Music Monday: A Bohemian Rhapsody

Last week Tuesday, my husband and I went on a date – that is, we went out without the children. It had been a while since we had been to the movies sans famille and he wanted to go and experience the big screen. We decided to go and see Bohemian Rhapsody – especially as I am a great fan of Queen’s music.

I loved the film and I could see why Rami Malek won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film showed me quite a bit of Freddie Mercury’s life that I had not known before. As a teenager listening to his music, I had not been interested in knowing his background and personal history. Instead, my friends and I had enjoyed the music – dancing and singing along to his lyrics.

The story was interesting, the acting good, and the music incredible. I loved seeing the history of well-beloved songs. My favourite has always been Bohemian Rhapsody, even though the music critics did not respond favourably to it:

We Will Rock You was one that we used to sing at sports’ events and it was interesting to learn of its genesis:

I have always enjoyed listening to Find Me Somebody To Love:

I could go on with my favourite Queen hits – but that would mean many posts. If I have the opportunity to watch the film again, I probably will. But in the meantime I will pop my CD featuring Queen’s Greatest Hits into my CD player.

Which is your favourite Queen song?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Advertisements

Justice League and Ramen

This year we celebrated my husband’s birthday the day after his actual birth date. Celebrating it on a Friday was so much more convenient than a Thursday evening. Thursday evening while I was conducting interviews with the parents of the children in my class; and he could still go out and play badminton.

To celebrate his birthday this year, we decided to take my husband to the movies and dinner. The movie we chose was Justice League as we all enjoy watching super-hero movies.  To treat my husband, my son decided his dad should go to the VIP section of our movie theatre. We loved it! I enjoyed the extra space and the reclining chairs. What a perfect way to relax after a hard day on your feet! Of course we had to get buttered popcorn. Delicious! Not only was I enjoying the experience, but I could see that my husband was too. 🙂

Not only did we enjoy the VIP experience, but we also enjoyed the film. Lots of special effects and action. The favourite part of the film for me was meeting Flash. I loved the way his character was portrayed – with plenty of humour. As fans of super-hero films, my family and I were not disappointed. I look forward to seeing the next film – the one that was hinted at  after the film credits.

After our film experience, we went out for dinner. At the moment, my family enjoy eating ramen. We love this Japanese food and enjoy the flavours of the soup. I enjoy, in particular, the vegetarian version laden with vegetables.

After dinner we headed home for some tea and chocolate mousse cake. The perfect way to end a birthday celebration.

How do you celebrate birthdays?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

Film Review: Dark Places

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

On Wednesday I was able to see the pre-screening of Dark Places. My interest in seeing the film was two-fold: I was keen to see fellow South African Charlize Theron in her lead role, and I was excited to see the work of my stepson, Shannon Kook. We arrived early and were led to our reserved seats after we had bought the mandatory butter popcorn. I could not wait for the film to start as I had heard so much about the film from Shannon.

The film is based on the book by Gillian Flynn. The story is about a woman Libby (played by Charlize Theron) who faces a traumatic experience from her past: the murder of her mother and two sisters. As a young child of eight, she testifies against her brother, Ben, resulting in his jail sentence. As an adult, with the encouragement of a group killed “The Kill Club”, Libby digs into her past to uncover the events as they happened – events she had been unaware of as a child.

As expected, Charlize Theron plays her part well. In the beginning, I sense the character’s boredom with the events of her past. However as her search into the past uncovers unexpected events, her interest becomes less blasé. The other cast members (Chloe Grace Moretz and Tye Sheridan) were also believable in their roles. My interest in the film sharpened, of course, when Shannon Kook came on screen.

Shannon Kook with Tye Sheridan and Chloe Grace Moretz.

Shannon was certainly believable in this role – which was different from the those I had seen him in before. In this role he portrays a character with a dark side to him. My only wish is that the character was developed a little more in the film as young Trey was certainly interesting. According to those who have read the book, Flynn did develop his story in her tale. As the film deviated a little from what had been written in the original story, many of the questions the viewer could have asked remained unasked.

Did I enjoy the film Dark Places? Yes, I did. And I would recommend seeing it to those who enjoy watching something that makes them think a little. It is not a film full of action, nor is it one that requires a box of Kleenex to be nearby. Instead the viewer needs to be able to move from one time frame to another.

Have you seen the film Dark Places?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

Tribute to a Dynamic Actor

“Come on, it is time for Mork and Mindy!” My sisters and I hurriedly finished what we were doing so that we could sit in front of the TV. We loved this show! For half an hour each week, we sat on the floor and watched these two characters and their antics. We would raise our hand with our fingers joined as Mork’s were, and repeat “nanu-nanu” with him. The show was popular with my friends too and often was a point of discussion the day after an episode had aired. How sad we were when there were no longer any stories on the characters Mork and Mindy.

