盧廣仲 – 好想要揮霍 (陳綺貞作詞)

這歌是陳綺貞寫的詞,難怪覺得詞好好。尤其是這句“家徒四壁,是甚麼包圍空虛”呈現的畫面感足以把空虛,an intangible concept,立體形成人們能想像的一間房子面對著空蕩蕩的四面牆像把空虛都囚禁著,from intangible to something tangible,這就是作詞人的力量。陳綺貞2013年《時間的歌》專輯還儲存在我手機裡,12首高品質的歌。

我慌亂面對你轉身離開
不管未來快樂是不是我的必須品
我只能再一次安靜作好準備
你下一次出現

也許早已否定我所有的努力
愛已不會降臨

Baby, 午夜夢醒 家徒四壁
是甚麼包圍空虛
好想把我的全部都給你
一個人多平凡的期許

我要的生活只有那麼一種
卻無法一個人點滴的過
直到今天還不能放開昨天的手
誰來 救我

Ed Sheeran ÷

Finished listening to Ed Sheeran’s ÷ album. I think that the 4 tracks on the deluxe edition really should have been included on the standard edition because they’re better than some of the ones there and excluding them means a slower bpm on the standard edition because there are so many slow songs on it.

My favourite songs on the album in descending order are:
1. ‘Save Myself’ which reminds me of ‘One’
2. ‘Dive’ which reminds me of ‘Thinking Out Loud’
3. ‘Perfect’ which reminds me of ‘Photograph’

‘Perfect’ also has a melody which reminds me of Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine. Currently leaning towards ‘Save Myself’ as my favourite song on ÷ because of how good and brutally honest the lyrics are. Just the (below) opening line alone is enough to take my breath away and leave me in awe of the songwriting talents behind this song.

“I gave all my oxygen to people that could breath
I gave away my money and now we don’t even speak”

I checked the credits for ‘Save Myself’ and it was written by Labrinth :O No wonder the lyrics are equally compelling as Labrinth’s own ‘Jealous’. It’s a pity (and a mistake in my opinion) that this song is only on the deluxe edition of the album which means not everyone will hear it.

The other two ballads ‘How Would You Feel (Paean)’ and ‘Supermarket Flowers’ are good too, with ‘Supermarket Flowers’ beng about the death of Ed’s grandmother, written from the perspective of his mother. It adds a moment of poignant vulnerability to the album otherwise polished with glossy production and beats.

‘What Do I Know?’ is social commentary piece with a catchy beat. The song’s central theme which is expressed by the line “Love can change the world in a moment” is an admirably noble (albeit unrealistic) theme that recalls to mind similar themes echoed in John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. But it does add a cheeky undertone to the song by following up that aforementioned line immediately with “but what do I know?”

But to be honest, overall I actually thought his + and x albums were better. Because comparing track for track, ‘Eraser’ is obviously weaker against ‘You need me, I don’t need you’, and the above ballads I mentioned, they’re good but still weaker than his songwriting peak form in ‘The A Team’ (on +) and ‘One’ (on x). Similarities between his songs and others’ have already come up: ‘Shape of you’ against Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’ but at least the songs weren’t really as similar as the case was for ‘Photograph’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’ respectively.

La La Land

I think La La Land is the best movie ever, not even exaggerating. It’s like a hybrid of Woody Allen’s Manhattan + Michel Gondry’s visual style. So freaking good :O The movie’s like unadulterated pure hopeless romance on high, with zero inhibitions as to what critics would say. The songs are still stuck in my head esp “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars”. Omg they’re so good :O

Chef

Caught the new film from Jon Favreau, Chef! This has to be the year’s best film thus far. The only other close challenger for that title is X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film not only features great food (as expected from the name of the film), a great cast, it has excellent pacing too. There was never a dull moment and the music used in the film is spot on for the scenes and intended mood. This is also one of the rare films that correctly showcases the power and reach of social media platforms and how quickly things can spread virally via new media.

This goes to show that Jon Favreau is a bona fide director and the successes of Iron Man 1 and 2 were not just flukes. The film also gave an interesting critique of the delicate relationship between a critic and the person whose work is being reviewed. Upon closer observation, this relationship is symbiotic; really, one can’t survive without the other. Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr. delivered memorable performances, making full use of the little screen time they were given.

The estranged father-son relationship underlies the whole film and explores it to a satisfying emotional conclusion with the 1s-a-day video scene which in my opinion was brilliant, highlighting the film’s emotional tone.

Of course there are some flaws with the film, including the impossibility of some of the story elements such as how quick and easy it was for the sous chef to come and help them and how easy it was for the ex-wife to fall back in love with the main character.

But overall, it was a movie full of satisfaction, like eating a really good meal. I’ll certainly be looking forward to be back for another round of Jon Favreau’s future offerings!

