TED – What A Naughty, Naughty Teddy Bear

Finally, TED has arrived in Singapore.  I have been anticipating this film for ages.  Courtesy of omy.sg, Cynthia and I had a real good laugh watching TED in a preview screening session.  What’s there not to love about Ted the teddy bear who talks bad, takes drug, and gets drunk?  It’s hilarious.

Think on it, this film could have gone wrong in so many different ways.  Two grownups and a talking teddy bear living in our modern day society?  Miraculously, this film pulls through as something ‘believable’.  Thirty years ago, a boy made a wish for a teddy bear as a Christmas present.  That wish came true.  Later on, he made another wish that the bear would be able to talk.  Lo and behold, because magic could exist, we have a living and breathing teddy bear becoming the little boy’s new best friend.  The teddy bear has become headline news.  Alas, like all things in life, novelty wears off.  Thirty years later, no one cares for a talking teddy bear.  Life moves on.

The story then begins with the little boy John now grown up (Mark Wahlberg) and so is Ted.  John has fallen in love with Lori (Mila Kunis).  But will a man who still hangs out with his teddy bear be able to truly love another person?  Well, that is where the drama begins.

TED is a joy to watch, all credit to two ingredients.  First, the teddy bear on the big screen does look realistic and appears to interact with the actors well.  Remember Star Wars I when Jedi Liam Neeson couldn’t see eye-to-eye with Jar Jar Binks?  Ted the teddy bear seems very much alive in the movie.  Second, the script coming out from Ted’s mouth is hilarious.  At some parts of the film, the scriptwriter has established a pattern so well that the audience would laugh even before the line is out.

Fun stuff aside, TED is a heartwarming film.  There are some tearing moments.  Above all, the chemistry between Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis is convincing.

TED is about changes in life that upset the status quo.  It is a story of growing up and learning to live with someone new.  On a separate note, watching TED reminds me of a novel written by Clifford Chase called Winkie.  In that book, the story begins with Winkie the teddy bear arrested for terrorism because he happens to be at the wrong place in the wrong time.  That book too is hilarious, more so in a dark comedy’s way.  I think I may pick up Winkie when I have the bandwidth to do some reading.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen – Good Humor, With An Enlightening Spirit Within

I overheard in the radio one evening that Emily Blunt has rejected quite a few movie proposals lately including Captain America.  Yet she has decided to take on Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.  Emily is a great actress.  So I was curious.  Why salmon fishing?  When omy.sg offers two movie preview choices, subconsciously I picked this one.  I am happy that I did.

This movie begins with an unusual business proposal to set up salmon fishing in Yemen.  At the same time, there are some conflicts happening in the Middle East and the UK government is desperately looking for some good news to orchestrate.  When an government official played by Kristin Thomas catches wind of this rather bizarre business idea, she immediately lends her support on this matter.  It is funny that she cares not about the salmon, but the potential political gain.  Emily Blunt plays an investment consultant while Ewan McGregor plays a subject matter expert in fishing.  It is Harriet Chatwode-Talbot versus Dr. Jones.  I chuckled at the pronunciation of the names spoken so many times with a British accent throughout the movie.  The interaction between Emily and Ewan is light and playful.  Kristin as a supporting role is quite honestly a gem to this casting.  Such good actors, they are.  I smiled and chuckled.  The story does get a bit more serious towards the end.  All in all, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is full of humor and original ideas.  Great acting, with a witty script.  If British romance comedy is your cup of tea, this film is not to be missed.

On a more serious note, for those who are not familiar with the world map, Yemen is somewhere in the Middle East.  To create a fishing area in a desert area seems absurd.  Comparing fishing to religion also seems absurd (among many other things in the movie).  But with an open heart though, both activities require patience and faith, and a hope that something good may happen.  To think deeper, the storyteller tries to tell us that love comes from hope which requires patience and faith.  This movie transforms the simple act of fishing into something bigger, embracing lovers and a community alike.

