Tag Archives: cinema

15 Perfect Shots

11 May

1. Contempt (1963)

     DoP: Raoul Coutard

     Director: Jean-Luc Godard



2. Aliens (1986)

     DoP: Adrian Biddle

     Director: James Cameron



3. Days of Heaven (1978)

     DoP: Néstor Almendros

    Director: Terrence Malick



4. Enter the Dragon (1973)

     DoP: Gil Hubbs

     Director: Robert Clouse



5. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

     DoP: Conrad L. Hall

     Director: Stuart Rosenberg



6. Planet of the Apes (1968)

     DoP: Leon Shamroy

     Director: Franklin J. Schaffner



7. Blow-Up (1966)

      DoP: Carlo Di Palma

      Director: Michelangelo Antonioni



8. Goodfellas (1990)

     DoP: Michael Ballhaus

     Director: Martin Scorsese



9. Carrie (1976)

      DoP: Mario Tosi

      Director: Brian De Palma



10. The Dark Knight (2008)

        DoP: Wally Pfister

        Director: Christoper Nolan



11. Psycho (1960)

       DoP: John L. Russell 

       Director: Alfred Hitchcock



12. He Got Game (1998)

        DoP: Ellen Kuras and Malik Hassan Sayeed 

        Director: Spike Lee



13. The Apartment (1960)

        DoP: Joseph LaShelle

        Director: Billy Wilder


14. Lost in Translation (2003)

        DoP: Lance Acord

        Director: Sofia Coppola



15. Fight Club (1999)

       DoP: Jeff Cronenweth

       Director: David Fincher

Source: Perfect Shots


Reservoir Dogs is the most important film of the 90’s

2 Mar
Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs (1992)


Let me start by saying, this is not a review about ‘Reservoir Dogs’. It’s more about my personal account on how ‘Reservoir Dogs’ affected me and the decade which I grew up in, which is the 90’s.  I’m pretty lucky to have seen ‘Reservoir Dogs’ when it first came out on the big screen, by accident.

I went to study in Perth, Australia when I was in my teen. Prior to that, I was studying in Singapore for a few years. Although, I’ve enjoyed my stay in Singapore, the place was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. There’s so much sterile cleanliness, consumerism and civil obedience for a kid like me could barely cope.

Growing up in Perth is probably one of the best thing that could’ve happened to me because it helped me –for better or worse- to be the person that I am today. Growing up in a society that respects arts, free speech/expression and individuality does that to you but ultimately it still comes down to your choice. I knew some friends from Indonesia/Malaysia/Korea/Singapore who studied in Australia but never really made the effort to get to know the country and it’s people. They’re content in hanging around with their countrymen, eating the same food just like back home and generally just being typical polite overseas students proned to home sickness and listening to horrible pop music from their respected countries.

Not me though, I milked every experiences I had for whatever it’s worth. Especially films, TV, music and comic books and the many interesting individuals/places I’ve met from different countries/backgrounds.

At the end of school’s term break, I’d normally go to Sydney where my cousin used to live for a short holiday. He’d normally go to work for the whole day, so I’m happily cruising all over Sydney to kill time until we meet up for dinner. So there I was on George St, contemplating whether to see some crappy Hollywood movies or just aimlessly bumming around. Until I saw this photograph in front of an old movie theater:

 “What’s this? It  looks fucking cool!”

I did remember reading a short article on ‘Reservoir Dogs’ on some obscure indie film magazine and it had great review. So fuck it, let’s see it. It must’ve been 1993 so internet was still a piece of crap. There was no marketing hype, no twitter, no youtube, no facebook, no excited fanboys drooling over 30secs trailer and orgasming all over your face telling you it’s the greatest 30 secs of cinema they’ve ever seen and if you don’t see it, you will miss out on the greatest event in humanity’s history ( yeah you, fucking ‘The dark knight rises’ fanboys, that was a piece of shit btw).

So I went in, wanting to buy the ticket and I saw the R rated sign which means you have to be over 18 yrs old to see the film and I was 16 at the time. Oh crap. Should I continue onwards and be bold or admit defeat, act like a pussy and watch some horrible Mel Gibson movie across the street?

“Fuck no! live a little Joe.”

I walked to the counter and asked for a ticket. I Remember, the dude had a long blonde pony tail and looked like a cool artsy type who probably smoked great weed and probably also had a cool girlfriend. Since it was an old proper theatre that only played art films and probably subsidized by the government, so obviously, there wasn’t anybody around. The pony tail dude was cool enough to let me in and didn’t even ask for my ID.

I got that same rush the day I stole my dad’s Playboy from his closet.

Walked into the theatre, it was a beautiful huge old school theatre that’d shit all over today’s multiplex, and there were only four people inside. In front of me was a blonde dreadlock guy looking half asleep, probably friends with the pony tail dude or maybe he was his pot dealer and maybe the pony tail dude didn’t have enough money to pay for his weed so he let him in for free.

Thank you pony tail dude.

“Well if the film turns out bad, I could always leave.”

It turned out to be one of the greatest 99 minutes piece of cinema I’ve ever seen.