We did, however, see Robin Williams in action again. The first film that comes to mind is Mrs Doubtfire. I cannot say how many times I have seen this comedy. What I do admit to is that each time I have watched it, I laughed. Other actors have attempted to do what Robin Williams did in this film but, in my opinion, they have not succeeded. Mrs Doubtfire was believable, she was lovable, she was every inch the school marm – and became an iconic character.

The film that struck a deep chord within me was Dead Poets Society. As an educator myself, the story of a man who changed the lives of his students resonated. It was not only the storyline, however, that I enjoyed but the acting as well. This film showed Robin Williams to be not only a comedian, but a great actor who deserved to receive the Academy Award for his role in this film and in other movies. Often I remember a phrase from this story, Carpe Deim (seize the day), and try to remember to make use of the opportunities that come my way.

I am sure to hear the voice of this beloved actor again when my children watch the film Aladdin. In this film, Robin Williams reads the voice of Genie with pizzazz, verve and humour. I do admit to the genie being my favourite character in this trilogy because he is so funny. And I enjoy seeing the children laugh in response to his voice.

Robin Williams was an actor who brought much joy into people’s lives. When we went to watch him – whether in a comedy or a drama – we knew we would be entertained.

 I will miss the opportunity of seeing him again on screen and will mourn his loss. May he rest in peace.

Which are your favourite films starring Robin Williams?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

 

 

Film Review: Son of God

I am always surprised when an obviously Christian film comes out on the cinema circuit. The films that one expects to see on circuit these days are filled with plenty of action, vampires, and societies which may exist in the future. In other words, one expects to see films that will draw crowds and make plenty of money.

When I heard of the film Son of God, I knew the story would be about Jesus and a part of his life. I had a look at the trailer to decide whether or not I should pay to see it and saw that the film focused on the last years of Jesus’ life. The video clip suggested a film containing beautiful panoramic shots, and a link to the events as described in the Bible.

I went to the cinema to watch the film knowing the story. However the way in which the story was filmed touched an emotional chord in my heart: there were many times in the movie when I had to reach for my tissue to wipe the tears from my eyes. Many of Jesus’ words came from the Gospels in the Bible. However, they were sown seamlessly into the story.

The story is told through the voice of John, the disciple of Jesus who lived the longest. He tells of the time when he became a follower of Jesus until the time of the Crucifixion. The film fills in many blanks that are left out in the Bible: the political manoeuvres made by the Sanhedrin, for example.  We are given a glimpse into the personalities of Pontius Pilate as well as Thomas and Judas. The way in which the people during the biblical times lived under Roman rule is also suggested by the way the many are treated under the authority of the Roman prefect.

I enjoyed the scenes laid out before me as I watched the film. The cinematography and the way in which the characters were portrayed literally brought tears to my eyes. The machinations of the Temple’s high priest and the coldness of Pontius Pilate is well played. When my children are old enough, this is one film I will introduce them to. (The age restriction for the film is 14).

Do you enjoy watching Biblical films?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

House of Cards

My husband and I joined Netflix a little over a year ago as we were bored with the offerings on Cable: reruns and reality shows dominated prime time television and we were always searching for something worthwhile to watch.

One of the First TV shows we watched was House of Cards. We loved it: the political intrigue, the drama, the tension. Kevin Spacey plays his role so well as does Robin Wright, the woman who plays opposite him. We were kept on the edge of our seats as the characters, Francis and Claire Underwood, worked towards their political goals and extracted their revenge on people who had reneged on their promises. Unexpected twists and turns kept us interested as the husband and wife team let nothing get in the way of their ambitions.

A few months after we had watched Season 1, I was not surprised to learn that this political drama had been nominated for nine Emmy Awards. The series won the Emmy for best director (David Fincher). The Emmy was not the only award the series won after its first season: Robin Wright won the Golden Globe for best actress from among four nominations.

My husband and I waited impatiently for Season 2 to air. Friday, 14 February was the day it appeared on Netflix for the first time. I am sure you can guess what we watched on the evening of Valentine’s Day!

We have spent the weekend watching Frank and Claire Underwood continue with their political machinations. Not once were we bored with the story. As with Season 1, we found it hard to switch off the television and go to bed. The story is enthralling, the script well-written, and the acting superb. I enjoy the side remarks Francis Underwood makes to us, the viewers – almost as if he is in a personal conversation with us. The story is linked to current American politics which makes the story more current. Fast-paced and realistic, my husband and I watched until the 13th episode ended.

