Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Consider Me Sucker Punched

"Babydoll, do you believe they'll catch you when you fall?
And when morning comes the sun is gonna shine
Don't forget your minor keys, your half lit cigarette
'Cause when morning comes, god knows that you'll be mine"

Babydoll (2008) by The Fratellis

This year, I got my ass kicked, and I'm all set to get sucker punched in the next.

Watch this trailer, and then tell me that you don't have an immediate gut desire to want this movie to be released
right now,

It demands to be watched in 1080p HD!

I first heard about Sucker Punch last year right after the Zack Snyder directed Watchmen came out, and I've been struggling with my geekish hunger for more details - any details - on the film. After seeing 300 in 2007, I became a fan of Zack Snyder's stylistically-exaggerated approach to filmmaking, his mindless fidelity to source materials and his great eye for composing action sequences. And I am of the opinion that the surrealistic narrative of 300 was justified by the fact that the whole story was an embellished account told by a Spartan to his mates to get them fired up in meeting the Persians in the subsequent Battle of Plataea. To date, I have loved (not just liked) every Zack Snyder film I've seen and I admire him almost as much as I do Christopher Nolan - in spite of the popular opinion of most snobbish film geeks everywhere that Mr Snyder murdered cinema. There is nothing inherently wrong with movies which prioritises style over substance and I like them as much as I like deep, thinking-person films. Heck, I've even been known to love movies for how bad they are. I like to think I'm having more fun than most people.

The gist of Sucker Punch is this; a girl, only known as Babydoll for the moment, was institutionalised in a 1950's bedlam house for the sexily insane by her wicked stepfather. She cope with her situation by deluding herself into thinking she's really living in a fantasy world filled with World War I German zombie soldiers, B-52 bombers, combat mechas, brothels and fucking dragons. She plans to escape from that imaginary world by stealing 5 objects within 5 days with the help of her equally hot, equally schizo fellow inmates - before she is lobotomised in the real world. Zack Snyder have described it as "Alice in Wonderland with machine guns".

Now, up until last week, there wasn't a single image and footage to be had anywhere - and then Comic-Con 2010 happened at San Diego, California. The very first look we got was a scanned picture from the Entertainment Weekly mag's preview issue of the convention,

Mag scan
My pants immediately exploded.

Then, the fan-bait embargo was lifted and a slew of over-photoshopped character posters soon followed along with pictures of some props and maquettes which were on display at the Con. The battle mecha with the freaking pink bunny rabbit decal on it instantly guaranteed this movie to be a fuck-awesome fest to me (and if anyone can tell me what the Chinese characters on the mecha says, I'll be ever so grateful!).

Next to filter to me were eyewitness reports of the first ever footage of Sucker Punch shown publicly at Comic-Con - and everyone who have seen it said that it was "indescribable" and "incomprehensible", but in the best possible ways. It generated an insane amount of buzz surrounding the film, and I wanted to see it so bad that it almost made me wish that I'm American. But before I could slip into clinical depression, Warner Bros. have responded to the massive amount of attention Sucker Punch was garnering and released a teaser trailer online - the same one I've embedded above in this post.

Two frames blew my mind away. This one in a windswept, snowy courtyard made me fall in love with Emily Browning all over again. It's the hair, I tell you, the hair! You must, must, must see it in living motion!

Windswept Anime Hair
Well played, sir. You've somehow won over a fan that's already won here, Mr Snyder.

Then there's Emily Browning (Babydoll) taking on what looks like a 20 feet tall samurai automaton wielding a giant gattling gun. I have no idea what the fuck is going on here but I'm loving the shit out of it!

Baby Doll versus Samurai Bot
The hair, the sailor schoolgirl uniform, epic over-the-top fights and the katana; is this... an anime?

My first reaction was to call the girlfriend up and make her watch it too. She wiki'ed the movie first and found that Vanessa Hudgens is in it, and was immediately determined to hate it. I told her, "Watch the trailer first, and if you still aren't interested in this film after that, I'll cut my balls off." True story.

I stayed on the line as she skeptically followed suit to humour me and at first, she must have loaded a wrong video on YouTube because she was completely unimpressed. I helpfully offered, "If your mind isn't blown within the first 30 seconds, you're watching the wrong video."

Anyhow, she finally managed to see the right one and when I asked her what she thought of it, she quietly said; "I want to watch Sucker Punch."

Sucker Punch is going to be the first original film Zack Snyder's making that isn't a remake or an adaptation, and I like to see him quash the reputation he has of being a director "without a single original idea in his head". And I hope he sticks to being the style-over-substance auteur he is but I'm not necessarily in opposition to him making Sucker Punch a visually stunning, fetishistic and sexploitative yet cerebral film at the same time. I just think the brainy stuff would just take time away from Zack to make me go "ZOMG!" and "HOLY SHIT!" with every other scene. If you've seen the trailer, it has what Inception is acutely anaemic of: pure, untethered imagination with absolutely no respect for realism or logic. The anime and video game visual influences are undeniable, and that is not a bad thing, people!

And while my favourite young actress is Ellen Page, I consider Emily Browning to be the absolute cutest, and I've liked her since seeing her as Violet Baudelaire in The Series of Unfortunate Events film. There is something about her pouty lips, pale skin and melancholic eyes that just gets to me every time. I think it's fair for me to be in love with her considering that Phoebe is in love with every Korean dramatic actor and popstar in existence (and Scarlett Johansson).

I've downloaded and loaded the trailer into my MP3 player, and have watched it like hundreds of times by now. It's coming out in March 2011. You and me got a date at the theatres, Babydoll.

Sucker punched,
k0k s3n w4i

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Unclear on the Concept

"Oh, that wasn't what I meant to say at all
From where I'm sitting, rain
Falling against the lonely tenement
Has set my mind to wander
Into the windows of my lovers
They never know unless I write
'This is no declaration, I just thought I'd let you know goodbye'
Said the hero in the story
'It is mightier than swords
I could kill you sure
But I could only make you cry with these words'"

Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying (1996)
by Belle and Sebastian

I'd quote the entire song if I can. It's one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and I wrote this post listening to it on loop.

"I don't know what commitment means," I said and felt the immediate need to add a qualifier to it. "That's not a joke, by the way: I really have no idea what that is."

The most wonderful thing about Phoebe is that I can speak my mind to her without ever feeling the need to censor anything. Are there girls who would instantly pounce on those words and hold their boyfriends at tongue-point with them? Yes, and I know at least one. I keep no secrets from my lovers; and that's a policy I can finally truthfully uphold to the letter with Phoebs. Last week, an outlandish notion crept into my mind (and these things happen very frequently to me because I always leave my skull ajar) and I asked her if she would drink her own breast milk when she lactates. Her hilarious response was to pause a moment and then asked me in turn, "Have you been watching porn again?"

