Hannibal Rising

18 April 2007
Revenge is sweet, but human flesh is sweeter!!!

Hannibal is back. This time he looks younger. "Hannibal Rising" – the movie is adapted from the novel with the same name from the original author Thomas Harris who created Dr. Hannibal Lecter – one of the most prestigious serial killers in the history of literature. In this sequel (which is actually a prequel of the series), we are taking back to the origin of it all to explore the childhood of Hannibal and how young Hannibal Lecter grew up to be a fearsome criminal who practices cannibalism as we know him.

The plot is interesting and reasonable. We all are treated with gruesome killing methods that would certainly trickle our spines. A french actor Gaspard Ulliel, who portrays young Hannibal Lecter, interpreted the character well enough, even though he couldn’t surpass Anthony Hopkins in his Academy Awards role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

All in all, those who love or hate  Dr. Hannibal Lecter would satisfy with this film. At least, it explains something about our beloved killer.

4 stars out of 5 – recommend to those who aren’t afraid of the blood and flesh splashing all over the screen. It’s truly a gruesome thriller.
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“Syndromes and a Century” and Free Thai Cinema Movement

14 April 2007
I couldn’t say that I was not surprised by the news that the latest movie of Apichatpong Weerasethakul called "Sang sattawat" a.k.a. "Syndromes and a Century," scheduled to be released in limited theater in Bangkok on April 19 – almost a year after it was first premiered overseas in 2006 Venice Film Festival, was not passed the censorship board in Thailand and the director decided to pull his movie out from commercial release rather than cut off his movie. The more absurd thing was that the board of censorship refused to return the film if the troubled 4 scenes had not been removed, whether it’s released or not, for fearing that the movie would destroy good images of Buddhist monks and doctors in Thailand. However, doing so has already reassured a limited and bad reputation of movie censorship in Thailand and, in a larger scale, a freedom to choose of Thai people. Earlier this month, I had a chance to watch this movie at the 9th Deauville Asian Film Festival in France where it received the highest honor as the best featured film. Along with French audiences, I didn’t see any part of the movie that would destroy the reputation of Buddhism and medical personnel in Thailand. I saw only a director’s personal message of humanity set around both rural and urban hospital in Thailand reflecting from the film. The four troubled scenes include a monk playing guitar, a group of monks playing kite or a kind of flying object, a doctor drinking alcoholic drink in the hospital and a male doctor having a hard-on after kissing with his girl-friend (with no obscured sex scene.) I didn’t see a trouble in any of the scenes. It’s merely a movie for heaven’s sake. Well, I guess true trouble lies in the heart of those who think of them in a bad way, with a pessimistic point of view and pureless mind.

However, there are always two sides of thing. Considered this censorship as a bad luck for limited audiences who waited to watch this movie in Thailand, the alliances of Apichatpong and Thai movie lovers found it to be a good opportunity to create an online petition which would afterwards forward to the National Legislative Assembly and the Thai Government. Here we have the Free Thai Cinema Movement aiming to amend an outdated law regarding movie censorship in Thailand and give Thai people more freedom for choosing to watch or not to watch a movie by themselves. Those who would like to contribute, please sign your name in the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/nocut/petition.html

Let’s make a difference for our future generation!

For more information about the movie, please visit the official site at http://www.kickthemachine.com/works/Syndromes.html


El Laberinto del Fauno a.k.a. Pan’s Labyrinth

12 April 2007
Set in Fascist Spain of the year 1944, the movie revolts around a young girl Ofilia who has to travel with her pregnant mother to live in a rural and restless area with her mother’s new husband, a cruel captain of the Spanish army. There, Ofilia found an imaginary fairy which led her through the labyrinth to meet a fantasy creature – Pan or Faun – telling her that she is actually a princess of a forgotten kingdom. Is it real or is it a dark fairy tale crated by the girl to fight with harsh reality? Let’s the movie guide you…

This movie was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, even though it lose the award to the German film "Das Leben der Anderen" a.k.a. "The Lives of Others" (Read my review by clicking here,) it was recognized by winning 3 awards including Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achievement in Makeup.

The movie is written and directed by a veteran Mexican movie-maker Guillermo del Toro. Some might think that it’s just another fantasy movie with load of special effects, well, it is. However, the movie delivers more serious messages of war and humanity behind its powerful script and fantastic cinematography. The story is imaginative yet miserable as while the story progresses, the plot reveals the real devil within human’s heart. It’s certainly not a fantasy movie for children as there are numerous scenes of blood and violence in the film. We could actually see the real world through an imagination of Ofilia, the character which perfectly portrayed by a young Spanish actress Ivana Baquero.

All in all, I love the movie. The picture is beautifully shot. The plot is clear and clever. The ending is … well, I’d rather not to say but I think it’s the best to end that way – if the real world is hard to live in, it’s better to stay in your beautiful imagination forever.

5 Stars out of 5 – recommend to those who love drama and fantasy movie, the two genres could be together. A word of advice: this is not a movie for young children, don’t bring them to the theater watching this film.

P.S. Check out the official movie site (in English) for more information: http://www.panslabyrinth.com


Me…Myself

10 April 2007

When a memory is lost, a love is found.
When the memory returns, will the love survive?

The movie tells a story of a guy who got hit by a car and lost his memory. Upon recovery, he stays with an unfortunate girl who hit him. As time goes by, they fall for each other… only to discover that the guy is a transsexual working in a cabaret show. Will their love remain the same? That’s the answer we have to find…

The movie is the directorial debut for the big screen of Pongpat Wachirabanjong, a well-known actor-singer becoming director of Thailand. It stars veteran actor Ananda Everingham in his most challenging role yet as a homosexual who lost his memory and fall for a girl, the new coming actress Chayanan Manomaisantiphab. This interesting plot is crafted by Kongdej Jaturanrasamee whose previous works included the award-winning script of Midnight My Love a.k.a. "Cherm."

