Friday, October 24, 2008


Argentina 2007

Details  film

Seen 30 Aug 2008

This is a riveting story of a girl born with both sexual organs. As her body changes to maturity, she has to make a decision. Does she live with what she was born with, or cut off a part of her to make her whole, normal.

Normal, that is the operative word in this film. We see her tormented by her peers and society once her secret is known. But her supportive family and those close to her, helped a little. Ultimately, she herself has to determine how she wants her life to be.

A seldom broached subject, a two in one person, an anomaly, seldom happens and some might even deem a freak. The ensemble cast gives the film the extra sheen and the actress who plays the main character managers to convey the desolateness of a torn spirit but unwilling to bend to the rules.

In the end, an absorbing story, to say the least.

No regret

Korea 2006

Details  hancinema

Seen 29 July 2008

A timid man falls in love with a poor man. That is how, Jae-nin, a rich man's son describes his feelings for Su-min, an orphan. They were not in love at first instance, more of the lust at first sight version. Added to that, it was also Jae-nin's obsession that started the ball rolling. They do become eventually become lovers after the many rejections from Su-min. But now there is the matter of family to handle before our lovers can ride into the sunset happily ever after.

There is also a side story of a newcomer to Seoul who comes under Su-min's wings. A contrast in feelings, relationships and solutions is prevalent.

Misunderstandings and making up, uphill battles despite the odds, they have no regrets.

The emotional ups and downs seem so true of any relationship but in this movie, they lead to dangerous waters.

Indeed, an engrossing story.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bangkok Love Story

Thailand 2007

Details  cduniverse

Seen 19 July 2008

Another romantic love story, my favourite genre. In this case the love is between two men, a hired killer, Mehk and his intended victim, Iht. Mehk has a rule that he only kills bad guys and when he found out that Iht is the good guy, they make their escape from the mob. They form a bond when Iht took care of Mehk who was shot during their getaway.

The rest of the story shows how Mehk came to be in his profession, avenging in a way what was done to his younger brother, Mawk and their mother. Iht, himself, a married man, has to come to terms with his feelings for another man.

The two, with their own past and present lives have to confront that heartache and longing.

Melodramatic in some parts but overall a satisfying watch. Helped no less by excellent cinematography and art direction.

Wo Ai Ni

Indonesia 2004

Details  suarapembaruan

Seen 18 July 2008

Wo ai ni, I love you. In this story, it is a love for money and family. Maybe poverty does have a strange effect on the way the poor try to better themselves. There is always the effort through sheer hard work, sweat and tears. There is also a deceptively simple way of getting those riches by marrying a rich man or getting your due share from such arrangement.

An elder sister's obsession with marrying someone rich as a way to get out of the poverty cycle almost ends disastrously for the younger sister. There is also a sub-plot of an adopted girl who comes back to the small town to find her biological mother.

This story is interesting in a way since it highlights the little known fact of the Chinese poor in Indonesia and how some of the girls are procured by agents as brides for rich men from Taiwan and I guess other Chinese speaking communities.

An economic getaway to a better life not just for the girl but her family too.

A Side, B Side, Seaside

Hong Kong 2005

Details  hkflix

Seen 11 July 2008

Dream chasers are loners. A statement from one of the characters in the film. Yes, an open ended story of dreams.

The movie revolves around four girls on a school graduation day trip to an outlying small island off Hong Kong and a girl who comes back for a visit which rekindles memories of growing up there with her two best friends.

The trip is a sort of coming of age trip for the girls where teenage angst, friendship and love are set in motion. The small town girl meanwhile is torn between the close knit camaraderie between herself and her friends and the opportunities offered by the big city.

No particular highs but just a gentle breeze.

A thousand months

Morocco 2003

Details  bfi

Seen 9 July 2008

Muslims believe that when they pray during a particular night during the fasting month of Ramadan, the act is equivalent to prayers done for a thousand months. This is the night which becomes the turning point for Mehdi, our main character in this story.

He stays in a small town with his mother, Amina and grandfather, Ahmed. The adults tell Mehdi that they are living there while waiting for Mehdi's father to return from work in France. The real reason is the proximity of the prison where Mehdi's father is detained for suspected involvement in the civil strife occurring at that time.

Mehdi is a typical active and inquisitive young boy who is entrusted with taking care of the school teacher's chair. An honour, which sees Mehdi taking the chair almost everywhere he goes. This chair is the anchor which holds the story together.

