Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let's do the twist

My rating:

So, Syamsul Yusof - progeny of Yusof Haslam, whom eye-eye-are-see is the first local filmmaker to hit RM1 million box-office (minus inflation) - won Pengarah Terbaik for Evolusi KL Drift 2 at FFM23 last year. Which I suppose was deserved, if only because that movie had the most technically accomplished stunts of any local film to date. But I also said that Syamsul seems to be a far worse screenwriter than he is a director (his abilities as an actor lie somewhere in the middle), which does not put him on my list of Filmmakers To Watch Out For. Even when he ventures into horror for the first time - and even when it garnered positive reviews from local movie bloggers Tontonfilem and Ajami Hashim.

Sorry guys. Still didn't like it.

Johan (Syamsul Yusof), newly wedded to Aishah (Liyana Jasmay), is by all appearances a good person, loving to his wife, filial to his mother (Fauziah Nawi), and successful in his medical career. Only his ex-girlfriend Anna (Sabrina Ali), whose obsessive love for him reaches the point of suicidal depression, mars his happiness. Then ghostly manifestations start occurring to both Johan and Aishah, and Johan suspects that Anna has placed a supernatural curse on them. But a mysterious old custodian (Mariani) at his hospital may also know something about the horrifying visitations.

A quick digression on Malay horror movies. Early in Khurafat, there's an exorcism scene in which this imam drives an evil spirit out of some old guy's body, and he does this by doing nothing more than recite Quranic verses. Now, I know this is a reflection of modern Malay-Muslim society that believes Nothing Is Awesomer Than Islam, Y'all - but it also means we'll never make a truly great horror movie. I mean, if any manner of supernatural threat can be pwned by reading from a book found in every Malay household in the country (in perfectly-accented Arabic for extra powah), then how can it ever be scary?

Anyway, that exorcism is a bit of a head-scratcher; you'd think it'd be relevant to the storyline later on, but it isn't. It certainly doesn't work as a red herring, which is what Syamsul probably intended it to be since there's plenty of those here. See, this movie has a twist ending, and although it may be a spoiler just to reveal this, I can't properly review it without doing so. I can say that I didn't see it coming, which is a compliment to its plot and how well it doled out its (other) red herrings. It's the kind of ending that puts everything that came before in a new light, and it's most likely the one thing that's been garnering Khurafat its good reviews.

But it didn't work for me, because it didn't redeem the lameness of everything that came before. Syamsul's weakness for idiotically on-the-nose dialogue is as evident as ever, not to mention his penchant for grammatically impeccable sentences. His scripts might score A1s for SPM Bahasa Melayu, but they sure don't sound like anything real people say. Wahai barisan pelakon, korang tak rasa kekok ke, mengucap dialog ni? And then there's his portrayal of Anna, who is just insanely stupid and pathetic. All she does is bawl about how much she loves Johan and beg him to take her back, and we get some three or four scenes of her doing just this. Which again points to Syamsul's buku-teks-Darjah-4 writing style. (I feel sorry for Sabrina Ali, whose first major film role is of such a wretchedly annoying character.)

So yes, this movie lost me at hello. I couldn't help noticing its other instances of dumb storytelling; for example, Anna attempts suicide by mutilating herself gruesomely, and Johan intervenes in time to send her to the hospital. Later he goes back to see her... at her home? She got discharged so fast? Do Malaysian medical facilities not provide suicide watch? Most likely this is yet another instance of Malay movies portraying a world that lacks basic civil services. Jika anda berada didalam Van Jenazah yang ditimpa kemalangan jalanraya, apa anda akan buat? Guna henpon panggil ambulans, panggil polis, panggil PLUS Ronda? Johan tidak. Dia pikul jenazah tu pergi rayau-rayau tengah hutan.

And as for whether or not it's scary, my answer is a hearty, resounding "eh". It's the same old creepy long-haired icky-complexioned female ghost-type scares - well-staged, but seen a dozen times before. They're pretty much arbitrary, as if the ghost is operating on an alternating schedule of scaring the shit out of Johan and Aishah every 18 hours or so, just for teh lulz. More than once, a scary scene even cuts to the scaree waking up to realise it was a dream - the cheapest of cheap scares. I just wonder why Johan, knowing full well there's a jembalang haunting him, still insists on working late hours in dimly-lit hospital offices and corridors. Tak reti bukak lampu ke? He's also a moronically passive protagonist who hardly does anything to solve his hantu problem. His reaction upon coming face-to-face with the spirit is to close his eyes and, I dunno, think of his mum's gulai daging or something.

Now I did say the overall plot was well-constructed, and the twist ending works reasonably well. (There's a bit of foreshadowing in an early scene which reveals Johan's insecurity about his humble financial standing, which was a nice touch.) All of which are admittedly rare and precious qualities in local films. But I can't find it in me to give it even an extra half-star for this, because a somewhat-clever twist ending alone does not a good movie make. Terrible dialogue, one-dimensional characters (waste of Liyana Jasmay, who deserves better roles than this), clichéd scares, all add up to a film that I just plain disliked. In fact, now that I think about it, the entire storyline is ripped off of a certain popular Asian horror movie from the past decade. Maybe that's where the good parts of Khurafat came from.

Expectations: haven't seen a good Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson movie in ages

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not as great as the previous day

Great Day
My rating:

I really liked last year's Woohoo! Wait, did I say "really liked"? Three-and-a-half stars means I liked it, but not so much really liked it. But despite its shortcomings, I have been looking back on it quite fondly. It's the first local Chinese-language movie in a long, long time, and very likely the most successful too, garnering RM4 million at the box-office in its limited run. It was also very successful at turning its target audience of MyFM listeners and Wah Lai Toi watchers into a ready and eager market for local films. So yes, I liked it for being a landmark in Malaysian cinema perhaps even more than as a film, and I was eagerly anticipating director Chiu Keng Guan's follow-up. I would've watched it on its opening day if I didn't have such a backlog of movies to review, just so I could spread the word and get even more people watching it.

It's too bad that I can't see myself doing too much proselytizing this time. It's just not as good as Woohoo!

