Sunday, November 12, 2006

In Inconvenient Truth - 87%

Now its been a while since I've posted anything. Reviews, commentaries, anything. Is this site winding down? I would say no, but whether I would keep posting blogs at the rate that I used to would be in question. The past few months had been so busy, I needed to fully focus on the jobs that I was working on. Specifically a short film that I am involved in. Pre-production, production and right now in post production. Drinking from the hose is the term I will use to describe the past 3 months. I have learnt so much that I wouldn't have if I didn't subject myself to the hell and fire that I've been through. I am glad to say that it is all for the better. The year is coming to an end, and the most recent project is the toughest, yet best thing to have happened to me in the past year.

So back to the review of this documentary. The truth is out there at the theaters, and I urge everyone to see it. Those of you who has heard warning and horror stories about the effects of Greenhouse and our depleting ozone layer and choose to look away, should really stop lying to yourselves and face the music. Katrina, Aceh, climate changes, hurricanes, they all may appear to have come relatively frequent these days haven't they? And it is no accidents. I strongly urge all to view this documentary to learrn about the truth and start facing the conscience. I admit to having become complacent (and being pure lazy) to issues which I always thought "someone else would do a better job at". Then it dawned upon me that it is not up to someone else to save this only planet of ours, we all are responsible for her well being.

The film is based on a slideshow that Mr Al Gore, the ex- vice-President of the US under the Clinton Administration, has been showing across the States and different countries around the world. He has show this slideshow at least a 1000 times he claims. Al Gore's own upbringing and his life experiences (son's near death accident, his professor in college etc) are inter-cut between the slide presentation, and it helps us to understand how he came to make spreading the message about our Mother Earth in jeopardy his life mission.

If there's any film that is I would consider the most important to watch this year, this would be it. Put away your prejudices you may have against this man and listen to what he has to say. You may do more research on what he says. The most important thing is to make sure you do not turn away, because the truth will never be unveiled unless you quest for it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why must an asshole be the reason?

Sigh ... haven't been updating my blog, but who knows, it has to take an unreasonable asshole to drive me to it.

Just about 15min ago, I was driving round this carpark looking for a lot. It is a very small carpark, and it is one way, meaning you can enter the carpark through 1 entrance, and by the time you have made the round to the end of the carpark, you have to turn out of it. Since it is almost like a roundabout, many drivers just into the 1-way lane which would place them in the opp. direction of the lane. Being a small carpark, I've seen many people just do that and everyone would understand being that it doesn't cause much inconvenience to anyone having the lanes rather huge.

So what happened? I have been circling in the carpark, and so happens this guy just entered and saw one other guy leaving. Being, the 1st comes 1st rule, and the fact that the carpark is so small, I figured that this guy would let me have that lot. But when he stopped next to the car exiting I suspected that he just might be the assholic Singaporean drivers, or he sincerely had missed seeing me.

So when the other car left, he conveniently dived into that lot although my car was also just waiting by the side. Fine. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and walked over to his car, and told him nicely, "Hello, sorry, but I was waiting for a lot for a while already." ...

He said "but you're on the wrong direction of the road." .. So what does that mean? That means this guy knew of my presence and still didn't cared.

"So what if I was on the wrong side? I turned back to get the lot because I know if I had left the carpark, it would seem like I was giving it up."

"But you are on the wrong direction. I was looking for a lot upstairs too."

WTF is that kind of excuse??? I could have gone upstairs too, but since you left this carpark and went to the one up the freaking slope, you mean we expect to know you are waiting for a lot here??? This bugger was really getting on my nerves and he's obviously not planning to budge. We were both not giving in, and at this point, another person was driving out of a lot. So, instead of wasting my time on this asshole, ...

"I thought you could be a reasonable person, but since another lot is available now, I am not going to waste my time. And I'm sorry..." So I whipped out my camera, and took pictures of his car.

This guy was still in the car when I tried to take the picture, but my stupid camera phone was in "movie" mode, so I had to change the bloody mode while I tried taking the photos again. He definitely knows that I was trying to take picture of his car. But he didn't cared. I missed taking his face damn it, but i don't think I would want to stoop so low as to shaming him. Why why why do I have to deal with such asshole 1st thing in the morning??

So any brothers and sisters out there who sees this guy, send him my regards, and let him know that he's such a disgrace to Singapore.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just what I heard .... abt IMF

So word on the streets ....

I heard the IMF is the hottest thing happening right now and how our govt is spending big bucks to make our guests feel at home ....

I heard ... and i reiterate .. HEARD ... the following things:

- 3.5million dollars are spent on flowers that will make our green city greenier :) .... nice .. and they are engineered to last not one week, but a whopping 2-3weeks! :) .. impressive ....

- Taxi drivers are put through a course to teach them how to talk to our guests properly :) ... Etiquette class... upgrade courses for Free from the govt .. how nice :) All the things they are not supposed to say like .. ermm .. politics? :) How nice the government walking the talk .. how they encourages us to go for classes to upgrade ourselves, and now they do that for free for our very own homegrown driving talents :) I can see how they really appreciate our local bred talents. Now I wonder if the taxis themselves also feature hardware upgrades like bugging devices to ensure the guests' safety :P

- Hop on over to Cityhall area ... Thanks to our guests, we're getting free wireless internet access! ... Approved by IDA. This is so sweet. Don't you wish our foreign "kai ye" (godfathers) come by for a visit more often? :)

- Never had our government spent more efforts to improve our social etiquette since ... the courtesy campaign? Well, it is time we junk the courtesy lion and introduce a brand new campaign to welcome our rich visitors ... Smiles :) .... 4 million smiles to be exact :) :) :) and here's adding 3 more. Who doesn't when you see money? Right? :) :) :)

- Some companies even get to go home and work from home! ... How nice. A government sanctioned holiday at home! :) So instead of using the company's computers, networks and electricity, we help them save the cash and allow they to try out home office concept by having the staff share the costs of internet connection, electricty bills and of course, maybe someday, eliminate the office rental together some day ... some day :) ...

But still, there are some people I heard who are negatively impacted by the visits from the rich folks. I heard Suntec is a dead town this few days. I heard the restaurants are not doing too well. Even mine saw a drop of almost 30%-40% of sales. But really I think this is just silly thinking of how much more returns our government/society will gain from our visitors. The hotel, shopping, and foods that they are going to spend on? Plus the intangible benefits we will derive from a sudden surge of government spending on etiquette education, beautifying the surroundings with nice chrysanthemums during the chinese 7th month, and how we will become better singaporeans by surrounding ourselves with more smiles!

Be grateful folks. Let me present you with a chinese idiom that represent what I think our government want us to learn so desperately but finding hard to convey. Maybe they just need to improve our ministers' chinese language, then they can just use this 4 words in future to educate us more effectively. The idiom is "见钱眼开" (see money, eyes open). The next time IMF come around, the government should consider using these 4 words as their marketing campaign. It totally encapsulate the essence of what they are trying to achieve here but with so much more enlightening simplicity. I hope this message find them well and my suggestion will be put into thought. That's the very least I could do as a Singaporean, rather than complain all the time right?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Just keep left .. unless ..

While we're at it .. here's something I've been meaning to post since last year .. and since it is still like this in some of the MRT (spotted at Cityhall, Novena ...) stations ....

Please Keep Left when using the escalators ...

As long as you are not doing the following ;p
1) Holding the hand rail
2) Holding a kid's hand
3) Have a travelling bag

My friend says ..."Get this fucker on your blog"

Wow! ... It's been more than a month since I updated my site. .. Work work work ... so much things to do .. so little time ... always ..

Well well ... my friend sent this to me .. and told me to put it on my blog .. In her words:

"This is the pic of the fucker who occupies empty seats with his bag. When we asked if we can take the seats he gave us a fucker face. Can post on your blog or not?

Here's the story. 12 Aug Marina Sq Food Court. At 6. He's wif his wife. He unwillingly removed his bag when we asked for the seats"

So here is the "fucker"! :) ...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

BHAVANI (and the government) should stop treating us like kids. *Updated*

Mr Bhavani, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, gave a "lecture" to our very own homegrown blogger Mr Brown and suggested that Mr Brown was distorting truths and being a partisan player few days back. A few things he wrote stood out. One of them is this "Instead of a diatribe mr brown should offer constructive criticism and alternatives."

This is a way of thinking which I had always thought the government should consider abandoning. They had always held the view that if anyone wants to criticize the governement or its policy, they should provide a "constructive" solution or just shut up. The fact is, this attitude basically "disallows" people from opening discussing issues, problems and does not at all promote critical thinking and developing a nation who will be able to question and tackle country's issues. Why should anyone be prevented from complaining just because they can't think of a better solution? If no one talks about any problems at all, does it mean it will become less of a problem or will it simply fade away? No! It will only allow the proponent of any bad policies to claim that it is good due to the lack of "oppositions".

The fact that the government disallows anyone from talking about any problems at all, be it in a satirical form or not, totally goes against what they are promoting about the society being an inclusive one. Here where the government in these past few years, wishes to promote people to do critical thinking, be innovative, be more involved in politics, and trying to sell an image of the government being all open and gracious, only ends up slapping themselves in the face and appearing as hypocritical, narrowminded, 2-faced and petty.

