Harry Potter and the What?

(Oh hey, my WordPress toolbar is back in Firefox! Yay…)

Briefly:

Went to see the movie today with Eileen and Phaik. (For only RM5. Hahahahahahahahah. I love Penang.)

The movie was a decent adaptation of the book (not that it means much, since I didn’t really like the book) – until I remembered that the title was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Then I realised that it didn’t seem to have very much to do with the Order at all. It was more like Harry Potter and His Visions. Overall, an ‘okay’ show – more fast-paced than the book. I rather liked the score, though.

Detailed exposition:

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Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)

This utterly surprised me by being an excellent movie. I daresay I’m not going to like Paprika half as much, even though Paprika‘s concept is pretty interesting too. But let’s leave comments on that for another time – like after I’ve actually watched it.

In a nutshell, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (henceforth Toki) is about a girl, Makoto, who becomes able to time-travel – literally leaping through time – and how she uses this ability of hers and learns the consequences of it.

Animation is pretty fluid and excellent by anime standards. (I was in awe at the Van Gogh-esque, Impressionistic sequences when Makoto first leaps through time!) Character designs aren’t too bad; of course incomparable to character design in the US and Europe, but at least they’re not the type of anime characters where the only difference between characters’ features is hair style/colour and eye colour. Love the backgrounds – beautifully painted and detailed but they don’t distract you from the characters. The voices were cast pretty well. I’m relieved that the girl didn’t have the squeaky, high-pitched type of voice.

Toki‘s storyline is simple enough, but I like the way it captures how a real person without any grandiose ambitions might actually use such an ability (e.g. going back in time to turn a bad day into a good one, avoiding uncomfortable circumstances) and how using that ability can have a negative impact on others, if not on the user. The character relationships – especially Makoto’s relationship with her close friends, Chiaki and Kousuke – are handled quite well too.

The time-travelling method and concept was fairly basic, so I didn’t find myself getting all puzzled over it. (Though perhaps this may be the result of watching Back to the Future so many times… And watching Star Trek… And all that other sci-fi stuff that deals with time travel.)

The twist in Toki was interesting. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie where I really wondered what was going to happen next, and when the twist came, it was quite unexpected. I shan’t describe it in detail here – watch it for yourself. hehe
All in all, I’d give this movie 4 or 5 stars – out of 5. Simple storyline, but not boring. An interesting twist and an ending that leaves you with a smile on your face.

Check out aibo’s review if you like. ;)

UPDATE:
Found out that Toki won the “Animation of the Year” award at the 6th Annual Tokyo Anime Awards in March. It also won the awards for Director (Hosoda Mamoru), Best Original Story/Work (Tsutsui Yasutaka), Scriptwriting (Okudera Satoko), Achievement in Art Direction (Yamamoto Nizo) and Character Design (Sadamoto Yoshiyuki)

Dug up the trailer on Youtube as well.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8G7j4mM_Fek" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

~ Mirai de matteru. ~

Broadway Parodies Lah!

So yesterday Candice and I headed to Actor’s Studio in Bangsar after church to see Broadway Parodies Lah! Turned out to be really quite worth the money. (RM20, student price.) It was a string of Broadway songs with ‘Malaysian-ised’ lyrics. Hi-la-ri-ous.

There were songs like Hello Datin!, We Must Play Golf All Night, Climb Up the Mountain, The Bomoh of the Bursa, and Chicken with the Chili on Top. (Can you guess the original song titles and/or musicals they’re from? Answers given under the ‘continue’ link. =P )

I’m going to borrow descriptions of some of the songs from The Star Online’s interview with the director and writer, Brian McIntyre.

Food Glorious Food (from Oliver!) is all about delicious Malaysian dishes like laksa, kuay teow and spicy curries. Hello Datin (localised version of Hello Dolly) is about women who undergo plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

I’m Off to Genting in the Morning (tweaked from My Fair Lady) is about Malaysians who love to spend their weekends at Genting Highlands…

Meanwhile, We Must Play Golf All Night (remastered from My Fair Lady) is about businessmen who head off to the golf course to enlarge their contact lists, with hopes of clinching business deals. For My Favourite Things (from The Sound of Music), McIntyre touches on his affinity for Malaysia – blue skies, rich traditions and humorous people.

