Sunday, August 23, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Ron Weasley: [about Ginny and Dean] What do you think he sees in her?
Harry Potter: She's smart... funny... attractive...
Ron Weasley: Attractive?
Harry Potter: Well you know... she has nice... skin.
Ron Weasley: So you think he is going out with her because she has nice skin?
Harry Potter: Well, I dunno, I'm just saying it could be a contributing factor.
Ron Weasley: Hermione's got nice skin. You know, as far as skin goes.
Harry Potter: I-I've never thought about it before. But now that you mention it, yeah. Very nice.
Ron Weasley: [long pause] ... I think I'll be going to bed now.

I have to say that I am a bit miffed b/c I wrote a long and detailed review about what I thought of the latest HP and thought I'd posted it but hadn't yet, so long story short it's all gone. Grr...Oh well.

In short, I liked HP6 a lot. It might just be my favorite Harry Potter movie to date (although it's a bit of a tie between Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.) Azkaban was, in a lot of way, more subtle and I loved Alfonso Cuaron's take on Hogwarts, b/c his Hogwarts is not only beautiful but you get the sense that it's very magically alive with all the moving staircases and magical portraits.

What Half Blood Prince excels at is characterization and the portrayal of relationships between the characters. In a lot of ways, I think I actually like the movie versions of the characters over the ones in the books b/c they feel more real, more human. In particular, Hermione's a lot less prissy and up tight and Harry is much more focused. And while I'm not much of a fan of the Ginny/Harry romance in the books, I root for them in the movie and their kiss scene is actually a very tender, intimate moment whereas in the books, it's just sort of over the top. Also, while in the books, when Hermione sends the charmed birds on Ron, it's a very mediocore moment, not very memorable save for the fact that it's probably the angriest we've ever seen Hermione- In the movie, though, it's a really moving moment, and I absolutely love how through that you get to explore the Hermione, Harry friendship.

Other things I liked about the movie:
-It's ultimately a very good adaptation. The movie stands on its own feet, and while there were things I wish it included (which I will get into later), for the most part, I don't feel as if I'm at too much of a loss for not having certain things included.
-They included Luna! Luna was probably the best part of movie 5; I remember really liking the weird chemistry she had with Harry. While there's none of that chemistry in this movie, I'm really glad (and pleasantly surprised) that they give her a minor role in this one.
-The raising of the wands in remembrance of Dumbledore is very well done and a good adaptation of the funeral scene, which may have seemed a bit cheesy and too much in movie form (although it's certainly not in the book)
-They fit in Draco's story very well, instead of very abruptly as it is in the books (which is, I think, is a problem in the books mainly b/c they're all from Harry's perspective and towards the end of the series when things got darker, it would have been more effective had we been able to see others' perspectives as well.) And Tom Felton does a great job with Draco; I actually felt sympathetic towards him whereas in the books, he just comes off as annoying and pitiful. Felton's certainly come a long way from the slightly buck toothed wanna be (adorable) stuck up bully in movie 1.
-The locket retrieval scene is pretty flawless. The cave is very well done, epic looking even at times and reminiscent of LOTR. I imagined the Inferi to be different (more chilling) and Dumbledore to have suffered more, but all in all, fantastic stuff
-As is Harry on Felix Felicitus

Things I wish they'd included/things that could have been better
-One of my favorite parts of book 6 is at the beginning where Fudge and Scrimgeour are talking to the Muggle Prime Minister and telling him about all the damage that Lord Voldemort has been causing. At one point, the prime minister interjects with something along the lines of, "but you guys have magic- I can't understand why you're having all these problems." To which Scrimgeour replies with "well, so do they" which gah just raises the stakes a lot.
-No Merope/the Gaunts, some of the creepiest parts of book 6
-No Scrimgeour. Not that I particularly like him but I would have liked to see Harry been called Dumbledore's man through and through
-Why isn't Ron there in the last scene?? It should end with the trio, not with just Hermione and Harry.
-While there are some lovely parts to the score in this movie, I do miss the days when John Williams was scoring the HP movies.

Post Grad

I hope this doesn't ruin my credibility as a wanna be movie connoisseur but despite its abysmal 8% (or something like that) rating on, I didn't think it was such a terrible movie. Perhaps b/c I am a post grad myself and to some extent we can all relate to the situation that the main character, Ryden, felt when she's at a party and all her friends have things lined up after graduation except her. It sucks to feel like you're being left behind. It was rather enjoyable to watch as chick flicks go, not too many cringe worthy moments although plenty of awkward ones.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knocked Up

Pete: I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.
Ben Stone: That's sad.
Pete: Totally sad. Their smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.
Ok, so I could have picked a funnier quote but I like emo moments and I liked this moment a lot...
Generally, I liked it. Thought it was funny and found its depictions of relationships interesting, if not realistic. I don't know if I ever bought that Ben and Alison would actually work although it's far more realistic that it might after Ben grows up a little. It was interesting to an extent seeing how women and men viewed the same situation so differently but, ultimately, that's what I had trouble with in this movie. It seems that consistently, the guys get the better, funnier lines/situations and while I do agree that girls do take things more seriously than necessary, it doesn't mean that girls don't have as much fun/that all girls take everything more seriously than necessary.

