Managed to catch a few movies this week. Here’s my quick take on all of them, from the best to the worst. Warning: There may be some spoilers.
Touch of Light – This is my favourite this week. Uplifting, inspiring and based on the true story of Taiwanese piano prodigy Huang Yu-Siang (played by himself in this film), this film is engrossing storytelling at its best. Without trying to cover too much, the narrative is uncomplicated and subtle, and the director really lets the film breathe without choking it with too many unnecessary elements. The hazy cinematography and delicate scoring works brilliantly together – just like the symbiosis between dance and music explored in the film. Do yourself a favour and watch this if you haven’t.
The Blue Mansion – I really enjoyed this dark comedy/whodunnit/dysfunctional family drama. A solid and credible performance by an ensemble cast of theatre veterans directed by Glen Goei. The movie feels like a stage production captured on film, with deliberate blocking and delivery of lines right out of a play. If you’re looking for something eclectic, this is a good one to watch.
Forever Fever – This is a re-watch and I still enjoyed it as much as the first time I’ve seen it in the cinema. I think this movie is really commendable as Glen Goei’s first feature film. I really enjoyed Adrian Pang’s performance and it’s really one of the best Singaporean movies of the 90s. If you’re Singaporean and haven’t already seen this, please do.
Ong-bak – If you’re looking for a great action and martial arts flick that isn’t made with an 8-digit budget, then look no further. The plot is simple and straightforward, peppered with perfectly choreographed action sequences and some brutal fight scenes. This one is for the boys, on those nights your missus is out and you’re looking for something she probably won’t enjoy as much.
That Girl in Pinafore (我的朋友, 我的同学, 我爱过的一切) – I had high hopes for this but was left a little disappointed. I think the director focused too much on the love story between the 2 leads, while glossing over everything around them. Yet, the development of their story was shallow and uninspiring. I didn’t understand why the female lead had to be killed off – this is not Game of Thrones. The casting worked, except for the male lead who is playing a character half his real age. Plus points for the re-imagining of local xinyao songs, and for the female lead. Minus for not-so-subtle patriotic undertones (and for killing off above-said female lead). If you’re looking for a Coming of Age movie that will leave you reminiscing and feeling good, this isn’t one of them. Go for The Way Way Back instead.
The Stolen Years (被偷走的那五年) – I had major issues with this one. The premise was clever and opens a lot of possibilities on how the narrative could develop but felt completely let down at the end. I didn’t think the film needed to take the tragedy route if it had just remained sharply focus on a story of second chances and re-loving someone. The first half is certainly much better than the second. Great performance from Joseph Chang (張孝全). Watchable but you can stop after she’s diagnosed with dementia and make up your own ending – it’ll probably be better than the film’s.
Justice League: War – I’m a comic book fan (aka nerd) so this one was entertaining. I still think Batman needs to be legally voiced only by Kevin Conroy. This is an enjoyable movie if you’re a DC Comics fan. If not, just watch something else.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Watchable, but won’t be major loss if you missed it. If you’re a fan of Jack Ryan movies based on Tom Clancy’s books, this doesn’t come close to what The Hunt for Red October was. Kiera Knightly feels a little mis-cast and her prominent character a little flat and two-dimensional, and at some points, even annoying.