Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fritz Lang's "M" (1931)

First of all, let me get this out of the way: Peter Lorre, my oh my what big eyes you have! To better find poor little kids and lure them into your big candy-filled trap perhaps! 

Directed by:  Fritz Lang
Written by:  Fritz Lang & his wife Thea von Harbou
Based on:  a newspaper article by Egon Jacobson
Starring:  Peter Lorre
Music by:  Edvard Grieg
Cinematography by:  Fritz Arno Wagner
Editing by:  Paul Faulkenberg
Running time:  109 mins
Big, frog-like eyes accentuating that baby face with an unassuming facade - that's what makes Hans Beckert, played by "the male Bette Davis" Peter Lorre, one of the most unforgettable villains in any film I've seen. With a touch of innocence and malice, Lorre handles this character so well that even I was confused when it's time to "judge" him. Not too confused though that I forget the unspeakable horror this guy has brought upon this town. This is what makes him more scary. Sure, Leatherface might make you crap your pants when you find yourself face to face with him wielding a chainsaw in some woods, but men like Norman Bates or Hannibal Lecter makes your skin crawl with dread knowing that their kind is freely roaming our streets, all charming and innocent-looking, while in their minds their all thinking of ways on how to skin us alive. That's the horror that we face everyday. That's Beckert - the wolf under the sheep's clothing. The devil hiding under the mask of an angel. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Imperial Bedrooms

Written by:  Bret Easton Ellis
Preceded by:  
Less Than Zero
# of pages:  169
Country:  U.S.
Year published:  2010
Here I am, after a less than thrilling experience with Less Than Zero, re-entering the dirty - no, make that filthy - mind of Clay, now older but definitely not wiser. If you haven't read LTZ or this book yet, let me tell you this, Ellis' characters are a bunch of unlikeable, unrelatable self-absorbed pricks. Reading Imperial Bedrooms, somehow was easier for me maybe because it was plot-driven or that Clay was much more focused (with himself though) or maybe because I already have a background with the story. It also helps that I've seen the movie version of LTZ and I already have a face for Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) and Blair (Jami Gertz), though for some weird reason instead of seeing Andrew McCarthy in my mind as Clay - Emilio Estevez keeps popping up.

At first glance, I thought Clay has matured. I thought the rest of the characters have grown up. Boy was I wrong! I think they're worse than when they were kids! What shallow, pathetic, empty lives they live. What's more pitiful is the fact that I have willingly let myself get sucked into this scary world AGAIN! 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Grandmaster (2013)

In a nutshell:  We get to see another film based from the life story of grandmaster Ip Man (or better known as the teacher of Bruce Lee) and yet more than 50% of the film is NOT about Ip Man. It's about Gong Er and her family legacy. lol.

Directed by:  Wong Kar-wai
Story by:  Wong Kar-wai
Starring:  Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi
Music by:  Shigeru Umebayashi, Stefano Lentini
Cinematography by:  Philippe Le Sourd (Seven Pounds)
Editing by:  William Chang
Running Time:  130 mins (Chinese Cut)

This is the first Wong Kar-wai film I have watched and I was excited. So I clicked the remote and hit PLAY with high expectations. The first scene (and Razor's, somewhere in the latter half of the film) I thought was very reminiscent of the Matrix trilogy - I even half-expected Agent Smith (or Agent Chang, whatever lol)  to appear out of nowhere to kick Asian Neo in a fedora in the butt. Of course, I discover soon that Yuen Woo-ping is the action choreographer for both The Grandmaster & The Matrix.

