Saturday, 29 January 2011

Cartoons...who are they for really?

We went to see Tangled, yet another cartoon...seems that I've been seeing a lot of cartoons lately! :) It's in 3D and I must say it's way better than Gulliver's Travels... S said it's because it's an animation so it's a lot easier to make all those effects. Perhaps...

Sometimes I have the feeling that cartoons aren't for children. I'm not talking about those in cartoon / graphic novel form but deal with serious issues like political persecution etc. I'm talking about Disney stuff! Sometimes I think the message behind, or certain messages that are hidden in the cartoons aren't really for innocent children - they're so thought-provoking that I found them a bit deep. (Hmmm. Perhaps because I sometimes think like a child / don't think at all.)

Anyway, in Tangled there's this overbearing 'mother' figure (in quotation marks because she's not the mother) who always says (sings) she knows what's best for Rapunzel. There's this recent book by a certain American Chinese mother Amy Chua that's caused a lot of controversy, and it's about her 'very Chinese' way of childrearing. S said he totally detests this kind of mother, who thinks she knows what's best for her children and doesn't let her children choose their path. He actually compared this mother to the one in Tangled - he said they're no different, or they have some kind of secret agenda themselves - in Tangled, the mother wants all of Rapunzel's hair to herself so she can stay young forever, and in the case of Chua, perhaps - I'm not sure, so this is just a guess - she thinks her children will thank her in the end for all her strictness. I'm a bit divided about this - I'm not a sufferer of the so-called atypical Chinese mother (I actually don't think Chinese mothers are like that), but that may also explain why I'm not successful. *smiles* But I can't see myself being like Chua one day - I may be strict (at some point), or may think  I know better (at some point), but I don't think I'll have the persistence and endurance required to do all that she does. Just thinking about it makes me dizzy... having children is a headache, really. :)

Barney's Version

I almost missed this film - last time S picked this over another one, and I'm glad we haven't missed it!

Barney, a below-average looking man who's been married 3 times, who falls in love with his third wife at his wedding to his second wife - what would you think of him? But he's just so lovable in the film and you feel for him, even when he makes the deadliest of mistakes. It's also important to note that, despite his 3 marriages, he's only really fallen in love once - with his third wife. Despite his weirdness and his infidelity (due to loneliness and being upset because his wife has left him for a few days and is going to see a possible 'rival'), you feel really sorry for him, especially towards the end. I like in particular his conviction that he will grow old and die with Miriam, his real love; he even buys a cemetery plot for himself and Miriam, and that happens when she's away for the few days and he misses her. At the end of the film we see that he is really buried there, with Miriam's name engraved next to his. 

The father-son relationship portrayed is really touching too. Barney's dad, played by Dustin Hoffman, is at times embarrassing, and like father like son, Barney's inherited that trait from him. They're really close, and that is really heart-warming. The father never questions the son's decisions, though he knows it when something is not working out, and they're more like best friends than anything! So nice.

Rosamund Pike who plays Miriam (Barney's third wife) is very pretty, though her character is not particularly likeable. She's too serious, too 'normal' - the only time she's not normal is when she accepts Barney, and that moment's a bit awkward actually. But you can so see why Barney falls for her and remains in love with her throughout. She just has that mesmerising vibe! Gorgeous both young and aged. :) S thinks the young Miriam looks a bit too old, but I like her kind of classy beauty, and like what Rosamund Pike says in an interview, if you're pretty, when you age the wrinkles fall in the right places. Nice way of putting it, and very true!

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Dilemma

We went to see this - from my choice of films I think it does tell how I like shallow, 'easy' films these days. :) Nothing much to say about this, apart from this: your clock does tick and there's no way of turning it back. I'm saying this after seeing Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly, the two lead actresses in the film. They're pretty, sure, but they look soooo old in the film. Ryder in particular - her makeup makes her so old, her face is unnecessarily white, and she's just too thin. You know what, thin does make you look old. Really.