There was Seventeen Going On Eighteen (Sound of Music) – about a girl waiting to see if she’ll get called up for NS. hahahahah! And that girl was really good. I don’t know her name, but I think she really stood out in the group – besides Douglas Lim and Joanne Kam Poh Poh. She looks quite young – like Form 4 or 5. But I thought her singing was great and you could see from the way she dances and acts that she knows how to do it. As Candice said, “theatre potential.”

Bomoh of the Bursa was a real joke… Shaman of the Shares. The guy who played the bomoh had plastic chillies hung all over him for some reason or other. ROFL. There was also Delisted (Cole Porter’s De-lovely) – about a company that’s basically gone bankrupt and has been delisted. ahaha! Another song was Aiyo – based on Heigh Ho! from “Snow White.” Candice and I were a little puzzled about that since it’s a Disney song, not a Broadway song… But it was funny anyway. :P And then there was Marina (Maria, West Side Story) – as in Marina Mahatir. Marina… Your dad’s no longer PM, Marinaaaa….

One of the most hilarious sequences was the last one where Douglas Lim played a tourist guide for a group of ‘British’ tourists.

“Just now you saw the world’s largest carpark – Federal Highway.”

*audience explodes into laughter.*

“…And here you can see the world’s longest escalator. But because this is Malaysia, it is out of order.”

So the tourists have to walk up interminable stairs (to Batu Caves), hence Climb Up the Mountain. And once they’re back down, he proceeds to teach them how to ‘get along’ with the locals. Makes them sit on the road first (“…I give you a history lesson. Our first prime minister was Tunku Abdul Rahman. T-A-R. So now you sit on the TAR!”). And so he starts the lesson – in “basic cursing.” Cue Bodoh Lah, probably one of the most hilarious songs in the show.

Boh – the tea from Camerons;
Doh – you make it into bread;
Why – you say I so ‘leng zhai?’
You – five letters back from Z;

So – the cloth the tailor stitches; (okay, this line didn’t make sense to me)
Like – like father like the son;
Dat – the opposite of this;
And you end it with a “One!”

LOL.

Conclusion? I highly highly recommend this if you’re anything like Candice and I – you like stage plays, you like musicals. (It’s probably more enjoyable if you can recognise most of the songs they sing. Makes it doubly funny and you remember the songs better.)

It’ll be running until June 3 so catch it if you can! ;)

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Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End

Went to see it yesterday at 1U with Jo, Huei Ling, Nadia, Azman and some of their friends. The amount of people waiting outside the cinema gate for the doors to open was crazy – even more so considering it was a 5.30pm show and not a 9pm one. It was really full (save some empty seats in the very first row). Looks like all the hype about it really worked to pull in the crowds.

Was the hype justified? Well, mostly yes, I suppose. :P
Don’t read on if you want to avoid spoilers.

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Meet the Robinsons.

Just a very brief review of Meet the Robinsons. Not in the mood to give a lengthy blog entry at the moment.

Overall, it’s a nice movie. Pleasant, clean visuals and good animation, as expected from Disney. Story-wise not on par with Finding Nemo or Incredibles or the Disney classics, maybe, but it’s still a good watch. It’s a story about Lewis, an orphan who longs to find a family of his own. He finds it – in the future.

Some of the ‘future’ concepts were fun, like travelling in bubbles (talk about being eco-friendly) and buildings that construct themselves instantly (like a balloon being inflated). But maybe the eccentric Robinsons were the most fun of all. Weird, but fun. =)

There were a few unexpected turns in the show – some could be guessed at along the way, but one caught me totally off-guard.
Another thing that surprised me was that Danny Elfman wrote the score. When I think of Danny Elfman, I think of Tim Burton and Burton’s movies like Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Not Meet the Robinsons. Hahah

But anyway, I liked Mrs Robinson – and her outfit. *points to picture*

:P

Oh! Before the movie starts, they play an old Mickey Mouse cartoon – Boat Builders – so if you see that, don’t be surprised. I guessed that it’s really old, judging by the design of Mickey Mouse. (Ah, ChristianityToday’s review says it’s a 1938 short – 1938!) In a way it was fun to see a Mickey Mouse short on the big screen. Heard some kids in the cinema laughing during the short. Do you know how nostalgic it feels to hear little kids laugh at a Mickey Mouse cartoon? Made me think of when I was a kid and, according to my mother, addicted to Donald Duck cartoons. hahahah

Iberia

Jo and I suddenly decided that we’d go and watch Iberia. From the summary on the GSC website, it seemed to be some sort of Spanish movie that involved dancing. The Spanish element was tempting enough, but add in dancing and it was too tempting to miss. (And we wanted to run away from FYP. :P ) We didn’t really expect much dancing la, but figured it would be cool to watch anyway.

