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.