Ahad, 16 Februari 2014

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

A simply magical tale in 'Saving Mr. Banks'

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

Saving Mr. Banks is a feel-good Disney film about the making of a Disney film.

DISNEY delves into its own history in Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about the difficult birth of the classic film Mary Poppins, wrenched from a tale by a reluctant British author.

Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney, who used all his sunny Californian charms to persuade writer P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson, to allow him to use the story.

Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Alamo, A Perfect World), the film recounts the two weeks Travers spent in 1961 at Disney Studios, where Walt battled to win her consent for his whimsical adaptation of her work.

Australian-born Helen Lyndon Goff, who changed her name to P.L. Travers after moving to Britain – a nation whose starchy national stereotype she came to embody – began writing her Mary Poppins stories in 1934. For two decades Disney had been trying to secure the rights to her tale about an English nanny who floats into a family's home with the help of a magic umbrella.

Disney had nonetheless already begun the film, and invited Travers to come and work with the screenwriter and composers Robert and Richard Sherman, hoping to win her confidence – never imagining how hostile she could be.

To prepare for the role, Thompson studied everything about Travers.

"Around some corners, you'd find this terrible monster. And around other corners, you'd find a beaten child. She was the most extraordinary combination of things," Thompson said at a press conference in Beverly Hills.

"I suppose that was the scary thing. In films, we often get to play people who are emotionally, or at least morally, consistent, in some way, and she wasn't consistent, in any way.

"You would not know what you would get, from one moment to the next."

The movie is constructed around repeated flashbacks to Travers' childhood in Australia, marked by boundless admiration for her father, a day-dreaming bank manager and chronic alcoholic whose first name was Travers.

The film doesn't claim to depict a historically exact account of events. But it is based on memories of Disney veterans, notably in creating the unforgettable tunes for the 1964 film Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews.

Richard Sherman, the sole survivor of the musical duo behind the score, was "literally a never-ending fountain of stories, of facts, of anecdotes, and of bits and pieces of everything that had happened," said Hanks.

The actor, who is also a producer, said the new film is a perfect illustration of the ruthlessness a filmmaker must sometimes have to exert in order to get a project completed.

"At this point, Walt Disney was pretty much used to getting his way because everybody loved him and he was the guy who invented Mickey Mouse," he told reporters.

"In the creative process, which is really what this movie is about, you come to loggerheads and you just have to keep the process moving forward, even if that requires jumping on a plane and flying to London.

"It's a good thing. It's fun, otherwise it would be too much work," he added.

Thompson said she was sure what Travers would have thought of Savings Mr. Banks.

"I think what she would say about this is 'This is an absolutely ridiculous film! It has no relationship, whatsoever, to what was happening. But, it's about me. And the clothes were really rather nice.'" – AFP

  • Saving Mr. Banks opens in cinemas nationwide on Feb 20.

Streep 'very grateful' for 18th Oscar nomination

Posted: 14 Feb 2014 06:31 PM PST

PARIS, Feb 14, 2014 (AFP) - US actress Meryl Streep, nominated for her 18th Oscar for "August: Osage County", on Friday said she was "very grateful" to be in the running despite having won three times.

Streep stars in the black comedy drama along with Julia Roberts as the "toxic" and strong-willed Violet Weston who gathers her family together after the death of her husband.

The film is based on the award-winning Broadway stage play by Tracy Letts who also wrote the screenplay.

"I saw the play seven years ago. I remember it hit all of us like a freight train ... I was entranced, it made me laugh and it shocked me," the actress told reporters in Paris where the film had its French premiere on Thursday.

Streep said actors were supposed to relish playing difficult characters but that the "reality is that where it begins, where it emanates from is a very unpleasant place."

"She has cancer in her mouth. She chooses to smoke constantly in the face of that, she has chemotherapy ... she's a drug addict ... it's all a toxic mix, a nasty place to live."

But she added that it was also liberating "to play a person who says exactly what she thinks, never with a cover, never, never being nice, no thought of diplomacy. So that's a wonderful free feeling".

Streep said she was thrilled at the Oscar nomination and that people were "still willing to look at my work and to look at it fresh".

"That is the most unbelievable thing, that they are not tired of me yet or of my work so I'm very happy about that. Very gratified," she said.

Roberts plays one of Streep's daughters in the film and has also been nominated for a best supporting actress for her role.

Other nominees in this year's best actress category are Amy Adams for "American Hustle", Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine", Sandra Bullock for "Gravity" and Judi Dench for "Philomena".

Streep won best actress Oscars for "Sophie's Choice" (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011); she was named best supporting actress for "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979).

The Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on March 2.

