Category Archives: film

Too many demons, too few angels

1. For someone who has not read the book, I find Angels and Demons quite entertaining, what with its breakneck speed and rich production values. This then forces me to grab the book and read it, for I heard there were a couple of subplots which were overlooked by the director. Nevertheless, this latest Dan Brown-inspired religious action thriller (three genres you don’t usually see together) is nail-biting and entertaining altogether.

2. It’s a harmless entertainment which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity — less bashing of the church.

3. Where Angels and Demons succeeds is in its sequences of violence, disturbing images, awesome backdrop and celestial speed. With much of the story set in Vatican City, we get to see the intricate architecture of the churches, which massively promotes Rome. Meanwhile, the acting and some of the effects come so fast that if you take a pee, you may miss a murder.

4. Anyone can fly a helicopter.

5. Ewan McGregor’s performance here is probably one of the highlights in this film. He brilliantly chews up every scene he is in as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna who is temporarily manning the Papal office while the cardinals are in the conclave.

6. The church was not portrayed as anti-science at all. In fact, Galileo would have been really happy about the establishment of the Vatican Observatory.

7. There were a couple of heavy philosophical exchanges along the way, including the big one, “Do you believe in God?” posed by the Camerlengo to Langdon. The professor quickly replies that the existence of God is beyond his mind to determine. “And your heart?” asks the priest. “My heart is not worthy.” Ron Howard does an even-handed job of balancing the scale.

8. The room which holds the antimatter was totally unguarded, making it easy for the assassin to break in by stealing someone’s eyeball to get past the retinal scanner.

9. Vittoria Vetra’s purposes are: (1) to explain that the battery will indeed run down, (2) to request her father’s secret journals from Geneva, although they were never actually read, and (3) to run along everywhere with Tom Hanks, to bore us with urgent conversations.

10. That’s a lame way of suicide. Come on, you could do better than that.


Before I go into that

I am having a hard time starting to state my views on the topic that has generated an ever widening gap of opinions on the relevance or should it be the insignificance of Dan Brown’s fictional account of the life of Jesus and the atrocious side of it in his Da Vinci Code.

I don’t want to go to the extreme of backlashing Dan Brown or his book for being a threat to people’s faith or for causing such hype and religious pandemonium that characterized our present day and gradually heightened on the account of the Da Vinci Code movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I have read the book, viewed several documentaries and was able to browse through some apologetics written on it. And I must say, it was rather interesting.

The controversy has never caught me offguard. The reality that Brown has never misrepresented his book as fact should not have alarmed the religious community. Second, true that some archaic documents helped Brown weave his story on a very contentious plot, the Gospel of Judas was never considered a canon scripture and is fictitious in itself, a product of second century Gnosticism. That and many other Gnostic writings can never outweigh the overwhelming evidence of thousand manuscripts that support the canon scripture. So personally, I’m still wondering why such fuss.

On the other hand, I am not altogether discrediting Brown and his literary work; in fact it has shed some light on important historical issues that ever shrouded the Gnostics. The Da Vinci Code is a perfect archetype of the Gnostic thought. The Gnostics are a socio-religious group that thrives on self-made realities embedded in their future archives. From the Greek ‘gnosis’ which means knowledge, they claim to possess this ‘secret knowledge’ that sets them apart from the uninitiated having received greater light that made them superior than the inept. They are the forerunner of the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian and many other clandestine societies including the present day Freemasonry. A scarlet thread runs though these organizations along with their vows of secrecy — the ‘light’ that they all claim to possess.

Another quite interesting point is the allusion to the lost grail. A subject that has been hinted in Gnostic texts, chronicled in legendary journey by the Templars and ritualized by the Masons and add to that the secret society mentioned by Brown membered by prominent persons like Da Vinci and others.

So what have we got here? I believe, that more than the publicity the Da Vinci Code is getting and the festive appeal of its religious facade is the ‘light’ — the knowledge that all other modern day Gnostics share, the neo-pagans and the start of the Great Initiation. The wait is not that long, it was a tedious effort, subtle and shrewdly planned not just for years but for centuries. The Da Vinci Code could be that catalyst the age-old Gnosticism waits — the answer that lies beyond the light.

Would you?

Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is bizarre and brilliant at the same time, a rather strange and tenderly resonant film which I believe can only be achieved by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the man behind Being John Malkovich.

While I find Being John Malkovich quite astonishing, its oddity and strangeness — the probe in the interior of the mind — was not rationalized, but it works perfectly fine in Eternal Sunshine. It might be gleaned from the previews of the film that it would be a bouncy, beamish comedy yet again, but truly, it is a tender movie about love and romance. This is, for me, Jim Carrey’s best performance to date, and may open the eyes of his punters who have only imagined him as Ace Ventura and the eccentric Dick for his entire career. No snippy quotes, outrageous humor or bizarre antics in Eternal Sunshine, but just sheer brilliance — a true, realistic, three-dimensional character named Joel Barish, who plans to have memories of his lover Clementine erased by a company called Lacuna, after discovering that she, Clementine herself, has had the similar procedure performed only a week before. Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, the owner of Lacuna, briefly informed Joel that the procedure, although technically brain damage, is just at par with a heavy night of drinking.

The entire deletion of memories is quite fascinating. All items relating to the person you want to be erased from your brain are assembled together, and the technicians at Lacuna would then “map” an outline of your memories which are supposedly interrelated. Although it is quite remotely possible that such procedure could have been actually performed, and the explanation behind it is simply bull, we just don’t care anymore because the whole process serves as a backdrop for a deeper meaning: If you could forget about past romances or events, would you really want to? And if so, would you be willing to sacrifice all the good memories at the expense of erasing the bad ones?