Mr Bhavani said, "mr brown is entitled to his views. But opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper should meet higher standards. Instead of a diatribe mr brown should offer constructive criticism and alternatives. And he should come out from behind his pseudonym to defend his views openly." Too bad Mr Bhavani cannot understand humor when he reads one. Is the goverment so weak that they cannot stand up to the criticism of a "comedic" writer? Those who reads Mr Brown's column and listen to to his podcast would not take his words as an official source of news and information, but just thoughts of an interesting individual who provides his own personal views on certain societal/personal issues. Is Mr Bhavani (and the government) intimidated by the popularity of a guy who writes funny? Maybe they should reconsider what they are doing wrong instead and try to understand why he is so popular to begin with. If according to Mr Bhavani, "opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper should meet higher standards. Instead of a diatribe mr brown should offer constructive criticism and alternatives", then all popular newspapers in Singapore should remove all sections/columns that are "non-serious", "non-constructive", "non-opininated" and "non-critical" because they do not offer the government/people with anything useful for their readings. But then who is to judge what is constructive solutions or not? Let's see if Mr Bhavani is able to set up a similar blog as Mr Brown and provide writings which are 1/2 as entertaining and popular as his. By "hinting" that Mr Brown's standards is not "high" enough for a "widely circulated column", it almost sounds like Mr Bhavani (or the government) is telling TODAY newspaper that they should do something about Mr Brown. And it is sad to see that 3 days after Bhavani's letter, Mr Brown's column is suspended in Today newspaper. I could call it a coincidence since I do not have evidence of Mr Bhavani (or government) directly instructing Today to do so, but anyone who doesn't share the same conclusion would be an indiot.

Here we have a David versus Goliath situation. We have Mr Brown,a light-weight champion, at one side of the ring facing the Minister, who is a heavyweight. Our minister Mr Bhavani is now telling our satirical social commentator how to run his business, and (dare I think?) suggesting that Mr Brown becomes non-satirical and enter serious political writing? Let me say that it is not the people's job to provide our government with solutions to our problems, but the governemnt's job to provide us with the solutions. And if the solutions which may come in the form of the policies are deemed ineffective, the government should be the one to acknowledge or investigate it, instead of asking people to shut up. Because how else are the government able to know if the people are happy with the way things are run of they are not allowed to speak? Are the people supposed to suffer and only when things like the economy hits then do the government do something about it? Let me tell the government here, some of the problems the government has seen of the past decades like talent leak (young singaporeans leaving) and lack of innovation is a direct result of the government's bad policies and narrowmindedness. And people like Mr Bhavani making statements like he did, will only promote the migration of talents overseas as well as stagnating innovative individuals like Mr Brown to do the things that he does best - that is commenting in the non-satirical fashion, and providing an example for kids of today, that even good writers can make a decent living by following his own heart and mind.

Stop treating us like rebellious children who step out of line. We are no longer children who can't think for ourselves.

Bhavani is female not male.

Published in TODAY on June 30, 2006

S'poreans are fed, up with progress!

THINGS are certainly looking up for Singapore again. Up, up, and away.

Household incomes are up, I read. Sure, the bottom third of our country is actually seeing their incomes (or as one newspaper called it, "wages") shrink, but the rest of us purportedly are making more money.

Okay, if you say so.

As sure as Superman Returns, our cost of living is also on the up. Except we are not able to leap over high costs in a single bound.

Cost of watching World Cup is up. Price of electricity is up. Comfort's taxi fares are going up. Oh, sorry, it was called "being revised". Even the prata man at my coffeeshop just raised the price of his prata by 10 cents. He was also revising his prata prices.

So Singaporeans need to try to "up" their incomes, I am sure, in the light of our rising costs. Have you upped yours?

We are very thankful for the timing of all this good news, of course. Just after the elections, for instance. By that I mean that getting the important event out of the way means we can now concentrate on trying to pay our bills.

It would have been too taxing on the brain if those price increases were announced during the election period, thereby affecting our ability to choose wisely.

The other reason I am glad with the timing of the cost of living increases and wages going down, is that we can now deploy our Progress Package to pay for some of these bills.

Wait, what? You spent it all on that fancy pair of shoes on the day you saw your money in your account? Too bad for you then.

As I break into my Progress Package reserves to see if it is enough to pay the bills, I feel an overwhelming sense of progress. I feel like I am really staying together with my fellow Singaporeans and moving forward.

There is even talk of future roads like underground expressways being outsourced to private sector companies to build, so that they, in turn, levy a toll on those of us who use these roads.

I understand the cost of building these roads is high, and the Government is relooking the financing of these big road projects.

Silly me, I thought my road tax and COE was enough to pay for public roads.

Maybe we can start financing all kinds of expensive projects this way in future. We could build upgraded lifts for older HDB blocks, and charge tolls on a per use basis.

You walk into your new lift on the first floor, and the scanner reads the contactless cashcard chip embedded in your forehead. This chip would be part of the recently-announced Intelligent Nation 2015 plan, you know, that initiative to make us a smart nation?

So you, the smart contactless-cashcard-chip-enhanced Singaporean would go into your lift, and when you get off at your floor, the lift would deduct the toll from your chip, and you would hear a beep.

The higher you live, the more expensive the lift toll.

Now you know why I started climbing stairs for exercise, as I mentioned in my last column. I plan to prepare for that day when I have to pay to use my lift. God help you if some kid presses all the lift buttons in the lift, as kids are wont to do. You will be beeping all the way to your flat.

The same chip could be used to pay for supermarket items. You just carry your bags of rice and groceries past the cashierless cashier counter, and the total will be deducted from your contactless cashcard automatically.

You will not even know you just got poorer. And if your contactless cashcard runs out of funds (making it a contactless CASHLESS cashcard), you just cannot use paid services.

The door of the lift won't close, the bus won't stop for you, taxis will automatically display "On Call" when their chip scanners detect you're broke.

Sure, paying bills that only seem to go up is painful, but by Jove, we are going to make sure it is at least convenient.

No more opening your wallet and fiddling with dirty notes and coins. Just stand there and hear your income beeped away. No fuss, no muss! I cannot wait to be a Smart e-Singaporean.

I also found out recently that my first-born daughter's special school fees were going up. This is because of this thing called "Means Testing", where they test your means, then if you are not poor enough, you lose some or all of the subsidy you've been getting for your special child's therapy.

I think I am looking at about a $100 increase, which is a more than a 100 per cent increase, but who's counting, right? We can afford it, but we do know many families who cannot, even those that are making more money than we are, on paper.

But don't worry. Most of you don't have this problem. Your normal kids can go to regular school for very low fees, and I am sure they will not introduce means testing for your cases.

We need your gifted and talented kids to help our country do well economically, so that our kids with special needs can get a little more therapy to help them to walk and talk. And hey, maybe if the country does really well, the special-needs kids will get a little more subsidy.

Like I said, progress.

High-definition televisions, a high-speed broadband wireless network, underground expressways, and contactless cashcard system — all our signs of progress.

I am happy for progress, of course but I would be just as happy to make ends meet and to see my autistic first-born grow up able to talk and fend for herself in this society when I am gone.

That is something my wife and I will pay all we can pay to see in our lifetimes.

Printed in Today on 3 July 2006

Letter from K BHAVANI
Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts

Your mr brown column, "S'poreans are fed, up with progress!" (June 30) poured sarcasm on many issues, including the recent General Household Survey, price increases in electricity tariffs and taxi fares, our IT plans, the Progress Package and means testing for special school fees.

The results of the General Household Survey were only available after the General Election. But similar data from the Household Expenditure Survey had been published last year before the election.

There was no reason to suppress the information. It confirmed what we had told Singaporeans all along, that globalisation would stretch out incomes.

mr brown must also know that price increases in electricity tariffs and taxi fares are the inevitable result of higher oil prices.

These were precisely the reasons for the Progress Package — to help lower income Singaporeans cope with higher costs of living.

Our IT plans are critical to Singapore's competitive position and will improve the job chances of individual Singaporeans. It is wrong of mr brown to make light of them.

As for means testing for special school fees, we understand mr brown's disappointment as the father of an autistic child. However, with means testing, we can devote more resources to families who need more help.

mr brown's views on all these issues distort the truth. They are polemics dressed up as analysis, blaming the Government for all that he is unhappy with. He offers no alternatives or solutions. His piece is calculated to encourage cynicism and despondency, which can only make things worse, not better, for those he professes to sympathise with.

mr brown is entitled to his views. But opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper should meet higher standards. Instead of a diatribe mr brown should offer constructive criticism and alternatives. And he should come out from behind his pseudonym to defend his views openly.

It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government. If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the Government's standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns - 88%

Superman .. Oh man I have been waiting for this movie for so long. Superman, the Movie and Superman II have always been 2 of my favourite movies of all time. That's because they set the standard for what a good superhero movie should be. Since the first superman, we've our share of hit and misses - Misses: Superman 3 and 4, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin - Hits: Batman Begins, The Crow, X-men and X-2, and of course the Spiderman movies. Spiderman 2 is really like the closest to being the perfect Superhero movies thus far, but Superman I and II has always held a special place in my heart. Why? Because of the meticulous handling of the myth and the respect that was given to the superhero. A marvelous cast that brought the Superman universe to life. And to top it off, an excellent score written by John Williams to honor the most powerful of all the superheroes.