Apparently we didn’t read the summary properly.

It was almost 90 minutes of dancing only.

We like. :D

(Well, there was a short piece in the middle which was just this guy singing and another guy playing the guitar, but one kinda forgets it amidst all the other performances.)

It’s supposed to be like a tribute to Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz, using his “Iberia” suite. So it’s all about the music and the dance interpretations of the music. The dances are mostly a mix of Spanish traditional dance and contemporary dance – and some ballet. It’s not a continuous dance, but goes from one piece of music to another.

I highly recommend it for people interested in dance. Check out the choreography. I really like how Spanish flamenco is “strong” in rhythm and movement yet graceful. Their group performances were very nice to watch. Movements and the sound from the castanets/tap shoes synchronised so well! I kept wondering how they could click the castanets in such perfect time (perfect to me la; I can’t tell if one of the castanets was off by a beat or anything). Also probably good for those who like to watch theatre and music. Wonderfully simple sets, and beautiful lighting. (Their shooting studio must be huge from the look of it.) And their pianists and guitarists! Whoa… Heheh.

So, go watch! I know I’ve many friends who like dancing or music or watching theatre or all of those. I think most of you’d enjoy this. =) Right, Jo? :P


(Yes, I used photographs as reference for the poses. hahah)

Happy Birthday to Me.

What, can’t I say that on my own blog? ahah…
Had a nice 22nd. Lunch, movie (Death Note 2) and then tea at Italiannies (evil Mons decided to humiliate me for the last time before graduation by making me stand on a chair. I knew something was wrong when you people suddenly decided to go there. Sorera hachinin… HIDOI. Matte ne. Issatsu no desu noto miatemasu… Sorekara shiin deru – anta-tachi. Hahahaha :P)

Anyway, that’s Jan and me at the Curve in the pic on the left. The Curve’s CNY decor is not too bad. Very pink, though. But lots of lanterns. heheh… Will update with the group photo when I get it from Evonne. :)

Thank you, everyone who sent me birthday wishes! From my parents to the scruffy-looking nerfherder in Corellia Singapore, from the Mons to the tall fella who dares call me “auntie” (means next time you’d better listen to everything I say – respect your elders! Ha. =P )…

I had two unexpected little presents, which delighted and amused me. Seng Hui sent me something like 15MB of illustrations for an anime we both like (I think the illustrations were from the novels the series is based on), and she timed the send so well that the file finished transferring over YM just about two minutes to midnight! hahahaha… It kept me busy for about 20-30 mins, just looking through all the pretty illustrations and discussing ’em with her. Then Gary gave me a pack of playing cards. LOL. Does that mean I’m supposed to play more 99, Gary? Haven’t played that in eons! The cards are interesting though… Oval in shape. Cool. Thanks!! :D

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A Japanese Week.

Much to my own amusement, I realised that I inadvertently began and ended the week with Japanese stuff. The weekdays la, anyway. On Monday there was Studio Ghibli at the CAT Conference. Yesterday (Friday), I went out with the gals for lunch and then to see the Japanese movie Death Note.

And then in the middle of the week – I think it was Tuesday – I finished downloading the hardsubbed Prince of Tennis live-action movie. (“Hardsub” means the subtitles are already encoded into the movie file and will appear whether you like them or not. “Softsub” means that the subtitles are in a separate file, normally a .srt file; and if you rename the file or move it to a different folder, the movie will play without the subtitles. And that concludes our short tech vocabulary of the day lesson.) But…….. I only managed to watch the first half. Both movie files were fine. It was the subtitles that annoyed me. Oh, the errors! It wasn’t that bad, but there were enough glaring errors to spoil it for me.

Let me give you an example: nitouryuu means a “two-handed style.” But instead of translating nitouryuu no Samurai Nanjirou as “Samurai Nanjirou of the two-handed style” or something like it, the subtitles read “green-coloured, Samurai Nanjirou.”