If not for my blogger friend JoV, I would not have known that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is originally written as a novel.  Do drop by her website and check out her book review.  She highly recommends the book.  I have this belief that when the story is good, the movie is often good too.  I have not read the book so I do not know how well this book is being adapted.  In the movie, the shifting in the relationship dynamic seems a bit abrupt to me.  I may need JoV to verify for me.  I suspect it is because the movie may not have the luxury of time in the development of a love story.  Other than that, the rest of the movie flows nicely, from beginning to end.

Apple Of My Eye – A Taiwanese Movie, A Nostalgic One For Me

How many of us end up spending the rest of our lives with our school day sweethearts?  Do you remember the time when love was so awkward, so childish?  We kept on reading and sending the signals wrongly, but yet our puppy love affair appeared to be  at the center of our universe, all that we could think about?  Watching “Apple of My Eye” put me right where that piece of my memory has faded.  It reminded me of what love once was.  Not only that.  This movie brought me back to the time before mobile phones were widely used, a time whereby a public phone booth was the only place to make a conversation with someone far away.  Yes, once upon a time I queued at a phone booth to call that special someone; once upon a time I was by a phone booth waiting for that one phone call.  Dating scene was quite different back then.

I cannot recall how many guys in this movie were chasing after the same girl.  Looking at the movie poster, there must have been five.  The background of the story was set in 1994, with boys chasing after girls in school and beyond.  Some of the silly things that boys do are so real that watching them made me cringed (in a good albeit embarrassed way I suppose).  It is a comedy, with tons of drama.  Some bits are quite exaggerated, probably due to the fact that the story was retold from the memory of a first person perspective (boys are really not that gross, at least most of us are not I hope).  These scenes are a good laugh nevertheless.

It is quite rare to see such honesty in a movie.  Cynthia and I enjoyed watching it.  Once upon a time, love was so innocent, so pure.  It is a film about growing up too.  If I am to directly translate the movie title, it would called “Those Where The Years When We Chased After The Same Girl”.  I suppose “Apple Of My Eye” would be a better choice for the English speaking crowd.

Let Me In – Quite Possibly The Greatest Vampire Love Story Of All

“Let Me In” is not a typical vampire movie, quite possibly something you have not seen before.  That is if you have not watched the original Swedish film “Let The Right One In (2008)”.  We can debate if this is a horror film or more like a thriller later.  For the film characters that are of 12 years of age, “Let Me In” is more mature than any other vampire flicks in recent years.  A vampire romance story does not have to have cliché dialogs.  And “Romeo and Juliet” kind of fantasy is just as timeless.

But don’t let me mislead you.  This movie does have tons of creepy moments, many may not be of supernatural in nature.  A little bit of blood and gore.  Innocent dies.  The theme is dark, with zero morale compass.  It is however emotionally griping.  And it also has a great thriller storyline.  While you may be able to guess more or less where the story is heading, the story is still full of intense yet subtle moments that something may go wrong.

A little boy Owen lives with his mother undergoing a divorce with his father.  In school, Owen gets bullied often.  At home, since his mother is drunk most of the time, he has spend much of his evening time observing his neighbors with his telescope at home, or spending time in the courtyard covered in snow.  One day, a young girl moves into the building.  Soon, the two become friends.  That begins the story of a human boy and a vampire girl.  Kodi and Chloë perform well in this movie.  “Let Me In” does not employ a lot of special effects.  It does not have to.  Quite a few key scenes are shot in the perspective of one character leaving the rest up to the audience’s imagination, which is more powerful that laying out the scenes and throwing in more special effects in my opinion.

I am a fan of the role-playing game “Vampire: The Masquerade”.  Not all vampires have to be charming and glamorous.  “Let Me In” does it in style with a rather unglamorous vampire.  Below is a quote from Stephen King.

LET ME IN is a genre-busting triumph.  Not just a horror film, but the best American horror film in the last 20 years.  Whether you’re a teenager or a film-lover in your 50’s, you’ll be knocked out.  Rush to it now.  You can thank me later.

