Genre: Comedy, Drama
Genre: Comedy, Drama
For F*** Magazine
Director : Robert Stromberg
Cast : Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville
Genre : Fantasy, Adventure
Rating : PG (Some Frightening Scenes)
Director : Bryan Singer
Cast : Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Evan Peters, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Fan Bingbing, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Josh Helman, Lucas Till, Evan Jonigkeit
Genre : Action, Adventure
Opens: : 22 May 2014
Rating : PG13 (Some Violence & Brief Coarse Language)
Singapore was among the seven cities chosen for the global premieres of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Stars Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage and Fan Bingbing graced the blue carpet on 14th May and held a press conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on the 15th. Here are some photo highlights from the press conference that day.
For F*** Magazine
For F*** Magazine
Director : Nithiwat Tharathorn
Cast : Sukrit Wisetkaew, Chermarn Boonyasak, Sukollawat Kanaros
Genre : Romance, Thai
Opens: : 15 May 2014
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met? Why yes, this reviewer is convinced he and Kate Beckinsale will someday find true happiness with each other. Okay, so that’s not what The Teacher’s Diary is about. In this Thai film, Song (Wisetkaew), a former competitive wrestler, becomes a teacher at the houseboat branch of Bann Gaeng Wittaya School. Located in a rural community, lacking running water and electricity and attended by just four students, this wasn’t quite what Mr. Song imagined when he signed up to teach. He discovers a diary belonging to Ms. Ann (Boonyasak), the teacher who preceded him, and after reading of her time with the students and of her personal struggles he quickly becomes enamoured with this woman without even knowing what she really looks like. He continues to earn the respect, trust and friendship of his young charges as he dreams of Ann, embarking on a quest to find her.
Director Nithiwat Tharatorn took inspiration from two unrelated true stories, one of a producer’s friend who had fallen in love with someone after reading the diary she had left behind in an office desk drawer (the two eventually did get to know each other and marry) and the other of a teacher in a houseboat school in Chiang Mai. This is an amalgamation of “inspirational teacher” tale and star-crossed romantic comedy drama, and it’s a mix that pays off. Sweet, moving and gently funny, The Teacher’s Diary has a very charming earnestness to it. Oddly enough though, there are a few bits reminiscent of horror movies, including a jump scare during a dream sequence, but these are done playfully and infrequently enough. It’s beautiful to look at too. Cinematographer Naruphol Chokanapitak serves up vistas of a remote idyll far from the maddening crowd, with lush greenery, mist-covered mountains and lots of pretty sunsets.
Most romances tend to go like this: boy meets girl, boy and girl initially don’t like each other, then it grows into mutual toleration and later affection, there’s a misunderstanding, they break up but then get back together again and stay that way. Here’s a movie in which our male and female leads spend pretty much the entirety of the film apart, its unconventional structure having Song’s time at the school in 2012 unfold parallel to Ann’s in 2011. The alternating timelines are presented coherently and there’s a montage juxtaposing Song interacting with the kids with Ann doing the same, featuring some pretty slick, elegant transitions. The bonds that Song and Ann each form with the kids are given as much attention as the “someday” wishful romance, and one boy even gets an arc about how he plans to follow in the family fishing business and is therefore reluctant to continue school.
Sukrit Wisetkaew, known by his nickname “Bie” in Thailand, brings a wide-eyed, wistful, “aww shucks” appeal to Song. The way he becomes enchanted with Ann after reading the entries in her forgotten journal is genuinely endearing, and not once does his infatuation become creepy or unsettling in that stalker-y manner because he consistently conveys such pure intentions. Actress and model Laila Boonyasak (formerly known as and credited here as Chermarn Boonyasak) brings an assertiveness to the part of Ann, a passionate educator who favours an interactive approach to teaching instead of rote memorisation. In the opening scene, we learn that she is reassigned to the houseboat because she refuses to remove a tattoo of three stars on her wrist. She is spirited and dedicated but never an overly-idealised “dream girl” caricature, the relationship troubles between her and her boyfriend Nui presented compellingly. All the kids in this are great too.