Uncle Lim (Lim Yew Beng) and Uncle Lam (Tam Yee Swee) are two constantly-bickering residents of an old folk's home in Perlis, and one of their biggest points of contention is who has the more successful and loving children. Uncle Lim ropes in Uncle Lam on his scheme to sneak out of the home and visit their children in KL, but the latter balks, and Uncle Lim ends up hitching a ride with Ah Hock (Jack Lim) and his son Ah Boy (Tan Hau Yen). When he meets his children, he learns many things that they've been keeping from him; his daughter Feng Jiao (Vivian Tok) is divorced, his granddaughter Joey (Crystal Lee) is neglected by her overworked mother, and his son Ah Di (Royce Tan) has lost his bank manager job. Meanwhile, Ah Hock's aged mother (Yap Ah Lan) is staying with his cousin Dor Hou (Wan Wai Fun) in KL, and her senility makes her a handful for her filial son. Uncle Lim and Ah Hock also go looking for Uncle Lam's son (Gan Jiang Han), a school headmaster - but when they find him, he claims his father is dead.

If there were any justice in the Malaysian film industry, every member of this cast would have long and illustrious film careers. Lim Yew Beng would score at least a nomination for Pelakon Terbaik at the next Festival Filem Malaysia. Vivian Tok would give Adibah Noor a run for her money in "funny fat lady" roles. Jack Lim would be playing good-hearted everyman heroes in half a dozen movies a year (and occasionally getting to stretch his acting chops like he did in Kidnapper). And folks like Tam Yee Swee, Royce Tan and Gan Jiang Han would all be in films by Metrowealth, KRU Studios and Primeworks, who would finally make Malay films with Chinese characters played by Chinese actors for a change... but I digress.

Because just like Woohoo!, Great Day sports the most charming and likable ensemble cast ever assembled in a local film. Almost everyone from that previous movie is back - and seeing as this is a more (melo)dramatic story than an out-and-out comedy, most of them have much greater demands placed on their acting abilities. Vivian Tok and Gan Jiang Han play very different characters than the ones they essayed in Chiu's previous film; Tok especially is very good, proving equally adept at drama as she is at comedy. Jack Lim's and Royce Tan's characters may be virtually the same as Ah Beng and Ah Rain from Woohoo!, but they too display impressive new dimensions here. The newcomers were also terrific, and yes, Lim Yew Beng especially so; he's got all of Uncle Lim's long-suffering years on his weatherbeaten face. Even child actors Crystal Lee and Tan Hau Yen are naturals.

So it's a crying shame that all these actors are ill-served by a messy and unfocused storyline. How does Ah Hock and Uncle Lim find Uncle Lam's son? Because Ah Boy is a student at the younger Lam's school - or is he? And why is Ah Hock the one looking for him, when we've never even seen him speaking to Uncle Lam? For some reason, Uncle Lim thinks he has breast cancer, which is played for laughs - until he sees a doctor about it, and then it's never made clear whether he actually has it or not. And there are so many dramatic conflicts raised, but not explored or paid off; nothing is done regarding Feng Jiao's divorce, or Uncle Lim's disapproval of Ah Di, or even the subplot of Ah Hock and his mother. And Ah Boy virtually disappears halfway through the story. It spends far too much time on cameo characters like Jason Yeoh's "Ultraman" and Feng Jiao's maid Susanti - okay, they were funny, but they were also irrelevant.

Thus when the big tearjerking moments come, they don't work as well as they should; the emotions haven't been earned through effective storytelling. Joey starts off cold towards her grandfather, but he wins her over with a montage - the favoured cinematic technique of lazy directors and screenwriters everywhere. Similarly, when Uncle Lim's children reconcile with him, it feels obligatory and perfunctory. Woohoo! didn't have a very well-structured story either, but at least it had the underdogs-made-good formula to hang onto. This one is more ambitious, but also more all over the place; its more a collection of pleasant scenes than a story that builds to a satisfying ending. If screenwriter Ryon Lee is also the Lee Eng Keong who wrote that previous film, he hasn't improved. He's great at dialogue, great at creating characters and dramatic situations, but lousy at resolving them.

But it is still an immensely charming and quite enjoyable film. And Chiu proves once again to be a canny director of both broad drama and comedy; the jokes are funny and often quite clever. (I especially liked the parody of typical CNY music videos that, to my cooler-than-thou sensibilities, is a subject ripe for parody.) More than anything else it's got going for it is its terrifically winning cast, and since I don't watch Astro's Chinese-language channels - or TV at all, for that matter - I'm not likely to see them anywhere else. So after two movies, Chiu and his Astro financiers are still one of the brightest hopes for our film industry, and the man is still a filmmaker I expect great things from. Here's hoping his next will be truly great.

(Oh, and kudos to TGV Kepong for playing the trailer for No Strings Attached during this screening. Advertising a raunchy adult comedy that has a scene in which Natalie Portman yells "Why can't we just have sex!?" to a cinema hall full of kids and their parents? You guys should be proud of yourselves.)

NEXT REVIEW: Khurafat - Perjanjian Syaitan
Expectations: Syamsul Yusof bikin citer seram? This I gotta see

Friday, January 21, 2011

No sleepless nights here

Paranormal Activity 2
My rating:

There are a number of reasons why it would be worthwhile to make a movie sequel. If a continuing story had been planned all along. If the previous film ended on an open-ended note. If there are story avenues yet to be explored, or questions yet to be answered. If there are appealing characters whom you want to spend more time with. But Hollywood only knows one reason, and that reason is "if it can make us more money." Paranormal Activity holds the record for most profitable film of all time, so it should come as no surprise that the producers are making a sequel. And y'know, as singular and self-contained as that film was - and that none of the above-mentioned reasons really apply to it - a good sequel could've been made, if it had the right approach to continuing the story.

This isn't it.

Two months before the events of Paranormal Activity, Katie's (Katie Featherston) sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) is living with her husband Dan (Brian Boland), her teenage stepdaughter Ali (Molly Ephraim), and their 1-year-old baby Hunter. After a mysterious burglary - in which every room was trashed except Hunter's, and nothing was stolen except a necklace that Katie gave to Kristi - Dan installs security cameras throughout the house. A series of inexplicable events lead Kristi and Ali to believe the house is haunted, but Dan remains skeptical; when their housekeeper Martine (Vivis Cortez) performs a ritual to ward off evil spirits, Dan fires her. But as the hauntings grow in intensity, Ali starts doing some digging - and what she finds leads her to speculate that someone in Kristi's family line made a deal with a demon, in return for the firstborn male child. And Hunter is the first boy in the family in generations.

