Archive | April, 2010

EURO TRIP

30 Apr

FIRST FEATURE
EURO TRIP
Explore Europe in all its variety at The 20th European Union Film Festival
April 30, 2010
 
 

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t have the time or budget for an epic European vacation.

But for those who still have an abiding fascination with this cultural and sophisticated continent, there’s another option.

The 20th European Union Film Festival is happening from May 6 to 16 at Golden Village VivoCity.

There, you will find cinematic treasures from countries as diverse as Ireland, Greece, Spain and Bulgaria.

From intense dramas to light-hearted comedies to political thrillers (visit http://www.euff.sg to see the full list of pictures), Euro enthusiast JASON JOHNSON endeavours to point you in the right direction.

Unless you’re looking for Spider-Man. Europe doesn’t have a Spider-Man.

SPAIN
FATALITY! JEALOUSY! PENELOPE!

BROKEN EMBRACES (2010)

Pedro Almodovar’s critically acclaimed and award-winning Broken Embraces opens the 20th European Union Film Festival.

The story of a blind screenwriter and former director who loses the love of his life Lena (Penelope Cruz) in a terrible car crash, the film delves into Almodovar’s multiple obsessions – family, femininity, jealousy, cinema and death.

A must-see tour de force.

May 6, 9pm

IRELAND
FARIES! MONKS! BLOODSHED!

THE SECRET OF KELLS (2009)

This Oscar-nominated animation tells the story of a young monk who is introduced to a new world of wonder by a beautiful forest fairy.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are coming!

With its exquisitely rendered 2-D artwork and haunting score, this is one you don’t want to miss. Take the kids.

May 15, 7pm

POLAND
FOOTBALL! HOMELESSNESS! HOPE!

THE OFFSIDERS (2008)

A former national football player winds up homeless. Taking refuge in Warsaw’s Central Station, he meets a motley crew of similar hard-luck cases and decides to start a football team.

The men progress rapidly, and soon find themselves representing Poland at the Homeless World Cup.

A truly inspirational tale.

May 10, 9pm

PORTUGAL
SEX! MONEY! CORRUPTION!

PORTUGAL INC (2003)

Check out the trailer for Portugal Inc on YouTubeand you won’t be able to resist.

Guys in expensive suits doing dirty deals. Sleek, snarly women doing naughty things.

With non-stop shouting, kissing, slapping, dancing and finger-pointing, this story about a man who must decide between his loyalty to his wife, his boss and his close friend looks like great fun.

May 16, 7pm

HUNGARY
SEDUCTION! DUPLICITY! BALLET!

CHAMELEON (2008)

Whatever preconceived notions you may have had about Hungary will be put aside once you experience Chameleon, a thoroughly modern tale about a master seducer who meets his match in a beautiful ballerina.

Employing every trick in his little black book to win her over, he ends up tangled in his own lies.

May 11, 9pm

FRANCE
FILM! FAMILY! COURAGE!

THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN (2009)

France is the birthplace of cinema and its century-long love affair with the medium continues with The Father Of My Children.

The story of an idealistic film producer who over-extends himself and suffers the consequences, this flick will be a delight for those who love and appreciate the country’s long-standing commitment to quality cinema.

May 7, 9.25pm

 

The NewPaper

CAST IRON

30 Apr

FIRST FEATURE
CAST IRON
April 30, 2010
 
 

Talk about having an iron grip.

Iron Man’s first cinematic outing two years ago collected over US$585 million (S$804 million) in worldwide box office receipts.

And the much-anticipated sequel – directed by Jon Favreau again – aims to top that as our favourite iron-clad superhero blasts on to the big screen from today.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, or rather, a red-gold titanium alloy helmet, as our hero now faces more problems and enemies.

As Iron Man 2 gears up to kickstart this year’s summer blockbuster season, JOANNE SOH gets inside Iron Man’s heads-up display (HUD) to get you up to speed on the major players.

ARMOUR

More streamlined and form-fitted, the Mark IV is also lighter and more aero-dynamic. Like its predecessors, the MArk IV’s is also able to withstand small-arms fine and comes with its own built-in arsenal. But of course, the armour’s main weapon are the repulsors that are embedded in the gloves and the chest price.

ARC REACTOR

Also functions as Stark’s life source. It’s a clean energy source that not only protects Stark’s heart but also serves as a battery that powers the Iron Man Suit.

COLLAPSIBLE SUIT

Superman and Spider-Man wear their supersuits beneath their clothes. Globe-trotting Iron Man carries his armour in a nifty collapsible suitcase that is much more durable and cooler than your average luggage bag.