Now we wait eagerly for Season 3.

Have you watched the TV show House of Cards?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender (season 1)
Avatar: The Last Airbender (season 1) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our son introduced us to Aang and the other characters of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animé TV series by NickelodeonThe introduction to this epic story began slowly at first with the children watching episodes on a laptop via the internet. I remember them waiting for an episode to download so that they could watch it at the table, or seated three-in-a-row on a bed. Our young daughters loved the series: the characters, the humour, and the story itself.

Three years ago on Christmas day, our son offered the girls a gift  – a gift which ended up being one to the whole family. The girls ripped off the Christmas paper to reveal Season 1 and Season 2 of the animé-style TV series. We made the decision to watch the series together beginning that day. My husband, who is not a lover of animation, agreed to this as he wished to please his children.

Aang from the tv series Avatar: The last airbender
Aang from the tv series Avatar: The last airbender (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After breakfast, we began watching the story which takes place in a world that has been divided into four: Air, Water, Fire and Earth. The Avatar, Aang, is the one who is the bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds. He is the one who has the ability to master all four of the world’s elements. He had been missing for a 100 years and, in the first episode, we find out why. We also realise that, during the Avatar’s absence, the world has changed: the Fire nation began a war against the other nations in a desire to control the world; the Air nation has been killed off by the Fire nation; the Water tribe is near extinction; and the Earth kingdom has colonised extensively. The story focuses on the ways in which Aang and his group of helpers work towards bringing balance back to their world.

Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The series was gripping – even for my husband who normally falls asleep during animation films. The action in the film sated his desire for fast-paced action movies. We enjoyed the humour, the story, and the sense of companionship we felt while we were all watching together. The only breaks we took from watching were when I was preparing the meals, when we were eating (dessert had to be eaten in front of the TV though!), and when we went to sleep (which was always very late). The story has many unexpected twists and turns so we were always kept wondering what was going to happen. As the animé was originally a television series, each episode ended with us wanting more.

Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, the creators of this universe, have brought us a lot of pleasure with their work. The fighting styles of each nation reflect the various styles of martial arts that we know are used by various disciplines. The drawings are perfectly executed, and the dialogue natural. The characters they created were “real” and behaved as a person would in similar situations. In 2008, the series was awarded a Peabody for recognition of the series’ excellence in quality; and for its complex characters and the character development that occurs within the story.

The Christmas holiday ended with me going to buy season 3 so that we could finish watching the epic story. My daughters have watched the DVDs many times over. This is one story they will not shove to the back of the bookshelf.

Do you enjoy watching animé?

(This post was inspired by Jake. Yay! He is back 🙂 )

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The Conjuring

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Poster for The Conjuring. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

When The Conjuring came out a few weeks ago, I looked at the poster with a different eye to the way I look at others. This time I looked with anticipation and excitement. Not because the story interested me. Not because I anticipate each film of this genre. I felt a thrill because I know one of the players in this story.

Horror is not a genre I normally choose to see at the cinema. Many films of this ilk, I feel, aim merely to elicit screams and terror. However, this film is different on may levels: the director, James Wan, has a reputation for directing well-made films; the story is based on actual events experienced by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren; and I have known one of the actors for many years.

Even though the film was not one that I normally choose to see, I came out of the movie theatre with no regrets. The story drew me in; the actors captured my interest and kept it; the cinematography suited the subject matter. I did jump a few times in my seat when the unexpected happened; and I kept wishing that the characters would listen to my silent exhortations.

But even more than the thrill of the story, was the thrill of seeing someone I know up on the big screen. I have seen the journey he has taken to reach this point in his career, and seeing him act out his lines on screen made my heart swell with pride. He is on his way to realising his dreams and that, for me, is far more important than seeing him on the big screen among well-known actors. He has grabbed on his dream with both hands and is working hard to achieve it. One step at a time.

Have you seen The Conjuring?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Film Review: Man of Steel

Say the word “Superman” and immediately the clean-cut face of Christopher Reeve comes to mind with his ice-blue eyes and the black lock of hair falling on his forehead. This image of Superman was often seen during my adolescent years. I remember watching the series of films that were made when they came out; and then repeatedly over the years on video, TV, and on DVD. The stories embodied what people enjoy watching: a hero, a little romance, and the belief that good can always overcome evil.

I was disappointed with many other fans when Superman Returns came out in 2006. The film felt a bit flat as it fell short of the expectations I had before watching the story. The film makers had tried to keep everything the same: the actor was similar in looks to Christopher Reeve, the costume was the same, and the recipe in the storyline was the same. And yet the film did not do as well as was expected.