The director touches on a lot of issues. We get snippets of the political drama unfolding in the country, the despair of the ordinary folk in their daily struggle to make a living, the different perception and interpretation on moral and religious matters as well as the status of women especially those who are brave enough to defy society's norms.

Snippets, camera shots, but we do not get solutions. This is after all, a story; the ending rests with us.

Mengejar Mas Mas

Indonesia 2007

Details  21cineplex

Seen 4 June 2008

A prostitute with a big heart. A girl who runs away from home feeling guilty over her father's death and upset with her mother's plans to remarry. A young street troubadour eking out a living. A triangle of sorts.

Light hearted in certain scenes, but has some memorable scenes between the prostitute and the girl. A prostitute, a vocation chosen by way of unforeseen circumstances. Meanwhile, the girl with not a care in the world previously has to take a harder and more realistic look at life after her experience.

The two women have a different outlook on life after their experience while the men seem just hangers on while this entire life changing events take place.

The kite runner

USA 2007

Details  kiterunnermovie

Seen 1 July 2008

Based on the book by Khaled Hoseeini, this is an adequate adaptation. Movie adaptations of books could never match the imagination of each individual reader. This is true in this case as well, but for those who have not read the book, the story is quite engrossing.

The main pulls are the child actors who played the two main characters. They have managed to bring to life the essence of the book. That has always been the strong points of child actors in the hands of a competent and understanding director. Scene after scene, the boys made it seem so natural, without any prodding or stilted move. In comparison, the adult scenes were not as effective.

Yes, see it if you have not read the book. But even if you have read the book first, just watch the movie to satisfy your curiosity on how the director transforms it to the big screen.

Vereda Tropical

Brazil 2004

Details  turnerclassic

Seen 30 June 2008

A life. A love. An exile.

The blurb says it all. An Argentinean author, Manuel Puig, who is on a self-imposed exile in Rio de Janeiro. He tries to find love among the many he encounters everyday. But usually it is just physical love, His sexual promiscuity came to such a stage that he fears that he has the dreaded disease, aids.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, his medical test shows that he is not HIV positive. This gives a fresh start to his life and he conveniently falls in love with a young boy.  Or is that more of a physical attraction? But the boy is not into the man loves man scene.

Manuel realises that his lifestyle in Rio would never bring him the love that he seeks. And he moves again.

Yes, he is an exile, no longer at home and emotionally, still wandering for that nurturing touch. Always

The naked civil servant

UK 1975

Details  imdb

Seen 28 June 2008

The movie is based on Quentin Crisp's autobiography. A self proclaimed homosexual and exhibitionist who gained notoriety for his flamboyance and devil may care attitude. This is a man born in the early part of the 20th century, with a still conservative society, defying the conventions of the day. He made it through his growing up years despite his non- conformity and blossomed when he met others of the same persuasion.

The dream of getting his dark handsome man who will take care and love him forever more, remains just that, a dream. He realises this fact and continues with his life in the only way he knows, by being himself.

Despite the prejudices of the day, his circle of friends is always a source of comfort. But essentially he is a loner. In the extra clips from the DVD we get to see an interview with him in New York. It seems that he chose to go there to prepare for the final journey in his life. His spirits are high and we could still see that spark in his eyes.

He is the rare human being, the ultimate survivor.

Away from her

USA 2006

Details  imdb

Seen 26 June 2008

Gentle, dignified take on the deteriorating mental and physical conditions of an Alzheimer's patient. In this case, Fiona, realising that her condition is worsening, admits herself to a specialised nursing home catering for those afflicted. This is in spite of the reservations from her husband of 40 years.

The main rule of the home is that, once admitted, the patient must be left there for 30 days without any contacts from family and friends. This is the first time that the couple has been apart for such a long period. We get to see the changes after the husband visits Fiona again after that imposed period.

The heartache of seeing your loved one ignoring you and concentrating more on new found friends is not lessened by the fact that the change is part and parcel of a typical Alzheimer's makeup. It is a very difficult situation for the family whereas the patient themselves are on a different plane altogether.

Superb acting by all involved especially the tour de force from Ms Julie Christie gives this story an extra dimension to viewers on how love manifests itself in so many ways.

The key word here is LOVE.