TONY STARK
(ROBERT DOWNEY JR)

It’s public knowledge that playboy billionaire Tony Stark is the man inside the iron suit.

Everyone wants a piece of him – including the US government, which wants the Iron Man technology to create a new generation of super-soldiers.

But Stark knows the consequences if his arc reactor technology lands in the wrong hands.

Look what happened to his power-hungry business partner Obadiah Stane in the first movie.

In his eagerness to monetise Stark’s arc reactor and Iron Man suit, Stane’s Iron Monger suit (fashioned after Iron Man) crashed and burned – literally.

Naturally, Stark is unwilling to give up his suit.

But being pressured by the government is the least of his problems.

The arc reactor that Stark wears to protect his heart from the shrapnel embedded in his chest is releasing toxins into his blood.

Not knowing how long he will live, Stark gets reckless. To make matters worse, he’s attacked by new baddie Whiplash, who has a personal vendetta against him and all that he owns.

JAMES RHODES
(DON CHEADLE)

Stark’s best friend and only ally in the US military. Torn between loyalty to friend and country, Rhodes later gets his own artillery-laden armour, fighting with Iron Man against an army of mass-produced Iron Man-wannabe drones.

PEPPER POTTS
(GWYNETH PALTROW)

Once Stark’s personal assistant, the no-nonsense iron lady is now promoted to CEO of Stark Enterprises.

Besides having to run a billion-dollar business, Potts is also responsible for keeping her former boss, confidante and possible lover out of trouble.

JUSTIN HAMMER
(SAM ROCKWELL)

A wealthy industrialist and CEO of Hammer Industries, specialising in creating state-of-the-art weaponry for the US government.

Coveting Iron Man’s technology, the mercenary businessman seeks to create his own army of Iron Man replica suits for the military. As his endeavours have yet to yield any effective results, he subsequently teams up with Whiplash to build an entire fleet of armoured drones.

NATALIE RUSHMAN
(SCARLETT JOHANSSON)

A mysterious brunette who is both intriguing and beguiling.

Working as a notary in Stark Enterprises’ legal department, she later steps into Potts’ shoes as Stark’s personal assistant.

But it is later revealed that Rushman is none other than Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, an agent under Nick Fury’s orders to spy on Stark and assess if he is qualified to be part of the Avengers Initiative.

IVAN VANKO
(MICKEY ROURKE)

Raised in the knowledge that Stark’s father had stolen the arc reactor technology from his own scientist father, Vanko, a brilliant physicist himself, wants to make Stark bleed.

Calling himself Whiplash, he fashions a set of powerful electrified whips that can crack Iron Man’s seemingly indestructible armour.

SENATOR STERN
(GARRY SHANDLING)

Working with Justin Hammer, Stern is an obnoxious US senator who is bent on taking the Iron Man suit from Stark.

HAPPY HOGAN
(JON FAVREAU)

Stark’s loyal chauffeur and sparring partner in boxing, Happy also moonlights as Stark’s bodyguard – not that his employer needs one. An extremely skilled driver, Happy also has his eye on new colleague Natalie Rushman.

NICK FURY
(SAMUEL L JACKSON)

Director of international peacekeeping force S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement And Logistics Division), Fury has been trying to recruit Stark into his superhero Avengers Initiative. A true enigma, there’s more to him than meets the (unpatched) eye.

 

The NewPaper

SASSY OR PLAIN SAVVY?

26 Apr

enjoy
SASSY OR PLAIN SAVVY?
Her link to the Jack Neo scandal has landed her offers to pose for lad mags, publish a book and host a show. But Foyce Le Xuan says she’s not an attention-seeker
By Tan Kee Yun
April 26, 2010
 
 

PUBLICITY hungry. Fame crazy. Celebrity wannabe.

TNP PICTURES: KELVIN CHNG

Ever since the Jack Neo scandal broke, local actress-singer Foyce Le Xuan has had those labels hurled at her.

The 29-year-old, whose real name is Lim Hui Hui, made headlines last month when she was among several women who had stepped out to expose director Jack Neo’s philandering ways.

But although the other women – part-time model Wendy Chong, student Maelle Meurzec and transsexual masseuse Ms Maggie Lai – seem to have faded into obscurity, Foyce continues to dominate the headlines.

She made at least three police reports claiming she was the victim of threatening SMSes.

