Sunday, January 16, 2011

Next Three Days (2010)

What can happen in the next three days of our life? Salary rise? Work in new office? wife giving a birth? Held a concert? Well, anything...including die of course. 3 day, 72 hours, 4320 minutes, 259200 seconds...that's a lot, if you ever think about that.

In this movie, Russell Crowe plays a desperate husband seeking a way to set her wife free from prison. But why his wife (played by Elizabeth Banks) is in prison? First degree murder a.k.a planned murder... at least that what the trial concluded about her. The night after she got heated talk with her boss, her boss was found killed in the car park, while at the same time Elizabeth was getting into the car too.

Then life turned upside down. Russell Crowe and his son must live without the beloved mom and wife. Russell can't even miss a single day without thinking how to restore things back the way it used to be.

So, the decision has been made. He had to set her wife free before she is moved to federal prsion (which means it could be more damn hard to break). In order to learn how to do it, he contacted Damon (Liam Neeson) to hear story on how he escaped himself years ago.

The rest of the movie goes with Russell executing this plan. He does it as if he had no single doubt that his wife is innocent. But is she? What if he is wrong? After all, breaking a jail isn't as easy as flipping hand. Federal state polices are ready to capture them and possibly make situations worse. And they must exit to somewhere hardly reached by U.S jurisdiction. If not, well.....bad again...

This movie is quite good, but not as good as Gladiator that brought Oscar to Russell Crowe. However, Russell still play well as a husband and dad. Elizabeth Banks, on the other hand, nicely depict a wife that lost her days with her son, missing his growth and his important days.

Too bad Liam Neeson character isn't explored deeper. I believe it could bring more depth into this movie. Without that, this movie does seem like solo Mission Impossible without "guns and mask". However, the nice thing is, the ending would give you a nice twist about what the whole story really about (or maybe what not really about, you decide here).

To conclude, zero to ten, I give it 7. Welcome aboard (again) Russell :)



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Tourist (2010)

Angelina Jolie and Johny Depp packed into a movie, what would it be? I can tell you that: fun drama :)

Here John plays as Frank Tupello, an American "tourist" who happens inside a train when Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie) is in the same train too, looking for someone who closely looks like "Alexander Pearce", her long lost love who happens now as Scotland Yard's (British police department) and Interpol's fugitive.

The film nicely shoots Italy, especially the city (I believe it's Venice?) and the river (Grand Canal?). And the Danieli hotel, not sure if it's real or not..but I can tell you, the suite room is damn lookin' classic and exclusive. I think it's somehow add the artistic side of this movie. Not sure how this movie will look if it is shot somewhere else :)

So as the poster said "it's all started when he met a woman". Tell me something guys (no offense, ladies  :) ), after you met a woman, how is your life? Less trouble? More? Just so so? Or is it "i feel nothing man...seriously". More often than not, you will be like this Frank. He's is just a bit unlucky I guess. After getting divorced (or his wife's funeral?), he feels alone. Probably he thought after visiting the city of love, he will found his new love. He almost gets that, with a bonus: the girl has troubles, bigger than his wild imagination. And he almost lost his life.

So, who is this Elise Ward? She is "Alexander pearce" lover. After disappearing, "Alexander" contacted her through out several letters send by couriers. Go there, visit this, take that... etc. Doesn't sound so romantic, huh? Wait until you realize that this Alexander has packs of billion dollar in his account. And that money is "hot". Stolen from a mafia boss. Now that's I call guts, boys :D

When Frank realizes he loves Elise (and vice versa), Elise admit she still loves Alexander too. So, what does Frank have to do? Gave up? At the same time, Elise is in danger...who should risk the life here? isn't "Alexander" who supposed to show up and defend Elise? In this climax (or anti climax? Depends on the way you see it...) scene, you shall reveal one ultimate fact...

--" ....after seeing your taste of men, you end up with math teacher from Winsconsin? " --



Monday, January 3, 2011

Book of Eli (2010)

Life after global catastrophe, what would it be? "Book of Eli" will gladly give you some ideas about it :)

Rather contrast to "I am Legend", "Book of Eli" shows that humanity will get back to "an era when everything is scarce and conventional". I mean, no computers, less food, people robbing each other for valuable pieces, and conventional trading back to be the way people do economy :)

Kinda scary, right? Or weird? Or do you feel it's like wacko? Whatever that is, that's not the main menu, not in this movie :P

This film depicts, what if humanity lost faith. Faith to God. Faith to divine powers that is way above human power. In turn, human put "faith" into theirselves. But hey, it already happen right now, right? So this film, in my opinion, try to super-impose current situation combined with post armageddon-alike imagination.

Then come Eli (I believe this name refers to Prophet Eli). He brings a book, an unknown one. He read it every single day and he believe he must bring book to an unknown place in west. Yes, just that, "west", but where is that? It's still unknown initially.

