Movie Round-up #2

Another bunch of brief movie review-lets, arranged according to year of release.

Premium Rush (2012) – ★★★½
Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks like he had a fun time riding a bicycle up and down the streets of Manhattan in this film. The story is fairly compact and easy to follow – a straightforward action movie, but a straightforward action movie done well. It moves at a brisk pace, quite as fast as the bike messengers that the story revolves around, and you can’t help getting pulled along. Rather like a mad Manhattan-based rollercoaster ride. hahah

Mirror, Mirror (2012) – ★★½
I wanted to watch Snow White & the Huntsman in the same day for better comparison but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Mirror Mirror is fun, I think, as long as you don’t take it seriously. From the outset it doesn’t seem to be a movie that is begging you to take it seriously, but instead there’s a sense of it being tongue-in-cheek which helps to gloss over the more ridiculous aspects. The costumes (by the late Ishioka Eiko) were really lavish and gorgeous. The set design wasn’t half bad either. Lily Collins’ eyebrows were rather too distracting though – every time she appeared on screen all I could see was that. It’s really weird to be looking at a character, but to be invariably drawn to stare at her eyebrows instead of her eyes. I did not like the Bollywood song-and-dance routine at the end because the song just sounded so out of place (and it wasn’t a nice song either) and it spoiled the whole bit.

Hana Yori Mo Naho (2006) – ½
It pains me to give this movie such a low rating because one of my favourite Japanese actors is the star. (haha) But the movie was so dull. It’s about a bookish samurai whose purpose in life is to find his father’s killer and avenge his father – but the guy can barely fight. He’s more a teacher than a fighter. The premise sounded interesting but I found the story dragged too long and was far too slow. There were some parallel subplots but I don’t remember them at all. At least the production design was good.

The Bourne Identity (2002) – ★★½
Well, finally got around to watching this. Not bad, a decent action movie. …and I can’t think anything else to say about it. Wow. hahah

Wing Chun (1994) – ★★★
The elegant Michelle Yeoh stars in Wing Chun as the title character, who is the best martial artist in the village. She saves a young widow, Charmy, from bandits and spends most of the movie trying to protect said widow from the bad guys whilst her aunt (played by Yuen King-tan, who excels in this sort of hilarious role) uses the pretty young widow to help them sell their tofu. Donnie Yen has a comical turn as Wing Chun’s lover, who at first confuses Charmy for Wing  Chun as he hasn’t seen her for years. (A rather pathetic lover then, if you ask me.) This sets up the love triangle and in a way, Wing Chun is more a romantic comedy than a martial arts film. It’s a rom-com with kungfu involved – and the girl is the one being awesome. A fun watch!

Amadeus (1984) – ★★★
This was rather long… But I can see why it picked up so many awards (including Best Picture at the Academy Awards). It tells of Antonio Salieri, the court composer in Vienna, and his rivalry with Mozart. Hmm, no. That’s not quite it. It is, I think, more about Salieri’s internal struggles as he tries to understand why God blesses the hedonistic Mozart with talent beyond imagination but he, Salieri, who tries his best to be a good man and just wants to serve God through his music, cannot seem to even match Mozart’s skill. He tries, and he fails to comprehend the injustic of it all. When that happens, Salieri declares God his enemy and proceeds to try his hardest to block Mozart’s rise through his influence at court – he attempts to defy God, in a sense.

This isn’t a film I would say I love, but I do think it’s a film that contains a good deal for (theological) discussion. The things Salieri schemes, the two-faced approach he develops (an angel to Mozart’s face, but a devil behind his back), the sheer cruelty of the method he devises to drive Mozart to madness – they are all despicable. But I think I pity and I empathise with Salieri to a point. It’s a real question a lot of Christians deal with: why does God bless the wicked but leave the good to suffer? And one could rattle off the standard answers, long or short, but there is no denying that if you are (or if you feel you are) the “good one who suffers” and you see around you all the “wicked ones being blessed”, it hurts and the hurt can go deep. It doesn’t justify Salieri’s evil actions in any way; just because one is hurting doesn’t mean one should purposefully harm others.

Back to the film: I didn’t like Mozart’s ridiculous high-pitched giggle. I hated it. That was probably the point – to make him seem silly and frivolous and annoying. But he was too annoying. That was my biggest gripe. Fortunately, there was plenty of gorgeous Mozart music peppered through the movie – that was nice. Makes me want to listen to classical music again (I haven’t done that in a while).

The Letter (1940) – ★★½
The Letter is based on a Somerset Maugham story of the same name, and stars Bette Davis in the main role as the wife of a plantation manager in Malaya who is accused of murdering a man. It’s not a bad adaptation, though the ending is altered a bit to provide a more “just” finale for the lady instead of the ambiguous one of the original story. Interesting to see Malayan and Singaporean colonial society portrayed in an old movie like this one.


A reminder of how my ratings go:

5 stars = “Really really liked it and would watch it again without hesitation.”
4 stars = “Really liked it.”
3 stars = “Liked it.” or “Didn’t really like it, but it was a good movie.”
2.5 stars = “It was ok”
2 stars = “Meh. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it.”
1 star = “Forgettable/Boring/Not interesting.”
0 star at all = “Not even worth thinking about.” Or, “I dislike it so much that I am unable to think rationally about it.”

Got anything to add or say? :D