Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There are two animation giants in Hollywood at the moment. Pixar and Dreamworks. They are always unfairly compared with one another. I consider Pixar to be my religion, and Dreamworks, my guilty pleasure. Dreamworks never tries to be like Pixar, and it shouldn't. I love it how it is.

From past offerings such as Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks has consistently given us colourful goody bags of fun - with a lot of heart. They are movies that are unpretentious and exist solely for pure entertainment, and I love them for it. Megamind is no exception, although I would have to say it did catch me off guard from time to time.

The film opens with a backstory of how Megamind developed his villainous ways, justifying his life mission to defeat his nemesis Metro Man. But this fight between good and evil abruptly ceases leaving Megamind to contemplate his place in the world. It's an introduction to existentialism for young children. Hooray for Dreamworks.

What I enjoyed most about the movie was that it presented itself as being formulaic, then out of nowhere it rewrites the formula - this happened two or three times from what I remember. I'm not ashamed to admit I was surprised many times in the duration of this wonderfully made film. The director perfectly balances the obligated sentimentality, alongside the gags and the thrilling action set pieces.

The only criticism I have for the film is that it feels like a spin-off. Some of the smaller characters feel like they've been recycled from another movie and it lacks the epic nature of something like Kung Fu Panda, so I would not be expecting a sequel to this one.

Despite that, Megamind is joyous, fun, and laugh-out-loud funny. The 3D was very well done too, and I recommend seeing it in that format. Usually 3D just works in animation, and it works extremely well here. If you live in the southern hemisphere, this is a great summer flick. It's the perfect movie to just sit back and enjoy the air-conditioned confines of a movie theatre with a box of popcorn on one hand and a choctop on the other. Oh, and take the kids too.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My first Criterions (thank you Barnes and Noble)

The end of year Barnes and Noble Criterion sale has passed and I have in my hot little hands my first ever Criterions. I have a couple others coming very soon (next week, fingers crossed). I've already talked about Criterions in a previous post, but for those who don't know, they are a film distribution company that restores important classic and contemporary films and jam-packing them with supplements which adds so much to the experience of the film. I have to say, Criterion is unmatched in terms of quality. No detail is overlooked. Every single edition is beautifully package and they instantly become the centerpiece of any DVD collection. Now, enough drooling over Criterion, let's talk about what I have so far:

The Ingmar Bergman trilogy examining the silence of God (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence). Very heavy and emotionally exhausting. I'm still trying to appreciate Bergman's films, but honestly, they've all been disappointing. Granted, I've only seen this trilogy and I saw The Virgin Spring last week at the Chauvel. I'm going to have to wait until I see Wild Strawberries at Cinemathque on Monday before I decide whether I should hop on the Bergman Bandwagon. I have to say every element of his films are perfect - the photography, the acting, the music, the mood are all brilliant and I always feel I'm in the hands of a director who knows what he's doing. However, there's something about his films, I cannot quite put my finger on it, but I find them excruciatingly dull, and at times, cliched. I've started to re-watch the films and fortunately, I've found that they have improved so much more on a second viewing. 

The Criterions are excellent. Beautiful covers, well-written essays and the box set also comes with a fourth DVD called Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, this is a five-part documentary on the making of Winter Light and it is fascinating. 

I also have the Adventures of Antoine Doinel box set, which includes four films: The 400 Blows, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, Love on the Run and also includes the short Antoine and Colette. As expected, it is packed with special features (oops, sorry they call them "supplements") that provide context for the films as well as include interesting interviews with Truffaut and his collaborators. It also contains a booklet with various essays and notes. The covers look amazing as well as you can see here:

The last one is The Last Emperor and this is a four disc set. One contains the film, one the television series and the other two supplements. I'm still going through this DVD but the film is exquisite, a tad melodramatic/Asian soap opera in some parts, but still a brilliant film.

I cannot wait until I receive the other three, I'm already counting down the days.

