Zathura: A Space Adventure

31 March 2006

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Khun Yuttipung from popcornmag.com for providing me a free ticket to the movie. With a long queue in front of the box-office booth, I got into the theater late for 20 minutes and the movie had already begun. However, I could tell that I didn’t miss anything important. I picked up the story when two brothers, Danny and Walter, are playing with his father and ended up fighting and blaming each other for spoiling the mood. Somehow, they ended up playing an old mechanical board game named "Zathura," which was found in the basement of their house, only to find out that their house was traveling through the universe after the game started. After each turn, the card was popped out of a special slot in the board game and series of strange events happened, from a meteor shower, to an alien invasion, just to name a few. The only way to go back is to finish the game. The problem was how they could manage to do so when the brothers started fighting and blaming each other again and again…

The movie is based on a book with the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, an author of "Jumanji" which seems to share the same plot element with this movie and "the Polar Express." Even though the script of this movie is straightforward and an element of surprise is easily predictable, a moral of the story is well suited with young audiences and some adults. Family with children would definitely enjoy watching this film as there are enough actions to keep them at the edge of their seats. The computer graphic in the movie is visually stunning. It’s good to let your imagination run wild while watching this movie as you could barely reason anything once the game started.

2 and a half stars out of 5, highly recommend to family viewers. Like a quote in the movie goes that "there are some games you could not play alone," watching this movie alone might not be a good idea.


Dek hor (Revisited)

30 March 2006
Like an old saying goes, "three times is a charm," It was indeed an enjoyable moment for me to be able to watch the movie "Dek hor" for the third and, supposedly, the last time in the theater with the director and a group of energetic young stars from the movie. Actually, I was there to participate in the official final screening of the film in Bangkok metropolitan area at Major Hollywood theater on 29 March 2006 at 20:00, thanks to Fanchan Fanclub who organized this wonderful event.

P’ Yong – Songyos, the director, was friendly (as always) and earnestly answered all my questions regarding the movie. According to the director, the official box-office revenue for "Dek hor" in Thailand is about 50-60 Million bath. Even though the number didn’t reach the budget of the film, the profit could be made overseas where the movie is released with royalty and license fee. The director is looking forward to a good support from an overseas market. The advertisement campaign might vary by countries but the "shift of genres" surprise (from a horror movie to a coming of age one) would be kept intact. I wished him good luck.

At the end of the movie, there was a special lucky draw by P’Yong. The prizes are 21 different shots of never-before-seen production pictures. With a fine calculation and some luck, I won a picture of Michael taken from one of the deleted scenes. Three times is certainly a charm.

P.S. Even though I’d met with Michael and his mother before at Central World Plaza on the previous Fanchan Fanclub screening of "Dek hor," I was surprised that (Nar) Kwan, Michael’s mother, could still remember my name and recognize me. She is always lovely.

BK Magazine – Readers’ Choice Awards 2006

27 March 2006
BK "Asia City Living" Magazine is published by Asia City Publishing (Thailand) Ltd. and is distributed for free every week on Friday. Last week, I grasped the 5th Anniversary edition (March 10-16, 2006) from Starbucks @ RCA.The cover story of this issue is the results of the magazine’s 5th annual Readers’ Choices Awards. Even though there were mere 208 ballots submitted before the deadline, most of the results matched my idea. Here are some of the interesting results in City Living and Culture category.

Most Overrated Phenomenon: Siam Paragon
Runners Up: Rotiboy, Academy Fantasia

Best Thing About Bangkok: Food
Runners Up: People, Nightlife

Worst Thing About Bangkok: Traffic <<< Yes, we all know that.
Runners Up: Pollution, Hot weather

Favorite Offbeat Entertainment: Concerts in Lumpini Park
Runners Up: Foreign films at House, Goethe Open-Air Cinema

Most Ridiculous Fashion Trend: Hip Hop and Wrist Bands (Ties)
Runners Up: Low-cut jeans, Micro skirts/shots

Most Alarming/Annoying Trend: Korean Wave <<< Autumn in My Heart, Winter Love Song, Full House, Dae Jang-Guem, My Sassy Girl, Rain, Seven, Won Bin, just to name a few…
Runners Up: Gay-vague, Gigs, Hip-hop

Next Big Thing: New Government/Prime Minister <<< I doubt that wouldn’t be possible…

The Constant Gardener

24 March 2006
In a remote area of Northern Kenya, activist Tessa Quayle is found brutally murdered. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa’s widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle, will leave the matter to them. They could not be more wrong. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his late wife’s infidelities, Quayle surprises everyone by embarking on a personal odyssey that will take him across three continents. Using his privileged access to diplomatic secrets, he will risk his own life, stopping at nothing to uncover and expose the truth – a conspiracy more far-reaching and deadly than Quayle could ever have imagined.