After a sex tape allegedly containing footage of her and Neo surfaced, Le jumped out to publicly defend herself, at one point having her foot photographed by the Chinese newspapers to prove that the size of her feet ‘do not match that of the girl’s in the video’.

Then, two weeks ago, she posted on her Facebook page that someone had smashed her table at an Indochine restaurant, but later clarified that it was a case of mistaken identity.

Netizens on popular websites Hardware Zone and Stomp have called her an ‘attention-seeker’ who ‘loves exaggerating’ the situation. She has also been accused of using the media as a platform to turn herself into a household name.

They point to her numerous police reports and how the budding singer was savvy enough to pass reporters a CD of her music during interviews.

In an interview last week with The New Paper on Sunday, Le retorted: ‘There is no point in getting angry at these people, they don’t know me at all, they don’t see the full picture.’

Her friends and supporters, she added, know very well that she has never been ‘ the fame-seeking sort’.

Le admitted, however, that people could have misunderstood her partly because of her personality .

‘I’m not some gentle, sweet young thing,’ she said.

‘I can be feisty, rebellious and quite individualistic. There are times when I just don’t give a damn.’

And she will stand up for what she feels is ‘unjust’, added Le.

Which was what prompted much of her actions during the long-drawn Jack Neo saga.

The police reports she had filed against Neo were to ‘justify’ herself against Neo’s challenge to her claims.

As for reporting to the police about allegedly receiving life-threatening phone calls, she said they were to protect herself.

‘I’m not one to hide from threats,’ she said.

She also didn’t shy away from speaking up about the alleged sex tape.

‘It’s my dignity at stake. Since it wasn’t me in the video, I have to make it clear to everyone.

‘Which girl wouldn’t do that? Wouldn’t you?’

As for her feelings for Neo, she would only say: ‘Looking back at the incident, I felt I had been slightly emotional. I could have shown more compassion and mercy towards him (Neo), as he is a brother of Christ as well (she is a Christian).’

But even Le will admit that the media scrutiny and limelight ‘have turned around to my advantage’.

She claimed that ‘more than eight offers have landed’ on her lap – ranging from magazine cover shoots for lad mags, online video programme hosting, to even a book publishing deal.

Five times more money

In some cases, she said the fee offered was ‘at least five times more’ than what she got previously as a J-Team artiste (she joined J-Team in 2004), or when she acted in the independent local film The Spirit Compendium two years ago.

The publishing deal, she claimed, is ‘a five-figure sum’.

But when pressed for details, she declined to provide the name of the publishing company as ‘my manager is still undecided whether to go ahead with it’.

‘The direction the publisher wants for my book is kind of like a tell-all of the Jack Neo incident. It’s not quite what my manager and myself desire,’ she said.

The other offers have also been ‘put on hold’ for similar reasons.

‘Too many people in Singapore just want to make money,’ Le said.

But while she admits that the offers are attractive, she’s more concerned that the media will continue to play up her affiliation with Neo instead of focusing on her work.

‘Till today, I still see some publications outrightly stating me as Neo’s ‘second mistress’,’ she said.

Le has scored a supporting role in ongoing 180-episode Channel 8 drama series Your Hand In Mine. She will be starring in episodes 147 to 177, starting from June 1.

Ironically, Le’s character is a ‘third party’ who schemingly comes between onscreen husband-and-wife pair Patricia Mok and Duan Wei Ming.

Mentally prepared

Le said she is mentally prepared for netizens to have a field day making comparisons between her and her character.

‘I’m a major villain in the show, it’ll certainly become a talking point for people,’ she said matter-of-factly.

A production co-ordinator of Your Hand In Mine told The New Paper on Sunday that casting for the drama was done in ‘March last year’, way before the whole Jack Neo scandal broke.

‘Like most people, we only knew about what happened (referring to Le’s involvement with Jack Neo) from the papers,’ she said.

‘Most of her scenes had already been completed by then.’

But that’s not all for Le’s showbiz dreams.

What she really wants to do is to make it as a singer. She is currently putting the final touches to her album, originally slated for release in June. It had been delayed due to the Jack Neo saga.

The album producer, local musician and songwriter Jim Lim (formerly from vocal group Dreamz FM), praised Le for being ‘very disciplined’ in whatever she does.

‘She shows exceptional willingness to learn and practises very hard before all our recording sessions.

‘She is a simple and straightforward girl, which might be the reason people tend to misunderstand her intentions.’

Ms Ada Wong, co-founder of dating agency The Dating Loft, who worked with Le in 2008 for a celebrity dating event, agreed.