Some Like it Hot

Osgood: I called Mama. She was so happy she cried! She wants you to have her wedding gown. It's white lace.

Daphne: Yeah, Osgood. I can't get married in your mother's dress. Ha ha. That-she and I, we are not built the same way.

Osgood: We can have it altered.

Daphne: Oh no you don't! Osgood, I'm gonna level with you. We can't get married at all.

Osgood: Why not?

Daphne: Well, in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde.

Osgood: Doesn't matter.

Daphne: I smoke! I smoke all the time!

Osgood: I don't care.

Daphne: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I've been living with a saxophone player.

Osgood: I forgive you.

Daphne: [Tragically] I can never have children!

Osgood: We can adopt some.

Daphne/Jerry: But you don't understand, Osgood! [Whips off his wig, exasperated, and changes to a manly voice.] Uhhh, I'm a man!

Osgood: [Looks at him then turns back, unperturbed]: Well, nobody's perfect!

I know it's a very famous quote, but it's such a great exchange that I can't help but to quote it. Some Like It Hot is a classic and rightly so. It's very funny without being lewd (it's sort of sad that it's hard for comedies today to be funny w/o the innuendo, not that I'm opposed to it, but I mean, this goes to show that comedies can work w/o the dirty jokes too.) Tremendous fun and very enjoyable. Really good banter.

Porco Rosso

A clip from the movie that's just too beautiful not to share. One of my creative writing teachers once told us that in a story, it's important to make the audience feel as if their characters have been existing, living lives beyond what's contained in the story- kind of like a refrigerator light. It's on (during the story) but you want the audience to feel like it's on all the time, even when the door's closed. I think Porco Rosso is a very good example of this. The characters have been around for so long, there're so many stories, but we only get a quick glimpse.

District 9

First new movie I've seen in theaters for a while. It's a good movie, a fine movie, though I don't think it deserves to be at #29 on the imdb top 250 movies list.

x-post from my lj

Today, I got to see District 9, which I recommend. It's got a pretty memorable trailer. Loved the documentary-esque approach they took to make the movie. The main character's named Wikus (what an awesome name!) and played very well by an actor who later from imdb, I found out he's never been in any other movies (which makes it all the more awesome). It's low budget (but still very well done) and as a bio dork, I very much liked the fact that (mild spoiler- only the aliens could use their own weapons since their weapons recognize their DNA- go aliens! Very smart aliens!). Of course, if there are aliens out there (and I think there should be b/c the universe is just too huge and vast of a place for life not to exist anywhere but here), I doubt their genetic make up would be DNA based or if it is, perhaps some different nucleotides. At least. Okay, but major tangent aside, found the beginning bit where they loop all the interviews on the aliens in documentary style and where Wikus goes around trying to evict the aliens particularly intriguing- especially from a sociological POV. But I suppose it's always easier dealing with issues as complicated as xenophobia and racism and apartheid when it's much further removed from reality. (Aliens in this case. House elves, werewolves, giants, and practically anything else that's a non-wizard/witch in Harry Potter.)


Merchant: Ooh, look at this. I have never seen one of these intact before. This is the famous Dead Sea Tupperware. Listen. Pbbtt! Ah, still fresh.

Aladdin is still a very fun, very enjoyable movie even after all these years. What I like the most about it is that so many of the characters are so darn likable: Aladdin, Genie, Jasmine (and a nod at feminism b/c she's smart, strong, and knows use her femininity to her advantage, Sultan (and his random toys), Raja, carpet, etc. (can't say I'm much of a fan of Iago or Abu though...they tended to get annoying.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Disney Kick


Prince Edward: [threatening Robert with his sword] Have you any last words before I dispatch you?
Robert: You have got to be kidding me!
Prince Edward: Strange words!

I absolutely adore this movie and think it's one of those things that can always cheer me up when I'm feeling down. It's saccharine and a lot more chick flicky than movies that I typically like, but somehow (probably the Disney magic) it works. Perhaps what makes it so entertaining to watch is seeing the worlds of the Disney characters clash with those in our world- cynicism and all the rest with hopelessly optimistic idealism. Love all the random Disney references- the fairy tale book in the beginning, "Part of your world" playing briefly by a fish tank, etc. Amy Addams is absolutely fantastic in this, and I think that's a huge part of why this movie works as well as it does and makes it mean a bit more than just a typical chick flick. It does make me a bit sad that Giselle doesn't really sing anymore at the end, but I have to say- absolutely loved what happens to Nathaniel. And the slow dancing scene- always swoon worthy especially when Patrick Dempsey sings for a tiny bit.


