Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just Notes: 50,000th viewership and it's thanks to Jeremy Renner :)

wow.. i never knew that you guys like him so much. yar, the viewership has been slowing, trickling, just shy of the 50k mark that it sort of puzzled me a bit. but then, after i posted Hansel and Gretel review, the statics seem to jump start.

you love Jeremy Renner, don't you all? hahaha, i like him too. even though he's probably not coming back as Hawkeye in the Avengers sequel. what a shame but i think he's a good actor and he's moving to greener pastures if he doesn't get to reprise the role.

so.. as a small token of thanks, i'll do a review of the Bourne Legacy next, ok.

see, like i said, he's a dead ringer somewhat to Mr Craig :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - blerghh!!

the Poster:

the Plot:
Abandoned by their father deep in a forest, young Hansel (Cedric Eich) and Gretel (Alea Sophia Boudodimos) enter a gingerbread house and are nabbed by the old witch who resides in it. The witch forces Hansel to continuously eat candy while making Gretel prepare the oven, but the siblings outsmart her and shove her into the fire. Throughout the fifteen years after the incident, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) become famed bounty hunters dedicated to mercilessly eradicating witches. Their work is relatively easy because, for an unknown reason, they are immune to spells and curses. Hansel, however, is diabetic as a result of his ordeal and needs to take a regular shot of insulin every few hours.

One day, in the town of Augsburg, Hansel and Gretel prevent Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare) from executing Mina (Pihla Viitala), a young woman accused of witchcraft. Mayor Englemann (Rainer Bock) has hired the siblings to find and rescue several children abducted by witches. Berringer hires trackers for the same mission, hoping to regain the respect of the townspeople.

However, all but one of the party are killed that night by the powerful grand witch Muriel (Famke Janssen), who sends the surviving member back to the town tavern to explode as a warning to the locals.

Hansel and Gretel, with the help of the Mayor's deputy Jackson (Bjørn Sundquist), capture Horned witch and interrogate her. They discover that the witches are preparing for the ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls, each born on a separate month.

No sooner than after they found out that the witches are planning to abduct an April-born girl, Muriel with the help of a Redhead witch, and a troll, Edward (Derek Mears), attack the town and abduct the targeted girl. Gretel is knocked unconscious but is brought to safety by a teenager named Ben (Thomas Mann), their local fanboy and an aspiring witch hunter; Jackson is forced to kill himself with his shotgun while being controlled by Muriel. Hansel grabs a fleeing witch by her broomstick, but becomes lost in the forest.

The next morning, Hansel is found by Mina, who takes him to a spring to heal his wounds. Meanwhile, Gretel enters the forest to search for him, but she is assaulted by Berringer and his henchmen for luring the witches to their town. She is rescued when Edward intervenes to kill the men and mend her injuries.
When Gretel asks why he saved her, Edward answers that trolls serve witches and walks away.

Hansel and Gretel reunite at an abandoned cabin, which they discover is not only their childhood home, but also a witch's lair. Muriel appears in front of them, telling them the truth of their past. She reveals that Hansel and Gretel's mother was a grand white witch named Adrianna (Kathrin Kühnel), married to a farmer.

On the night of the Blood Moon, the heart of a white witch is needed to create a potion that makes witches impervious to fire. As Adrianna was too powerful, Muriel targeted Gretel, who was revealed to be a white witch herself. Muriel spread a rumor across the village about Adrianna. To keep the siblings away from the mob of villagers, their father left them in the forest before he was hanged, while their mother was burned at the stake. Following this revelation, the siblings battle Muriel before she stabs Hansel and abducts Gretel for the ceremony.

Hansel wakes up to the sight of Mina, who reveals herself to be a white witch. After Mina uses a spell to bless the siblings' arsenal, Hansel, Mina, and Ben head to disrupt the Blood Moon Sabbath. Whilst Mina mows down dozens of witches with a Gatling gun, Hansel squares off against Muriel's minions and frees the children, while Edward defies Muriel's orders and releases Gretel before Muriel throws him off the cliff. Muriel attempts to flee, but Ben shoots her off her broomstick.

