Dec 22, 2009

An Education

In life, when you try to take shortcuts it will likely not go well. That's what we learn from watching An Education. This is a story of a master manipulator. A story about being young and wanting to run off with more experience that your young soul can handle. It was painted with lovely music, smiles and giggles. It reminded me of being young and so full of naive love. There is also much betrayal and deceit in this film. Even better, it's filled with the intoxicating voices of Brenda Lee, Beth Rowley and Juliette Greco as the soundtrack. I would have to give my biggest musical mention to Duffy's Smoke Without Fire. It might be one of the best finales of a film I have ever heard.

Peter Sarsgaard has always been a favorite of mine. He is perfect playing the villain. If there were a villain that you feel bad for, it would be David, the character played by Peter Sarsgaard. Many people might think that David is a horrible person, deserveing to rot in his posh car or get arrested for his immoral dealings. I, on the other hand, have surrendered to David's flawless and charismatic manipulation skills and I am ready to defend him against anyone who thinks he should live in misery. You can hate him all you want but deep down you know he has gotten hold of your untouchable insides and can control you any way he pleases. I can't help but laugh at the admiration I came to have for David but that is the appeal of his character. He is really really really good at making the audience think that he is a good man who fell victim to some unlucky misfortunate events. 

You become entrapped in this fairy tail of a young girl played by Carey Mulligan who does a superb job playing Jenny. She teaches us that no matter how smart we think we are, we are never that smart. Jenny is a smart girl who have what appears to be a bright future ahead of her. Until she meets David, the man who promises everything she ever admired in the future. A future that's so far away but is very reachable because of David. He delivers on what he promises. He doesn't fool her into going in a dark dirty room and devour her innocence. At least not until he takes her to fabulous places- the most of fabulous places. Paris.

Jenny's parents demonstrate that the responsibility of raising a child and how incredibly difficult and burdensome it is. You realize that you can't blame them for letting this happen to their daughter. We are all inclinded to make mistakes in life. Even if that mistake is letting Jenny run around with a man more than twice her age while she is still in high-school.

Thanks to the great casting of Emma Thompson, Olivia Williams and Rosamund Pike the story is told with a sophisticated elegance. Along with Sally Hawkins who had a very short yet powerful scene. Can't help but think that Helen, played by Pike, may have been the only one that really understood the rules of engagement. Through out the film she is made fun of by people surrounding her due to her lack of smarts but when it comes down to it, she realizes who she is, who her company is and any consequences resulting from her actions, whether negative or positive. 

At times, An Education feels schizophrenic. So many different aspects of the characters are being buried then resurfaced then buried then resurfaced again. But this is what real people are like. We are continually fighting against our urges,what we think we should do, what we think other people should do and what we think what the right thing is. Go see it, it'll do you some good.

Oct 18, 2009


I believe that most of our lives go on unplanned. As much organizing and effort one puts into having a straight line from point A to point B, most of the time, line has lots of curves and waves. If you did have a straight line, then the points you can stop at between A and B are infinite. Or so my math teacher taught me.

For me, a very important stop happened when I needed an elective and the only class offered was a photography class. What on Earth am I going to learn at a photography class?! I learned things I wish to never forget. My professor once told me, when she was in France, she witnessed something that she did not expect. Artists there are treated like doctors and lawyers. With so much respect and admiration. I was reminded of that by director Nicolas Saada when he said something very similar. He said "by declaring yourself an artist you are removing yourself from the class system".

SPY(ies) (or Espion(s) in French market) tricks you into believing you are going to be watching an action flick. The kind of film with lots of gun shots, Bourne like fighting and blood gushing out of everywhere and everyone. It is certainly not that. It is something so much better.

Just like what I thought about my life, the characters of this film think that the distance from point A to B is limited to the stops they chose to make but realize that things almost always go unplanned.

I am still amazed at the speed my heart was pounding during a scene where Guillaume's character, Vincent, was engaged in nothing but a walk down a well lit and well populated London street. It was as if I was undergoing a magic trick. The tension Saada was able to create without falling into the trap of the "action/thriller" stereotype is a true mark of talented director. I look forward to seeing more of his work.

SPY(ies) essentially starts where every action film does but the more you dive into the story the further you are from where it began. In places here and there you can smell the intoxicating dark scent of film noir.

