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Hot Fuzz Review : Smokin’ Hot Y’all! June 23, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Hot Fuzz, Movie Reviews, Movies.
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Before stepping into the cinema hall, I thought this would be a parody of cop movies akin to the slapstick styles of “Naked Gun” or even “Police Academy”. I was wrong. It was more of “Bad Boys II” meets “The Office” – in true British satire.

Enter Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), Britain’s best policeman – sorry, police officer (as corrected by Angel himself in order to ensure the term isn’t sexist); whose arrests are 400% higher than any other officers, has 9 commendations for outstanding police work and has been stabbed at least 3 times. In fact, Angel is so good that he has made his team and his superiors look like pansies – resulting in him being transferred to the most ‘ulu’ of places in the British countryside, where there’s nary even a mobile phone signal. There’s a good side to all this, though. They’ve promoted him to Sergeant in Sandford, Gloucester – which is ‘the safest village in the country’, according to his new boss, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent).

On the first night in the village, Angel begins to clean up the town by taking on those who dare resist the law – underage drinkers, Harry Potter look-alikes wearing traffic cones and drunk drivers. However, he finds out that his style of police work is too much for the current constables, who prefer to sit around eating chocolate cake, drink beer at the pub at 11 am and make fun of his serious nature. Angel even finds himself stuck with the bumbling Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who aspires to do all the ‘cool things’ he has seen cops do in movies. The most ‘villainous’ man he’s met so far, is the local supermarket owner, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), whose ‘slashing’ prices are a ‘killer’.

However, when a series of ‘accidents’ occur in the quiet village, Angel suspects foul play – yet no one seems to believe him, with the exception of Danny. Putting his reputation and his career on the line, Angel begins his own investigation – and finding out in the end that there is more here than meets the eye.

Simon Pegg is delightfully serious and stern-looking in the film, portraying his character with conviction as a police officer with a no-nonsense attitude as he tries to enforce the law in the quiet, laid-back village. As for Nick Frost, his portrayal of the bumbling police officer who follows Pegg’s character everywhere like a pet dog – all eager and bright-eyed – gives us a lovable character that you can’t hate.

And what better way to portray the ‘villain’ than Timothy Dalton? Dalton may not have been the best Bond ever (the jury is still out on this one), but oozes a villainous arrogance, combined with the famous charm in his portrayal of Simon Skinner.

There are also other notable cameos in the film, which will trigger a sense of familiarity – and there’s a general feeling of fun in the air as you watch them tackle their role. Even the famous Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett have cameos – but they’re in such disguise that you’ll miss them.

Director Edgar Wright seems to take delight in mixing and matching various cinematography styles, made famous in films like “The Matrix”, “Bad Boys II”, and TV shows such as “NYPD Blue” and “CSI”. Throughout the film, you’ll find yourself recognizing several camerawork techniques that may give you goose bumps – for a relatively new director, Wright has perfected these styles and created his own blend.

The beauty about this film is that it doesn’t try to follow the usual cop story formula we’ve become tired and accustomed to in Hollywood films – except when poking gentle fun at it. The comical moments aren’t blatantly put out on the screen for you to see, nor are they crudely executed. Rather, you’ll find yourself snickering more often than not, and being stunned by the inconceivable jokes that slip through the seams. With lines like “By the power of Greyskull” and scenes that would make you chortle the next time you watch another cop movie, what could go wrong? Nothing, in this case!

Throwing out the unexpected and giving homage to films like “Goodfellas” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”; the wrap up of the case isn’t quite what it seems. Director Edgar Wright decides to hurl you along into another 30 minutes of pure action which will leave you chortling at the blatant scene-for-scene mimic of “Taxi Driver”, “Bad Boys II”, “Lethal Weapon” and even “Matrix Revolutions”.

Having never watched “Shaun of the Dead”, I can’t compare the much-talked about sleeper hit with the latest offering from the same creators. However, with the stroke of genius that is “Hot Fuzz” – I think I’ll start ordering my copy of “Shaun of the Dead” right now – after catching the “Fuzz” the second time round.

The Drowmage rates this as : 5 stars

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A Video on Global Warming : Which Road Would You Take? June 14, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's Philosophy, Environment.
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What this guy says has merit. Spread the word, people. Instead of blogging about that person who hate, or about whether the latest movie star’s fashion sense is atrocious, why not take the time to listen to this video – all the way until the end. After all, it’s only a few mouse clicks away. Just 9 minutes of your time, out of the 24 hours in a day that you have.

Here’s a more direct link to another site: Interesting Argument About Global Warming

Are you earning your dream pay? June 13, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's Philosophy.
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I came across an interesting article on MSN.com earlier : Why your kids expect to be rich

In the article, the author wrote :

This poll of 1,000 Americans aged 13 to 18 from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds found that 73% believed they would earn “plenty of money” when they were adults. In fact, the teenage boys expected to make an average $174,000 annually. Teenage girls expected to earn $114,200.

