Kong Meng's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Le passé (The Past)
8 years ago via Flixster
½

Asghar Farhadi is fast becoming my favourite storyteller of the
century. Bringing Le Passe into the screen after his success with A
Separation (I haven't watched Elly yet), I am happy to see the same
elements (which made Separation memorable) existent in this film.

Both films at the core are focused on family drama, but different
challenges altogether. Separation deals with the complexities on a
religious viewpoint, and requires swift, high-level decision-making and
clever communication skills to undo what could go awry easily in many
places. Le Passe's challenge is different in my opinion, it is about
the complications on relationship issues - something that is much more
relatable to many families out there - that always appear irrational,
devastating, and at times result in repercussions through generations.

Farhadi's skills as a filmmaker is unmatched - every single moment in
this film is not wasted. His stories is like humanity itself, where
things do not appear as they are on the surface and there is always
something that more than meets the eye. Similar to Separation, in Le
Passe, we see layers upon layers of twists, uncertainties, and agenda
unfold and it always ends up with the audience knowing that things
cannot end with a simple solution. These factors, packed with
impeccable performances by the lead cast members, are fortunately very
very realistic (though a lot of shouting war was shown).

The combination of brilliant, intelligent storytelling and impressive
delivery of emotional performance is certainly what La vie d'Adèle fail
to match - Le Passe is my top film to win the foreign Oscars this year!

The Great Beauty
8 years ago via Flixster
½

The artistry of this film is a Great Beauty in itself. But in terms of realism, I feel disconnected from the behaviour of the characters. I really wonder if the "activities" represents what most middle-aged people (and loaded with cash, of course) would do when they ponder what to spend, or think, for the remainder of their lifespan.

I am assuming some of these old guys do not have grandchildren of some sorts, and are in the arts business, to go through nightlife and play around like a youth fresh into university. Because, common sense will tell you the 'priority list' that old people will do for the rest of their lives - i) spend more time with family, especially with grandchildren, ii) managing investments/ wills, iii) catching up with old friends or attend funerals, iv) probably play around with hobbies that are more relaxing and make more sense than 'night-clubbing', v) travelling. I am not against nightlife for the old generation, but the movie over-emphasized this.

By the way, they all look perfectly healthy (no medical appointments??). This is a very obvious point because health is likely to be a daily topic amongst the elders, but there isn't' a single conversation on health in this movie! BIG BIG minus point. Some guys in their 20s already have more medical problems than the old men and women in this film!

I am not an art person and therefore I am giving some leeway that there may be some intention on why the film is designed as such. But, I feel the movie could have been more wholesome. Wholesome is definitely not a beauty found in this movie. More importantly, the age group is totally out-of-whack. I would have enjoyed the movie more if it were people in their 30-40s (mid-life crisis) but I refuse to believe that it represents the lifestyle of an ageing Roman society. I hope it stays away from winning major int'l awards.

Blue Is The Warmest Color
8 years ago via Flixster

Aside from the sex scene which seemed kind of mechanically choreographed for show (and unnecessarily long), I think this movie hits the right emotional spots for every aspect of sexuality issues - it appeared to me as the most wholesome movie about the coming-of-age sexuality that was made in the past decade.

Adele & Lea, the main leads, should deserve the Oscar (if only it is possible for that category) for their acting performances that were very convincing during the ups and downs of the relationships. For Adele in particular, the movie demands a lot from her role. It explores the sexual identity confusion at the beginning, to the moment when true love appears, the joys and challenges to maintain that relationship, and what comes after that. Adele manages to nail every scene by bringing out a whole spectrum of emotions.

Whether it is a lesbian story or not, in the realm of movies dealing with romance I can easily rank this one as high as the likes of 500 Days of Summer, for the level of depth and honesty. It is definitely far more genuine than the pretentious "The Kids are All Right". La vie d'Adèle's strength is in the raw emotions so it does not need to rely on philosophical/ intelligent points which may work in some other movies of the same genre, even though the director did raise some food-for-thought, verbally, in certain scenes that were not-so-obvious. The only thing that drags this movie below perfection is I feel there is still a lack of involvement from the side characters (parents, friends circle, ex-lovers) given that it is a 3-hour movie. There is some, but not enough. In a coming-of-age story, influence form the people around the main characters could be important factors to how relationship changes.

As the Palm d'Or winner, I would be happy if it to win the foreign Oscar, but this failed to top Le Passe (A follow-up of the brilliant A Separation) in my view

Captain Phillips
8 years ago via Flixster

When it comes to films premised on true events, a key priority in my ratings would be how close the film is able to convey what has happened in the real-life accounts. I have studied various accounts - testimony of Capt Philips, the director, the disatisfied crewman and the sole survivor of the Somali pirate group - I think the film has done its best to compress a 5-day ordeal into a two-hour movie and remained focused on the essence of the story, despite dramaticizing certain events.

To me, the true magic of Captain Philips lies in Tom Hank's acting performance of despair and trauma during the final 30-minutes of the movie. The performance from the Somali supporting actors was another surprise to me, even though I can sense some hints of stereotyping.

Tom Hank's version of Captain Philips was too talkative (as a hostage), making the Somali looked like they were easy targets for manipulation. Like other American-military theme based films, Captain Philips is still a victim of romanticizing the American glory, as the balance was being overly skewed towards the perception of the Americans (especially from a talkative Tom Hanks). It was reported that the Somali survivor's accounts was not captured in this movie. I think the film would have been more realistic if it was made in a slightly different feel, allowing the pirates more room to express their intentions and/ or how they feel about their actions.

My biggest disappointment of all was that the movie does not fulfil one criteria to be having >8/10 rating - it is not wholesome. I am not talking about the fact that it ignored the accounts of some other crew members, or the account of the Somali pirates. I was referring to how the film doesn't do enough to fit into the bigger picture. Although both factors would help make the film better, I understand the limitations this film had. Captain Philips was one of the most dramatic newsflow (that involves just an individual, essentially) since the Obama administration. It was portrayed in the movie (which did happened in real life) that a dozen of SEAL guys and a big US Navy warship were up against a small lifeboat of 4 Somali pirates. What happens to the other ships captured by other pirates that probably summed up to 200 crews as hostages? It was reported by NY Times that "Every country will be treated the way it treats us," Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship anchored in the pirate den of Gaan, a central Somali town, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying in a telephone interview. "In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying." Honestly, the movie could have dedicated 10-20 minutes for that.

The Hunt (Jagten)
8 years ago via Flixster

Jagten's story has much to offer in terms of controversy - a well-loved kindergarten teacher, recently divorced, but with many good friends in the small community. But things go horribly wrong for Lucas when an accusation is made against him by a child, and the situation escalates out of control.

What happens after that, as a result of a child's innocent imagination, is ugly. The acting performances of Mads Mikkelsen and the supporting cast were commendable given that it was a great challenge to make the ensueing events believable and comfortable for the viewers.

Personally for me, there are some parts in this movie that were less plausible, for instance how easily long-forged friendships were torn down easily by some event w/o physical evidence, how easily violence takes over rationale and reasonable judgement, and one year is not a convincing enough timeframe to display on the 'surface' that things return to normal.

Jagten is a work well done, but it pales in comparison to "A Separation", also a movie that deals with very controversial subjects but manages to carry it well with full, plausible scenarios.