Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dead On Arrival: The Beautiful Life

Regardless of whatever minuscule sense of forced enthusiasm I may have had upon first hearing about the show, The Beautiful Life had some promise. It was bad, no doubts about that. On a scale of nastiness, I think it equates to two day old pizza; close to putridity but not totally impossible to fill up on.

Mischa Barton has my empathy when we're talking about whatever personal issues she may be facing but god does she need a 4 year degree + masters at whatever school of acting. I couldn't decide which was worse, the lines shifted from awkward to corny in nanoseconds. But possibly worse were the jerky camera shots that panned at inopportune moments and seemed to be handled by a 5 year old in an epileptic fit.

But. And I suppose a lot of people might disagree with this but the premise was quite interesting. The modeling world as a whole comes across as pretty superficial and despite what was said in Bruno, I find modeling to be a hard job - cracking that market is close to impossible. For every Elle Macpherson is a thousand other wannabe models left in the pages of mail-order catalogs or relegated to a 15 minute role in any one of the Top Model franchises or worse. And I know that the title refers to 'the beautiful people', a term commonly attached to models but do you have to make the non-models so friggin' unattractive?


We get it. We really do.

The set up actually seemed to pave to possibly complex; underage models who become the 'next big thing', the behind the scene drugs, the pay inequality between male and female models, models with dying careers, a spotted potential from the streets, a shamed model possibly past her prime. And all that was just in the premiere episode. Given the right treatment, it would have made quite a good look into the industry and possibly shed some light on what it's like behind the glitz and glamour of being a fashion model.

Given the limitations of network TV, I suppose whatever shown would have been a sanitized version far from the actual truth anyway. But it's too bad we won't ever be able to find out and make a valid judgment.

Given my mixed feelings about the show, I will confess that I'm quite gutted by the axing of the show.




Goodbye, Chris Andrews, you Matt Saracen type of hunky country folk. I solemnly promise to keep a look out for you in other stuff,
Benjamin Hollingsworth.

If there's anything to take away from this show is this: I was so right about the eerie Sara Paxton/Mischa Barton resemblance! I first noticed the resemblance in The Last House on the Left remake where I spent my face hiding in my hands at the squeamish bits while marveling over the almost doppelganger-ness of the two.



They both share a round face, light blue eyes and the chin-butt dimple, no?


Okay, maybe Mischa doesn't have the dimple but I swear watching them in The Beautiful Life is so trippy cause after that eureka realization, I always figured they'd eventually be cast as sisters or family. Turns out rival models will do for the CW.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Legendary TV: The Office (UK)

I initially intended to do a 'Versus' post between the UK and US editions of The Office. But truth of the matter is I like them separately and it would be unfair to compare the two seeing as right now, all they seem to share is the premise of 'zany things happen at the office'. And even that single truth doesn't always hold true in the case of The Office (US). So in a series of posts updated very sporadically, but really quite possibly never again, I will dissect my favourite television series(es) of all time. For the interest of this one YouTube video that I want to share, I'll start with The Office (UK). Mild spoilers ahead, mind you.

No matter what shit pile movie Ricky Gervais ends up in, odds are, I have an obligation to watch. This is after all one half of the duo who produced one of the best comedies on TV of all time. This is mothereffin' David Brent we're talking about.

- quite possibly one of the most genuine asshats portrayed on TV ever.
If you want the rainbow, you've gotta put up with the rain - do you know which philosopher said that? Dolly Parton. And people say she's just a big pair of tits.

- singer of Freelove Freeway - a tune that I occasionally find myself humming out of nowhere.

- ruiner of Simply Red's 'If You Don't Love Me By Now'. Frankly everytime this song comes on I just end up in giggles.

- and it has to be mentioned, the charity dance. Such bizarre choreography and body spasms has yet to be recreated anywhere else and at such a magnitude of epicness.

But The Office was more than the exploits of one unstoppable boss. It was a solid team effort through and through. The cast comprising of office suck-up, Gareth, lovelorn salesman Tim, his object of affection, engaged secretary Dawn were the precious notes that added to the beautiful orchestra that was the show. Steven Merchant (Oggy, Oggy, Oggy!) and Ricky Gervais wrote a script that brilliantly captured the inanity of working life.
David Brent: Avoid employing unlucky people - throw half of the pile of CVs in the bin without reading them.

Tim: The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. I mean, you don't know them, it wasn't your choice. And yet you spend more time with them than you do your friends or your family. But probably all you have in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day.