And after Christopher Reeves' uncanny portrayal of the Superhero (no doubt in part due to his "Superman-ish" looks), and Richard Donner's wonderful interpretation of the character, it has become almost an impossible feat to top. And in light of all the other more "earthbound" superheroes' successes, Superman seems like a character that is "out of times" and almost too outlandish to be brought to the screen anymore. He just wasn't cool anymore.

Playing with that idea, Bryan Singer, concocted a story that saw the "Man of Steel" coming back to a world that has moved on without him. A world where our alien child, who was brought up as a human being, trying to fit in. Superman as a man, who's lover has moved on with another. That is the basis behind the new movie "Superman Returns". And on most front, the movie is a success. It pays homage to the Richard Donner versions and also makes references to the comic books.

So what's satisfying about this version of superman? For a geek like me, there's much to like. It is like a fan movie made by a fan. Bryan Singer obviously knows his history of the character and he throws tons of references to Superman I and II movies. As one who literally memorized every moment of the first 2 installments, it was great to hear all those familiar references. For instance, how Lois was asking about how many "f"s are there in "catastrophe", Clark using the word "swell" and Lex asking "What did my father say to me?". There are plenty more so I won't try to spoil it for the fans. Everytime a reference was made, it felt so much of a kick. However, the bad part of it was it made me difficult to see if all these lines actually served to make the film better or worse for a viewer who's unfamilar with aIl these dialogue and references thrown in. As I try to imagine it, it might have actually made certain scenes look really awkward if they do not know the background behind it - kind of a double edged sword.

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and Parker Posey as Kitty totally stole the show. In my opinion, they delivered the best lines in the film and also the best performance. Kevin's Lex was a little neurotic like Gene's but darker. Parker gave an outstanding performance with the nuances of a conflicted female sidekick.

Special effects wise, this is certainly one of the most impressive flicks to have grace the silver screen. In fact watching the "digital projection" of this film is a must if you can have access to it. The HD DVD version of this movie when it arrives later this year is sure to drive the sales of the players. The first airplane rescue scene is one of the most exhilarating action special effects sequence ever made and is designed to be watched IMAX style. It really blows the mind. And the way it kinda served as a grand entrance to Superman after such a long departure, was extremely apt. And the flying scenes? Awesomely breathtaking. The flying shots makes everything in matrix look like childs play.

Now what's not to like? Well, for one, I felt the biggest drawback of the film was the age of the main characters. Routh and Bosworth looked just too young for the roles they play. Lois was like an immature reporter, not hard nut cracking. Routh's Clark also was lacking in personality. He didn't seem to make a big distinction when playing Clark versus Superman. It makes it unbelievable that people couldn't see Superman and Clark as one. Reeve's Clark was different enough to convince audience of the possibility that everyone in the film was fooled. But not this one. I just hope that Routh would work on creating a more distinct Clark versus Superman in the next installment. As for Bosworth, I hope she'll mature a little more. The way she appeared helpless when arguing with Perry White just seemed ... wrong ...

Well, Superman Returns is a great movie to watch. More than being an action flick, this is more a romantic drama than anything else. Some guys might find it boring, or draggy, but these are probably the same guys who made the same complaints on Spiderman 2 - which was a great movie by the way. Still, Superman returns felt somewhat incomplete and I suspect it is deliberate. There are too many things to establish that will serve to make a very interesting sequel. Bring it on!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Superman .... Returns

Ok guys and girls ... have a few ideas for Superman returns ...

how many of you are interested in gathering to watch Superman Returns premiere?
310pm Marina GV ... Digital Cinema .. 28th June

I am going to get tickets .. and who's interested .. drop me an email at, and I am planning to buy the tickets real soon.

And another "Superman returns" night. Where we watch Superman 1 and 2, then we head to the theater to catch "Returns".

Propose the date and email me.

Update : Superman returns day ... Saturday 1st July
Watch Superman 1 and 2 from afternoon ... then break for dinner ... then head to watch "returns" night show.

:D ..... almost 8 hours of superman :P ....

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Omen - 84%

The 666 .. number of the beast .. Satan's Day blahblahblah ... it basically translate to ... a day for a good horror movie :) So how good was it? It was pretty mighty good I might say.

So what's the story about? A high ranking official's wife, had a stillborn and the he was persuaded by a priest to swap his dead baby for someone else's. Little does he know, that this baby was the son of the devil! (Dramatic music!!!) So well, and the story chronicles the "younger years" of the Devil's son, Damien.

What really works? The casting was excellent. The story is a little absurd, by today's standards that is. I mean, c'mon, how easy is it to convince someone to pick up someone else's baby with just words from a priest you have never met before. Wouldn't you at least have gotten his contact? But the acting from the amazing cast made it all believable. And comparing the older version with the new one, I would say the new version bettered the old one by being more "believable".

However, this also works against the movie. The problem is the actor Damien, is too well cast. You know he's the freaking devil the minute he appears. I mean, c'mon, right from the start! But the nice thing about the old version, was that throughout the film, you kept wondering, how could the little boy turned into the devil it suppose to be? You actually watch the film hoping that it will turn out to be the opposite. But this new updated version, damn you just want to kill the little boy the minute he appears. So in a way, there're no twists, and it is basically the old version with an updated look and tempo.

However, even if I did not watch the original, this movie would still have worked. The story was reasonably well told. The fact that he followed the original very closely, even using the same script, made the holes in the plot somwhat forgiveable as it made me think in 1970s mode.

But for a good June scare, this one's a good one to head to. ;)

Friday, June 02, 2006

X-men: The Last Stand - 75%

Is this truly the last stand as the title hints? Is this the end of the X-men franchise considering that Bryan Singer has left the project? I'd say judging from the box office performance over its 1st weekend, the dead can rise from its ashes like the pheonix did. Anything is possible with the power of money :)

So what is X-men the last stand about? It is about Phoenix coming back, while Magneto tries to rally the mutants against the Humans .. while the Humans have created an anti-mutant vaccine and finally how all these culminate into an all out battle where tons of characters get killed off. So did I give away too much? Nah ..... think of it as a mutant war brewing and the movie is about how it gets there.

And man ... this one is like a rojak (mess) of X-men all rolled into one. So many mutants out there they try to feature, yet many of them were so fleeting. But they do taste pretty sweet when the scenes are right. One conflict in the movie I really liked was how they dealt with the idea that, if you're given a chance to be less unique an individual than you are, would you? And there really was no straight answer to that question, especially if your "uniqueness" does not contribute a sense of positive reflection upon yourself. For instance, if you could throw fire, you might choose to keep it, but if you couldn't touch anyone at all or you may kill them (including the ones you love), would you give up that lethal "strength" of yours? Too bad it seemed a little underexplored, and it didn't really fully developed its idea. Maybe a part 4 would deal with it more?

Then there're the campy 1-liners .... Why do they wanna dumb down the characters with all these shitty 1-liners? Who wrote those "Batman & Robin"-ish rubbish. They really do detract from an otherwise a really seriously good movie and dragging it into mediocrity territory. Luckily the good things in the movie overwhelmed the potential pitfalls.

So have a good fun time, and enjoy this crazy romp at the theaters. And please wait till the credits finish rolling. ;)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - 80%

I am sure plenty of people are familiar with the story already. Conspiracy is out there to prevent certain truths about Jesus's bloodline and his "human-ness" that will destroy the very foundation of the church and religion. Let's face it. The very basis for the power of the church and the reason why Christianity is different from the "other" religions lies in a few beliefs: 1) Christ is not just human, he is the very embodiment of God himself 2) Christ is not human, and that's why he could be resurrected 3) Christ is the son of God.

However, this movie brings forth the possibilities, and theories that Jesus might just be a regular human being, and there is a bloodline that sees his descendants walking among us today. What's even scarier (or to the church) is that his descendants might be the ones tasked to carry on his teachings. To people who are not Christians or Catholics, really, they couldn't care less if Jesus was married or had kids. But imagine what it would mean to the gazillion Christians and Catholics out there. If suddenly, a piece of evidence came about that would proof the above, the religion would have lost its entire foundation and millions of Christians around the world would have their religion invalidated overnight. So that sets up for a very good premise for a good thriller doesn't it? So how does the movie holds up as a movie?

Now really, given the fact that I have never read the book, I found the premise for the movie really good and intriguing. At least for a person watching it as a movie for the first time, encountering the story as the first time, I was pleasantly entertained. Hey, if the background and history as it was based on was true, I would have to say the way the fictitious characters are weaved in are pretty well done. And also, c'mon, I could tell what are intended to be the "facts" behind the movie and what are not. It kind of made the hoohaa by the church that says it confuses and blurs the line between fact and fiction kind of pointless. The noise made by Christians and Catholics only seem to validate the theories brought forth by the movie.