‘I still keep in touch with Foyce today. She’s nice, down-to-earth, very forthcoming unlike some other celebrities.

‘She has endured much of late. I’d encourage her to stay true to her conscience.

‘It’s time for her to move on now, to concentrate on what is more important – her career.’

OVER – EXPOSED?

MARCH 9

Foyce Le Xuan reveals how Jack Neo tried to chase her when she was a J-Team artiste in 2004.

MARCH 12

Le says Neo’s apology at the press conference ‘did not say exactly what he was at fault for’.

MARCH 13

Le breaks down after Neo rubbishes her claims about his advances towards her.

MARCH 16

Le lodges a two-part police report – one against Neo for his text messages to her six years ago, one against life-threatening phone calls.

MARCH 31

A mysterious man claims to have a sex tape of Neo and Le in a hotel. Neo and Le deny the video is of them.

APRIL 16

Le claims on Facebook that someone smashed her table at Indochine restaurant, but says later it was a case of mistaken identity.

 

The NewPaper

Back In FULL SWING

24 Apr

Star Awards nominee Hong Huifang beats depression
Back in FULL SWING
By Kwok Kar Peng
April 24, 2010
 
 

VETERAN actress Hong Huifang is on an all-time high.

She’s nominated in the two main acting categories – Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress – in this year’s Star Awards, the annual awards show for local Chinese television on Sunday.

The 49-year-old is also nominated in the Top 20 Most Popular Female Artiste category.

But just early this year, she was on an all-time emotional low.

The actress told The New Paper that she was severely depressed. She avoided being with people and cried at the slightest things.

The actress’ mood swings were caused by the onset of menopause, she said.

And it didn’t help that she had to portray an angry character for a new drama at the time.

Hong plays a spiteful woman who becomes paralysed after a stroke in the drama, New Beginnings, which is now showing on Channel 8.

The actress told The New Paper: ‘During the one month that I filmed the drama, I felt so miserable. I questioned the most minor things, including why I had to dress up when I went out.

‘I didn’t want to do anything or meet my friends. I even took the stairs because I didn’t want to see anyone in the lift.’

She said she spent days at home in bed in a dishevelled state, watching TV for hours at a time.

She also had trouble sleeping.

‘Little things upset me easily. I cried over both happy and sad scenes on TV, sometimes for the entire one-hour programme,’ she said.

She was on medication to delay menopause.

The mother of two was in physical pain too.

As she played a stroke patient in the drama, she had to constantly remind herself to move only the right side of her body during filming.

The stress and difficulty gave her an excruciating backache for a week. But she didn’t see a doctor.

She used a special mattress, designed for back problems, that a relative gave her and the pain eased in three days.

It wasn’t the first time the actress has had mood swings. Two years ago, Hong said she had a similar experience, also due to menopause. It got so bad that she considered retiring.

She said: ‘I suddenly wanted to do something else and I thought of leaving Singapore to go to a place where no one recognised me, where I wouldn’t have the burden of being a public figure.’

But fortunately, Hong recovered from her latest bout of depression when filming for New Beginnings wrapped.

She said she was determined to put an end to her mood swings, and forced herself to get back into shape. She started by going for facials.

And although it was a difficult period, Hong said that such experiences can help in her development as an actress.

She explained: ‘You have to experience different kinds of pain so that you can draw out the emotion when it’s required for a role.’

For her dedication, the actress may make StarAwards history this weekend.

Hong is only the fifth artiste to be nominated in these three major categories since the award ceremony was first held in 1994.

Previous artistes who have done so are retired artistes Xie Shaoguang and Zeng Huifen in 1996, ChenShucheng in 2002 and Yvonne Lim in 2005.

And if Hong wins both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, she will be the first female to win two acting categories in the same year.

So far, only retired actor Xie managed the feat in 1996.

What makes her triple nomination extra sweet is that it’s Hong’s first Best Actress nomination in her 27years of acting.

Hong is nominated for her role as a kind but brash aunty in the hit drama Housewives’ Holiday. The series, about the lives of three housewives, was also the top-rated drama last year.

Hong is up against her Housewives’ Holiday co-star Ann Kok, Chen Liping for Reunion Dinner and Eelyn Kok and Jeanette Aw for Together.

Coffee shop owner role

Hong’s role as a nit-picking, stingy coffee shop owner in Together earned her the Best Supporting Actress nomination.

If she wins this award, it’ll be her third win for the category. She had won it in 1997 for The Price Of Peace, and again in 2006 for The Shining Star.