Indonesia 2007

Details  21cineplex

Seen 24 June 2008

Love makes its presence felt again in this melodrama. Arista, a typical drug user who is on the brink of losing her whole self in the embrace of the drug world is saved from that fate by her ex-boy friend, Bara. Bara in fact was the cause of Arista's drug dependency. But he himself has managed to overcome his drug abuse phase and now it is his turn to help Arista.

We see the conflict of emotions when Bara, engaged to be married to another girl, Nina, met Arista again for the first time after such a long separation. The ex-lovers were torn apart when Bara was in rehabilitation but now is back on his feet as a counselor, whereas Arista has gone downhill since her first encounter with drugs.

Once the side story of Nina is dealt with, the audience sees the love between Arista and Bara rekindled. Then we get the standard fare of caring and loving each other and in this case, it is heightened by the fact that time is not on the side of the lovers.

The final scenes are replete with dialogue heavy in love speak. We can't expect anything less, can we?

Jakarta Undercover

Indonesia 2007

Details  21cineplex

Seen 23 June 2008

In the face, gritty thriller, that is what the audience gets. It is more than that, a microcosm of the Jakarta underbelly. The nightlife, the people who populate that time of day, these gems dominate.

Vicky who works as an exotic dancer in one of the numerous hot night spots in the city is entangled in a life or death situation when her younger brother unwittingly witnesses a death. Almost the entire movie takes place at night except for the last ten minutes of the story.

Good script, acting, direction and soundtrack combine to make the movie a nail biting experience. We root for Vicky and just can't wait to see how she'll escape her pursuers.

The subtext on the little people juxtaposed against those in power is strewn throughout the movie. The marginalised, the common people are everywhere. They might have the numbers but the power is still in the hands of the few. But in this instance, friendship, love and determination carried the day.

A superb effort from all involved.

Antonio's Secret

Philippines 2007

Details  imageout

Seen 20 June 2008

A sexual act between an adult and a minor is still considered rape according to the law in the Philippines. I'm quite certain it is the same in other countries too. In this movie about a fifteen year old boy, Antonio, his search for his true sexual identity leads to tragedy. A boy brought almost single handedly by his mother, Tere.

Tere is a nurse at the local government clinic while Antonio's father has been away for the past seven years working in Dubai. The story unfolds further when Antonio's uncle, Jon, moves in temporarily while waiting for his legal papers to go abroad.

The need for sexual gratification seems at the core of the main characters' lives. But, as we can see, we need more than that, a need for compassion and understanding. Alas, we can't always get what we want.



Indonesia 2007

Details  dvdasian

Seen 14 June 2008

It seems a trend to have one character having a terminal illness and see how others rally around the cause célèbre. In this case, three close friends, a guy and two girls embark on a journey of discovery. They travel along a road, a path, which is not so straight and does not lead to the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Instead, we have self revelations of each character's inner feelings, strengths and weaknesses. The movie depends in a large part on the script and the three main actors. They do not disappoint. It might be a melodrama and certified tear jerker but we get to see a different angle of the universal themes of love, friendship, commitment and betrayal.

The target audience must have been the MTV generation as the camera work, art direction and soundtrack typifies the music videos favoured by this age group.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bukan Bintang Biasa

Indonesia 2007

Details  bbbthemovie

Seen 13 June 2008

A lighthearted look at teenage love and budding friendship. The movie starts with the break off of two lovers, both known to be popular with the opposite sex. The next step is the – I try to make my-ex-lover jealous- phase. So we get the other friends involved in a  bitter sweet comedy of errors.

We also get to see assumptions being misconstrued which then leads to a lovers' tiff. There is also the anonymity of the chat rooms and its consequences. Added to all this, there is a boy who is a die hard devotee of the main girl in the movie.

There is a happy ending befitting a teenage flick.


Indonesia 30 August 2007

Details  thesupermovie

Seen 10 June 2008

Gosh, love is all powerful. In this instance, love turned a haughty, thinks the world revolves around her brat to a loving, melt in the mouth girl. Alas, tragedy struck in the middle of this love soap opera. Then the audience gets to see how the girl copes with the loss. Of course, there is an obligatory happy ending of sorts, but not before we see how the heroine finds something deep within her in order to carry on with her life.

The young good looking actors were made for their roles. Nothing spectacular in terms of script, acting or direction but adequate to convey the message that life must go on. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When Beckham Met Owen

Hong Kong 2004

Details hkflix

Seen 8 June 2008

Friendship between two boys who share a love for football, hence their namesakes, David Beckham and Michael Owen. This coming of age movie is light hearted but has some revelations on single parenthood, the camaraderie between close friends as well as tears and laughter. All part of the growing up process.

