Friday, August 27, 2010

GOING THE DISTANCE Movie Review. Can this Love Transcend Borders?


It’s great to be in love, right?

It’s a pure feeling to be up there, on cloud 9.

Eternal love?

Well ….. maybe.

LOVE can blissfully arrive one Spring morning at your front door, when you least expect it.

For the same token, love can hurriedly exit by the back during a bleak Winter,

Happiness is transient?

Nothing stays forever?

Joy. Heartbreaks.

Falling in love is a part of living,

Breaking up is a passage in life.

GOING THE DISTANCE is a romantic comedy that tests your comfort zone,

It romps happily ever after, no worries.

So you really don’t have to reach for the tissue.

It’s a hey-I-feel-good-to-be-in-love kind of thingy, and a sweet love story cannot possibly go wrong.

But what if it is a long distance romance?

Will it last?

DREW BARRYMORE and JUSTIN LONG, sometimes on-screen and mostly off-screen lovers, are very experienced in this evasive game called LOVE.

They star in this hilarious feature, teaching us how to maintain a long-distance relationship.

DREW BARRYMORE revealed in one recent press interview that her REAL life relationship with LONG has added to their on-screen chemistry and overall outcome of the film.

“We’ve been through like, tough moments.

I just thought maybe it would seem more genuine if you believed that the people were going through it, as opposed to two actors acting it.”

JUSTIN LONG affirmed the status with his statement:

“Yeah, we’ve been through everything, the whole gamut of the heights of love to the depth of heartbreak. I mean, we’ve been on quite a journey.

And the idea that a person that you’re in a relationship with can change you so drastically and have that deep of an effect on your life, just that idea, I mean, what a gift to be able to use that, to be able to create something from it that we can see again.

It’s like a little time capsule. It’s a bit of permanence that usually doesn’t exist when you’re with somebody.”

The Story:

We have Erin (DREW BARRYMORE) as a 31 year old newspaper intern. She is lonesome, has six weeks to “kill” in New York City, before returning to finish her degree in San Francisco.

Garrett (JUSTIN LONG) is a happy-go-lucky record company employee, but he is also a commitment-phobic freak.

These two unlikely souls meet, have the hots for each other, and when Erin goes back to San Francisco, their hearts entwine and palpitate furiously because “absence makes the hearts grow fonder”. So it’s LOVE?

Naturally they start a long distance romance.

Trying to be with each other, Erin eagerly hunts for a job in New York and likewise, Garrett tries in San Francisco too. Their mutual attempts fail and hey – they did try calls, Skype and texting to keep the romance “alive”.

They even resorted to phone sex to fill the vacuum of their lonely nights without each other. (familiar, ah?)

Now, throw in Erin’s disapproving sister Corrine (CHRISTINA APPLEGATE) and her henpecked husband. Garrett too, has two hang-out buddies, Dan and Box (CHARLIE DAY and JASON SUDEIKIS), who are troublesome, meddlesome and moronic.

Hand these actors an awkward script that often takes a dig at sexual connotations and vulgarities.

Get NANETTE BURSTEIN to direct. She is best known for her award winning documentaries.

Finally, does this long distance romance work in the end?

Now remember …..

Whether you believe that a long distance relationship is going to hit the rocks or not, or if love can really transcend borders, this film is meant to be enjoyed.

Do not attend this movie with a slasher knife and hack it to pieces, because if you do, you will find loopholes.

That is not the purpose of making this movie.

GOING THE DISTANCE is a heart-and-soul romantic comedy and albeit a cliched one, but you’d have to suspend disbelief and go for the romp.

Love is sweet. Love is deep and tingly.

Love is universal, a powerful element we cannot live without.

Savor it when it is still there, lest one fine day you regret when it slips away from your hold.

GOING THE DISTANCE is a gentle reminder that we will do anything, everything in the name of LOVE.

Wouldn’t you think so?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The STOOL PIGEON 綫人 Movie Review. Greed, Pain, Conscience. Nothing is what it Seems.


Press Preview

For those who don’t know, a STOOL PIGEON is a police informant.

We are talking about this latest cops-and-gangsters flick by the grand master of gritty police whodunits – DANTE LAM.

Expect loads of shoot-outs, car chases, explosions, stabbings, bludgeonings and fleeing down narrow streets and dirty alleys.


The name of the game is fiery action, fast and furious.

And if you are one avid follower of his films, then the name DANTE LAM never fails.

DON LEE (NICK CHEUNG) plays one seemingly righteous senior police officer. He mercilessly exploits people in the course of his work. He is trained to milk stoolies for as much intel as possible without getting up close and personal. He bears a cold demeanor, but when stripped of his veneer, he is a man, assailed by inexplicable loneliness and guilt, as he watches haplessly – dire events unfolding before him that he’s unable to curb.

