Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Whether you found him, or he found you, who's to say?

The story begins with  Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) bringing home an abandoned dog he found at the train station.  With certainty that the owner will return to claim the dog, he keeps the dog against his wife, Cate's (Joan Allen) wishes.  

Parker approaches his good friend, Ken, for help reading a tag with Japanese words on it that was on the broken cage from which the dog broke out of, at the train station.  Nothing much could be made out of the tag, except that the dog came from a part of Central Japan.  Ken begins explaining that this dog is of a special breed (Akita) that has been associated with royalty.  Ken finds a tag on the dog, with the Japanese symbol "八", read as "hachi", meaning the number "eight"(a number of good fortune, of "spiritual significance, reaches to the heavens, and comes down to earth").  As days go by, a very special bond was forged between the dog and the Professor which softens even Cate's tough stance about not keeping the dog.

Fast forward to a few years later, with the dog all grown up.  Hachi faithfully walks with its master to the train station everyday before going home on its own, and also goes to the train station every evening upon hearing the train arriving in town, to wait for its master to return from work.  Parker complains to Ken that Hachi does not do regular dog tricks like fetching a ball and Ken reveals that Hachi will only do it for a very special reason.

One morning as Parker departs for work, Hachi refused to walk his master to the train station for unknown reasons to Parker.  Parker sets off for the train station without Hachi, and Hachi eventually appears at the train station, fetching a ball to Parker.  After playing with Hachi for a while, Parker sets off for work as usual.  However, he suffered from a heart attack at work and passes on.  Hachi however, was waiting faithfully at the train station for Parker's return, but to no avail.

The house in which Parker and Cate lived in was sold, and Hachi was entrusted with Andy, their daughter.  Andy understood Hachi's loyalty to her father and decided to let it go.  Hachi returns to the train station and takes up its usual spot, faithfully waiting for Parker's return.  Hachi's wellbeing was being taken care of by people at the train station who were friends of Parker, and it maintained the daily routine of waiting for its master's return for almost 10 years before passing away.

A very simple and heartwarming story that brought tears to my eyes.  The symbolism of how special the dog was, with its name, as well as the action of fetching a ball to its master, was very well played out in the film.  Definitely worth watching!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Speed (1994)

One of the most entertaining all-time classic action film.  Speed was also the film that resulted in Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock rekindling their on-screen chemistry in The Lake House (2005) almost a decade later.

The city was terrorised by a retired police officer, Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), who specialises in explosives.  After being injured on-the-job, he was forced into retirement and decides to get paid what he deserves.  After years of planning, he held an elevator in an office building full of passengers for ransom.  After his plan was foiled by Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), a LAPD officer, he sets his next plan in motion, playing a "game" with Jack right in the middle of it.

A bus is rigged with explosives that gets activated once the bus hits above 50 miles an hour and goes off when the speed falls below it.  It is being closely monitored by the bomber and no one is allowed to get off.  And so the story goes, Jack, the all-action cop, sets off to defuse the situation, trying to gain the upper hand to get the bomber apprehended.

I believe first-timers will be kept at the edge of the seat throughout the film (I've watched this film for more than 10 times and still find it enjoyable though less exciting of course, I could almost quote the characters' lines =.=).  There were definitely flaws in logic for certain parts of the film but as mentioned right from the start, it is a classic action film worth watching.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Rock (1996)

A group of renegade marines under the command of Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris) took over Alcatraz with 81 hostages and threatened to strike San Francisco Bay with biological weapons, demanding a ransom to be paid out to soldiers under his charge who sacrificed their lives in some of the covert operations but were never recognised for their efforts with a proper military burial and whose family benefits were never paid out.

In an attempt to neutralise this threat, FBI chemical weapons specialist Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage) was called in to help.  In order to infiltrate Alcatraz, the FBI was also forced to rope in a former British intelligence, John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), who was previously incarcerated on Alcatraz and the only person to have ever escaped from the prison successfully.  He had been held in prison without trial for almost 30 years due to the intel he has gathered about some of the major historical events that have occured in the US.

With a group of Navy Seals, these two men were sent to Alcatraz and with much at stake and the possibility of Mason abandoning the mission, this was a simple, no-frills action-packed film that was thoroughly enjoyable.  Do watch it! =)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Michael Clayton (2007)

Happy New Year ppl!  Hope 2009 was awesome and 2010 will be legend-aaary, hahaha (You guys get the joke if you watch How I Met Your Mother). Yah, I promised it would be older films but this one definitely caught my attention when I rewatched it haha.   I usually rewatch the films if time permits before I blog about them here.=P

The film proceeds in a non-linear fashion, with Michael (George Clooney) having just left a high-stakes poker game and being called in to "fix" a problem for one of his firm's long-time clients.  From there he drove back towards New York at dawn, and he stops along the way having spotted three horses just standing there peacefully up by a hill.  He walks towards them, his gaze transfixed on them, which leaves the audiences wondering what he was thinking, what was the significance of the three horses (I couldn't figure that out).  It gave a very dark and mysterious feeling, teasing my curiosity.  Just when everything seemed to be heading nowhere, his car blows up, and the flashback begins from four days ago.