Man of Steel is the recent Superman film to come out. This version is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill as the superhero. I went to see the latest version of this superhero movie yesterday knowing that it would be different from the previous versions: the posters seem edgier, and the people I had spoken to had mentioned that it was a far cry from what was produced in the 1970s.

I settled in my seat at the cinema and was  a part of the story from beginning to end. There were a few superficial similarities with the original 70s story (Clark is a dark-haired man who learns he comes from the planet Krypton; he comes to know the journalist Lois Lane). However there are many differences that are woven into the story from details of plot to details of costume.

Was I disappointed that changes had been made? No. I believe that the changes made for a story that is more realistic in that it is more believable. Suspend your disbelief of a man who can fly and who hails from another planet, and you see a character that experiences uncertainty as we do, a man who has to place his trust in those whom he admires, a man who searches for his identity and what he wants to be. The changes made to the protagonist of the story have made him more rounded, more human, more realistic.

The costume changes fit the new image of this beloved super hero. The colours have not changed: he still wears the blue with the iconic red cape; and the “S” is still seen on the chest (though now we come to learn that it means “hope”). The fabric, however, is different and gives the impression of being a type of body armour. The costume is now made of ta fabric one would expect a far more intelligent race than ours to create. The most dramatic costume change would be of General Zod. His costume has metamorphosed into what a military commander would wear on a planet that  is dissimilar to the atmosphere found on earth. He fights like the trained military man he is: with a fierceness and precision that Kal-El (Clark Kent’s birth name) does not have.

The fight scenes in the remake are fast-paced and gripping. Not only do we see these fighting scenes on planet earth, but also when we are introduced to Krypton. The pace of the film does not allow you the time to wish for the “feel good” recipe of the first Superman series. Instead, it makes you hope, at the end of the film, that in a year’s time we will be watching the next Man of Steel story.

Would I watch this story again? Yes I would – more than once. This favourite of mine has been retold in a gripping and fascinating way. And I look forward to seeing more of the same.

Have you seen Man of Steel? What was your reaction?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Strictly Ballroom came out in 1992 and was instantly one of my favourite films. Not only did it feature fantastic dance scenes, but it also described my experience of the ballroom dance competitive world exactly as I had experienced it. I laughed at the tongue-in-cheek scenes because the reaction expressed in the film was exactly what I had seen played out at dance rehearsals and at competitions.

This Australian film has been described as a romantic comedy. It is a far cry from the Hollywood romantic comedies, though, because of the setting and the environment in which the romance is played out. The story centres on Scott Hastings (played by Paul Mercurio), an Australian ballroom dancer who wishes to develop his own sense of style in dancing – which leads him to dance steps that are not “strictly ballroom”. After losing a competition, his partner leaves him for another dancer leaving Scott to search for a new dance partner only weeks before the next Pan-Pacific competition. During his search, Scott begins to practice with Fran (played by Tara Morice): a beginner dancer learning at his parents’ studio . And so begins the journey in Scott’s development in dance, and in romance.

The trailer is a perfect synopsis for the story of this film:

In his journey towards his individual identity as a ballroom dancer, Scott needs to learn that dance it not merely a series of steps; but that good dancing comes from the heart. He first learns this when he visits Fran’s family and sees how the Paso Doble is danced with authenticity:

The final dance scene of the film takes place at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix. In this dance, Scott is dancing from the heart with an authenticity he had not previously shown:

Strictly Ballroom is also a romance. We are shown the blossoming of love between Scott and Fran in this tender dance scene:

One would not expect a film about ballroom dancing to do well. This film, directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann, was however a huge success in Australia (grossing at AU$21 million)  and did well in the United States too (grossing at US$11 million). The film was accepted for the Cannes Film Festival; and was nominated for many awards. The awards received were:

  • The AFI Award for  Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design, Best Actor in Supporting Role (Barry Otto), Best Actress in Supporting Role (Pat Thomson), Best Director, Best Film, and Best Screenplay.
  • The Award of Youth from the Cannes Film Festival for Foreign Film.
  • The BAFTA Film Award for Best Costume Design, Best Original Film Score, and Best Production Design.
  • And the London Critics Circle Film Award for Newcomer of the Year (Baz Luhrmann).

Years later I still enjoy watching this film. I think the time has come for me to pull it out again and enjoy not only the numerous dance scenes, but also the romance and comedy. 

Did you see Strictly Ballroom? What were your thoughts?

(Join Jake every week for a theme for creative inspiration. This week’s prompt is Famous Movies.)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012