But that's not an easy job. Thugs, robber, killers are along his path. Eli aggresively defense himself using deadly martial art style plus his blade. Later, a godfather (I just call him this way, so I am open for suggestions :) ) want to take that book...when it is revealed it is a sacred book. As he said "that's not just a book, damn it! It's a weapon! A weapon that can move people's heart....". Got the clue, folks?

There are few heart touching scenes in this film:
- When Eli prays one of the famous mazmur "Lord is my shepherd, I shall not in want. He leads me to the still water....".

It's not that epic, but I remember Mila Kunis there said "wow, that's beautiful", it seems like it's the first time she ever heard that. Then Eli teach her a prayer before meal...thumbs up!

- Eli says "dust to dust, ashes to ashes" before taking all the freaks in club. Before you kill, you need to be ready to get killed first. If not, better run :)

- "God is good, right?" "Not all the time"..then baammmm, a shot to Eli's stomach....

- A f***ng surprise revealing the fact about the book that Eli brought..which is later identified as the last copy of King James version of the Bible.

So there comes the war... Eli against a group of criminals. Now, here comes my favourite part. I'll tell you about the fight scenes:

- Eli vs low life thugs under the bridge: eli first cuts one's hand. That drags other to surround him. Using his blade, Eli disarm and slice them all in effective movements. In one last round against chain saw guy, Eli got head butt, but he smash back and disarm the to guess? cutting that jerk's hand of course :D

- Eli vs 20+ bozos in a bar: eli shows no mercy here. Started by smashing a crank's head into bar's table then followed by ditching the rest of the scum bags :)

I say it's greatly choreographed...almost natural. Unlike the usual fight scenes which looks like "ok, one by one...dude...patient", they really looks like wanna smash Eli together.

For those who is curious, Denzel Washington was trained in Jeet Kune Do and Philipino Kali Escrima before and during the shoot. The trainer is one of the student of Mr. Dan Inosanto, while Mr. Inosanto himself is one of the main diciple of Bruce Lee.

" .. I finish the journey, I keep the faith".................



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ip Man (part 1 and 2) (2008, 2010)

Donnie Yen versus Sammo Hung? 'Nuff said :) There would be a blast :)

This movie try to pack two things: Who Ip Man is and what on Earth Wing Chun is. Let me start with the latter.

Wing Chun is southern kung fu style which focuses on medium to short range combat (but not grappling or ground as far as I know). Due to its "sourthern"-ness, it has more punch techniques than kick. But this is easy to explain. Let's say you want to hit an opponent in chest who is about 20 cm from you. Which one do you think will travel faster, your hand or your leg? Unless you're Mr. Fantastic of Fantastic 4, I bet it's your hand :D

However, according to a legend, it was created by a nun and taught initially to a girl. So, in short, it's "girly" martial art. Ok boys, what do you think? You think you would be feminine, no? Just like when you wanna learn ballet and a friend of yours said "oh man, you're not going to be a gay, right?" :D

But make no mistake, wing chun could be as aggresive as other kind of kungfu style or martial art dicipline. Its rules are: hit center line, economy of motion (why use two steps if you can hit in one step?), deflect and hit at the same time, power through relaxation. The speed and reflexes are built during the so called "chi sao" drill.

OK, then who's Ip Man? Guys, just for a record, it's "Ip" like "eep", not IP as IP address, k? :) We're not talking about low level computer networking here.

Ip Man is well known as (probably) the first person who spread Wing Chun globally. Initially Wing Chun is "exclusive" style. It's passed from father to son or closed relatives only. Teachers were so picky when taking outside students.

But Ip Man turned the table upside down. He believed that martial art is not something that should be hide inside a room. Other people are allowed to study and practice it. One of the most famous students of Ip Man is no other than Bruce Lee. In fact, in a book titled "Tao of Jeet Kune Do", I read somewhere that Bruce admit Jeet Kune Do (his own martial art style) was built upon Wing Chun. So you can imagine how much Ip Man influenced Bruce Lee in kungfu.

Ip Man was latest student of Chen Hua Shen, a grand master of Wing Chun. Later, he also studied from Leung Bik, which was latter known as son Leung Jan, Chen Hua Shen's teacher. Ip Man combines both teachings to create better style.

Bored with the background? OK, here's the actions:
- Ip Man versus ten black belt karatekas. Great choreography. Donnie nicely smash them all using efficient technique: head stomp, thigh smash, elbow lock, you name it. 4 guys coming at you? No problem, Donnie takes them all with blinding speed :)

- Ip Man versus Japanese general: power versus agility. The general started with a f***ng fast front kick...I think it's the same kick he used to smash back a kungfu master earlier in Ip Man 1. But Ip Man calmly deflect with the low X block. Ip Man cleverly close the gap and punched him from nearly every angle. Last, Donnie made the general as a living wooden dummy :)

- Ip Man on table fight: 1st fight: praying mantis+monkey style, 2nd fight: ba gua, 3rd (which is vs Sammo): Hung gar a.k.a tiger crane style, the same style used by Wong Fei Hung. Again, during fight vs Sammo, Wing Chun shows that power is not a determinant factor to win a fight.

