Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review: “Stranger Than Fiction”

An IRS agent living like a droid became a main character of fiction novel narrated by a famous author. Just when he finally loosened up and fell in love with a baker who he audited, he was about to be killed to end the book. The reality got messed up by the fiction or the fiction author turned into a God that could change the fate of a man. The man, Harold Cricks, decided to change the ending and looked for the author after being connected with a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman). Was he able to convince the author to re-write the ending and change his fate? Will Ferrel, one of my favorite SNL comedian, did a great job in this movie. Thought the movie plot was silly but Will made the movie very believable. The other actress were outstanding as well. This was the first time I browsed through all the extra materials in the DVD and found them rather useful to understand how the movie was made. (Stop here if you don’t want the ending ruined).

At the end, the author decided to change the ending to save Harold’s life sacrificing the perfect literature ending because she found him to be very save-able after his knowing his end and was still willing to accept his fate and mission of saving the child from being run over by the bus. This is a life dilemma. I doubt I will able to do that if I am able to believe in predestination by a fiction writer.

Really enjoyed the movie. Thumbs up from me.

Movie Review: “Black Swan”

This movie won the “Best Picture” of 2011 Oscar Academy Award and Natalie Portman won the “Best Actress.” The movie displays the dark side of the competitiveness in the arts/dancing world – the back-stabbing and literally killing for the central role. The schizophrenic state of the main character kept the audience guessing what really happened: is this happening to her or her mother? First it was the bleeding on the back, the nail-pulling, the wild drinking and lesbian sexual escapade before the big performance, then the final act to reclaim her “Black Swan” role.

I never watched or knew the story of the “Swan Lake.” This movie perturbs my interest about this ballet piece. Acting out the two extreme roles and their emotions could be very difficult. But most of all, I came away feeling drained from a woman locked in the pursuit of perfection and at the end paid for it with her life. The movie progression painted a deteriorating state of her mind, dragging the audience with it. Very powerful. I wouldn’t want to watch it again as the first time already etched into my memory.

Movie Review: “King’s Speech”

The story of King’s Speech is about England King George VI’s (Berti) stuttering/stammering speech issue and how he overcame that through a commoner’s (Lionel Louge) help. It was a time before the start of World War II when strong assertion of leadership was needed in light of Hilter’s aggression. A well-delivered speech was especially important at the onset of the live broadcasting in the 1930’s at that time. There were dramas of King George V’s death, the accession and rescission of the kingship by King’s George VI’s brother. The new king was only the Duke of York and were not supposed to inherit the kingship but he met the challenge when his brother let go the rein to marry a twice-divorced woman. Call that love.

Thanks to the movie, I got to research a bit about England’s monarchy and the king being the head of the church. I also found that Queen Elizabeth II is the daughter to King George VI. It wasn’t that long ago. It’s rather encouraging that even a king needs to work hard to overcome his handicap. An interesting movie.

Movie Review: “Of Mice and Men”

This is an adaptation from John Steinbeck’s book of the same name. I meant to read his book but I figure watching the video is the quickest way to get an idea of the plot.

Two men, one sturdy small (George) and one huge built like a bull (Lennie), got hired to tend the hay field as hired hands. They just ran away from the previous job because Lennie got them in trouble by being mistaken as assaulting a woman. Lennie was a bit retarded but rough, fit to lift heavy things. The two men along with an old man, Candy, was supposed to buy a 10-acre land and build their own dream house and “tend the rabbits.” Unfortunately, Lennie got in trouble again by accidentally breaking the boss’s daughter-in-law’s neck as he handled her rough in a panic. Now it’s up to George to do what’s best for Lennie, not allowing Lennie to be captured and killed by others. By their value system at that time, it’s best that the brave one ends the love one’s life like a master euthanizes an old faithful dog. The symbolism was strong and clear.

Gary Sinise (George) and John Malkovich were amazing and very believable. They really brought the story to live. The story plot was simple enough for the viewers to pay attention to the dialogs and subtlety. This is a great movie made from a great novel.

Movie Review: “Changeling”

A 9-year-old boy, Walter Collins, went missing one night. The career woman mother tried to get the LA police to look for him. She ended up getting a different boy and got thrown into a psycho ward, courtesy of the LA Police’s cover up. Unfortunately, the boy was already killed by a serial boy murderer, who was later arrested and hung. The woman got a jolt of hope when a boy escaped from the chicken ranch and told about Walter’s role in getting him to escape.

It’s a good movie that says something about the corrupt state of the Los Angeles Police department in that era and the people who fell victims to the abuses and rose against it. But mostly it speaks strongly about mother’s love for her son – never giving up along the way.

Angelina Jolie’s acting is very good. She can go from glamor to the rag and rise above it more beautiful and determined. Clint Eastwood directed a very good movie based on a true story that happened in Wineville, CA (renamed to Mira Loma after the notorious case).

Movie Review: “Charlie Wilson’s War”

This movie is about this Texas Congressman, Charlie Wilson, who took on the side of the Afghanistan people after seeing the refugee camp near Pakistan. He worked with the help of wealth doner (Julia Roberts) to get $1B to fund the rebels against the Russians, who invaded the country in the ’80’s. The simple goal of shooting down Russians’ helicopters with bazookas turned into a key strategy that drove the Russian back. Of course, at the end US lost the war because we failed to fund their schools to educate the people and plants the seeds of democracy, though the costs were way smaller than the costs of the war of fighting the Al Queda that eventually took over the country.

Both Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts performed well. I didn’t recognize Phillips Seymour Hoffman until I saw the credit. All are very credible in the movie. Later I googled Charlie Wilson and found that he passed away in 2010 last year at 76. Tom Hanks does resemble him somewhat. Good to see a playboy congressman has so much passion helping people many thousands of miles away. Rare.

DVD Review “Planet Earth” Disc 3

This disc contains the great plains, jungles and shallow seas. Very enlightening disc. Learned a few things and the visual was memorable.

The great plains were full of lives despite its seemingly mundane setting, thanks to the nutrients of the grass and plants. There are the migration of the gazelles, antelopes, wildebeest, birds, geese, bison, wild asses, and others.

The jungles in rain forests also supported various types of monkeys, birds, insects and etc. Figs are the most popular fruits that supply the food for many animals. Was surprised to learn about the cordyceps fungi, which grow out of corpses of various species and could potential destroy an entire colony. Flying lemos glide from tree to tree to find and eat young leaves. A pitcher plant eats insects by trapping them into a water pool and then digest them with enzymes. It also forms a special symbiosis relationship with crab spiders. A territorial fight between chimpanzee gangs was so cruel and barbaric; they literally cannibalize their enemies. The mating dance and its filming of the birds of paradises was quite interesting. An interesting quote, “the secrets of survival in the jungle is specializing.” Is that the same as in the business world? Is that why we say, “it’s a jungle out there.”

In the shallow seas, humpback calves are born and raised. Big star fishes go after the small star fishes. The seals go after the penguins. The slow motion shot of the great white shark’s devouring an entire seal is incredible and time consuming to film.