Two things Paranormal Activity had going for it were its simplicity and its freshness. These are also the two things its sequel - or prequel, in fact - fails to respect. The basic premise of two ordinary, well-adjusted people terrorised by inexplicable events is plenty scary enough - then along comes this movie that makes those events explicable. This spoils a lot of what made the original movie scary; Katie and Micah could be you, and what happened to them could happen to you. But you're not gonna get that same versimilitude with this one, unless someone in your family made a pact with a demon for which the price is the life of your child. (Which, coincidentally, is almost the exact same plot of Damping Malam.)

And so Paranormal Activity 2 feels more like a movie, rather than a depiction of almost-real people to whom these things are almost-really happening. It trades in horror clichés, like the dog that barks at unseen things, and the ethnic housekeeper who just happens to know how to Deal With This Shit. (Yes, 'cos in Hollywoodland, anyone who isn't Caucasian is a veritable ghostbuster in disguise. Bet you wish your Indonesian maid was so handy.) Even its characters aren't as well-developed; Kristi and Ali are just there to be freaked out by the freaky stuff, and Dan is there to pooh-pooh their fears because he just happens to never be there when the freaky stuff happens. Katie and Micah felt much more real, and even if Micah was a jerk, he was at least a believable jerk.

Then there's how the movie basically rehashes the original's scares, which screenwriter Michael R. Perry and director Tod Williams probably think are clever callbacks. Stuff moves by itself, doors slam, footsteps appear, and someone gets dragged feet-first by an invisible force all over again; what made it scary the first time was that all these happened while Katie and Micah were asleep, but this movie shows no such restraint. There's no sense of dread, no mounting terror; you're just basically waiting for the next scary scene. And when it comes, it's your standard-order loud-noise "boo!" moment. Once again, Paranormal Activity was a lot more sparing with these, saving its biggest jump-scares for its ending. With Paranormal Activity 2, jump-scares are the only trick it has in its bag.

So it's a lesser sequel, and that's really disappointing to someone who really liked the original. But I guess, as a stand-alone movie, it's not all bad. Its jump-scares are effective. Its basically more of the same of the first film. And despite the characters being underdeveloped, they're basically nice folks you'll enjoy spending time with. Perhaps as a bone thrown to viewers who noticed Featherston's pleasing boobiliciousness (*raises hand*), we get scenes of Katie at the pool in a bikini; ditto Sprague Grayden and Molly Ephraim, both of whom sport plenty nice cleavage too. Oh, and I watched this in Digital 2D, which cost me maybe two or three ringgit extra, but which I thought was worth it. The picture quality was lovely crisp and clear, and even when the movie wasn't engaging me, it was always nice to look at. Especially during Even besides the poolside scenes.

But yes, as a sequel/prequel/what-have-you, this is lame - even given the fact that its predecessor was a film that really really did not need a sequel. It ends on a hook for a third installment, which has already been announced and which will certainly be hitting theatres this time next year. But I'll be expecting even less from it, since Perry and Williams have chosen the absolute wrong approach to sequel-izing Paranormal Activity. Here's one last reason why: it's a prequel, right? Takes place just two months before the first one, right? So in the first one, was Katie distraught or in mourning over the terrible things that recently befell her sister's family? No. There you go, folks - sense of danger, all gone.

Expectations: yay the folks who made Woohoo!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The silly season

Season of the Witch
My rating:

Ah, Nicolas Cage. There is an extremely interesting retrospective article to be written of his acting career, and this ain't gonna be it. (This is not a bad attempt though.) It's hard to imagine that he was once a serious actor known for quirky and intense roles, when he's now more famous for stuff like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Ghost Rider and the National Treasure movies. (At least in Malaysia, which didn't get Adaptation or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans on our cinema screens.) And then there's stuff like this to remind us that no matter how many big-budget blockbuster-wannabes he makes, there is always something off different about him than the average Hollywood action hero. No, I'm not gonna try to encapsulate what makes Cage Cage; I'm just reviewing his latest movie.

I'm mentioning all this because, judging by his latest movie, Cage might not be Cage for much longer.

It is the 14th century. Two Knights of the Crusades, Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman), have deserted the endless fighting after Behmen suffers a crisis of conscience upon learning that he has been slaughtering women and children. They return home only to find a plague sweeping the land - and a young girl (Claire Foy) accused of being a witch and causing the deadly epidemic. The church enlists them to escort her to a distant monastery where she will be placed on trial, and have a ritual performed on her that can end the plague - if she is found guilty of witchcraft. Accompanying Behmen and Felson will be the priest Debelzaq (Stephen Campbell Moore), another knight named Eckhardt (Ulrich Thomsen), convicted swindler Hagamar (Stephen Graham) who acts as their guide, and a young man named Kay (Robert Sheehan) who wishes to become a knight himself.

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. How did a movie like this get made? Wikipedia says it started with a bidding war for Bragi Schut's spec script; incidentally, a spec script is an original work written by a screenwriter, which is not the way a movie project usually starts out in Hollywood. Far from it - most films start as assignments by a producer to a writer to adapt previous source material, whether an older film or novel or comicbook or videogame or, God forbid, a toy. So you'd think Schut's script ought to be pretty fantastic if producers were fighting each other to buy it. Ohhh dear. It doesn't show. It might have been good in its original form, but then it fell into the hands of the wrong director, the wrong studio, the wrong cast, pretty much the wrong everything.

Where to start with this movie? How about the fact that everyone speaks in American accents, even the British actors. Not that this movie is set in medieval England - in fact, it's suspiciously coy about where exactly it all takes place - but at least it's faux-Shakespearian dialogue wouldn't sound so ridiculous spoken in Cage's Californian drawl. Or that the sets all look like cheap soundstages; or that the entire film has a gloomy, washed-out look, perhaps to hide the crew members and equipment in the background. Or that the entire tone of the film is deadly portentous and foreboding, as if this were meant to be a serious film starring Nicolas Cage as a medieval knight. Director Dominic Sena claims to have been inspired by Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, but it's more reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And why couldn't it have been proper sword-and-sorcery? The story certainly had all the trappings of it. But if Sena knows a damn thing about the genre, I'll eat a plague-ridden sandwich. The heroes aren't badass like Conan or Solomon Kane - well, Felson might be, but all he gets is a lame (and time-wasting) swordfight with Kay. It wants to be all mysterious as to whether the girl is really a witch, which means we don't get much in the way of monster-fighting scenes - only a dim and confusing skirmish with CGI wolves. Its other big action setpiece is a wagon crossing over a rope bridge, which is exactly as thrilling as it sounds. Even when it's of the dark and grim variety, sword-and-sorcery is always fun - and this movie has no interest in being fun. There's barely even any humour, except unintentionally (e.g. hilariously anachronistic lines like "saving your ass"). Who in the world thought the director of Gone in 60 Seconds, Swordfish and Whiteout could direct a period film?