I honestly didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry. Green-coloured?? One thing at least was obvious – the translator was most likely not a fan of the anime, or he’d know it wasn’t “green-coloured.” So I ‘excused’ him on the assumption that he’s not a fan of Prince of Tennis, and that he presumably heard wrong as well. (midori = green)

Besides that, I caught at least two other errors in just that first half. So, much-annoyed, I went and found the softsubs and the raw movie. Yes, I plan to correct the errors I catch so that I can watch it in peace. And no, I don’t think I know every mistake there is – there’s still a lot of Jap I don’t understand. I’m not so deluded as to believe that I understand that much yet. As it is, probably I understand only slightly less Jap than I do Cantonese and Hokkien.

Ok, ok. Better change topic before you all get too bored.

Death Note. (Translated in the cinema as “Nota Maut.” LOL. Why does it always seem sillier when translated to BM?) The movie was based on a manga of the same name. Haven’t read it, but I’ve heard of it and know the gist of it. It wasn’t as morbid as I thought it might be anyway. But still, it’s no mood-lifter. If you’re in a depressed mood, I wouldn’t recommend watching it. It’s not gonna make you feel any better. Ahah.

Overall, I think it was an “okay” movie. Don’t love it, nor do I hate it. Reasonable enough given the relatively low budget (according to Angie). Chee Kah says the shinigami (death god) in the movie looks like the manga drawings, which is a good thing I suppose – though I think it’s ugly. Fans don’t like it when the movie characters look totally different from the original drawings. In any case, that ugly shinigami was probably the funniest thing in the movie to me, minor part though it was. Heh.

Since I haven’t read the manga, I don’t have much to compare to in terms of story and characterisation, so in my opinion it was all right on both counts. The story was pretty much what I’d heard of, and the actors looked like the pictures I’ve seen of the characters. But most who have read the manga say that Fujiwara Tatsuya (Raito, the guy on the left) isn’t good-looking enough nor is he ‘evil’ enough. *shrugs* I wouldn’t know.

I have to say, though, that the story does have an interesting premise and raises intriguing questions. [Movie spoilers ahead.]

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The New Blog.

Yup. This is it. The new home of Ind Elwen Tinúviel. Nice? Nice? :D
Heheh.

It’s actually been around a short while. I’ve been beta testing it with a few select people for a couple of months and I’m finally ready to open it to the rest of you! My Tabulas blog remains, but on “Friends Only” mode. So change your links!
Why the change? Because since I have my own server and domain now, I figured I shouldn’t waste them. :)
I shall open this blog with a flurry of different topics.

I. The Working Life.
Haven’t been blogging about work over at Tabulas, but have been doing so here. So you can check out my previous posts here:

II. Look at all the Pretty Lights…
The Bukit Jalil stadium was full of colourful lights every night for almost two months, with the Asia Cultural Lantern Carnival 2006 being held there. Syaz and I went there last Wednesday after work, cameras in hand. It’s been so long since either of us went on an all-out photography trip. I took over 130 photos (not including the 20+ that I deleted at the carnival and after it).
 

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Of Undead Monkeys and a Datin-to-be.

An Undead Monkey and a Heartless Squid

When I first saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, I didn’t expect to like it. But as it happened, I came out of the cinema highly entertained, convinced that Johnny Depp was a good actor, and with a bunch of lines stuck in my head. So naturally, I wanted to see the sequel (whose titles were translated into BM as Lanun-lanun Pulau Caribbean: Harta Lelaki Mati – I couldn’t help laughing and wondering, “Where’d they get the ‘pulau’ from?”).
Despite what critics said about Dead Man’s Chest, I still wanted to see the show for myself. After some failed planning and last-minute decisions, I eventually managed to go on Sunday evening and form my own opinion of it.

[ Spoiler Warning ]
It isn’t quite as good as the first movie, but it still has its moments. Chest, although full of twists, somehow comes off as less interesting than Black Pearl. Maybe it’s due to the somewhat darker, more serious nature of this second film. All Captain Jack Sparrow had to worry about in the first show was whether or not he got his revenge on Barbossa; but now he has to worry about staying alive and escaping the monstrous Kraken sent by the walking squid called Davy Jones.

The dialogue is about as cleverly written as the first one, with only a shortage of Jack’s sarcastic wit and favourite phrase (“Savvy?”) marring it for me. He only said “Savvy?” once in the whole show. :( He was still funny sometimes, but not as funny as last time.

