Tag: Movie Review

THE SENTINEL (1977) MOVIE REVIEWTHE SENTINEL (1977) MOVIE REVIEW

The Sentinel (1977)

The Sentinel is a 1977 supernatural horror drama based on the novel of the same name by Jeffrey Konvitz. Directed by Michael Winner, The Sentinel is about a young model (Cristina Raines) who moves into a historic Brooklyn brownstone that has been sectioned into apartments, only to find that the building is owned by the Catholic diocese and is a gateway to Hell.

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IMMORTAL BELOVED (MOVIE REVIEW)IMMORTAL BELOVED (MOVIE REVIEW)

Immortal Beloved

Immortal Beloved is a 1994 historical drama depicting the final years of classical music composer Ludwig van Beethoven (played by Gary Oldham). The story revolves around a quest by Beethoven’s secretary and biographer Anton Schindler (Jeroen Krabbé) to find out the true identity of the “Unsterbliche Geliebte” (“Immortal Beloved”) addressed in three letters found in Beethoven’s private papers. 

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POSSESSOR (MOVIE REVIEW)POSSESSOR (MOVIE REVIEW)

Possessor

Possessor is an indie scifi horror movie written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Horror buffs will of course recognise the name Cronenberg. Brandon is the son of iconic film-maker David Cronenberg, director of movies like The Fly, Dead Ringers, Scanners, Rabid et al.

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THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (MOVIE REVIEW)THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (MOVIE REVIEW)

The Ninth Configuration

The Ninth Configuration is a psychological drama written and directed by William Peter Blatty, based on his novel. The movie is an exercise in surrealism and Blatty’s treatise on religious faith. Released in 1980, The Ninth Configuration is the perfect example of seventies movie making, where serious (and original) themes were allowed to be explored without compromise or studio interference.

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EMMA. (2020) MOVIE REVIEWEMMA. (2020) MOVIE REVIEW

Emma. Anya Taylor-Joy.

Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma has been adapted numerous times in film, TV and on stage. First time director Autumn de Wilde has done a fabulous job in presenting the latest version of this timeless story. An integral part of Emma’s success is the spot-on casting of the delightful Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role.

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THE EXORCIST (MOVIE REVIEW)THE EXORCIST (MOVIE REVIEW)

The Exorcist

Is The Exorcist the best horror movie ever made? Based on William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel and directed by William Friedkin, the 1973 movie was a smash hit when it was first released and its significance and influence on the genre has not diminished in the years since.

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URGH A MUSIC WAR (MOVIE REVIEW)URGH A MUSIC WAR (MOVIE REVIEW)

Urgh A Music War

Urgh A Music War is a 1981 British film featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. For me personally, the movie holds a special place in my heart as it provided me with a gateway to the new music that was sweeping over the UK and the USA, in the wake of punk.

Back in the early 70s, the Singapore government clamped down on the arts, labelling it “yellow culture” and therefore undesirable. Live rock music was banned in 1974 and the Ministry of Culture practiced an active censorship of pop culture. When punk emerged in the mid-70s, the authorities blocked releases by punk bands in Singapore. Suffice to say there was no rock music on TV either.

Thus, when I saw in the newspapers that Urgh A Music War was playing at the Rex Cinema, a relatively small theatre, I did not hesitate. The main attraction to me back then were The Police. Sting and company were one of the first newly styled rock bands that I had latched on too, together with the likes of The Jam and The Knack in 1979/80.

The movie was about two hours long and featured bands that I mostly had no clue about and styles of music that I was unfamiliar with. The Police opened the movie with “Driven to Tears” and it was a treat to finally watch them live, even if it was only on a movie screen.

The bands that followed made little impression until Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. That performance of “Enola Gay” blew my mind. I had not yet heard of synth-pop yet and it was a mind-ending experience.

This first exposure to electronic pop was cemented by the highlight of the movie – Gary Numan’s performance of “Down in the Park” with him seated in a moving chair! Both OMD and Numan certainly opened my mind (and ears) to brand new musical possibilities.

Strangely enough, I never quite felt any affinity with the out and out punk bands in the movie – they seemed somewhat insubstantial to me. But what did get my attention were the guitar bands that demonstrated more sophistication like Echo and the Bunnymen and XTC.

Naturally, considering my obsession with The Police, I was also drawn to the reggae outfits like Steel Pulse and UB40. It would be a rich vein that I would definitely tap in the coming years.

I realise now almost 4 decades later that there were probably numerous bands that were cut out of the Singapore release – I am sure I would have remember watching Dead Kennedys and Devo. I wonder how my musical habits might have changed if both were never excised. Would I have leant more towards the American punk scene than the British in the 80s? Who knows??

In the final analysis, I owe much to Urgh A Music War – the movie changed my life! 1982 would be a big year for music discovery.

still there’s more

MOVIE REVIEW: WHEN THE ROOSTER CROWS – FOCUSING ON SOUTH EAST ASIAN INDIE FILM AND FILM-MAKERSMOVIE REVIEW: WHEN THE ROOSTER CROWS – FOCUSING ON SOUTH EAST ASIAN INDIE FILM AND FILM-MAKERS

whentheroostercrows

I was invited by my buddy Michael Lim (Singapore Film Society) to a screening of Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso’s When the Rooster Crows, a documentary on diversity and richness of Southeast Asian Cinema. The documentary highlights four indie film-makers viz. Brillante Mendoza (Philippines); Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Thailand); Eric Khoo (Singapore); and Garin Nugroho (Indonesia).

Ostensibly, I was supposed to contribute to a post-screening panel discussion with Lombroso and Michelle Goh (who acted in Eric’s Mee Pok Man and still looks fresher than the first time I met her 20 years ago!) but really had nothing much relevant to say, except that Eric was a buddy of mine too.

Since I got to watch the movie free of charge, I thought it’d only be fair to share a little review. Conceptually, I loved the way that Lombroso approached the movie not merely as a standard documentary but as a film in its own right. Thus, there was a narrative running through its 88 minutes (that’s a very Eric Khoo number, by the way) that not only featured the subject film-makers and their films but also the context of their muse (their countries of origin).

The manner in which one segment segued into the next seamlessly added to this overall effect and emphasised Lombroso’s observation that even though the four countries highlighted are often differentiated from one other, there were many similarities as well. In particular, in the obstacles that each independent film scene faced in their own countries – whether it be social or political. What was evident was that each scene, as represented by each film-maker, dug deep into the human soul – the belief, the creativity and the fighting spirit – in order to produce works of film art that resonated beyond their respective shores.

One of the obvious takeaways was that each film scene needed to support one another so that South East Asian indie film could be developed and nurtured. Thus, perhaps a more vibrant regional film scene – one that cross-pollinated across boundaries would be a solution to the usual gripes about lack of local support.

For me personally, there was an allegory to be drawn with the music scene here – that we needed to reach out to the music scenes regionally and not be too myopic about confining the building of a fan base to the hard ground that is Singapore. Definitely something to chew on.

More information about the Singapore Film Society may be obtained from its official website.