ratatouille a.k.a. the rat movie = awesome!

Suddenly I realised that I have been using the word ‘awesome’ in almost every part of my life. How awesome it is that such an awesome word is created to express the joy of someone or something that is totally awesome? Baffles me too.

Anyway this is going to be a very short one. Last Thursday, we were invited to a screening of Ratatouille; hosted by Intel to celebrate the 1st anniversary of Intel Core Microarchitecture. Quite a nifty idea — the premise of the movie that something so small could do something so great. I thought the introduced connection was smart :)

Ratatouille

By the way I’ve been calling it ‘the rat movie’, because I can’t spell ‘ratatouille’ without looking up the dictionary. I know how to pronounce it though, since it’s splattered all over the promotional posters. But since I can’t spell it without making some extra effort, I’m not gonna, so when I have to type it out, I’ll just refer it as ‘the rat movie’.

Basically, the plot lifted from IMDB.com:

Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead. When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant’s new garbage boy, the culinary and personal adventures begin despite Remy’s family’s skepticism and the rat-hating world of humans.

So here’s my verdict:

Animation: Pixar outdid itself again… AWESOME!
Voice talent: Bunch of unknowns who are often always better than famous type celebs… AWESOME!
Storyline: Your typical family relationships, some humorous parts here and there… AWESOME!
Everything about the rat movie: AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!!!

My thanks to Intel for the tickets (nice cake by the way, too bad we never did get to sample it ;) ) because I HEART HEART HEART the rat movie! I am getting my entire family to go watch it, and will get a copy on DVD for Ryan as soon as humanly possible. Hopefully that will get him off the CARS phase because to be honest, I am pretty sick of CARS by now.

Mini update: 0_0 I got sent a photo of the cake… see how awesome it is :D Actually not a good idea for me to be looking at cakes now… kempunan.

The Intel Core2 cake

The rat movie is my current favourite.. until we get to watch Bourne Ultimatum. Fuck Rush Hour 3, go watch the rat movie!

kayangan the movie

I received an invitation from some lovely people to attend a preview of the movie “KAYANGAN“, a local movie that will be released in selected Malaysian cinemas come 9th August 2007. Being a supporter of most things local ( unless they are known to really suck beyond reasonable doubt ), I heartily agreed. Now I am regretting my decision a little, because… well, I belatedly found out that the movie had a whole list of Malaysian royalty involved. Dude, the producer of this film is the director of Antah Group, ok? He looked really nice, mild and friendly throughout the press conference, but well… if I write disastrously negative things about the movie, will heads roll?! I mean, RPK is not exactly in the best of situations now, is he?

Kidding lah. I thought it was funny. Anyway… like someone said during his opening speech, there are bound to be negative remarks alongside any positive ones, yah? Sekiranya patik silap tulis, patik mohon ampun. Daulat Tuanku.

Kayangan - Mas and Tengku Amir

Kayangan ( which means something like Mount Olympus, not really heaven ) is a romantic comedy, the first feature film by Raden Pictures Sdn Bhd ( assisted by Grand Brilliance Sdn Bhd ), and directed by Y. M. Raja Ahmad Alauddin ( also director of ‘Qaisy dan Laila’, ‘Lurah Dendam’ and ‘Hati Bukan Kristal’ ). It tells the fictional story of Tengku Amir (Teuku Zacky Azwar), a prolific businessman and member of the royal family falling in love with a commoner, Masiera (Nur Fazura), and I think the official synopsis will serve to elaborate better:

When two individuals from different worlds meet by chance, life becomes a kaleidoscope of twists and turns. “Kayangan” sees the lives of Tengku Amir, a royal prince at the forefront of the corporate world (played by Indonesian sensation Teuku Zacky Azwar), and Maseira, a simple lass from a quaint little village in Negeri Sembilan (played by rising star Nur Fazura Sharifuddin) converging by way of a most unfortunate (and embarrassing) occurrence.

Maseira is then exposed to the glitzy urban world of Tengku Amir when she accepts his offer of employment with his family’s company. Despite her initial unease with new surroundings, Maseira slowly adapts to the bright city lights without abandoning her down-to-earth nature. However, both have to deny the romantic feelings developing between them. But why?