Oops, I ran off-topic a bit there. Let's get back to commitment.

"Yeah, what's that?" she replied unexpectedly, but it's hard for me to tell if it was spoken in seriousness or in jest - that's always a bit tricky with Phoebs. "Wait, I'll go look it up at!"

All it took was a moment before she returned with some definitions, non-definitive as they were.

"Hmmm, according to, commitment means 'the act of committing' or 'the state of being committed'" she read ponderously. "Guess, they don't know what commitment means either." If voices have shoulders, hers just shrugged. What she said and the way she said it drew a pretty big laugh out of me.

I've heard the C-word get thrown about a lot in relation to relationships, in marriage to the M-word, and in league with the L-word (hint: not lesbian). I question the last one (not lesbians). Are Love and Commitment really two bananas in a bunch? I'm not quite sure what being committed to a girl really entails, but I have this vague idea that it's some sort of a pledge to um, stick to someone? I've been dating Phoebe exclusively for the past two and a half years now - does that necessarily mean I'm committed to her?

Then there's Marriage, which is a lot more at home in bed with Commitment - and both are concepts I've filed away in the parts of my brain for stuff labelled 'don't get it' right alongside quantum physics and the bewildering feminine need for even more handbags. I have a very clinical idea of matrimony: to me it means getting the state to officially recognise you and your mate as a pair. It conjures up images of domesticated adults, rooting two persons in a pen called a home, and siring offsprings who will mostly disappoint them. I make no pretensions that I think Marriage is a lot like Failure in my mind, though I must stress that I don't think them the same. It represents the death of dreams and the identity of an individual - more so for women who take on their husband's surname, allow all their kids to do the same and are dependent on the Men of the House financially. Not to disparage people whose dreams in life are to fuck and multiply, but what sort of a dream is it to give in to your programmed biological imperatives?

I'm not saying that it's mandatory to attempt to pass on one's genes in marriage, or that only two members of opposing genders should marry. I'm merely describing the
dismal normal dynamics of the persistently wedded condition here.

The hive mind of society is still obsessed with the illusions of respectability, legitimacy and chastity; of fallen women and bastard children. Are the love between two fornicators any less powerful than the love between two persons who can 'prove' it with a witness-countersigned piece of paper? Are love children any less potentially disappointing than those spawned within wedlock? I am honestly quite tired and disgusted with everyone's obsession with meaningless things while losing sight of what really matters: the L-word (again, not referring to lesbians but they matter too).

To marry always sounds like the defeatist approach to relationships to me. It's admitting that you need more than just love to sustain a bond between two human beings. And like Phoebs and I, how many people can actually say they know the meaning of commitment, and how far can we trust them when they say they are committed to someone? Is commitment some sort of industrial strength adhesive which holds two persons together when the passion and romance run out? Sounds masochistic.

Do you know what I think? I think commitment sucks all the human elements out of a relationship and replaces them with a flimsy construct of mundane responsibility. It's like a comfort blanket for the insecure and it does absolutely fuck all for anyone (and is in serious need for a wash). If you love someone, you'd treat her right. You won't cheat on her because you know that would hurt her. You'd stay with her because you really enjoy her company; because she makes you feel great about yourself; and because she can make you laugh like no one can. Love guarantees all that. The instant you start talking about "commitment", it's a sign that the love between the two of you is at its last gasp for air.

Commitment, it seems, is something for couples who don't have Love. Discuss.

P.S. Everything I believe about being human was inspired by the Gom Jabbar Test of Humanity in Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic Dune. Everything I believe about love and relationships comes from Murakami Haruki's South of the Border, West of the Sun. I am what I read.

Not committed but in love,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Because Sunday

"I had a vision of a world without Batman."

My Favourite T-Shirt

My Favourite T-shirt has impeccable taste in films.

Writing about my Sundays is shaping up to be a semi-regular affair here in this public journal of mine, and I think I want to keep it that way. I like having written proof that I have some semblance of a meaningful existence in motion here, even if I'm not entirely convinced I do.

In the evening of the most recently departed Sunday, I was out to catch Predators at the cinema on my own. It was an at-the-spur of the moment thing and I didn't bother texting any names in my phone's contact list if they would like to join me. Yeah, that's what time does to friends, you see, they become acquaintances, and then merely names. Friendships are leaseholds - I recognise that they run out eventually. Ever since I graduated from high school, I have grown incrementally detached from the idea of interpersonal connections. I suppose they are good things to have, but I admit that I am emotionally ill-equipped to afford them. The loss of a friend has never given me grief, come to think of it.

Is this normal?

Last Tuesday, when I was purchasing tickets for Inception in advance, I discovered that an old friend who had walked out of my memories of ye olde college days and materialised at the cinema's box office, selling movie tickets. I was bewildered when a strange girl came towards me to give me a high-five but a quick glance at her name tag brought it all back. I didn't recognise her because she had shed so much weight. On Thursday, she helped me to hold on to some tickets for a couple of friends who couldn't make it there on time (I couldn't bear the thought of missing even a second of Inception to wait for the pair). And on Sunday, I arrived at the box office just as she was leaving for her dinner break. I decided to join her and she insisted on buying me a McD's sundae, a diet Coke and a bite off her sandwich.

She was the roommate of the Ex-Grrrfriend™ back when we were all studying in Taylor's College and in truth, we were never very close. However, we shared enough of a past to want to reminisce. In that briefest of half-hours, I learned that we have so much more in common than I ever suspected; something which she pointed out in between bites of her grilled chicken burger. I already knew we are both lovers of cats, but I didn't realise that we both prefer the taste of diet Coke over the original; are into recycling and environmentalism; and eschew the use of a straw when drinking anything. It's funny, but I used to work as a ticket booth guy and steward for Golden Screen Cinemas as well, but back in 2005.

It really doesn't take much to change a name back into a friend, does it?

Crap Cake
Crêpe? More like Crâpe, amirite?

Saying my goodbyes and my promises to meet up again before too long to Jo Ee, I found myself standing in the face of more than 2 hours of waiting before my showing was scheduled to start. It's a good thing I always have a book on my person (I've started on Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels) and all I required was a place to read it. After wandering for a spell, I found myself standing outside of Nadeje Pâtisserie; a cafe famous even out-of-state for their Mille Crêpe. I have boycotted the establishment since 2008 because they started this stupid policy of not allowing customers to dine in their premises if they don't also order a drink along with their cakes.