While Hong thinks she may net two out of three awards, she believes it won’t be for Best Actress.

Said Hong: ‘I think my chances at winning the Best Supporting Actress and the popularity awards are higher.

‘There are so many female leading roles in a year, so I think this will be my last Best Actress nomination too.’

But is Hong worried that she has become typecast as an aunty on-screen?

In contrast, her actor-husband Zheng Geping, 45, continues to play roles younger than his actual age and is constantly paired with young and pretty co-stars.

She said: ‘Actresses like me have a longer shelf life. But I’ve also lived 10 years of my career being in the headlines and on the covers of magazines.

‘This is just another phase of an actress’ life and now I want to be someone the young actors can respect.’

She’s also not bothered about turning 50 in January, saying that ‘it’s all a natural part of life’.

Said the actress: ‘The Chinese culture can accept an older man with a younger woman, but not vice versa.

‘I think the audience will throw up if I’m cast with a younger man as my love interest.’

GET HELP

Menopause Hotline / Menopause Support Group

Monday to Friday, 3pm to 5pm

(This service is provided by volunteers)

CALL: 6394 1499
 

The NewPaper

THE HUNT FOR MR OSCAR

23 Apr

FIRST FEATURE
THE HUNT FOR MR OSCAR
Is Jennifer Aniston losing her ‘America’s favourite girlfriend’ appeal? We look at how the actress’ celebrity status may be killing her career
By Joanne Soh
April 23, 2010
 
 

Put Jennifer Aniston on the cover of a magazine and you’ll be guaranteed a surge in news-stand sales.

Put her lovely face on a movie poster and, well, the results will be the direct opposite.

Try as hard as she may, she just can’t seem to draw crowds into the cineplexes of late.

Her last two indie titles, Love Happens (2009) and Management (2008), scraped in a combined figure of US$36 million (S$49 million) worldwide.

In Forbes’ Ultimate Star Payback 2007 survey, she was ranked as Hollywood’s most profitable actress, returning US$17 for every dollar she is paid.

Just a year later, she dropped to eighth place.

Have people lost interest in America’s favourite girlfriend?

Or are they simply more interested in who she’s dating – from Vince Vaughn to Paul Sculfor to John Mayer – or the many alleged phone calls she has made to ex-husband Brad Pitt?

Most likely, it’s because everyone’s getting tired of her indistinguishable roles in movie after movie.

The 41-year-old of toned limbs, tawny skin and great hair keeps playing the same funny, often neurotic and better-looking-than-all everygirl in romantic fluff that remind us how single and lonely she is.

The Aniston brand of comedy is again on display in The Bounty Hunter, which opens in cinemas today.

In the action rom-com, she plays investigative journalist Nicole Hurley who’s on the run from the law for being Awol on the day she’s due to show up in court for a driving offence.

Tasked to bring her in is Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), an ex-cop-turned-bounty hunter, who also happens to be Nicole’s ex-husband.

Aniston told OK! magazine: ‘I’ve done some romantic comedies before and I didn’t want to do one of those again.

‘The Bounty Hunter is a sort of sexy action comedy and I got to do some stuff I haven’t done before. I wouldn’t have made a chick flick. I’m bored of that. This is just a good, fun, action comedy.’

So dare we expect the unexpected from Aniston? Sadly, no.

Playing to her strengths has got her where she is and it has become her trademark. But has that robbed her of her credibility as an actress?

A New York Post film critic wrote: ‘Aniston just can’t play the good friend any more. She’s aged out, no matter the yoga and the highlights. She just can’t do America’s sweetheart next door. She needs a big wake-up call.’

It doesn’t help that her ‘showmance’ with co-star Butler has put her in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

Reports of them being all over each other on and off the red carpet and pictures of him grabbing her derriere at the recent Paris premiere of The Bounty Hunter hogged the headlines.

Then there was their risque photo shoot in the May issue of W Magazine.

Either American audiences are put off by their are-they-aren’t-they stunts or Aniston’s star power is diminishing, as The Bounty Hunter received a lukewarm reception.

It took in only US$58 million in the US, making it her poorest performing studio-produced film to date.

She has been on the fame superhighway ever since she was cast as Rachel Green in the hit TV sitcom Friends in 1994.

But it was when she became Mrs Brad Pitt and one-half of Hollywood’s golden couple in 2000 that she truly became a celebrity.

It was also during those years that her career soared.

In 2002, she won a best actress Emmy for Friends and earned career-best raves for playing against type as a frumpy housewife in the film The Good Girl.