The film has abundant comedic twists and turns, impending tragedy, heart-wrenching despair and entertaining scenes. Supported by a soundtrack written by Ajai that promises to be a hit with viewers and listeners alike, both young and old, “Kayangan” is set to captivate and capture the imagination

Will differing backgrounds prove an insurmountable barrier? Or will love conquer all? Come to cinemas this August 2007, and be whisked off to “Kayangan”.

Kayangan - Tengku Amir cajoling Erina
Tengku Amir cajoling his spoiled and materialistic girlfriend, Erina

The Bad in a nutshell:

1) The first 5 minutes (after the montage of how important Tengku Amir was) were rather torturous. It was like being slapped with Murphy’s Law, and everything in the beginning too! It is one of the movies where good money is not spent on proper sound production, so you have the actors sometimes speaking out of sync. I later learnt that Teuku Zacky’s Indonesian accent was too strong, so they had to use another actor’s voice to say the former’s line. But the sound thing is a thorn in my arse lah.

Sorry that this had to happen in the beginning of the movie. But the opening scene was too pretentious for my liking lor. Maybe what transpired was inspired by real life, and maybe it was my problem for not being able to relate to the scene, but that was how I felt lah.

2) Overacting seems to be something that we have to get used to. But sometimes it gets OTT, especially with Dynaz Mokhtar’s role as Erina, Tengku Amir’s spoilt girlfriend. Another reason why I fully support sound to be recorded on location is that the actors would not have so much time to overact, over gesture, over anything because they would have to deliver convincing lines as well, and if they can’t do both, they would have to skip the over performing part.

3) The ludicrous stage performance by Dee and Opie during a proper dinner function. Was that supposed to be the comedy part of this movie? I feel that they could have done well by forgoing this slapstick, which came out from nowhere, and everyone present was supposed to be enjoying it so much that the whole scene was very unconvincing.

4) Tengku Amir’s attraction for Erina. Maybe it is to Dynaz’s credit for her ability to portray such an annoying role, but come on lah… you the handsome prince with both looks and money can get any girl in the world, and you settle for this annoying piece of trash (the role, not Dynaz)?! Makes me geram want to slap someone. Well I have a reaction, so maybe that’s a good thing…

5) Tengku Amir’s original PA who was pregnant = not funny at all and OTT. Sorry.

Kayangan - Erina and Suraya
Erina and Suraya eyeballing each other

The Good in a nutshell:

1) After a while you get acquainted with the characters and focus on the story, so the whole bad sound/ voice over thing passes you by. That’s a good thing, right?

2) I liked the performances by Fazura, Eja and all the kampung folks. In most local movies, I find that the performances by the kampung folks to be the best, maybe because they are veterans and have starred in one too many ‘Cerekarama’, which I actually enjoy. The only irritating part of Fazura was when her role latched on to the whole ‘KL is the state of capitalism’ bs. Har har. That’s comedy.

3) Costumes were rather awesome! Rich and colourful. Me likey.

4) Positive portrayal of blogging in the movie! That is so refreshing in this country ;) You’ll have to watch ‘Kayangan’ to see the role of blogging here. Reminiscent of ‘The Perfect Man‘ though.

5) The little side stories, and everything else not mentioned.

Kayangan - Tengku Alyssa reading a blog
Tengku Alyssa reading a blog on her laptop

And now, for the Most Awesome Part:

THE SOUNDTRACK!!!!!!!!!111111 The theme song, “Kayangan”, written and composed by Ajai, sung by Ajai and Tunku Mimi ( who also came up with the story of the movie, who was present at the press conference and looked rather hot ) is very catchy, pleasing, and I can’t wait to buy the album so I can listen to it over and over again and again and again.

I also really like the rest of the songs on the album. You can listen to clips from the soundtrack here, then you should really go out and buy the album because I think it’s awesome ;) Ajai, you are hot.

Kayangan - Blossoming romance
Tengku Amir and Mas discussing on how to spend RM2 million…

I guess this is the part where I tell you to go watch the movie. Well, only if you want to, beginning 9 August 2007. But I must stress to you not to get your expectations up, and just go with the flow, so to speak.