This movie is based on the best-selling novel of John Le CarrĂ© and is directed by Fernando Meirelles, the Academy Award-nominated director of "City of God." The storyline is compelling and powerful, which strikes at the sensitive issue of capitalism exploiting over the third-world countries, especially in Africa. The director did a great job in putting the words into a motion picture on the screen. The landscape of the black continent is brilliantly and beautifully shot in the film while the hectic African city is shown with fast-moving and sharp-color shots, in the same way as "City of God." Ralph Fiennes delivered a fine performance as Justin Quayle, a self-acclaimed constant gardener, thus the name of the movie. Another notable performance came from actress Rachel Weisz in the role of Tessa Quayle. It’s no surprise why she won the 2006 Oscar in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Her character in the movie literally shone on the screen.

5 Stars out of 5, highly recommend to drama/thriller movie fan.

where the truth lies

21 March 2006
Set in 1972, the movie tells a story of a female journalist who tried to uncover the truth behind the mysterious breakup of a celebrated comedy duo 15 years ago. In fact, the breakup came after a body of a dead girl was found in the bathtub of their hotel suite while they ran the country’s most successful telethon for 39 hours nonstop at the other side of the states, thus both celebrities had perfect alibis and neither was accused of murder charge. The deeper she investigated the case, the uglier the truth became…

The movie starred Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth as the famous comedy duo. Both of these veteran actors delivered their usually-high-standard performances. Even though the story has quite a slow pace and too many flashbacks, the ending is surprisingly unpredictable. One could argue that the plot is fabricated too much with coincident and unbalanced character who suddenly stole the spotlight at the end of the movie. Well, to be honest, I think the director is talented in shooting plenty of nudity scenes in this film.

3 Stars out of 5 – recommend for mystery-loving movie-goers. You could try to guess the ending but I am quite sure you won’t get it right.
P.S. You could visit the official web site at <http://www.wherethetruthliesfilm.com/>.

Transamerica

19 March 2006
Life is more than the sum of its parts.

The movie tells a story of a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual, Bree "formerly known as Stanley" Osbourne, who unexpectedly found out that she actually fathered a teenager son with a former girlfriend from the university. Now that the mother was dead and the boy ran away from home, she had to take on a journey across the states to find out what she really want to do with herself and her son’s life.

Transamerica is directed and written by a veteran film-maker, Duncam Tucker, who got an idea for this comedy-drama after discovering that he shared an apartment with his transsexual friend without suspecting for 4 months. The movie-viewers have a chance to take a journey along with Bree and her son through their self-actualization. The dialogues are carefully chosen and full of sharp, and sometimes sarcastic, remarks that slap directly to the American society. Actress Felicity Huffman took a challenge to perform a role of a man who want to become a woman. She had to transform herself into a man and interpreted a complicated mind of a transsexual in order to deliver this outstanding performance. She won numerous performance awards from a number of institutes including the Golden Globe 2006 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, unfortunately she lost to Reese Witherspoon for Best Actress in the Oscars 2006, one of the show closest race. Another impressive performance is delivered by a young actor Kevin Zegers (formerly starred as a main character from "Air-Bud") in the role of Bree’s lost son. The troubling mind of both father (to-become-mother?) and son is wonderfully expressed through the superb performances.

All the all, the movie is enjoyable to watch with a noticeable transsexual and self acceptance issue. Dolly Parton’s original song "Travelin’ Thru" is also perfectly fitted with the movie.

5 Stars out of 5 – not recommend to underage children for sexual content, nudity, language and drug use.

U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (Carmen in Khayelitsha)

17 March 2006
I have to admit that I have never watched a movie from South Africa. This film is the first South African movie I have ever watched and I just loved it. In fact, the judges at the 55th Berlin Film Festival might think in the same way as I did (or vice versa,) because this movie won the Golden Bear at the film festival in 2005. It is the first movie from South Africa to be honored with this highly respectful award.

I guess what made this movie stood out from its competitors at the film festival is the creativity and originality of the director and producer, Mark Dornford-May. He adapted a tragedy story of "Carmen," one of the most beloved opera created by Georges Bizet since 1875, from the 18th century European setting to the present day of Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s largest townships. The movie actually goes beyond anyone’s imagination by combining a classical opera, which the ensemble of the cast actually performs, with a story in the movie. The original lyrics are translated into "Xhosa" language, one of the native languages of the country, and mixed with traditional songs. Even though I didn’t understand a word of the so-called "Xhosa" language, I could still enjoy the movie through a powerful performance and wonderful music. I guess it’s true to say that music is a universal language. You don’t have to understand the lyrics to enjoy a beautiful melody and tune. In fact, the leading actress Pauline Malefane, who starred as "Carmen" in this film, is an opera singer and she’s got an incredibly powerful and beautiful voice. The rest of the cast members also belong to the opera house in their home country. That’s why a movie that sings opera could actually come to live on the screen.

5 Stars out of 5 – Having an idea to make this movie is incredible. Making it possible is more incredible. Making it perfect is the most incredible but it did happen. This is enough for a reason to watch this movie.