Sure as Autumn Flame

Life of Pi: A Sensory Overload, the pleasant type
December 2, 2012, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Arts & Culture, Films and Musicals

I finally get why people love the movies so much, and why they say watching one is like being transported into a realm away from reality. Life of Pi made that transformation for me – in a 120-minute immersive experience with Pi and his incredible tale.

Golden Village’s GVmax at VivoCity screened the 3D version of Life of Pi last Wednesday, featuring their latest installation of the Dolby® Atmos™ sound and speaker system.

When caught up in a stunning visual experience in a film like Life of Pi, the unsung heroes behind the audio effects are normally left behind. I know that all too well, having spent nights in recording studios watching producers perfecting sound, writing about home theatre systems that combine a mix of technology and precise engineering to manufacture an environment that takes its audience away from reality. Many people do not realise how important the presence of sound, and the integral role it plays it creating space, in turn taking us closer to a realistic experience.

I was very impressed with Dolby Atmos, and even more impressed with Doug Hemphill, Ron Bartlett (Re-recording Mixers), Eugene Gerty (Supervising Sound Editor) and the sound crew with Ang Lee. The fact that they created a production track from scratch by collecting sounds from recording on the water, the hollow hull, the animals gave rise to a how “the sound (would) hug the audience”.

Sounds that we used to take for granted – flying fishes over you (from the perspective of a boat), the tiniest splash of water, a hollow tin landing in the water right in front of you – have been well-placed in each of the Dolby speakers to create the feeling of oneself being in the film. Wondered how the storm in the movie felt really huge and threatened to drown you out? That probably came from the overhead ceiling and side speakers as the storm brew and howled around you. Flying fishes that almost slapped your face as they flew by? Sound travelling from right to left speakers through the ceiling ones too.

Complete that with subtle 3D effects that are finally (!) not explosions in your face, but presented in the form of surreal, almost out-of-the-world landscape shots and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself disappointed when the film came to an end, simply because it was a story told and captured so well – in all sensory aspects.

Will I watch it again? In 3D, in Dolby Atmos? Definitely.


When the doors close, the lights turn off…
The evil (short-tongued) Pharoh

The evil (short-tongued) Pharoh

…Life begins after dusk in the museums.

Not in our dear museums, although I wish I will see our trishaw and samsui women come to live, but at Night at the Museum 2, starring Ben Stiller and a whole lot of other characters this round.

Tonight’s premiere was a good one. The sequel to the first movie, Night at the Museum, takes on greater heights with more characters, more artefacts, more history icons, and producers have jacked the humour a level higher. Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley, successful businessman in suit and all…only to rejoin the excitement of a former museum night-guard in an attempt to bring his exhibit friends back to their original homes when they were shipped off to thelabyrinthine subbasements of the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

More funny are new characters like Hank Azaria as a evil lisping Pharoh (complete with a cheesy accent!) and spunky Amy Adams playing as Amelia Earhart who’s ready for a whiff of adventure. It is a superb play of humour in conversations between the evil Pharoh and Larry; comic duo miniature cowboy Jedediah and miniature Roman General Octavius…and other brief but memorable scenes of Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible (he insisted on being called Ivan the Awesome), Abe Lincoln, Napoleon and a giant octopus deprived of water.

Gotta love the mock battle scenes and exaggerated dramatic flair, combined with a touch of cheesiness with Cupid angels groovin’ to pop music of today.

This movie isn’t about Ben Stiller anymore – I think it takes on a new level with a proper scene for every character/artefact/exhibit within the museum – everybody plays an equal (although albeit quirky) role.

Recommended: Watch it for a gooooood laugh.

I have Meow’ed
April 25, 2009, 4:03 am
Filed under: Entertainment, Films and Musicals | Tags: , ,

I thought I got it right this time, spending a good $110 for decent Cat 3 seats at the Esplanade Theatre, ensuring centre stage view for the girl-friend and myself – to finally get my musical fix for 2009.

The highly anticipated Cats musical was severely dampened by terrible accoustics and sound engineering – the mike fizzled out halfway and we couldn’t hear ’em singing for about 5 seconds. Singing was muffled for a scene or two, and I thought the supporting cast was way better than the female lead. To summarize, it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t good either. The cast came across as a brillant theatre group, complete with skills ranging from singing to dancing to acrobatics, although I personally thought they exhibited a stronger dance element in the performance.

Stars of the night were dominantly Munkustrap, male lead singer, and Rum Tum Tugger (my personal favourite) – self obsessed, flamboyant, showy…with that little hint of arrogance but you know deep down he’s a pretty nice guy (*ahem* cat) inside, together with sopranos Bombalurina and Demeter. I liked how clearly they articulated their words and how rich their vibratos were. I would think that the cast spend a week observing felines in their natural behavior, given how they so skillfully tumbled, slid and swayed their hinds with utmost agility to the rhythm.

A pretty sound performance overall, pity about the lack of a live orchestra, which I thought made one helluva difference to a good and bad musical. The female lead was struggling to catch up with the pre-recorded music in her solo, which very unfortuantely killed the power of that stanza. What…a pity indeed.

Beauty World…Cha Cha Cha
January 24, 2008, 1:12 am
Filed under: Films and Musicals

In summary, I thought it was a pretty good show with great female vocals, but sad to say I found the male (lead) vocals a little disappointing. I thought that pai-kia lookin’ Ah Hock (Daren Tan) could have stretched his vocal range a little more, considering how limited and a little off-key he was when he was tired. Dwayne Tan, who played the other male lead, was truly hilarious in his version of “I…I….I….Ivyyyyyyyyy” (oh, so Singaporean, really).

More impressive were the performances by Denise Tan (carabet star, Lulu) and lead Elena Wang (Ivy, goodie-two shoes girl who worked in a carabet to find out who her father was). I absolutely loved the way how Denise Tan coyly sauntered about in her dress injecting sentences of, “Everybody loves Lulu!” in that half-hiccup voice of hers, but what won me over were their vocals…with Denise Tan’s rich and sonorous ringing through crisp and clear, whilst Elena Wang took her place at the other extreme with her warm and harmonious lyrics spun with emotions.

Irene Ang (as ah-soh club caretaker, Wan Choo) couldn’t have been any more ah soh even if she tried – right smack down to staccato swearing in the Cantonese language versus the very typical Singlish like “Aiyo, I dunch know!” Alongside with her was equally Mummy-ish Neo Swee Lin – bringing back the nostalgia of the 1960s.

Beauty World is Singapore. It is typical Singapore in all forms – language, people (where else do pai kias like Ah Hock exist?), mannerisms (think Wan Choo and her ah sohness), setting, and even the jokes cracked…all these have flavours of Singapore in them. It articulates Singapore in a way that only those who have busked in the culture of Singapore will appreciate the musical. My two thumbs up to it.

Looks like my stint in National Arts Council will bring plenty of these in 2008, yeah?