The conclusion that Eternal Sunshine wants to arrive at is as honest as it can be. During the procedure, Joel’s subconscious realizes that it doesn’t  want to let go of its memories of Clementine, and so begins a strange labyrinth of fragmented memories, constantly changing surroundings, and mental materializations of Clementine. The movie is like a very bizarre dream, and you shout and try to get their attention but they don’t seem to notice.

There is a very profound message in Eternal Sunshine, and it is arguably Kaufman’s deepest film to date. Love and romance and memories of both have rarely been examined as thought-provokingly and tenderly as they are in this film. There are many small intricacies in this movie, surely picked up on more thoroughly repeated viewings, and the entire construction of the movie is completely enthralling and brilliant.

I think what the movie ultimately asks us after its long, emotional journey, is would we want our own memories erased? And if so, what would the consequences be? And are we brave and bold enough to endure these? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a beautiful film, eloquently voiced by Gondry, firmly constructed and rooted in an eerie nightmare-ish fantasy land where anything is possible.

Knowing could be summed up in four words

Good concept, rubbish ending.

Knowing could have been massive in its genre, but it all came short in the ending. I get that the director was trying to save the kiddies and all (punters like to see ‘little timmies’ survive), but that was just plain stupid. The director should have stuck with scientific facts, and could have played with it some more. But no, he chose to come up with some ridiculous reason to end the world — have the men in black(they look like they’re from Twilight or something) save the little kiddies. It’s like the writer and the director thought it was a good way to end it. Obviously, they were bored.

Out of 10, it’s a 5 — rubbish ending, great until the last fifteen minutes.

Romp, Spidy, romp!

Me thinks, why straight animated movies are more substantially engrossing than live-acted fantasy flicks? The playing field is not lopsided. All story lines behoove to revolve within a particular plot as they build up (or down) inductively or deductively as the case may be. Take for instance the deep-sea-diver Nemo or the jungle-jock Shrek series. Both have successfully departed from being stereotyped and rose above the bar of mediocrity. Even the saccharine love story of the insipid Snow White with her kissing bandit of a prince did survive the test of time and, as everyone knows, live happily thereafter. But that’s a different story all together.

I just got one thing in mind when I popped in Spiderman 3: watch and be entertained. Period. And I’m glad to say that the third installment of Spiderman didn’t fail me in this regard. In fact it ended just in time when I had a little too much already.

I ceased to expect a fluid story from air-borne creatures like Superman and Spiderman(Spiderman being an air-borne superhero is still arguable though). A story line built on trite plots expectedly comes falling flat on its face. And in the case of Spiderman, going round in circles in space just for the sake of the audience seeing him doing a Tarzan act in the city. But that is quite understandable for the following reasons:

· Spiderman (Fine, and Superman) has a vow of celibacy neatly hemmed in the linings of his undies. Having said that, there is nothing much to explore in the romance angle either. He will stay as a celibate bachelor…forever. Although with Superman, carelessness almost always gets the better of him including the haste in wearing the briefs over the skin-tight blue suit. The same rashness that made Superman an accidental father. (Morality seems to be enjoying taking a back seat these days even with our superheroes.)

· Bringing Spiderman aground a little long before you remind yourself to pee has the danger of trivializing its iconic characters which can create more confusion than explanation about his individuality.

· What else with good-guy-versus-bad-guy plot that we haven’t seen and heard of anyway. The theme has been exploited to the tills and every angle overly underscored, one time or another, that nothing can be considered ‘new’ anymore.

If your definition of action is in the tradition of Harry Potter with a generous spice of high tech digital effects from Sony intricately spawned together in a juvenile theme, then Spiderman 3 is for you. Very sanitized… almost bloodless.

And, hey, there must be something evocative about the appended number ‘3’ this time. Spidy was made to fight against three enemies, namely: the Sandman, Venom, even his friend Harry was duped to slipping into the X-men suit of a goblin of sorts (and as a reward, Sam Raimi, the director-cum-writer gave him a shining moment in the end… and with it goes his last breath as well).  And if that is not enough, Peter Parker had to fight against his very nemesis, his black side: himself. If that’s not what you call overkill to the nth power I don’t know what is. But who’s complaining anyway. After all, it’s not Toby Maguire’s movie or Kristen Dunst’s acting vehicle (she was simply stunning in a broadway act where she was seen coming sinuously down the black winding stairwell in a flowing immaculate white tea gown set against the backdrop of a stark starry sky while singing For All The Wrong Reasons; she was such a heavenly sight). The Spiderman 3 is a personal sortie of Sam Raimi hallucinating as Spielberg in one time and Tarantino in another.

No brainer for this one but definitely worth your time. Especially if you’re munching popcorn and gulping lots of Coke.


1. Speed Racer is a film brimming with colorful visuals.

2. Speed Racer is a film brimming with series of flashbacks.

3. Speed Racer is a film brimming with casts I haven’t seen in years. (Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman)

Conclusion: Speed Racer is a pure summer popcorn flick. Don’t expect too much drama.

Dark Knight pre-screening thoughts

1. The movie poster is friggin’ awesome! Of course, there at the center of the poster is the classic and iconic Batman pose. One thing though. The poster sort of arouses the imagery of 9/11 bombing, with all the smokes and stuff. Nonetheless, over-all it’s pretty cool, particularly the flaming Batman logo on the building.

2. Seeing Heath Ledger on the big screen will probably make some people nostalgic. I then suggest you bring rolls of tissue lest you cry once Joker appears. As for me, I will just utter a heavy heave, and bask in his brilliance.

3. If you’ve seen the trailer, you might recall a specific scene wherein Dent was having a press conference. His line there, I think, could be used as the film’s main tag line instead of “Welcome to the world without rules.” The line was, “”The night is darkest just before the dawn.”

4. Iron Man has definitely made Batman look technologically backward. But whatever, it’s the story that counts.