Personally, I think “Let Me In” is more a thriller than a horror.  Cynthia has zero tolerance to Asian horror movies but she can take “Let Me In” just fine.  Perhaps American horror is not meant to be scary but rather, creepy?  This movie should appeal to both non-horror movie goers (unless you faint seeing blood … I know one of my friend does) as well as to horror movie fans.

“Let Me In” will be released in Singapore on Dec 9.  On a side note, Cynthia and I have attended the movie preview session at Shaw Preview Theatre.  It was quite an experience as it was our first time at that venue.

The Housemaid – More Than Just A Korean Erotic Thriller

I remember seeing the movie poster of “The Housemaid” when we were in Hong Kong.  Back then, we picked a Spanish film to watch instead.  I am surprised.  More often than not, films get released in Singapore earlier than in Hong Kong.  When Omy.sg sent me a media invite to preview the movie, I eagerly said yes.  I love watching Korean movies.  More so, I love watching Jeon Do-yeon’s performance.  “You Are My Sunshine” still breaks my heart every time I think about it.

“The Housemaid” is the type of film that the ending may disorientate you.  And I am sure there are more than one way to interpret the story.  Without giving out spoilers and if you do watch this film, pay attention to the seemingly irrelevant beginning and the bizarrely surreal ending and see if that warrants a valid connection.  There are details such as the housemaid’s burnt mark (that was not explained), her mother’s tomb (what about her father?), and some seemingly out of the sort one-liner dialogs – all of which that may or may not contribute to the story, entirely up to your interpretation.  For me, I love this aspect of the movie.  Having said so, I could imagine if one is to ignore these bits and pieces of seemingly irrelevant details, the thriller itself may not be as compelling.  Because of the lack of resolution in almost all fronts.

“The Housemaid” is a drama that takes place mostly inside a very rich household.  A family needs a young housemaid (hence Jeon Do-yeon) to help out with the housework and the upbring of the family’s young daughter.  A young and pretty wife who is pregnant with a twin.  A young and handsome husband who possesses of chest muscles that even I admire (from a bodybuilding point of view!).  And there is an old housemaid who keeps things running smoothly inside this gigantic house.  Later on, the mother of the young wife also comes into the picture.  The plot centers upon how these characters interact with one another, love and hate one another.  Solid acting, I enjoy watching.  And as for the sex scenes, I think they are artistically done (albeit a bit comical in parts).  Pretty much like the rest of the movie.  Jeon Do-yeon plays the role of an innocent and good hearted housemaid.  Trust me.  You will feel for her.

“The Housemaid” will be opened in Singapore this Thursday (Nov 11).  Below is the trailer.

Red – It Is A Fun Watch, And There Are Malkovich, Willis, And More

The movie preview took place at Bugis Shaw.  And it has been a while since we hang out in that area.  Cynthia bumped onto her colleague while I to mine.  Small world it is indeed.

The story of “Red” evolves around a team of ex-CIA agents who are now being targeted by the CIA.  The first half of the movie develops the why and the second half focuses on the resolution.  I prefer the part on plot development because that got me thinking on the overall motive.  This movie is filled with lighthearted and fun moments.  Classy I must say, a bit to the crazy end.  I would not have in a million years imagined Helen Mirren wearing a long evening gown firing big machine guns at people.  Then we have John Malkovich who in his unique twisted and quirky way doing the things that you probably would expect but not imagine doing.  Bruce Willis is now 55 and he still looks great on screen, in his usual cool.  He must be one of the most acted hero in recent film history.  And there is Morgan Freeman whom I wish he has more air time.  Oh, it is fun to watch Mary-Louise Parker on screen too.  She plays the role of a pension fund customer service agent and has nothing to do with the CIA.  Somehow, she gets swept into the plot and the amazing thing is, she games for it (and the more amazing is, I am buying it).  Whenever she drops out from the plot, the plot seems to get a little bit dimmer.  Perhaps it is also because she is the only younger one – in relative term of course – in the team.  There is also a fair bit of romance in “Red”, which makes it different from other films of similar genre.

“Red” will be released in Singapore on Nov 11, 2010.  Check it out if you are into a fun movie, especially if you are a fan of the leading actors and actresses.