The walk

There he stands,

Dull shadows engulfing him in their grasp,

Carving out his shape and lines,

Forming a sort of mangled triangle with the dry ground.

The clouds are late,

But enough to cast eclipse over him.

With every step follows the dread in the knowledge of the next one.

With every breath lies an urge to stop all universe.

But he cannot,

So he stops.

And sits.

Posted in Poetry, Short story, Writing | Leave a comment

The Prison

He stared, and stared…and stared some more. Wishing, at the same time, that somehow, by a stroke of luck or otherwise miracle, it would all change. That it had been some kind of dream or illusion, and he would wake up and everything would be gone. Was that possible? He knew perfectly well that even if it had been a dream, the flow of matters would eventually lead him to the same position, and he would be here, staring, and staring…

The sands stopped in mid-air, and like a feather in slow motion, drifted to the bottom, waiting for the others to follow. And wait it did. And so did he. They were playing tricks on him, he was sure of it. The sand, the glass, the walls, the floors…they were all in on it. But he wasn’t about to give in so easily. But he could not stand it. But he had to.

So he didn’t stand it. There was no point, really. This was what they wanted, and he’ll give it to them. There was a certain something that he held onto, always, as a note of confidence to himself. There was no use in keeping it anymore, so he let it go. So he screamed. He screamed, and screamed. Then he stopped. And he stared. And stare was all he did. It was all he could do.

Posted in Short story, Writing | Leave a comment

The loner-in-a-strange-situation film

There is a certain type of movie, typically made by Hollywood, about a lone man, living a mundane life. He would be either the bastard sort, loser sort or simply an ‘everyday-guy’ variety. One day, his life would change, when a strange, inexplainable occurrence enters his life and takes it over. He would at first attempt to find any possible explanations for his situation, and when he realises that his actions are futile, he lives with it – and through it all, in the end, he learns a moral lesson, changes his ways, and wins the love of his life.

These films don’t come often, but when they do, they almost always feature a comedian as the lead, and it would be the actors’ venture into ‘serious’ filmmaking. When done right, these kind of films can be extremely inspiring, entertaining and creative. When they are not, they can be a pain to sit through, as you think to yourself all the potential that is left to waste.

What runs these films and makes them work are their ideas. The whole movie is just one idea, and everything runs circles around it. So, the idea has to be great, and the circles have to be intricate. Meaning the idea must be explored to its fullest extent, often taking risks and challenging the audience. There is a thin line between a great idea and a gimmick, and an even thinner one between the former and a far-fetched joke. The movie must know where it lies.

There have been a few films that fall in this category which were brilliantly executed:

Groundhog Day (1993) – A man wakes up one day to find that he is living the same day, over and over again.

The Truman Show (1998) – An innocent guy, living in a peaceful, quiet town, realises one day that the world he is inhabiting, and all people in it, are a part of a television show, and he has unknowingly been the star of this show for the past 30 years.

Stranger than Fiction (2006) – A boring man obsessed with numbers hears a voice one day. It is narrating his life, as if someone were writing a story about him. Eventually, it hints at his death, which is about to happen.

Pleasantville (1998) – Two teenagers are somehow transported to a 50’s television sitcom.

Adaptation (2002) – A writer, suffering from writer’s block, writes himself into his story, becoming stuck between reality and his own book.

There is something common among these films, and that is how the one great idea that drives the story is explored completely and in most ways imaginable. The film does not take the audience as idiots, leaving many possibilities for you to consider, while bravely tackling ones that you might not. They are what creativity is about.

However, there are a few that fail.

Click (2006) – A guy finds a remote control that can control time.

Bruce Almighty (2003) – A news anchor receives God’s powers, and uses them for his mischievous deeds.

These are cheesy, uninspired, unbelievable, manipulative and very, very calculated formulas aimed to tug at your heartstrings. Both of their premises were ridiculous from the very beginning and the way they were handled just made it that much more apparent. Bruce Almighty was silly but at least Steve Carell’s scenes were funny. Click was just laughably bad.

Posted in Film, Reviews | Leave a comment

Movies update 7/07

I’ve been seeing a ridiculously little amount of movies this year. In fact, I’ve only seen nine.