Onto the review. I'm all for non-linear films, I've seen big head scratchers like that, but this one just takes the cake with all the icing & the big fat cherry on top for being the most unnecessarily disjointed narrative I've seen so far! And it didn't even need to be that back & forth, up & down, round & round complicated with the flashbacks, timeline and all. It's not confusing if you pay attention, but it does take you out of your comfort zone once in a while when you try to follow with the timeline. But yeah, The Grandmaster is a beautiful film, no doubt about that. I was stunned by how visually and even thematically appealing it is to me. I love how Kar-wai has given depth to his characters. Though I think he overindulges himself sometimes.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Wide Sargasso Sea (A Prequel Of Some Sort to Jane Eyre)

In a nutshell:  Welcome to the world of Antoinette Cosway, or better known as "the madwoman in the attic" we read about in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.  Witness her steady & inevitable (?) descent to madness she probably inherited from her mother... Or was she driven out of her mind by the young Mr. Rochester?

Written by:  Jean Rhys
Genre:  Postmodern Novel
# of pages: 190
Country:  U.K.
Year Published:  1966
So why should you read this? If you're like me, you're probably suspicious of any books (pseudo-prequels or sequels) trying to ride on the popularity of classic novels and inevitably disappointing us. That's why I usually steer clear from these kinds of books, unless it's written by the same author. Wide Sargasso Sea delivers more than I expected. It was actually good. Sometimes, I even forget that it was written by a different author, because the characters & their back stories were convincing. Granted that it could be unnecessary to some, but for me, it's good to read something that re-writes a well-loved classic, and boldly may I add. This is not just a prequel. It's something that gives substance to a minor and probably overlooked character in Jane Eyre. And as much as I loved Bronte's novel, wherein the madwoman was written basically as a crazy ass biatch that stands in between Mr. Rochester & plain old Jane, I was pretty much surprised to read a different side - a fleshed out character - of this wild-haired "ghost" of Thornfield Hall, and a young Mr. Rochester who is painted more of an antagonist - infinitely less romantic & altruistic than Bronte's brooding male protagonist. And I enjoyed it. I didn't like the older Mr. Rochester anyway. So while I was reading this book, every once in a while, I was like HAH! Yeah I knew you're a real dick Rochie!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My First Liebster Award Nomination

The Liebster Award:

1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
2. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
5. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
6. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
7. No tag backs.

Thank you Skye (Rambling Imp) for including me in your list of Liebster Award nominations. It's a great feeling knowing that even just one person out there reads my blog! And I don't even care if the Liebster Award doesn't have merit. LOL

11 Random Facts About Me:

1. I have 3 cats & 3 dogs
2. I love bananas with Nutella (or any hazelnut spread)
3. I like to sleep on a right side-lying position
4. My alarm clock is set 45 minutes earlier than I should be waking up, allowing me to hit the snooze button without fear of being late for work.
5. I've never been out of the country.
6. My dream is to travel basically to see various forms of architecture and culture. 
7. I dream of having my own bookshop some day.
8. I can watch slasher flicks (psychos torturing humans) without flinching, but just one scene where animals are hurt - I will cry like a wimpy man who got kicked in the groin. Yes, even in cartoons. 
9. I'm Asian :)
10. I'm scared of the deep blue sea and the creatures in it. ONE WORD: THALASSOPHOBIA
11. I wanna be a vampire (eternal youth & immortality) so I could read all the books in the world and all that crap.

The Questions:

1.) What does your happy place look like?

Imagine yourself blindfolded as you walk inside a room - as you step inside, the smell of the room fills you with an intoxicating happiness that you can't explain. A blend of vanilla, earthy, old wood smell that makes you feel right at home. You recall something about lignin. You hear the quiet hum of the airconditioner... you feel the soft carpet caressing your feet... and though you can't see right now, you sense that sunlight fills this mysterious room. Blindfold is removed. Your eyes sparkle with delight as you see a vast room - huge!- filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves! Walls plastered with photos of authors, some black & white, some more modern... A plush sofa that beckons and a coffee table that is obviously meant for your feet. An antique writing table that has been passed down, one writer after the other until it came into your life, as if waiting for you to make that one book that will take the spot next to the classic novels that have changed your life. Imagine the library that Beast gave Beauty. That's my happy place :)


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