On her way to meet up with Hansel, Gretel finds Edward and uses her stun gun to defibrillate him back to life. Meanwhile Hansel, Ben, and Mina follow Muriel's trail to the old gingerbread house.

During their confrontation, Mina and Muriel battle as Ben and Hansel are knocked to the ground. Muriel fatally stabs Mina. Gretel arrives to find Hansel in battle with Muriel. The siblings then engage in a grueling fight against Muriel inside the gingerbread house, until they behead her with a shovel.

In the end, Hansel and Gretel collect the rest of their reward for rescuing the children before embarking on their next hunt, with Ben and Edward joining them.

the Review:
i found my concentration simply strays during this movie. somehow it lacked the pull of Van Helsing. despite both GA and JR are eye candies, their lack of chemistry on screen as well as questionable weaponry simply unable to draw much enthusiasm for me to continue watching. there wasn't even sense of humor injected in and you find even the evil characters boring.

weak scripts, some say. weaker character development i would add. Mina is forgettable, even though she stripped bare to seduce Hansel.

entah le. bosan nengok citer ni.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: a sleeper Hit!

the Poster:

the Trailer:

the Pictures:

the day Graham quits his job
stuck at the airport when bad weather barred their transit flight straight to Jaipur
Evelyn and Madge setting eyes on the Hotel

Evelyn and Douglas accompanying Graham to look for his Indian lover

the Plot:
Recently widowed housewife Evelyn (Judi Dench) must sell her home to cover huge debts left by her late husband. she had entrusted her whole life to him, only to discover at his demise that their idyllic life is nothing short of a sham financially. left reeling, Evelyn tentatively starts to pick up the pieces in order to continue living, perhaps not in England but somewhere else where she herself will be responsible in taking care of her life.

Graham (Wilkinson), a high-court British judge who grew up in India.  He fell in love with a boy there and his wealthy British family discovered them.  His boyfriend, a young Indian boy, was treated horribly as a result of their affair and Graham was whisked off to Britain with his family.  He has returned to India after 40 years to spend the last years of his life and to try to find the boy, now a man, whom he has never stopped loving. 

Jean (Wilton) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) seek a retirement they can afford, having lost most of their savings through investing in their daughter's internet business. Muriel (Maggie Smith), a retired housekeeper prejudiced against Indians and every other person of color under the sun, needs a hip replacement operation which can be done far more quickly and inexpensively in India. Madge (Celia Imrie) is hunting for another husband, and Norman (Ronald Pickup), an aging Lothario, is trying to re-capture his youth. They each decide on a retirement hotel in India, based on pictures on its website.

When the group finally arrives at the picturesque hotel, despite its energetic young manager Sonny (Dev Patel), the hotel is very dilapidated and not nearly ready to accept guests. However, Sonny's enthusiasm wins them over and the fact that this is was they could afford, the group decides to stay.

Jean remains ensconced in the hotel, while her husband Douglas explores the sights. Graham, finding that the area has greatly changed since his youth, disappears on long outings every day. Muriel, despite her racist attitudes, starts to appreciate her doctor for his skill and the hotel maid, Anokhi (Seema Azmi) for her good service.

Evelyn gets a job advising the staff of a call centre how to interact with older British customers. Sonny struggles to raise funds to renovate the hotel and in the mean time, to find opportunity to meet his girlfriend, Sunaina (Tena Desae), despite his mother's disapproval of city girls. Madge joins the Viceroy Club seeking a spouse, and is surprised to find Norman there. after achieving mutual understanding, she introduces him to Carol (Diana Hardcastle). Albeit false start at first, Norman admits to Carol he is lonely and seeking a companion, and the two begin a relationship.

Graham confides in Evelyn that he is trying to find the Indian lover he was forced to abandon as a youth. Social-climber Jean is attracted to Graham, and makes a rare excursion to follow him, but is humiliated when he explains he is gay though more in theory rather than practice. with Evelyn and Douglas' encouragement, Graham reunites with his former lover, who is in an arranged marriage of mutual trust and respect. Soon after he finally convinced that his former lover is all right and not ostracized when their affair was blown into open before, Graham finds his redemption and dies of a heart condition the next day.

during the trip to have Graham cremated at Jodhpur where he had spent the best times of his life, Evelyn and Douglas grow increasingly close. it wasn't helping that Jean is always angry, and in frustration, Douglas bursts out that he is tired of defending his wife's negative attitude, and it is clear just how unhappy their marriage has become.