Note: All photographs were taken by yours truly. I would appreciate it if you inform me if you intend to use any of it. See my contacts for details. Thanks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Finally out of high school

I had my formal, also known as a prom. Got my first ever suit. Yay. Did not realise how difficult it was finding the perfect fit, plus, there were so many different styles and fit, the whole thing just gave me a headache.

High school is over, can't wait to get out in the big world.

Suit, shirt and pants from Jack London. Shoes and tie from Calvin Klein. Frames from Tom Ford.

Note: All photographs were taken by yours truly. I would appreciate it if you inform me if you intend to use any of it. See my contacts for details. Thanks

Friday, December 10, 2010

Denim on Denim.

Shirt from Roger David, Shorts from Kenji, Shoes from Converse, Silver watch from Speedo, Purple watch from Adidas, Frames from Tom Ford

Note: All photographs were taken by yours truly. I would appreciate it if you inform me if you intend to use any of it. See my contacts for details. Thanks

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finding your signature scent(s)

When a nose is treated with a fragrance, the smell triggers certain memories and emotions. It bypasses logic and goes straight to feeling. This is probably why when somebody is greeted with a familiar scent, most likely, it will either give them butterflies in their stomach, or, make it turn - depending on who they associate with that scent. Fragrances, perfumes and colognes wield the power of the "flashback".

This is why it is so important to find that "signature" scent. The objective is to leave the same impression to people, and not confuse them by having a whole bunch of different perfumes. It is best to pick a handful of fragrances - one for each occasion - and stick by them for...well, the rest of your life. Yes, I know that sounds like a marriage right? But then, you can always disown a fragrance if you don't quite like it at first, and keep looking until you find your perfect match. Which is what most people do nowadays anyway. Yup, I'm also referring to marriage.

For me personally, I have five "signature" scents:

1) Everyday, go-to guy
2) Summer/Day/Outdoor
3) Night out/Clubbing/Party 
4) Work/School 
5) Winter/Nighttime/Romantic 

The first one, the everyday signature scent, must be versatile. It must be appropriate for all occasions and be well suited for all four seasons. This is the one I pick up when I'm unsure of which one to use. Think of this as the reliable one. For me, my everday, go-to guy is L'eau D'Issey pour homme by Issey Miyake. It's quite hard to describe the scent, but it's sweet and fruity with a touch of Asian influence - kind of like a fragrant green tea with florals. Yet it also has hints of spiciness that also gives it warmth. So it's perfect for either the cooler or hotter months. It is also, I would say, an approachable scent. It draws people and it is very inviting. I've used this when out clubbing, at the beach, at work, or just going out for lunch or dinner and it worked on all instances. 

The second in the list is the summer, day, outdoor. This one has to last you - rain, shine, wind or sweat. It must also be able to project really well because it's quite harder to pick up on fragrances when outside. It must also be very light, airy and fresh. My pick is Versace Eau Fraiche. It meets every requirement I've mentioned, it's got longevity, it projects really well and it smells very clean and fresh. 

The third is the fragrance you pick up when going to a very social setting. This fragrance must have strength and presence without being too off-putting. It must also have a sense of fun and approachability, with a hint of sensuality. I use Paco Rabanne One Million for this as it leaves a very strong impression and is quite seductive as it has warmth. But it's also sweet. Very sweet. When I smell this I think of caramel and spices with a slight tinge of metallic and I guess, an 'urban', modern feel to it. To be honest, when I first smelt this, I wasn't fond of it. It smelled, for lack of a better word, very douchey. It smells like what people who wear Ed Hardy would use. It's very Jersey Shore-ish. But as it dries down, it changes quite dramatically and I fell in love with it. It has a sense of control without being too in control, and it gives off a beat of energy, kind of like music.

