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The Big Screen 2013

It will be another fruitful year at the cinema ;)


01 | Inheritance (Héritage) – It is tough going to be Palestinians in Israel, and as family identity, custom and culture put together alongside an Israeli-Lebanese war, life becomes just that bit more complicated, and politics all round means a tough time for all to endure. [7/10]

02 | Augustine – A glimpse into the method of Charcot, a neurologist who delved into the world of hysteria and the use of hypnotism as cure, and his developing relationship with a particular patient of his, kitchen-maid Augustine. Medicine practice in the 1800s sure seemed more like spectacles at time, and a lot of trial-and-error. [6/10]

03 | The Master – A war veteran and a drifter was “rescued” by The Master, head of a cult (loosely based on Scientology’s Hubbard) but found himself unable to adhere to the discipline prescribed through The Methods and be one of the family. The cast is terrific, but the story feels like something is missing. [7/10]

04 | Blancanieves – The Artist has brought back the glamour of black and white silent movie, and in this version of the life Snow White, 1920s Seville and bullfighting are brought to screen. Dramatic and well-adapted, with a Grimm-like twist to cap the end of the story of the life of a girl name Carmen, daughter to famous torero Antonio Villalta. [9/10]

05 | Lincoln – In effort to abolish slavery, Lincoln shows an astute side which I wouldn’t have associated with him. Moreover, as someone who’s not familiar with American history, it was interesting to learn something about Lincoln as a man, a husband and a father, not just as a POTUS. [8.5/10]

06 | Silver Lining Playbook (Happiness Therapy) – An unlikely partnership of two emotionally dysfunctional friends (before discovering romance in the end, of course), peppered with amusing interference from family and friends. Not your typical romantic comedy but it works. [8/10]

07 | Wadjda – Filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia (where cinemas have been banned for over 30 years) by a woman (who’s not allowed to drive alone), this is the story of a young girl who tries to break from traditions by showing that she can be enterprising and equally determined in achieving what she sets her heart on. [8/10]

08 | Les Misérables – The musical that everyone talks about arrive late in France (February!) and what an amazing ensemble of crew that they have. It did feel a bit long in parts, but overall, it was a pleasure to watch. The French subtitle doesn’t quite grasp the right mood sometimes, which in English is beautifully phrased. [8.5/10]

09 | The Patience Stone (Syrgué sabour. Pierre de Patience) – A story of a woman living at the frontline of Jihadist war, caring for her comatosed husband who was shot following a dispute where his mother was insulted. His frozen form became her outlet to talk about life, problems, happiness and anguish. As she set herself free from the burden of secrets, she blossomed and came to her own. Unfortunately I fail to connect to the film and found it rather boring. [5/10]

10 | No – The fight against the governmental powerhouse is never easy, and this movie shows the struggle of the Chileans to rise against the military dictatorship of Pinochet. Through pre-referendum campaigning using a series of advertisements, the two camps of “Yes” And “No” fought using their creative skills, but ultimately, the upbeat and hopeful messages of the “No” camp persuaded the country(wo)men that a change would be the way forward. [7.5/10]

11 | To the Wonder (À la merveille) – The opening scenes at Mont St Michel and Paris showed a life of domestic bliss for Neil and Marina, but when the couple moved to the US, things started to unravel. Their love somehow keeps them together and tear them apart at the same time. The movie felt a bit flou-flou to me, superficial. What a shame given the beautiful cinematography. [5/10]

12 | L’Artiste et son modèle (The Artist and the Model) – A cantakerous sculptor/painter (but really, a softie in his own way) was introduced to a war-time runaway who became his muse – a nice black and white movie. A few days later, I found myself in Musée d’Orsay and imagine my surprise when I saw a sculpture that was exactly like the one featured in the movie! The film drew its inspiration from the life of French-Catalan sculptor/painter, Aristide Maillol. [7/10]