GHOST (NICHOLAS TSE) is a street smart ex-con who wears his heart on his sleeve, who’s been released from jail and is recruited by NICK as a stool pigeon (informant). Until then, all he ever wanted was a safe, normal life after serving his prison sentence. But hell no, he has to save his sister from falling prey to prostitution. But first, he has to settle their father’s one million dollar debt. Having no choice, GHOST reluctantly accepts to assist LEE and is soon recruited as a driver for BARBARIAN’s next heist.

The mission?

To infiltrate the Triad’s den headed by BARBARIAN (LU YI), uncover their plans and prevent further heinous “happenings”.

The rest is pretty much predictable.

Something is bound to go awry, something terribly wrong.

BARBARIAN covers his tracks meticulously and GHOST is convinced to be the key witness for the prosecution, with promise of a new life in a new country.

Alas, things are not meant to be, no sir.

There are moments of respite, the lull before the storm, when the gloom is temporarily dispelled to allow for a trickle of sentiments.

This is when GHOST falls in love with BARBARIAN’s gal (KWAI LUN-MEI), fueling complications that the job is going to hit a treacherous bend, a fatal turn.

Director DANTE LAM reworked an “opposite” formula this time round.

Although the film is made by the same team that produced “THE BEAST STALKER,” NICK CHEUNG, who won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role as the kidnapper in that film, plays a cop in this one.

And the sergeant NICHOLAS TSE from “THE BEAST STALKER” now portrays a recently released convict who becomes an informer for CHEUNG.

A switch of roles for the lead actors, where the “bad” becomes the good and vice versa.

Pitch two of ASIAN hottest stars against each other and you should get a winner on your hands.

NICK CHEUNG excels as a tormented Inspector who is hurting from intense guilt and angst when he realizes that he too, has to carry out orders from the top brass, and that he is just another puppet on a string.

NICHOLAS TSE is la manifique in his performance as a hoodlum whose life is put on the balance – when he has to choose between an unworthy job as a stoolie and a new found love that is pulling him back into the dumps.

STOOL PIGEON is an emotionally charged action thriller that will grip you with its intense rage and desperation.

We witness the psychological warfare of police informants and the officers who are supposed to protect them, although we know truly well that nothing is infallible, both people and their plans.

We watch with trepidation as the “big” fish swallows the “small” fish and how promises are made but never kept.

Ultimately, THE STOOL PIGEON will keep your adrenaline surging as the pace quickens when the plot thickens.

Just stay braced!

As in all DANTE LAM’s films, there’s always this air of brooding chill.

You cannot help that hearts are empty,

Hopes are dashed.

It’s like observing a vast barren landscape a la THOMAS HARDY’s poem “A DARKLING THRUSH” …..

waiting, earnestly waiting in that teeny second, for the sound of the thrush to burst into song.

But that is not going to happen any moment soon, RIGHT?

For more information, please visit

Saturday, August 21, 2010


You wake up this morning in a state of delirium,

Because the night before you could hardly sleep,

Worse, during the day you couldn’t even settle for forty winks.

You check your disheveled face in the mirror for tell-tale signs.

And what do you see?

A poker face staring back at you in bewilderment?

Friend, then you don’t like yourself very much.

Because mirrors don’t lie …..

For most of us, stress is a facet of life.

So how are we going to confront and not confound the issue?

Everybody knows:

You can’t be all things to all people.

You can’t do all things at once.

You can’t do all things equally well.

You can’t do all things better than everyone else.

Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.


You have to find out who you are, and be that.

You have to decide what comes first, and do that.

You have to discover your strengths, and use them.

You have to learn not to compete with others,

Because no one else is in the contest of *being you*.


You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.

You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.

You will have learned to live with your limitations.

You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due.

And you’ll be a most vital mortal.

Dare To Believe:

That you are a wonderful, unique person.

That you are a once-in-all-history event.

That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.

That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.

And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.


Heck, I really like to believe that I CAN.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

GROWN UPS Movie Review. Those were the Days, my Friend.

GROWN UPS Press Preview


Call me mushy if you must. I kinda dig friendship movies.

As a testimony, this Reviewer has borrowed a couple of liners from a 1968 MARY HOPKINS’ hit “THOSE WERE THE DAYS”:

“Those were the days, my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way ….”

Yes, like the song’s lyrics, there’d always be a real time in our lives when we’ll all look back over

our formative years in wonderment …..

longing to relive those moments again when we were young.

The passage of time has weaned us.

It’s nostalgic to take a walk down memory lane.

It’s great to rekindle old ties.


or drift apart if you allow them to do so.

It’s therapeutic to embrace old friendships,

and to know how our buddies are faring,

Are they happy?

Are they successful in their careers?

Memories are made of these,

Let these grow and glow.

Let them fill you up inside …..

Time and Tide wait for no man,

So what are we waiting for?

Let’s go!

Get set for the journey.


So does the MOVIE match up?

No, GROWN UPS ain’t any emotional journey.

Maybe the producers should have dressed up GROWN UPS as a christmassy comedy about a warm reunion of old chums.

Unfortunately this was not the case.

