I’ll Pass

31 03 2009
I was meant to go out for a movie today but decided otherwise and picked a book.

I normally won’t pass a movie date but I felt no compelling need or importance for Monsters Vs. Aliens. But after I cancelled, I asked if I’d do the same with the following films.

Probably not … I highly doubt I won’t be in line for the premiere dates.

Currently listening to Come Back To Me by David Cook via Launchcast





Drawing With Light

29 03 2009

I’ve just gone back from my photography class.

It was a complete information overload for four straight hours: three hours lecture, an hour field application test (photo shoot and trying to run away from mall guards because we have no permits), and a few minutes of critiquing our applied knowledge.

I submitted seven pictures of building structures and five finished with two thumbs up. I was the one with the smallest number of return but in ratio, had the most quality. The best feedback I got from my teacher was when he said one can be used as a wallpaper. He said it with such enthusiasm, I forgot that I failed to answer a seemingly simple question earlier that day (By using only your eyes and not your camera, what is the Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed of the table stand we are using? Take into account that we are indoors.). That brought a huge smile in my face. He liked my approach, he liked the composition and somehow I found the symmetry he was talking about. I was able to invoke emotions with subjects like air-conditioning vents and metal locks. The geometric shapes and unusual perspective jumped off the picture with a universal approach. I never knew photography has math in it… I sort of just resolved myself that it consumes only art.

You might be looking for the top five photographs; well you won’t see it … yet. I made a decision to hold it for the meantime. I am documenting everything and I’ll publish all pictures taken from my class in two months time. Right now my big assignment is to familiarize myself on all blows and whistles my camera can offer. I also have to learn how to appropriately and manually set it under time pressure (15 seconds). I am now going to forget that it has Auto Photo Shoot for twilight, aperture priority, portrait, landscape, high-speed shutter and more.

After I’ve completely mastered my manual settings, my next lessons will be Portrait Photography, followed by Still-Life and Landscape. I’ll give myself ample time to practice these subjects before I move to Natural Photo Editing and Web Publishing. That seems to be the usual progression of things, even if each only sturnly needs a basic digital photography lesson.

Suddenly I am learning so much. And slowly, like a phoenix being born again, my digital camera is beginning to cease as a digital compact camera – because it’s not. Soon I will not smell my fear when I present pictures to anyone, because even as a hobbyist, I now have the chutzpah backed with lessons.





Knowing

26 03 2009

Knowing-poster After watching a seemingly normal unceremonious applaud to the “past looking into the future”, an MIT astrophysicist professor get’s a hold of a note from a girl in 1959. It clearly indicates all catastrophic events that will shake the world fifty years into her future. What catches the Professor’s attention is the accuracy of the numbers and that it plotted precise predictions … save three that are about to happen.

I genuinely love the movie. Having been raised in a culture and religion that defines the human limitations when it comes to pre-destined events, I pretty much buy the concept of how we’ll close the chapter of human civilization. I am aware and fully believe – although I hope never to see it come to fruition – that in the future, the Heaven’s will rain fire and extinguish all that is living and few will be chosen to survive. It may just be a bunch of mumbo jumbo mystic gibberish talk to most, but I call it something else. Back in Junior High, I was able to read the Book of Revelations. It was harrowing and vivid; I have never read any book that is comparable to how horror-struck I was after putting it down.

KnowingKnowing uses this idea as a tacit jumpoff point. It takes us to the final days of the human race leading to a cataclysmic event that will shake the earth one mile deep and leave nothing alive. The huge set pieces (aviation crash, train wreck and Caleb’s vision of the forest burning to cinder) weaves a provoking image of fear and hopelessness. Well placed and accentuated, it continually reminds the characters and the audience of the ticking time bomb that one needs to avert because death proves to be unjust and merciless. The ratio of fear was enough to engulf you for the rest of the movie and I was also amazed on how it awakens fear of crowds, enclosed places and fire. It reminded me why I don’t like flying and subways. The narrative perspective fluidly takes us to the impending peril with surreal contrast.

What boosted the movie was its musical score. From beginning to end, it built the situation and carefully guides you to the right emotion the director is trying to suggest. There is a realized possibility that the well positioned score became a continuity bridge for most of the scenes. It is both brazen and sinuous.

knowingAlthough the lead character can be played by anyone (if I was the casting director, I’d put Sean Penn in there – imagine him uttering lines like “The next number on the chain predicts that tomorrow, somewhere on the planet, 81 people are going to die.” Or maybe Gerard Butler), it was rendered well by Cage. The thoughts that seem to be a crazy far fetch rant by a seemingly crazy girl from the past, is sifted well by his character making it a rational consideration. In turn it establishes the idea the film is trying to sell. Caleb, who is played by Chandler Canterbury (first seen in I am Legend), executes his purpose well. His smart aleck streak and his silent-morose character stretch from support to lead.