David Brent: You just have to accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

There was such incredible amounts of heart in this film, especially in the way the Tim and Dawn romance panned out. Although their screen time together is limited to flirtatious banter and messing with Gareth, we intuitively know that they're just simply meant for each other. Dawn's fiance, Lee, never comes across as overtly terrible - he isn't quite simplistically Hollywood-bad for her.
Dawn (on how Lee proposed): He proposed on a Valentine's day, although he didn't do it face to face, he did it in one of the little Valentine bits in the paper. I think he had to pay for it by the word, because it just said 'Lee love Dawn, marriage?' which you know, I like, because it's not often you get to something that's both romantic and thrifty.

He does care for her in his own way but they just don't get each other. Not the way Tim and Dawn do. Especially given the slow-burning chemistry behind Tim and Dawn (Tawn? Dawm? Dim?). Theirs was never a quick-flash summer style romance. Instead it was a kindling fire, well tended to with the direction of Merchant and Gervais.

The funniest thing about Gareth Keenan is that I used to know a guy who was exactly just like him. Overly eager to impress, excruciatingly pedantic about all things unnecessary and unaware of his unpleasantness, Gareth, and the guy I knew, is a total headcase. Yet when played against the dullness of a paper office and filled with the normalcy of co-workers, Gareth became perfect comedic fuel. The Office (UK) applies the words of Arnold Beisser,
to great effect.
"Tragedy and comedy are but two aspects of what is real, and whether we see the tragic or the humorous is a matter of perspective"

Wernham Hogg is a fucking tragic place to be at, more so if one has to spend eight hours there a day, five days in a week. But it's by highlighting the tragic that the comedy appears.
Tim: No I don't talk about my love life for a very good reason, and that reason is I don't have one. Which is very good news for the ladies-I am still available. I'm a heck of a catch, cos, er well look at it. I live in Slough, in a lovely house, with my parents. I have my own room, which I've had since yep, since I was born. That's seen a lot of action I tell you. Mainly dusting. I went to university for a year as well, before I dropped out, so I'm a quitter. So, er, form an orderly queue ladies.

And of course let's not forget the other office oddballs. Keith in particular, I'm very fond of. The drollness of this guy, who we know is a 'lifer' at Wernham Hogg, is just portrayed to utter perfection. As a whole, I think the entire cast performed far better than I could have comprehended. But for such a small role, Keith sure stole the limelight whenever he was near the fringes of the light.

When I first watched the Christmas special, I just about lost it in the last half hour. That was hands down one of the best series ending ever. To see such a well-loved show go out on a high, 'tis one of the most purest forms of joy TV can bring you. I shall forever be indebted to Steven Merchant (who I have been nursing a crush on since I first saw the series in '05) and Ricky Gervais for coming up this slice of perfection. As David Brent would say, I just want to be remembered
"Simply, as, the man who put a smile on the face of all who he met." These guys, best writing partners ever by the way, have truly done that. Their podcast with Karl Pilkington and Extras has continued to give me the chuckles long after the dust of The Office has settled.

And the best part is; they're back for more!

I have been waiting to post this up since midday when I first read about it via ONTD and am willing to forgo sleep to share the news. Right now my nipples could glass. I am just that excited.

31/08/09: All 5 videos from ONTD available over here. <3 Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Squee(!!)-dom Town, party of one

Screw the G.I. Joes, Wolverines and Green Lanterns of the world, I want my 500 Days of Summer right here, right now!

Being in a country that mostly neglects the independent for the commercial hits, I am fairly sure that 'tis a no-no for the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, Marc Webb-helmed flick of the honest-to-goodness trials and tribulations that being in love can bring, at least any time in the conceivable future. But since there was the curiosity of Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom being screened here, I hold out hope for the impossible. With the buzz that 500 Days and the solid earnings its been getting, who knows?

In the meanwhile, here's some adorable and I mean, truly adorable videos of the two to tide the want over:

As Sid and Nancy, of Sid and Nancy fame.

&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br/&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=";amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;vid=5db01b36-af64-41f0-91b8-ef86e818f69b" target="_new" title="Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Cinemash &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Sid and Nancy&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Video: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Cinemash &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Sid and Nancy&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;

via Cinemash

And them again starring in a video clip for one of my favourite She & Him songs, 'Why Do You Let Me Stay Here'. Your ovaries will flow, ladies. Floods of estrogen that only insane levels of Squee(!!)-ness can produce will engulf your frame. Gents, beware. A tear might even be shed over the realization of the unattainability of Miss Deschanel (this mostly means you, Nick).

via Pajiba (where else?)