13 | Zero Dark Thirty – The Hunt for Osama bin Laden was on, and for countless intelligence agents, it’s hard work and slog in the Middle East and South Asia. Analyses of key players in Al-Qaeda were difficult at best, often a grasp in the dark. Persistence finally did pay off, leading to the storming of the house where OBL was hiding. [8/10]

14 | Les Voisins de Dieu (Ha-Mashgihim) – In the suburb to Tel-Aviv of Batyam, strict religious observance becomes the key motivation for a group of friends who would carry out their brand of justice to ensure that the ways of life taught in Judaism are maintained within their community. That is, until one of them was shown just how deviated they themselves have been. [7/10]

15 | The Grandmaster – Possibly one of the most beautifully filmed movie I’ve ever seen, but the gaps of story and history leave just about everyone scratching their heads. The most often raised point: what was “The Blade” and what was the significant of his character, which was sadly undeveloped in the movie. I was also a tad unsettled to listen to conversations conducted in both Cantonese and Mandarin. [7.5/10]

16 | Quartet – It can only be merry and sing-song-y in a house full of retired musicians, no? When the “diva” of a former quartet joined the other three members who are already living in the ex-musician retirement home, old emotions were brought back to surface causing tension and stress. Nonetheless, they found their way and their quartet was reunited once again. Love the use of music, and pretty good job from Dustin Hoffman as the director. [8/10]

17 | Promised Land – Fracking is a big business that injects money into dying small towns, but with it, there are consequences. The battle to convince the town folks to sell, or to question the health and safety concerns raised by certain residents, becomes the centre theme of the movie, but ultimately, it is still the big company which wrote the script of how the sequence of events should unfold. Somewhat predictable story and ending. [6/10]

18 | The Repentent (Le Repenti) – The repentents are the jihadists who descended the mountains of Algeria, surrendering their weapon in return for amnesty. However, certain instilled way of life could not be erased overnight… The story develops slowly and the ending comes extremely abruptly. I don’t think I’d ever understand movie of this genre. [4/10]

19 | Mud – A fugitive befriended a couple of young teenagers and managed to convince them to help him and the love of his life to be reunited. However, he was being hunted, not just by the police but also the family of the man he killed. The race to escape began but at the same time, the strength of love was also questioned. Are human relationships really that fickle? [8/10]

20 | The Great Gatsby – Ah the roaring 20s and its opulence which sadly didn’t last for Gatsby, a man as complex and mysterious as he can get, longing only for the love of Daisy. Beautiful set but the story left me a bit cold. Money is certainly not a maker of happiness, and neither is jealousy and petty games. [7/10]

21 | Le Passé – One’s past doesn’t always leave, but how to move into the future with the spectre hanging about? A passionate look into how one may yearn for a simpler life yet every little things and human links just ends up muddling them all up. [8/10]

22 | La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) – I wondered if this is a version of Gatsby in parts, given the lavish lifestyle in Rome that the journalist Jep had, until he takes a pause to reassess his life, a revelation of sort, and rediscover the beauty of Rome without modern trappings. [6/10]

23 | L’Attentat (The Attack) – The story of a celebrated doctor taking a turn when his wife was found to be a suicide bomber and he tries to uncover the root of such atrocity that he never suspected. A strong human interest story. [8/10]

24 | Shokuzai: Celles qui voulaient se souvenir (The Penance – Those who Wish to Remember) – Originally a Japanese mini-series transformed into two-part movies, the death of Emily is still being felt among her friends, thanks to penance dished out by her mother. I had mixed feelings about the movie from this first part, and never got round to watching the second. [5/10]

25 | The Internship – Ah good old comedic duo of Wilson and Vaughn, predictable storyline despite the rather improbable start of two completely non-computer savvy middle-aged men entering into Google internship programme. It’s a laugh, that’s al. [6/10]

25 | Before Midnight – Years had passed since “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”, no longer the boy and the girl but a couple with children, rediscovering the love that lies beneath the mundanes of daily life along with anger and disagreement is a rocky path indeed. [8/10]

