Love, A Chinese Movie

Here in Singapore – or it could well be anywhere in the world – we are suffering from a severe movie dry season.  There are just not enough movies these days that entice the Movie Review Squad to get out of our homes and do something.  For close to two months, three of us would have our weekly meeting over Whatsapp going through the agenda items of (1) are there any good movies to watch this weekend, (2) are there any good movies to look forward to the week after?  No and no.  We, at the virtual headquarter of MRS begins to wonder: has piracy finally killed off the entire movie industry?  Or is it the decline of our Singapore film distributors not willing to bring in quality films from other countries?  What happen to the Japanese or Korean movies?  European movies?  Or these markets too suffer from the same dry spell?  No idea.  We are sad pandas indeed.

Now comes the Chinese movie LOVE, staring a bunch of well known actors including Shu Qi and Vicki Zhao.  There are a multitude of characters all consciously or subconsciously looking for love, embracing love.  Each character comes with an individual story – a story that is weaved into an overarching  story of … you guessed right, love.  There is a little boy who has not met his father since birth.  A real estate agent who appears to prioritize supporting her family over anything else.  A woman who has never had a job in her life, always receives financial support from men.  A business executive who does not know what is love. Two girls, best friends of each other, and one of them is pregnant.  A young man whose dream is about to be shattered by one mistake he has made.  An old man who is rich beyond imagination but he is not always happy.  And finally, a young man whose stuttering affects his physical outlook, but well compensated by his kindheartedness and childlike attitude to life.  The story is tight, a quality piece of script writing.  The acting is good too.  There are scenes that tickle.  And there are scenes that move.

I do not know how to classify LOVE.  It is a tragedy, yet a comedy.  It is romance, yet drama.  I think it is best described as a movie about finding love through the extraordinarily unexpected.

Chinese New Year TV Marathon – Seeker, Confessor, Shu Qi, Ayumi, Alice, And More

Contrary to everyone’s belief, Cynthia and I did not spend 4 days in front of our computers playing our favorite online game.  We have hardly touched that game during this holiday.  Ha!  It is for the love of Chinese tradition (hard to explain so we shall leave it there).  It is a rare opportunity to take a break from the game.  And the main reason is because Cynthia has envisaged this holiday to be a TV marathon.  She has magically transformed me into a coach potato for four full days.  Water and snacks were within an arm’s length.  We ate at our sofa every day.  And the only time we moved out of the coach was to answer the call of nature.  She hypnotized me using modern technology.  Some of what we consumed was junks, as in most things that come out from that box.  Others though are worth mentioning.

Legend of the Seeker (Season One)

To be totally honest, what initially attracted me to this TV series was the rather, erm shall I say, revealing medieval clothing that accentuates the beauty of a female body.  Some of the slow motion scenes can really pop my eyes, my heart, and what not.  How fortunate are the men in the old days.  I also find the costume and backdrop pretty authentic, especially since I am a huge fan of fantasy computer games.  When I paid better attention to the story and tried not to be distracted by the eye candies and on-screen chemistry, it is pretty faithful to the genre of fantasy.  Love, friendship, betrayal, sacrifice, good and evil, heroes and cowards, battles, sorcery, quests and more quests, difficult decisions and more love – all checked.  There are some unique hooks that I don’t often find in other fantasy titles.  Sharing more here you may find me insane, as though I am talking to myself.  So I shall leave it here.  We have consumed 5 discs worth of entertainment – the entire season one – in 4 days.  Monsters, we are!

Now, why on earth would they drop the franchise after a merely two seasons of broadcast?  Save the Seeker.  Please.

A Beautiful Life (不再讓你孤單)

At home, we have a rather good collection of DVD or Blu-ray, most are not opened.  I always have this urge to buy and collect.  But I seldom have the time to watch them.  During this holiday, I tried to look for a happy movie suitable for the occasion.  My eyes stopped at Shu Qi.  It is a Chinese movie.  Both titles – English and Chinese – sound positive.  So I jammed the disc into our player, sat back, and clicked play.  Cynthia has started crying way before the movie ended.  I would say “A Beautiful Life” is an art house type of movie, an emotional one.  During the interview, Shu Qi mentioned that making this movie was harder than a martial art one.  Some clips can last as long as 10 minutes, continuously.  Imagine having to do several retakes.  I pity the cameraman who carried that ninety pounds monster.

It is a rather beautiful movie.  A movie about love in difficult circumstances.  What some may see as handicap, in the eyes of the loved ones, they are unique.  It is a movie about finding happiness.  Quite an inspiring one I must say.  Good acting.  Two thumbs up.

Ayumi Hamasaki Countdown Live 2010-2011 A: Do It Again

After a while, I begin to lose track of how many Ayumi concerts I have watched on TV.  Each year, she releases one tour recording and one countdown recording.  I can tell each tour recording by theme.  But I am often confused by the countdown releases.  At the end of each year, Ayumi hosts a concert for the fans.  Usually the song set is pretty mellow in the start.  Then there is a buildup to the countdown and thereafter, you can almost guess what songs she is going to play.  Upbeat, rather happy.  Unlike the tour performance, the song choice for the countdown concert often gears towards her older classic – which is good because it is different from the tour recording.  But that also means that all the countdown recordings are somewhat the same – hence the confusion.  If not for the beautiful duet “Dream On”, I would not have known if I have already watched it some time in the past.  How come “Dream On” has not been released in any album?  How come there is no duet in any of Ayumi’s album?  I have no idea.  One thing for sure though.  Ayumi is single, and available again.

The stage is pretty unique for this countdown concert.  There are a few concentric pieces that rotate and elevate.  And Ayumi has put the stage right in the middle of the stadium.  I thought it is a pretty good design.

Alice: Madness Returns

“Alice” is neither a movie nor a TV series.  It glued me in front of the TV nonetheless.  I am a big fan of Alice in Wonderland.  This is a game adaptation.  A second one indeed.  I bought the PS3 version, at a discount.

Recently, I read an article on how game developers dread the review scene.  If a game is poorly reviewed, or even at lukewarm, that turns gamers away from buying it.  Thousands and millions of dollar of investment go into the drain.  Years of development go along with that.  It is a brutal scene.  This game “Alice: Madness Returns” has not been kindly reviewed.  I hesitated during its release, have forgotten about it for a long time, then I saw the rather attractive price tag a few days ago.  I have always enjoyed playing a game as a heroine.  This version of Alice wields a Vorpal sword (you have to ask Lewis Carroll what that is) and lives in a real dark and twisted world.  Despite the lukewarm review, I have decided to give it a try.  This game is not perfect.  I will probably write a more detail account of my adventure with Alice in the future.  However, from what I have experienced so far, I like it.