Effects-wise, splendid work by ILM, as always. Wouldn’t be surprised if Dead Man’s Chest picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Davy Jones and Co. were a great blend of prosthetics, make-up and CGI. (Might get a nomination for that too.)

One of the parts I found funniest in the movie was when one of Jones’ men lost his head (literally) and the head started speaking a mixture of Cantonese and English, directing the body to where it was. It was just hilarious to suddenly hear Cantonese out of nowhere.
There was also the part where Will, Gibbs and some of the crew run away from the cannibals – still stuck in their ball cage. Gibbs’ instruction to “Lift it like a woman’s skirt!” and run was too hilarious to not laugh at; as was his later order to the crew aboard the ship to “Pull like yer paid to do it!” ROFL.
Remember the guy from Barbossa’s crew whose false eye kept falling out? He’s baaack. Along with his short, pudgy friend, they provide quite a lot of laughs in the show; such as their linguistic debate on the pronounciation of “Kraken.”
“It’s krah-ken.”
“No, it’s kraay-ken.
“What – with a long A?… In the original Scandinavian, it’s krah-ken.”
“Well, we ain’t Scandinavian!”

The three-way sword fight between Jack, Will and Norrington was interesting and also quite funny in how they kept turning on one another. Norrington’s joining in did surprise me, though. Still, it brought another dimension to the whole fight. And Elizabeth’s futile efforts to try and get them to stop was an amusing sideshow. The part of the fight on the giant wheel – that made them look like hamsters to me – was well-choreographed, I thought. (Jia Wern tells me that it’s adapted from the old movie, King Solomon’s Mines.)
I somehow think that the monkey – yes, Barbossa’s pet monkey – stole the show nearly every time it showed up. The monkey and Jack make for a hilarious combination, and they played up the monkey’s “undead” attribute with Jack’s temper (and his lack of a vent for frustrations) quite well, I thought. Hence a scene where Jack storms aboard the Black Pearl, demanding, “Where’s that monkey? I need to shoot something!”
(Also found it funny when Jack brought the monkey to Dalma as a gift and deadpanned happily: “Look what I brought you – an undead monkey!” *whips out gun and shoots it* )

That, in turn, brings me to one of the most mysterious aspects of the show. If Barbossa and his crew are now free of the Aztec gold curse, and are therefore no longer immortal, why is the monkey still like that? Did the terms of the curse not apply to the monkey or what? In any case, I haven’t been able to come up with any sensible answer.

Anyway, although Dead Man’s Chest wasn’t as great as Curse of the Black Pearl, I would still go to see At World’s End (or whatever the last movie’s title is) next year. :D

Datin Siti Nurhaliza
(Edit, July 29: I found out from my friend that she can’t take the title of “datin.” Apparently only the first wife can have the title. And she’ll be his second wife. Hahah)
That’s what she’ll soon be anyway. August 21, to be exact. Malaysia’s darling caused quite a stir in my office today when someone found out that she was giving a live press conference at noon to announce her engagement. The seniors started it first, okay. :P I had no idea what was going on when two or three of them suddenly ran into the boss’ room and crowded around the TV, talking animatedly. Before long, whoever was in the office had dropped work and was glued to the TV screen. Not that all of us were fans of Siti’s, but we were curious nonetheless. With the whole lot of speculation flying around lately as to whether she’s engaged or not, this was very interesting. Who’s her fiancé? Is it the said “Datuk K” who’s been associated with her all this time? Or is he – as some claim – the ‘decoy’ for the real guy?

After waiting – impatiently – for quite some time, Siti finally graced the red carpet with her fiancé and some family members of both sides. Yup. Datuk K it was, much to the chagrin of most. The guys, in particular, seemed quite appalled by her taste. (He’s 20 years older than she is, divorced his wife to marry her, and is by no means at all good-looking.)

He is either not used to, or cannot speak that well in public, though he’s supposedly a prominent businessman. When asked by one reporter what he liked about Siti, his answer went something like this:

“Uh… Siti seorang yang…”
Pause.
Someone gave him a new microphone to hold.
“Dia seorang yang…”
Pause again.
Changed mic again.
“… Istimewa.”

We just stared. The guy was going to marry Siti Nurhaliza and that’s all he could say about her?