Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kritik Booth Movie Reviews Round Up

Remember that old post I put up in March asking your opinion if I should archive my short film reviews? Well, I haven't forgotten it. Now, after almost half a year, I am finally doing something about it. Wheee! Rejoice! Jubilate!

I also remember saying something about making it a regular monthly thing, but you can't seriously expect that degree of discipline from me. I'll update it whenever I feel like it, and that's that.

Anyway, I've just reviewed 5 films I watched this months - look at the sidebar, people. Thoughts and comments, if any, can be excreted here in this post. That's how it's going to work from now on; I write new reviews, stick them on the side, and move the old ones into a post where you can talk about the new ones if you so wish.


Knowing poster


Question: What Christian propaganda machine made this film? I disagree with the premise of the script, yes, but that has never stopped me from enjoying a movie before. What ruined Knowing for me is the fact that because I know the Bible, I could guess how the entire movie would pan out and end. That little talk between Nicolas Cage's character, Koestler, and his son about belief wasn't exactly subtle. And that astrophysics lecture Koestler gave about determinism versus randomness was pretty obvious too. And I already know that this is an end-of-the-world type of movie. So, the only thing left for me to enjoy in this movie is the action sequences; which were pretty darn good, I'll admit. When Koestler ran through the wreckage of the plane crash in the rain while the victims were burning alive, I could almost feel his horror at the disaster. When a subway train flew off its tracks, killing and crushing and maiming its passengers and everyone who stood in its path, I felt a vague sick feeling in my stomach. This is how massive loss of lives should be handled in movies. The eerie elements of this film were done very well too, particularly those silent, watching, whispering trench-coat mystery men (up until they drew a close up on one). The final scene? I burst out laughing. I sincerely hope that there's a Serpent in that tree they were running to. And the biggest surprise I got from the film's finale is that the Christian Propaganda machine which made this film is apparently run by His Unholiness, the Dark Lord Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic League - and not by the Pentecostal Evangelicals as I initially assumed.

Score: 6/10

Persepolis poster


This is a beautiful coming of age story of a girl living in Iran when the conservative Muslim faction took over the country, and her childhood through the war between Iran and Iraq - then following her tale as she attended high school in Vienna, her subsequent college years back in Iran and her marriage, and finally, her move to France where she now lives. It was based on the autobiographical French graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, who also directed this film. This is also a beautiful coming of age story of all girls everywhere; whether you are Iranian, American or Malaysian. I have heard platitudes like "we are all humans", "we are all brothers and sisters", "we are all alike under our skins" etc. uttered to me many time, but I only just realised that I have never truly grasped the meaning of those phrases until I saw Persepolis. The reason why it's so easy to hate another group of people in this world is simply because we have reduced them down to concepts, because they are less than humans to us. When a pilot drop bombs onto an Afghan city, he's dropping bombs on a nation of terrorists, of fanatic killers and fundamentalist crazies - not humans. What that pilot does not know is that there are little girls like Marjane Satrapi down there who wears Nike sneakers, idolises Bruce Lee, rocks out to Iron Maiden and loves her grandmother dearly. I believe this is what we can learn from Persepolis. I believe this is what we must learn.

Score: 10/10

Slumdog Millionaire poster

Slumdog Millionaire

Overrated. And no, this review isn't at all coloured by my contention that The Dark Knight should have won the Oscar for Best Picture (never mind that it wasn't even nominated and no, I'm not sore about it either why you ask?). This movie has a great plot, I'd give it that, and a kick ass soundtrack - but what I like best about it is the portrayal of the Mumbai slums (I have been there in person) and the Dickensian lives the slum's children led. In my 2 1/2 years in India, I have lost count of just how many child beggars which have tugged at my shirt, calling me "Baya" and asking for a rupee. Young Jamal reminded me of each and every one of them. And the enterprising ways by which Jamal and his brother scraped a living across the Indian subcontinent were scarily plausible. I have seen these kids too. The core of this film is a love story but the most memorable parts of it celebrates life. But I still don't think it deserved the Oscar.

Score: 8.5/10

The Tale of Despereaux poster

The Tale of Despereaux

The story is mundane and the animation is dreadful - and I'm not buying that "it's for kids so of course you didn't enjoy it" crap because if I'm a kid, I'd be having nightmares for months to come. The studio which animated this evidently have never heard of the Uncanny Valley (you should Google it if you haven't either). They should have re-imagined the story as a horror flick because there's a fat, ugly, servant-girl character that gives out creepy vibes like a snail gives out slime. Disney managed to make ugly characters like the Beast (of Beauty and the Beast) and Quasimodo (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame) sympathetic and likeable. Not this flick. The way the servant girl talks and acts just makes me think that I'm looking at an extremely demented psycho-killer suffering from delusions of grandeur. And Despereaux? I hardly notice him.

Score: 1/10

Marley and Me poster

Marley and Me

This has to be the saddest movie I watched this year. I was informed that there is going to be a tearjerker ending - and I even guessed (accurately, as it turned out) its nature. I went in knowing exactly what to expect and yet, I still cried the moment the climactic scene came. This is a movie about a family and its dog. I am very aware of how thoroughly my emotions have been exploited, but that did nothing to lessen the the movie's impact on me. If you like dogs, you should watch this. Marley, the so-called World's Worst Dog, has to be seen to be believed. Oh, and the humans starring alongside him in this dramedy aren't half bad either. The lines were witty and the story of a family being built from the bottom up is engaging and more importantly, very relatable. Also, as a bonus, Jennifer Aniston is actually good in this.