As a thriller though, I found it a bit lacking. The pace was a little off. It really wasn't that suspenseful. But that is assuming that this film is intended to be a thriller to begin with. Otherwise, it really well as in it does serve to tell its story in an unconfusing manner.

The gripes I have are some of the loopholes in the plot and how some of the escapes that are depicted in the story looked positively lame. The bullet at the door and the car escape. Rather unconvincingly executed. And my beautiful Audrey Tatou, turned up a rather stiff performance. I guess maybe she was trying hard to play someone much older and matured than herself that made her, too restrained.

Ok, after letting it sink in and thinking clearly about the movie after letting the hype of all the bad reviews settle, I think I am not going to go with the crowd and actually declare this film rather good - on the basis of its plot. It is basically a good movie, told rather well. And the bad weren't all that bad really. Do I really want to nitpick?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mission Impossible - 79%

The mission is back for the 3rd round and man was it a ride. Looking back at all the 3 mission impossible flicks, they all have very different looks, feel and style. And it is definitely very much due to the decision to use 3 different directors for all 3 movies. And thus, we have mission impossible that kinda appeal to different people on different levels. The first one appealed to me as an amazing thriller where it is a battle of wits of sorts. The second MI was decidedly a style over substance flick, which in its own way held its own appeal. The 3rd one this time round, feels very much like a battle of emotions. Ethan Hunt this time, is the most battered emotionally and physically. We have him giving into his emotions and acting outside his usually cool and very focused actions. And this is what I like over the last 2 missions. However, looking at how he changes his girlfriends in the MI series like how he changes directors, I am not so sure how he's going to wriggle himself out of a marriage for a 4th outing.

But well, the story, though secondary to much of the action in the flick, goes like this. Mr Hunt is getting married, and he is being recalled back for one more last mission. Then things go wrong, and as he tries to fix the wrong, his fiancee gets abducted. Messy ..... And hey, what better way to pull at the heart strings then to see a man desperate to save his loving, beautiful and sexy nursey wife?

So how're the actions this round? MI series (or at least 1 and 2) always feature some stunts which edge on the impossible - we've had the 2 inches above the floor stunt, the blade edge 1/4 inch from the eye stunt, the hanging by the cliff mountain climbing stunt etc. This time though, it seems like the director wanted to make it more plausible by making the stunts and Ethan perform a little less "impossible". So we actually get more "big stunts" and none of those little "impossible" ones. Honestly speaking, I prefer the little impossible ones, cos they are what make Mission Impossible special. This time, it just feels like a regular thriller.

But that said, it is a good emotionally driven thriller. I just wished there was more of Philip Seymour Hoffman. There were like only ... 2 scenes of him talking? C'mon, he deserves more screentime! Even as a villain. And further on that point, many of the other characters were really not that developed too. The rest of the team members, like the computer guy and Maggie Q. And even Ethan's boss who wasn't really explored though he was integral to the plot of the story.And one last question: What was Maggie Q there in the movie for? To blow up the car?

Ok next up, Da vinci Code. Quite excited ... no not cos I have read the book ... not becos of the controversy ... but I am just a HUGE HUGE fan of Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Yes Mr Lee, I am a living proof of a Singaporean that I fear PAP

Yesterday on Channelnewsasia, it was reported that James Gomez of the Worker's Party was being detained for questioning and recording of statements for the eleccion papers issue. On the videoclip online, there was MM Lee saying "When I call a person openly you're a liar, you're dishonest and he does not dare to sue me, there's something basically wrong" ....

This statement basically sums up the kind of mentality and methodology that PAP represents when dealing with people that are against them. This statement also summarizes the kind of fear that I have for this government. From this statement, you can tell that they use tactics like these to "test" their accusations againts people (whether true or not), and if their opponents do not sue back, they will push and assume that what they claimed is true.

Dear Mr Lee, the only thing that is wrong in the whole situation, is the fact that you could make accuasations like these just to "test the waters". And in case you didn't realize, when people do not sue you back, it does not necessarily mean they are guilty of your charges, it could simply mean:
1) They are too busy to bother with matters of the court
2) They do not want to undergo the stress of being in court
3) They do not have the financial ability to sue you back
4) Since they can't afford an attorney, they figured that they probably can't "out-argue" you in courts

What is wrong here is your arrogance and how you are using such underhanded methods to test your accusations. Do you recall on Channel News Asia when you ask one of the journalist to name anyone who is afraid of the PAP? I will here raise my hand and say, "Sir, I am his proof of a Singaporean individual, who is afraid of the PAP" and your statement is one example of why I have such fear for your government.

I have always respected Mr Lee for what he has done for the country, but it is statements like these that makes me wonder if these are the kind of people I want to be running the country that I love.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Almost Election ... almost ...

Just listened to the TV/Radio broadcasts of the representatives from the various parties .. PAP, SDA, SDP ... and also some other highlights from the rallies ....

Some things that caught my attention:

1) PAP Wong Kan Seng said "We will be all inclusive .... We will not leave anyone behind"
Didn't we hear this from another president on the other side of the world .... erhm ... Mr Bush from USA? ... And man, did he leave anyone behind? :P .....

2) WP - I think it was Low Thia Khiang or James Gomez himself .. who called the PAP "Flip flops" ....
Now .. didn't we hear this from somewhere else before too? ... The recent US election when Mr Bush was accusing his opponent Mr Kerry of being a flip flop??

Are the singaporean politicians taking their cues from the US politics? .... talk about "be hip, original, be creative" .... :P
And if our politicians are heading in any of the direction of the Bush Administration .... man i can't imagine ...

3) What the fuck ... none of the party reps and leaders from ANY parties can SPEAK GOOD MANDARIN. Screw the Speak Good English Campaign, work on the SPEAK GOOOD MANDARIN campaign. What "Chinese Cool!" shit ??? They better think of better ways to entice people to improve their Mandarin. And hello Mr PM Lee?? What was the "best is yet to come??" ... I have yet to see anything coming but bad Mandarin on our Mandarin only Television .... They may as well be speaking in Hokkien if it helps them to speak more smoothly, quickly and just bloody slap some subtitles on it ....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Everyone goes to vote!!

So the election is upon us ... and we're off to vote for who should be in our government, and who's not. Oh but then, not everyone gets to vote, only those who's GRCs are being contested. So I guess only those who happens to be in a GRC where PAP has to put up a fight, do they get a chance to voice your opinion.

So how's the rules for this election? Fair? No way, cos even PAP said so, that there are no level playing field, in politics. MM Lee said that there are no ruling party in the world that would actually try to provide advantages for their opponents. I do agree with MM Lee for this statement. Take for example in a football match (the Real football, or soccer for u americans), the richer teams can afford to "buy" better players, and afford better coaches etc. It doesn't make sense to say, hey, let's give some of our opponents a better chance by giving them a portion of our earnings.

However, I find it a little odd when the rules for the game are being set by the ruling party to begin with. You don't see the umpire or referees of any games being owned by the teams? You don't see the match's rules being decided by the reigning champions. So who makes the rules for how the election is being held in Singapore? PAP? But I would dare say, not entirely. I would say it is history that makes them make decisions/rules the way they are today. You see MM Lee and many of the MPs using history as the reasons why certain rules must be kept the way they are.

Well, they are not wrong in the way they came to that decision. Though do I agree? I don't. Can I say anything about it? The PAP's method of shutting people up would be, "do you have a better idea?". So if I don't have a good idea, I should shut my mouth up. If I think I do, what are the ways I could voice it? Let me look at my options:
1) Write to the ST forums, and pray that they do not censor you?
2) Put up a blog. Only if you register with the government and get it approved?
3) Raise it at those MP Feedback meetings?
4) Join the opposition party?

The methods above are highly regulated and watched and thus I dare say the barrier to entry to voicing an opinion on how our country is run is high. Regular people like those in kopitiam, who wants to voice a opinion can only keep it within the kopitiam. However, the governent would be happy to have it kept within kopitiams. But would they be able to hear it? Nope .... Younger people, do not hang out in kopitiams like the previous generations. The younger generations of Singaporeans communicates and hang out with their friends through this medium called the internet these days. And chatting programs, online forums and blogs are arguably the electronic kopitiams of the younger generation. However, even that is being regulated by our government.

It almost seem like the government is making it very very hard for anyone to openly talk about any opinions about the government without "getting their permission". This is very very unhealthy for the society.

Not too long ago, MM Lee held an "open discussion" with a bunch of 30 year olds (media people, journalists) on TV and after watching it, I feel it was quite an useless exercise for both parties. As a "young" Singaporean, I didn't walk away convinced by PAP's "best" representative. Not to say I was impressed by my peers who were represented on the show as well. But the fact was that, it clearly marked the "generation gap" between the ruling party and young voters. It seemed that PAP didn't end up convincing the young people on the show that they are the best thing for our country today, and the young ones didn't put up too strong a fight either.

But at the end of it all .... after all the campaigning and the selling of their "go yo" (chinese medicine), we voters will get the chance to voice ours choice. For young people like me, the blog would be the best place to share my thoughts about who I think should win or not. But I can't since they would lock me if I did so without registering. But then again, is this posting even political? What would consitute a political blog?