In what I thought were sterling performance put up by George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson, the film revolves around a $3b class-action lawsuit Michael's law firm is handling for their client, U-North, that was sued for manufacturing and using pesticides that had a significant impact on human health.  Michael, who has a job known as the "fixer" in the company, gets called in to fix the mess that his good friend and a partner of the firm, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), created when he's determined not to work in favour of U-North anymore.

Tom Wilkinson's awesome performance was best depicted at the point when Michael finds Arthur at a backstreet.  Arthur, who was manic depressive and behind on his medication, showed his brilliance as a litigator when his conversation with Michael made everyone knew he still wasn't someone you'd wanna go to court against, a moment of genius shown in a hazy mix of craziness he's been portraying most of the time. 

The story is about the redemption of the melancholic life of Michael Clayton, who besides being well-known to be really good at what he does, does not have any other achievements in life that he can be proud of.  He's a divorced dad with a son, and is closing down a restaurant, an unwise joint-venture with a druggy brother which leaves him flirting with bankruptcy. His misery was well acknowledged when they were alone in the car and he tells his son, "You're not gonna be one of this people, that goes through life wondering why shit keeps falling out of the sky around you."

A good, serious, down-to-earth kind of show that shows you how life really is.  A must-watch!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Forrest Gump (1994)

My momma always say, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get."  Forrest Gump tells the story of a slow-witted person who's led a blessed life.  With a caring and strong-willed mother, Forrest was brought up and given all the opportunities a normal child gets despite his handicap. 

Through the incidents of bullying in school, he discovered his talent in running and it was put to good use in college where he played football.  Despite being slow-witted, it did not stop him from achieving things in life.  He was a soldier that earned a medal of honour, represented the country to play table tennis, owner of a successful shrimp business, and was present in a number of historical events. such as the Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal.  Throughout his life, he made three great friends, Jenny, his childhood friend and sweetheart, Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), his buddy in the army, and Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), his commander in the army who he saved in the Vietnam war.  He's managed to achieve a lot but the only one thing he fails to do is to keep his sweetheart Jenny by his side.

With a heart-warming story and light-hearted humour littered throughout the movie, this is definitely one of my top-rated movies.  The graphics work also deserves praise as they managed to put Forrest into the actual footages of some of the historical events that were covered in the movie.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Peacemaker (1997)

For an action-packed movie, TAKE THE SHOT! Look no further than The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman.  Special Forces Intelligence Officer Lt. Col. Thomas Devoe (George Clooney) was tasked to assist anti-smuggling official Dr. Julia Kelly, a civilian, in investigating a train accident in Russia involving the transportation of nuclear warheads

What was initially thought of as a accidental detonation of the nuclear warhead due to the crash of the train was quickly spotted by Dr. Kelly, who believed the warheads were intentionally set off based on evidence, as being an act of terrorism.  This thinking was again being brought into question by Lt. Col. Devoe, who suspected it as a cover-up of a hijack of the nuclear warheads, and the stakes were raised tremendously.

Throughout the movie, Dr. Kelly's ability to understand the mentality of the terrorist and her expertise in bombs and Officer Devoe's quick-thinking and on-the-field experience, came in handy at different points in time that allowed them to successfully track down the hijacked warhead.  What remained uncertain until the end was the perpetrator and his intentions.  Not a bad show to watch with some twists in the story along the way, the mystery and excitement building up to a climax at the end. 3/5!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dead Poets' Society (1989)

Instead of using the official trailer of the film, I chose to show you a (yes, rather long but definitely brings the point across) video clip from the film itself.  The official trailer is seriously doing a disservice to the movie!  The movie is more inspirational and serious than comical like it was portrayed in the trailer.

Carpe diem, seize the day!  This movie stars Robin Williams as Professor John Keating, a teacher with unconventional teaching methods who joins a traditional boarding school well-known to produce excellent students. Of course, for a school so deeply entrenched in traditional values that students are expected to conform to, Professor Keating brings a new and refreshing perspective to his students, giving them motivation to follow their heart.  His style of teaching is being frowned upon by other professors who have been with the school for a long time and whose mindset is aligned with that of the school, believing in conformity to a set of values that "guarantees" success in life.

Professor Keating's beliefs and style of teaching swayed some of the students in his class to start thinking more for themselves, and pursue their interests, making life way more interesting and joyful.  However, in a society where people are generally old-fashioned in their thinking, such a deviant does not fit in well and his actions lead to consequences that gives the viewer an opportunity to decide for himself whether the protagonist's actions were morally acceptable.  Enjoy the movie!