That led me to thinking; what if we were to apply the same survey to the same number of Malaysian kids, from different backgrounds of the same age group? I have a feeling that we’ll find nearly the same numbers, or maybe more.

From viewing the jobs offered on job sites like Jobstreet.com or Jobsdb.com, it’s safe to assume that the basic salary offered ranges from MYR1200 – MYR1800 (USD333 – USD500) for nice, safe, desk jobs.  Perfectly alright – for a third world country.

However, it’s not alright for a country that runs an inflation rate that’s catching up to first world countries.

What do you think? Are you earning the dream pay you thought of when you were 16 years old?

Yasmin Ahmad begins ‘Muallaf’ June 6, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Local Filmmakers, Malaysian Movies, Muallaf, Yasmin Ahmad.
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I’ve been a little lazy on updating lately, plus some problems from some asinine groups of people. Here’s a little piece on Yasmin Ahmad‘s upcoming film : ‘Muallaf’. Read the blog, it has some entries on the actors and the crew she’s working with, and the location of the shoot. Plus her way of linking  director Ho Yuhang to the great Katherine Hepburn.

When I spoke to the Sharifah sisters early this year, they pointed out to me the next star of the family. Here’s a pic of her, Sharifah Aleysha, on the right, with her sister Sharifah Amani:

Sharifah Amani & Sharifah Aleysha
Sharifah Amani & Sharifah Aleysha

And because I’m such a lazy person today, I’m going to do some cut-and-paste from Yasmin’s blog for the synopsis of ‘Muallaf’ :

“20-year old Rohani and her 14-year old sister Rohana are two Malay girls on the run from their wealthy, abusive father. Finding refuge in a smaller town, their secret little world collides with that of Robert Ng, a 30-year old Catholic school teacher. The young man finds himself irresistibly drawn towards the sisters, and the extraordinary courage with which they face adversity, in a relationship that inevitably forces Robert to confront a haunting memory of his own troubled childhood. In this story of lost souls who find comfort in each other, friendship opens the window to forgiveness and a reconciliation with the past.Source

Sounds like a fascinating tale, and one that only Yasmin could pull off. Here’s to hoping it tops ‘Mukhsin‘ when it comes out. (The Drowmage lifts another glass of water – no alcohol, mind you)

Loss of the Cat June 6, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's Philosophy.
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Loga, the vocalist for Malaysian music group “Alleycats” has passed on.

May his soul rest in peace, and condolences to his family, especially his kids. At that age, between adulthood and childhood – losing a father is one of the worst things in the world, as I’ve experienced; so although I don’t know you, I share your pain.

My brothers all knew Loga (Penang being the small island that it is!); so I’m sure they have their own condolences to send.

Read up the feature about Loga today : http://star-ecentral.com/news/story.asp?file=/2007/6/6/music/17939924&sec=music

Jeff Ooi has some nice clips from Youtube on his blog and links to other articles:

http://www.jeffooi.com/2007/06/sampaikanlah_salam.php#trackback

What Were You Doing on ‘The 20th Day Of September’? June 6, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Amir Muhammad, Drowmage's Philosophy, Local Filmmakers, Malaysian Movies, The 20th Day of September.
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Amir Muhammad’s doing it again. He’s getting set to ruffle more feathers in the stoid set of society lions, and numerous other groups with a new film, this time about the day the phrase reformasi (reformation) was uttered not by a selected few, but by thousands in this country.

Check out the blog : http://20september.blogspot.com . It consists of a compilation of interviews done with a number of people who were watching, passing by, or part of the event that day. Mighty interesting stuff, and real informative too. Who says you don’t learn anything reading blogs?

No matter what people say, you have to totally respect Amir. I remember meeting him once at a screening of Fat Bidin‘s Look-East film, and asked him about the ban on his film ‘Village People Radio Show‘. He wasn’t too thrilled about the ban, but was going to re-appeal. In the meantime, Singapore was kind enough to not give two cents about banning a film that their brothers across the causeway had made noise over, so Amir was looking forward to the day the film opened there.

(I saw stills and a few clips of the interviews done for ‘Village People Radio Show‘. Just like any other documentary, stories from the survivors’ perspective. Nothing to ‘corrupt’ the young minds of this country today, I must say – so why the fuss?)

Back to the original topic  – does anyone really remember the 20th of September in 1998? I sure as hell don’t. I was only 18 then, and if I’m not mistaken, was getting ready to be utterly pissed drunk and smashed at a friend’s birthday celebration that night.