Movies now showing

Posted: 14 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

The Journey

DURING Chinese New Year, Uncle Chuan (Lee Sai Peng) receives a surprise from his estranged daughter Bee (Joanna Yew). She returns home from Britain with fiance Benji (Ben Andrew Pfeiffer). Owing to Benji's ignorance of Chinese culture, Uncle Chuan refuses to give his blessing to the couple. Later, he agrees to change his mind on condition that Bee and Benji throw a traditional Chinese wedding with 50 tables for guests. Benji must also accompany Uncle Chuan on a journey across Malaysia to personally deliver wedding invitations to some of his closest friends.

As Benji and Uncle Chuan go on their journey, the audience is also taken on a ride across dreamy landscapes. I've never been to Cameron Highlands and I feel like I should after seeing the way it was shot in this movie. There is also a stunning shot of clear seas in Sabah and colourful festive lights in Penang. Director Chiu Keng Guan also takes the viewer on an ethereal journey by hot-air balloon.

Overall, The Journey is an unforgettable film with hilarious characters (Lee shines as Uncle Chuan with his deadpan comic delivery), heartrending scenes (watch out for Bee's speech to her father) and plenty of gorgeously-shot scenes. – Angelin Yeoh (*****)


This Malaysian movie is ideal viewing for young adults. Cuak, which roughly translates to "cold feet" or "suspicious" depending on the situation, is the story of Adam (Ghafir Akbar) who is about to get married to Brenda (Dawn Cheong) but is having second thoughts. Ghafir and both Dawn are really good in their portrayal of the betrothed.

Told by five young directors who each direct an event in Adam and Brenda's past leading up to their present situation, Cuak's narrative is naturally a variety of different styles. What you get here is a combination of very different films produced by very different people: very rojak, and in that sense, very real and very Malaysian. Azhariah Kamin (****)

The Lego Movie

"Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome, when you're living your dream!"

I promise you, this incredibly catchy theme song from the movie will be playing in your head long after you've walked out of the theatre. Alternatively, you might be more taken by the equally memorable and hilarious heavy metal-style Batman song (Darkness!!).

Now, I was really looking forward to this movie, and it certainly didn't disappoint.

It was huge, colourful, fresh, funny and nostalgic all at once. Trust me, you'll want to break out your Lego sets, no matter what your age, after watching it.

The story is surprisingly layered for a supposedly kiddie movie, with an interesting twist two-thirds of the way through, and kind of puts the question out there: which are you – instruction follower or random builder? (Nothing wrong with being either, by the way, just don't Kragle the finished product!)

Go watch it! Awesome for actual kids and kids-at-heart of all ages. Tan Shiow Chin (*****)

That Awkward Moment

Pick three guys in their 20s and give them reckless and irresponsible lifestyles – that pretty much sums up the entire movie.

Best friends Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) make a promise to avoid getting into any relationships and remain single, so that they can have all the fun together. However, things begin to fall apart when Mikey starts meeting his ex-wife while Jason and Daniel unexpectedly fall in love.

The movie indulges in a whole lot of distasteful jokes which don't seem to be funny. I'm guessing writer-director Tom Gormican has a strange sense of humour.

Yet, as cliché as the movie is, this is one romance movie that tells the story from the men's point of view. – Samuel Lee (**)

Endless Love

This film – starring Alex Pettyfer as David and Gabriella Wilde as Jade – is an idyllic, almost mushy tale of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet who are barred from seeing each other by their parents. It explores true love as well as the question "Is love all that you need in life?"

My issue is that, apart from their star-crossed relationship, the movie doesn't have much else to offer besides its sickly sweetness and idealism. The only character development seems to be in Hugh (Bruce Greenwood), Jade's father. He carries his role believably, propping up the story, but it's not nearly enough to provide any real substance.

There is an innocence to the movie that may resonate well with people who might feel like the romance in their life is waning. Clarissa Say WC (**)

From Vegas To Macau

To think that The Los Angeles Times once called Chow Yun-Fat "the coolest actor in the world". The thought made me cringe all the more when I saw him in this one. The actor has always exuded a certain coolness and sophistication. Unfortunately, he is anything but cool in this fourth instalment of the God Of Gamblers film series.

He plays a renowned gambler who becomes a security consultant for a casino. When an undercover policeman is murdered by the boss of an illegal gambling syndicate, he is enlisted to help take down the ruthless villain.

All-too-familiar slapstick comedy and unrealistic scenarios (don't get me started on those heavily CGI-ed card tricks) dominate the movie which is typical Hong Kong gambling-comedy fare. Chow's character is always either in a suit or turtleneck but the sophisticated appearance fizzles out the moment he delivers a lame punchline.

But if you're not too critical about it, it's still possible to have a good time. Kenneth Chaw (**)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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