Review of POTICHE (Trophy Wife)

2011/03/08

The Good

It’s a a frothy comedy, but managed to touch upon complex issues of gender, personal triumph and defeat, marriage crisis, ideologies and political dynamics intertwined with personal lives. It’s done so without getting heavy, almost effortless, making the viewing experience a delight.

Suzanne Pujol is another star vehicle for Catherine Deneuve. And no matter how many times I’ve seen this, and regardless of her age, she seems to deserve it as her birth right.  Deneuve bounced off descent performances by a star line-up of half of the who’s who in French cinema including the likes of Gérard Depardieu, and it was fun to watch.

The plot and the ending are not over the top, though very polished still somewhat true to life.  Easy said than done for a personal triumph story in a light comedy.

The Bad

Deneuve seems to be having so much fun in her role, but I never quite cared as much.  At more than one occasions, their performance may appear effortless at first, but getting thin and tiring quickly.  The characters’ youthful indiscretions, twists and turns in the plots seem to be strong spices without good food to cling on to.

The Ugly

It is so polished that, at times,  I feel three or four short trailers would have done the job. Kind of  like visiting a small pantheon of contemporary French acting Gods in a lazy Sun afternoon.


Review of The King’s Speech

2011/01/07

A wonderful film, and a uplifting human triumph that’s authentic in life’s redemption.  With all the great efforts King George VI had made, he triumphed in being able to perform his duty that he never really wanted. One can only imagine the pain behind his coherent speech.
It’s a wonder that Firth and Rush can pull such relevant performances. Anything different from what they did in the movie will turn it probably into a comedy or total disaster.  The director choose to shoot in a more difficult and unusual way for English period piece, narrow corridors and dimmed rooms, maybe a metaphor for the suffocation the King was feeling.


Review of Black Swan

2010/12/25

This movie will be remembered as one of the best psychological thriller ever made.  Three cheers to Darren Aronofsky. He may have missed the chance to direct The Fighter, but this one re-captured the strange beauty in his Requiem for a Dream, and the devastating redemption in the Wrestler.

The suspense, the pace of the story, the acting by Natalie Portman especially her face during the ending scenes were powerful, and even the cliché of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake music was not only appropriate to the story, but masterfully integrated into the shots.

It’s breath-taking, enchanting, tragically beautiful, and strangely true to life and beyond.


Review of Cronos

2010/12/25

The Good

For a horror movie, the characters, especially Jesus Grits were well-developed. For what I suspect to be reasonably low-budget, Del Toro did a descent job in merging fantasy clockwork and mutant insect with human actors without too much help from special effects.

The Bad

Camera works at times were dull. As loving as the relationship as grandpa and little girl, it seemed scripted and never reaches its full potential.


Review of The Fighter

2010/12/12

The Good:

It is not very often when a boxer movie tries to be both Raging Bull and The Rocky that comes close to succeed. David Russell did so with The Fighter. Christian Bale came close to his memorable performance in the Machinist with a much fuller and more colorful character in his supporting role that feel at times more as a lead role. Mark Wahlberg is no second class either.  The references to Boston is hilarious.

Fight ring footage-like scenes were appropriate and only add to the rousing story. There have been too much of this and other “reality” “amateur” filming lately in many films which only make one wonders why bother to leave YouTube for a more relevant subject, than devoting 2 hours in a theater.

The Bad:

Am I asking too much from an american movie to be at least mindful about life authenticity in its ending.  My first reaction after the screening a couple of weeks ago to another movie buff was: it is no Bicycle Thief.  Fortunately, Dicky’s redemption  is not a boxing title.

 

This will do very well in box office. And you should go watch it.


Review of Blue Valentine

2010/12/12

The good:

Engaging performances, good flow of story line with time shifting back and forth. The very effort of such a slow paced close-up on a way too common depressive social and cultural phenomenon of divorce deserves applause.

 

The bad:

It is not enough to just have an  ending without resolution and without glimpse of happiness. It has to be compelling. Sure you’ve taken the risk of all escapist movie goers not liking it by being authentic to life itself and by showing through your cool and compassionate lenses – a good and brave effort. Also annoying is the long love making scene in the diner, a justified scene of the confused minds and hearts and desires by the two; but too drown out.


Internet Trends in 2010 at Web2.0Summit: Are there more relevant perspectives besides a Wall Street view?

2010/12/06

The following is a recorded video from Web 2.0 Summit 2010 by Morgan Stanley’s Mary Meeker on “Internet Trends”.

It’s always good and sobering – even with bullish commentaries – to get the hard numbers.  To do so through the eyes of financial industry seems even more solid than any other economical, sociological statistics.  This talk is one of only handful out of the many worthwhile Web2.o Summit talks that I paid careful attention, just to get the trends through financial numbers right.

What puzzles me however, not so much how Wall Street look at things, but how Web2.0 world look at Trends of Internet from a top-down, size and market-cap singular perspective.  The biggest story in the world of internet innovation, with only partial exception of Apple, is in the tail not in the head; and tent-pole successes are those that harnessing the power of the tail, be it  user-contributed content, friends generated networks, rapid innovations from start-ups.

I was hoping that at a Web2.0 Summit, we would examine the Internet Trends as how many start-ups, working on what subject areas; what the rate of innovations; how well big companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, Netflix, Microsoft are coping and co-opting these innovations (other events at the Summit does address some of these individually); the dynamics of these bottom up innovations such as their catalysts and their sustainability; and hopefully (wishfully) what can’t of educational and policy environment and even broader socio-cultural environment that foster such innovations and growth.

Related Slide