You see, up until that point, independet/art cinema didn’t mean much to me. The only art cinema that was cool to me up until that point was Jean Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’ (which I later found out, is one of Tarantino’s fav film) which I saw on TV (thank you SBS, best channel ever). Granted I wasn’t able to watch much art films on SBS because I was staying in a boarding school at the time, so our TV viewing was very restricted. My knowledge of independent cinema was also very limited, I could only read about the ones on some rare indie film magazine  and most of the films I saw were really boring and just taking it self way too seriously and got lost in it’s own ass. It had no bite, was made for intellectuals/high art crowds so they could cleverly talk amongst themselves during dinner about some delightful French film they saw last weekend. In other words, it was boring as shit for a teenager like me.

But ‘Reservoir Dogs’ changed all that, it truly showed me that there were other cool type of films that had exciting story, gutsy, smart, fresh, different and funny as hell so ‘average’ people like me could like and root for and it didn’t need to have explosions every 5 minutes or big Hollywood stars or blockbusters hype or Mel Gibson’s mullet. It didn’t have to be a ‘high art’ about boring story of a couple who are arguing in the kitchen for forty minutes. Just great story and characters and some kick ass dialogues and some mean bursts of violence here and there to keep you engaged.

When in the opening scene the guys casually arguing over the meaning of Madonna’s song ‘Like a virgin’ whether it’s about love or because Madonna gets fucked by a dick so massive that it feels like being fucked for the first time and then they casually walk together in the parking lot in a jagged slow-mo effect, in cool black suits, white shirts and skinny ties. I knew I was watching greatness.

Watching ‘Reservoir Dogs’ is like watching cool bits of cinema and pop culture from every decade being mixed tape by Tarantino. Yeah of course everybody knows this now but back then? When there were only me and four other guys in the cinema? It’s like accidentally stumbling into a dingy bar and seeing Joy Division playing live to five people and you’re one of them.

Historical is the word I’m looking for.

And that ear cutting scene? I was literally cringing and turning my head in spasm mode like the time when my mom forced me to eat vegetables when I was a toddler and I fought valiantly to keep it off my mouth.

How about the final Mexican stand off? Where everybody shoots off at the same time?

“What was that? The fuck just happened??” yelled the the dreadlock guy, finally awake for the first time in six years.

My mouth was wide open.

Film’s finished, lights back on.

I was still stunned in my seat.

“The fuck just happened??” said the dreadlock guy in a confused state as we walked out.

Here’s my take on why ‘Reservoir Dogs’ is the most important film of the 90’s. It came at the same time when grunge exploded in the early 90’s  and single handedly destroyed poodle rock scene (Poison, Warrant, White Lion) to oblivion. It made music mattered again. Nirvana spearheaded a movement with ‘Nevermind’ and made music that was catchy, angry, complex and downright anthemic to capture the spirit of dissatisfied youth.  Overnight, the music landscape changed.

‘Reservoir Dogs’ has the same importance. It gave independent cinema a new blood. Tarantino helped to spearhead a new generation of indie filmmakers  bursting out into the scene and made films mattered again. Films that were exciting and personal and just didn’t give a fuck about establishment.

I was lucky to be caught in the middle of two great art movements.

Not long later, ‘Pulp Fiction’ was a big hit at Cannes film festival and won best film. The mainstream took notice. Anticipation was overwhelming. This time I watched it with my friends, we were still underage but didn’t give a toss, and somehow we got in.

This time the theatre was packed and the film killed the audience like I’ve never seen before.

People were laughing/screaming and going insane.

“What the fuck was that? What the fuck was that?” said a bewildered guy in his 40’s walking out of the cinema.

“I know exactly how you feel.”

Thank you pony tail dude.


Blue skied n’ clear (Perth)

15 Sep



Went there when I was 15, stayed in an all boys boarding school. Met a bunch of ignorant Aussie farmer kids and a bunch of ignorant Asian kids who couldn’t speak English. It felt like Lord of the Flies. Met some cool/outcast kids who became my close friends. Learned how to like vegimite, mixing milk with tea and meat pies. Fell in love with the first smell of winter and saw the deepest bluest sky I’ve ever seen in my life, like ocean in the sky.  Saw a dolphin while surfing at Cottesloe beach, saw a girl smiling at me as we walked past each other, that was a good day.

Went to Northbridge every Saturday to buy comic books. Went up the stairs and the smell of  old comics was intoxicating. Saw an Uncanny X-men issue 137 in mint condition hanging on the wall, that was my Mona Lisa. Introduced mie goreng to the Aussies, they got addicted, started charging them $ 1.00 for every packet. Taught some Aussies some swear words in Indonesian but it was actually ,”Gue goblok.” (“I’m stupid.”). Went to a high school social, trying to impress the girls by drinking beer and head banging to Nirvana and Metallica. I think they were impressed. Broke into an all girls boarding school, they were definitely impressed.

