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?

Nagabonar Jadi 2

Indonesia 2007

Details kapanlagi

Seen 1 January 2007

On the surface it looks like a comedy, but there are layers of events interspersed that makes the audience sit up and take notice. Political shenanigans, disappointments and misuse are highlights besides the obligatory love interest.

There is also the relationship between a father and son. This is especially appealing to me. The silent moments when the father remembers a past event or the way he looks at his son, gives the audience an opportunity to reflect on their own way of handling relationships.

The actor who plays the main character is superb and it helps that he this is his own film. He is ably supported by the others giving us a realistic picture of the generational gap and its complications.

Eternal Summer

Taiwan 2006
Poster imdb

Details lovehkfilm

Seen 31 December 2007

A menage a trois? Maybe. But this film highlights the struggle in coming to terms with your feelings. That feeling of love and friendship. Where does one start and the other ends. Do we sacrifice one for the other?

The three main characters managed to portray the inner conflict between two opposing emotions. The longing, sacrifice, guilt and in the end coming to terms with reality make this a wonderful little film to be savoured by all.

An eternal summer indeed.


Indonesia 2006

Details richardoh

Seen 1 December 2007

Surreal. A bag found by an ordinary man who lives a mundane existence as a clerk in a government department becomes the focal point of the film. The perception of others about him changes with the appearance of the bag. Everyone presumes that the bag is the same bag mentioned in a news item about a bank robbery. Even his wife feels that their life will change for the better if only he uses what is inside the bag. He is adamant that the bag should be returned to its rightful owner but his efforts were unsuccessful.

Avarice seems to be an all encompassing presence in his surroundings. He only found a kindred spirit in a lady bar owner but his efforts to live by his moral and ethical standards bring the situation at home to a crisis point when his wife falls ill and needs a lot of money to pay for an operation.

His actions seem incoherent but in the end there is a sort of an answer for the audience.

In America

USA 2002

Details imdb

Seen 21 October 2007

On first glance, the story might seem like a simple tale of an ordinary Irish family seeking their fortune in America. Underneath that normal exterior lurks emotional demons from the past.

The family is not just seeking a better life in America but simultaneously trying to come to terms with what happened in the past. The encounters with their neighbours in a seedier side of New York brings new perspective on the family's struggles. One particular neighbour especially, a man from Africa became close to the family and events that occur later became the catalyst to unburden the hold from the past on all the family members.

Satisfactory watch even though you do have that feeling it would have a happy ending. Well, it did not end in a fairy tale style of happy endings, more with a dampener in between.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blue Gate Crossing

Taiwan 2002

Details lovehkfilm

Seen 20 October 2007

It is confirmed. I am a corny, mushy, sentimental and lump in the throat person, This film confirms that suspicion.

From the first strains of the piano tinkling in the background, I was hooked and sunk deeper as the story went along its merry way.

This is a simple story of finding love when you are a teenager, on the verge of adulthood. Friendship between two girls, and a boy who is the object of admiration of one of them. The gawkiness and shyness of confessing that emotion to the intended party takes the bulk of the first few scenes.

This progressed into uncharted territory when the middle man herself finds the boy attractive. She has doubts about her feelings since she feels she is attracted to her own gender and it would be a betrayal of sorts to her close friend.

The actors were spot on in their portrayal of teenage insecurities. The phase everyone goes through and maybe still goes through in our advancing age.

Bee Season

USA 2005

Details imdb

Seen 16 October 2007

A seemingly happy family discovers each of them has secrets. The ball starts rolling when Eliza wins the district spelling competition. This spurs the father to help her go on to the next level of the championships. This helpful act brigs forth the father's own ambitions to the chagrin of his wife and son.

The film progresses by showing each family members' secret desires and hopes. But there are no major flare-ups as we get a low key style of story telling. Instead, the power of words and images is used a lot and emphasised.

What time is it there?

Taiwan 2001

Details imdb

Seen 15 October 2007

A father's death is the beginning of events related to time and place. The son, Hsiao Kong is a street peddler dealing in watches. A customer, Shiang-chyi, a girl who is going abroad the next day is vehement that she wants the watch that Hsiao Kong wears. At first he is reluctant to sell the watch but relents after much persuasion.

Hsiao Kong and his mother still feels the presence of the departed and no amount of prayer and offerings seems to calm the spirit. Both of them are affected and Shiang-chyi herself seems to have similar experiences.

The link is the watch, but on deeper reflection the three main characters have their own demons to face. The departed father, husband is just the catalyst.

Waiting for the clouds

Turkey 2004

Details arteeast

Seen 15 October 2007

This story of a minority middle aged woman with guilt feelings over past incidents might not strike a sympathetic chord with audiences. It is told in recollections of the woman. As it is, the actress who plays the woman holds the key to the whole drama of sacrifices, tragedies as well as love lost and found.

She as a victim survived for 50 years in a place far away from her original home. The death of her sister, triggered events that eventually reconnect her with the past.

I guess her waiting for the clouds to clear was not in vain.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


USA 2006

Poster and details imdb

Seen 15 October 2007

The title refers to the coming of age celebrations for a girl on reaching fifteen years old. The story centres on Magdalena who is 14 but finds that she is pregnant, not through full sexual intercourse but more a result of an accident, an immaculate conception. That and plus the fact that her father is the parish priest made her find refuge at her great grand uncle's place, Tomas. This is also the safe place for her troubled cousin, Carlos who acts though but is a decent man at heart.

After a few more complications down the road, we see the scene stealer, a funeral and a eulogy that brings back the families together. A piece of the eulogy brought some sense back to the warring parties. The dead man was a man of love, accepts all without any prejudgements. A saint according to the speaker whose spirit will live on among those who knew him and generations to come.

Bitter sweet.

The Fog of War

USA 2004

Details sonyclassics

Seen 13 October 2007

A documentary on former US defence secretay, Robert S. McNamara. He had a major role in many decisions since the Second World War until the Vietnam War.

He is a fascinating subject as he was in the corridors of power for so long. He also had experience in the business world, once with the Ford Motor Company and the World Bank after he left government service.

The interviews try to show the reasons behind decisions taken during crucial moments in the history of the USA when dealing with its adversaries. There were still a few questions left unanswered completely, eg, those conrning the Vietnam War. He felt that further comments might open up a pandora's box.

One telling moment was when he acknowledged that he does not answer questions posed to him but rather those that he think should be asked.

A politician, not really. A dedicated cabinet member who believes wholeheartedly in the work he is doing, that seems more to the point.

As he says, war is such that the justification is complex and hence the fogginess of the issue. Right or wrong, ethics, morality, humanity, all these are not the prime concern in times of war.

There will always be losers and usually they are not the decision makers.