Friday, April 29, 2011

“WATER FOR ELEPHANTS” Movie Review. Where ELEPHANTS tread, the GRASS shall be TRAMPLED upon. SAVAGELY.


When I was a gregarious kiddo in primary school, my English grammar teacher used to admonish us by saying, “Be warned where Elephants tread, the grass shall be trampled upon.”

What she was trying to impart was a lucid tongue-twisting advice like “don’t court trouble, unless you want trouble to seize you”.

My dutiful teacher was teaching us to be heavenly boys.

This is a stark lesson about life, a grim reminder for one to mind his own business and stay out of trouble.

And of course, to avoid being a screwball-in-between, such as messing around with somebody else’s beautiful wife.

But thy neighbor’s grass is often greener, temptation’s sweet, so what’s the heck.

With this in mind, this Reviewer shall now expound on the sorry tale of a listless country youth who cannot get his mind and hands off an alluring woman, she, incidentally, happens to be a pompous circus owner’s wife.

ROBERT PATTINSON is Jacob Jankowski, this restless young man, a horny rebel without a cause. He has a profound affection for elephants though.

He meets his match in Marlena (REESE WITHERSPOON), a bored-to-death housewife who’s tired of her dual-personality hubby and ever ready for a sexual fling to improve her libido.

CHRISTOPH WALTZ plays August, the demented jealous husband,who’s ready to declare murderous mayhem upon the entire illicit affair.

He is a ringmaster with a sadistic streak when it comes to animals and people who do not understand his term of “obedience”.

August exercises brutality on Rosie, the 9,000-pound elephant who is the show’s star attraction

There’s none so furious, as a man betrayed. Wouldn’t you be?

Rightly so, as most men would succumb to forbidden temptations.

Just remember there’s a price tag.

“WATER FOR ELEPHANTS” highlights an enchanting escapist fairy tale, sets alight in the Depression era.

Jacob, a college veterinary student, orphaned and penniless, discovers a brand new future opening up as he hitches a ride accidentally by hurling himself onto a moving rail car.

He has actually aboarded a traveling circus.

He is readily roped in as “family” and accepted as a new-found buddy of the ringmaster and his animal trainer wife, but our young hero instead, finds himself entangled in a complicated love triangle.

He has the hots for the beautiful Marlena, yet he is aware of the potential dangers of romancing another’s wife, what’s more,with a woman who has a psychotic husband.

It has been reported that the on screen chemistry between Miss Witherspoon and Mister Pattinson was far-from-nice.

The 35-year-old actress joked that her steamy sex scenes with the 24-year-old were anything but enjoyable.

“He had a very runny nose then,” she told MTV, adding: “So it wasn’t that appealing to kiss him.”

This could be fodder for gossip as adverse publicity is often, better than none.

The director-of-photography RODRIGO PRIETO brilliantly captures the strong moods, instilling wisps of nostalgia that are befitting of a forlorn era where poverty prevails, a world we can never get to see.

He sets a sombre pulse and tone throughout with an uplifting strain of sentimentality to instill a feel of authenticity.

We are treated to the insights of a Depression-era circus with visuals so vibrant that baby boomers can immediately experience a total recall.

Finally “WATER FOR ELEPHANTS” is in one part, a sawdust romance with the unbridled passion, the other part – a survival story with a heart.

It opens vividly with an old man’s trudge down memory lane, as the senior Jacob Jankowski (HAL HOLBROOK) recounts his vintage circus days to a modern day circus employee.

Stellar performances from an all-star cast but it is clearly Waltz, who was magnificent in “Inglourious Basterds” is at it again, as August the unscrupulous owner who will stop at nothing to keep his circus in business, even if it means serving the animals rotten food, or not paying his workers on time.

It may not be the greatest palpitating parable ever, but a love story is indeed, a love story.

It sears the heart and will leave an indelible imprint in the viewers’ emotive minds about bitter-sweet loves that were once conquered and almost lost.

Does this one sound familiar?

FRANCIS LAWRENCE, the film director sticks close to the essence of the popular novel by Sara Gruen.

Vivid descriptions and the pathetic grandeur of a lost era are “relived” once again through the lens.

You will be transported into the world of an “old school” circus – where ringmasters, acrobats, animals and elephants take center stage.

In everyone’s life there’s a youth and in his finality there is an old age.

Life moves in a circle.

“WATER FOR ELEPHANTS” is a glaring reminder that you can only be young once.

Youth has no repeat, no permanence.

And beauty will not last.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

“A CHINESE GHOST STORY 2011 倩女幽魂” Movie Review. Two lovelorn GUYS. One female DEMON. One BLACK MOUNTAIN. Now, watch as the HEADS roll.

“A CHINESE GHOST STORY 倩女幽魂” Press Preview

The film business is a vicious circle, a bandwagon and a money game. Art is secondary, so you’ll always have to be on the alert.