The sandwich board outside the café said that with the addition of RM 3 on top of any order, I could get myself a cup of long black. I thought it was a good time to give this place a second chance, and their comfy chairs sure looked awfully cosy...

.... and I'm renewing my boycott for another couple of years. Their Mille Crêpe seems to have shrunken in the wash. I remember them to be at least 33% taller and the slices to be twice as fat, but that's just what my eyes say. My tongue believes that the abomination it wrestled with in my mouth had only half as much cream as it used to, and that its been sitting in the fridge for far too long. They regulars may not have noticed but for someone who had not returned for more than two years (like me), the difference is as jarring as having a teeth pulled out. Also, at RM 8 (not counting tax), it's almost twice as costly too. Compounding my judgment was the fact that I have very recently sampled Humble Beginning's Mille Crêpe. The founder of Humble Beginnings, Amos Chong, was the guy originally behind Nadeje's cakes until he resigned for some undisclosed reason.

My advice? Try Humble Beginnings'. Their Mille Crêpe are bona fide slices of confectionery heaven, I shit you not. Anyone who had tasted Amos' original creations must be a total idiots to continue giving Nadeje business.

Joker and I
Hmmm, 'nother 5 kilos off me would be perfect, don't you think so?

Left with a literal bad taste in my mouth, I went to check if the DC Comics apparel store had replenished their stock of Joker T-shirts. I was looking to replace mine because it was fading something awful considering how bloody often I wear and wash it. Besides, I am already quite advanced in the process of slowly shrinking out of that one because my metabolism have apparently forgotten how to put on weight after I have kickstarted it out of dormancy in May. Most of my mostly and depressingly black wardrobe are also getting too loose for me - but priorities, priorities, my lovelies.

The one I have on in the picture is about two sizes smaller than the one I own, and it does feel a bit snug round the chest region. But that's okay. A while back, I had cultivated a habit of purchasing clothes that are ever so slightly too tight for myself as a personal motivational force for me to downsize into them eventually. So far, it's been working out spiffingly for me.

Anyway, the reason why I felt compelled to see Nimród Antal's Predators was because I wanted to listen to the /Filmcast podcast review on it. It's backwards, I understand, but we all have our neuroses - and sometimes, the two-hour long podcast discussions can actually be much more enjoyable than the films they are talking about. Now, I'm not going to review Predators, but it was way better than I thought it would be. It's brainless, silly fun. Adrien Brody was unexpectedly bad-ass and has a better Batman voice than Christian Bale's embarrassing solicitations for a lozenge. This might come as a bit of surprise by I am one of the last movie-lovers in the world who haven't seen the original Predator, but now I want to.

Jo Ee helped me check if Inception's going to be played on their biggest screen anytime soon since I want to re-watch it - but as far as she could uncover, it's not happening this entire week. If The Sorcerer's Apprentice opens this Thursday in theatre number one, I swear I'm going to see a pirated copy just to spite it.

P.S. I could easily have split this into three separate posts, but.

Struggling with normalcy,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inception: A Review

"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange."

Dom Cobb in Inception (2010)

I had a dream, and in that dream, Inception is the best movie ever made in the history of cinema. It was going to disassemble all my conceptions and rebuild my world from the foundation up. It was going to embed itself intractably within the subconscious mind of pop culture, forever dividing the industry and the art of filmmaking into two halves: pre- and post-Inception.

That dream did not crystallise. The Inception of the real, conscious world is a distant nighttime wail from the Inception of my dream.

That, in the shell of a nut (and I do mean "nut" in more than one sense of the word), is the process I undergo every time I anticipate a film which I have chosen to start loving before having even seen it. Wouldn't that be tantamount to believing the over-hype? More pertinently, wouldn't that ruin a film for myself? I don't buy that. The trick is to compartmentalise - the same way Christopher Nolan compartmentalised the unconscious mind into distinct levels of dreamscape in this latest film of his; all layered like Viennetta and bleeding cream into one another. My expectations coloured my enjoyment of Inception - that is unavoidable - but I was careful enough to not let it detract anything from the experience. And what a grand experience it was!

Inception Posteri
I noticed how much this resembles the Joker poster of The Dark Knight.

And with that out of the way, let me just say that Inception is the best film I've seen since Nolan's own The Dark Knight. It will never match up to the Inception of my dream, but if the film had taught me anything, it's that buried somewhere deep inside my head lives the existence of an ideal which is just as real as the real thing. But it should never have a place in my waking life.

It's difficult to shoehorn Inception into any one genre because its nebulosity defies categorisation. Nolan has cleverly framed a high concept film which the average moviegoer would otherwise balk at seeing into the highly engaging, highly grounded procedural of a heist flick. A reverse heist flick, at that. The premise tells of a world where it's possible to break into people's dreams to steal their secrets, already a fascinating notion on its own, but the writer-director went one step further: how does one go about placing an idea into someone's mind, and convincing that someone to believe that the genesis, the inspiration, the inception of that idea was his alone? You can't fake true inspiration, a character said. It is impossible. The human mind would be immediately alerted to the insertion of a foreign thought.

Like the Joker's backstory (or the lack of a consistent one, rather) in The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan prudently avoided explaining the tech behind it all in Inception, further smudging the line between science fiction and fantasy. He isn't one of those artists who are so enamoured by his own ideas that he insists on burying us with intrusive details that would do the story disservice rather than serve it. The innocuously unnamed sedatives used in the technique seems to be more alchemy than pharmacology. The sharing of dreams is facilitated by a briefcase with a single, cartoonishly large button in its centre and what looks like wires attached to intravenous needles. Riiight.

But one does not question dream logic, as Cobb pointed out. I suppose the same applies to mindscrewy films about dreams as well.

The Point Man
Yeah, that's pretty much how they did it.

I don't recommend reading the rest of this review if you haven't seen the film, but 9 out of 10 critics agree that this is not a picture that can be easily spoiled without going through a blow by blow account of the entire story.

The Dream Team.

"Assemble your team, Mr Cobb," said Saito, the ridiculously rich businessguy financing the caper. Cheesy, but charming.

