Blue Mars

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This last book of the Mars trilogy is the most epic in scope, covering some one hundred years worth of events and extending the saga to the rest of the Solar system and even beyond. At the same time, it feels frustratingly parochial, with its strong focus on the same old set of characters who are forced to deal with new iterations of familiar problems. As much as we readers have grown to love these characters over the course of the previous books, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that this book isn’t just a retread of what has come before with added proviso that many of the characters are now so mature as to leave little room for additional character development.

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The Wind Rises (2013)

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Since The Wind Rises is not only a Studio Ghibli release but also supposedly Hayao Miyazaki’s last film (though this is doubtful since he has repeatedly announced his retirement and then reneged on it), there was zero doubt that we would eventually watch this. This film has also attracted considerable controversy since it could be interpreted as being laudatory towards a man who helped build Japan’s war machine during the Second World War. This of course only makes it even more of a must watch.

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Ilo Ilo (2013)

Ilo_Ilo_Movie_Poster

This film was Singapore’s submission for the 2013 Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film category. It is also the first Singaporean film to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival, bagging the Camera d’Or award meant for début directors. This makes it the highest profile Singaporean film of recent years. I was particularly curious about how it stacks up compared with The Journey, arguably its closest Malaysian equivalent.

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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All indicators point towards The Wolf of Wall Street being an excellent film. It is the fifth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DeCaprio. It is based on the real story of the colourful life of Jordan Belfort. It was nominated for multiple Academy Awards. After being impressed by Margin Call, I looked forward to watching another good film depicting the finance industry. Unfortunately, it turned out to be something of a dud.

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The Burmese Harp (1956)

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This one was a pick by my wife who had heard about it as a notable film about Buddhism long ago but had never seen it. It is apparently quite highly regarded, being a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film during the first year that the category existed. Note that I’m going to be more spoilery than usual partly because this is such an old film but mostly because it’s hard to say anything worth saying about it without revealing much of the plot.

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Blue Jasmine (2013)

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I don’t consider myself a fan of Woody Allen’s films. Sure, there is much to admire about them including the clever dialogue and witty social commentary, but on the whole, they’re not to my taste. Blue Jasmine gained attention recently both for being one of the better Allen films of recent years and one that departs significantly from his usual form. Since this film also won Cate Blanchett the Best Actress Oscar, I thought I should check it out.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living