Score: 10/10

Poster District 9

District 9

This is one of the best science fiction films I have ever seen. This film is the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp (NOT Peter Jackson, you fuckwads) and the special and visual effects were handled by WETA, which also did the Lord of the Ring films. Despite of having a budget of only 30 mils, District 9 has the look of a waaay more expensive film. The story follows Wikus van der Merwe, a bumbling bureaucrat, who was given the responsibility of relocating 1.8 million illegal immigrants from the titular District 9 in Johannesberg to a newer, less slummy District 10, further away from the local inhabitants who despise and distrust these strange new foreigners. Also, these illegal immigrants are space aliens that look like prawns - just thought I should mention it. In recent times, people seem to have forgotten that science fiction as a genre is much more than just stories staged in a futuristic or spacey setting. The point of sci-fi is to ask what if… District 9 asks; What if real actual extraterrestrials stranded on our planet are treated like - pardon the pun - illegal aliens? This film, - aside from being a good vehicle for raising a lot of excellent thoughts on ethics, humanity and racism - works equally well as a first class action thriller. Wikus van der Merwe, flawed as he is, is pure character gold. And in spite of having a face which is technically incapable of human emotions, Christopher Johnson, one of the slum dwellers of District 9, is a very easy character to sympathise with. I only have one major problem with the plot and writing; that canister of alien juice is too much of an all-purpose plot item. How can it do that… and THAT? By the way, I really like the documentary framing device this film used, and I applaud its seamless transitions into and out of it whenever the story requires it to. Watch it, people. It’s a monument of a film. People are going to look back on 2009 and remember this as one of greatest films of the year.

Score: 10/10

Poster Ponyo


I’ve been a Miyazaki Hayao fanboy ever since I saw Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away for the rest of you) and I’ve watched almost every film he made since. Gake no Ue no Ponyo is his latest and it tells the story of a mermaidy-goldfishy sort of creature named Ponyo who escaped from her father, who was married to the sea (like literally). Ponyo then met a human boy named Sosuke and… well, if I said anymore, there wouldn’t be any point in you watching the movie anymore. The plot is pretty thin. Of the entire Miyazaki canon, this has got to be his most childish yet – though I meant it in a totally good way. Still, the highlight of Ponyo isn’t the story. Nope. It’s Ponyo herself, which is possibly the cutest, er, thing I have ever seen in a movie. I’m also amazed by how lush and exuberant the hand drawn traditionally animated undersea scenes were, but the best bits were when the whole world was… oh nevermind. Don’t wanna spoil it for you. My biggest complain about Ponyo is that the awesomest and most triumphant parts happened in the middle of the movie, rather than at the end. A five year old girl running on a tsunami after a car? Pure awesome.

Score: 9/10

Poster Zack and Miri

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

It’s directed by Kevin Smith, so you know it’s definitely going to be juvenile and full of tits. I’m not a fan of his brand of films, but I decided to pick this up ‘cos my favourite porn star, Katie Morgan, is starring in it. I like her voice and thinks that she’s funny. Many of my friends think that I’m completely missing the point of pornos. Anyway, the story is this; Zack and Miri are besties, went to the same high school and now, as adults, they live together so they could share the rent. Then, their power and water got cut off because they couldn’t afford to pay the bills. You can pretty much guess the rest from here on. And yes, this movie is pretty damn funny, but if you have delicate sensibilities, I advise you to stay away. This movie’s not healthy for your blood pressure. Justin Long’s almost-cameo as gay porn star, Brandon St Randy, was the best thing in this film (gawd, that voice slays me). I couldn’t stop replaying his scenes over and over again. There's pretty good chemistry between Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks too, which is more than what I can say about most romantic comedy couples these days.

Score: 8/10

Poster Overheard

Overheard (竊聽風雲)

This movie was fucking awesome before it decided midway to say fuck you to the plot and crash right into pure stupidity. The premise is this; buncha cops bugged some rich guy’s office because he was suspected to be involved in some illegal stock market practices with some other rich guys (insider trading or some financial gobbledygook I don’t understand). Then, some of the cops tapping into said rich guy’s communications found out about a massive share price rise of some company – which they did not report to their superior but instead, chose to cash in on that info. Things spiraled WILDLY out of control, which made for really ace thriller material… but then, the director started throwing in a million ridiculous plot twists, all of which made no damn sense at all. And one of the sideplots were needlessly overdramatic (Oh no, my kid’s got hemophilia! On no, now I got liver cancer! Oh crap, now my entire family was killed in car crash! And I lost an eye and two limbs!). It’s like the plot twists; the director thought the more he throws in, the better his movie is. And Lau Ching Wan’s character’s sideplot was entirely POINTLESS. Hey, Guy Who Cuts the Film; Do your fucking job, please?

Score: 5/10

Poster Adventureland


This is a weird movie. If a rom-com sleeps with an indie raunchy teen movie about some nerd trying to lose his virginity, Adventureland would be their baby. The story follows James Brennan, your standard-issue Hollywood luckless boy, who took up a summer job in a local amusement park – and falls in love with a girl there (played by the very delicious Kristen Stewart, who you might remember from that terrible shit, Twilight). I like this movie mostly, but I’ll most likely forget it in a month.

Score: 6/10


février said...

what is the point of putting the old ones up if people who are interested in your reviews have already read them in the side bar ?


k0k s3n w4i said...

lemme see... to let people know the new ones are up, to archive the old ones so they'd be available in case anyone wanna dig them up, and to provide a place for people to comment about the new ones.


février said...

people who are interested in your reviews would know you've updated already and said what they wanted to say in your tagboard.


sure took u a long time to watch zack and miri make a porno. and ponyo !!! and i bet you haven't watched that movie i told you about i love but bet you haven't watched T^T and i know you'd love it too

février said...

nooooooo ooooone caaaaaaressss xD