The cinematography did not fail either. The setting was chosen well and the depiction of how beautiful the world is; knit gracefully via the opening aerial shot and strewn shots of Massachusetts foliage. The mood is aligned to noir that it produces the feeling of longing and failure – which if we look closely, is exactly what our protagonist is all about. As the movie moves along, the colour of scenery and location synchronize the imminent tragedy. Director Alex Proyas, have created something special, something noteworthy especially to those who believe in life apart from what we know.

Knowing‘s finale was disturbing, daring and divine.

Ratings: star1star1star1star1star_23





The Graveyard Book

19 03 2009

 I stood in an empty aisle staring at a shelf stacked with books. I am again waiting for one to call onto me. I need a good book, something that will take me far and something that is written by someone familiar. I needed something that isn’t a chore, nothing too weighty yet still earnest. I paced a little farther, wondering what I might be keen for. And there it was, not on a shelf but on a table, a paperback with someone recognizable as an author.

It called onto me long before reading the spine. And after realizing the title and author, I paid for it with the understanding that this book is meant for children. But I’m a Gaiman fangirl, so whatever genre it serves I welcome it with childlike enthusiasm.

Someone killed the young Dorian’s family and he should have been included as well. But the night he’s supposed to join his family in the afterlife, he decided to take a stroll. Our story opens with a murder and a one-liner that sells the idea to the curious (“There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife). The Graveyard Book aptly starts where the dead rests and where the living’s all too known fear collide – at a cemetery.

Jack’s orders were to kill the family of four. But with some twist of fate, he only ended with three. The young child who wandered in the graveyard had been entrusted to its inhabitants before his mother followed the light and journeyed where his son cannot follow. It is then decided that the child will be named Nobody Owens. Nobody because no one knows who he really is and Owens because the Owenses of the 18th century, who never had a child, came to a decision to keep him. Acting as his corporeal guardian is Silas; given that he is the only undead but not alive, he can leave the graveyard at his will. He appointed himself responsible for bringing the child food.

As Nobody, or Bod, grows up, he learns that he can’t leave his home because it’s much too dangerous for him. Although he is not the same as everybody else, he realizes that he is very much loved and protected. His parent’s strict rule of not leaving the graveyard does not make him a bitter child. Instead, he redirects his days with bemused inquisitiveness, scouring every plot, nooks and crannies, and souls that inhabits the graveyard. He picks up lessons from the dead (The Fade, Dreamwalking and The Fear) and although it proves challenging, he insists his time over unusual education. But something beyond the gates of the graveyard caught his attention, a young girl by the name of Scarlett.

 While the world he lives in is unknown to the little girl, Bod allows her to see the life that is so different from others. He starts to share and learns the value of friendship. From here, we see Bod’s distinct personality as opposed to his quality as a child surrounded by the dead. With a tangible playmate that is as vulnerable as he is, he explores the world akin to a child’s eye. However, the story with Scarlett will be cut short because of decisions made by her parents. With deep sadness, Bod will bid farewell to his first and perhaps only human friend.

It seems that the story about a boy with a murdered family raised by ghosts is a perfect ingredient for the macabre, yet Gaiman painted it skilfully. The story highlights human triumph about the fact that one can live outside the normal confines and rules of society. The book is episodic and sometimes disconnected to the previous events yet we see the progress of Bod as a child to young adult. Committing many mistakes all too familiar to kids, we understand and empathize with his heartaches and confusions. Bod effortlessly reveals the true source of his actions.

Surprisingly enough, our young protagonist mirrors our own childhood. We remember how it is to say goodbye to your first best friend, to argue with your parents, the need to run away, the feeling of not being understood or trusted, and the first ache of a broken heart. We are also reminded how intrepid and un-episodic our young life has been.

The Graveyard Book will be fondly turned from page to page as it is aided by Dave McKean. His illustrations links the visions just as the author thought it to be. Although the setting is placed on the dark confines of the dead’s resting place, the drawings shimmer with intention to catch the fancy and interest of every reader. It is imaginative and shifts the book’s tone fluidly.

Gaiman never fails. He has an outrageous imagination well weaved to dizzying coherence that it comes off as every Gaiman masterpiece is – bedazzling. It is rich with sensibility and excitement that evokes a journey in one’s head as you read along. Somehow, Gaiman has never left the receptivity of young children and the things that astound and catch our attention. His astute writings about growing up and freedom is honest, heart-warming, and although set in the graveyard, undaunted.

Notes:

The Graveyard Book

Written by Neil Gaiman

Published by Harper Collins





Race To Witch Mountain

17 03 2009

race to witch mountain

The Race to Witch Mountain is a very sorry excuse for a Disney movie.