The young actors played their roles with exuberance. That helped a lot in bringing forth the topic of friendship while growing up and discovering oneself emotionally, intellectually and sexually.

A good effort.


Philippines 2007

Details dvdasian

Seen 15 May 2008

Five sexual fantasies. Each starts with a voice over detailing the feelings of the protagonist. The narrative continues to give insight into the emotional make up of the characters involved and reaches a peak when the fantasy nears its climax. There seems to be a common thread of strangers meeting each other and unknowingly progressing into a physical relationship. Alas, it is all a fantasy.

I don't want to sleep alone

Taiwan/France/Austria 2006

Details fortissimo

Seen 14 May 2008

An act of kindness grows into that desire to have another human close to oneself. In this version, compassion knows no bounds when given whole heartedly. Tenderness and seeds of love grow ever stronger as days pass by. Unfortunately, there is a third person. There is anger and anguish, as well as the fear of losing an anchor, something familiar in your life. A compromise is brokered and acceptance results in the end.

Parallel to this we see the longing for the recovery of a loved one stricken or condemned to a life of an invalid. The recovery would not only help the incapacitated object but signals a release from a life doomed to a mundane routine existence. The longing for that human touch manifested itself one night when one's physical desires wins over the logical and thinking part of ourselves.

Each scene is abundant with imagery and laden with layers of emotion. A mattress has a key role in this story. The anchor to all the goings-on.

Another delightful offering from Tsau Ming Liang.

Colonel Redl

Hungary/Austria/West Germany

Details answers

Seen 12 May 2008

A peasant boy’s journey through military cadet school until the time he is in the service of the emperor where he succeeds to the higher echelons of the military. He does not realise that he is just a pawn in the bigger scheme of things. Throughout his life, his determination to go up the ranks knows no equal. Unfortunately, that strength of character would also contribute to his downfall.

The intrigue and back stabbing seems like a normal event during those days. But I’m sure it still happens now.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Y tu mama tambien

Mexico 2001

Details imdb

Seen 11 May 2008

Two boys and a woman. The three share a road trip that reveal inner secrets that change the dynamics of the boys' friendship with each other while the woman has her own reasons for joining the boys. In the end, we see acceptance albeit reluctantly of the truths that had unfolded.

The audience would not have a dull moment watching this movie. The director's steady hand cajoles the main actors to bring out their best in their portrayal of each character. Fast paced, with scenes or rural Mexico juxtaposed against the inner circle of the ruling elite.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Stray Cats

Philippines 2005

Details netflix

Seen 8 May 2008

The movie tagline is everybody needs a home. The characters in the movie also lament that the stray cats have a habit of leaving even when you shower them with love. A metaphor of their own lives.

We get to know Martha, an independent career woman who seems so weak in her love relationship with Steve. She has a neighbour, Boyet, a gay romance novel writer with an adopted son, Jojo and also a lover, Dom.

The men that Martha and Boyet love seem always to take them for granted. The story goes through the familiar expected scenes of lovers' tiffs and making up. But we have the added twist of the friendship between Marta and Boyet.

The story reaches another level of expectancy when Martha discovers that she is pregnant. Then emotional chaos engulfs the two main characters, The ending might be too pat for some, but it does give hope to the two to carry on with their lives. Into the sunset without the burden of the stray cats.

Apa Khabar Orang Kampung

Malaysia 2007

Details dahuangpictures

Seen 5 May 2008

What do we have here? A group of traitors or patriots? This group of men and women fought for the nation's independence but their contributions towards that goal will never be acknowledged publicly. Instead, they had to wage an armed struggle against the ruling government. Has it been a fight in vain?

The interviews with the remnants of the Malayan Communist Party members, who in this case are mostly Malays gives a different perspective of Malaysia's journey towards independence.

They are not a threat anymore, so why are their presence unwelcomed? Maybe some can still remember the horrors of the insurgency years. Those are facts but we must leave that emotional baggage behind.

This group of people are part and parcel of the nation's history. To deny their contributions would be a disservice not only to those concerned but for future generations who deserve to be told the whole unadulterated picture.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Japan 2006

Details cdjapan

Seen 1 May 2008

Poignant in some parts, a homecoming and a revelation. A son who returns home to find his niche in life. He, the independent type who wants to break away from the folds of tradition and the limitations of a small town. Along the way, he finds kindred spirits and at the end manages to come to terms with his father's outlook on life.