The ensemble that our real-life Saito, Nolan, put together with the wealth of his reputation, talent and vision includes Leonardo diCaprio in the lead, supported closely by Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy along with my two absolute favourite thespians of my generation; Ellen Page (Hard Candy, Juno) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, (500) Days of Summer). It is a veritable dream team come true. Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

The emotional anchor of the story is Dom Cobb's, woven seamlessly into the fabric of the present con job. Cobb's an "extractor" skilled in the art of oneiric corporate espionage and is haunted by the shade of a past which he couldn't let go since Shutter Island. There's the intriguing mystery of his wife, Mal, who frequently intrudes in and sabotages his missions like a recurring nightmare and does it with all the sensual panache of an ax-crazy snubbed lover. Mal means 'wrong' or 'wicked' in French, so take of that what you will. While Leo was effective and suitably tortured in his role, I found that it was Marion Cotillard who always steal the scenes they were in. I was genuinely terrified of her. Her eyes were abyssal, chilling and dead. The wintry rasp in her voice was seductive but her words were fractured by a world of tragedy. It's troubling how inhuman she appears to be.

That blemish on her forehead also kept stealing every scene she's in. I wish they would just airbrush it.

Ellen Page plays the prodigious newbie "architect", Ariadne, and her name is so deliberate that it must refer to the Ariadne who aided Theseus in navigating the Minotaur's labyrinth of Greek mythology - except, instead of solving mazes, Nolan's Ariadne designs them... in people's heads to fool and beguile them, and to seduce them into surrendering their secrets. Being new to the game, Ariadne also happens to be the audience surrogate and is the receiving end of most of the exposition belted out by Cobb as he explains the seemingly never ending list of rules governing the dream state during her training - and I'm usually not so forgiving when filmmakers do this, but the subject matter was so engrossing that I did not feel like I was being info-dumped on at all.

Still, I am feeling a bit peeved at how underused Ellen Page's talents are in this film.

Pictured above: exposition magnet.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Arthur, Cobb's second-in-command and "point man", whatever that means. As far as I can tell, his role in the team is to cut a dapper figure in his meticulously tailored outfit in Hotel Zero-G while doing insanely cool things like battling imaginary henchpersons, defying the laws of physics and kissing Ellen Page (I am currently torn between my man-love and hatred for him). He also showed great tomfoolish dynamics with the "forger", Eames (Tom Hardy), who could physically impersonate anyone in a dream. The two of them were the main font of the scant amount of comic relief in this heavy 148 minutes epic and I am happy to report that they were ably assisted by Eames' British accent.

Eames and Arthur
"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."
said Eame's British accent conversationally while pulling a grenade launcher out of nowhere.

Cillian Murphy is Robert Fischer, Jr., the "mark" of Team Cobb's con and I felt that his feminine, boyish good looks are particularly suited to portraying the seemingly gullible heir to the empire of an international energy magnate targeted for what is essentially mind-rape. His backstory of estrangement from his father serves as a crucial fulcrum in the inceptionists' plan, and his big emotional finale at an alleged hospital was to me, the most heartfelt scene in this entire movie.

The same can't be said for Ken Watanabe's emotional moment which was not so much his fault as it was the writers'. If you ask me, his subplot should have been cut to make room for more of the special effects extravaganza. In all other instances, he's terribly engaging as the amiable, Mephistophelean Saito - though sometimes, the motivations for some of his actions are either unclear or make no damn sense.

Arthur, Saito and Cobb
"I don't need to make sense! I have MONEY!!!"

The Dream Theme.

Christopher Nolan is a proven master of cinematic mindfuckery. In 2000, he blew the world's collective mind with Memento, a psychological thriller involving a man with anterograde amnesia. Two years later, he came back with another brainblender, Insomnia, which I have yet to see (a deficiency I plan to remedy posthaste). Most notably in 2007, we gazed into the psyche of an enduring fictional poster boy for insanity through Nolan's eyes in what would be his greatest film to date, The Dark Knight. He is a genius and in his entire directorial career, he had never - not once - birthed a flop.

Inception is his exploration into the nature of dreams informed by his own experience and experiments. It's a screenplay 10 years in the making and I believe it to be his personal dream project. Okay, I'll cut out the lame 'dream' jokes from now on.

Have you noticed that in a dream, you're always thrown into the middle of a scenario knowing precisely where you are, who you are and what the situation is like while having absolutely no recollections of how you got there? Nolan did, and he subtly drew comparisons between that and the nature of filmmaking when he cut from the university to Cobb and Ariadne dining alfresco outside a Parisian café. Cobb asked if Ariadne remember how she got there. With a start, she realised that she doesn't and realised that she's in a dream while I, in the audience, was jerked to the same realisation. We are so used to movies jumping from sequence to sequence that we no longer even notice the breaks in the continuity of the story. The way Nolan drew attention to it actually elicited a quiet "Oh shit, that's fucking cool!" from me.

Another clever element is the incorporation of outside stimulus in dreams, what the characters in the film refer to as a "kick". Music were used to synchronise the actions of the team through the different layers of subconsciousness. Dousing someone in a bathtube floods the dreamscape, "kicking" the person awake. If the body is free falling, the dreamer would suddenly find himself free of the constraints of gravity in the dream.

And that made for one of the most awesome fight sequences I have ever seen. Arthur's function in the party suddenly became clear to me. "Point man" means "bad ass kicker of asses"!

Anti Gravity Fight
If I'm a girl, I want to have Joseph Gordon-Levitt's bastard children.

The emancipation of logical geometry in dreams also allowed Arthur to get behind one of the many anonymous bad guys chasing him down a stairwell by using a variation of the Penrose stairs, a specialty of his which he demonstrated earlier to Ariadne. My jaw promptly dropped on the floor and bounced down the theatre's aisle at that. It seems to me that Gordon-Levitt is the vehicle for most of the niftiest action scenes in Inception, and got to say what is, to my memory, the movie's single coolest line: "How do I drop you without gravity?"

Of course, this being a sci-fi actioner, Nolan outright invented a couple of dream tropes to enhance the cinematic experience - namely, the concept that your unconscious mind populates your dreams with "projections" that would protect your mind from invasion like some kind of mental immune system - who would have thought that our subconscious mind can be so violent? The other thing he brought to the film is the proposition that 5 minutes of real time is equal to an hour of dream time, and an hour of dream time is 12 hours in a dream within a dream, and so on. He could easily have discarded the entire concept of time but he didn't because there wouldn't be suspense if there's no clock to beat, don't you think?

A lot of critics have pointed out that Nolan's excessive eye for detail have impeded his conception of truly chaotic and dreamlike visuals here. I agree to an extent, but I would argue that some degree of sobriety and order is essential for Cobb's company to operate in and it would be in their interest to have Ariadne's keep her designs relatively sensible. Though, I must confess that I too felt that my hunger for even more bizarrchitectural scenes and impossible mind candies was far from being sated. Oftentimes, I felt far more reminded of the punctiliously constructed mega-set in Synecdoche, New York than I was of a dream.