Her big-screen follow-ups, Bruce Almighty (2003) and Along Came Polly (2004), were box-office winners, taking in US$485 million and US$172 million worldwide respectively.

That period saw her snatching the rom-com queen title from Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts, both of whom had switched gears into the dramatic arena.

However, Aniston’s fairytale didn’t have a happy ending. Her high-profile marriage ended in 2005 and Aniston immediately went from being a commendable performer to the poor woman who got dumped for Angelina Jolie.

Naturally, tabloids made truckloads of money at her expense and the overexposure backfired. The experience turned her into a tough nut.

She told Harper’s Bazaar: ‘I used to care a lot more about what people said or thought. But that had to change when my life was under a microscope being scrutinised and my personal life was being talked about.’

All that constant media frenzy rendered Aniston The Actress non-existent almost overnight. Her subsequent movies – Derailed (2005), Rumor Has It (2005), Friends With Money (2006) – bombed critically and commercially.

Perhaps she has to take a leaf out of Bullock’s career.

Much like how Bullock went from box-office champ (Miss Congeniality) to critics’ darling (Crash) and ultimately Oscar winner (The Blind Side), Aniston needs to step out of her comfort zone, try a makeover and take on more challenging, riskier roles.

Perhaps she is aware of her impending expiry date.

She admitted to Harper’s Bazaar: ‘You can bad-choice your way out of the business. I’ve had a couple of doozies, so I’m lucky I’m still invited back at all.’

But judging from her upcoming projects, it doesn’t look like Aniston will relinquish her go-to genre so soon.

There’s The Switch, in which she stars opposite Jason Bateman as an unmarried 40-year-old who undergoes artificial insemination.

Then she’ll pair up with Adam Sandler for the rom-com Just Go With It.

With just a glance at the titles of her other films in development – Love: Todd, Getting Rid Of Matthew, Chemistry, The Divorce Party, You Are Here – one suspects they’ll all fall under familiar territory.

So will there ever be a breakout vehicle for Aniston, who recently revealed she’s looking to do something creatively different by directing her first feature-length project?

The answer may lie with The Goree Girls, which is currently in its pre-production stage.

Produced by and starring Aniston, this is her long-gestating labour of love. Set in the 1940s, it’s a musical that centres on a group of incarcerated female country-and-western performers.

‘The last five years have been about spring cleaning for me. Now it’s time for my rebirth. I love trying new things. I can’t just be put in a box,’ she summed up to Harper’s Bazaar.

She added in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily magazine: ‘Obviously, I’m drawn to comedy, good or bad. But I love doing parts that are different and I sprinkle those throughout to get creatively unstuck.

‘I’m really excited about my next movie Buttercup. It’s not trying to make people laugh and it’s not a big tent pole picture. It will be more for me – and for the people who say, ‘You should do something serious’.’

So if Bullock can win her first Oscar at 45, there’s still time for Aniston to prove her worth.

Hilary, Thandie, Katherine?
Nah, I had the best chemistry with Jennifer

Gerard Butler’s on-screen love interests are getting hotter with each passing movie.

There was Lena Headey in his breakout movie 300 in 2006, followed by Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You the next year.

Then he cosied up to Thandie Newton in RocknRolla in 2008 and Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth in 2009.

This year, he’s getting intimate with Jennifer Aniston in the new action comedy The Bounty Hunter.

And according to the man himself, the chemistry between them simply sizzled.

The 40-year-old Scottish actor plays Milo, a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter who gets his dream job when assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife Nicole.

But as with all Butler’s on-screen relationships – current or past – things are not a bed of roses.

The man said: ‘The quickest way to describe (The Bounty Hunter) would be Midnight Run meets War Of The Roses.’

Milo finds out the hard way that although it would give him much pleasure, it ain’t that easy bringing his former spouse to justice.

Jennifer Aniston seems so good at this kind of genre.

She is definitely a pro. I relished the chance to do this kind of film with somebody like Jennifer.

And yet, it’s also a role where I think people will be surprised by her performance.

She’s great and yet she is very edgy and sassy and bitchy and strong and she’s not quite the sweet Jennifer that people are used to.

I haven’t seen her like this before. And as a person, I’ll tell you, I had such a great time working with her.

We always saw eye to eye and we were very much on the same wavelength; I had a great time doing scenes with her and you know, it felt like we were making some magic.

I guess screen chemistry is a rather elusive element. Do you know whether it’s going to happen before you start working with someone? Or can you only be sure when the cameras roll?

