who passed away:

“I did not fall in love with her on the condition that she would live longer than me. There are no conditions in love, so there shouldn’t be any regrets. So what if today she is not with me, I still love her the same way, not because I can’t find someone else to love, but loving her makes me happy. Whenever I miss her, I close my eyes and she is with me.”

Then looking at one of his students whose love for a girl was not reciprocated:

“You didn’t fall in love with her on the condition that she will love you too. So just because she loves someone else, you want to forget her… don’t let go so easily. Love is just like life, it’s not always easy, and it does not always bring happiness. But when we do not stop living, why should we stop loving?”

The students left. Shah Rukh is alone. He closes his eyes. We then hear his girlfriend’s (Aishwarya Rai) voice repeating the last two sentences. She appears in person. They teased each other for a while. Then Shah Rukh invited her to dance. They both danced to the tune of the theme song. I can feel the love that Shah Rukh was talking about. I can see the happiness and contentment on their faces. Great acting. Great music. Great timing. The scene was beautifully done!!!

Here’s the lyrics of one of the songs in the movie which I really like and has been humming since yesterday.

For whatever you say about Bollywood movies, they are extremely enjoyable to watch!

Here’s a link to the theme song just for you to get a feel of the music if you wish. Click here.

Now, you can actually also watch the music video on YouTube.com but the quality is not very good. Click Here. Please give it some time to load completely before playing to watch the clip smoothly.

Lyrics:

Humko Humise

Humko humise chura lo,
Dil mein kahin tum chupa lo.

Hum akele, kho na jaayen,
Door tumse, ho na jaayen,
Paas aao gale se laga lo

Ye dil dhadka do, zulfein bikhra do,
Sharma ke apna aanchal lehra do.

Hum zulfein to bikhra dein, din mein raat na ho jaaye,
Hum aanchal to lehra dein, par barsaat na ho jaaye

Hone do barsaatein, karni hain kuch baatein.
Paas aao gale se laga lo.

Tumpe marte hain, hum mar jayenge,
Ye sab kahte hain, hum kar jayenge.

Chutki bhar sindoor se tum ab ye maang zara bhar do,
Kal kya ho kisne dekha sab kuch aaj abhi kar do.

Ho na ho sab raazi, dil raazi rab raazi

Translation:

Steal me from myself
Hide me somewhere in your heart

Alone , fear I might get lost
Far from you , I might go
Come close and put your arms around my neck

Let the heart beat (faster) , spread your hair
Blush and let your shawl fly

I would let my hair down , but it might make the day into night
I would spread my shawl but it might start raining

Let it rain , we have to talk
Come near and embrace me

I die for you , I might die in reality I say all this , I will do it

Put this red dye of marriage in my hair parting
What will happen tomorrow who knows , do everything today

Others may not be ready , but the heart is ready and God is willing.

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Perhaps Love

I have spoken that I loved “Perhaps Love” and in fact, has been listening to the soundtrack almost on a daily basis on the car stereo. I received a birthday present yesterday from two wonderful colleagues and friend and it is the boxed set, special deluxe edition, of the “Perhaps Love” soundtrack, complete with a DVD containing a special edition of the movie “making of..”. To add to this, it comes with a photo album, postcards, and song lyrics.

On reading the lyrics of the theme song, I came to realise what a wonderful piece of art that is. The true meaning of the lyrics escaped me while listening to the song because some Chinese words are hard to understand. Anyways, here is the translated lyrics to the “Perhaps Love” theme song. So, so, so Wonderful! My tears swelled up after reading it while listening to the song. Afterall, I am a major sucker for love stories.

**********

Everyone wants to find out
Who’s the one love of their lives
More so melancholy…
… especially around midnight
Eyes closed with heart unsettled
Because deep inside, you know that was Love

If that was really love
Should have stayed before you turned away
Even with pain, even with tears
Even with countless lonely nights
Love….why is it always clearer looking back?
Even with pain, even with tears
The feelings remained after love was long gone
If that was really love
If I’d understood it when it happened
Whould my live be any different now?