But we'll always have folding Paris.

City Folds
"And Nolan stretched out his hand over Paris; and the LORD caused the city to roll over like a bitch." What d'you mean that's not in the Bible?

Final Thoughts.

Oh, did I mention that Hans Zimmer's hair-raising, BOOMING score sent shockwaves through me? It has the potential to be as iconic as what William's compositions is for Star Wars; like a signature everyone can recognise instantly. How can you hear the cello boom and not immediately think of Inception?

Just so everyone knows, this is not as difficult or convoluted a film as everyone have been expecting it to be. The procession of the narrative was, for the major part, linear. With a good night sleep or a cup of java, I'm sure no one with half a brain should have trouble following the plot. There are aspects of this film which will prod at your little grey cells, but don't worry - it's what cerebral entertainment does. That mild headache you'll pick up from Inception is a symptom of your mind expanding its shores.

"If you’re going to perform inception, you need imagination," said Eame's British accent.

So he did. Christopher Nolan performed Inception to near perfection, giving us yet another film which will define this decade. If we're lucky enough - and I suspect we are - his daring and indefatigable imagination will define the next.

The third Batman movie, I'm looking at you.

P.S. Highlight within brackets to reveal spoilers and my thoughts on the closing scene: [I think the top did not stop spinning. The ending felt too neat, and his kids didn't seem to have grown at all. And given the parallels that Nolan had drawn between dreams and movies, is the film meant to be a "dream" to our real world? The film started in media res - it was not clarified how all the characters came into the movie's universe. And the music at the end might be signalling an incoming "kick". You know what this means, don't you? Mal is now in the real world with us.]

P.P.S. As for Cobb's statement that there isn't a lot of legitimate ways to use his skill, he obviously did not watch the 2006 sci-fi anime movie, Paprika.

P.P.P.S. It's a travesty that most theatres in Malaysia snubbed Christopher Nolan's magnum opus on its opening night in favour of showing Eclipse on their biggest screens. It almost makes me want to take to the streets with a hunting rifle and shoot teenage girls.

Has a headful of the most resilient parasite,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sushi Boat of Dataran Pahlawan Megamall

"Being a novelty had its advantages."

Jessica Savitch

Wow, the word "megamall" is such a slut - it'd get in bed with anybody!

Now, anyone who knows me reasonably well would know that I'm a confessed foodie with a special soft spot in my palate for Japanese cuisine, and that person would have heard my frequent and manifold lamentations that there are no truly exceptional restaurants serving that in the provinciality of Malacca - or Melaka, whatever. Today, I bring you another contender to the table.

Earlier this year, Dataran Pahlawan (a Malay phrase which directly translates - amusingly enough - to 'plain of warriors') saw the debut of a new sushi place in town called Sushi Boat and it's a refreshing exercise in calling something exactly what it is,

Sushi Ahoy
Sushi ahoy!

Sushi Bar Cum Boat
Have I ever mentioned that electric blue is one of my favourite colours?

There seems to be a dearth of real reviews for this place in the blogosphere, so here I am with one.

The name Sushi Boat works on two levels. On one, it's a sushi bar built to resemble a chokkibune, a traditional Japanese water taxi associated with Edo romanticism. On another, they have replaced the kaiten or conveyor belt which most fast food-style sushi restaurants employ with this neat canal system in which little watercrafts, each carrying a plate of sushi, travels round and round the stall with the help of propulsive pumps. While it's not exactly an original concept, this is the first time I've seen its use in Malaysia. Maybe I just need to get out more.

If you're an unsophisticated manchild like me who's into novelty dining, you might just get a kick out of eating here. It's freaking sushi! On freaking litte boats! OMGOMGOMG!

Little Sushi Boats
Mini tenmasens carrying lunchable cargoes.

Of course, the snack bar approach isn't very conducive to social dining, an F&B niche which most Japanese restaurants in this country occupies. It's hard to chat and make merry when everyone's facing one direction, you know. Couples wouldn't run into that hitch here, but Sushi Boat is really for the quick-and-dirty, rocket luncher - just park your ass down and start eating immediately. The longest you'll need to wait is like half-a-minute tops for the hostess to bring you your drink. It's my kind of place when I'm out and about on my own.

What did bother me was that the place was rather exposed in a human traffic heavy area, being situated between the Carrefour supermarket and the escalators. It's a small favour that their bar stools are designed to prevent your lardy bottoms from overflowing the the seats' sides, protecting you from the derision of passing shoppers. Still, I seriously hope that they make enough soon to get their own shop.

Because their sushi are pretty decent stuff!

Mouthwateringly Fresh
They certainly understand the power of display.

When I check out a new eating spot, I like to start off with the basic classics; just to gauge where they stand in comparison to their competitors. My poissons of choice are usually a tobiko gunkanmaki, a sake nigirizushi and a simple unakyu maki or nigiri,

Tobiko Gunkanmaki
Flying fish roe, RM 6.80.

Sake Nigirizushi
Raw salmon, RM 4.80.

Unakyu Sushi
Freshwater eel, RM 5.80.

All of them tasted excellent and fresh, but the unagi slices in particular were very tender and juicy - and the thick kabayaki tare (eel sause) was delicious, as always. Sushi King, I believe, charge almost double for their inferior unagi nigiri, and I'm happy to say that the last time those crooks took my money was years and years ago.

Convinced that they know their way around sushi, I decided to kick it up a notch and go for some of their more artistic creations - and believe me, these fellas really know how to make food look too good to choo.

Chew, I meant chew, dammit.

Salmon Mango Cheese Maki
At RM 7.80, I say give this one a pass.

This here is an uramaki with mango and crisp green filling with fish roe, raw salmon and cheese slices draping its up side, all slathered with mayonnaise (lending the illusion that the cheese is hot and drippy) and peppered with a hint of chili flakes. Oh, it looks very tempting - I don't deny - but even without tasting it, I could already tell that it wouldn't fly right with me. And that's because I recognise the salmon as the centrepiece of this sushi.

Raw salmon, as a rule, does not have a very bold taste and that's why they work best on sashimi platters or on top of some vinegared rice in a nigiri. Throw anything else with a strong flavour in and suddenly, the salmon will do a disappearing act. The biggest offenders here are the cheddar and mango, by a lightyear. Stay away from this dish at all cost, or ask them to slap on a second sliver of salmon in the cheese's stead.