Hell, it's amazing how everyone involved in this seemed to be completely wrong for it. Ron Perlman has been garnering the scant bits of critical praise for his performance, but all I can think of is how much he wants to play the snarky sidekick and how the script and plot just won't let him. The aforementioned English actors Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham and Robert Sheehan - and Ulrich Thomsen, a Dane - are all laughably wooden; call me biased, but I usually have a higher opinion of European actors than Americans. The sole decent performance comes from Claire Foy, who is cute and can switch from innocent to manipulatively evil on a dime, but that may just be my heterosexuality speaking.

But it is Cage whom the joke is on. This may explain the confounding stupidity of his choice of film projects lately (our cinemas are already inundated with trailers for this), and if Season of the Witch is any indication, his star won't be recovering from its nosedive anytime soon. As much as I've been trashing the movie throughout this review, you might be surprised that I'm not giving it 1-½ stars; it's because its sheer badness can still be enjoyable, in an unintentional comedy kinda way. It's a very, very silly movie, and what little entertainment it can offer is most assuredly not the kind that it was aiming for. Don't let the presence of a (supposed) A-list star like Cage fool you. This is what Malaysians charmingly refer to as a B-grade movie, all the way.

NEXT REVIEW: Paranormal Activity 2
Expectations: highly doubt it'll be as good as the first

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Filem yang menghempap andas keatas kepala anda

Damping Malam
My rating:

I don't want to come across as having an unhealthy obsession over Ahmad Idham. It's just that the man has a virtual monopoly over the local film industry, what with practically every other Malay movie being directed by him. I still maintain that he's little more than a hack, but even a hack can get it right every now and then. He's done it once before, and as you can tell from the 2-½-star rating, he has now made another somewhat better film than I've come to expect from him. I don't think it's any coincidence that it's also the first time he's directed himself in a leading role.

But Ya Allah, skripnya. Skrip yang betul-betul menghela tapak tangan ke muka.

Wadi (Ahmad Idham), Lira (Amy Mastura) and 13-year-old Nur Aiza (Erynne Erynna) are a family plagued by ghostly hauntings. First it is Aiza who bears the brunt of them at her boarding school, causing no end of worry for her overprotective mother. Then spooky stuff starts to happen to the parents at their home, causing even an avowed skeptic like Wadi to look to his ustaz friend Bakri (Eizlan Yusof) for religious guidance. It soon becomes clear that they are being haunted by a "pendamping", a spirit summoned to be the family's guardian - and which has clearly turned malevolent. And it is Lira's creepy aunt Umi Siah (Azizah Mahzan), keeper of many a mysterious ancient family tradition, who seems to know a lot more than she's letting on - although she too seems utterly devoted to her grand-niece.

Taik Suci, siapa yang karang skrip ni?? Aku betul-betul tak faham bagaimana filem Melayu membahagikan kredit; "skrip" dikreditkan kepada the infamous Panel MIG, tapi "lakonlayar" diberi kepada Tuan Pengarah Ahmad Idham. (I'm beginning to suspect that what they call a "lakonlayar" is what the rest of the world calls a storyboard.) Yang membengangkan aku ialah aku tak tahu siapa yang bertanggungjawab ke atas apa. Aku nak tau nama si dia yang menulis semua dialog dalam filem ini, because oh maigod he's terrible. Dialog yang tersangat lurus dan jelas. Dialog yang sedia menerangkan segala yang berlaku dari segi jalan cerita mahupun emosi setiap watak. Dialog yang tak pernah disebut oleh manusia sebenar di dunia ini.

This is annoying la guys. Ini tanda penulis yang malas dan kurang mahir. Dialognya tiada nuansa, tiada kehalusan, tiada makna yang mendalam. I studied "makna tersurat" and "makna tersirat" in Form 5 Bahasa Melayu, but it appears these Panel MIG dudes only learned half of that. Korang ingat penonton kita ni tak cukup pintar untuk memahami makna tersirat? Sampai kau nak akhirkan cerita ini dengan sebuah syarahan? Serius giler I kid you not, the movie ends with a voice-over lecture exhorting "ingatlah wahai isteri-isteri yang sejati", turning the whole film into a kursus agama anjuran JAIS. Sayang sungguh, kerana up to that point, jalan ceritanya sebenarnya agak elok.

Yes, I mean it, the storyline actually works. There's a mystery to be unraveled, a plot twist or two, and some decent attempts at misdirection. Even the horror elements aren't half bad; this pendamping has a nasty habit of taking the form of other people, which is a somewhat fresh approach to delivering the creeps in Malay horror movies. (And then it falls back to the usual long-haired pasty-faced female hantu stuff, but hey, baby steps.) And Ahmad Idham finally shows some directorial flair, making use of shadows and odd camera angles to create a sense of unease. It's almost as if being an actor in this movie got him more emotionally involved than he usually is, and finally made him give a damn in directing it. Even his acting was pretty effective; his lines are as ripe as everyone else's, but he reads them quietly and understatedly, which is exactly the right way to deliver on-the-nose dialogue.

But the same can't be said for Azizah Mahzan and Amy Mastura. Azizah has a certain hammy charm that only veteran performers can pull off, and if she had better lines, she could've been pretty awesome. (She can also be awesomely awful, as she was in Cuti-Cuti Cinta.) But Amy was just unlikable from start to finish; she overacts every single scene, and all her line readings grate on the ear. I think she was just ill-served by the script, which again points to how important it is to have good dialogue. Tiga empat kali dia menjelaskan perwatakannya sebagai ibu yang terlalu melindung dan mengongkong anak; mungkinkah ini kerana setiap babak ditulis oleh penulis lain? Aduhai Panel MIG, tak habis-habis dosa kamu keatas dunia perfileman. Oh, and little Erynne Erynna can now join the ranks of our genuinely talented child performers. She's quite a natural in all her scenes, although I wish she had more to do than just look terrified half the time.