Now, for work and school, you'd want to choose a fragrance that is safe, but not boring. Something that is inoffensive and discreet. I use Prada Infusion D'Homme. This fragrance is perfect for work or school. It has a subtle scent but it has presence and will definitely leave a positive impression on people. The scent sticks very close to the skin, it doesn't have an aura, or a "scent bubble", it's more like a veil of perfume. It doesn't project very well, but that's why it's perfect in a work/school setting. People will not be repelled by this. The scent is initially very soapy, and some people don't like that because when they think of a soap scent, they think of something generic. But the beauty with this fragrance is that is has a complexity to it that adds a touch of elegance. This is an incredibly refined and classy fragrance. It may smell "soapy" but think of an expensive soap you won't see in grocery stores, only boutiques. I imagine of morning showers and a crisp, freshly laundered and just-ironed white shirt. This would probably be Donald Draper's signature scent. 

Now for the final one. The nighttime/winter/romantic perfume. This one has to be dark, seductive and mysterious. I chose aptly named The Dreamer by Versace. This literally smells like stars. It's very strong at first. I pick up a punch of something minty, something menthol. But then it dries down into this "starry" scent (running out of adjectives here!) But it's definitely unique and indescribable and a guaranteed "flashback" inducer.

So these are just some ideas to get you started with. But shop around, get samples, and try it on your skin and leave it on for a couple of hours before deciding. I don't recommend blind-buying online as scents are very subjective so it will be hard to know what you want unless you smell it for yourself.

Also a final word of advice. Don't put on too much. For really strong fragrances two to three squirts would be adequate, while for the more subtle ones four or five is plenty. Don't overdo it, please. Also know where in your body to put it on. The best is in your pulse points as these are the warmest areas and therefore will allow for maximum projection. I usually put them either on my wrists or the insides of my elbows (what's the proper name for that area? Where you get your blood drawn?) Also the pulse point on the neck is a good place and sometimes I get a little bit on my finger from my wrists and dab behind my ear. 

Note: All photographs were taken by yours truly. I would appreciate it if you inform me if you intend to use any of it. See my contacts for details. Thanks

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Paragon Project

This is an updated version of the LuckySeven Cinematheque project, which did not end up happening due to a hideous title and lack of direction. So, I've tweaked the idea a bit and came up with the Paragon Project.

So, what is the Paragon Project?

par·a·gon   (păr'ə-gŏn', -gən)
  • ·      A model of excellence or perfection of a kind
  • ·      Someone or something that is the very best example of something
The aim of the Paragon Project is to see films in a new light, or within a specific frame of thinking.

Each list must meet a certain criteria, for example, a recurring theme, a mutual filmic element, or it can be whatever association that would make for an interesting dialogue between the films. The blog post for each film will contain a general criticism and response while incorporating a discussion based on the specific link between the films. Each list can contain any number of films between three and seven. I will reveal the full list, working my way down, one film at a time.

Oh my, so many rules. I feel so adamant and rigid. Must be the early stages of adulthood.

So to kick start the project let's begin with a list of firsts - a list of a group of directors' first film in colour:

Paragon Project # 1:
Passed with flying colours

 “A select group of master filmmakers and their first full-length feature in colour”

* Akira Kurosawa – Dodesukaden

* Alfred Hitchcock – Rope

* Frederico Fellini – Juliet Of The Spirits

* John Ford – Drums Along The Mohawk

* Jacques Tati – Mon Oncle

* Michaelangelo Antonionini – Red Desert

* Agnes Varda – Le Bonheur

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I just want to be scared out of my wits

This past Halloween, I've started two traditions. The first is to read a Stephen King novel during the month of October and possibly going right through November, depending on whether it is a mammoth of a book, like Under The Dome is - 1,000 pages!

The second is to find little known horror film gems while also trying to eliminate some horror blind spots, so I can finally tick off classic horrors I may have missed.

I watched Kubrick's The Shining and thoroughly enjoyed the visuals, the unsettling score as well as the creepy premise.

But it did not scare me. Not even the Room 237 scene.

