Saturday, June 11, 2005

Before I begin, it just wouldn't be fair to NOT draw your attention to another much more worthy site. I mean, even I went to take a look. Didn't like it of course, but c'mon, it's loads more interesting than all my boring ramblings, wouldn't you agree? :)

Reviews Ahead

And spoilers beware.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Was rather disappointing ( wow, I think Life! reporter Ong Sor Fern and I share the same brain ), but you know what, it wasn't really a waste of time either.

Why I went to see it:

1. I like Angelina Jolie ( post-slut era, that is ). Ever since she became a U.N. Ambassador, she's transformed from a vampy coked-out hooker type to a classy, beautiful lady. And she can act circles around most Hollywood actresses.

2. I like Brad Pitt. No, not for his washboard abs, megawatt smile and blonde waves. I've always admired his quirky role choices ( who cares about Troy when you have Snatch? why bother with Ocean's Eleven / Twelve when there's the much better Se7en? ).

3. Director Doug Liman, who helmed the very excellent The Bourne Identity, takes the reins. Now who can possibly miss that?

4. John Powell is listed as the composer ( he also did the music for the Bourne films, Evolution and The Italian Job ).

5. And of course, all those rumours about a possible relationship between the 2 hot leads. This could be the movie that started it all.

The good bits:

1. Brad and Angelina SIZZLE. And I mean REALLY COOK.
They're both gorgeous. They have great chemistry. They do action effortlessly,
and deliver their lines with just the perfect combination of deadpan humour and
venomous hatred.

2. The high speed chases. That highway sequence is way cool!

3. The script isn't too bad either.
"Come to daddy", coos John Smith.
*Jane Smith proceeds to whack him senseless*
"Who's your daddy now?" she sneers.

"I was married once," John confesses in a moment of guilt.
*gets whacked - again - by Jane*
"What's her name and social security number?" she demands.
"No, you're NOT going to kill her."

Heh heh.

4. That tango scene in a posh restaurant. Eat your heart out, Al Pacino and Arnold

5. A really nice one: John and Jane face off with guns pointed at each other. John
slowly lowers his weapon and tells her, "I can't do it." She yells at him to
bring his gun up, but he refuses. Cue goo-goo eyes and make-up sex. Corny, but
hey, Brad and Angelina pulled it off.

True Lies meets War Of The Roses ( Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner - go rent it ) meets Tomb Raider. It's that insane.

But fun. :)

The Aviator

I ain't a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but rented the DVD anyhow.

Proved to be quite a good movie, though way too long for my taste, and a little draggy during Howard Hughes' breakdown periods.

I suppose the best parts come in spurts, where you realize how Hughes' passion for aviation almost cost him his fortune, yet his ambition and great vision never faltered, and the world benefited greatly from his innovative creations.

Similarly, his ability to overcome an almost cripping battle with OCD is inspiring, as is his close relationships with Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner, both of whom loved him unconditionally and never abandoned him even in his darkest moments.

Don't miss the terrifying crash where Hughes comes this close to losing his life after an emergency landing in a residential neighbourhood.

Not a bad flick at all, but not to be viewed unless you're wide awake and able to concentrate.


Let me just state for the record that J.J. Abrams is one of my heroes.

This guy started out with college drama "Felicity", but quickly did a 180-degree turnaround with the hard-hitting action TV series "Alias", and now, has once again revolutionized the industry with his latest offering.

He's also won a new fan in Tom Cruise, who invited him to direct "Mission Impossible 3".

Talk about a fast rise up the power list.

"Lost" made a very good impression on me in its 2-hour premiere. The lead protagonist appears to be Jack, a doctor I'm guessing to be an orthopaedic surgeon, played by the boyish Matthew Fox ( who used to be a regular fixture in my life thanks to "Party of Five" ). Here, he reprises his big-brother role, this time playing nanny to 47 other plane crash survivors who can't stand each other for various reasons.

The plot twists are guaranteed to glue you to your seats. Acting is commendable ( Naveen Andrews is from the soft-porn film "Kama Sutra" but plays a Gulf War veteran here; Dominic Monaghan leaves his Hobbit days behind and relishes his role as a druggie rock band member; Evangeline Lilly is prettily fragile yet tough ), but of course, everyone will be wondering what creature lurks ( or should I say, stomps ) around the island day and night, devouring pilots and other assorted humans.

Tonnes better than the ridiculously vapid "Desperate Housewives". You want a good mystery and a REALLY good time? "Lost" is the one to watch.

Minos by Marcos Villatoro

I never thought I would find a 2nd all-time favourite book ( the first being John Berendt's incomparable Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil ), but I finally have.

"Minos" had me biting my nails from start to finish. Exceptional writing, memorable characters, unexpected twists in every direction, and puzzles that are both intellectual and terrifying.

If your interest is piqued, then get a load of these teasers:

Romilia Chacon is a homicide detective on the trail of The Whisperer, a serial killer who brutally impaled her sister to her married lover on their bed 6 years ago.

The killer models his murders after scenes in Dante's Inferno, with its list of sins and circles of hell. Details are down to a T, and each victim is carefully selected, sometimes taking weeks to lure and then capture.

Romilia inadvertently garners the affections of a notorious drug dealer being pursued by the DEA, after she accidentally saves his life and almost loses her own head ( literally ). This usually ruthless criminal strikes up an almost romantic relationship with Romilia, even providing her with restricted information on The Whisperer so she can investigate the case on her own.
Dynamics between the two are never dull, with Romilia using it to her advantage, yet also never losing sight of the big picture. Some super tense moments in there, but I'll leave you to read about them yourself.

A nice excerpt for you to sample:

"Minos is huge; he takes up most of the engraving... His crown is pressed over his head, tucked into thick blonde curls that flow into a beard. His left leg is crossed over his right thigh, effeminate, relaxed. A constrictor-like tail snakes over and under his body... It curls over his left forearm; he holds the end of the tail in his right hand... Minos waits to hear what the penitents have to say, which sin they must confess. This confessor is calm. We see him now, before he wraps his tail around them and flings them into their appropriate circle ( of hell )."

The buildup is relentlessly exciting, and the climactic finale totally satisfying ( another major twist included ).

Good stuff. Highly recommended.

Check out Villatoro's other work at his official website.

About My Birthday

The lunch and dinner with friends wasn't the REAL celebration.

My trip to Italy in, let's see, 19 days' time, is. WOOHOO!

Rome, Venice, Florence, the Isle Of Capri, Assisi, Pompeii, plus countless other places I can't even recall offhand.

An Angels & Demons tour with the people who officially started it all - and which was featured on the BBC.

A possible ( crossing my fingers hard for this one ) attendance at Peter Cincotti's Rome concert as well.

Yep, the party isn't over yet!

My day off is half gone already. But on the flip side, I've got fewer hours left till I leave this crazy country for a nice time away from fellow Singaporeans.

Give and take. Ah, life.

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