So ... I guess the only way to voice it, is through my/your votes. So I am here to urge everyone, regardless of what you think who will win, let this be your chance to voice your opinions. Please not just think of what "go yo" the party that's fighting in your GRC is promising you. Please think in terms of the nation's well being too. Though the GRC system has forced people to think in terms of the tangibles for their GRC, and not in terms of the welfare of the entire naton itself, I hope everyone would think in a broader manner. This is your only chance to make your voices be heard. If you do not make any action, it would be 0% votes. But remember, at a 5%, 10%, 25% or 49%, though it is a minority, would still constitute a signal - all it takes, is your vote to make that signal be represented.

But alas, I can't vote even if I wanted to ... cos my GRC is not being contested. So much for the "General Election". Guess my vote can't count even if I wanted it too. ;P

Monday, April 17, 2006

Eight Below - 65%

Ok ... movie about dogs. My friend came back from Hong Kong for the weekend and gave me a call Friday afternoon. I was like "hey dude, let's hang out! Before u go back!" He said, "Yeah! ssure. We're planning to watch a show with the gang. Eight Below! I'll buy the tickets first." Then I wondered, "huh?? you're back for the weekend and u wanna catch Eight below? This better be good." And I tried to recall what was the last animal film I've watched (Neomo doesn't count), and it was "Beethoven". And it was a rental. I got a bad feeling this one's better as a rental ... and it turned out .. yeah ... go rent it instead.

There are those kind of movies that you watch, and you really don't quite like it, but you feel bad giving it a low score because of how "nice natured" it is. This usually happens to children's movies and this one, I don't really know how to place it. It seems like it is trying too hard to please different types of audience, that ... it kinda lost its identity. I don't know whether to say "hey for a children's movie, it is good!" or "This is a crappy movie for adults!". Cos I really don't know who they are trying to target. Maybe the movie was made just to sell huskies? Or to entice people to go to Antartica before global warming destroys it all?

Anyways, I think they meant to add drama to an animal documentary, and end up not serving each of the ends well. The special effects were shoddy. And I think the biggest problem I had was with the dogs, or should I say, the way the dogs were directed. Man they are dogs! Stop making them seem like they can communicate and behave like humans. They tried to put in human politics into the dogs ... and it makes them looks stupid instead of smart. And half the time, I can imagine the trainer off screen giving the dogs instructions on "ok doggies, come here now", "ok dogggies, eat (lick on?) the stuffed birds now".

Ok ... so how's the movie? ... It is a rental, for when you are in the mood for a silly drama that looks like it is sponsored by the animal planet.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bird's Nest ....

It was a busy busy day ..

Whole day shoot. My new short film called Bird's Nest (working title) is almost done ... well .. 90%
First foray into High Definition production. And my 4+ year old Quicksilver is really showing its age .... no more RT effects :( ....

Man, directing kids is very very strenous .... this is a 7min short film .. and We took like .... 7 hours? ... Wow .... was dead beat by 4pm ...

There'll be another shoot on another day. Will be a short one. Anyways .. can't wait to show itto you guys ;)

Here are some of the production shots ...

1. My DP, Steven Liew and his son, Darren.
2. My Lead :) John Tay
3. Yours Truly ;)
4. Mr Alan Wong, the coolest grandpa I know ;)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Talking about water ... and what they expect to be free.

Good to see a discussion on free water (or the lack of) issue at restaurants being brought up in Straitstimes. Well I didn't quite read the article since I didn't subscribe to it, but someone told me about it and I was glad to hear about it. As some readers might know, I run a restaurant, and I do give free water. However, I wanna stress that if I am given a chance to open another restaurant, water will not be free.

And really why was water free in the beginning in my joint? Because of 1 factor, the Japanese curry which is my restaurant's mainstay, is deem to make pple "thirsty" and I was told by my Japanese Chef that Japanese would expect the water to be free at a Japanese restaurant. And since day one, we have pampered our customers with free water, or should I say, I've been paying for my customers to not purchase my other drinks. Ironically, it turns out many Japanese did end up ordering other drinks more often than not, usually beer. And Singaporeans, typicallly would be sitting there and looking annoyed if we did not serve them water while waiting for their friends. We typically even asked them "would you like a drink while waiting?" 8/10 times the answer would be "Can I just have ice water please?" Or "Warm water, not too hot". I refer to these customers as the "aquamen".

I do want to point out to customers in Singapore, who expects so many things to be free, that we are not running a charity. And they should see these "free" things not as a requirement but as an act of good will. Let us see what are the things that I provide for free in my restaurant and the hidden costs to me:

1) Free Water - Cold and warm.
Firstly we do have to pay for it. The fact that some huge restaurant have to hire staff specifically to handle these water issues, should serve as a wake up call that hey, we are already doing way beyond what we should. And secondly, again to point out, the cold water is cold because we have to pay for an ice maker and the electricity to run it. The same goes for warm/hot water. Water needs to be boiled, contained, and kept hot/warmed - and they all cost money.

2) "Service for extra 10-15 plates for my gang to celebrate birthday with a cake that I purchased elsewhere."
Guys, we lose sales for your "outside food". We're literally paying for you to buy your cake elsewhere and providing you with all the utencils and then also having to hire a staff to clean up your mess, and wash your plates after that. By the way, using a plate once for a stupid slice of cake and expecting us to clean it is a surefire way to make you look like an asshole. Sometimes this is a courtesy that we extend to customers who often overlook the kindness and see it as a requirement. Reminder, we are doing you a favor here, and you're not paying for it. We could jolly well charge you a "corkage" fee for your cake from outside instead of buying ours, but we had spoiled our own market.

3) "Extra seat - to put my precious bags cos they can't touch the floor." There are many, and I re-stress, many many customers who come into a restaurant and expecing to sit at a table for 4 when then there's only 2 of them. the reasons include 1) I want to put my bag on the chair 2) I want a bigger area to feel more comfortable 3) The restaurant is still empty what! You can afford to gimme that luxury! 4) I am a customer and I want to sit where I please!
Let me remind customers that, hey, when you are going to a restaurant, and especially those small family run types, they often don't have that many tables to provide you with such luxury. And a square or rectangular table can only provide combinations of table for 2 or 4, not 3. When you request to sit at a table for 4 when there's only 2 of you, you are effectively 1/2-ing the restaurant's capacity - as well as takings. If you call the restaurant petty for this, we call the customers unthoughful and selfish for this. And please don't make things worse by taking up a table for 4 and having 2 person sharing 1 dish. Final point, your freaking bag can be placed on the freaking floor.

Those who claim that "hey, I pay service charge, so water should be free". Sorry, if 10% of the service is to purely pay for the water or the drinks that you are buying, then I'd have to make the entire restaurant self service. Either that, I'll raise the service charge. For those who looks at the food and calculate how much margin we're making, please also put into perspective all the hidden costs that you can't see. If you think the 10% service charge that you pay can cover all of the above losses and expenses and opportunity costs, then you are seriously not being realistic. And truth be told, even if I provide you with free water and not charge you service charge, would you be kind enough to leave a 10-15% tip? Nope. Singaporeans are used to having things served on a silver platter to them and they think they deserve the best service in the world for every cent that they pay. But they also don't realize that, you shouldn't be expecting be served like a king, if you are not at a castle and if you are not paying like a king. We treat you like a customer and service you like a guest, not to be your slave. Expectations level have to be re-adjusted on both sides.

And if you realize, the above behaviors all point to being a rude and thoughtless person in general, not just a bad customer. And eventually, it is not just about being a a better or nicer customer, it is about being a nicer person. And any good restaurant love good customers - just as mine. ;) Actually just ask anyone who has run a restaurant, or worked as a waitress before, they will tell you that "angmohs" are better customers than Singaporean ones. And no, it is not because they spend more, but it because they are nicer people in general.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

董沁, 野百合·春天- Chinese Jazz Recommendation

Was in Sembawang music, just randoming shopping for CDs while waiting for a friend. I picked out a CD from the rack which interests me, some Chinese Jazz CD, titled 野百合·春天 (which was actually a old chinese tune which I haven't heard in a long time). The singer was 董沁 (pronounced "qin4"). Ok, the cover wasn't exactly the nicest, and it really look like some Cheap Cover artist thing.

This guy came up to me and asked me if I wanna test it. Think they are learning a thing or 2 from That CD shop.... Anyways, I was a little relunctant since I wasn't really planning on getting anything. He keep reassuring me "hey it is ok... really ok no problem, can test one" and as he said those words, his hands were busy ripping the shrinkwrap and taking out the CD. Win already lor. I see him wasting the shrinkwrapper, I also paiseh not to buy liao.

But hey, upon taking a listening, oh damn this is a hidden gem. The songs were remakes of old chinese classics in a jazz style. Chinese Shanghai-nese artistes seems to be re-igniting a Jazz renaissance and this is one of the best recordings I have heard. There are 2 Teresa Teng's songs in there, and Dong Qin's rendition is so very sincere and it did in someway reminded me of Teresa herself, but with a modern twist. Crisp vocals and excellent pronounciation. And the price is very reasonable too. Highly recommended. Couldn't find it at many places. Try Sembawang Music.