Overall KAYANGAN is idealistic, but maybe that is not a bad thing. Some funny and heartwarming parts here and there, and will definitely be a hit with those who enjoy romantic films. There will be a ‘Kayangan The Roadshow’ in Penang (5th August at the Seberang Perai Carrefour), Selangor (11th August at Mydin Subang Jaya and Selayang Mall), Seremban (12 August at Terminal One) and Johor Bahru (18 and 19 August at City Square, Plaza Angsana and Danga Bay). Go catch the stars of KAYANGAN at those dates and venues, and to end, here’s the trailer for the movie ‘KAYANGAN’…

transformers for teh win!!!

I really wanted to blog about Transformers, but didn’t want to spoil it for others. Then I remembered that I am on WordPress and there’s the password-protected function. Brilliant!

But then it turned out that this function is not working properly on my template, so fuck it. So… if you have yet to watch the movie, stop reading right now.

[Read more...]

pimpage: big apple donuts & coffee/ satellite party

One day my sister came home with a big box of doughnuts. Very enthusiastically, she told me to try them. But I looked at box of doughnuts with disdain because:

1) I am not a doughnut person
2) I am not a doughnut person
3) Repeat 1 and 2

Then dinner was late that day, and I had no choice but to consume a doughnut to tahan lapar.

….
……….
…………….

HOLYMOSESTHESEARETHEBESTDOUGHNUTSIEVERHADDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!1111111

Then yesterday, I had this inane craving for doughnuts, no thanks to Kim and Nick. So during lunchtime, I drove to The Curve to get myself some lovely doughnuts from Big Apple Donuts & Coffee.

Big Apple Doughnuts

It’s a little shop between a shop being renovated called ‘The Apartment’ and ‘Eden’. They have ample of varieties to choose from — mango cream, bananarama, green tea, this and that icing, berry, glazed and semi-glazed, and so on. RM 2 for one doughnut, and RM 17 for a dozen. Can’t remember the price for half a dozen. Who wants only half a dozen anyway?

Big Apple Doughnuts close up

The owner of the shop, Mike was there. Friendly, amiable chap and we chatted for a bit. Mike had spent several years in the US and wanted Malaysians to savour the same doughnuts he had there. I mean, if you are in Malaysia and never been out of the country, you’d think Dunkin Donuts to be the heaven of donuts. I thought so too, then… :D

Mike’s face literally lit up when he talked about his doughnuts. He said that he bought his machineries and ingredients from US, so I was thinking that his everyday cost must not be cheap lah. The outlet in The Curve is the first and they will soon expand to Sunway Pyramid and maybe other places. Even customers from Singapore are begging for him to open an outlet in the Lion City! Just a matter of time before world domination ;)

Suanie eats a doughnut

You should get yourself some doughnuts from Big Apple Donuts & Coffee at The Curve too!

This pimpage was not sponsored.

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It has been a while since I was so excited about a new band/ album. Even my late discovery of John Mayer was not this big, and I was pretty big on John Mayer. So excited I was about the following band and their debut album that I could hardly contain myself when I told Serena about them.

Satellite Party - Ultra Payloaded Introducing SATELLITE PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Granted some of you may have already heard of them, may like or dislike them, but it’s my blog and hence it’s my discovery!! Satellite Party is fronted by Perry Farrell who used to be in bands that I couldn’t care less about.

The lead guitarist is Nuno Bettencourt whose legendary skills can be heard in the song ‘More Than Words’ which is the sappiest song I’ve ever heard ( in a bad way ) and I cringe every time I have to listen to it. So I am glad he grew out of that.

The debut album is ‘Ultra Payloaded‘, released late last month, and it embodies fun, funk, Britpop, weirdness, happiness, a bit of metal, Jamiroquai’s spacey-ness, and I think it contains elements of warm, familiar tunes. Can’t name those tunes to save my life, but there you go.