Babel – A powerful, optimistic epic about relationships. See here.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – Funny at times, I didn’t find it offensive, maybe because I’m not from Kazakhstan.

The Queen – An interesting look into the Royal family. The character itself is a little beautified and I have my doubts about the accuracy of the portrayal, but all in all quite an entertaining approach, although a little slow in places.

Arthur and the Minimoys – A star-studded cast can’t save a poorly-written script. It’s been a while since I’ve cringed at dialogue. I blame it on the director, Luc Besson, who is French and therefore does not have the grasp of the English language required to recognize the bad lines. But they are bad.

World Animation – Kind of like a ritual, I see this collection of short animated films every year. This year’s batch was disappointing, however, and I can’t remember very much from any of the shorts.

Pan’s Labyrinth – A film that was widely praised, but does not live up to its expectation. It does not achieve what it set out to do. The contrasting of reality and fantasy was forced and I thought even embarrassing, and most of it unbalanced by focusing too much on the former. The look of the film is marvelous, but there was something about it that made me not really want to look at it for too long. Perhaps it was the colours, or the tone, or simply the feeling of dread that encompassed the film. A mediocre film that fails to make its point although the point was quite a straightforward one.

Mr Bean’s Holiday – Why is Mr Bean never the same in movies? In the last movie, he gave a long speech about a painting, which is weird because Mr Bean doesn’t talk (much). The new movie is better but why don’t they understand that Mr Bean isn’t about the plot? Mr Bean IS the plot. Put him in a room with a few civilised people and let Mr Bean do his stuff. Perhaps they wanted to do something different to the TV series and place him in bigger situations, but when you do that it is difficult for Mr Bean to be Mr Bean without making all the other people dimwits too. Which is what happens here, but it still makes for some scenes of good entertainment and comedy.

Spider-man 3 – I won’t repeat what I said, basically, it pretty much sucked. See here.

Tekkonkinkreet – Just saw this today, and was blown away. Will write more on it later.

Posted in Film, Reviews | 1 Comment

The Illusion

I am carried
Far and wide,
By all but an illusion
That is bestowed upon me.

The choices or paths
Are not mine to make or walk,
For each day that passes
Takes me somewhere new.

“Where might you finish?”
It asks of me,
Yet never has a question
Drowned me in its mist.

Posted in Poetry, Writing | Leave a comment

The Window

His eyes were full of serenity, the kind that comes from years of sadness, past the stage of wisdom. His face was lined with wrinkles of age, his breath short and patient, but without a sign of melancholy. No, he was not one to give in to his experiences. Time could only cause so much damage to a man; the rest is up to his own tolerance.

He raised his hand, reached forward, and pushed. The rusty window opened slowly, like a door that hadn’t been unlocked for a decade. Outside was the familiar scene of trees and birds, and the tattered building across the street. This time, he could actually smell the scent of lilies growing in the garden and feel the rural air against his pale skin. It was something he hadn’t realised he had missed.

A girl of around 10 walked past with her dog. As she passed the window, she glanced at the old face inside and smiled. He watched her, innocent and gleeful, and in his eyes she was prancing around. It was a blissful dance imprinted in his memory, together with her smile, her voice and her angelic eyes. Those eyes, they used to look up at him with a certain type of honesty that he would give everything to keep. When those eyes cried, he would feel a sense of pain so intense and at the same time so gentle, that he would be torn apart. The purity of it all, and the simplicity, had him convinced that he would have given anything for her.

As the girl disappeared from sight, he realised that she was not the girl in his memory. The eyes he once adored so much had long vanished, becoming something he had no memory of. What had taken her away from him was not only his own son, but the very lines on his face and hands. The very hands that had raised them for many years, the very face that smiled whenever he saw them. Now, he could raise no more than his eating spoon, and his smile disappeared in the curls of wrinkles whenever he tried to.

Leaving the window opened, he slowly guided his wheelchair next to his bed. He sat there for a while, listening to the sounds outside and feeling the autumn wind in his hair.

Posted in Short story, Writing | 1 Comment

The problem with Spider-man

So apparently the third movie is the last of the trilogy, at least with this cast. It’s grand, emotional, spectacular, and very, very big. It’s too much.