High spirited with a fair amount of slapstick, gems of dialogoue scattered here and there makes this movie watchable.

Below the light hearted treatment, there is a deeper understanding of human nature. The pull and push factor of belonging and wanting to prove yourself.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ayat Ayat Cinta

Indonesia 2008

Details ayatayatcintathemovie

Seen 30 April 2008

Soap opera. Melodrama. Overboard in some parts. But the basis is the Islamic way of life. How the religion is synonymous with all that is good in humanity.

In this case, the choices a man has to make. Different kinds of love from different women. How he copes, how the women copes.

'Patience and sincerity: That is Islam.' - a quote from the movie. But I have this uneasy feeling that the women folk seems to have more than their fair share of sacrifices. Women are expected to have the patience and sincerity without a second doubt compared to the more flexible approach for men.

Is this nature or nurture. I'm not sure.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


USA 2007

Details foxsearchlight

Seen 29 April 2008

A serious subject, teenage pregnancy seen through the pregnant mother's eyes. In this case, the unexpected pregnancy is handled with love, affection and strong family support. The whole town seems to be tolerant of this event, which helps the months pass by without any untoward incident. The baby is to be given away to a childless couple and we would have a fairy tale ending.

Not quite everyone lives happily ever after. There are obstacles along the way. But the main character, the unwed mother is the focal point of the movie and Ellen Page who played her was made for the role.

The subject matter might not find favour in less enlightened communities and the movie might not reach them. What a pity. Unwanted teenage pregnancies are an increasing trend and a more humane approach towards the issue would help both mother and child. This movie shows one way.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Photograph

Indonesia 2007

Details thephotographmovie

Seen 25 April 2008

Leave it to the Indonesians to lift a simple story line to a different level of expectation, emotion laden work of love. Each scene seems pregnant with the deeper feelings of each main character. An old photographer who lives in the past. A young mother who has to live in the present and thinking of the future.

The two meet and it is their slowly evolving relationship which captures the imagination. The main actors gave depth to their portrayal of the conflict within each of us. Letting go of the past does not mean we forget, living in the present and looking forward to a future does not negate the past.

The silent moments were gems.


South Korea 2001

Details imdb

Seen 8 April 2008

A different kind of love story. A Chinese girl who becomes the wife of a gangster on paper so as to legitimise her stay in South Korea. She has never seen her 'husband' except for a photograph. The story focuses on the husband's life in the early part of the film. Fail an, the girl, comes into the picture only about half way through. Then we get flashbacks, on both lives.

A girl, working hard to survive in a foreign land. A man, the ant worker for the neighbourhood gangster. How their lives intertwined in unexpected ways.

The love that develops is unique, to say the least. The girl did try to see the husband, but circumstances prevented that meeting. She, nevertheless, continues to carry the flame, the torch of love. This is pure love, born out of necessity, but over time developed into a genuine regard for the 'spouse'. The gangster himself, with his soft hearted true self, is touched by the gestures from the wife.

It has a happy ending in an unconventional way. They will meet in the end but in a different world altogether.

Mala Noche

USA 1985

Details janusfilms

Seen 6 April 2008

Walt's love for Johnny, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, brings an unexpected dimension to his humdrum ordinary life as a shopkeeper. The physical attraction for Johnny is never consummated. But Walt did sleep with Roberto, Johnny's friend, whereas Johnny is more comfortable with Walt when they are with others. In particular, Roberto becomes the missing piece in a triangle.

Even though Walt is in love with Johnny, the way he takes care of Roberto belies that feeling. But even the relationship with Roberto seems to be on unequal terms. In the end, tragedy struck the triumvirate.

Walt lives another day to face his demons in his own way.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Yours Emotionally

UK 2006

Details yoursemotionally

Seen 5 April 2008

Another movie on lost love. In this instance, Ravi goes to India with a friend to sample the pleasures of the flesh at a gathering for gay men. The event is organised by a local who welcomes everyone to the love abode. Ravi falls for Mani but as circumstances reveal later, Mani has to follow the dictates of his culture. The director takes snippets of each issue that evolved.