Aku bingung la dengan filem ni. Plotnya bagus, arahannya pun okey, tapi dialog gagal besar. And it ends with an ajaran that hits you with all the force of an anvil dropped on your head. Siapa punya angkara dan siapa punya jasa, aku tak tau. Kepada Tuan Pengarah Ahmad Idham, saya cadangkan supaya kurangkan sikit produktiviti anda. Pilihlah skrip yang benar-benar menyentuh perasaan anda, dan bikinlah ia dengan teliti dan berperasaan; baru saya akan berhenti menghentam anda, malah saya akan memberi pujian yang sewajarnya. (Kalau kau nak berlakon lagi pun okey jugak.) And as for the shadowy, mysterious, nameless cabal known as Panel Skrip MIG... aku akan perhatikan korang. Aku syak koranglah yang paling berpengaruh dalam kualiti pengeluaran kilang filem Metrowealth International Group ni - you're just never held accountable for it.

NEXT REVIEW: Season of the Witch
Expectations: well, it's sword-and-sorcery, innit? I like those

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Depp and Jolie's jolly adventure

The Tourist
My rating:

When I first saw the trailer for The Tourist, I quite smugly called, "Hah! Gender-reversed Knight & Day!" But no, it's not quite. There are similarities, of course; ordinary person gets swept up in intrigue and adventure with mysterious (but extremely attractive) person of opposite sex, with whom romance blossoms. The tone is entirely different though. That Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz summer vehicle was a hybrid of action movie and rom-com, two great tastes that went okay together. This Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie-starrer is a throwback to old-fashioned glamourous romance-thrillers, specifically Stanley Donen's Charade and Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. More specifically, the kind of movie Hollywood used to dazzle the world with and that they just don't make anymore.

That alone makes this movie a good one, no matter what Rotten Tomatoes says.

In Paris, an Englishwoman named Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) is being tailed by a team of police led by Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) of Scotland Yard. They are tracking down her former lover, an international fugitive named Alexander Pearce - who makes contact with her, and tells her to take a train to Venice and pick a random man to distract the police. She chooses an ordinary tourist named Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), a math teacher from Wisconsin, who falls head over heels in love with her. Following her to Venice gets him in trouble with vicious gangster Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), whose money Pearce stole and who now believes Frank is Pearce. Hijinks ensue; oh, and the last piece of the puzzle is a mysterious man (Rufus Sewell) who seems to be shadowing both Elise and Frank.

So yeah, 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. And less-than-glowing reviews from James Berardinelli, Roger Ebert and AV Club's Scott Tobias. I totally see where they're coming from, and there's not a word in any of these reviews that I disagree with. But I still liked it a lot more than they did, and I guess it's because of my background as an ex-aspiring and utterly failed screenwriter. Y'see, the screenplay is credited to director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck as well as Oscar winners Christopher McQuarrie (for The Usual Suspects) and Julian Fellowes (for Gosford Park), and it is a smart and solid piece of writing that is worthy of its Golden Age of Hollywood forebears. The problem is everything else.

I liked The Lives of Others, von Donnersmarck's previous (and first) directorial effort. Its story of an East German secret police agent who regains his humanity was remarkably subtle and elegant. Von Donnersmarck brings the same subtle and understated approach to this movie, and it's the absolute wrong way to make it. It's a thriller-cum-caper-cum-romance. It's full of wildly improbable twists and turns. It should be fun! But von Donnersmarck just doesn't seem to be familiar with that kind of moviemaking. There are two of what passes for action scenes - a foot chase across Venice rooftops, and a boat chase along its canals - and they're both shot and staged pretty dully (although the canal chase was a bit better, since it had actual beats to the action). This is a movie that ought to crackle with manic energy, and there's precious little to be had here.

But the biggest problem is how von Donnersmarck directs his actors. I've heard it said that Depp and Jolie have no chemistry together, which isn't exactly true; two such charismatic performers, in their first on-screen pairing no less, cannot fail to generate at least some smoldering. It's just that their chemistry is, again, extremely understated. Jolie was pretty good in a role that mostly requires her to look drop-dead gorgeous and act all icy cool. But Depp is supposed to be an ordinary schmo swept up in wacky and out-of-control events, and he just sleepwalks through it all. Here's a star famous for quirky and bizarre roles and von Donnersmarck has him acting as low-key as possible. Even Paul Bettany isn't spared; his character turns out to be a thoroughly dislikable individual, but he keeps downplaying it. Good thing the movie has the veteran talents of Steven Berkoff, who knows how to be understated and still eeevil.

And then there's its big twist ending. Which even by saying there is one is probably a spoiler, but I'm gonna take a gamble here and suggest that knowing it beforehand won't spoil the movie. I'd guessed the twist early on, and in fact I enjoyed it a lot more in appreciating the craft of how it was set up and paid off. The problem with it is that most people will think it's a huge plot hole, when it's really just missing a crucial bit of information. I'll discuss it in the comments, but von Donnersmarck's decision to omit it (I suspect it was in McQuarrie's and Fellowes' original script) reflects once again his ill-advised approach to directing this movie. He thought all it needs is for Depp and Jolie to smolder, and that will make up for any lack of that pesky plot stuff.

This must be my most uncomplimentary 3-½-star review ever. I enjoyed it, honest; the misguided directing didn't detract from the excellent writing. And there's at least one thing von Donnersmarck got right, which is to make everything look glamourous and beautiful. Whoa yes, this is one beautiful-looking movie. Venice looks beautiful. Paris, in the short time the movie spends there, looks beautiful. Jolie looks super beautiful. Even the background extras look like they answered a casting call that specified "Only Attractive People Need Apply." It is, as I mentioned, very much an old-fashioned '60s Hollywood glamourous fantasy of a movie, and I happen to like those. I bet if you do, you'll like it too. It's just a pity that the director made it so that so many others didn't.