You could say the same about the whole trilogy, in fact. In trying to make the film accessible to all, it touches on every known topic in movies – personal struggle, love, friendship, family, society…some with more emphasis than others. It’s quite a vision and achievement, but unfortunately, it tried too hard.

1. MJ alert

My main complaint with the Spider-man films is: There is too much focus on the relationship between Peter and MJ. Firstly, it’s not interesting. MJ is not a real person, but a very vaguely-interpreted character. She is boring. Her problems are boring. It’s not real, not for one second. And if one of the people involved is so uninteresting, so is the relationship. Yet there is so much screen-time devoted to this terrible “story” that it makes the film almost unbearable. Which brings me to the second point about this relationship: It is cheesy. The dialogue is quite possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, read, felt or imagined in the most abstract manner. I remember watching the scene where Peter and MJ are in the hospital in the first film and feeling embarrassed…I don’t know why but I felt sorry for someone, maybe it was the people who wrote the lines, or the actors for having to say it, but I think mainly for myself because I actually had to sit through it. Mind you, I had been anticipating the movie for so long that I was subconsciously trying in every way possible to like it, but that scene really got me. I couldn’t take anything seriously after that. The second film was better, because maybe they took someone’s advice and didn’t dwell on MJ, but in the third film they went right back there again. Fortunately this time round I had expected it, and was able to block out most of the experience whenever MJ was on screen.

2. “I’m dating your daughter”

Lame and unbelievable unfolding of events. I know it’s probably not sensible to expect “believable” situations in a story about a guy dressed in tights swinging around the city fighting mad scientists with robot hands and bowl haircuts and weird-looking lunatics wearing power-ranger suits calling themselves Goblins when clearly they are rejects of the masked-rider lineup, but come on, the reactions from people have to at least be somewhat realistic. There is a scene in Spider-man 3 where Eddie looks in his binoculars and sees that Gwen is hanging on a roof top. Her father is also looking up at her. So, Eddie starts taking photos of her, as any loving boyfriend would do when their girlfriend is hanging onto dear life. Her father asks Eddie who he is. He answers, “I work for the Daily Bugle. Oh, and I’m dating your daughter.” What a witty guy. So while these two get to know each other and bond, Gwen is falling fifteen stories to her death. It all makes so much sense.

The unfolding of events is very original also. Consider the scene where Harry has just refused to help Peter fight Venom and Sandman. While he’s looking all torn and angry, his butler comes in and tells him that his father had killed himself, and Peter had nothing to do with it. Thanks, Hal! (his name’s probably not Hal, but let’s say it is) Wow, at the nick of time too! So now I can put my vengeance aside and be friends with Peter again. How convenient! But Hal, where were you the past year? I guess you wanted to wait for the right time to tell it, and what better time than toward the end of the last movie, just before the big fight? You must’ve been at the edge of your seat with anticipation Hal.

3. EMO

I think they forgot that Spider-man, unlike Batman, is supposed to be a funny guy. He’s supposed to crack witty jokes when he fights. Here, he’s become this annoying emo kid. Angry, depressed, arrogant, feeling sorry for himself. And what’s with the crying? It’s like tears are the solution to everything. When in loss for words, cry. Maybe they’re trying to make him into a more realistic person, but they also forgot to make him likeable. One of the biggest mistakes is trying to blur the lines between Peter and Spider-man. One of the interesting points about the original story is that Peter is another person almost completely when he is Spider-man. Here, he’s the same person. Which is not cool because Peter, as nice as he may be, is not cool. He’s a nerd. Spider-man is witty, heroic, and awesome. Having Spider-man take his mask off or have it ripped off to try and remind us who is underneath is a clever move for their intentions, but it’s also a very, very big mistake.

4. Too much bad

This is specifically for the third movie: villain overload. Having 3 bad guys in one movie is 2 villains too many. Venom is tragically wasted.

Well, that’s pretty much all I have to say. On the positive side, the films look extremely good. They have captured the look and feel of Spider-man, there’s no doubt about that. But the soul got lost somewhere, and that’s a shame.

Posted in Film, Reviews | Leave a comment