Friday, May 20, 2011


It's been 3 weeks since the last blog entry and of course, lots has happened.
The General Election revealed major cracks in certain constituencies which were considered sure-wins for the ruling party, and the Workers' Party secured a coup in Aljunied.

PAP supporters may hail the overall result as favourable, but considering the fact that the opposition contested many districts for the very first time, the proportion of votes for the latter was indeed significant. Even in Marine Parade, which is led by behemoth Senior Minister Goh, the PAP scraped by with only 57% of the total vote.
Not good...

In the subsequent weeks, there've been major reshuffles in the Cabinet, something I can never quite understand. For example, the Education Minister will now be in charge of Defence, and he's actually a breast surgeon by training. The ex-chief of the Monetary Authority of Singapore will take over at the Ministry of Education. Excuse me, but HUH???

And let's not forget the exit of our Senior Minister and Minister Mentor. However, I have a gut feeling it's all for show. We can imagine what happens behind closed doors, especially when the ex-MM is the PM's father. These people don't have normal dinner conversations like the rest of us, okay?

Anyway, we shall see how the new arrangement pans out.

On to more lighthearted topics.
This poster is for an upcoming comedy due for release in July, starring Kevin Spacey. Check out the cool trailer here.

The only cast member who looks out of place is Jennifer Aniston. Playing a sadistic maneater dentist with a penchant for phallus-shaped food. Err, yuck?

I fully expect Mr. Spacey to outshine everyone. Nobody matches him in the nasty-boss character department. Perfect example: Buddy Ackerman in Swimming With Sharks. My favourite KS role ever!

I do, however, like Jason Bateman a lot. Since his Hogan Family days on TV, in fact.

Looks like it's going to be one big rollercoaster ride. Will it come to Singapore?

Watched the much-hyped Jane Eyre last night at the newly renovated Lido cineplex. There were only approximately 100 seats in the theatre, but with lots of leg room. Audience comprised mostly middle-aged Caucasian couples and locals in their 20s or 30s. A generally well-behaved crowd except for 2 idiots seated behind me, who giggled during almost every scene, but shut up when I loudly told my irritated mother, "They're probably DRUNK!" :)

So does the film live up to my expectations? Definitely not. This is a problem when I read movie reviews. I start getting extremely excited and prepare to be blown away, only to be disappointed. But I'm not saying it was a bad show. Just that it wasn't quite worthy of all the praise it received.

The cast is very respectable. Mia Wasikowska, who became a household name in Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, has made some interesting choices since her big debut, recently in Oscar darling The Kids Are All Right. My cousin's 15-year-old daughter also happens to be her doppelganger, albeit with Asian features. I'm not kidding. :)

There's also Judi Dench, whose dignified presence is always dependable. And Jamie Bell is another favourite of mine, after his breakthrough performance in Billy Elliot ( the movie, not the musical ).

But the actor I was most eager to see was Michael Fassbender ( pictured above ), someone whose name didn't really register though he played a memorable role in Inglourious Basterds ( he looks fabulous in military attire :)), but who impressed enough in the Jane Eyre trailer to make me leave my home on a weekday and drive downtown to catch a late night screening.

I deliberately avoided YouTube clips of cast interviews, though I enjoyed the trailers immensely ( Gothic horror, wooo! ). It was the right decision, since I just found out he isn't British ( watch this clip ). Don't know about the rest of you, but this would've spoiled the whole experience for me.

IMHO, the only reason anyone should see a TV / film adaptation of Jane Eyre is Mr. Rochester. Same goes for Mr. Darcy in Pride And Prejudice. Casting this role is vital to the production's success, and in this respect, I believe Fassbender excels.

He may not be as handsome as I had hoped ( makeup artist, hello? ), but his performance is sufficiently tormented, even if his chemistry with co-star Wasikowska is rather lacking. The pivotal scene where Jane tells Rochester she is leaving Thornfield is meant to be heart-wrenching, with the latter tearfully begging her to stay.

Fassbender handles this beautifully, though again, I felt some discomfort seeing him and the very young Wasikowska locked in a tight embrace.

Perhaps other scenes are more palatable, and I am confident I will enjoy the film after watching it a few more times ( same thing happened with Pride & Prejudice ). Check out this clip. And how about this one? Fassbender's "You transfix me quite." is simple, yet enough to make one's heart race. I love Victorian love stories. :)

So how does the lead actress fare? I think she does a pretty good job considering her relative inexperience and the heaviness of the material. I believe she will improve further with time, the same way Natalie Portman did this past decade.

My biggest complaint, I suppose, is the editing. How much of it is the fault of director Cary Fukunaga versus film editor Melanie Oliver is anyone's guess. Condensing this particular novel into 2 hours is no mean feat. Remaking it for the 21st century audience is even tougher. Joe Wright did a marvelous job with Pride & Prejudice. Unfortunately, Jane Eyre does not live up to that standard.

Still, it isn't a bad way to spend a couple of hours at the cinema, especially if you're a literature fan. And pay attention to the soundtrack, composed by Dario Marianelli ( also responsible for Pride & Prejudice and Atonement ).

Besides, I have another opportunity to see Fassbender in action soon, as Magneto in X-Men: First Class, with one of my fave actors, James McAvoy. Looking forward to that! :D

In the meantime, I'm going to rewatch his performance in Inglourious Basterds. Rakishly dashing as Lt. Archie Hicox, easily the best-looking male in the entire cast! Can't believe I didn't check his name in the credits. Here's a link that works. He appears at 64:30, continuing on to the superb, tense tavern scene. ( Sadly, Hicox dies. )

Cable has endless reruns. Shall record this the next time it airs. :)

I am highlighting this TV series because I watched it many years ago, when I was in primary or secondary school. Local stations used to broadcast BBC productions back then, and I loved it so much I bought the DVD recently. It is an EXCELLENT adaptation, mainly because of Timothy Dalton ( previously James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill ).

Regardless of how his career has nose-dived since his 007 heyday, I will always remember Dalton as one of the finest British actors around. I also consider him my favourite James Bond ( second fave: Daniel Craig :)).

Here's a YouTube clip of that pivotal scene I mentioned earlier. It is a million times more affecting than Fukunaga's version. Watch Dalton as he paces the room like a restless lion, breathless with anxiety and fear. Listen to his voice, thunderous then tremulous. See the tear trickle down his left cheek as he kisses his co-star, holding her tight against his chest.

If you don't want to buy the DVD, then watch the entire series in 10-minute installments, on YouTube. Your choice. :)

Before I sign off, a link to the official trailer for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, due for release this Christmas.

I love the comic book series. I am a huge fan of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. I took The Lord Of The Rings tours when I visited New Zealand in 2003, and our guide drove us right past Jackson's home in Wellington. So yes, I will be watching this at the cineplex! :)

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