The cultural differences in coming to terms with same sex relationships, the limits of a friendship when jealousy rears its head, the survival of a long term relationship between two men while staying put in a conservative society such as India, the realisation that love not just requires but demands sacrifices.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wedding Wars

USA 2006

Details amazon

Seen 16 February 2008

Light hearted take on the issue of legalisation of same sex marriages. A gay wedding planner, Shel, is helping his brother's wedding to the incumbent governor's daughter. Things come to a head when the governor issues a statement that he favours the normal man and woman union in a marriage. Shel goes on strike as he feels that marriages should also be extended to same sex couples and the rest of the film shows how he gains support throughout the country for his stand.

This is a dream sequence in a way. I doubt the whole gay community and their supporters would go on strike nationwide in support of legalising same sex marriages. That is still a long way away.

But the stronger relationship at the end between the gay brother and the rest of his family might ring true. For what it is worth, family ties are thicker than water.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


USA 2006

Details shortbusmovie

Seen 15 February 2008

Provocative. The general public should watch the movie with lots of caution. There are lots of nudity and explicit scenes. The subject matter itself is love but the director's treatment might not be to everyone's liking. A sexual therapist who hasn't experienced orgasm is introduced to a social club by her patient, a gay couple at the crossroads of their own relationship.

The main draw of this club is its celebration of the physical aspects of love. There are rooms with specific themes on the subject of sex. The therapist, Sophia, explores the different expressions of love in her quest to find a solution to her own problems.

Her search opens up pent-up feelings that helped her in achieving her goal, an orgasm.

There might be a lot of overt depictions of the sexual act, but nevertheless, the underlying message of finding yourself and letting go of excess emotional baggage before embarking on the next stage of a relationship is well put.

Never a dull moment. The actress who played Sophia and the supporting cast held the whole project together superbly.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Chess Players

India 1977

Details satyajitray

Seen 10 February 2008

A tragic comedy of sorts set in India during the takeover of the state of Oudh by the British East India Company in the 1850s. The main characters are two noble men who spent their entire day in their new found interest, the ancient game of chess. They are so engrossed in their game that the men forget their obligations towards the family especially the wives. One of the wives felt so left out by the husband’s new interest that she even hides the chess pieces while the other wife brazenly has an extra marital affair.

The two men even went so far as to find a secluded place out of their house so that they could concentrate on their game without any disturbances. All these happened against the backdrop of the intrigues and machinations of the British during their attempt to take over the state.

Friendship, loyalty, misplaced trust and devious plots abound in this superb production. The actors who play the lead roles rose to the occasion in their portrayal of human nature and were ably supported by the rest of the cast.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros

Philippines 2007

Details dvdasian

Seen 10 February 2008

Entertaining from the first scene. A 12 year old boy picking up a flower and sashaying in the back lanes of his neighbourhood. I thought it would be just another exploitative story of a boy who is on the soft side. But this version has lots of heart.

Growing up in one of the poorer districts of a big city, Maxi led an idyllic life of the typical 12 year old, albeit with more emphasis on fashion and beauty. The tell tale traits of femininity. He has a close knit family of two elder brothers who love to tease him and a father who tolerates his girlie side. But when it come to the fore, all of them protect him.

Until one day, the new policeman in the district saves Maxi from being roughed up by the neighbourhood bullies. This would be the beginning of Maxi's crush on Victor and the dilemma he faces when circumstances dictate he has to choose between family or his new found interest.

The actor who played Maxi carried his role superbly and was ably supported by the rest of the cast. The not so beautiful side of a city is depicted in all its grim reality. Poverty pervades and some are led to a life of crime, corruption and abuse of power.

A delight overall and poignant in parts.

Friday, February 08, 2008

This Girl's Life

USA 2003

Details imdb

Seen 8 February 2008

The subject matter itself is provocative. The story revolves around a famous porn star. We get to see how she started in the business, and where she is five years later. She finds herself at a cross road in her life when she meets an actor. The man seems to understand her situation and does not put any pressure on her to change.

Moon, the porn star is also taking care of her father who is afflicted with Parkinson's disease. She decides to be more independent of the industry when her father's physical and mental condition deteriorates further.

Her new part-time career as a sex investigator, someone who is hired to find out whether a partner is or will cheat on his partner, booms. But a case she took on forced her to face facts and a new reality.

The story which highlights the inner workings of the adult movie industry is an eye opener. However independent the players try to be, there is always an element of force and coercion involved. Those who want to opt out must be strong and it helps if they have support from those close and dear to them.


Possible Changes

South Korea 2004

Details hancinema

Seen 7 February 2008

Two good friends' love relationships.

