Hawking (dir. Philip Martin, 2004) – At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which never impeded his ground-breaking work on the nature of the universe.
Faithfully documenting famed physicist Stephen Hawking’s journey, this engaging biopic gains credibility in Benedict Cumberbatch’s fine performance.
In the first on-screen dramatisation of Stephen Hawking’s life, Hawking takes us through the famed physicist’s early years as a budding PhD student at Cambridge University. The BBC television film faithfully chronicles his undying persistence in his scientific endeavours, throughout the difficult years of his struggle with motor-neuron disease.
Depicting both his achievements in physics and his determination to overcome his condition, the moving story acquaints us with the man behind the science. Therein lies an emotional exploration of an enduring romance, in the form of his loving relationship with his first wife Jane Hawking.
Continue reading Review: Hawking (2004)
The Social Network (dir. David Fincher, 2010) – Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launches the social networking site Facebook, but is sued by the Winklevoss twins who claim he stole their idea.
While factually ambiguous, The Social Network effectively translates a potentially linear biography into a powerful universal story.
In just a few years, Facebook has become a global addiction. The largest social network in the world has become almost synonymous with its key inventor Mark Zuckerberg, but The Social Network comes as a reminder that it takes more than one man to build a phenomenon.
Despite the name, the film is not about Facebook. Rather, it deals with the relatable peaks and valleys of aspirations behind closed doors. Behind the enterprise lies a timeless story, in which the on-screen Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) discovers the cost of over-ambition.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin takes huge liberties for dramatisation. But despite invented details, the film remains immersive and grounded as a work of fiction. His sharp writing draws universal themes out of Zuckerberg’s relationships in both friendship and business, lost due to his misguided aspirations.
Continue reading Review: The Social Network (2010)
Ed Wood (dir. Tim Burton, 1994) – Despite lacking support and commercial success, Ed Wood perseveres in fulfilling his dreams of bringing his films to life.
Eccentricity is no barrier to success, as the inspiring bio-pic of Ed Wood shows the power of persistence amid flak.
In 1959, Plan 9 From Outer Space was dubbed the worst movie ever made. The failure steered director Edward Davis Wood, Jr. onto the path of pornography. Plan 69 unfortunately failed to work out. Before he found his coveted fame, he died in 1978.
Sadly, his infamy did not end after his death. In the 1980s, the Medveds’ Golden Turkey Awards named him the worst director of all-time.
Now, if only Ed Wood had the chance to see Tim Burton’s tribute. The 1994 dramatised biopic retains Wood’s eccentricity in a positive light, and finally gives him the respect he deserves.
Continue reading Review: Ed Wood (1994)
Moon (dir. Duncan Jones, 2009) – Towards the end of his three-year stint on the moon, astronaut Sam Bell has an inexplicable personal encounter.
In his directorial debut, Duncan Jones delivers an intriguing piece of space oddity, made compelling by Sam Rockwell’s immense performance.
For some years now, contemporary sci-fi has eased on big ideas in favour of metallic drones with insatiable appetites of destruction. It is rare to see an artful entry as thought-provoking as Moon that raises fundamental questions of what humanity truly means.
Evoking hard science fiction in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris, Moon unravels a gripping existential mystery in the vast emptiness of space. Intrigue sustains on conceptual ingenuity, the focus on storytelling essential for its minimal budget.
The film unfolds from the perspective of Lunar Industries astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), who is on a solo mission to harvest fuels for Earth. Each passing year makes his home and family feel more distant, and he tries to find solace in his sole companion GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey).
Continue reading Review: Moon (2009)
Buried (dir. Rodrigo Cortés, 2010) – A truck driver wakes up in a coffin, buried alive with only a lighter and a cell phone.
This claustrophobic thriller has us rooting in terror for the victim’s unlikely survival.
A quick and painful death is often preferred, but Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) has very little choice. Waking up in a wooden coffin, he finds himself buried alive with nothing but a lighter, a cell phone, and sand that fills by the minute.
Set entirely within the oblong box, Buried is a suffocating watch. Despite the simplistic premise, director Rodrigo Cortés racks up tension with the claustrophobic setting and a pointed script. Conroy’s scarce inventory offers little chance for escape, and the film shows no disillusion. Hope wanes as the civilian truck driver struggles to stay calm in the tight space, while trying to figure out the reasons for his imprisonment.
Continue reading Review: Buried (2010)
Devil (dir. John Erick Dowdle, 2010) – A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is among them.
Horror fans are in for a treat, should Devil be only the first of more to come from The Night Chronicles.
After a streak of brilliance in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, director M Night Shyamalan seemed to have lost his spark. While Signs and The Village showed his knack for suspense, senseless twists were starting to irk audiences. Things looked fairly bleak as disasters followed since Lady in the Water.
So it comes as a welcome change as Devil sees Shyamalan step away from the director’s chair. Quarantine director John Erick Dowdle takes charge of his small-scale horror film, working with a solid script from Hard Candy‘s writer Brian Nelson.
The minimalist story opens with the vast city landscape of Philadelphia, where a jumper leaps off a skyscraper to his death. In that very building, five strangers soon find themselves trapped within the confines of its claustrophobic elevator. Deaths start to occur with each power surge, and suspicion quickly turns them against each other.
Continue reading Review: Devil (2010)