Okay, I might have gotten it wrong. Maybe it's meant to be a cheese and mango sushi after all but that immediately begs the question: why slip in a perfectly good slice of raw sake then? Such a criminal waste of good salmon.

Ebi Mango Maki
A fancy ebi uramaki, RM 6.80.

As far as I can tell, there's a deep fried prawn in it accompanied by a fresh stick of cucumber and garnished with a thin slice of mango and little dabs of fish roe; all artfully ribboned with mayonnaise. Unlike the cheesy mango thing above, this one was simply a-ma-zing! The nectarine sweetness and meek acid of the mango worked wonders in concert with the shrimp and I could totally appreciate the added freshness of the cucumber to the ensemble - all this coming from a guy who dislikes crustaceans at the best of time. In fact, I pretty much only like prawns if they are deep fried tempura-style or deep fried in a wonton skin.

Speaking of deep fried exoskeletal metazoans,

Soft Shell Crab Mango Maki
Their version of the spider uramaki at RM 7.80.

One of my favourite sushi is the soft shell crab roll, a delicacy which I have grown to love after my maiden encounter with it 3 years ago at Hajime, what I believe to be the best Japanese restaurant in all of the Malay peninsula. To date, I have never eaten better and Sushi Boat's spider maki - I'm reluctant to report - was several magnitudes beneath that of Hajime's in every possible aspect. It's a case of getting what one pays for, I guess, since I especially found the crab-to-rice ratio here to be wanting. They should start stuffing the sushi roll with twice as much crispy soft shell crab and while that is no guarantee of success, it's a start in the right direction at least.

Unakyu Kappa Mango Maki
Unakyu cucumber and mango roll at RM 7.80.

This one is basically a rehash of the salmon and cheese maki but with unagi instead - and I question their wisdom in including a mayonnaise bukkake in its decoration. It seems to be in their repertoire for the preparation of ALL their designer uramakis, and my two cents is that the indiscriminate use (and abuse) of any one ingredient is always a bad mark against a chef. Less discerning patrons wouldn't notice, but mayonnaise really doesn't mix well with either eel or teriyaki sauce. While I am generous enough to let it slide in all the previous sushi rolls, ruining unagi is not something I can easily forgive. This sushi could have been quite good otherwise though; the tart sweetness of mango being an interesting contrast to the savoury sweetness of the unagi.

I'm not saying "Don't use mayonnaise, period!" because in the case of the ebi tempura roll, the condiment was a welcomed complement. I'm just saying that they shouldn't go about blowing their load on every plate. A good dictum is that presentation should never override flavour.

They should also experiment with other types of fruit for a change; I'm thinking pitayas or avocados (but no durians or bananas, please). Mangoes can only take you so far, you know.

Sushi Assembly
I like how the chefs (there are two) wore face masks when they are working. See the triple-nozzle mayonnaise squeeze-bottle?

Another comment I would like to make pertains to their dish-to-dish variation. After I took a plate of a pair of seasoned baby octopus (each served on a gunkan bed), the chef immediately replaced the vacated boat with a new serving - and I noticed just how much bigger those new octopodes are when compared to the puny ones I got,

Baby Tako Gunkanmaki
"Paul? Is that you?" Chuka idako, RM 4.80.

Nevertheless, the taste was fine. It was sweet, vinegary and crunchy, and serving it with sushi rice in a gunkanmaki is one way of eating it which I haven't explore - I suppose they did it this way to hold the sauce in since their chuka idako uses much more of it than the dryer garden variety I'm used to. I must say I like it; rice, nori and all, but I recognise that this is strictly personal preference territory.

Another minor nitpick I have relates to their kappamaki,

Goma Kappa Maki
Cucumber and sesame seed rolls, RM 2.80

I commend and appreciate the initiative they took in diversifying the flavour of such a simple sushi, but the one with the pungent, spicy orange-red powder (I'm guessing some sort of pepper) was a quite the misfire. The other two were great. I understand that the kappamaki is a sort of palate cleanser traditionally and is suppose to be refreshingly bland, but I've never given two hoots about traditions before and I'm not about to begin now. It did, however, need thicker sticks of cucumber in it. Very doable, considering the price of cucumber.

And like the case of the chuka idako, I saw another kappamaki making its rounds in the moat minutes later and that one had sesame seeds covering it circumferentially; not just on the top like mine was. And there's even a pinch of tobiko on each one. Cut that out, Sushi Boat people! Stop making me feel as if I've been duped into taking the lousier versions of your sushi!

Inarizushi, RM 3.80.

Inarizushi is basically rice in a pouch of sweetened fried tofu, and it tasted exactly like how you think it would taste everywhere else. It's a reliable sushi but long due for an update. Someone should get creative and throw in some new ingredients to enliven things up - wasabi infused mayo tuna or salmon perhaps? Plain mayonnaise is not what I have in mind but it did make the inari look less dull, if I must say something nice about it.

It's also worth mentioning here that their green tea, at a buck, is perpetually refillable and while real, freshly grated wasabi rizhomes are a market rarity (and I certainly do not expect a small outfit like Sushi Boat to provide that), the green paste they dole out is still superior to the extra-chunky special which popular sushi chains like Sushi King and Sakae Sushi use. Their service is also top notch and I didn't even have to call for a refill even once because they are constantly checking if your cup is filled - but not in an intrusive way.

Funky Plate
And they have funky plates! Funky plates, I tell you!

I know I might come off as being overly critical of some of their sushi, but really they are head and shoulders above the usual commercial crap while charging pretty much the same prices (or lesser even). Besides, they give out a 20% student discount on weekdays! And if I remember correctly, they also told me that they will be running a promotion from the middle of this July till the end of August: a blanket 20% discount for every customer, weekend or weekday alike. So if you're a fan of Japanese cuisine or are just someone who's always on the lookout for new food places to try out, go give Sushi Boat a sail soon. I for one would like to see them do well enough to set up their own restaurant because with a little more resources and capital, I'm sure they would do handsomely. We need more eats like Sushi Boat in Malacca, and much less of this.

Besides, the hostess was also a really charitable and gracious lady. After handing me my bill, she ventured to ask if I'm a student and when I told her that I am, she practically snatched the check back from me to deduct the 20% off it, without even asking me to show her my student ID (which I did not have on me at the time, so all's good).

At the moment, their à la carte selection is restricted to just sushi and sashimi since they don't exactly run a fully outfitted kitchen. While I'm not the world's greatest fan of raw seafood, I'm raring to check their sashimi dishes out in my next visit. I'm also wondering if they would do custom, made-to-order sushi seeing that their chefs are so accessible. My bet's on yes, but I'll ask them.