While The Teacher’s Diary might be a little too cloying and twee for some and features a good deal of slapstick humour, it never overdoes the melodrama or the silliness and we get pulled into this unique “relationship” between two parties who for the bulk of the film are unaware of the other’s existence. Some of the jokes are Thai language puns, the subtitles valiantly offering some kind of an interpretation. For a film that sounds like it would consist mostly of the male protagonist moping about pining for some girl, there’s a good deal that happens and there are several unexpected turns in the narrative. Thsis reviewer found himself rooting for Song to eventually find Ann and did shed a tear or two. Kate Beckinsale likes sensitive guys, right?
Summary: Romantic, heartwarming and gorgeously filmed, The Teacher’s Diary is at once old-school and unconventional, sweet and compelling instead of mawkishly sentimental.
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
For F*** Magazine
It has been ten years since Godzilla: Final Wars, and the King of Monsters has returned to reclaim his rubble-built throne in this film. Lt. Ford Brody (Taylor-Johnson) is an explosive ordnance disposal technician, who has a young son (Carlson Bode) with his wife, nurse Elle (Olsen). As a child, Ford lived in Japan, where his parents Joe (Cranston) and Sandy (Binoche) were supervisors at a nuclear power plant. A catastrophic incident in which the power plant was attacked by a Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism, or MUTO, still haunts Ford. 15 years later, the MUTO has re-emerged and as the military scrambles to fight it, scientist Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Watanabe) believes only one thing can truly stop it: the powerful ancient creature known as Godzilla – but not without causing its share of damage.
For F*** Magazine
“Journey into the body” movies like Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace can be fun, but it’s often “journey into the mind” films that are truly intriguing and trippy. In this psychological thriller, Mark Strong plays John Washington, a “memory detective” working for the agency Mindscape. He has the ability to take subjects back into their memories and has used this skill to solve several crimes. Reeling from the loss of his wife, he takes a job from Mindscape boss Sebastian (Cox) to help 16-year-old Anna Greene (Farmiga) break her hunger strike. What appears to be a simple job soon becomes unpredictable and dangerous, as John tries to figure out if the girl is a helpless victim or a sociopathic mastermind herself, all while memories of his late wife intrude into his mind.
Mindscape is the feature film debut of director Jorge Dorado and is produced by Jaume Collet-Serra, director of Orphan, Unknown and Non-Stop. Collet-Serra co-founded studio Ombra Films as a platform for promising Spanish directors to make English-language movies, akin to what Luc Besson did for France with his studio EuropaCorp. Also known as Anna, Mindscape aims for a Hitchcockian flavour but comes off feeling more like a 90s erotic/psychological thriller, a tamer Basic Instinct meets The Sixth Sense. If we’re talking more recent films, there’s a tinge of Red Lights and Trance here too. Dorado creates a good deal of atmosphere, but he relies on tried and tested suspense movie tricks such as disorienting editing, recurring visual motifs (clocks, staircases, roses), slow focus pulling, and a score featuring what sounds like the string section of an orchestra having a collective seizure.
Sibling team Guy and Martha Holmes’ screenplay is filled with awkward, clumsy chunks of exposition and some unnatural dialogue, but the set-up does pull one in and the mystery is initially engrossing. As can be expected of this genre, there are several twists and turns and while there isn’t an outright preposterous cop-out, it’s still far from truly satisfying. Still, there is a valiant attempt made at characterisation and like with a good page-turner, this reviewer wanted to keep watching to find out how it all plays out. Films featuring a Lolita figure can end up feeling trashy and exploitative, and Mindscape doesn’t feel too cheap and schlocky in that way.
Mark Strong is one of those actors who gets typecast as villains in Hollywood films (hence his inclusion in Jaguar’s “Good to be Bad” advertising campaign) but his intensity and presence give him more range than a string of baddie parts suggests. As the “memory detective” plunged into the skeletons-in-closets-filled world of a wealthy and powerful family, Strong’s mix of wariness and vulnerability is quite convincing. The interplay between him and Taissa Farmiga is quite fun to watch. Farmiga bites into her meaty role in an entertaining fashion, her portrayal of the disturbed Anna Greene reminiscent of many a Saoirse Ronan performance. Anna is part Cole Sear, part Catherine Tramell (or is she?) and Farmiga gamely unravels the Gordian knot that is the character before the audience and is mesmerising at it. Brian Cox doesn’t really do much in his supporting role.