With song titles like ‘Wish Upon A Dog Star’ ( first single ), ‘Kinky’, ‘The Solutionists’, ‘Awesome’ and ‘Insanity Rains’… I’ve been listening to them for a few days now and I grow more in love with their songs and music. My current favourite tracks are ‘Awesome’ and ‘Woman in the Window’. The latter has a couple lines that go, “Just try and stop us, we’re going to love.”

Yes I’m emo. Whatever.

This pimpage was not sponsored.

sumolah! great expectations

Sumolah movie poster

I had great expectations and hopes for this movie. Maybe it was the hyped-up marketing, as one CinemaOnline reviewer puts it, maybe because I’d enjoyed Afdlin Shauki’s previous movies and stage acts, maybe because for nationalism purposes I’d wanted it to be so good to sweep me off my heavy feet.

To call a spade a spade, I unfortunately left the cinema hall rather unimpressed, and I’ll tell you why.

Movie synopsis:

Ramlee ( Afdlin Shauki ), a down and out loser accepted a challenge to finish 20 plates of sushi within one minute. He lost the bet, and had to work in the Japanese restaurant ‘Boleh Sushi’ headed by Honda ( Patrick Teoh ) to pay off his debt. Soon he was friends with his colleagues, Haris ( Awie ) and Andy ( Radhi Khalid ), learnt values of hard work and even fall head over heels with Honda’s half-Malay, half-Japanese daughter, Siti ( Inthira Charoenpura ).

Soon Ramlee realised he had been tricked to be the 3rd member of Boleh Sushi’s sumo team, and had to take part in the Malaysian Sushi Association Amateur Sumo Wrestling Championship (MSAASWC). During training, he had an encounter with a member of a rival sumo team, Akira ( Gurmit Singh ) who was also Siti’s ex-flame. Will Ramlee be discouraged, or would he embrace the spirit of ‘nokotta‘ so pimped out in the movie?

The Good: Afdlin Shauki is an awesome comedian. His timing is always spot on, and he played to the stereotypical expectations of a fat person. I liked the introduction to sumo; not sure how accurate it is, but it was interesting to learn something new. The trip to Japan was lovely, but I suppose the credit goes to Japan for having all these bootiful sceneries. But overall I find the movie colourful.

Kartina Aziz as Ramlee’s long-suffering mother was aptly casted. The easy chemistry between Ramlee and Akira (even though they were rivals) was noticeable, maybe because Afdlin and Gurmit had worked before on other projects. I liked their sharp exchanges, had me LOL-ed at times.

Gavin Yap’s portrayal of a damn skinny but punk crazy sumo fighter was funny. I can’t make up my mind if he was maybe out of place, but he definitely provided comic relief. Maybe unintentionally? I don’t know, but the whole cinema LOL-ed at his antics.

The OK: Patrick Teoh’s portrayal as a Japanese dude who made Malaysia his home wasn’t as memorable as I’d hoped it would be, sometimes even frustrating. Reason = they had him speak English like a typical Chinaman, something I thought that could have been done without. I didn’t think it added value to the movie, him enunciating the way he did. Performance-wise, he delivered according to his given role.

Gurmit Singh was funny at times. But during certain scenes when he was acting smug or arrogant, I almost expected him to break out, “DONCH PRAY PRAY AR!!!!!!” I grew up watching this man on Channel/TCS 5 ok.

Everything else: if I didn’t put it in ‘The Good’ or ‘The Bad’, they all fall under ‘The OK’ category.

The Bad: I have a major, major grip with sound. Someone explained to me before how Afdlin directs/ acts in his movies, and does not record sound on-location. I think it is a serious overlook in any movie-making attempts, because IMHO sound is critical and crucial in the deliverance of a movie. I really, really dislike lip-syncing in movies, and throughout Sumolah! I couldn’t help but to wonder how much more I’d enjoyed the movie if it weren’t for the bad sound parts. Lip-syncing is bad. Lip-syncing is annoying. Lip-syncing is fake. Lip-syncing derives the audience of emotional connection with the characters. Nothing can replace sound/ dialogue recorded the same time the roles were acted out. It is just not the same.

Plus if sound was recorded real-time, they could have made do without the extra ‘er… err… heh.. hehh.. ermm..’ produced when they record it in the studio. Acting shy, uncertain and abashed need not be so painful to hear.