The movie is well directed with romantic drama tone. The main plot of an impossible love between a girl and a homosexual guy is interesting and the script is well-paced even though it’s too cliché. It begins with some funny moments and leads to the dramatic ending. There is a notable chemistry between the two main characters. The world seems brighter when they are on the screen together. However, the editing of the movie is irritating – I felt my mood jumping back and forth as the scenes are cut at the wrong place and wrong time. The ending of the movie is open but it’s pointless as the characters are fabricated with one directional reason, thus the viewers have no choice to think otherwise. If the movie dares not putting too many reasons, it might turn out to be a good artistic film that is more difficult to watch for the mass.

All in all, this is a fine romantic drama that would be a good idea to watch with your loved ones. Even though you are lonely, it would make you feel love with some open discussions in the end.

4 Stars out of 5 – recommend for lovers and those who love romantic drama. It’s one of the best performance by Ananda as well, watch out for his naked scene that’s so funny.

Check out the official website avialable in both Thai and English at http://www.memyselfmovie.com/


Sunshine

9 April 2007
Set in the year 2057, the movie tells a story of a team of 7 astronauts on a mission to re-ignite the dying sun. If the mission fails, it’s the end of mankind. Even though all the crews are well-trained, there is no room for failure as there is no second chance…

The movie is directed by Danny Boyle who is famous for his direction in 28 Days Later and Trainspotting, with the original script from the veteran writer Alex Garland whose previous works included 28 Days Later and the Beach. The cast might not be multi-million stars but they are all well-known by their roles in many movies. All in all, this Sci-Fi thriller movie is intense and enjoyable to watch. The performance of the ensemble of the cast is good as you could feel the tension and stress from them all the time on the screen as the mission to the sun gets out of control and out of the way. The plot and story-line is interesting and well-paced except for the part that leads to the climax which somehow seemed unreasonable. However, all in all, it’s another good sci-fi thriller that would keep you awake from the beginning till the end.

4 Stars out of 5 – recommend to those who love sci-fi and thriller. However, if you couldn’t afford a time to come to the theater and don’t mind a small screen at home, it’s ok to wait for the DVD.


“Fadd” a.k.a. “Alone”

27 March 2007
After their first critically acclaimed horror feature "Shutter," here comes the second clever plot and character-driven hair-rising movie from the directorial duo Banjong Pisanthanakul and Pakpoom Wongpoom called "Alone" or "Fadd" which is a Thai word meaning twin. This time it’s a story about a Siamese twin. The twin girls with conjoined abdomen decide to get separated and one died while the other survived. After some exile abroad, the survivor came home only to realized that her dead twin wouldn’t let her to be alone…

The hype around the movie has started since the announcement of the production. It even sold before the shooting was completed. The main character starred by one of Thailand’s superstar – Masha Vadanapanich. After years of absence from the silver screen, she really makes a remarkable come back in the leading role in this film. Just watching a her intense facial expression in one of the teasers of the movie and you’ll probably agree with me and once you have watched the movie, you would definitely couldn’t agree more that Masha delivered a superb performance. I am certain that we would often hear her name again at the end of this year when the movie awards season begins again – not only from the nominations but also as a winner.

The story-line is original, at least for the movie of this genre. Even though some might argue that they have heard a horror story featuring a twin, there has never been a horror movie that centered around Siamese twin. The plot of this movie is well written. The scriptwriters did research the facts and crafted the story perfectly. There are spooky moments here and there and in the climax of the movie is a simple yet wonderful surprise that you might think to yourself why you think that way. The cinematography in the movie is fantastic and make the atmosphere in the film even more mysterious and suspicious. In fact, everything in the movie is fine for me except a grotesque look of a ghost – yeah there is ghost in the movie appearing in different forms but they all seem unreal to me.

All in all, the movie doesn’t fail my expectation. The duo directors as well as other cast and crews did their marvelous jobs. I will definitely list this film as one of the best movies of the year for me.

5 stars out of 5 – recommend to those horror movie fans out there. You won’t be disappointed.

Charlotte’s Web

18 March 2007
Based on a children’s book published in 1952 with the same name, written by an acclaimed American writer E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web tells a story of a remarkable cross-species friendship between a wise and gentle female barn spider named Charlotte and a small yet cheerful pig named Wilbur. It’s a popular book for both children and adult alike.

The movie doesn’t fail to capture the heart and soul of the lives of animals in the farms which somehow reflects human society. The unlikely friendship and promises kept by Charlotte and Wilbur are touching and serves well as a good lesson for children as well as grown-ups. Even though some might feel that reading a book could give them more imagination, the film and computer graphics could make the imagination comes to life. Memorable quotes from the book are kept and present themselves well in the movie, especially those of Charlotte’s. Also notable is Dakota Fanning’s role as Fern "the Pig Saver" Arable, a farm girl who saved Wilbur when he was born from being killed.

All in all, this is a perfect family movie adapted well from one of the greatest children’s books. Even though bringing a small child to the theater is not recommended, a younger viewer who could concentrate in the theater without bothering the crown deserves to watch the film. Morals of the story and lessons of life are enough for the reasons for them to enjoy the film.

5 Stars out of 5 – recommend to all, especially family to enjoy valuable time together.