Skateboarding in the city on the weekend on my Willy Santos board, trying to find cool spots. Being chased around by security guards.  Damaged some stair steps while doing grinding in front of a Commonwealth bank, thinking that was the highlight of my life. Skateboarding around school at night feelin like Christian Slater from Gleaming the Cube. Broke into other school to find cool spots and got caught. Told them my name was Marky Mark. Found out years later, one of my skateboarding friend got killed in a car accident, his head was smashed into the front window.

Went to college and lived on my own. Always fell asleep in front of TV while listening to Radiohead’s The Bends. Went to 78 records on Hay street to listen to new cd’s. Trying to make eye contact with the cool chick working at the counter. Never got the courage to ask her out, but I did ask the cute chick who worked at Mcdonalds, and she said “yes.”

Went to see lots of interesting clubs, underground raves and live concerts. Went to an Industrial night club and saw goths dressed up in gimp suits being led like a dog on all fours, me and a friend went headbanging in a cage. Went to hardcore drum n bass club called infirmary, spend lots of time at an indie club called the loft, saw Jesus & Mary chain, saw Stone Roses before they broke up, saw The Prodigy when they were good, saw NIN, Primal Scream, Carl Cox, Groove Riders, Sound Garden, Placebo, Beastie Boys, Atari Teenage Riot, Blur, Moby, Gerling, Massive Attack, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins, Faith No More, Pavement, Squarepusher and many more. Missed out on many great bands too.

Had the best cheap Japanese restaurant at Samurai, 5 bucks for a plate of the best fried chicken ever. The katsudon wasn’t bad either. Had the best fish n chips in Freemantle. Had the best kebab at Alto’s kebabs. Had the best steak burger at Fast Eddy’s. Had a good Indonesian food at Little Sparrow. Cheap, good and plenty.

Fell in love with so many films, Planet video became my holy grail but video Ezy in Subiaco wasn’t bad either. Double bill features at Leederville cinema were always cool, they always played Kubrick’s films. Seeing ‘Clock work orange’ on the big screen was a special treat. Seeing Godard’s ‘Bande a part’ on the big screen was cinematic. Seeing a film outdoor at night in the middle of summer at UWA was pure class.  Seeing my short film being screened for the first time was nerve wrecking, dedicated my short film to my cousin who died of overdose. Found out recently his mother is dying of cancer.

Met many types of kids. Crazy ones, artistic ones, druggie ones, drunken ones, slutty ones, rich ones, poor ones, confused ones, sincere ones, dodgy ones, damaged ones, innocent ones, spoilt ones, abandoned ones. Had lots of  great parties, always great parties. Learned how to roll a joint. Learned how to tune a guitar. Learned how to barbecue in the middle of winter.  Got my first car, a blue 1976 Mini Cooper with white top. Always looked cooler than a yellow Mercedes, always will.

Learned how to make money by cleaning toilets and cleaning offices. Learned how to make sandwiches, kebabs and capuccinos, learned how to serve drunken customers with a smile. Learned how to be quiet like a ninja when the landlord came for rent and didn’t have the money. Learned how to stand up for your self against racist bullies. Learned how to make short films and knew writing/directing  is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Learned that nothing is permanent in life. Learned that the people you care deeply eventually will disappoint you  and they will feel the same way about you.

Fell in love with a girl who worked at a 24 hr deli. She was my first love.  It felt like a Wong Kar Wai’s film, it felt like watching  ‘Chungking Express’ for the first time.  She came from a farm but she’s not ignorant, she was full of life and I never met anyone quite like her before. Went to see The Matrix for our first film date and she was bare feet. I saw life  in greys and browns but she saw it in full spectrum of colors, and each color had 10 different shades and they were all in me too. But I didn’t see it, that’s why we didn’t last.

Left Perth for good not long after I finished college, went to Sydney, Bali and Jakarta for a bigger adventure but that’s another story.

I never saw most of the kids I knew from Perth anymore. Most of us went our separate ways to different countries and lives. Most of us are connected through facebook but we hardly keep in touch. Knowing they’re on facebook is good enough, like an insurance policy. You never know when you need them. Even though you hardly use them.

Perth is not the most glamorous city, in fact it’s too quiet for most people and many left. The spacious city could also feel claustrophobic. But somehow the little insignificant details always stay with you long after you’re gone; eating a crumbed cheese sausage with chips on vinegar at 2:30 in the morning outside the 24 hr deli, riding a bike at night to see your pot dealer, finished work at dawn and staring at the sun breaking through the clouds, walking in midland while listening to Dinosaur Jr. on a walkman,  collecting $ 5.00 entry coupon to the loft, finding out at the atm you’ve got $ 17.00 left and the rent is due tomorrow, teaching your friend how to drive in your car at an empty parking lot at night. Waiting for a pizza delivery guy at the front school gate on the weekend. Driving on Canning highway in the middle of  December heatwave. Staying in bed with a lover in the afternoon watching Jerry Springer.

Now, every time I look at the sky, it’s never pure blue. The blue is always pale and there is always a strong tint of dark grey around it but sometimes, not often-actually its very rare-the sky gets very blue and clear, not all the way but close enough. And that is enough.


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