You might get a hint of it from when you meet them, you know, do you bounce off each other well? Does it feel right?

But having said that, sometimes you can be wrong, sometimes it can feel great but the chemistry isn’t fantastic.

Although I have to say that I normally have good chemistry with my female co-stars, but I think that I had the best chemistry with her.

And that’s what everybody was always talking about, just how great fun we were together and how great the chemistry was.

You know, scene after scene when we were in the middle of it, I thought: ‘This is a dream, this is so much fun’.

It was never an effort, never a struggle; we just worked really well together.

You seem to be mixing up your career in a good way. You do films like 300 and Law Abiding Citizen and then you do a comedy like The Bounty Hunter. Is that part of a grand plan?

I wouldn’t say that I’ve got a specific ‘grand plan’ with my career but, generally, it’s to move in new and fresh directions whenever possible.

Of course, there are only so many new and fresh directions you can move in when you are in the movie business. After which you’re going to run into some repetition of the genre that you have done, but I have always battled to keep it interesting for me, to keep it interesting for anybody that would go and watch my movies, to keep people guessing and to keep challenging myself.

 

The NewPaper

WORKING CLASS HEROES

23 Apr

FIRST FEATURE
WORKING CLASS HEROES
April 23, 2010
 
 

It isn’t that super being a superhero.

And it sure isn’t easy being one, especially when you lack actual superpowers and you’re just a working-class Joe.

First of all, you’ve got to find a costume.

And while you think you might actually look totally awesome, others might think you look like a total lunatic in your homemade get-up.

Then you’ve got to have guts.

But what makes you think all that time spent shopping on Orchard Road, fantasising about your colleague or updating your Facebook status is going to turn you into a crime-fighting machine?

But if you’re anything like Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) by day and his super-ego Kick-Ass by night in the new action-comedy Kick-Ass, then you may realise that for your lack of superpowers, you’re most likely blessed with a potent mixture of idealism – one-half optimism and one-half naivete.

So before you go standing up for justice when the credits for Kick-Ass – now showing in cinemas – roll, KANE CUNICO checks out how some other working class superheroes got the job done.

#1 Have friends
MYSTERY MEN (1999)

‘They’re not your classic superheroes. They’re the other guys.’

Boasting a stellar cast (Ben Stiller, William H Macy, Hank Azaria, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear et al) with unusual ‘powers’ like invisibility-when-no-one’s-looking, flatulence and hurling cutlery, the Mystery Men are probably as working class as superheroes get.

Seven superhero wannabes overlooked by society need to save world-famous hero Captain Amazing from supervillain Casanova Frankenstein and his disco-loving henchmen.

The problem with having niche skills to fight your enemies is that you’re probably going to have confidence issues before your battles.

But it’s all good when there’s teamwork to boost morale. So gather your mates, have a plan and group hug before fighting tyranny.

#2 Stay off the drugs
SPECIAL (2006)

‘He’s not your ordinary superhero.’

It’s mind over matter, we say, and untested clinical medication probably helps. But we wouldn’t recommend it.

When kind-hearted comic geek Les (Michael Rapaport) signs up to be a recipient of an experimental clinical drug, everything in his mundane life changes, and he’s convinced his new talents should be used to protect people.

He thinks he’s telepathic, he thinks he can run through walls, he thinks he’s important.

We think it’s just a bad reaction – a mundane life filled by escapism through comic books mixed with an unhealthy dose of experimental medication.

Rapaport elevates Special into something entertainingly special and shows that if you’re going to do actual crime-fighting, you’ve got to be grounded in reality.

Moral of the story? Drugs are bad.

#3 Have a child-like mind
DEFENDOR (2009)

‘An unexpected hero will rise.’

And unexpected it is, especially with the movie’s poor publicity.

With black tights, black jersey and a duct-taped ‘D’ on his chest, mentally childlike Arthur Poppington aka Defendor (Woody Harrelson) tries to save a teen prostitute (Kat Dennings) from her pimp (Elias Koteas).

Like the rest of the everyman superhero movies, the heart, optimism and idealism of Defendor – both hero and movie – make up for its unconventional powers superbly. And this multi-faceted indie flick shows how one guy can make a difference.

So what can you learn from Defendor if you have vigilante tendencies?

Have a simple mind, a competent psychiatrist (Sandra Oh), lots of duct tape and off-beat comebacks against the debasers.

‘No. Capes are for flying. I don’t…

I don’t fly.’