One, an out of work writer meets a woman through the internet. He has a wife and a daughter but the marriage seems to be going through a strain. The woman he met does help alleviate the emptiness of his marriage. But the woman herself has a fiancée and their meetings does not amount to more than a sharing of problems and physical proximity.

The other still pines for his first love. One day he succeeded in getting her to sleep with him even though she herself has a husband and children. That physical contact brought back feelings of things that might have been. He was supposed to marry her after they had finished their studies but he met with an accident which made him slightly disabled and emotionally scarred.

He carries that chip on his shoulder since that day which also affects his relationships with other women. Fortunately, his good friend is always at hand to give support. Until the very end.

Happy End

South Korea 1999

Details global.yesasia

Seen 7 February 2008

The title might be a misnomer as there is no happy ending in the conventional sense. This is a story of love and anguish. A longing for that lost feeling of affection and attraction for each other. There is even a wish that I think came true but in a macabre fashion.

The woman in the story finds love with a man who is a part of her past but still maintains a semblance of normalcy at home with her husband and child. Eventually she has to decide between these two sides of her life when the unsuspecting husband finds evidence of her dalliance. This lead to the ultimate decision involving the three.

The three main actors portray their characters to the tee. Unfortunately, happiness seems an elusive dream even to the victor.

Broken Sky

Mexico 2006

Details cduniverse

Seen 2 February 2008

What do you do when the love of your life suddenly does not feel the same towards you. In this story, he tries to win back his lover's attention to the extent he looks and behaves like a forlorn puppy. But to no avail.

Fortunately, there is someone else in the background but he does not accept that love at first. And the ex-lover? A tormented soul.

The most interesting aspect of this film for me is the filming style. There are few words spoken. There is a voice over occasionally, and the background music is a mix of opera, and modern pieces. The silent moments and body language speak volumes of the struggle within each character. The physical attraction for each other when they were in love and the revulsion when one party has lost that loving feeling was so apt in their respective scenes.


Mrs Henderson presents

UK 2005

Details mrshendersonthemovie

Seen 2 February 2008

A musical set just before the Second World War. The focus is on the theater owner, a recently widowed rich lady and her stage manager. Both of them are strong headed individuals and we see differences of opinions throughout. From the opening of the theater, the programme, and even the lives of the stage actors.

The only disappointment for me is the scarcity of outstanding songs that could stand out representing the story. Other than that, it is a treat seeing the machinations that go to produce a stage show. Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins hit the right notes and it was enthralling the see the sparks fly.


USA 2003

Details imdb

Seen 1 February 2008

Filmed in a documentary format with the film crew following a screenwriter's life. He was a part of a team of a successful television series. But he decides to move to Las Vegas after being fired from the production.

He was supposedly doing research on a future project. A screenplay with characters who happen to be dancers. But in reality he is discovering himself as a person as well as a passion for dance. He feels that dance will be his vocation even though the odds are stacked against him.

The film does not end with a very big happy ending for the main character but he his wish does come true.

The subject matter is interesting but the filming could have been better. Despite big names that play themselves in the film, I can't really feel the struggle the main character goes through in achieving his dreams. Maybe I'm too used to melodramatics that a light touch does not seem adequate.


Belgium 1999

Details imdb

Seen 26 January 2008

A teenage girl's struggles to have a semblance of a normal life. No father in the picture. Mother going downhill on booze and sex. No permanent job.

Fortunately, she found a friend who understands her predicaments and tries to help. But even this gesture was spurned in her despeartion to get a job. Her actions do not herald a new phase of happy endings but seems like just another turning in her never ending quest to get out of her rut.

Brilliant look at life's struggles and choices that has to be made in pursuing that dream, of having a better life for oneself.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Talk to her

Spain 2002

Details sonyclassics

Seen 24 January 2008

That is the advice given to a man whose girlfriend is comatose. This is a story centred on two patients and how the those surrounding them are affected by the patients' medical condition. The director shows the background to their present state and how feelings intertwined with the facts of the day. There are presumptions and preconceived ideas on certain behaviourial patterns of the main characters.

The assumptions of the majority at the hospital might have contributed to a tragedy for one of the patients. But there was a silver lining of sorts for her. She might even rise up again to greater heights like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. As for the guilty party, he found his own heaven in a sad way.