To stay afloat is to ensure that your oven is consistently piping hot.

Chasing the commercial albeit aesthetic dream is no easy matter.

Competitions are keen. Everything is like one big elusive race. Once you have attained top position, it’s time to move on, to aim for the “next” best.

Audiences are ever discerning and are never tired of a good thing.

It’s one lesson to digress.

Take Hong Kong director WILSON YIP’s latest offering of “A CHINESE GHOST STORY 倩女幽魂” as a fine example.

It’s a well-worn Chinese folklore told and retold.

From the people who gave us Ip Man and Ip Man 2, this is a fond REMAKE of an old romantic supernatural classic which had been done countless times with different A-list casts and directors.

Expect several layers now: a brand new image, an exciting new story and generous loads of special effects whilst maintaining the pulse, mood and tone of the unforgettable old classic.

For the action junkie, this film will not fail as there are battle fare aplenty amongst men and spirits, with post production rendered from Korea providing an astounding visual feast.

The word “REMAKE” of late, is losing its fundamental meaning.

You take an established title and create characters as close as to the original and everyone would deem you are spawning another “remake”.

What do we have in this new version of the famous old Chinese folklore?

There is LOUIS KOO as Yan Chi Xia, a relentless demon hunter who’s out to kill every demon he can find. And he’s pretty good at his game.

Then we have YU SHAO QUN (as Ning Cai Chen) a young virginal air-head Government official who has a water mission to accomplish in a village right below the Black Mountain.

Both guys meet the beautiful tree demon Nie Xiao Qian played by LIU YI FEI in different story segments and fall in love with her.

So we are bestowed with a ghostly love triangle where bloody mayhem is bound to ignite.

Everything takes center stage in an ancient mountain village.

Spirits and tree monsters dwell on Black Mountain engaging in slaughter and bloodshed. Naturally, the villagers fear to tread anywhere near the mountain.

When Yan Chi Xia (LOUIS KOO) was young, he chose Black Mountain to practice to become a good Demon Hunter. He experienced many duels with demons in Black Mountain.

Until one day he encounters the alluring Nie Xiao Qian (LIU YI FEI), and their doomed-from-the-start relationship takes a beating.

Years later, when the river at the base of Black Mountain dries up, the villagers make the decision to search for a water source on the mountain.

Ning Cai Chen (YU SHAO QUN) a Government official arrives to help with the water project and another flighty romantic legend ensues.

Admirable acting from an all-star cast but of course, this being a follow-up to the original classic, there tend to be an overload of negative criticism comparing the actors from the old to the new film.

Award winning actress KARA HUI pits a fiery performance playing the 1000 year-old crabapple tree demon, one that threatens to upstage the leads. She’s a wonder to behold.

WILSON YIP helms an astonishingly entertaining film with a heart stomping script from CHEUNG TAN.

This is a haunting, part-humorous and shocking martial arts thriller that everyone is going to talk about in the Chinese cinema, one of the better “remakes”.

It's a one man-meets-vixen fantasy that has yet to see an ending.

Because there’ll be more surprises in store, aboard the bandwagon the next time.

Let's save the best for last.

Hop in for the journey, chum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The UGLY FACES of WAR. Once WAR is waged, all HELL breaks LOOSE.

I dreamed last night of a WORLD WAR 3.

Stupid, isn’t it?

Yet with the current spates of ongoing global turmoil and unrest, who can really tell if the end’s near.

There’s no such thing as OLD wars and NEW wars.

Wars are wars. Period.

WAR is an ugly word.

You’d not be able to turn the clock backwards, so historical events cannot be reversed.

Memories of shocking revelations on the ravages of wars will always remain.

And their massive destructions.

Horrors such as these will forever be imprinted in the hearts and minds of those who had lived through the troublous era.

Life is for living, loving and giving, not killing.

All men are brothers.

Yet these days we have what we called the MODERN day wars.

Wars are here to stay.

It is a roaring business.

Or is it not?

Not everyone wants peace.

Some people benefit economically from instability, insecurity and warfare.

Mankind’s struggle for the greater power and supreme religion will never cease.

As long as people do not see eye-to-eye and human needs are not equalized, war fights on.

Philosophers, politicians, scientists and everybody alike have preached the gospel.

But what can they really do?

They are not gods.

For those who have traveled through the dark sordid period of old wars can appreciate the pains and sufferings of mankind.

The word WAR is a horrific one.

When war begins, the whole hell openeth.

The late WINSTON CHURCHILL warned us that “Never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy. Or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.

The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”

Everything about war is barbaric.

But the worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts which individually they would revolt with their whole being.

A great war leaves a country with three armies:

an army of cripples, an army of mourners and an army of thieves.

Ahhhhh …..