I actually found a majority of the moments quite comical and found myself laughing hysterically instead of covering my eyes in fear. I don't know whether to blame it on Kubrick. I noticed that from the two films I've seen him made, The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey, he exudes a feeling of distance towards his audience. His films show a level of technical perfection, but, like most perfectionists, he seems to create soulless works I find very hard to access. Granted, I still have to see A Clockwork Orange and Dr Strangelove, and among many others but that's the initial reaction I have of his films. When the credits roll, I'm left with a sense of awe, but never gratitude. For me, I find them great films to discuss and analyse but I would not necessarily call them a personal "favourite".

So my search for truly frightening horror films continue. I was glad to finally see The Shining, but dammit, I want to be scared like a little girl. The last films I can remember being really shaken by were The Ring, The Exorcist and The Orphanage. Not a lot of horror movies really scare me now. Maybe I've become numbed to them.

Any recommendations?

Image Credits:
One Big Ass Book
Room 237

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Things I Love // Lush Baths

This obsession was sparked by a breed of YouTube "haul" videos. They're basically just people talking about things they've bought and talking briefly about them. I was watching a book haul when the procrastination-booster that is the "Related Videos" feature led me to a "Lush Haul" video.

I knew about Lush but I never really bought anything from there. But the person in the video was so enthusiastic I just had to go and buy whatever she was excitedly plucking out from her Lush bag. I couldn't remember who it was, but I'm pretty sure it was Elle Fowler from "allthatglitters21". Don't laugh. I'm sure she has an excuse.

So, I watched more of these "Lush Hauls" which has become a niche on its own, and they are truly addictive and was the sole reason why I ended up spending a hundred or so bucks on a bag full of bath bombs and soaps and bubble bath bars and massage bars and perfumes and bath melts. But Lush makes me happy (Christmas tip!), so I don't care.

I might do some product reviews here or they might come in video form in my sadly desolate YouTube channel.

But the things I love most about Lush products are the scents they have, you can't really find a worthy equivalent anywhere else. I would say their scents are signature and really addictive, so a word of caution. Most of them smell like food - like most Lushies (lol!) I am helplessly addicted to the Honey I Washed The Kids soap which has a delicious scent of caramel/toffee/honey that makes me want to eat my arm off after a shower.

Also, most of the products are vegan (not that I am, but still, all vegan products are automatically better than anything else) and they use (mostly) natural ingredients. So I highly recommend it for people with sensitive skin types.

I know that this is completely off-topic, but if you've read my blog since the beginning, you know I tend to do this a lot. Yes, it's not really anything about the arts but I would argue that a Lush product is a work of art in itself.

That's my excuse.

Note: All photographs were taken by yours truly. I would appreciate it if you inform me if you intend to use any of it. See my contacts for details. Thanks

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Post-Exams Post. You can read this title backwards and forwards. Wow. Ignore the dash.

Well, technically I haven't actually finished my exams yet, I still have my Visual Arts written paper next week, but that's easy peasy so it does not count.

So I haven't been on this for so long. Apologies. But my final high school exams have drained all my motivation and energy to do anything - but I'm back and (hopefully) posting a LOT more soon. I know you've missed me. *silence*

OMG I've been abandoned.

Anyway, a quick update:

- I've recently discovered my love for Criterion DVDs. I love them. I literally worship them despite the fact I don't actually own any of their DVDs. This is because they don't sell them here in Australia so I have to get them online, which I haven't done yet. Plus, I still have to buy a region-free DVD player. If you don't know what a Criterion is, basically, it is a collection of selected films (500 or so films, and counting) that the company have meticulously restored to the most pristine quality possible. Plus they commission writers to compose essays and articles about the film to give it context and a sense of history and compile it into a booklet. They also have designers create a special cover for each of their releases and they look amazing. I could look at these for a really long time without stopping. That's how good they look. Here are examples:

They look amazing, right? How beautiful will they look on the shelf. I cannot wait to get my hands on to one of these. I will worship it forever.

- I've been obsessed with another thing during my absence. Lush. You know that shop that you can smell from a mile away that sell soaps, bath bombs and all these delicious goodies. Well, I worship them too. And my skin is thanking me right now. I'll post up some stuff of my favourite products.