Years later, when I think back, I realize that the reason I didn’t remember what happened to the country was because I was afraid. Back then, if you even so much as uttered a word about what had happened – you wouldn’t know if the person around you was for the issue, or against it.

I remember a close friend of mine, Edzral, who months later came back from Uni (somewhere in Kelantan or Terengganu) for the holidays, and told me how he had joined the Youth group of Keadilan in the Uni.

I flatly told him that I valued our friendship more than anything else in the world – and told him that we would both keep our opinions of the whole issue to ourselves and never bring it up in a conversation ever.

Not because I was for or against what had happened (and neither am I even taking sides now, preferring to not give a damn). But because I didn’t want him getting arrested (it was a very sensitive time then), or me getting into trouble for discussing such things.

Now that times have changed, and with the wide use of the Internet; people have changed too. Sometimes not for the better, but at least, with a more open-mind.

So, I rise up my glass (of water, sadly I don’t try to get intoxicated anymore) to Amir for constantly trying to bring the truth to his films,  and for always pushing the limits. There are few local filmmakers out there who can safely attest to the fact that they are not governed by the sensitivities of the Censorship board, but bound by their art.

So, Jasdevism, when’s your turn?

Here’s some interesting bits I dug out – what does the 20th of September mean to other people outside Malaysia?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_20

Wiki has an paragraph about that special day in Malaysia :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_politics

Expanding the Den : Movies and other rants June 2, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Fantastic Four 2, Malaysian Movies, Movie Reviews, Movies, Ocean's 13, Pirates 3, Random Thoughts, Shrek The Third, Sumolah.
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Things have been a little crazy lately, so I’ll summarize the list of movies I’ve watched and the list of things to look forward to :-

1) Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End

Fun, yet a little draggy. As much as I love watching the half-pissed Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his many stroke of good luck save the day, there’s only so much I can watch without wondering how much longer they plan to drag the story in order to make the movie worth the 10 bucks you fork over. Had goosebumps at a particularly horrifying scene between Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) that reminded me of ‘The-Beach-Scene-in-Grease-With-Waves-Crashing-On-the-Rocks-and-Bad-Lame-Music-in-the-Background”. Watching Topher Grace trying to be Venom was less traumatic. Or Chow Yun Fatt acting as a Singaporean pirate, before Singapore was Singapore.

2) Sumolah

You’ve met the people. You’ve had a connection with them over similar hobbies. And, you want to like their movies. Yet, when you go through the show with a lot of cringing moments, raised eyebrows, and slaps on the head at the most obtuse moments – that’s when you ask yourself, do you care more about being nice or being honest? In short, the movie sucked. It could have been, and should have been better – yet it was filled from beginning to end with blatant advertising of products by the main sponsors for the film, Ogawa and Celcom. I sure as hell ain’t going to use any of those two products ever again. I want to rant more, but out of respect (and that I pretty much covered about 40% of how I felt was wrong in my published review), I won’t. Unless you ask me nicely. With chocolates. Go read Suanie’s review, she pretty much covered what I’m whining about.

Movies to look forward to this month :

1) Shrek the Third (or Shrek 3, depending on how your country’s marketing it)

The lovable green ogre is back, this time caught up in yet another adventure to get the rightful king onto the throne of Far Far Away; or else the kingdom gets a green, mean, farting machine as a king (Shrek). Sounds easy, except that the evil fairytale characters have joined forces to conquer the kingdom under the leadership of Prince Charming. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but caught up on a load of clips from the film in YouTube. I’ve decided not to write a review for this movie, seeing as I’m a major Shrek fan, and no amount of bad script could move me to say blasphemous things about the green ogre. It’s almost similar to the bond Star Wars nerds have with last two awful Star Wars movies.

2) Ocean’s 13

Two words to make this film the must-see of the summer. AL PACINO. The Godfather himself joins the franchise as the baddie, and you can almost feel the sparks fly off the screen watching the trailer. Catch it here : http://oceans13.warnerbros.com/

3) Fantastic Four : Rise of the Silver Surfer

Not to sound obscene or anything, but the thing that sells this franchise is Jessica Alba. Seriously. Even girls think she’s hot. Yes, and of course the Silver Surfer – that’s another thing to see on the screen instead of just absorbing it from the comics. Of course the story gets warped in the film; instead of being the good guy, the Surfer is the baddie here, but let’s hope they stick to the real story and give us a nice twist in the end.

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In other news, I’m expanding the Den a bit. Someone asked me a few weeks back, why was my blog all about movies and music? Point taken. Very good point, indeed. So, I’ve decided if and when, I’ll talk fantasy in this blog – all about the drows, the elves and the wonders of sorcery. I may even have time to conjure up a good spell for forgetfulness, if I remember it.

Quote of the Week : “Tree-shagging pixies”. Courtesy of Agreal, Demon Hero.