You simply must yield to this cuteness overload.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey commands thee.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's this?! A beat in my shriveled black heart?

For the most part, I abhor romantic comedies. I do not particularly enjoy sweetness and saccharine shoved down my orifices, thank you very much. Doubly so if it involves marriage. Never having been to a ceremony myself (my friends, this is a hint), I cannot say I understand just how taxing preparing for the day might be itself. If Hollywood and Bride Wars taught me anything, is that thereotically, a ceremony is hard work. Picking presents, showers, hen's and buck's night, the dress, bridesmaid, catering - it all adds up, and the fun, just simply isn't quite there anymore.

I've always figured that if I should get married, I'd do the right thing and elope. Why force your best friends into wearing dresses they don't particularly like or sit through hours long dinner just because they had the due misfortune of working with you? And well, when the divorce happens, I wouldn't need to face the embarrassment of all those too bad, so sad, but I totally called it! smug faces since everyone knows that's too be expected with quickie, unconventional marriages.

But this. CNN called out the irony of using Chris Brown's 'Forever', but you know what? Damn the man. It is a damn catchy song and while they could have probably used the old classics like Dean Martin's 'Love', well, it would have been that much more trite. Plus, you know that red head from 0:32 to 0:44 wouldn't have been able to bust out those sweet dance skills he's been frontin' since the MC Hammer Pants era had it been any other song.

I hope against hope that Jill and Kevin fall on the 'stay together' side of the 50%. It brings tears to the eyes and hope to the heart to see real magic on a day raped time and time again by the Hollywood machine.

Now, my only question is, when will this be incorporated into a movie? And even better, why didn't any writer think this up in the first place?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

For Your Consideration: Magical Education

For the most part, the basic magic education that Harry, Ron and Hermione go through in Hogwarts consists of the following subjects:- Defence Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions and Herbology. Sure, there is a smattering of a few other subjects such as Care of Magical Creatures, Divinity, Arithmancy and so on.

Given this, wouldn't the logical conclusion be that Wizards and Witches from Hogwarts are unable to do Math??

I find this very disturbing. Since, it seems, wizards and witches only attend school beginning at age 11, it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that they don't know simple algebra. Do they know how to compute something like 4 multiplied by 25? Say, if a customer comes into their shop and chooses to buy 5 Broomsticks or whatever at 85 galleons each, and receives 325 galleons from the customer, would the shopkeeper know that the customer is short by 100 galleons?

There doesn't seem to be a spell revealed just yet on how algebra and/or arithmetic is performed. Granted, there probably is not a real need for advanced stuff like Linear Algebra or Real Analysis, but some simple calculus might be worthwhile too. I mean, there are businesses in the wizarding world and businesses need some form of business model; most business models employ the use of calculus in their optimization process.

It boggles the mind, really. And sure, there are other really useful subjects that the magical world seems to forget. Languages, for example. Even basic Geography. I'd be surprised if a Wizard could point out where New Zealand is, assuming even basic general knowledge.

So, there you have it. Is the wizarding world really full of wizards and witches who, however powerful their wand work, are inept at even basic Mathematics? This really is a dark and difficult time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Movie Kakis Stamp of Epic Summer Movie Fail: Transformers 2

(guys we need a stamp.. of the Pedobear stamp of approval kind)

You know a movie is bad when you make killer robots idolized by young and old folk both far and wide, into naggy, whiny, and not to sound like a complete teenager but really lame androids devoid of personality or any instance of coolness. Okay, so there were some personality involved. But good heavens, have we not learned from the School of Me-sa Jar Jar Episode 1 Disaster? Racial stereotypes were never funny and will never be funny. If simple comedians with a twenty minute set list can't get away with racially biased jokes, how can a full length 2 hours and 20 minutes movie hope to?

Across the board, as Ad would put it, "big massive clubbed thumbs down" from all of us. For what it is worth, this is my summary, as demonstrated in Paint.

Graph of Transformers

Since I'm a born optimist, I will say that the one good thing that came out from this show is that Nick, the token Y chromosome chapter of the group finally came around to recognizing Megan Fox's blatant unhotness:

"Dude, she's kinda plastic".