- I graduated high school. A super big YAY for me. And again. YAY.

- You know that LuckySeven Cinematheque project I sneaked peeked a while back? Well I've redone the whole concept and it is being renamed into the Paragon Project. Sounds better doesn't it? More of that soon. 

- I haven't grown, I'm still short. A super big Sad Face. 

So there's a little update for all you kids out there. Please come back, I was just hibernating. I'm not dead. 


Image Credits from the Criterion Website

Friday, September 3, 2010

FILM REVIEW: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

"We all have baggage"

When you come across a film with a villain whose superpowers derive from his veganism, and they actually EXPLAIN why (apparently it's the hindering effect of dairy products to the brain) you know it's going to be quite original.

Scott Pilgrim is the kind of movie that is tailor-made for what I would call the 'Facebook generation'. People whose attention span are as big as this *holds up a single tic tac*

I would say I'm part of that generation but goodness me, the film went by so fast, there are some scenes I can't properly recall because it blurred by so quickly.

I'm not saying I didn't like this film; in fact I'm just a tad bit in love with it.

Notice how my paragraphs are getting smaller and smaller? Yeah, I felt like I had ADD after walking out of the theatre - quickly checks twitter - which by the way was so cool because I saw it in Vmax, which is less like the look-at-me-I’m-huge version of Imax. Did I tell you how they took everyone's mobile phones because it was a preview screening and they didn't want the film pirated. *oh a Facebook notification*. Which was awesome because I felt like such a film critic. Now what was I saying before?

Oh God I need to read a book.

So our lovable protagonist (of course he would be, he's played by Michael Cera) has to defeat seven evil exes in order to claim Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as his girlfriend.

This all plays out like a video game. Which is both the film's strength and flaw. A flaw because it suffers from the very same reason why I do not play video games anymore: redundancy. You know, defeat one bad guy, and move on to the next. Press the X button, then the O button then the X button again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

When Scott Pilgrim *spoiler alert* defeats the third ex. I was starting to get a bit bored with all the fight sequences, simply because they all felt the same to me. There was no added tension surrounding those fights, because we all know, no one loses in a video game. If you lose a life, voila, here’s another one.

But the video game aspect of the film gives it (how I hate to use this term) an edge. Yes, the fight sequences weren’t particularly exciting, but they were resplendent, just enough so that you can’t seem to look away, similar to the allure of video game arcades, the way those bright, colourful lights and loud bangs manage to wake up your inner child seeking for play. These are fight sequences I’ve never seen on screen before.

Don’t get me wrong though, the whole film isn’t centred on the idea of Pilgrim fighting all the exes – it’s more of a modern relationship story. The characters, including the evil exes, felt so familiar to me, as if the writers themselves have taken them straight out of my Facebook news feed. Everyone I know can relate to some way or another to any of these kids, or have similar relationships to those depicted in the film.

Scott Pilgrim (the character) is drawn particularly interestingly here (can I use two adverbs after another? – quick Google search – yes I can). He’s a strange mix of maverick and conformism, akin to the weird, quirky kid in school we secretly look up to. He’s the hero of the film but he’s not perfect. He’s sweet, funny and charming but he’s also whiny, obsessive and self-conscious. Actually they all are. Which makes them all the more interesting and all the more fun to watch. The dialogue between these characters is by far the film’s biggest strength. I can already imagine people quoting them as their Facebook status or in their tweets.

The film also plays around with the all too familiar dilemmas teenage kids go through – breaking up with someone for another, that obsessive crush you cannot shake off, or that difficult decision of becoming a vegan, a vegetarian or a lowly, unethical carnivore.

I’ve never quite experienced a film that says so much about MY generation with such integrity and without the belittling mockery most representations of contemporary teens seem to always invite.

I’m quite disappointed to hear the news that Scott Pilgrim didn’t do as well as expected in the box office, and I’m left wondering why. This is one of the freshest films I’ve seen all year, one that truly deserves an audience. So, I’m telling you please go see it.