The script is bland, one that exudes witless humor, and is co-written by none other than actor ADAM SANDLER.

For all intent and purpose, it could have meant to be a sweet film about kid bonding, of growing up wise, leaving town to make it big and returning again if the occasion arises, to perk everyone back home on what you’ve accomplished.

The A-lister line-up in GROWN UPS shouldn’t possibly go wrong, but then, why are these actors wasted spouting dumb lines and over-acting in many key scenes?

For bawling out loud, director DENNIS DUGAN has to shoulder the blame for his shoddy treatment.

The comedic cast includes a Hollywood agent (Adam Sandler), his fashion designer wife (Salma Hayek) with their three spoiled brats, a henpecked house-husband (Chris Rock), a pretentious salesman (Kevin James), a self-declared playboy bachelor (David Spade), and a new-age mystic (Rob Schneider) with a wife who’s old enough to be his mother.

They are the ensemble of a championship-winning 1978 junior high basketball team when they were teenagers.

This group reunites 30 years later to pay tribute to their deceased coach

in a lakeside cabin where they celebrated their many victories a long time ago.

Here, some 3 decades later, they finally let their hair down, throw caution to the four winds and ”relive” the good old days of being teenagers again.

Here, the men behave and react like ….. hmmm …. old farts in their second childhood.

Some may argue that GROWN UPS is a movie, essentially, about a bunch of aging comics, who may have once represented cutting age youth, showing that their shtick has gotten rusty, and so have they.

Maybe the guys did have a rollicking good time with all the camaraderie.

We do know that the lessons of friendship can be just as transformative as does meditation and the words of gurus.

Modern living is swarmed with hazards and stress.

We go to the movies to be entertained, what else?

In GROWN UPS, we are treated to all kinds of mindless spoofs.

One character has his face pushed twice into doggy-doo. Funny?

Then there’s this silly mother who’s breast feeding her 4 year old son, and in doing so,unwittingly squirts the milk here and there. Notwithstanding our five heroes urinating in the public pool.

More slapsticks follow.

If these actors can go all the way out to render themselves ridiculous by expounding on mindless gags and banter to make us feel good, then they are trying to make us forget the day’s stress and enjoy ourselves.

And why shouldn’t we let them?

Monday, August 16, 2010




Isn’t this promotional poster a tad creepy, showing a grotesque mouth displaying fangs behind that screaming lass with dilated pupils?

It wouldn’t be the kind of art you would want to appraise on a dark lonesome night, in the quiet of your room.

Trust me, she is going to be eaten alive, judging from the squirmy picture.

Yet maybe, help is at hand.

It sets the mood and tone of a disturbing tale where you might you might want to curl up close to your loved one in the theatre and hear the sound of each other’s heart-beat pounding against the mounting eerie sound track.


Because THE DESCENT: PART 2 is very much, a brain teaser blend with the supernatural and the psychotic.

It takes you on a horrific journey into the unknown, charting where DESCENT 1 has left off, challenging your sanity as more secrets are unraveled along the way.

BE PREPARED for one screamish, bumpy ride.

Tarry not.

THE DESCENT: PART 2 may appear to start off at a snail’s pace, but the brutal butchering will keep you on your toes as well as at the edge of your seat as the story unfolds.

The FIRST film was a commercial and critical success, thereby spawning this SEQUEL.

Expect MORE spills and chills as THE DESCENT: PART 2 continues after the deadly events depicted in DESCENT 1.

Sarah (Shauna MacDonald), emerges alone and shaken from the abyss following an expedition with her five friends in the Appalachian mountains.

Injured and covered with blood of her missing companions, Sarah is incoherent and cowering with fear.

But a skeptical Sheriff Vaines forces her back into the caves with a rescue assembly in the hope of recovering her missing friends.

Trapped by dangerous falling rocks, the rescue party is driven further into the caverns, and as one after another perishes when the fate of the missing girls is revealed, Sarah is forced to confront her own deepest fears.

Things start to go awry as they often will, as the rescue team fights for their dear lives against the bone-chilling crawlers …..

Then an unexpected survivor looms from the dead.

But this is only the beginning of the spills.

The movie’s mounting tension and claustrophobia, along with its ability to jolt the audience with quick glimpses of the subterranean creatures, added up to an experience that was both emotionally satisfying and viscerally thrilling.

THE DESCENT: PART 2 is a commendable follow-up to the original DESCENT, a grim tale largely enjoyed for all its blood and gore.

And boy, there’s a lot of bloody mayhem in this sequel!

The film is aptly directed by Jon Harris (film editor on “Snatch”, “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass”) in his directorial debut.

He was an editor for “The Descent,” which was directed by Neil Marshall.

Marshall is now the executive producer of “The Descent: Part 2″.

It is a BRITISH film.

Dark. Gruesome. Sinister.

If these unflattering adjectives titillate your inner senses and bring forth the goosebumps, then THE DESCENT: PART 2 is one spooky thriller you should never miss.