Especially around midnight
When I think about the future
Can I be at peace with the present
… and ask myself what is love
If that was really love
Should have stayed before I turned away
Even with pain, even with tears
Even with countless lonely nights
Love…why is it always clearer looking back?
Even with pain, even with tears…
The feelings remained after
love was long gone

Because such was love
Because such is love.

**********

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Initial D

I have watched “Initial D” three times in the cinema, paying full price at that and paid for 2 persons in two of the three outings. I like that movie very much and if they had played longer, I would probably have gone and watched it for the 4th time.

No matter how we want to be critical about the movie, sometimes even dissecting the movie in parts and criticise it, I could not feel but just love the movie. There is something very special about it. could be the music. Could be the driftings. Could be the overall feel to it, like how I also like “Young and Dangerous” and “Infernal Affairs”.

Today, I was at Low Yat and saw that the “Initial D” DVD is already out. I was totally surprised that the DVD was priced at only RM39.90! Unbelievable! The DVD set (2 DVDs) contains the original movie, the making-of which was very good, director interviews, cast interviews, trailers, music video, etc. The set also comes with a 48 page, full colour, superbly produced photo book! What more, because you buy the DVD for RM39.90, they throw in an autographed poster for your display pleasure!

All for RM39.90. I am still not getting over it and I seriously think that there is a pricing mistake. So before they decide to correct the prices, please go to the nearest store and grab your copy.

Besides the DVD, I also bought the original soundtrack and listened to it in the car on my way back. With typical “Initial D” style, I put my hand to my head and imagine myself driving an Evo. The soundtrack is great, the only thing is that it does not contain the two songs sung by Jay Chou. Anyways, it’s okay since I already have one of the songs on my PC.

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This Shaw, You Must Watch

Just finished watching this movie and I think I have never watched it before. It is such a gem, especially if you are a fan of kungfu movies. If you think “Kill Bill” is cool, watch this one. No, I am not saying that “Kill Bill” sucks. I liked “Kill Bill” and the fact that Tarantino is not shying away from announcing his respects in “Kill Bill” (the Shawscope opening title, the camera techniques, the use of Gordon Liu, for e.g.) for these Shaw kungfu films is testament to his wisdom.

This movie is hugely enjoyable. From the husband-wife fighting (reminds you of a certain Mr. & Mrs. Smith? This is far better!), to the superb choreography, to the Chinese-Japanese martial arts showdown, etc. Helming this movie is Lau Kar Leung, who also had a cameo appearance in the movie as the drunken master. The Chinese hero is the superb Gordon Liu. I still cannot accept the fact that he is playing only silly supporting roles in recent TVB series.

*spoilers ahead*

One of this movie’s other title is “Shaolin vs. Ninja” and you will suspect that this is another Japanese-bashing movies a la “Fist of Fury”. It felt that way at first. Japanese are inferior, resorting to all sorts of trickery etc. etc. But this movie is not really about Japanese-bashing. It is about the code of honour in martial arts and at the end both the Chinese and Japanese shoke hands and learn to respect each other. Sweet conclusion eh? I wished the movie didn’t end so fast. Wished at least to see the hero and his wife together again in the end although we know they will be together and will live happily ever after. Anyway, I still enjoyed the movie very much.

I will say it again: I really enjoyed the movie!

Other movies watched since the last post about movies watched:

1. “I ‘Heart’ Huckabees” – good movie. Lots of talking. Can be too philosophical for some people. If you only like action, romantic comedies, or the such, maybe you would like to skip this. If you like Sartre and wished he wrote a sequel to “Being and Nothingness”, it is very likely that you will want to watch this movie.

2. “Shaun of the Dead” – sounds like “Dawn of the Dead”? Yes, I think it is a rip-off. While I did not see “Dawn of the Dead” because I really cannot watch horror and suspense movies, I enjoyed this “Shaun of the Dead”. It is comedy plus a little bit of suspense.

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