Never has there been sweeter words spoken in the face of abominable epic robot fail.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review: The Brothers Bloom

If there was one important thing to take away from movies in year 2007 was the arrival of one Rian Johnson. He crashed into the scene with a rocket launcher in the form of Brick and it was hard to ignore the tour-de-force that was that film. He breathed new life and boundless energy into a normal whodunnit film and twisted and melded movie genres into this crossfire of intrigue and impossible coolness. Brick was a highly unusual film in that regardless of the conceit, the film was always grounded in the characters. The stylized dialogue may have been hard to take at first, but eventually it washes over you as you focus on the heart of the story that was Brendan's/Joseph Gordon-Levitt struggle with uncovering the truth. Every hit that he took, all the blood that he shed, the confusion and the loneliness that was Brendan's world - we felt it right there with him. It was a holy trinity of amazing direction, casting and writing. So, how do you top such an amazing first go?

Like this:

Well, apparently if you are Rian Johnson, you simply pull out more of that magic stuff from your bag of tricks and spin another tale of intrigue and impossible coolness. Again, much like his debut film, The Brothers Bloom relies on a certain conceit - the hyperreality of a world of con men. Unlike say, Matchstick Men or the Ocean's trilogy, the story's setting, rather exotic actually - Montenegro, Prague, New Jersey, among others, is merely a tool to deliver some of the best written characters in recent film. It could have been set anywhere. So long as we had these characters, it still would have been magic.

Mark Ruffalo's Stephen and Adrien Brody's Bloom are two brothers who make a living out of being con men. Stephen is to put it simply, the brains behind the operations. He calculates and plans the action almost as if he were a playwright constructing little plays where the lead is his brother. This perfectly ties in with his role as the elder of the two, where he guides and protects Bloom through his schemes. Bloom, on the other hand, is the reluctant actor who regardless of his personal disinterest, finds himself following the whims and fancies of Stephen. Even though he hates the job, he loves his brother, and that is always his sole motivation for going along with the con. Together with a silent sidekick, Bang Bang (Rinko Kinkuchi), the boys decide to pull their last con on a rich eccentric lonely woman, Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Bloom ends up falling in love with Penelope which jeopardizes the entire con, but before you expect a Kodak moment-type ending, Johnson throws a monkey wrench into the works.

In the age of recycled story ideas and cliched creations, Johnson's movie is like a tall drink of cold water in the burning desert. Hollywood is suffering from a derth of original ideas. Unless Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry or Wes Anderson writes something new, it is a backwash of unnecessary sequels, remakes and immaterial productions. Therefore, it is beyond refreshing to find this nugget of a film. Infact, it is this type of rare original film that makes me keep going back for more regardless of the countless turds that I consume (then bitch about) from the Hollywood factory. It's two for two for Mr. Johnson. And for that I commend you.

The casting in this film is impeccable. In fact, the film cannot be if one of the actors were taken out of the equation. The playful and unwielding brotherly affection between Stephen and Bloom is nicely contrasted with the sweet romance simmering between Bloom and Penelope. The central focus of this film is, of course, Bloom and Penelope. Both are characters who have lived a forced-life that they never wanted. So when they eventually fall in love and discover one another, it is a highly delightful visual feast. The chemistry between Brody and Weisz is so believable that I cannot help but smile with glee as their story unfolds. From their very first awkward meeting to their first kiss, as they learn to love and be loved amongst the artifice, there really are no words left but, 'Awwwwww.'

But while all the characters were solid, the story wouldn't quite sell so well if not for the authenticity of the rich eccentric lonely woman. Quirkiness is a difficult thing to balance. Too much and it becomes Phoebe Buffet in Friends. Not enough and it becomes a, "Oh my god. So random" passing character. Rachel Weisz completely owned this. Her underlying eagerness and charm grounded what could have been an overly fantastical movie.
Penelope's enthusiasm adds a depth of sweetness to what is essentially a story about cons and lies. Where there is the conned, there is also the con men. Adrien Brody is so effective at portraying the younger brother who is slowly unveiling his own truth at every turn. The way his cynicism washes off in the presence of Penelope, is enough to make my cold black heart bleed for more. And that I do. Rian Johnson is undoubtedly one of the most exciting new writer/director on the block. I can't wait to see what else he comes up with. Statistically speaking, it looks to be perfection.


I still don't quite understand how this movie ended up screening in Malaysia. More so because it received a general release as opposed to a more probable arthouse limited release. And especially in light of the school holidays where the public has been deluged with nothing but animated films and Disney-friendly fare. I wasn't around here to know if Brick ever received screening over here. But I dare not question the logic for I am so glad that TGV Cinemas decided to bring it over. This gives me hope that I'll be able to catch Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and 500 Days of Summer eventually. The proper (and legal) way, that is.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


As a follow up to Karen's "Dissecting Trailers" post, I thought I'd post this video because it's just so lol-worthy.

There's plenty more where that came from...