Being thankful for Anokhi's hospitality to her all this while, Muriel who was left at the hotel while the rest of the guests went to Jodhpur for Graham's funeral rites paid her a visit to explain herself and her crankiness before. Muriel reveals through the help of the hotel interpreter that she was once housekeeper to a family back in England who had her train her younger replacement and now she feels that she has lost purpose in her life when they cut her off despite her lifelong devotion and care of them. Anokhi was first happy when Muriel out of her grumpy self visits her but later turned aghast and sympathetic towards Muriel for her ordeal. Muriel then left Anokhi with a gift of her favourite digestive biscuits.

Unable to secure further investment to improve the hotel, Sonny is threatened by his mother (Lillete Dubey) who is convinced by Sonny's more successful elder brothers' plan to demolish the hotel which they each own a third right to it. his mother later orders Sonny to return to Delhi for an arranged marriage and issues her ultimatum that the hotel will be closed.
Jean sharing the news that Laura's venture has paid off and that the couple will return to England promptly on first class

In Jodhpur, Jean reads an email from Laura. She and Douglas prepare to return to England as their daughter's venture had turned out OK and she had wired them enough money to go back to England in style. 

Now that the hotel is closing, Madge prepares to return to England and Norman agrees to move in with Carol. Madge, after encouragement from Carol and Muriel, decides to keep searching for another husband.

Sonny, encouraged by Evelyn, finally tells Sunaina that he loves her and confronts his mother, who first forbids the match due to an unfortunate late night bootie call by Sunaina at Sonny's insistence.

however as they are having the talk in the hotel courtyard, an old man who had served the family for a long time approached Sonny's mother and said that he had once witnessed Sonny's father confronted his parents for their blessing to marry his now mother. Sonny's mother remembers that and finally gives the couple her blessing. She asks Sunaina to take good care of her "favourite son".

Before the remaining guests can leave, Muriel reveals that the hotel can make a profit and that Sonny's investor has agreed to fund his plans as long as Muriel stays on as assistant manager. All the guests agree to stay except Jean and Douglas who had left earlier.

On their way to the airport, Jean and Douglas's taxi gets caught in a traffic jam and a rickshaw driver tells that he can only take one of them. Jean sees it as a sign that it's time to split with Douglas and tells him goodbye and leaves. He winds up at the wrong hotel and spends the rest of the night wandering the streets.

Douglas then returns to the Marigold Hotel just as Evelyn is leaving for work, and asks when she'll be back; she says about 5PM. He asks her how she wants her tea.

A closing montage with a voice over shows Muriel checking in customers in an elegant renovated lobby, Madge dining with a handsome older Indian man, and Norman and Carol living happily together.

Sonny and Sunaina are shown riding a motorbike and passing Douglas and Evelyn on another bike.

the Review:
It is a movie with hearts, loads of them. to have British people, each of them with underlying issues and problems of old people, cast upon India to survive, is something inspiring.

there are many famous actors and actress here. my favourite character would have been Evelyn. she is forthright in her pain, humorous at times and rather sturdy in stature. through her blog postings, we viewers turn to have a renewed hope in life. she was uncanny in her observation of life in India yet succeeds in finding joy in the ordinary lives of the people there. to see that in the end she and Douglas find company is a heartwarming ending of sort. JD's portrayal of Evelyn is a departure from her strong portrayal of 007's M. Evelyn here is shown to be at the end of her means, never need to work to support herself before yet at sudden turn of events, was left to fend for herself. she might choose the easy way by letting her son and family took care of her but learning the lesson from her husband high-handedness, she chooses not to.