This neo-noir mystery film falls back on many conventions of the genre, substituting “psychologist playing head games with a mysterious female client” with “memory detective playing head games with a mysterious female client”. Strong and Farmiga work well with each other but ultimately, Mindscape is more convoluted than complex and while its game of “who’s manipulating who?” is intriguing in some places, it’s tiresome in others. It’s a twisty whodunit that busies itself with old stylistic tricks and lacks a sensational pay-off.
Summary: Taissa Farmiga is captivating and Mark Strong plays against her well, but Mindscape feels too much like any number of psychological thrillers even with its sci-fi-tinged setup.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
For F*** Magazine
Director : Steven Brill
Cast : Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, Oliver Hudson
Genre : Comedy
Opens: : 8 May 2014
After starring in a segment of last year’s Razzie-winning Movie 43 and directing a separate vignette in the atrocity, we expect Elizabeth Banks would be feeling a good deal of shame. Director Steven Brill helmed the “iBabe” sketch in Movie 43, so perhaps it’s fitting that Banks and Brill would collaborate on a movie called Walk of Shame. Following a drunken one-night-stand with bartender Gordon (Marsden), Meghan Miles (Banks) stumbles through Los Angeles without her phone, her purse or her car. This is bad enough as it is, but Meghan is a local news anchor with a major network job on the line. Throughout her day, she is pursued by cops (Suplee and Burr), has a run-in with a drug-dealing gang, steals a bicycle from a kid and gets sprayed in the face with mace by a bus driver.
Walk of Shame is the latest entry in a comedy subgenre we like to call “attractive woman embarrassing herself”. This can easily take a turn for the tasteless and that is indeed what Walk of Shame does. The contrived narrative jumps through hoops, each situation Meghan gets entangled in more unlikely and forced than the last. Almost all the gags are built around cheap racial stereotypes: there’s a slobbering, lecherous Middle-Eastern taxi driver (Ken Davitian), a trio of crackhouse-dwelling thugs, a timid Orthodox Jewish man (P.J. Byrne), an Asian lady who runs a massage parlour…we’re surprised a Royal Canadian Mountie didn’t randomly appear. There’s an art, if you will, to being offensive – the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen and George Carlin have mastered the skill of pushing buttons in the name of comedy. There’s no art whatsoever to Walk of Shame, where a running gag in which Meghan is mistaken for a prostitute constitutes “humour”.
Elizabeth Banks can certainly be funny, charming and sexy, but Walk of Shame’s hackneyed, crass and juvenile script does her no favours. While Walk of Shame isn’t a full-on gross-out comedy, all that’s happening to this poor woman still feels demeaning and awkward instead of funny. James Marsden doesn’t do much in this, probably having around ten minutes of screen time and as the nice guy who helps and falls in love with our protagonist, he’s not playing against type or anything. Gillian Jacobs shows up as Meghan’s wing-woman with Sarah Wright as the tagalong ditzy friend, and those couldn’t be more “stock character” if they tried. The rest of the supporting cast simply plays to the hoary stereotypes written for them, though this reviewer must admit that Alphonso McAuley is moderately funny as effeminate drug-addled gangster Pookie.
Comedies involving a sequence of misadventures can certainly be funny – everything from Planes, Trains and Automobiles to the first Hangover film has proven that. Unfortunately, Walk of Shame is flawed from the premise up: As a TV news anchor, Meghan is a public figure and characters only recognise her as such whenever it’s convenient for the story. Having directed such critical failures as Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Without a Paddle and Drillbit Taylor, Steven Brill can now add Walk of Shame to the list and he’s doubly responsible here, having also written the screenplay.
SUMMARY: Certainly nothing to be proud of. At least the title’s honest.
RATING: 1.5 out of 5 Stars