#4 Watch out for conspiracies
WATCHEMEN (2009)

‘We’re society’s only protection.’

Friendships and crime-fighting can go awry when power gets to the head and when the government doesn’t want you guys around.

Based on the award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen best examines the psychological complexities when taking on the responsibilities of a true working class crime-fighter.

Friends will be mysteriously killed and things may get catastrophic, so keep your enemies close and your friends closer.

And try not to look like Richard Simmons with paste-on moth wings when being apprehended by authorities.

Just have an awesome collection of gadgets and a flying ship with a cloaking device and a flame thrower. Then get a really hot fellow crime-fighting chick as your co-pilot. Name your ship Archimedes, or Archie for short.

 

The NewPaper

COOL AS ICE KACANG

23 Apr

FIRST INTERVIEW
COOL AS ICE KACANG
By Kwok Kar Peng
April 23, 2010
 
 

Gary Chaw has a temper.

Well, he’ll have you know it’s all in the past.

For a man known for talking with his fist, Chaw took every below-the-belt punch his co-star delivered.

Like a toothpaste advertisement star, he was all teeth and gums at the press conference FiRST attended last week for the Malaysian movie Ice Kacang Puppy Love, directed, co-written by and starring singer A-niu.

The entire A-list cast was there – Angelica Lee, Fish Leong, Gary Chaw, Victor Wong, Jet Yi and Eric Moo, who mocked his past arrests for fighting and that infamous battle in public with a friend.

The oooh factor went up a few notches when Moo, 46, chortled in Mandarin: ‘Chaw’s only gripe is that he has too few fighting scenes in the movie. It doesn’t reflect his real life.’

The reporters obviously appreciated the jibe and we all guffawed.

The media had gone to town with the story about how the 30-year-old Malaysian singer publicly walloped his friend, singer-songwriter Justin Lo, in Hong Kong last September after a night of boozing.

The scuffle, videotaped by the paparazzi, also showed Chaw stomping on the backseat of a taxi. Lo emerged, grimacing with his hand on his nether region.

The clip cast a dark cloud over Chaw’s image: His concert in Hong Kong was cancelled after its sponsor, ironically a whisky brand, pulled out.

He was also arrested by Hong Kong police for fighting in public before being released on bail. The singer was later given a year’s probation.

Chaw had also reportedly been in other brawls which landed him in hospital.

But Moo didn’t stop shooting his mouth off.

When the 34-year-old Lee talked later about how she had to stomp on Chaw’s private parts for a scene in the movie, Moo again stole the thunder.

‘That’s revenge for Lo!’ he joked.

Again, the stars shifted uneasily while the reporters squealed with delight.

Chaw, who moved to Canada when he was nine, nevertheless claimed during our interview that all was cool.

He said in English: ‘I’m used to (people talking about the brawl). It’s fine as long as I know what I got from it afterwards.’

Which was?

‘Going through it changed me,’ Chaw added, saying that he has learnt how to be a better son, husband, brother and friend.

Chaw has patched up with Lo, who is also godfather to his 20-month-old son Joe. Lo makes a cameo appearance in Ice Kacang Puppy Love.

Making an effort

And Chaw seems to be walking the talk about change.

Singer and first-time actress Leong, 31, who plays Chaw’s sister, told FiRST that Chaw has not had a tipple in the last five months – not even during the many movie-related celebration parties.

‘It’s not that I’ve quit drinking,’ Chaw said. ‘I just haven’t found a good enough reason for me to drink.’

‘The judge may have sentenced me to one year’s probation. But to me, Gary Chaw is on probation for the rest of his life,’ he said, with a determined look on his face.

Hopefully, his debut performance in Ice Kacang Puppy Love, which revolves around the adolescent love lives of six childhood friends in the 1980s and opens here today, may help audiences shrug off his past.

Chaw plays a small-town ruffian who bullies Lee’s character (Fighting Fish) from young. But his character is endearing – even comical.

With his hair centre-parted with a floppy fringe – the follicular rage of the era thanks to Heavenly King Aaron Kwok – he struts through the movie in his signature high-pitched voice.

He has one tiny regret though.

In one scene, his character sneaks into Fighting Fish’s home to steal her prize fish and she throws her underwear at him.

Chaw lamented: ‘I’ve always wanted to film a movie, but when I saw that scene, I asked myself, ‘Oh my God, what have I done? Why did I agree to have bras and panties draped over me?’

But A-niu added: ‘Gary was superstitious and didn’t allow us to put panties on his head!’

 

The NewPaper