Favourite dialogue: Love is the saddest thing when it goes away.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Day I Became A Woman

Iran 2000

Details thedayibecameawoman

Seen 23 January 2008

A woman seems always destined to be second class citizens in society. From the moment a child enters womanhood, she loses her status as an individual. She is now an appendix to the larger and stronger group of men within her own family and the community.

It is a sad fact, that society has two sets of rules with the fairer sex getting the raw deal. The movie manages to show a redemption of sorts when the woman reaches an advanced stage in life. Even then, it is material wealth that gives her the freedom that she sought throughout her life.

A compelling story told with quiet dignity.

Last Love

Thailand 2003

Details dvdasian

Seen 19 January 2008

The movie focuses on a divorcee with three children. She is articulate, full of life and seem to have everything in place except in the love department. Her ex-husband bad mouths her. Her new friend takes advantage of her while her heart is still with her previous boyfriend who is also much younger. A triangle.

How does one decide? A tragedy at the end helped her to make her decision. But if there was no tragedy, would she continue meandering through her love life?

Macho Undercover

Germany 2005

Details hkflix

Seen 13 January 2008

A light hearted romantic comedy. An out of work journalist Tom, finds work at a woman's magazine. He pretends to be gay in order to get the job. Tom finds his new place of employment heaven sent. A macho man in a woman's world. But as he becomes familiar with his working environment, he found that he has deeper feelings for one particular woman, Andrea in his office. Unfortunately, Andrea only has eyes for the main man in the company.

We see how Tom, discovers himself, his more caring side. He does not just appreciate woman physically but respects them as a whole person. Tom also discovers that the gay community is not as queer as he once thought. They are just men who happen to prefer other men.

There are some scenes that seem to emphasise the accepted stereotype of a gay man. Tom's portrayal of a gay man show the common perception of what a gay man should be. Thankfully, these are done tastefully. Not too over the top and there is a feel good factor at the end. A modern love story.

Enduring Love

UK 2004

Details paramountvantage

Seen 13 January 2008

A lecturer on the topic of love finds himself questioning his own beliefs after a tragedy. What is love? He had taught his class how to see love from different aspects without realising that he himself would be a subject or a victim of love.

Unfortunately, in his case that love manifests itself in its ugly incarnation. A love that defies logic, a love that is so obsessive that it endangers those close to you.

He had to make a decision in the end to ensure that the person nearest to him is saved. He is not a cloyingly sentimental man but more of the rational thinking person. But did that help him when he found himself in the throes of love's grip?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lust Caution

China 2007

Details imdb

Seen 12 January 2008

When do we cross the line between that first physical attraction and the feelings of longing for the other. In this movie, there is the added danger that the girl is on a mission to harm the man.

No wonder the title is such and the love making is depicted in all its beastly glory. Unfortunately, my copy of the movie had very poor subtitles so I'm unable to savour the nuances of the language. But the looks of the two main characters convey so much. Emotions held back, very controlled and a contest to see who will let down his guard first. A cat and mouse game with grave consequences.

It was a bonus that the movie had Joan Chen as well in a supporting role.

Like Grains of Sand

Japan 1995

Poster japan.movieposterdb

Details imdb

Seen 10 January 2008

Our adolescent years seem to bring out latent feelings to the surface. In this case, Ito has feelings for his class mate, Yoshida.. Yoshida is a popular student, so there will be others who want to gain his attraction and he has a 'steady' girlfriend as well. But being the nice guy, Yoshida is quite close to Ito as well as another classmate who is known for his mischievous ways. So we see the three of them doing things together, a very special boys bonding.

Into this scene comes Aihara, a mysterious girl who had just been transfered to their school. She became the catalyst for Ito to spurt out his true feelings towards Yoshida. The rest of the story shows the permutations and combinations of friendships and the beginnings of love and jealousy.

Shifts in their lives mirror the shifting grains of sand that are affected by nature. External forces do have a play in man's lives.

East Palace West Palace

China 1996

Details imdb

Seen 8 January 2008

Despicable. Crazy. Two words uttered in disgust by the policeman who apprehended a man caught in a park frequented by gays. Throughout a night's interrogation, or maybe it could be termed a confession of sorts, the man tells the story of his life. The policeman listens and tries to understand but his own feelings over the whole issue seem ambivalent.

The story focuses on the two main characters and the actors do not disappoint. The sorrow and despair of being different. The strong force of love until you are willing endure whatever fate gives out to you. All in the name of love?