Graham is also nice. he is kind and i like his voice. some of the movie critics even describe Tom Wilkinson's portrayal of him as 'perfect'. indeed. he is a self-deprecating educated man who is always haunted by his guilt. but he is always kind to others, respectful and gentlemanly. to see him communicate with the Indian boys playing cricket was fun. and even though some would say Jean's interest in him is bordering on being pestering, he never once belittle her nor put her in her right place.

it's hard to explain why i like this movie so much. but you have to watch it to understand, every scene interwoven nicely and meaningful. even Jean was commended for being the tortured soul by some of the movie critics. why not? her grimace, whining and wholesome negativity are definitely genuine. at some (unfortunately) impoverished parts of the world, us the people who are used to clean public toilets and dependable amenities would have cringed our faces off, not unlike her.

Sonny had operated the hotel with a marvelous idea: for England to outsource the care of retired citizens to him. where in India they could still enjoy what is left of their best golden years with what little they have. his optimist look in life would have irk you no less but still, he is someone who makes things happen. what he needs is someone to make sure his ideas continue to be doable. because trust me, people with great ideas often suck at management. it's a good thing Muriel was there to fit as the person in need.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

the Hunger Games: loves the Book more!

the Poster:

the Trailer:

the Plot:
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the nation of Panem forces each of its 12 districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Part twisted entertainment, part government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.

Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

In coal-mining District 12, Katniss 16, previously hunts and provides for her family, since losing her father in a mining accident 4 years ago. She volunteers when outrageously costumed Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) draws the name of her beloved younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields). Effie calls for applause, instead the crowd raise silent three-finger salutes, their traditional gesture for respect and farewell at funerals.

With baker's son Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and support team, Katniss travels by luxury train to the extravagant Capitol. Haymitch sobers up, convinced by their rising chances. He warns that professional killer Career Tributes in Districts 1, 2 and 4 train full-time till age 18, and usually win.

Helped a team of prepping up, Katniss was scrubbed clean before she was sent to meet her stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). He made her and Peeta wear customised outfits that can be set alight with artificial flames in order to ensnare the audiences during the Parade. It worked as expected, everyone's attention is drawn to her and Peeta. Peeta holds up her reluctant hand for roaring cheers, a first ever for a pair of tributes to show allegiance ahead of the Game.

Later on, during the interview session with blue-wigged Caesar (Stanley Tucci) in front of live audiences in the Capitol,  the TV interviewer nicknames Katniss as "Girl on Fire" in reference to her outfit during the Parade. She is candid in her answer and emotively answers the question about Prim. She was dismissed and then Peeta was called out. During the session Peeta unexpectedly admits he has since long loved Katniss. She is angry at the apparent ploy for sponsors who provide in-Game gifts, but he is sincere. And Haymitch along with the rest of the prepping team members feel that it was a smart move to pose them as star-crossed lovers. it bumps her popularity amongst the audiences who shall be the Sponsors.

The 24 Tributes are given ample training before getting evaluated by the team of Gamemakers. Katniss evidently makes an impression when she leads the pack by the score of 11/12 to the much chagrin of other Tributes especially the Careers.

In a beautiful forested Arena, a Cornucopia of supplies lure most contestants to a bloodbath where half die, but Haymitch warns Katniss to abandon the Cornucopia and instead head straight for high ground and water. She did after grabbing the nearest bag filled with necessities, barely escaping the knive-throwing attack from Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), a District 2 female Tribute. however, when she went to far away from the rest of the Tributes, the Gamemakers send fireball attacks to flush her out straight to the lake where the Allied Careers are gathering. In her attempt to flee, Katniss injured her legs and has to take refuge in the water springs where Allied Careers suddenly appear. Alongside with them is Peeta who is accepted to tag along to help track Katniss, but he convinces the Careers to wait overnight when they corner her up a tree.

Rue (Amandla Stenberg), District 11, very young and small, hiding nearby, points Katniss to a deadly tracker jacker nest. Katniss drops the nest onto the sleepers, and as the rest flee, she takes the bow and arrows from dead Glimmer (Lever Rambin) of District 1. Katniss hallucinates from the tracker jacker's venomous stings, and barely hears Peeta's shouts for her to run away and save herself from the rest of the Careers. She flees before collapsing unconscious somewhere in the forest.