You do that while I go browse in Amazon to buy – what was it again? – oh yes, that book. 

Image Credits: Poster, Red Sword, Group Photo

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Superiority Complex and IMDB users

Being a film lover, it's embarrassing to admit that I spend more time on IMDB than actually watching movies. Which is like an Olympic athlete spending more time in the library studying their sport than going outside and playing it.

Wow, I just likened myself to an Olympic athlete and likened movies to sport. Maybe I've been watching too many Track and Field videos on YouTube. But anyway, you get my point.

Everyday I check the website for the latest news about the film world and obsessively checking on the Hit List for any interesting articles (actually, I check the List secretly hoping that one day I will find one of my blog posts in there, and then I will get so much traffic from it that I become more famous than Justin Bieber and consequently receive thousands, maybe millions, of requests from various publications begging me to write an article from them. Then I will of course win a Pulitzer for the pieces that I write. Plus, I'll be named one of the most influential people in the world, most likely by People Magazine and also become the richest celebrity in the world, beating Oprah by half a billion dollars.)

As I was saying, I love IMDB for the wealth of information the site contains to satisfy even the most information-hungry cinephiles. I also love the rating system. I love the satisfaction that you get when you give a one star rating to a film that wasted both your money and time because it bored you so much it was borderline sadistic mental torture. I also love giving ten stars for films that truly took my breath away.

What annoys me about IMDB is the vast amount of users who go to the site to post comments as a way to vent, and sometimes to feel good about themselves. Granted, I'm guilty of committing such acts - see Slumdog Millionaire IMDB post (I can't seem to track it myself). But that post is not as extreme compared to other posts I find. 

But the users that make my blood boil (more than trolls, which is saying something) are the ones who feel that they are better than everybody else because he/she liked a film that the average movie-goer can't seem to understand. I think they call it the "superiority complex". They are usually written by people who are quite intelligent - their spellings are all correct, they make valid critical comments about the film and sometimes references to back it up. I think to myself,  wow what a very smart person, I wish I could write a post like that. But then they say something like this:

" If  you didn't get Kubrick's 2001 or got annoyed watching Alien 3 because it had no guns and shooting, then don't bother with this film. Go back and watch Transformers 2 for the hundredth time"

or something like:

" A lot of people will not get this film because it requires you to think. If you're one of the mainstream conformists who anticipate the next commercial blockbuster that Hollywood churns out then do yourself a favour and DON'T watch this film. It's just a waste of your time"

(Note: These aren't direct quotes from IMDB users because it's mean and inconsiderate if I do that, so I wrote these myself but if you read a lot of IMDB comments/posts you'll recognise these types of comments)

The other way to recognise one is when another user counters their arguments and the original poster gets all angry and upset, feeling that their film credibility has just been publicly taken away from them by somebody else. So they reply back to the other user with lines similar to the examples above then following that by "name-dropping" or "title-dropping". They will usually reference or even list their favourite films or directors, as one would do in a resume, in order to make a point of how smart and how much they are an expert in film, thus gaining their credibility (and ego) back. 

What these people don't understand is that everyone has their own tastes and opinions and sometimes forget that film itself is subjective. There's no such thing as a perfect film. It is perfectly acceptable for one person to dislike a film like Citizen Kane and absolutely love a film like The Dark Knight. It does not make them any less intelligent nor does it mean that they have a bad taste in film. 

What really gets me upset is the fact that these types of comments explicitly tell people NOT to see a film, because they assume that you don't possess the intellectual capacity to enjoy these films. When really, what they should be saying is for people to at least try and see the film because they might possibly enjoy it, I mean you never know. What if that person who has a tendency to only watch big action flicks and rom-coms find a newfound interest in foreign films because somebody told them to go and see In The Mood For Love and it moved them so much they hunted down other Wong Kar-Wai films.

