Monday, March 31, 2008

Price go up fiddy-cent!

Singapore's largest cinema chain, Golden Village has raised ticket prices by fifty cents since last Thursday. Standard prices on weekdays are between $7.50-$8.50 instead of $7-$8. Premium shows and selected promotional items will not be affected. Price increase is due to rising costs and inflation. Two months back, Cathay made the first move, plus slapping an additional 50 cents on "blockbuster" movies. Question: how would you know whether a movie would bust blocks before you start pricing and selling its tickets? If my calculations are correct, that means I'm spending 7% more this year, or have to watch 7% less? (I'm on a budget.) Oh well, I guess I'll be spending more time at the DVD rental shop this year then. Good luck on the price hikes, guys.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wachowski brothers' next movie: "Ninja Assassin" reports The Matrix directors' upcoming movie project, to be directed by V for Vendetta director James McTeigue and stars Korean heartthrob Jung Ji-Hoon a.k.a. "My Name is Rain." Also, he likes black. Black looks good. Article here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Review: 3:10 to Yuma

Don't miss this ride
The Westerns are truly back. I know, because I saw neither spaceships nor pirates (a la Serenity, Star Wars) in 3:10 to Yuma, the latest cowboy flick since maybe Unforgiven? (Brokeback Mountain does not count.) For the young folks, a "Western" is a movie set in America circa mid nineteenth century, when cowboys rode horses around deserts shooting each other for money or revenge. They called it the "Wild West" for a reason. The movie's about ex-soldier Dan Evans (Christian Bale) who joined a group of people escorting notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the town of Contention, where they're sending him off on the three-ten evening train to Yuma prison. Evans needs the money from this gig to save his ranch and feed his family. Complicating matters are Wade's second-in-command, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), who is leading Wade's gang in pursuit, and Evans' son William (Logan Lerman), tailing his dad against his wishes.

3:10 to Yuma is a remake of a fifty-year-old classic, so, not to worry insecure hetero males, it's not jumping on the Brokeback Mountain bandwagon. It's more of a combination of the Hollywood Western and Sergio Leone's Italian Westerns, with the romanticism of the former and the gritty realism of the latter. The resulting concoction is a straightforward but enthralling men-on-a-mission movie, with the requisite action sequences tucked in between scenes. But it's the story and characters that drive the movie. You can't help but feel for Evans, who is like the nerd to Wade's jock, getting the hard times while Wade gets the money and chicks. Not only is Evans not getting any respect from his wife or son, but they actually got a little smitten over the ever-charming Wade. Kind of like real life, where nice guys finish last, while chicks still dig bad men. Just ask Mel Gibson, Jackie Chan, or Russell Crowe too, who are still in everybody's good books despite their prejudices, infidelity and violent tendencies respectively. As consolation, the good guy still gets his day at the end, and even the villain was more than a little moved by Evan's righteous grit. The code-of-honour theme is so John Woo, a Western fan himself, I'm surprised he wasn't offered to direct this movie.

Not surprisingly, the acting is stellar in 3:10, with resonating performances by Crowe and Bale. But the man who stole the show was Ben Foster. (Yes, Angel from X-men 3!) All your attention centres on his Charlie Prince whenever he appears. People have been calling him effeminate in the reviews and forums, but apart from his high-pitched voice, this guy swaggers like a badass throughout the movie. When Charlie rides into town with six of the meanest-looking hombres, you can still tell that he's the boss of the outfit just from the way he carries himself. If that isn't badass, I don't know what is.

I truly regretted not seeing this one before making my Best of 2007 list, because 3:10 to Yuma is definitely the best 2007 movie I've seen and would have taken the top award instead of Atonement, although that one's really good too. Thus, it gets a special consolation prize as an apology for my gross oversight. - BMF

Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, Identity) and screenplay by Halsted Welles (The Hell with Heroes, A Time for Killing), Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (Catch That Kid, 2 Fast 2 Furious). Stars Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen Mol and Kevin Durand. Based on the short story by Elmore Leonard.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An Empress and The Warriors: a flop?

So reports Hong Kong movie blogger The Golden Rock on Empress' Hong Kong box office result. Reason? It wasn't shown in Cantonese. That's it - I'm watching this one right away.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Unintentionally funny Korean brand

It's not mine. I got it from former America's Next Top Model Season 1 contestant, Elyse Sewell's Live Journal. She regularly posts pictures and anecdotes about her adventures in modelling, and they're pretty funny stuff.

Brotherhood of the Freaks

Freaks forever.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The price of living far from the city

That's what I felt like doing to the car of the person who schedules the Oscar movies in Singapore. But I wouldn't know who that person is, or even know where to begin to find his car. Furthermore, I don't plan on going to jail for it, so I'll have to be contented with Walter doing the deed on my behalf.