Highlighted Tracks:

Media firms need to progress

Recently was just shopping at Sembawang randomly checking out some CDs. Was just looking at some China imported CDs and thinking to myself, damn, these guys are cheap. Well of course not as cheap as the real pirated stuffs, these are more like parellel imported CDs that are not "legal" by the distributors definition. Sigh ... after so long, these media companies still think that we're living in the 60s. The world is getting smaller and the rules of how the market used to work needs to be revised. It still saddens me to see those stupid region codes on DVDs creating so much problems for customers these days who are so much more "international" than before. Don't they realize that in the process of planning so many versions of their discs to "maximize profits" in the different regions, those profits are being eroded by the ease of customers these days have access to products from different parts of the world now. And not to mention the kind of money that they have to pay for research and development for things like DRM, DeCSS and the lawyer fees from tracking and suing people around that world for cracking the codes.

Note to media companies: Move on with the times.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Apple Sets Up a Bootcamp!!!

Oh this is big news .... So bloody big. Apple now officially supports dual booting feature on their intel macs onto windows!!! Of course, they claim that they do not support windows of course. But really, aren't the rest of the PC makers out there the same - they will help u with the drivers on their machines, but if u have problems with windows, they'll ask u to call Microsoft anyways. ;)

I spoke to some PeeCee users about this, and one of them had this to say, "ah Apple finally had to give in to Windows. They have to acknowledge the fact that they can't survive without Windows." Man this person is so not getting it. And I afraid lotsa PeeCee heads are thinking the same. Apple do not need Windows to survive. They are now using Windows as a trojan horse to lure PeeCee users over to the mac. Hey if you wanna get a mac machine just to run crappy windows, Apple don't care - since you'll be paying them the cash, and you'd need MacOS to be installed to enable the dual boot anyways. ;)

Also, we get some people discussing how MacOS will now be as vunerable to viruses now that it "supports windows". Shit are people so stupid?? Almost all viruses are not "cross platform", and that's why they will not affect the MacOS! And some pple are also discussing "luckily the file system is different, so the viruses will not cross over so easily yet". WTF??? Do they even know what the hell are they talking about?? Unless a virus is cross platform, it will not affect the mac side! Why?? It is the same reason why a PC game will not work on the Mac unless it is compiled for it!! It is not because of the bloody filesystem! And the same people who thinks MacOS running on an Intel chip will make the MAcOS susceptible to virus attacks, needs to go for some computer classes before they write for any tech magazine or newspaper.

In the end, this is a great great move for Apple - and MS too. Afterall, MS makes money on every copy of Windows installed on a Mac, and Apple will also make money for every Mac sold. Many people are seeing this as Windows infiltrating Apple, but what they do not see, is that Apple is now the only Windows PC supplier in the world, that sells machines that can run the coolest OS in the world - The Mac OS.

The Hills Have Eyes - 72%

Hey hey ... a remake of a classic horror movie from 1977. Being the horror movie fan that I am, this I so gotta check. I have not watched the original, so I will not be making comparison. I'll just be judging this version on its on. So how did it entertain? Well, being a slasher film, I really didn't have much expectations from its storyline, and if you have the same kind of attitude to it, it is pretty well done. In fact, what I liked about it was how the characters who survived had in some ways, had to change their ways of thinking to survive. The city dweller, gun-hating democrat ended up behaving in a way that he wouldn't imagine that he would. The boy who was so gung-ho about using guns to solve his problems, had to start using his brains to think and strategize his next moves.

But hey .. this is afterall just a slasher movie. The typical rules that a typical slasher movie abide by are still there - the most obvious ones who will die, will really die; the road that looked like it shouldn't be taken, was still taken; the gas station in the middle of nowhere must still be run by a stereotypical weird freakish character that shouldn't be trusted; and of course those who seemed like they shouldn't be trusted, was still trusted. ;) So, in a way, everything still turned out pretty predictable. But hey, if these ideas were featured in the 70s, they could have been rather fresh wouldn't it? Or would it still seemed like the logic of those people seemed pretty whacked?

But I guess if you wanna judge this film on the logic of the story, you probably would rate it like a piece of crap. However I chose to view it like a ride into a bloody wonderland, and man it was quite a wild ride. ;) But be warned, this is one of the most gory and violent films made. Damn, they keep outdoing themselves do they?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy 30th Anniversary Apple Computer! - 1 April 1976-2006

Now from a mac head (literally), here's me thinking of a way to pay tribute to my favorite fruit company, Apple Computer. ;)
Since the day I bought a Powermac 6500 back in college in 1997, (with the main purpose of forcing myself to start studying more and play lesser games on PC), my life had changed forever. No longer am I a blind and mindless lemming that used to be lost in the world of DLL, DMA, IRQs and blue screen of deaths. No longer am I trying to fix and reinstall my OS for maintenance purposes. I am now thrust into the world where I can actually concentrate on completing my work on the computer, and actually enjoying the process.

Since being introduced to the Mac, I have changed my way of thinking and living. No longer do I accept traditions and follow the trends - now I question and ask what can I do to make things better?

In the past 9 years, I have owned a Powermac 6500, Pismo, Tibook, Sawtooth, Quicksilver, Newton 2000, Quicktake 200, Tangerine ibook, G4 ibook, Sage iMac DV, Mac Classic II, Mac mini, and of course, 2 ipods. Though most of them are already sold, but they all had held a very special place in my heart.

Here I am paying tribute to the greatest computer company in the world - Apple Computer. Here's to the insanely great 30 years that has come and gone, and to many many more to come.


After (note: the 3 stripes on the right side of my head represent the 3 great decades - incidentally, I am also gonna be 30 this year ;)

Additional Info: The hair was done at "Hairfolio" by Dave. You can find them at Stamford House #01-11 (at 39 Stamford Rd, Ground Floor. Near Cityhall MRT). 6338 2636. Make appointment!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

V for Vendetta - 83%

"In exchange for peace and prosperity, we demand your absolute obedience and silence"

A very disturbing yet familiar statement mentioned in the movie. This story stars Natalie Portman as Evey, a timid young reporter who was one day rescued by a V, a terrorist who blows up buildings to make his point heard, and then she was trained to become a voice, a face of V's cause. V aims to overthrow the ideas and the government which behaves like a big brother, who commands nothing less than obedience by using fear and media manipulation to control the people. Sounds a lot like Singapore if you ask me. :) The society is not necessarily poor or the people impoverished, it is just way too controlled. The difference between Singapore and the London depicted in the story, is that the people are not stupid, the British can tell that the goverment is feeding them horseshit - Singaporeans don't know and couldn't care less to be bothered.

I usually judge how good (or bad) a film is by observing how much discussion or questions are raised after I watched the movie. This movie raised many "what ifs" and I think that is a good thing - it sets you thinking. It will surely raise many arguments as to whether this movie was made to make comparison between the current state of affairs in the US, given its underlying terrorism theme. It also makes people wonder, if the people should not simply brand the Middle Eastern terrorists as killers and people who do not agree with the ideas of Freedom - whether we should look deeper and understand them as human beings and what are the ideals that they are standing for. I mean let's face it, even in a so-called democracy in Singapore, are there really freedom? So maybe instead of waging wars against the insurgents, maybe a self reflection should be done to question not them, but ourselves, if we are still standing for what we preach?

I also can't help thinking that V is like a alternate version of the Phantom while Evey his Christine. The Phantom has a face to hide, and so does V, and he trains Evey to be the voice and face of his ideas, just as the Phantom did the same for Christine. Was Phantom of the Opera an inspiration for V? I don't know but there sure are plenty of references.

Natalie Portman gave a good performance, but not great. There were a few instances of over-acting which I was surprised to see but it could due to directions. And her accent didn't seem so convincing either. Hugo Weaving's face was never seen, but gave a great voice performance for V. A thought provoking movie that raises more questions than ask them.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Brokeback Mountain 95%

"I wish I knew how to quit you!"

"Well why don't you just let me be.
I am nothing, I am nowhere
All because of you ...."

These are the lines from one of the most powerful scene in the movie Brokeback mountain. This is a heartwrenching love story between 2 males, who stumbled upon the idea of a "same-sex relationship" and didn't know what to do about it. Why? It was set in the early 60s, when homosexuality was probably a very very alien notion. No one knows what it was, and no one practised it openly, because they might get killed for being an anomaly. And people did get killed for being a queer in those times.

So what's to do when they discover that they felt very strongly for each other? They kept things under wraps, while pretending to move on living like regular people. And thus, all their life, they are living a lie. This is a tragic love story that will not work out, at least in those times. And the story succeed in showing how much they cared for each other and tried so hard to make time to spend with each other secretly. Ennis (Played by Heath Ledger) and Jack (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) had to live a double life, and couldn't let anyone know about their true inclination of his sexual preference. I figure it would be akin to forcing a girl to act and talk like a man, just to hide her true gender - in other words, life would be a living hell. The 2 characters are going through living hell. Ennis obviously wrecked his life because of he didn't know how to deal with his situation, and chooses to hide and run. While Jack, got so tired of running and hiding, eventually had to suffer the consequences of his incapability to hide the truth.