Fortunately for Katniss, Rue finds her and due to her knowledge in Agriculture which her District 11 is famous of, manages to apply healing leaf compresses for two days on Katniss' wounds, and teaches her a mockingjay call signal. Recuperated, Katniss forms an alliance with Rue to destroy the means of survival of the Allied Careers. Deploying divide and attack tactics, Rue helps distract the Careers away from their gathering area and gives Katniss the opportunity to shoot apples to fall on land mines and explode the enemy stockpile of food and weapons, while a loner Female Tribute, Foxface distracts the guard. Furious to see their stuffs blown to bits, Cato (Alexander Ludwig), District 2, snaps the negligent guard's neck.

Katniss follows Rue's cries, and frees her from a net trap. Marvel (Jack Quaid), District 1, throws a spear at them but as Katniss dodges, Rue takes the hit. In anger, Katniss shoots him dead, then comforts the dying Rue. She piles flowers around Rue, and salutes farewell to the camera, starting riots in grain-growing District 11. Panem President Snow (Donald Sutherland) summons Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), the Gamemaker, to express his displeasure. The intended safety valve for social unrest intended through the Hunger Games is having the opposite effect.

Despite Snow, Haymitch convinces Seneca to favor "underdogs" and "star-crossed lovers". An announcement allows both tributes from the same district to win. Katniss finds Peeta hiding, his leg infected due to a wound inflicted by Cato after he finds out that Peeta is actually helping Katniss. Another announcement promises what they need most is waiting at the Cornucopia area.

After Peeta falls asleep due to a sleeping drug sponsored through Haymitch's interference, Katniss goes to the Cornupia to get the medicine for Peeta's serious wounds. Clove, District 2, ambushes her, but pauses to gloat about killing Rue. Thresh, also District 11, kills Clove but spares Katniss, just this once, for Rue. Overnight, Peeta's wound vanishes under the retrieved medicinal cream.

Katniss goes to hunt while Peeta opts to gather food, but she catches him before he eats fatal Nightlock berries. Foxface, District 5, secretly following Peeta, lies dead from Nightlock. Katniss takes berries from her dead hand, in case they meet Cato who doesn't know that plant is deadly.

The sky instantly darkens, beasts bay, and Katniss recognizes the finale. Thresh screams. In memoriam, his image flashes in the sky, and the cannon booms his district number. Katniss and Peeta outrun the mutant hounds, climb atop the Cornucopia, but Cato holds a knife to Peeta's throat. Katniss wounds Cato and Peeta hurls him down to the feasts of the Muttations. Katniss shoots Cato to spare him an agonizing death.

Suddenly, the announcer revokes the rule allowing two winners. Peeta tells Katniss to kill him, instead she gives him half the Nightlock, fully aware that the Gamemakers can't afford losing their final victor. Hastily, the announcer stops them and proclaims both victorious.

Out of the arena, Haymitch warns Katniss that her defiance has made powerful enemies. Seneca, locked in a room with a bowl of Nightlock, presumably does commit suicide, maneuvered by Snow. Watching the televised victory return, Snow plans revenge.

the Characters:

the Review:
i recently  bought the Book. and use my imagination to navigate my comprehension of the story. Katniss and Peeta were magnificent in the book that upon watching the movie, i was thoroughly disappointed :(

only readers of the Book could understand the moves being made, the depth that was in the Book failed to be brought to the screen. oh such disappointment!

but the casting was excellent. Katniss and her temper during the session with the Gamemakers are marvelously done, i couldn't have imagined better. Peeta being the underdog that's in love with Katniss since forever.. well, the movie failed that. they should have preserved the storyline of the baker once in love with Katniss' mother. that could have helped a bit, i don't know.

and the scene where Katniss being starved only to be given a flicker of hope by Peeta at the cost of being struck by his mother for burning the bread. i mean, only Book readers can understand. plus, Katniss and Gage look so well-fed.

oh and i hate the message given through the sponsors' gifts. because i'd like to think Katniss is smart.

sigh. the movie was disappointment to me, the Book is not. so there, go read!