Props to Inthira for having to learn and memorise her lines in Malay at such short time, but I thought her character was quite redundant. She is pretty, she looks hot in a kimono, but I’d have preferred her to be given a stronger role. Not to say that being a morally righteous, culturally-aware, hardcore motivator is something to be dissed, but… that’s it? Also her performance was too subdued; perhaps due to her role, but I’d seen Nang-nak and she was brilliant. Erm, you make the connection lah :)

I also felt Sumolah! tried too hard to emphasise certain moral values, especially at the end of the film. Too much, beb, too much. It was also too long lah… 2 hours 20 minutes… as lengthy as Spiderman 3 but not as much ‘isi-isi penting’ because they were repeated over and over again.

I know that Celcom and Ogawa are the main sponsors of Sumolah! They were also heavily pimped throughout the movie, and at times it was just too much lor. Some parts were like pure advertisements for both Celcom and Ogawa — so much that when Haris was on video-call with his sweetie, I’d expected something like ‘Celcom 3G brings you closer to family and loved ones’. Blah.

I don’t even want to talk about Ogawa’s blatant, in-your-face product placement. Just a note to all advertisers: yes you poured in/ will continue to pour in money to the movie industries, local movies need more support, but please leave the creative control alone kthx.

Overall: Like I’d said, I’d expected better. I hope whatever I’d written will not discourage the people who worked so hard to bring Sumolah! to screen. I know Zona put a lot into the production, you can read their production diaries here. There’s always room for improvement, kan? :D

I was telling James about the movie, and he asked, “Cicak-man vs. Sumo-lah… who wins?”

In that case, Sumo-lah! wins the best movie of the year, y’all!

(Sumo-lah! is showing in Malaysian cinemas now. Go catch it if you want to, before it is too late, i.e. Pirates 3 coming out and the cinemas get overcrowded.)

i hate moag the movie

For some reason I had the urge to re-read Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha ( a book which my cousin might remember belongs to him… did I buy you a new copy? If not, remind me yah :D ) — definitely one of my favourite books, even if it was factually incorrect (though beautifully written) and incurred the wrath of the geisha whom Golden interviewed.

Then I re-watched the movie inspired by the novel starring the usual Asian suspects, and I remembered why I hated the movie so much.

So for the sake of old arguments (it was a 2005 movie), I would like to reinstate the reasons the movie didn’t do it for me, especially after reading the lovely flow of Golden’s words.

I’ve never liked Zhang Ziyi. I don’t think she can fucking act. The new Gong Li?! Pirahh! I hated her in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I hated her in Rush Hour 2, I hated her in The Legend of Zu, I hated her in Hero, I hated her in House of Flying Daggers, and I hated her in Memoirs of a Geisha. I didn’t even bother watching The Banquet because I know for sure I’d hate her in it too. Throughout the movies I’ve seen her in, she alternates between 2 facial expressions that denotes her as either a sulking child or a smirking bitch. Niamah, every time she has screen time, I feel like taking a blunt fruit knife to my creamy, slender wrist and very slowly and most painfully carve ‘WHO’S YOUR DADDY?!??’. Freakin’ Sanjaya in a cowboy hat is more entertaining than you, bitch.

Dear Gong Li, I love your older movies, especially your performance in Farewell To My Concubine. Your Chinese accent transports me to an empire long-gone, crushed by the power-hungry rebels and communists. But as the new era dawns and Hollywood beckons, I, a semi-ardent fan among thousands plead you to do us all a favour; stop conversing in English. No one understood what the heck you were on about when you babbled ‘n prattled in MOAG. You lost your awesomeness in the ditty movie. Sad thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. Tell it to their Hollywood faces, fuck you and your attempts to make Asians look bad with lame dialogue; I am sticking to Mandarin, so there bitches. But I don’t think it will happen because even if you so happen to find my blog, you wouldn’t be able to understand it anyway.