NEXT REVIEW: Damping Malam
Expectations: kali ni kau kembali depan kamera ye? Biar aku asah pisau aku sekarang

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tak seram tapi okey

My rating:

So I've been musing about the subjectivity of film criticism, since my Top 10 of 2010 post a few days ago. And I've been thinking about local films... oh hell, let's call them Malay films, since non-Malay local films tend to be of a different standard entirely. I've talked about grading them on a curve - judging them on a different, and admittedly lower, benchmark than other films - and whether or not that's fair. Now I think it's pretty much impossible for me, or any other film critic to be 100% fair one way or the other. When a Malay movie is so bad it's a sufferance to sit through, I'm gonna give it a thorough thrashing. But when I finally watch one that's halfway decent, it's gonna seem like a godsend, and I'm going to be much more kind to it.

Such as this one. It's only halfway decent, but damn if it didn't seem like it was actually good there for a second.

Sutera (Eja) and Harun (Hairie Othman) are a husband and wife who live in a small fishing village. Harun has been unable to go to sea because his boat needs repairs, and thus the financial burden of raising their three children is causing friction in their marriage - moreso when their neighbour Munah (Sherry Merlis) starts accusing their eldest son of stealing from her. But there are greater troubles afoot in their village. Money and other valuables tend to go missing, and village elders Penghulu Ali (Ghazali Abu Noh), Pak Wan Atan (Zami Ismail) and Pak Long Mohid (Zulkifli Zain) are at a loss. It soon becomes apparent that they are being plagued by a toyol - a child-spirit tasked by a human master to steal for them. Even as they bring in Pak Jamal (Kuswadinata) to provide supernatural aid, the toyol's (Nur Allisyah Aqilah) visitations grow more dangerous and violent - but it seems to have a mysterious affinity for Sutera and her family.

Ah, Wan Hasliza. I saw her name credited as screenwriter here, and I thought it sounded familiar; turns out she wrote one of the better - and best-written - local films of last year, Hooperz. Now with this movie, I think it's safe to call her one of the best working writers in our film industry today. (The person/people who wrote Adnan Sempit and the last half of Cuti-Cuti Cinta could add to that number, if they ever step out from the anonymity of "Panel Skrip MIG".) Sweet Alhamdulillah, it's good to hear Malay dialogue that actually sounds like the things real people say - dialogue that drives the plot, that also reveals character, and takes care not to be on-the-nose. Even the acting is better than most Malay movies, since these actors are finally able to play actual characters. Eja is terrific; she has a big emotional scene at the end, and she pulls it off beautifully. (Unfortunately, it is also in this scene that Hairie Othman, who was pretty good up to that point, seemed to forget what character he's playing.)

It's interesting that this film comes out so soon after Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah; both are stories about simple kampung folk dealing with supernatural occurences. (And both feature Zami Ismail in what may be alternate-reality versions of the same character.) And coincidentially, there's also a scene here in which someone argues for rationalism and a rejection of kepercayaan tahyul - which is belied by the fact that there really is a toyol running around. Which led me to look for some kind of social commentary in this film, like Mamat Khalid clearly had in his. For a while there, it seemed like Wan Hasliza is making a point against materialism, against people who overvalue material possessions. Which would be an entirely appropriate theme to play out against the backdrop of a toyol movie.

Unfortunately, the brief glimmers of this don't add up to a point effectively made. Which brings us to the weaknesses of Wan Hasliza's screenplay, of which an unclear theme is only one. Janin has an ensemble cast similar to Hantu Kak Limah, but it doesn't have a story to support them; it's ultimately Sutera's and Harun's story, and all the other characters and subplots turn out to be irrelevant. There's no believable motivation for why the toyol's master is doing all this, which may point to the fact that toyols are really kinda quaint in modern times; there are far easier ways to make unscrupulous money than to get a zombie baby to steal from your neighbours. And as Tontonfilem has noted, it's also a very small story that struggles to stretch out to barely 90 minutes. Which would be okay if it were a simple, slow-paced indie film about rural kampung life - but it's not. It's a horror movie, in which pacing is everything.

And that brings us to the fact that as a horror movie, Janin simply doesn't work. Director M. Hitler Zami (dude, apahal dengan nama tu?) is good at bringing Wan Hasliza's characters to life, but he just can't make it scary. Which, as Tontonfilem has again mentioned, may be our Lembaga Penapisan Filem at work, reducing a scene in which the toyol viciously murders two people into a fade-out. Or it may be the film's poor production values - the sound quality is pretty shoddy too, although I really want to commend them for attempting to record on-location dialogue and sound. (Unlike certain movies from a certain big local movie studio. Called Metrowealth.) Which makes this my second Wan Hasliza movie in a row that's spoiled by poor technical quality. Girl just can't catch a break.

And that's what makes it hard for me to objectively review this movie. There's so much here that I liked, but so much that I have to admit simply doesn't work. Early on, there's a scene featuring a Chinese storekeeper in which he speaks in honest-to-goodness Cantonese - I liked this simply because the vast majority of Malay films prefer to depict a Malaysia that is seemingly populated entirely by Malays. (Which is a sad state of affairs, and reflective of bigger problems within our society, frankly.) Yes, this is a pretty low standard to hold a film to, and does not at all make up for a messy storyline, ineffective scares, and bad sound quality. But it still makes me think kindly of it.

(Oh, and now I would like to rant: why is it so goddamn hard to find accurate, reliable information about local films? The synopsis that's on Sinema Malaysia - and cut-and-pasted onto every other news source about the movie - is misleading and outright wrong. Hairie's character is named Harun, not Hisham! And not only is Dato' Rahim Razali not in this film, I can't even find a full cast list - not even on its supposed official Facebook fan page. Which is a problem I've faced time and time again with local films. Come on, producers! Can you please start treating your films as significant?)

NEXT REVIEW: The Tourist
Expectations: from all the reviews it's been getting, meh

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Masih tiada syurga mahupun cinta disini

Aku Masih Dara
My rating:

I asked "ada apa dengan Ahmad Idham?" in my review of his last movie, and I haven't figured it out yet. Dialah pembikin filem yang paling rajin dalam industri kita, dan kini saya sudah menonton lima buah filem arahannya - tapi dia masih membingungkan saya. What drives him as a filmmaker, a storyteller and an artist? What are his passions, his pet themes and messages; what does he really want to tell the world? So far, my best guess is "aku suka duit!" Ya, Ahmad Idham ialah seorang hack tulen, melambak-lambak bikin filem komedi, filem cinta, filem rempit, filem seram, filem komedi-seram yang semua sama buruknya. Dia rajin tapi tak tekun.