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Hard Eight

Only after reading Philip Baker Hall’s interview with Rolling Stone (http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/philip-baker-hall-remembers-genius-philip-seymour-hoffman-20140202), did I realise that most of the scene above was improvised. Philip Seymour Hoffman never ceases to amaze me with his brilliance. To be able to improvise this well and catch the timing right goes to show his genius. The world will surely suffer from this loss of a massive acting talent for a long time.

Non-Stop

Saw the mystery-thriller film Non-Stop starring Liam Neeson on Sunday. The film actually had a pretty good premise; someone is threatening to kill passengers every 20 minutes unless he gets his goal of having $150 million transferred to a bank account fulfilled. What makes it a good thriller is that this person is likely among the 150 passengers on board and that besides knowing this guy is sending threats through his cellphone, there’s no way else to tell which person is more suspicious than another. Every person on the plane could be the blackmailer, including the co-pilot and the air stewardesses and this basically means there’s no character we can totally trust to be clear of suspicion, not even the main character himself whose own history is not immediately revealed to us. The film does a good job in keeping us on the edge of our seats by having us constantly wondering who the real blackmailer is and how they are able to carry out the killings without exposing themselves openly. It also does well by playing on stereotypes and perspectives, like having others be suspicious of the Muslim guy by virtue of his race but who turns out to be a helpful doctor.

Of course, the film can’t work without some source of positive goodness to lead us on, otherwise it will just become a dark and broody film focusing on Liam Neeson. This source of positive vibe came in the form of Julianne Moore’s character. I must say I always have a good impression of Julianne Moore ever since seeing her in Boogie Nights. She had brilliant oscar-worthy scenes in that movie that showed her vulnerability and gave her character real depth as supposed to a thinly sketched porn actress that her character might have become in the hands of a lesser accomplished actress. Though she was indeed nominated for an oscar for Boogie Nights, I really cannot understand how she did not eventually win the award. Since then, she has been nominated a further three times in the Academy Awards, even twice in the same year – a feat only accomplished by a few other brilliant actresses such as Cate Blanchett in 2007, but similiar to Cate, she did not win either awards she was nomimated for in 2002. She gave convincing turns in this movie as well. When she says she has a heart problem and can die any time, who can really doubt her words?

Back to Liam Neeson, his character was made to be that of an anti-hero. He doesn’t exactly have a perfect history – he’s an alcholic and had bad records in the line of duty – but who else can we trust besides this US federal air marshal to find the real culprit behind the killings? Rounding up the great cast (at least that’s what it seems on paper but whether it works, we’ll come to that later) is the recent oscar best supporting actress winner, Lupita Nyong’o.

The film had a good start, setting the stage for a good old locked room mystery since the suspect is one of the people on the plane and there is no way to escape. However, I do think that the film wasted its good premise and solid cast. Although the buildup was good, the film really went into auto-pilot mode in the film’s final act. There was so much ridiculous and unbelievable stuff going on. Liam Neeson’s character tried to minimise the bomb explosion by stacking it behind all the luggage at the back of the plane, a plan he called ‘for minimal damage’. This was a plan that even he himself acknowledged no plane has carried out successfully in reality. And yet, at the end of the film, the plane managed to land safely with no one else dying. And by the end, when everything was revealed including the real blackmailer(s), there were still many glaring plot holes that were unresolved and not addressed. Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Lupita Nyong’o were all nominated for the Academy Awards before but their talents were pretty much wasted here, especially Lupita Nyong’o who recently beat Jennifer Lawrence to clinch the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in her debut film, 12 years a slave. Here, she seemed to have disappeared into the background and almost unnoticeable. Her role in the film was so insignificant that it would not have made much difference if they had actually given her part to an unknown.

All in all, this would be a good film if you can simply go along with the ride and not over-think it too much.

Gravity + Best Picture

For films nominated for the upcoming oscar’s best picture, my current favourite is still ‘Gravity’, followed by ‘Her’, and next ‘Philomena’ and then ‘America Hustle’. Gravity is still my top pick because if you really think about it, you’ll realise how hard it is to make a movie about the emptiness of space, an abstract quality that doesn’t translate easily to screen. How do you make the audience feel the effects of this intangible thing known as Gravity and to also fully realise the vast nothingness and loneliness of space? Alfonso Cuaron managed to do just that. Of course the jaw-dropping visual spectaculars help but this is not just about the visuals because having nice visuals does not always equate to a good film, as evidenced by the case of Avatar. It’s about a human’s desperate struggle to survive in space, a stage where there is nothing else, no one else to rely on but your own instincts and that scenario forces the main character (played by Sandra Bullock) stuck in that situation to have to confront the problems she tried to run away from on Earth. Afterall, there is no place for you to hide in space and the saying ‘no one can hear you scream in space’ can’t be more true here. And I caught this movie at Cathay Platinum Suites last year which really provided the perfect setting to experience this movie. The wide screen is really optimum for the full experience of space. Take for example the opening shot, as the character drifted slowly from far away in the background to the front, the scene is simply breathtaking and highlighted the beauty of space very well. Thus, I really think Gravity should win Best Picture for being a landmark film.