This is a tragic love story of 2 person who couldn't openly be together. It is akin to any other heterosexual unrequitted love story. Only difference is this is based on 2 males. I urge those who are "homo-phobic" to give this film a chance.

The film is beautifully filmed, and exceptionally powerful. The writing was great and the screenplay was a masterpiece. Heath Ledger put up an outstanding performance that was both heartwrenching and touching. This is truly Ang Lee's most powerful work so far. Bravo!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar thoughts

Well well ... the night was like "hey we had so many good ones .. how do we choose? ... What the heck .. let's honor them all" ...
And yeah .... everyone film got some big one .. but no one got everyone ...

Best Picture - Crash
Best Director - Brokeback Mountain
Best Adapted Screenplay - Brokeback Mountain
Best Original Screenplay - Crash
Best Actress - Walk the Line
Best Actor - Capote
Best Cinematography - Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Editing - Crash
Best Original Score - Brokeback Mountain

i think it was like .. eh .. "we think crash and brokback are great, but how do we make them share awards?"
so they settled with "best director for broekback" and "best picture for crash"

This year is like a year that can't wait to celebrate good films .. that are not necessarily big money makers. Where what matters are the story and the script ... and of course all that's involved in telling the story ...
and not just ... flashy special effects :)

That's all folks!

Munich - 88%

Munich is a story about the 1972 terrorist attack on the Olympics soil (at Munich of course), targetting the Israelist Athletes. All of them were killed, but not all of the killers were brought to justice. Israel responded, illegally and covertly, by hiring a group of assassins to hunt down the 11 people who had a part in planning the attack. Story focuses on the leader of the group of 5 assassins, Avner, played by Eric Bana. And as the mission progresses, you observe how they start to question the legality of their actions and whether this act of revenge, was actually beneficial to them and the country that they love.

The Palestinians were depicted as they were, people who wanted a place of their own, and they will do anything for their faith. Ironically, with the Israelists counter actions, they are relegated to the same level as the terrorists they are fighting against. There's really no right or wrong answered here. There was only a question of whether violence is an effective way to get people's attention, or to end violence itself.

Avner was finally just a family man, and it was the only reason that saved him from being killed multiple times in the show. I will not give away too much, but this film contained one of the saddest love making scene ever shot - and that is not an easy achievement.

Bana is an excellent actor, and this film is a great showcase of his acting prowess. He is very well suited to act as characters with a heavy heart and a deep soul, just as he breathed life into the Hulk and made it a complex and dark character. He is a star to watch.

Oscar Day & Night!

Hey hey hey!

In case you did't know .. the Academy Awards is happening right now .... almost ... 15min from this writing.

I am stuck to the TV .. Do you have a TV? If you're working .. probably not? :P ,... Well .. I''ll be updating here live as it progresses. So .. reload and reload often :)

Lights!!! ...Action!

9am (GMT +800) ...
Voila! .. The show begins ... Our good host this year ... Mr Jon Stewart .. :)

Thsi year ... The bald golden boy is 78 years old. ...

There was a nice Video intro .. where all the previous hosts were featured to say "No .. not this year" .... too bad those reading it ... can't watch it :P

Jon Stewart introducing the key nominees not in the previous "singing Style" of Billy Crystal and Steve Martin. ... but given the "Daily show" treatment ... nice :) Too bad u guys are just reading about it.

Best Supporting Actor ..... goes to .... George Clooney - Syriana

Commercial time... time to order MacDonalds ..... :P

Can't f#$# believe this ... Mac Donald's got overwhelming orders .. please call back later .. cos we can't deliver for you ...
Grrr. ...

926 .. Ben Stiller giving away the Best Visual Effects in a green suit... that's a funny one .... says no one will see him.
King Kong ... Best Visual Effects ...

931 .. Next up .. Best Animated Feature ... damn good nominees .. Howl's moving castle, Corpse's Bride, Wallace&Gromit ...
Oscar goes to .. Wallace & Gromit!

Halleluhah! Dolly Parton Singing ....

Best Live Action Short Film .... goes to Six Shooter .... Guess we won't get to watch it here in SG... Will we?

Best Animated Short - The Moon and the Sun: An imagined Conversation.

Best Costume Design goes to .... Memoirs of a Geisha ... might be the only award it will get tonight ...

Best Makeup .. Chronicles of Narnia

Jon stewart ... "imagine how difficult it is to make Russell Crowe look like he got into a fight (in Cinderella Man)" ... man he's asking for trouble ...

Morgan Freeman giving away .... Best Supporting Actress .. and i am rooting for Rachel Weisz here ...
Best Supporting Actress is .... Rachel Weisz!!!!!!! Yaye!! :P For Constant Gardener

1011 ..
Still no mac donalds .... and i am hungry as hell ...think KFC is the way to go ....
So far .... The oscar is looking like it is gonna be a "everyone goes home happy night"

Best Documentary Short Subject - A Note of Truimph: The Golden Age of Norman Corvin

Best Documentary - March of the Penguins ... :) Ah .. nice

Jennifer Lopez?? .... she looks more Black than Hispanic .... did she go for some tanning?

Yaye!! .. Macs is delivering finally ... ETA ... 1145 ...

Best Art Direction goes to ....Memoirs of a Geisha ..
wow .. the biggest winner tonight so far :P .. 2 awards! :)

Now ... The beautiful Salma Hayek presenting Best Original Score ...
The Winner is .... Brokeback Mountain :) .... the first .. of many?

Jake Gyllenhaal talking about epics ... i loved him as mr donnie darko :) .. watch that too guys

Eric Bana and Jessica Alba giving away best sound ... I say they should have been giving away best Visual Effects :)
So best Sound Mixing goes to?? .... King Kong .... 2 ups for Kong! ;)

Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep .. the funniest (are they drunk?) presenters so far :)
Honorary Oscar goes to .... Robert Altman ...
He deserves this .. just for Nashville and Gosford Park .... and many more :)

Man do I have to wait another 30min for my food? ....

Ok .. just finished 1/2 a box of Merci Chocolates .... i can't imagine how my stomach looks on the inside .... later with more junk from macs .... man ....

Best Original Song ... It's hard out there for a Pimp .. From Hustle and Flow .. 3 6 Mafia ... Man are they excited!

Jon Stewart .. "How come they are the most excited people here tonight? .. Man this is the oscars!"

1127 .. Jennifer Gartner ... almost slipped .. and fell .... Alllmost ....

Best Sound Editing goes to .. King Kong .... 3 thumbs up!!! :)

1137 ..
Food is here :) ..
and best foreign language film?
Tsotsi ... South Africa ..... i am so glad The promise was not nominated :)

Jon : Martin Scorsese 0 oscars .... 3 three six mafia .. 1 ;)

Zhang Ziyi ... in english? .... well ...
Best Editing .... Crash .. nice ...

Now the big one ...

Best Actor ......

Drumroll .....

Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Capote ... Well done :) .. and well deserved ...

DP ... Cinematography ....
Best ....Memoirs ... can't deny them that one

1157 ...
Now another big one ....
Best Actress .. in a Leading role ....

Drumroll ...

Reese Witherspoon .... wow ... this girl has come a long way :)

Oh it is for "Walk the Line"

And Reese is still talking .....

Dustin Hoffman ... man where have u been? ... Love that guy
Presenting .. best Adapted Screenplay

Broke Back Mountain ... the 2nd win :)

Now for best original screenplay .. i am rooting for crash here

Crash!!!! wins!!!

Best Directing ......
Ang Lee .. for Brokeback Mountain :)

Now .... just one more ...... Should be Brokeback now ....

Jack Nicholson! :) .. presenting best Picture :)
Man this guy has got .. presence :)


Yes .... Crash is the Best Picture of the Year. ...

WTF ... why did they cut off the thank you speech ?? .. this is the last one c'mon ....

And they are playing that Oscars logo screen .. for so long? .... that was not very nice

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Constant Gardener - 87%

Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes stars in this psuedo fiction thriller based on a novel of the same name. Story begins with the death of the wife (Tessa, played by Weisz) of a British Diplomat (Qualye, played by Fiennes), murdered on a trip to a lake while travelling with his African friend. What goes on is a tale of intrigue, suspense, detective work and unravelling of a conspiracy between the British government and a drug company's immoral dealings in Africa.

The story unfolds very nicely along with the flashbacks that unveils more of the characters' history as Qualye goes on his search for the truth behind the murder of his wife. The love and struggles between the main characters Qualye and Tessa, builds up as the flashback counts nearer towards the time of murder - just as the Qualye was getting closer and closer to the truth himself. Nice structure of story-telling allows the emotions to build up nicely as the film climaxes towards the end.

Rachel Weisz gave her most powerful perfomance on screen so far and her nomination in the Oscars is well deserved. She acted in the film pregnant as a pregnant Tessa, and that dedication to the art is well applauded. This is one of the best film of the year (2005). Do not miss it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Daremo Shiranai - Nobody Knows - 90%

As I had mentioned in the previous post, I watched this movie on the same day watched I Not Stupid 2. It was pure coincidence and not in anyway planned. But it was amazing to see the contrast between these 2 films. While I Not Stupid 2 was a dramatic drama movie that uses cliches and tears to create emotions, Daremo Shiranai (Nobody Knows) is undramatic in its story telling, and does not use any tears to force any emotion. Both films were emotionally driven, but they were done in such different manner. While "Stupid 2" was forced and stereotypical, "Nobody" was natural and unmanipulated.