Neon Sushi Boat
Nothing grabs attention like neon.

Sushi Boat's business timing is married to the shopping centre's hours and is presumably open 7 days a week. The quirky naval joint could be found in the third floor right in front of Carrefour's entrance. They have a Facebook page as well where you can look at more pictures of their sushi, but it's not very friendly to Chinese illiterate blood traitors such as myself.

Sushi Boat is one of the best sushi bars in town; that's my verdict. It's not a patch on the Japanese restaurants one can get in say KL, but it certainly shows a lot of promise. I'd like to see them bloom and boom.

P.S. The first picture in this post was cropped from a photograph found in this blog because I have totally forgotten to take a picture of this snack bar's most distinctive feature. Man, I'm so unprofessional.

Sailing for sushi,
k0k s3n w4i

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Muffins and Dreams

"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange."

Dom Cobb in Inception (2010)

I feel spent. I think my life is slowly spiralling out of control, drifting off into the deep space of adulthood. Weekends feel shorter while the noose of medical academia feels tighter around my windpipe. I'm in someplace I want to be, but I'm stepping into someplace I fear I might never leave. Sunday is still sunny, but the menacing overcast of Monday drew ever closer.

And muffins are still fattening as heck.

Muffins Muffins Muffins!
Begone, ye little temptresses!

My willpower gave up the ghost today at the La Boheme bakeshop in that new colossal Jusco. What's a man to do in the face so much warm, fluffy oven-fresh goodies? And at just a buck each! The plan was to go to the shopping centre to replenish my store of Nissin instant ramen, but I returned instead with four muffins in a bag. Oh, I feel like such a woman.

The queue to the payment counter was so long that it snaked right out of the shop, and I found ample time to do a bit of eye-shopping in the place. I did not realise that La Boheme has such a great selection of baked goods! There was a pile of Danish Chocolate Something there which were just screaming at me to pick one of their number up, and they have just carted out a whole mountain of steaming, sugar-dusted, mini dough nuts (the space between dough and nut was intentional). There was also a Bon Odori special going on for whole matcha-and-azuki cakes at RM 30 apiece, and boy, was I glad that I didn't have that much legal tender on me at the time. The confections looked like the bastard love children of sunbeams and unicorns, and I fear that the sight of them have punched a cake-shaped hole in my soul.

I got sesame, blueberry, walnut and toxic coconut.

While I was lost in my temporary kid-in-a-candy-store reverie, a fat middle-aged hausfrau have covertly insinuated herself by my side in the line with half a dozen muffins and a substantial pile of dough nuts on her tray. I have no idea if she used to be behind me or if she thought she could cut in beside me, but I was peeved. Did she think she could quietly cut me off while I was lost in a haze of floury thoughts, and that I wouldn't notice her doing it?

The Malay man and junior in front of me (chocolate covered doughnuts for the most part) shifted as the cashier finished off another customer. I took a step forward, and the infuriating woman followed suit - placing herself beside me again. This happened every time the queue moved, making my hands itch more and more to smack her with my tray. What? Did she think if she's persistent enough, I'd let her move in ahead of me?

Get back in line behind me, lady
, I did not say. You are fat and you probably shouldn't be eating that many muffins and doughnuts, I also did not say. I did, however, shoot her some of my patented poisonous looks, but her pachydermal skin proved to be quite impenetrable.

What is it with people who act like total smegma-coated cockheads in queues? You know what else pisses me off? Those twits who stand far too close behind me in lines; so much so that I could feel their breaths on the back of my neck as their cheap parfum invades my nose the same way they invade my personal airspace. I hate to break it to you, pal, but the fucking queue won't go any quicker no matter how eager you are to occupy the same timespace as I am.

Anyway, the woman finally relented when we reached the cash counter. Good for her because I was quite prepared to publicly humiliate her had she dare to make an attempt at paying first. I actually got a speech ready. I am NOT a nice person, let me tell you that.

Moving on to pleasanter things: I also saw a pretty cool truck outside of Jusco today,

Inception Truck against a Blue Sky
Yes yes yes!

In a few short days, I would be in a theatre watching the unveiling of Christopher Nolan's magnum opus, Inception. There is no director alive today whose body of work I admire more, and a dreamscape mind-bender blockbuster starring my favourite young thesp, Ellen Page? Words are such inadequate little constructs when it comes to explaining how I feel about it. Right now, I am dead certain that it will be the best movie ever made in the history of cinema. Is there a possibility that I might be disappointed? Am I over-hyping the film for myself? I don't fucking care. I just want to revel in my stuporous, fanboy excitement for now and drown in the buzz.

Inception Truck Side
The other side of it.

The driver wasn't there so I'm not sure if I could walk into the back of the truck to look at more promo material. It belonged to one of those newfangled advertising companies called Imej Jiwa (not a very avant-garde name, if you ask me) and what their website says about the truck is,

Beneath the three gigantic high-quality tempered glass on Mobile Truck lies Imej Jiwa's own in-house designed State-of-the-Art Scrolling Billboard. It is capable of housing five different advertisements on each side.

Mobile Truck delivers advertisements during peak hours in high traffic areas, thus providing advertisers with a wider audience. At night, Mobile Truck is backlit, making it a moving light box!

In short, Mobile Truck stands out from conventional advertising mediums and delivers high impact advertisements.

High impact, eh? It certainly got my attention alright but then again, I don't exactly need any more convincing to go see Inception in the cinema.

Inception Truck Frontal
I like how black it is.

Because I already know it's going to be EPIC!

Don't pinch him,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Despicable Me: A Review

"I'm havin' a bad, bad day
If you take it personal that's okay
Watch, this is so fun to see
Huh, despicable me"

Despicable Me (2010) by Pharrell

Wow, even the title theme song is shilling this movie!

Gru and Minions
I'm totally digging his togs.

I'll kick this review off with the most important message upfront: Go see Despicable Me in 3D or not at all, because this is the first 3D movie I've ever seen which made me want to reach out at the screen just to make sure things weren't actually protruding out of the picture at me. There's even a roller coaster sequence in it which evokes those theme park Motion Master rides and it made my insides lurch in synchrony as the coaster car sped up, down and then upside down.