John Smith: Look, don't do this. Savage is just a word, uh, you know. A term for people who are uncivilized.
Pocahontas: Like me.
John Smith: Well, when I say uncivilized, what I mean is, is...
Pocahontas: What you mean is, "not like you."
I think that the movie could have worked a bit better had it been a bit less serious b/c Disney humor is quite good. A bit slow at times but the savages scene and finale are still pretty fantastic to rewatch. I do appreciate the fact that Pocahontas and the other characters in this movie are a lot more mature than other Disney characters. And maybe it's b/c they don't get their happily ever after, but I think that John Smith and Pocahontas might be one of my favorite Disney couples.

The Little Mermaid

What do they got? A lot of sand
We got a hot crustacean band
-Sebastian, Under the Sea
Little Mermaid has some a few fantastic moments- eg. when you see the underwater kingdom for the first time, Ariel on the rock with the waves crashing behind her, "Part of Your World"... And on that subject "Part of Your World" is perhaps one of my favorite Disney song ever- it's so lovely, so fun of longing. I almost wish the second half of the movie, when Ariel's on land, is a bit slower in the pacing b/c somehow the first part of the movie feels more a bit more memorable. Irregardless of that though, it's still a classic and Sebastian is endlessly entertaining- one of my favorite sidekicks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Raiders of the Last Ark

Indiana: It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

As someone born near 1990, I don't think I can fully appreciate how great this movie is and what a big cultural phenomenon it was at the time. I suppose our best equivalent are the Pirates of the Carribbean movies- also highly entertaining as well. (or maybe not?) A few scenes in Raiders were actually quite reminiscent of a few scenes from the first Pirates. Eg. Marion in the tombs w/ the skeletons scene and vaguely, the scene in which Belloq asks her to put on the dress and she steals a knife).

It's very entertaining and very fun- an ideal summer blockbluster/popcorn flick. I like the low-techness of the action scenes. Although it took a bit of getting used to (the giant boulder is just not as big as I imagined it would be), the lack of CG, especially bad fake looking CG from the past, is a lot of fun and perhaps a reason why the Indiana Jones Stunt Show at MGM is still such a great show.

And on route to hopefully becoming a scientist one day, I wish that there was some form of entertainment whether it be a TV show or a movie that really glorifies and makes doing research endlessly exciting and sexy- like Indiana Jones did for archaelogy (never mind the inaccuracies of the depiction).

The Untouchables

Capone: Baseball! A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Teamwork... Looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don't field... what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I'm goin' out there for myself. But... I get nowhere unless the team wins.
I have to admit that I was actually kind of disappointed with The Untouchable b/c while it's all right, has some good moments, it could have really been great w/ its story content had the tone of the film been more set and more focused. Had it gone the serious route, it would have been fantastic b/c there were a few scenes that were genuinely quite shocking- to the level of the Joker does a magic trick in The Dark Knight. Eg. the beginning where the little girl notices that one of the men whose left has left behind a suitcase, Capone after his baseball monologue, the end of the train station confrontation, interrogating the first book keeper.

I also had a lot of problems w/ the score of the movie. While Ernnio Morricone has written some very gorgeous scores, I don't think his score fit very well with the movie. It's too epic at times when something more subtle and less romantic was needed. Also Sean Connery's character, Malone- how he's introduced and how he comes to become Ness's right hand man is somewhat too contrived and too convenient. While I know it's necessary to forward the story and perhaps it's what happened in reality, I wish that the movie had maybe approached it in a different manner since we don't know very much about him or his backgrounds or motivations. The Canadian liquor standoff, while entertaining, especially the accountant, it almost turned into a Western and had the movie really found footing w/ a tone (it's too serious to be a mildly comic/fun crime movie and not nearly serious enough for a gritty crime movie), it could have been so much more b/c the Touchable scene really was quite poignant.