The story tells of a mother who leaves her 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls) at home to fend for themselves. The eldest brother had to find means to feed, wash and take care of the siblings and you are constantly looking forward to see how he's going to solve their daily problems. I shall not give away the plot too much, but it does have a very surprising ending. But that's not to say that the film is dramatic in its delivery. In fact, the story avoids many of the paths that you'd expect, and that's what makes it so interesting. For instance, you'd imagine the mother to be behaving in a very disgusting and selfish manner given the expectations of what she will do (dump the kids), but she behaves totally unlike what you'd expect. And this is just one very superficial example, just watch the movie and you'll understand.

The code 3 DVD is going for only $12.90 at Laserflair. Goes to show how popular good films can get in Singapore eh? Ironic isn't it when I Not Stupid 2 is raking in the cash at the theaters in Singapore. Well, the budget of "Nobody" is probably lower, the distribution certainly much wider (thanks to the universally acclaimed story) and its accolades definitely much higher (2004 Cannes Best Actor). So how much it makes in comparison to "Stupid 2", really it is hard to say. ;)

I Not Stupid 2 - 68%

What is a Jack Neo's movie? One with very expectable results, plot, cliches, beginning and ending. Watching a JAck Neo's movie is akin to listening to your mother or father or Auntie that you've met during Chinese New Year, talk about their lives, and little bitsy ongoing in their lives and views about the world (or Singapore for that matter). Just like relatives whom you meet once a year or so at major family gatherings, it is all joyous and good, but it can get a little annoying if you have too much of the same thing. We've seen a few Jack Neo-ish productions (I Do I Do, 3 Good men etc) and they all smell the same. This one is no different. One thing I have realised about Jack Neo's movie, they all are written like all the parts are the same person. Like Jonathan Lee's songs which are sung by other singers, you can still imagine the song being sung by Jonathan Lee. But unlike song's which can be interpreted by different singers in different manner, Jack Neo's movie walks, talks and sounds the same from one movie to another and even the character talks the same. You can imagine Jack Neo talking through every characters' lips, and once you noticed that, it can get a little annoying.

The first Jack Neo's movie "Money not enough" was the first of its kind. In its own way, it broke the mould and created a movie that was one of its kind then. Though production value was not high, it still charmed alot of people. Why? Because it was one of a kind. There was never anything like that, and the story was original. His following works improved on production quality, but storylines only took marginal improvements, or none at all (Liang Po Po?). So it all goes back to the basics of filmmaking - everything must start with a good and strong story. No amount of technical expertise or special effects can make a bad story good.

I watched I Not Stupid 2 on the same day I watched another movie that was so contrasty with this one - Daremo Shiranai (Nobody Knows). I Not Stupid 2 has much higher production quality, some special effects, good sound engineering, proper lighting, and a formulaic storyline. Daremo Shiranai had mediocre production quality, marginal sound, no special effects and uses lots of natural lighting. But "Nobody Knows" has a great story.

I Not Stupid 2 is not a continuation of the part 1, and it focuses on teenage school children issues and the communication problems between 2 generations. Everything is dumbed down, simplified and direct in your face. Watching the movie is akin to having Jack Neo in front of you spewing out the same issues in his exact words rather than using a story to carry the message. The dialogue is the message and they are so in your face, you'd wonder why he even created a story around it to be delivered. And there are so many things in the film that was delivered but not resolved, and it makes you wonder was it placed in there just for laughs? Or instance, the subplot about the youngest son thinking that kissing would lead to pregnancy does nothing to move the story, nor improve your understanding of the character, it makes you wonder if it was placed there because it was relevant, or just because they thought this was a nice premise to place in the film and just forced it in there. It felt as if they stole a good idea like that and just plugged it in, and without knowing what to do with it, and left it unresolved.

The movie is good if you like Jack Neo's style of movie and want more of the same. If you've never seen a Jack Neo's movie, watch "I Not Stupid" (Part 1) and leave it as that. If you've seen most of his movies, and wonder if you should rent this or pay the ticket to watch it, I'd sugggest doing none of the above and wait for some sucker to buy/rent the VCD or DVD and then borrow it from them. At least you have the option to turn it off halfway, or feel good that at least it was a good rental at best.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

霍元甲 Fearless - 90% 贊!!

Ok, I am not exactly a Jet Li fan. In fact I didn't watch a single of his American made movies. I have been burnt too often by those crappy American made Jackie Chan movies (Tuxedo anybody?) that when I heard that Jet Li is coming out with a Chinese produced martial arts movie, I was keeping my fingers crossed. Especially after the horrors that were "The Promise" and "The Myth", I have become pretty wary of these recent Chinese production out to "please the global audience". Today, my prayers have been answered, and my expectations totally met above and beyond. The answer I found in "Fearless". In fact, I haven't been so excited about a Chinese movie since the first "Infernal Affairs" and "Hero".

The story is very straightforward - loosely based on the life of Huo Yuan Jia, a true historical figure in Chinese Martial Arts history to have started a martial arts school that now has more than 50 branches around the world. This is a tale of a man whose arrogance has caused the death of his loved ones, and how through losing everything, does he realize what are the things that really matter in life, other than power and fame. But what I am most impressed with this movie was the structure of the way the story is told. As opposed to telling the story in chronological manner, the director moved the last scene of the movie to the front, thus establishing the great figure that is Huo Yuanjia. Many films have done this before, but this one is done so that it enhances the tale, and not just for "coolness" sake. In what way does it enhance the story? If the story starts out with Huo Yuanjia as an arrogant young man, it will reduce the impact by which the audience will feel when he goes through the changes that he did. But the fact that he was first established as a Chinese Hero, then revealed that he was an arrogant young lad, it makes the hero's journey even more compelling for the audience to follow. Also, if Huo Yuanjia was first show to be an arrogant lad that changes into a hero, it will make the character too one-sided or less compelling as we do not feel how great he truly is. By starting and ending the movie with him as an hero, will make us understand that we should not just focus on a person's bad past to judge his acheivements.

Many films has dabbled with the era when China was overrun with the caucasians and Japanese trying to snatch a piece of the land. This one though, does it nicely with minimum stereotyping of the foreigners and is the least cheesy in handling those characters. I personally think this will be one of the key success of this film when it is shown overseas.

Ok, other than the excellent structure for this film, the acting were great. And the cinematography and editing were very impressive too. If this truly is Jet Li's last film, I would say that he has exited with a BANG! This movie will go down in history as one of the classics of Chinese kungfu movies, just like Hero, Police Story, Shaolin Temple, Drunken Master, Fist of Fury etc. It is that good. Heck, I'll placed it as one of the best and possibly one of the most influential Chinese movie ever made along side the likes of Infernal Affairs and ChungKing Express.

And how could I not talk about the fighting in this great kungfu flick? There are some very impressively choreographed fighting sequences by Yuen Wo Ping. Damn it is hard to say which is the best. I'd say everything here were done with minimum wire works and their goal is to achieve a realistic look. Very well done.

So I guess I have said enough good things about this film. I am planning to watch it again. :) As for the Jay chou's music for this film, let's just say that it was good that it wasn't used in any part of the film with the exception of the closing credits. That pop song just doesn't do justice to this great movie.

Apparently this will not be his last movie - but his last "martial arts" movie. Thanks for the tip from a reader.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

observations at dinner ....

The camera in the cellphone is a great invention. And me being in a quirky mood last night decided to take some pictures of some people at chomp chomp cos they stand out .. and deserve some special mentions :)

Ok the first beautiful peoples to be featured .... drumroll please ... Tada ... 4 huge assed personnels who decided that a 8 seater would be best for their special needs. Good job. I bet those standing around looking for seats must be really glad to see at least some big assed idiots get to have excess space around them. Whatever ...Let's move on ...

Ok now the next one. I have the grand fortune to be seating next to them! Here I see a table of 4 seating down with their nice bags taking up 1/3 of the table next to theirs. Ok then I tried and see if they can take a hint. "Excuse me, is this table taken?" They looked around in bewilderment for a few sec and then say "nope!". I said "Thanks!" .... and sat down with my friend. and we waited ... and waited ... until our foods satrted arriving and yet their precious plastic bags full of goldbars are still taking 1/3 of our table.

Here's another shot of our table - 1/3 with their precious bags ... and with our Stingray .... :)

And finally ... who will take home the coveted award of "Excellence in Crappy Behavior at Chomp Chomp"?? Drumroll please .... and more drama!!! ..... Swirling music!!!

And yes .... if you're wondering how come there are only seats on one side of the 2 tables? Well simply cos these 2 tables are for the disabled. These 2 couples did a great job at pretending that no one are looking. Well, the couple further away from my camera is an angmoh and his pregnant asian wife. Maybe that count as 1/2-abled ... which may be a tad forgiveable lah .. let's not be so mean. ;)

And finally the big ass mug of sugar cane drink that made the night. :)