Noel

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A collection of intertwining tales of lonely New Yorkers reaching out to each other on Christmas Eve. An impressive cast which includes Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz, Paul Walker, and Robin Williams. Does this remind you of Love, Actually?

I should not touch too much on the story. Basically, Susan Sarandon goes around walking during Christmas eve and meets many people. You know it; these many people would have their own set of problems as well. But it all ends happily ever after.

Christmas movies are never too original, with the exception of Love, Actually. I did like the slight twist at the end, though it was a predictable one.

If you are looking for someone to cuddle with and immerse in the mood of Christmas, Noel does provide some fuzzy duzzy comfort and saccharine sweet moments.

Noel – Love, Not Actually


Zathura

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Looking like an unoriginal spinoff from JumanJi, Zathura is about looks at two squabbling brothers propelled into darkest space while playing a mysterious game they discovered in the basement of their old house. They are joined by a stranded astronaut and must survive meteor showers, hostile lizard-like aliens, a rocket-propelled robot run amok and an intergalactic spaceship battle.

All right. I didn't watch this movie.

But my colleague Huang Qian did, because I passed her the tickets. She told me it was very, very good – something both children and adults would enjoy. The CG images reminded her of Star Wars. And it also talks about sibling bonding. Aww...

"How many stars, Huang Qian?"
"Si Ge!"
"Did I hear wrongly? 4? 4 for a kids' movie? I didn't even give Harry Potter 4!"
"That's because you are stingy."
"..."

2nd on US Box office (behind Chicken Little) and enjoying rave reviews everywhere. Time I go watch this "kids' movie".

Zathura – Never underestimate "kids' movie"


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Raved as "The Best One Yet", Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's popular novel series. Also said to be the darkest, thrilling and exciting of the four, one of the main hype was catching Daniel Rafcliffe in the flesh.

At 14, Harry must contend with being mysteriously selected to compete in the prestigious Triwizard Tournament, that pits him against older and Cedric from Hogwarts and two rival European wizarding schools.

I was indeed curious to see Harry's Chinese love interest and Indian admirers during the Hogwarts' Yule Ball dance. The minor roles and insignificant little dance kept you wondering, "What's the hype about?" It should be catching Emma Watson blossom into a gorgeous, young lady.

The darkest, but not the most entertaining. The CG effects and interesting new roles while providing eye candy, was a case of too many magicians spoiling the broth.

The magic of Harry Potter was in its blend between good, clean fun with the mysterious, fantasy world. It lacks of the former and a cinematic climax that I thought book may provide a better visual picture. The best one yet to me was still The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Wished for more magic, but somehow still a must watch.


Cold Showers (French)

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Selected at the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes along with Eric Khoo's "Be With Me", "Cold Showers" is a sensible coming-of-age story. It tracks three months of change between three people: Mickael the judo team captain, his voluptuous girlfriend Vanessa and good friend Clement.

On the road from adolescence to adulthood: sex in a threesome, jealousy, rivalry and discipline in sports, and the poor versus the rich.

Yes, you didn't read it wrongly. A threesome sex - how did it occur, why, rationale, I do not quite understand. What goes behind it is not well explained. Similar with other themes. Too many issues to be dealt with within in the time span. I am glad though it didn't turn out to be soft porn only suitable guys at Yang Tze.

I left the cinema full of question in my mind. Then I asked myself if there was a need to answer them. Probably no.

Cold Showers – Three's a plenty, One is fine.


The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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The trailer of this movie is misleading.

This film is actually a courtroom drama disguised as a chiller. Based on a true story, a Catholic Priest (Tom Wilkinson) represented by Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) is on trial for homicidal negligence after performing a failed exorcism on Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) now dead.

It’s a trial between the people and the priest, who believes Emily was possessed by the demons.

The scenes of possession are quite scary, but you probably seen most of it in the trailer. Although I was mislead, I was gratified it was not just a ‘scare you’ horror movie. Matched with topnotch acting, it goes into great depth and is rather thought provoking.

Be warned: A dark sense of foreboding may follow you long. The night I went back, I woke up suddenly feeling strange, and it was 3am in the morning. If 3am means nothing to you now, it would after Emily Rose.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose – May Make You Want To Go Back Church


Oliver Twist

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"Please sir. Can I have some more?"

This was the line that made me obese in my childhood days. After tucking on 2 packets of noodles, this line will come. Oliver Twist, one of my favourite novel from Charles Dickens and repeated many times in various forms on TV.

A remake? Kind of strange at this period of the year.

Barney Clark is charming as the orphan boy, who runs away to London after being mistreated at his workhouse.

Directed by The Pianist's Roman Rolanski, this is dark and probably not so kid-friendly. But it will probably teach you children a bit or two about determination and hard work.

Rolanski presents cinematic pleasure, and probably can't complain much in that aspect. Story-telling may be a little flat, but what more can you expect?

Oliver Twist – Classic Story, Flat Movie


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