The French Connection

I'm okay with movies switching POV for character development, but am not a big fan of movies that use POV switches just for plot forwarding. The French Connection is slightly guilty of that when they protray what's going on w/ the mob and drug sellers, b/c the drug sellers never really become anything more, for the most part, than one dimensional antagonists. The grittiness of the movie, however, really more than makes up for that. It has some really fabulous chase scenes, that are rightly famous, and very well done. I'm not sure that I'm too satisfied with the ending though, but it's a decent movie that's worth watching.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the book)

An analogy: The Lion King: Disney Movies:: Goblet of Fire: Harry Potter books

The Goblet of Fire- I've gotten how *good* it was. It's got all the elements that make you love Harry Potter: plenty of magic (the dragon!), candy for the fans (the Quidditch cup), humor (Divination homework), adventure, and most of all, friendship. And while it has hints of more terrible things to come, darker things to come- Harry's isolation, people becoming skeptical of him- it's the last "happy" Harry Potter book. The last few chapters, after the Quidditch cup, are some of the most fabulous, the most touching in the whole series. It really got to me this time at the end when Molly hugs Harry and tells him it's not his fault and him giving the twins all the gold.

Monday, August 3, 2009

An Incongrous Mix

Yin Shi Nan Nu (Eat Man Drink Woman)

Another one of Ang Lee's earlier movies. Although they're a lot of great Chinese quotes from the movie, I don't think I can quote any of them b/c I only have access to the English translations and my Chinese isn't really good enough for me to search for the quotes and be able to read them. While the subtitles for this movie are decent (they get the point across), there's oftentimes something slightly off w/ the original meaning and connotation.

I love the (almost) excessive use of food in this movie. All of it looks very very delectable. The first three minutes of the film are to die for w/ the gorgeous food pron or rather images :). I would say that this is definitely a movie worth watching multiple times. There's almost too much to absorb at once. It's funny what you notice each time and how different your perceptions are.

This time around, I found it a rather sad story and kind of especially poignant for where I am in my life right now (where a lot and seemingly everything around me is changing dramatically). It's a sad story b/c everything's changing and everyone's moving on with their lives without you- even the people you'd thought would have always been there. There are a lot of story lines, a lot of characters, a lot of different personalities, motivations and wants to keep track of and it can be hard the first time around to keep them all straight. Particular moments I really liked: the father and his old friend talking- felt very genuine, the two elder sisters coming to an understanding, the chaotic dinner, and the very last dinner.

A Clockwork Orange

Prison Chaplain: Choice! The boy has not a real choice, has he? Self-interest, the fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. The insincerity was clear to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.

Minister: Padre, there are subtleties! We are not concerned with motives, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime and with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons. He will be your true Christian, ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the heart at the thought of killing a fly. Reclamation! Joy before the angels of God! The point is that it works.
Another fabulous film by Stanley Kubrick. What I love about his films is that despite all of their vastly different topics (so far I've seen 2001, the Shining, Dr. Strangelove, and this), they always stick with you after you've seen them and make you think and question.

The first 40 mintues or so of this movie are perhaps the very definition of subversive. Lots of phalic imagery, "ultraviolence," sex, and incongrous elements placed together. eg. soothing, classical music coupled with fierce fighting, the infamous "Singing in the Rain" scene, and a nearly unbelievable fight scene featuring a giant dildo and Beethoven bust. It's surprising how after Alex "becomes good," despite all the terrible things he does in the beginning, you still feel sympathic towards him when he's released back into society and treated terribly.

Midnight Cowboy

Joe Buck: Uh, well, sir, I ain't a f'real cowboy. But I am one helluva stud!

The movie has really great performances by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. Loved Joe Buck's endless optimism and found the last man, the man struggling with his religion and temptations, very fascinating. Definitely a solid, good movie, but not really my "cup of tea" so to speak.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Shining: Redrum

I absolutely love it when things live up to their expectations. Like the shower scene in Psycho, the awesomeness of the twist in the Sixth Sense, Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Hal in 2001. And The Shining is no exception. The Shining's been so deeply integrated into pop culture that even though I've already seen numerous parodies of it (redrum, "Here's Johnny," blood pouring from elevators, eerie twins) and know how it ends, it's still immensely creepy and one of those horror films that really linger...that make you still feel slightly ill at ease long after it's over. I wish that more great directors made horror films and while I don't watch too much horror, I wish that more movies in that genre were based on actually creepy sensations rather than the slashers that many of them fall into.

I think you know you're in for something quite special right when the movie starts. It shows this gorgeous river and mountain and follows this winding country road. It's a gorgeous view but in the manner that it's filmed there's something not quite right about it- the way the camera films the scene. The camera work is probably one of my favorite aspects of the film. There are so many gorgeously filmed scenes. I love how it gives you the whole view of the room each time and lets you figure out what you want to carefully observe and focus on and how it follows the characters around the winding corridors of the Overlook Hotel. And although I was not completely sold on Jack Nicholson (he always carries this air of well...Jack Nicholson), when he loses it, he loses it and it's fabulous to watch. Also, despite the number of times you've seen a parody of the infamous "Here's Johnny" scene, it's dead scary when it actually happens and the events that happen afterwards were really pure hair-raising terror.