Honestly, the Twilight brouhaha still evades me. I didn't read the book (and never intend to) but I did watch that cheese ball of a movie when it came out. I feel sad for the tweens of the 2000s who will grow up with this in their generational legacy - the vampire who dazzles.

Stephenie Meyer be damned!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dissecting trailers: When whatever sense of awe you felt while watching the trailer is decimated by the shitfest that was the actual film//Wolverine

As a constant movie-goer (despite the inactivity on this page, I do still watch the films rather religiously), you get used to the sneaky tricks of the movie execs when it comes to movie trailers. Movie trailers are essentially carefully edited sound bytes and clips, carefully constructed to give a taste of the milk to the audience without giving away the entire cow. All trailers, that's right, every single last one of 'em, can be broken down into these three categories:

1) The ones which incite a Happy-plosion in your pants
Usually reserved for the summer flicks or films which come with a ton of fan-fare.

These trailers capture the complete essence of the movie in 2 minutes and change and it metaphorically shoots a liter full of adrenaline into your system making your pupils dilate an inch wider, your heart pump just that much faster and your saliva glands to go into overdrive. But you don't need any further convincing since you've already bought your tickets, like, two months ago. Simply put, these trailers are the celluloid version of ecstacy. You watch it and you can't help but get high and want more.

See: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Harry Potter #6, Watchmen, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, films featuring Jason Statham.

2) The 'Been There, Done That' ones which attempt to promise you something more but is really the same thing wrapped up in different coloured paper
Usually encapsulates the bulk of these genre films: holiday movies, romantic comedies, horror movies, films by Michael Bay or the Judd Apatow clan and films which feature Will Ferrell.

South Park explained these kind of trailers best in this season 6 gem:

You basically go in to watch this movies because familiarity breeds security. Comparable to McDonald's, there will be no unexpected plot twists over here, just more of that magic juice you know and want.

See: Any movie with Matthew McConaughey - even more so if it also features Kate Hudson, or movies directed by Uwe Boll (in that you know it's going to create new levels of suck)

3) The rare ones that unexpectedly grab your attention and make you hunt it down at all cost
Usually reserved for the foreign flicks, most independent flicks, or commercial films that truly intrigue the movie-goer, which is very rare in this day and age.

Now this third section of trailers is a big reason why even the most jaded movie-goer, scarred by brainless action films and neanderthal comedies, continue to brave the hallowed halls of the cinema. These trailers are not like the first, where it condenses everything and shoves it all up in your face in flashing lights and cut-rate editing. With the former, you don't have a choice but to sit there wide-eyed and slack-jawed as the movie execs spoon feed you every last drop from the magic drug. With this kind of trailer instead, it's a slow-burning kindling where something about the trailer gets under your skin - be it the music, the actors, the plot, the presentation of it all - and it manifests with continued viewings until the passion bursts forth into full-blown yearning. You watch it not because the movie folks tell you you should, but because you just really want to.

See: Brick, Cloverfield, Shaun of the Dead, Sunshine, Stranger than Fiction, My Summer of Love, The Reader.

There's no better high in the movie world then when a film totally and irrevocably delivers every bit of awesomeness as promised in the trailer. Such viewing treats like 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' or 'Crank' is made that much more awesome because even though you knew some parts were coming, there was more from where that came from. The good parts weren't solely contained in the trailer and there were hidden goodness in the film. You walk out of the theater thinking, "Oh yeah. Totally worth that 11 bucks I spent!"

On the other hand, some movies are so generic and terrible that watching that two and a half minutes of footage sixty times is actually better than sitting though the 120 minutes of film time. All that stuff you were cracking up over in the trailer are now being groaned about.
You can't help but feel cheated and embittered after realizing that you were basically conned into going into this movie that sucked massive shuddering balls.

Wolverine and Watchmen, I'm looking at you. In fact I'll give Watchmen a pass, since I was never really as into it as I was with the former. But oh, Wolverine, how you shat over my psych-itude and rubbed it in the turgid waters of cheesiness and predictability. At long last you promised a perfectly cast Gambit, but delivered about 7 minutes of screen time. You turned my snarling, raging anti-hero into a love-sick puppy with retractable claws. Before any nuance of real emotion can be properly conveyed, messy inane CGI-effect destroyed the atmosphere. The remaining boner that was stifled in my pants from viewing the trailer slowly deflated as the movie progressed. Nay. My proverbial penis actually retracted inch-by-inch into my body at the unghastly sight of my Wolverine being annihilated. Not cool, dudes. Just not cool.