26 | Monsters University – My favourite loveable monsters are back, and they are back in time. The whole fraternity and sorority thing is a bit old, but Sulley and Mike show us how friendship can be found in unlikely places and to prevail against all odds. [9/10]

27 | Hijacking – Stark and realistic look into the hostage negotiation following the hijack of a Danish vessels. The pulls and pushes between the invested director who felt responsible for his men but powerless under the circumstances, his men who are in danger at sea, and the hijackers who want their slice of the pie. [8/10]

28 | Jeune et Jolie – It is not meant to be easy to understand what drives a girl of well-educated and affluent background to work as a call-girl, for certainly she had no desperate for immediate cash. To be young and beautiful, what lies beneath the facade? [7/10]

29 | Grand Central – To work in a nuclear plant means to immerse oneself within a certain working class and a certain mentality. Character exploration felt shallow, however, and the use of labourers’ language had me at lost to truly appreciate the subtle undertones of the movie. [5/10]

30 | Ilo Ilo – The story of a maid working in the household of a Singaporean family brings out many things that are familiar to the south-east Asian culture in which I grew up with. And the Asian pride, oh, so profound in so many ways. [7/10]

31 | The Butler – The story of Cecil Gaines started with a harsh look into the reality of the lives of slaves but when plucked into a new milieu, he learned quickly and cleverly, soon finding himself serving multiple POTUS in his years of service in the White House. [7/10]

32 | Blue Jasmine – The state of mind is a fragile thing. Coupled with deliberate ignorance and an ego that wishes to stay within an imaginary realm of perfection, the effect is both hillarious and sad, or perhaps, hillariously sad. [8/10]

33 | La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2 (Blue is the Warmest Colour) – Touted as the “pornographic lesbian movie”, there is more than long clips of sex scenes in the movie that the media scrambled to talk about. It is an invitatin to explore not only sexual orientation and the love that comes with the territory but also of social class and the society that shapes the persons involved. [8/10]

34 | Prisoners – What a dark and disturbing movie, but so very skillfully brought forth to show how lines can be blurred and morality can stand on very shaky grounds in the face of great adversity. Emotionally gripping right through to the end. [10/10]

35 | Le médecin de famille (The German Doctor) – I went without knowing what this film was about, and I wish I had not seen it. I had not wanted to know the story of the war criminal Mengele. The cinematography may be beautiful but all I could focused on was the horror as the story unfolds. [4/10]

36 | Cartel (The Counselor) – A lots of blings, deceptions and shootings but that’s to be expected with such clearly sensationalised Hollywoodian epic filled with star-studded cast.[6/10]

37 | La Vénus à la fourrure (Venus in Fur) – An exploration of feminism and sadomasochism, this film can only be described as being particular. The roles of who’s in charge and who’s being taken charged blur as the movie progresses, showing the pull of psychology in power play. [7/10]

38 | Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table! (Me, Myself and Mum) – When a boy’s relationship to his mother ends up as an adoration which colours his view on his own sexual identity, it results in a coming-of-age story filled with poignancy. Very witty and cleverly done! [9/10]

39 | The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – The second instalment of the trilogy tugs the viewer back into a world where anger towards injustice is bubbling to the surface and the people are preparing for a revolution despite the President’s attempt to boast that all is well. An anticipatory interlude to the finale to come. [9/10]

40 | The Immigrant – The life of a woman throughout history had often been unkind and unfair, often dominated by men and the decisions they made. In the face of it all, a woman still need to fight, or risk losing her true self. [8/10]

41 | Casse-tête chinois (Chinese Puzzle) – The story of L’Auberge Espagnole and Russian Dolls continues when Wendy and Xavier call it a day to their relationship and try to find a way to put their children first. Humorous and amusing considering how their messy lives come through a big, wide circle. [9/10]

42 | Girl Most Likely – A chick-flick for the rainy day, but not an entirely successfully comedy. It feels a little too desperate to be likeable. What a pity, since I normally quite like Kristen Wiig. [3/10]

2 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    No Ironman?!? kekekeke ;)

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