If you're not following, then you must have missed my earlier posts about the near-impossible task of watching the Oscar-nominated movies especially if you're car-less and live and work at least 25 minutes away from the city. The movies are rarely ever shown outside the city, and often scheduled during working hours or very near to closing time, leaving not much time for travelling. Late shows are out of the question because the buses and MRT stop services right before a late show ends.

I had no choice but to attend surcharged weekend shows. This was how the cinemas f***ed this stranger in the ass:

Minimum weekday ticket cost = $6 ($30 for 5 movies)
Minimum weekend ticket cost = $8.50 ($42.50 for 5 movies)

The price of living far from the city = $12.50 or 42% above weekday prices, suckers!

Also, last Monday's Evangelion 1.0 : You Are (Not) Alone ticket fare = $8.50! Why?
One, the cinema that's showing it increased their fares recently.
Two, the movie is exclusive to this cinema.
Three, therefore every single Evangelion fan in Singapore will be bottlenecked to the only two cinemas showing it, thus guaranteeing that seats will be unavailable. Price for booking a seat in advance = add. $1.

To see the complete BMF Budget, click here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Review: 10,000 B.C.

A really stupid caveman movie

(Spoilers ahead!)

I'm fine with movies that have silly premises. Movies like Blade, Underworld and Resident Evil offer a hodgepodge of scientific and supernatural themes that border on unintentional parody. But the stories are often excuses for stringing a few fun action or special effects sequences together, and for the aforementioned movies, the action is almost always the best thing about them. The preposterous story of a vengeful black half-vampire goes down much easier if you're having too much fun watching Blade eliminate vampires with his silver samurai sword. Roland Emmerich's 10,000 B.C. is just as ludicrous, probably more so, but unfortunately it failed to impress in every aspect that mattered.

Thus, It goes without saying that 10,000 B.C.'s weakest attribute is its storyline. It's a shameless rip-off of Apocalypto's first half and Stargate's second, also an Emmerich movie. Circa 10,000 B.C., a group of horsemen pillaged a tribe of mammoth hunters, and captured some of its people, including blue-eyed prophecy child Evolet (Camilla Belle). Her boyfriend with the rapper-sounding name D'Leh (Steven Strait) immediately embarks on a rescue mission, together with mentor Tic'Tic (Cliff Curtis, who's in everything these days), rival hunter Ka'Ren (Mo Zinal) and recently-orphaned Baku (Nathanael Baring). They travel beyond the mountains of their icy plains to discover Africa, and then, within walking distances, Egypt. There, he finds his people being forced to work on building pyramids for a mysterious, god-like figure. D'Leh may lack modern weaponry and Kurt Russell, but luckily the Egyptian slave masters don't shoot plasma bolts from their staffs. He manages to round up an army of African natives to help him, because, conveniently, he also happens to be the Chosen One. He proves this by making friends with a sabretooth in one of the most intellectually insulting sequences ever. But it can't beat the one where a witch doctor revived a dead person by exhaling a misty puff of breath from hundreds of miles away. Meanwhile, D'Leh's hot girlfriend gets thrown into the company of thousands of deprived and depraved primeval men without causing much incident, a la Rambo 4 and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Faring badly too are the action sequences, which managed to take the best from Jurassic Park, Stargate, and 300, and actually made them worse. For example, it cribbed 300's spear-throwing finale, but lacking 300's editing sensibilities, 10,000 B.C.'s scene just plainly unfolds without ever bothering to build any semblance of suspense. Next thing you know, the villain's dead, and... that's it? The one action scene that we don't often see elsewhere is the mammoth hunt, which should have been the movie's highlight. But the ferocity of these ancient creatures barely even registers, which made the hunt no more exciting than if they were hunting regular-sized elephants. Although I like action, I'm not a gore lover, but this is one instance where a movie might have benefitted from some blood-letting.

Not helping Warner Bros' cause for a hundred million dollars is its hundred-dollar computer effects and production values. It has been three years since Chronicles of Narnia's fake-looking lion, but it seems like the development of computer generated felines never progressed. The mammoths were better animated, but looked like they lacked definition and seemed blurry at times. The man-eating birds are the only ones that get a passing grade, but it's probably because they whisked across the screen too fast for closer scrutiny. The set (or was it all blue-screen?), character and costume designs are a notch higher than Xena: Warrior Princess', but they are still as unauthentic, unless you believe dental care and sailboats had already been invented before the mammoths were extinct.

Probably the only way to stomach 10,000 B.C. is to think of it as one of those cheesy Eighties Conan The Barbarian-type of movies. But Apocalypto is clearly the better ancient-civilisation-action-movie. 10,000 B.C. is as pointless as the rave scene from The Matrix Reloaded. - BMF


For the record:

Emmerich movies: Stargate > Independence Day > The Day After Tomorrow > The Patriot > Universal Soldier > Godzilla > 10,000 B.C.

Directed by Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, The Patriot) and screenplay by Emmerich and Harold Kloser (debut). Stars Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Affif Ben Brada, Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring, Mona Hammond, Marco Khan and Omar Sharif as The Narrator.