Wahai Yang Berbahagia Datuk Michelle Yeoh, you are a fine specimen of a Malaysian who made it big on the international scene. I don’t really know what else you should do, seeing that your last couple of movies really sucked; erm, The Touch, wtf was that all about?!? And the best part of Silver Hawk was Richie Ren doing the KRACK KRACK KRACK KRACKKKKKKKKKK!!!!! I heard Sunshine didn’t make the grade either. Let’s hope you are awesome in Mummy 3. Also, you were a young 43 in 2005 for MOAG. But you weren’t that young for girly-laughing scenes. I hope you kungfu-ed the director for making you look bad.

Ken Watanabe, please marry me. I am yours for the taking. I am going to make you a very happy Samurai, and I shall teach you how to articulate certain English words that you seemed to have so much difficulty with in MOAG.

On second thoughts, you kissed Zhang Ziyi. Perhaps not.

I hate MOAG the movie with a vengeance. It could have been so right. The set, the cinematography, the lighting, the costumes, the make-up were so beautiful. Why did everything else have to be so wrong?! I hate you Rob Marshall. I hate you Robin Swicord. I hate you Steven Spielberg. And I hate you most, Zhang Ziyi. Thanks for nothing.

movie: jangan pandang belakang – not that bad leh!

What’s with me and Malay movies? Heck I don’t even watch that many Chinese flicks anymore (but that is because I think no one can replace Stephen Chow as the slapstick mastah, and Zhang Yimou keeps making artsy-fartsy movies with weak storylines and weaker actors — erm, Jay Chou, wtf herro!!!!!).

Anyway, I caught Jangan Pandang Belakang last week because I didn’t fancy waiting 40 minutes for another movie. Sort of like a spur-of-the-moment purchase. The title is basically the age-old warning not to ‘look behind you’ if you feel that you are not alone, especially since ghosts and spirits are stereotyped to be sneaky beings who would only approach you from behind.

The movie began with a traditional Muslim exorcism, as seen in the photo below:

Jangan Pandang Belakang - traditional exorcism

The evil spirit was captured and put in a bottle (to be thrown into the sea), but the victim died. Fast-forward to a couple months or years (no idea) later, Darma (Pierre Andre) received news that his fiancee, Rose had mysteriously passed away. I kept waiting for the part when he was really grieved, but it never happened. Dude, the woman you are about to marry and spend the rest of your life with just fucking died, show some emotion can or not?!

Anyway the circumstance in which Rose died was mysterious, so Darma and Rose’s twin sister Seri (Intan Ladyana) decided to do some CSI to find out what the fuck happened. Again, Seri perplexed me. Woman, your TWIN SISTER just fucking died, omg show some STRONGER emotion already!!!!! At least Darma cried later a bit, but Seri… omg takde perasaan ke?! Death?? Never coming back?!?!?!?!

But that was the extent of my grip. Mostly kayu acting by the main protagonists, but the rest of the cast were good, if not brilliant.

Moving on… Darma and Seri found a voice message by a terrified Rose, that she thought ‘something’ was bothering her. Soon Darma realised that whatever was bothering Rose was bothering him as well. Weird noises in the middle of the night, something knocking furiously at the door and stopped when Darma reached for the door knob, the typical shock shock horror horror suspense suspense stuff associated with ghost movies.

Jangan Pandang Belakang - scene from movie

So Darma made a trip back to his hometown to seek help to rid the ‘gangguan’. Along the way, some stuff happened, pretty good even with my eyes closed…

Okay, lazy to write more. So overall of Jangan Pandang Belakang:

The Good: Khatijah Tan, the nenek (opah), nice lighting, shock horror setaraf dengan adegan-adegan yang menyeramkan yang terdapat dalam filem-filem seram Jepun dan Korea…

The OK:: The script and storyline. Sometimes they make sense (good), sometimes they don’t (bad).

The Bad:: Pierre Andre and Intan Ladyana’s acting, or rather the lack of it. Maybe Pierre Andre has found his other calling — he co-wrote the story with some other fella.

Jangan Pandang Belakang - hantu, arghhhh!

Jangan Pandang Belakang is showing in nationwide cinemas now. If you have seen the movie, did you disagree with my thoughts, or you have other opinions? Share lah.