Film is such an amazing medium that it should be shared, right? Even if you are a film critic, I don't think anyone has the right to tell anyone else what they shouldn't see. A good film critic does this, a great one gives an opportunity for people to decide for themselves. Which is probably why I never really like the 'At The Movies'  See it/Rent it/Skip it approach. Think of how many movies a person "skipped" because their favourite critic told them to, but would have enjoyed if they went out and seen it. It's not a film critic's job to tell us what to see, their job is to create a discussion for the film. A 'skip it' is one way of stopping these discussions and goes against the idea of film criticism in the first place.

Anyway, back to those IMDB users (how did I end up talking about film critics? Focus Jesue, focus). I always imagine these people like this guy here:

So that's just my little rant about IMDB, I'm sorry that it's so negative, but this has been bugging me for quite a while. Now let me check up on that Hit List...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Youtube Channel

I haven't posted in such a long time because:

1) I was on a family holiday in the Philippines and every time I sat down to blog about something my inner voice told me that I should be on holiday mode. So all I did was sit on the beach and do absolutely nothing. I would read from time to time but mostly just sat and 'cleared my head'. And also sleep. A lot of sleep.

2) I had assessments due - mostly essays so my writing spirit had died. Well, technically spirits can't die because they're already dead. But whatever. Now my head hurts. This is too much thinking.

3) I found no inspirations over the past month. Every film I saw was so boring it wasn't even worth writing a review. I haven't discovered any new bands or any fresh new songs to listen to and write about. One of my school major works was for art - so I was drained, art wise. Not even clothes inspired me. Everything was a bit blerghh.

So I did what anyone would do in my situation and found myself a new medium to pour my thoughts into. It's this little website called YouTube. You might have heard of it.

So subscribe to my channel here.

And here are my first two videos. I did a 'What's in my bag' video because I've been watching a lot of them on YouTube *cue laughter*

Stay tuned everyone! After I graduate in high school and escape from all these exams and assessments I will try and do so many blog posts your computer will crash.

Friday, July 2, 2010

THEATRE: Hamlet (Bondi Pavilion)

"A little more than kin and less than kind"

I saw a stage production of Hamlet in Bondi Pavilion months ago as part of my critical study of Hamlet for school. I’m starting to enjoy Shakespeare’s works now. Having only read it in class with students (including myself) reading lines in a painfully monotonous tone, I thought Shakespeare was pretty damn boring. And overrated. Apparently that’s a really big statement to say about such a revered writer and Shakespeare fanatics will probably poison me through the ear while I sleep. But I have balls. I can deal with it.

Anyway. Throughout the years I was utterly bored reading plays like Richard III and Macbeth (the name reminds me of a mix between a Big Mac and pakbet – lovers of Filipino cuisine will get this joke). I found myself longing to read novels like Of Mice and Men and poetry like Porphyria’s Lover instead, which we also did in class.

But after experiencing the words of Shakespeare come alive on stage, as well as in film interpretations, I grasped an understanding as to why his works are still studied and enjoyed by readers today. His words are not meant to be read in class – they were meant to be acted out by professionals who can read the lines and deliver them with a higher degree of emotional range.

The production I saw was evidently low budget. It was held at a very small theatre with limited costumes, sets and lighting designs. It’s probably not the best Hamlet stage interpretation I will ever see in my lifetime, but it was adequate. They injected more humour in the play – the whole theatre was full of schoolkids so I thought this was a good decision as it gave it more vitality and energy. The actors were also very much engaged with the audience and there wasn’t any moment when they lost that connection.

However, there were flaws. Firstly, the characterisation of Gertrude was too simplified. For such an ambiguous character, they could have taken her characterisation to a much deeper level. For me, she was one of the most interesting characters in the play and I felt a bit cheated. There were also faults in the use of music and sound.  The music was too filmic, instead of atmospheric. It would have worked in a film version, but being on stage, it took me out of the experience and was distracting. The sound was quite tacky and sounded like it was taken from a sound clip they found from a video editing software.
The highlight of the play was the opening scene, the clever use of flashlights (it was set in a more contemporary setting- Nazi period to be exact) created a sense of immersion and was quite captivating.