Fancy styles? Forget it.... wing chun clearly shows that you don't need to be able to do 720 degree flying butterfly twist+kick just to knock out somebody. A fast elbow to the chin or standing leg sweep are more than enough to send your enemy into emergency room :D After all, are you sure you can land that fancy kick right into your opponent nose.

- Ip Man vs western boxer (I wish he was Van Damme in his glory days). Now this is really hand vs hand technique. Great, but not as great Donnie vs Sammo in my opinion. What you'll see here is the chain punch technique delivered all over the boxer. Really fast... somebody said in a forum, instinctly human will get "panic" when punched like that. And will be forced to either retreat or do lucky blow.

All in all, Ip Man 1 and 2 is deserved to accompany your weekend. I gave it 7. Fair enough, huh?



Inception (2010)

Update (January 30th, 2011): A fine comic titled "Inception: The Cobol Job" can be downloaded here. It's kinda prequel of the story told in the movie. It will explain few "why" that might cross over your mind when watching the movie.

Alright, here's one of my most favourite movies. It's no other than Inception. Hell yeah man! I don't know how on earth Christopher Nolan got the script idea. It's genuinely f*****ng brilliant!

This movie, broadly speaks about dream and idea in my opinion. "Wait, do you say idea?". Yes, IDEA. Not just dreams. "But uhm, I thought this movie tells about people in dreams, does it?". You're right, but that's not the entire ideas.

Dream, as we already know, sometimes (and mostly) depict our imagination. Or memories, sad ones, happy ones, spectular ones (being hit by tsunamis for example...don't laugh...when you got hit by one..I dare to bet you'll dream about it for the rest of your life dude, possibly in worse situation than the reality).

I think Nolan wanted to say throughout the movie, that it is the human IDEA that truly enriches life. The idea sometimes can be so "staggering" that it seems to exceed reality boundaries. But hey, if Wright brothers didn't even dare to "dream", we could probably still stuck with land transportation. I even read that people thought they lost their minds when designing the first plane.

IDEA, like Leonardo said in this movie, is "like virus". Once it's inside your brain, it grows. Thus indirectly triggers another idea. This is why we say "idea could bring another idea". Yes, that's right. Just test. Think something like "damn that girl is hot, i wanna approach her". Does it end there? Quite likely no. Then you'll think "ok, should I just approach her and talk to her? Or I buy some flowers first?". And so on ...

Do we live in real world? Sure (unless you're heavily sedated or brought into a comma by something). But on top of that, there's another "layer". Ideas...dreams....are that layers. And as shown in the movie, it could be more than just one layer.  And more often than not, we dig deeper and deeper into our dreams, then we couldn't tell is it real world or not anymore at some point.

This is what this movie called "limbo". You're trapped create your own world. Everything is happen just like you wish. You're the GOD there, period.

So, wanna get back to real life? Take "the leap of faith"...maybe a "kick" too. Oh and, I forgot to mention, you do have your own unique totem right? Just make sure you have one and bring it in your entire life. Don't let it corrupted....



Buried (2010)

OK, so this is my first movie regarding movie review. And I'll start with kinda not-so-common movie title "Buried".

Yeah, in "Buried", movie tells you about someone trapped inside a coffin and then buried under the ground...possibly tens feets under (probably more). Thus, what's the fun of it?

First, I can say it's a terrific single person characterization from 3rd person point-of-view. From the start to the end, you only (visually) saw person which played quite well by Ryan Reynolds (as Paul Conroy). The other characters are just voice coming out from the mobile phone. So I can say that the emotion are almost entirely coming out from the conversation, period.

Second, it's dark (literally). What else do you expect when you are inside a coffin with just flash light, right? I think this is the strongest factor. Since you can't entirely see the scene, mostly shadows, tensions are brought step by step.

At the start, Paul found the fact that he is inside something. Next, he knows it's a box...which in turn turns out to be a coffin. Then, from the sound and sands that litters a bit, he knows it's under the ground. Not to mention the snake, fire accident and so on. I think the director intelligently plays this factor. Thumbs up.

Third, which is I think the biggest selling point of this movie is that Paul is just ordinary guy. Yeah, he's just a contract driver. He didn't knew that the risk is so damn high. That's why later he said "wish I listened to you" (his wife). He regrets it...and suddenly feel this is the end for him.

So, from 1 to 10, I give this movie 7.5. It's good, but it could be better I guess. Speaking about one man drama, Charlie Chaplin already did it about a century ago. You might say Charlie looks dumb, but I say he's genius.

Got any comments or your own opinion 'bout this movie? Just post your comment and let's discuss them :)