The Birds

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1963, ca.120 min. Anamorphic widescreen. Too scary for children.

Isn't it funny that few people have not heard of The Birds, and yet fewer would vote it one of Hitchcock's best? Perhaps the reason is that more than any other Hitchcock film, The Birds leaves the viewer with the very unsettling feeling of a nightmare without end.

The basic story of a beautiful, spoiled socialite chasing after her beau to small-town (and fictitious) Bodega Bay seems insignificant to the film. Even the underlying message of the mass revolt of nature, as symbolized by birds against man, seems insignificant. In the end, it is the experience of going through the nightmarish bird attacks that will haunt us forever. Hitchcock unceremoniously throws the audience in with the unfortunate lot of the characters. We were scratched, bitten, terrorized right alongside Tippi Hedren.

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Posted by:
Franklin Lei
Nov 17, 2007 5:02pm

Porco Rosso

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki, 1992, 93 minutes. Anamorphic widescreen. Suitable for all ages.

I have been an avid Miyazaki fan since the Hong Kong Film Festival of 1984, when I saw Nausicaä and Castle in The Sky. I think Miyazaki-san did his greatest work in the 90s, before Spirited Away brought him fame and fortune in Hollywood. And of his 1990s films, there is none more mature, moving, and masterful as Porco Rosso, the story of World War I flying ace Marco Porcellino, whose disillusionment with the rise of fascism made him choose to become a pig.

In abandoning the world, Marco also left behind people who loved him, especially the beautiful Gina, widow of his wartime comrade and owner of the best club in the Adriatics, where bounty hunters and air pirates alike leave their guns (and troubles) behind.

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Posted by:
Franklin Lei
Nov 17, 2007 4:57pm

Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Dir: Garth Jennings, 2004, 109 minutes. Anamorphic widescreen. Suitable for all ages.

The Earth was accidentally demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and archetypal English bloke Arthur Dent was left hitching around the Galaxy with just his bathrobe, a towel, and a copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide (the one that has "Don't Panic" in friendly block letters on its cover.)

Welcome to the first full-length cinematic version of this 1980s sci-fi icon. And, since author Douglas Adams himself wrote the script, there is no reason to panic! The film is mostly harmless - eh, make that mostly delightful. Special effects range from a spacecraft that looks like a cannister vacuum cleaner turned inside out, to aliens from the Hanson Workshop who look like giant beanie babies. But the tour of the "factory floor" of Megrathea, the planet that manufactures worlds, is worth the price of the DVD. Adams included many of the skids, anecdotes and one-liners which made the book so special, and had them discreetly animated as well.

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Posted by:
Franklin Lei
Nov 17, 2007 4:37pm


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