Their main target audience would have been high school kids studying the play and they achieved enough to reinforce an understanding of the plot, as well as highlighting the main themes. This is not the best thing I’ve seen on stage but it’s certainly not the worst either.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

FASHION: Animal Necklaces

I'm not much of an animal lover. I walk the other way when there's a cat/dog/pigeon standing in my way on the street. I don't hate them but I'm not usually the first to pat someone's pet.
But I do love wearing them around my neck.
Now, don't go contacting PETA, I don't mean animal abuse stuffed-animal-parts necklaces, I mean the artificial, made with materials, fashionable kind.
First is this metallic octopus necklace I found on Etsy. It's made by Zara Taylor and the best thing about them? They're only 16 bucks. Now, you only need to match them with an American Apparel Striped Tee and ahoy! to you.

Next is a wood-carved squirrel necklace from Kester Black from their Maiden Voyage collection. Designed by Anna Ross, the line was inspired by Noah's Ark. I'd take two of each please. ($80 each)

My personal favourite, the "bull" necklace. Made of sterling silver, it's by Thomas Sabo from the Rebel At Heart collection. Saving up for this, just in time for summer. They're between $300-$700. Hey, it's an investment right? I'm planning to wear it forever so it's worth it.

Images taken as screenshots from linked websites. All prices are in Australian dollars and are an estimate. Prices may change at any time, check website for details.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sydney Film Festival 2010: Last Train Home

"Taste the bitterness first and the sweetness will follow"

The Three Gorges Dam, the biggest hydroelectric dam in the world was built in the Yangtze to support China’s rapid and unstoppable growth. This development changed the countless lives of those living near the river. Some rejected its construction while others accepted the dam as an accepted part of China’s quest in becoming an industrial force. This was the main premise of Up The Yangtze a documentary I saw two or so years ago. Thankfully, instead of wasting running time on political mumbo jumbo which would have inevitably bore the life out of me, the film focused on the personal stories of the people directly affected by the dam. 

Last Train Home, another documentary exploring similar social issues and also made by the same creators, took a similar approach. While it could have easily taken the political shove-your-ideas-down-my-throat-instead-of-letting-me-think-for-myself route (Michael Moore, anyone?), the film instead took the well-chosen cinematic route. The film didn’t feel like a documentary, it felt like a story that was real. The way the film is structured infers a narrative, the way it is shot suggests a quiet grandeur of cinematic proportions. The difference between the two films is the way they captured the interactions between the subject and the camera. In Up The Yangtze the camera is seamlessly invisible, save for face-to-face interviews. It achieves a state where the camera is able to capture the rawest form of emotion. There was a consistent sense of honesty and integrity throughout the entire film.

 In Last Train Home the initial interviews and the interactions between people felt a bit scripted and more aware of the camera. This is by no means a flaw. As we see later on, in a pivotal scene when a father hits his daughter for saying ‘fuck’ in his house, the daughter turns to the camera, and yells: “You want to film the real me? This is the real me!” All those bottled emotions finally get to bubble to the surface. The daughter holds a grudge against her parents for leaving her and her brother to be looked after by her grandmother while they travel to the city for work in order to give their children an education. While she tells us this, it felt scripted and I get the feeling she’s not telling me the truth. She is essentially a gathering storm, suppressed and unaffected at first but we feel something brewing, and unleashed (to borrow the Syd film fest’s tagline) later on.

 I felt angry towards the girl but at the same time I completely understand where she’s coming from. She is living in a country undergoing industrial change, indirectly impacting on the change in values. I see a girl losing the traditional values of Asian family life and is being forced to embrace the values of “new” China. She may appear completely selfish but I can only see her as a victim of a massive cultural shift happening in her country – a change both Up The Yangtze and Last Train Home capture so well.

Directed by Lixin Fan

Screenshots from trailer.


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