I just googled the two actresses - oh okay, they're both 40! So they don't really look too old for their age then... but I think they can look better if they put on a few pounds. :)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Green Tea (綠茶)

I was drawn to this film because of the screenwriter, who also wrote the short story with the same title (but curiously in the film it says it's based on another story written by her). I read bits of the story, then watched the film, and because I couldn't understand some of the dialogue (there are no subtitles and my Putonghua's not good enough...), I went back to the story again. I didn't read till the end though, but I watched the whole film, and what should I say, it's very mesmerising...and puzzling. I couldn't understand what's going on at all, so I had to go back to the story, and surprisingly the ending's actually different. I had no way out but to google it - some critics did criticise the film's ending as well, as it hasn't explained things clearly, but after reading a few reviews now I kind of understand it - so it's about this schizophrenic person. Hmmmm. Maybe I shouldn't have said it. :) Spoiler!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


I was doing the mindless work of scanning when I found that most of the books on my shelf are 'started but unfinished'. It seems that I haven't read properly for some time now, for leisure, and I haven't been able to finish a book for quite a period of time. Here are some of the titles I started and haven't finished:

This is, in fact, a very interesting book and an enjoyable read. I think I started reading it in was by my bed, but somehow I just couldn't finish. I found myself agreeing to what the author says, that people in this country are being increasingly rude - totally, that's how I feel most of the time! I think I'll find time to finish it some day...

Started this around the same time, and only read a bit - perhaps a couple of chapters. It's about a failing marriage, and though Nick Hornby's good, it wasn't interesting enough to have me hooked.

I'm starting to feel that it's really my problem, as most of these books are quite good. Air Babylon - popular stuff, and quite interesting actually, and I started reading this when I was still at home. Don't know why I can't finish...

The author caught my eye when I was doing research on the proposal a year ago. This book doesn't fit, but when I saw it here I immediately bought it. Read a few chapters, typical contemporary Chinese novel style, not particularly interesting though...

This author didn't interest me but I found myself getting this book last time I was on amazon. It's just incredibly easy to get stuff there - everything's just a click away! Read a few chapters, a bit cliched, about two friends who have bipolar personalities. Doesn't seem interesting, and doesn't seem to be worth the time to finish. :(

And then there are a number of titles that I bought these few months and haven't even started reading...

One Day by David Nicholls - bestseller stuff, but I heard it's really good. Looking forward to it, but I need to find time.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee - set in Hong Kong, which is the reason I bought it. Ha.

Hotel Babylon - Air Babylon was okay and I thought this might be more interesting. Still haven't got the time for it though.

Semi-detached by Griff Rhys Jones - autobiographic writing, supposedly humorous

The life of hunger by Amelie Nothomb - about a girl's battle against anorexia I think?

Autofiction by Hitomi Kanehara - hopefully I can start reading it this month.

Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier - the kind of stuff I like (e.g. Great Gatsby, Brideshead revisited), but prolly need more time

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Next Three Days

When I was looking for the poster I typed in 'The Last Three Days' and couldn't find anything...haha. Apparently it's not about the LAST three days, as the ending is a happy one! This is, like Unstoppable, not my usual type of film, but S chose this over Barney's Version, and I kind of expected his choice...hahaha. At first I wanted to see Barney's Version, but I read a really bad review about it, so wasn't too sure, and we opted for this one eventually. Turned out it's very gripping, which is expected, and touching too. I think it's a good film overall coz it kept me thinking and I couldn't help talking about bits after the film when we were eating, parts which I couldn't quite figure out... :P

There were parts which were quite puzzling, for example, the police sees a picture of a Haitian monument in his rubbish and thinks he's going to Haiti, but turns out of course he's going to Venezuela. But why does he have a picture of that monument there? Supposedly he knows they shouldn't go to places with tourists, as he's tipped off by an ex-prison breaker. Also, they have supposedly gone to Canada to board a plane for Venezuela, but I think Pittsburgh and Canada are quite far away...? S said, this kind of film is not supposed to be flawless and logical...but it's a good film nonetheless. Apart from being very gripping like I said, it's also touching. Russell Crowe's character's never ever questioned his wife's innocence, when every evidence shouts that she's guilty. He doesn't even ask her once if she has done it, and transforms himself into a totally and dramatically different human being, forsaking his everything, just to get her out of prison. I was particularly touched by the scenes in which he tells his wife behind bars that he does not believe that she's capable of it, and what she's experiencing will not be her life. And he keeps his words. Another scene I find particularly touching is when the normally indifferent father of Crowe's character (who has been observing his son quietly) finds out about his son's plan, he embraces his son in their last encounter and tells him to take care. 

Last word: Russell Crowe's very good in this film I think!!!
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