Dan ini, filem dakwahnya yang kedua, juga dibikin dengan tidak tekun, tidak berperasaan dan tidak bersungguh-sungguh.

Sofea (Raja Farah), Aleesya (Yana Samsudin) and Hani (Diana Amir) are three idle floozies who spend their days shopping and their nights partying. Then one day Aleesya's cousin Firdaus (Ashraf Muslim) comes visiting, and takes it upon himself to show these girls the error of their sinful and un-Islamic ways. Hani and Aleesya aren't buying what he's selling, but Sofea digs it, causing friction between the three friends. So while Sofea starts wearing tudungs and goes to stay with Firdaus' family in picturesque Cameron Highlands, the other two girls continue to wallow in sin and iniquity - especially under the influence of Hani's drug-dealing boyfriend Zach (Farid Kamil).

Tekaan saya memang tepat; ini adalah versi Syurga Cinta yang diterbalikkan jantina, dan sama jugalah tahap keburukannya. Sebenarnya saya sudah rasa bahawa rating 1 bintang saya beri kepada filem itu agak keterlaluan sedikit. It's still a very very bad movie, but it's not offensively bad. Tapi jika "offensively bad" adalah ukuran bagi rating 1 bintang, maka filem Aku Masih Dara layak mendapatnya. You see, Sofea ni gadis Melayu celup, bapanya orang putih dari U.K. Jadi keluarga mereka dah biasa balik ke London sempena Krismas untuk bersama datuk dan nenek. Tapi menurut filem ini, amalan tersebut adalah murtad. Berdosa. Tersimpang dari jalan suci Islam yang sebenar.

Perlukah saya jelaskan mengapa mesej ini tersangat-sangat fucked up? Jika perlu, mari kita bincangkan secara aman sambil minum teh tarik; blog ini pasal filem, bukan pasal agama dan sosial. Tapi jelaslah Islam yang didakwahkan disini ialah Islam yang kolot dan berfikiran sempit. Semasa Sofea and Firdaus dalam perjalanan ke Cameron Highlands, Sofea bertanya, mungkinkah Cameron Highlands turun salji? (Soalan yang tampak melambangkan tahap pemikiran dewasa.) Si Firdaus tu pula menjawab, ya mungkin, jika begitu kehendak Allah. Dia ni fasih agama, tapi tak belajar Geografi Tingkatan 2? Later on, Firdaus lectures her on her own purity and agrees to marry her because she's still a virgin, and Sofea simply nods like a good subservient Muslim woman.

Alahai imam-imam dan ustad-ustazah di Metrowealth, macam manaaa la korang nak mengajar para remaja jika begini pendekatan korang? Skrip ini jelas ditulis oleh orang yang dibesarkan di kampung, yang langsung tidak memahami orang kota seperti yang ingin dipaparkan melalui watak Sofea, Aleesya dan Hani. Bila Aleesya terlanjur dan kehilangan daranya, dia takut dirinya mengandung, lalu cuba menggoda Firdaus untuk mengahwininya dan "menyucikan" dirinya. Hei, korang tau tak ada benda panggil pregnancy test? Atau emergency contraceptive pills, yang boleh dibeli di mana-mana farmasi? Aleesya dan Hani tak reti benda ni, tapi adakah watak-watak ini yang jahil ataupun filem ini yang jahil?

Dan korang nak tunjukkan keindahan dan keagungan agama Islam pun tak berkesan. Sofea may be more conscientious (read: guilt-ridden) than her friends, tapi dia tetap gadis yang suka pergi disko dan minum arak tiap-tiap malam. Jadi apa yang mengubahnya menjadi orang yang beriman? Dia terdengar Firdaus baca Quran. Sekali je! Dengar sekali, terus meluru kembali imannya - dan ini membawa kesan seolah-olah dia mendapat orgasma. (I happen to think a bout of really good sex does bring you closer to God, tapi itu lain citer.) Lalu dia balik rumah dan terburu-buru nak cari kitab Quran untuk dibaca, tapi kelakuannya dalam adegan ini lebih kepada penagih dadah yang tengah ketagihan.

Atau mungkin hanya lakonan Raja Farah yang tersangat kayu. Begitu juga Ashraf Muslim dimana lingkungan lakonannya hanya sekadar dua tiga raut muka. Dua watak yang kononnya paling mulia, sebaliknya paling membosankan; penonton lebih rela nak tengok Yana Samsudin atau Diana Amir. (Wahai Cik Yana, awak pelakon yang berbakat. Kenapaaaalah awak mensia-siakan bakat itu dalam filem taik macam ni?) Dan adakah filem ini merupakan kali pertama Farid Kamil memainkan watak jahat? Kalau ya pun bukannya lain sangat; Zach memang keji, tapi kesemua watak-watak Farid pun agak menjengkelkan. Aku cuma heran bagaimana filem ini menganggap gadis yang bergaul bebas lebih berdosa daripada penjenayah yang ganas seperti Zach.

Tapi semua ini bukan salah Ahmad Idham. Ya, begitulah pendapat saya; saya rasa bukan dia yang mengilhamkan cerita ini, tapi seorang ahli Panel Skrip MIG sebenarnya. Dan saya yakin ianya orang yang sama yang menulis skrip Syurga Cinta. Sebab arahan Ahmad Idham tiada pembaikan, tiada beza dengan hasil kerjanya mengarah filem komedi atau seram. Tiada apa yang menunjukkan dia benar-benar bersemangat hendak membikin sebuah filem yang bercorak agama. Sudut kameranya masih tidak menarik, para pelakon masih tidak berhaluan, jalan cerita masih berserabut. (Aku nak kau jelaskan kepada aku, kenapa Sofea tetiba putus hubungan dengan Firdaus. Boleh tak? Aku tunggu jawapan kau.) Jadi mungkin filem ini bukan buah tangan dia, namun dia jugalah yang perlu menanggung salahnya. Sebab kredit cerita asal dan lakonlayar, semuanya dia rembat - seperti biasa.

Expectations: aku cuma heran dengan nama si director tu

Friday, January 7, 2011

TMBF's Top 10 Movies of 2010

Sigh, I know, I know, most movie critics publish their top 10 movies of the year during the last few days of that year. But lateness is par for the course here at Casa TMBF, and my only excuse was that the last couple of reviews I took forever had to write were for films that I knew were getting a place on the list.