I am sick and tired of CGI movies which are too afraid to employ the third dimension further than adding a barely-there, smidgen of depth - and Pixar is the biggest offender in this respect, as much as I adore their body of work. I want stuff to pop! I want them to project waaay out of the screen as much as they do waaay into it. I want exaggerated perspectives, dizzying heights and spaces which make me think I could step right in. Look into Gru's neo-gothic suburban home. Check out his subterranean lair in the basement where he addresses his legion of yellow minions. They feel cavernous. They feel fucking real.

But is the 3D in Despicable Me gimmicky? Arguably yes and no. Yes, but in a very self-aware sort of way. No, because this movie transcends mere gimmicks.

No spoilers, readers, so unclench thy butts.

The Villain Protagonist Film.

Gru is some piece of work. He cuts queues with the help of a freeze-ray. He makes a balloon animal for a crying kid just so he could have the pleasure of sticking a pin in it. He makes vague threats conversationally while chatting with his neighbour. Heck, he's so villainous he speaks with a Russian accent! Bald and pallid with dark circles around his eyes, he looks like Uncle Fester (from the 1992 Addams Family series in particular) and his magnificently pointy snoot is reminiscent of the two rapscallions in Mad magazine's Spy vs. Spy comic strips - but that's not where the resemblance ends.

Gru Out For Coffee
At Starbucks, no less!

The movie chose not to pit Gru against a superhero of some sort but instead, have him antagonised by another supervillain, Vector, who looks like a grown up version of Mandark, Dexter's archnemesis in Dexter's Laboratory. He's part of a younger, hipper generation of baddies - and with his hipster glasses and immense talent for annoying the heck out of people, I'm pretty sure his list of crimes against humanity includes owning a MacBook and an iPhone too.

I'm not even sure if superheroes or even law enforcement actually exist in this universe - it feels like a cartoon version of Mark Millar's Wanted. There's even a Bank of Evil (formerly known as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.) where villains looking to finance their heinous crimes can apply for loans.

Vector in Orange
Vector's the sort of nerd that other nerds want to punch in the face.

Now, Vector had stolen one of the Great Pyramids of Giza (and how he hid it is one of the most ridiculous sight gags I've seen in a long time) and the media is touting it as the crime of the century. Feeling upstaged by Vector's success, Gru plotted a heist of an even grander scale with the help of his partner, Dr. Nefario, who runs Gru's R&D Department and apparently lives in with him. That begs the question: Is Gru... gay?

Anyway, Gru is looking to steal the freaking moon. The next thing you know, he becomes the adoptive father of three orphan girls. Hilarity ensues.

The Orphan Girls.

Gru's Kids
From right to left: Edith, Agnes and Margo.

With the exception of Agnes ("It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"), who is possibly the most adorable little girl ever animated since Mei from My Neighbor Totoro, they are really kind of irritating. They live in a Dickensian orphanage run by a plump, mean woman called Miss Hattie who uses them as unpaid labour to push Girl Scout cookies. I hope you understand Spanish at least a little because in my showing, I was the only person who burst out in laughter during a bilingual exchange between her and Gru. For those wondering what it was, read the second postscript at the bottom of this post.

The purpose of these three little girls is to tug at our heartstrings, to lend a deeper layer to the largely slapstick humour-driven film, and to remind us just how far ahead of every other studio Pixar really is at crafting animated features that aren't just entertaining, but touching on a very human level as well.

So, once the orphans have served their purpose in Gru's diabolical scheme, what is he going to do about them? This theme of parenthood also contrasts the Freudian subplot of Gru's own upbringing by his emotionally unavailable and discouraging mother who, when Gru said he wanted to go to the moon someday, told him that he's too late because NASA isn't sending monkeys up there anymore. Julie Andews (Mary Poppins!) was barely recognisable behind her phony Yiddish/Eastern European accent - and it's awesome.

Despicable Me didn't really fail at delivering the emotional goods, but what it did do wasn't exceptionally powerful either. It felt rather manipulative somehow, a bit like the manufactured cuteness of Agnes and Gru's minions. Not that that detracts anything from their charm, of course.

The Minions.

Illumination Entertainment knows where their money's at when they put these lovable abominations of nature front and centre in their marketing campaign. They are yellow, indestructible, and persistently upbeat with a can-do attitude - much like a clone army of Spongebobs. They speak gibberish and engage in droll pastimes like cross-dressing, singing karaoke, photocopying their asses and performing the bidding of a criminal mastermind.

It's uncanny how very strongly they remind me of the Sims who also converse in a nonsense language called Simlish and go about their daily lives with an unintentionally comical and offbeat demeanour. If you love the little mutant corn pops, you're going to go gaga over the Sims. And vice versa, I trust.

My girlfriend is currently bugging me to get her her own horde of minions.

It's evident that they adore their master religiously and would do anything he asks, and Gru seems to regard them with some degree of affection as well, going as far as to remember each and every minion's name.

Now, I needn't tell you that they contribute the lion's share of the humour found in Despicable Me. It seemed like every other minute, some minions will wander into frame to do something sidesplittingly funny. By the way, don't leave the theatre immediately after the credits started rolling, okay? You'll thank me for that heads up later.

The Final Word.

It is certainly one of the funniest pictures to have hit theatres so far this year and I couldn't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend Despicable Me to. Gru's world is a feel-good, colourful blend of the Looney Tunes universe abound with cartoon violence where explosions only cover you in soot and falling objects merely flatten, not crush you - with Miyazaki Hayao's Ghibli hills where nothing bad ever happens to children and a single bald man with questionable background could easily get approval for the adoption of three little girls, even after saying such creepy lines like: "My heart is like a tooth, and it has a cavity that can be filled only with children." It's not a movie that makes a lot of sense. It's not a movie where making sense matters terribly either.

"My tuorn."

For the benefit of Steve Carell fans (who voices Gru and gave him his outrageous Russki accent), stay tune for yet another one of Carell's signature over-the-top song and dance number at this film's end. And for cine-geeks and pop culture freaks; they even slipped in a
Godfather reference, albeit a rather inorganically incorporated one.

Illumination Entertainment has made a strong debut into the CGI animated feature scene with Despicable Me, and their future lineup includes a live action/CGI hybrid about the Easter Bunny titled Hop, big screen adaptations of Ricky Gervais' Flanimals and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, and a Where's Waldo film.

Sounds exciting.

P.S. DreamWorks is releasing a very similar film about a supervillain in November called MegaMind. Fans of Monsters vs. Aliens is already calling it Gallaxhar: The Movie.

P.P.S. Minor spoiler this: the Spanish word 'burro' means 'donkey'. Gru was essentially telling Miss Hattie that she has the face of an ass.

Is itching to reinstall The Sims 3,
k0k s3n w4i