We find Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson driving a cab living a dead end life after leaving the slammer. One fateful day after being harassed by thugs he use to work with, two kids (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) ride his cab and pay him loads of money to drive in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, it feels like Transporter only we have a Samoan, ex-wrestler on the wheels. For our ticking clock, we have on their heels assassins and FBIs wanting to put a stop to a mission that may or may not result to total annihilation.

It is flawed as flawed can be. The Race To Witch Mountain is a cliché-ridden movie, with elements that even kids will scratch their heads over trying to make sense of things. For a moment I felt like I’m watching an afternoon sci-fi television show stuck in the twilight zone. It is both punctured with awful special effects and bad directions, that it tethered to a complete waste. It is also extremely under written that turning points are nothing but a blur of inconsistent plots. rtwmAs the character, Jack Bruno, drive the alien kids Sara and Seth, we learn that they have superpowers that makes the purpose of the driver vague. The build up of characters and scenes was bland that the whole composition turned incompetent. The perfunctory let’s save the world and good guys always win theme in Hollywood is excruciatingly abused and this one took home the bacon.

It filters down to a worthless rental, so going to the theatres is a complete and utter misuse of everyone’s time. If you want to enjoy a few hours with your kids you can perhaps just read to them instead.

Somehow it makes me think, Disney is nothing without Pixar.  

 Ratings:    star_halfstar_22star_22star_22star_22





A Melancholic

15 03 2009

By the time you read this, I’ll be up the mountains.

I had to let go one of my subordinates last Monday. And I’d be lying if I told you that I was not affected.

It’s so bad when someone works their darndest best but still fails to meet the expected performance. I saw him day in day out, stretching himself to the limit and gunning for success. It was rather pitiful to some extent to watch. At times I would trust him with little things at work just to boost his self confidence. The industry I am at is unbelievably taxing and I have to be the bringer of bad news. He is two decades older than me and he has a family to support and there I was … a kid in the corporate world telling him that as much as I’d like to keep him, I can’t.

It was awful. But none of that really matters much, I don’t have the courage to fight the system. Until I’m strong enough to turn my back, i’lll just roll with the punches.

Before the day ended, I asked my boss if I can get a vacation. It took some time before he gave me a yes. And to be honest, I would have gone anyway in case he disagreed. I grabbed some clothes with me and went up the mountains to watch the flowers bloom. I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy it but I’ll try.





Watchmen

12 03 2009

watchmenWatchmen creator Alan Moore’s 12-part comic series is about an altered America falling into dystopia. It also has a level of coolness still unknown to me … or maybe not – no thanks to director Zack Snyder.

It’s the 80’s and the world as we know it is in the brink of nuclear war. No one can fix it, not even the unrelenting re-elected Nixon. The masked heroes of the past have now suffered old age, psychological deficiencies, homosexuality, and personal issues. The golden age is over and now they are outlaws lost in translation. But when a prominent washed out hero dies under dubious circumstances, the fire is lit again for one comrade to set things straight. By now we realize that the world has fallen to a dismal deranged state.

The opening of the movie will introduce you to the Minutemen; a cohort of well meaning people with heightened abilities wanting to make the world a better place. There is a definite information overload that sums up the need to read the original graphic novels but we are tweaked with curiosity and delight over its aesthetically filled film-noir like shots, that we stay for nearly three hours. watchmen2As the story progress, we learn their back-story and the thin line that separates them from their celebrated past to their tattered present, as it is blurred to a heartbreaking reality

“What has happened to us? What has happened to the American dream?” The movie starts its long journey explaining the world with superheroes as a staple to a world ridden with thugs and economic turmoil.

Watchmen have been running in our local theatres for two weeks and having to wait for my schedule to clear was agony. I finally found time and reserved the matinee for Tuesday and wished for luck that it was worth moving my errands around it. And then I realized that my high hopes was holding on to thin candor. This movie is a riddled adaptation that insists to move on a glacial pace. The strategy became non-value to the already complex novel. So far, what they achieved is nothing but convoluted ideas that is both bogged and shaky. watchmen-preview

By saying that, I do not mean that this movie sucked, it may not be great, yet it delivered modest entertainment – and I don’t mean its hefty sexual illustrations, but of its imagery. Although I walked out of the theatre wondering what in the world did the movie accomplish, I was quite happy with how the colour (or the lack of it) and score mashed up.

I’m not going to over analyse the objectives and turning points of Watchmen but have it known that my silence only mean my unexpressed disappointment of its substantial loose ends.I just hope when directors and producers decide to make a movie out of graphic novels, they don’t feel the need to 300-ize it.

Ratings:starstarstar_2star_2star_2