Unlike 2009, this year there were no films I gave 5 stars to, and the lower end of the Top 10 consists of 4-starrers. Does that mean 2010 was a particularly bad year for cinematic quality? James Berardinelli thinks so - but allow me a little navel-gazing self-reflectiveness. See, I think I'm still kinda new to this, this film critic business. This time last year, I was already doubting the ratings I had given to a few movies ((500) Days of Summer was good, but not really that good), and even now I'm wishing I could go back to a few reviews and knock a half-star off, or even add one on.

But maybe I'm just thinking too much about it. Film criticism is an inherently subjective business anyhow, and the whole point of a year-end list is to look back on the year's movies with a little more perspective. I can't really say that 2010 was a worse year than any other, and perhaps when I've got a couple more movie-reviewing years under my belt I can be a little more insightful about cinematic trends and portents. For now, these are what I thought were the best films of 2010, ranked in ascending order of bestness:

10. Let Me In - There are only two reasons why this film isn't higher on the list. One is the chattering teenagers in my cinema, which really isn't the movie's fault; and the other is the cartoony CGI Abby, which kinda is. But you'll not find a moodier, more disturbing and more shockingly daring horror movie this year - and yes, it is better than the original.

9. Up in the Air - I wasn't sure if it belonged here, since it's a 2009 release everywhere else in the world. But since it didn't get into last year's list, here it is, because it is that good. You can criticize it for being essentially a modern-day Scrooge story, which it is - but it is adapted to the modern day with wit, intelligence, timeliness, and three flawless lead performances.

8. Buried - A devilishly clever premise, brought to life in all its nightmarish horror, that still manages to sneak in some timely satire. I still wonder about the people (*coughLowyatposterscough*) who thought it was boring, and I think it's because they watch movies at an emotional distance; they can't imagine themselves trapped in that coffin along with Paul Conroy. Their loss.

7. Paranormal Activity - Another strictly-speaking 2009 movie that deserves a place in a best-of list, regardless of the year. A testament to simplicity, both in its miniscule budget as well as how its brand of horror gets under your skin without gore or cheap jump-scares. (Well, maybe a couple.) Also the perfect rejoinder to local filmmakers who whine "jangan bandingkan filem kita dengan filem barat yang memakan belanja berjuta dolar."

6. How to Train Your Dragon - There's virtually nothing fresh or original about this story, but there's virtually not a single misstep it takes in telling it. This is popcorn blockbuster filmmaking done right - nay, done perfectly, that puts as much care into the characters and their relationships as it does the (awesome) action scenes. And if I were compiling a list of top 10 soundtracks of 2010, John Powell's work on this would be right at the top.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Okay, maybe it's getting a slightly unfair boost because it's still fresh in my mind. But I was ready to give it 4 stars, and maybe a spot at #7 or #8, before I watched it a second time, and I decided to revise my rating upward. This is a film with a great deal to say about the messy tangle of human relationships - oh, and it also has videogame battles and comicbook-style "Biffs" and "Pows". Never thought the two could work together, much less complement each other? They do.

4. The Social Network - Ah, the pleasures of deliciously quotable dialogue. But for the pleasures of a penetrating character study, a slightly more refined palate is in order. This movie could've been many things: it could've been an examination of how Facebook changed the nature of social interaction; it could've been a tribute to technological ingenuity; it could've been a strictly factual account of the development of Facebook. Instead, it's the story of the human drives and weaknesses behind how Facebook came to be, and it's terrific for what it is.

Fair Game - Another film whose place in this list probably benefits from my having recently watched it. Maybe it's me; I really really like movies about extremely intelligent, exceptionally capable people facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. This movie is that, plus it is a love story, plus it is timely and relevant, plus it is a genuinely suspenseful thriller. It may not be on many critics' best-of-year lists, but it's got pride of place on mine.

2. Inception - This list includes both films that introduce new ideas, as well as films that tell old stories well. But in terms of fresh, original, and sheer frickin' brilliant, nothing else beats Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. No other movie sparked off as many discussions and debates. No other movie hooked its audience, consisting of everyday undiscerning Malaysian moviegoers, not with special effects but with ideas. No other movie introduced them to the idea that a movie that makes them think could actually be enjoyable.

1. Toy Story 3 - Again, no apologies for the fact that this is the second Pixar movie in a row to top my list. This is the single most ambitious film of the year - yes, more so than Inception - because it deals with mortality, loss, heartbreak and the nature of love in an animated film for kids. And it's a second sequel, carrying on storylines and themes from two previous installments, and it works on every single level. Like Scott Pilgrim, it's incredibly fun on the surface but has a huge depth of meaning under it - like a sinfully sweet dessert that is also a super-nutritious meal. That may be a culinary impossibility, but Toy Story 3 proved it can be done cinematically. I was far too stingy in my initial rating - it is a well-deserved 5-star film.

Honourable Mentions: Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale, Shutter Island, Little Big Soldier, Merantau Warrior

Best Malaysian Film: Ice Kacang Puppy Love - Yes, pickings were slim amongst homegrown movies this year - not that it's ever been much better any year - but I never had any doubt that I would end up naming Aniu's directorial debut as the best of 2010. Other filem tempatan may have been more consistently enjoyable, but this one had something to say, a life lesson to impart. It wasn't imparted as well as it could've been, but this was the only local production that even made an attempt at telling an insightful and meaningful story. I'm still waiting for Aniu's next.

The same caveat from last year applies; this list only comprises films that were released in cinemas in Malaysia (with one exception), which means it doesn't include a lot of the real best films of 2010 - or at least, the ones that are on most critics' lists. But I certainly hope I'll find time to watch the likes of Black Swan, The King's Speech, Winter's Bone, 127 Hours, Never Let Me Go, True Grit - and you just know some of those didn't make it here due to cinema distributors rather than the censors - and possibly maybe please-don't-hold-me-to-it review them here. Although if they do make it to our screens, I'll review 'em for sure. Hopefully.

So, goodbye to 2010, and yay to 2011, which will be bringing us Thor, The Green Lantern, Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom, Cowboys and Aliens, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, and perhaps even a few movies with concise titles. It's easy to tell which are the ones that are sure to make it to local cinemas, because hey, this is Malaysia. Gotta take what we get.