Saturday, 8 March 2014

Now showing in Malaysian cinemas

American Hustle

CON artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is hoping to hustle his way out of a prison sentence by helping FBI agent Richard DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) nab mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and his gangster friends for fraud. Besides having to deal with the mob and a publicity-hungry FBI agent, Irving also has to make sure his unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) doesn’t get in the way of his plans. Then there is his partner in crime and lover Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), whose true intentions are no longer clear to him.

American Hustle is a highly engrossing film with colourful characters and plenty of intrigue. Nothing seems to go the way you think it should because the film introduces characters who disrupt the flow to make things more interesting.

Lawrence is a scene-stealer with her performance as the flamboyant (and somewhat dimwitted), estranged wife of Irving. There’s also Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), a Mafia boss who makes things very difficult for Irving and Robert. He quizzes Irving’s friend – a man pretending to a wealthy Arab sheikh – in Arabic and you simply have to watch it to find out how Irving gets out of that situation. – Angelin Yeoh (4/5 stars)

Non-Stop features Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore


Well, there was certainly non-stop suspense in this airplane-hijacking thriller from the moment US Air Marshal William “Bill” Marks (Liam Neeson) starts getting text messages from an anonymous number on his secure phone on board a flight from New York to London.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra helpfully zooms in on certain passengers to help us narrow down the suspects list, but the final reveal was a surprise to me.

Neeson seems to be coasting along on his by-now familiar performance of a flawed (very flawed, in this case) anti-hero with a gun and a noble purpose. Not to say he doesn’t play the role well, just that this role ain’t adding anything to his acting portfolio.

The few close-quarters fight sequences were well done, I thought – direct and brutal. But I do wish some of the implied relationships between the characters were more fleshed out.

If you’re all about the journey and enjoy suspenseful thrillers, then I would definitely recommend Non-Stop. However, if you like a nice tidy end, then you might want to think about it, because the reason for the hijacking turns out to be rather lame. I would have given this a higher score, if it weren’t for that. – Tan Shiow Chin (3/5 stars)

Chris Evans in Snowpiercer


With a short intro on how an experiment to stop global warming goes disastrously wrong – it’s the Ice Age again! – director Bong Joon-ho immediately zooms in on the living conditions of the survivors on board a very long train. For 16 years, the train and its occupants have been ceaselessly moving (otherwise they all freeze, see), and it hasn’t been an easy road.

Based on a French graphic novel, the story illustrates social classification in an enclosed space and the result is just amazing – it is as if everything has been put under a microscope, amplifying the dire situation.

Other than translating the comic-book imagery onto the big screen successfully with an impactful storyline, director Bong draws brilliant performances from his cast especially Chris Evans and Jamie Bell. Tilda Swinton in particular, with fake teeth and hair, is a standout.

This is one future apocalyptic movie that you won’t want to miss. – Mumtaj Begum (5 stars)

The Monuments Men

If you’re looking for a different type of World War II movie, sometimes funny, occasionally touching, and somewhat philosophical, then this movie might be your thing.

Admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure I could buy into the idea of saving great works of art from the Nazis when so many lives were being lost, even though the story is based on real events.

But my heart still broke a little at the senselessness of it all when the Germans torched some of the stolen masterpieces.

The Monuments Men is entertaining, but doesn’t quite achieve its full potential – the story is not quite tight enough, the characters a tad underdeveloped, and the transitions from comical to touching not always smooth.

However, it’s a character-driven movie, and I particularly enjoyed the affectionately antagonistic relationship between Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Cate Blanchett’s all-too-human Claire Simone, and Hugh Bonneville’s flawed Donald Jeffries.

A decent option, particularly for those who enjoy World War II movies. – Tan Shiow Chin (3/5 stars)

Kit Harington leads the cast of Pompeii


This is a mash-up of a disaster movie, a gladiatorial epic, a tale of star-crossed lovers and a revenge flick.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, but neither is it awesome (depending on your sensibilities).

It’s just ... all right.

As disaster movies go, the eventual eruption of Mount Vesuvius is pretty well done, bar the way the tsunami came to a weird, abrupt end.

The gladiator-love-revenge bit is all right too – nothing groundbreakingly original, but entertaining enough.

And that about sums up the movie; it’s a perfectly average epic, good to while away a couple of hours, but not particularly memorable, except maybe for the exploding volcano bit.

Note: Fans of Kit Harington should definitely check out this movie, as he is in superb physical shape here. – Tan Shiow Chin (3/5 stars)

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