You are confronted and taken aback by the honesty of the reason Vincent's decisions are being made through out the film. They are not motivated by his greed, his loyalty to his country or even fear of his life's cessation. He does what he does for Claire. For the love he has for a woman. A part very well played by Geraldine Pailhas. I remember watching the first time they kiss and how effortless and cool (for a lack of a better word) the entire sequence looked. There was a type of passion I haven't witnessed before. If there was a comparison to be made it would be a graceful ballerina dancing on an extremely hot bed of coal.

There are "bad guys" in films, that you just hate. After all, they are going after the good guy that you are rooting for. There are ones you love to hate, almost admire secretly; think Hannibal Lecter. Malik, did not seem to fit either category. His honesty about the type of man he is prevents me from showing any hatred towards him. He tells you very soon after you meet him that he "does not know any nice people". He knows who he is and does not care how his actions will affect your opinions of him.

Spy(ies) is about the kind of romantic story that transforms your heart in to a Nascar racing track. The art direction does not disappoint at all either accompanied by a great score. The film ends with the kind of hopeful glimpse into the future that leads to believe that fairy tales do exist. See it, it will do you some good.

Oct 14, 2009

A Place of One's Own

I have two entries, one for Plastic City and another for Raging Sun, Raging Sky. I wrote them, read them and rewrote them again and still was not satisfied for what I have given birth to. Just like any sensible parent would do, I hid them away from the world so no one would be see them. I was not sure why I wasn't happy with the results...until tonight.

Passion did not ignite inside my soul for Plastic and Raging and I concluded that that is the reason that I did not want to celebrate and write about them like I did with Thirst.

Tonight was different. Like going on a first date and not being able to go to bed because of the adrenaline in your bloodstream. I have had the pleasure of witnessing A Place of One's Own. A film about the lives of people struggling to find a place that they can belong to. I believe that I could spend a great deal of time and space writing about each character and the corresponding part of my life to it. Growing up, as most people do, I was never able to look at my parents point of view. How they looked at the world differed greatly than the way I looked at it. One of the things that this film allowed me was to see my entire family's (as well as other people with me) interactions being played out in front of me and appreciate how everything turned out to be because of that difference of thought process.

There is the origami master living on a mountain, creating origami for people to take with to the after life. He is also preparing one to make for himself since he found out he may die soon. Along with him lives his wife, a cemetery keeper with the ability to talk to dead people. There is also the son who looks at the world in a very simple-minded manner; however, that does not prevent him for being caring and reponsible.

A rock star who is struggling to make a comeback return while struggling with the fact that his love interest/former band member is attracting more success than he is.

Two brothers who try to deal with their father's close proximity to death. Their coping mechanisms differ while maintaining the same amount of love and compassion towards their father.

The characters show the kind of genuine personalities often lacking in films. A lot of times actors will fall in the trap of just merely acting out the lines. As good as they may be, they are still just acting. The sincerity these characters displayed made me think that I'm listening to an old man's tale of his pasts and his wisdom.

All of that and add great cinematography and you have A Place of One's Own. I have always admired Asian Cinema when it comes to making visually stunning films. The way they play with colors and ability to transition smoothly from one scene to another always fascinated me. I'm not talking about some cliché adding of red colored walls to symbolize anger. It goes on much deeper and more complex level than that. On some level, this film examined the paradox of people living the majority of their lives preparing for their death.
Good film with the right amount of comic relief. Go see it, it'll do you some good.

Oct 10, 2009

Chicago International Film Fest.

Last night I wondered, decades from now, when I am gone, how will people think of films made during my time. Are people going to look at them the same way I looked at Citizen Kane; “a great movie for its time but it’s a good thing I only had to watch it once and it took me 3 days to watch it”? With a sense of appreciation for what it represented at the time but a sense of relief not to have to talk about what exactly it did represent?

Great cinematography seems to be the common thread, or I hope it is, of the films I have decided to see this year at the Chicago International Film Fest. After seeing Thirst I have come to the conclusion that great cinematography is what draws me more than anything to a certain picture…or one of the most important elements of why I appreciate a film. Because I know that if cinematography is all that mattered, I would have fallen in love with Citizen Kane. Yes, cinematography is important but so are other aspects. Think of it as the cliché example of body systems working together, if you are having a hard time grasping the idea. Better yet, the perfect proportions for ingredients yield the best long island iced tea. Those few drops of that special ingredient make it the last thing you would want to drink before your death bed.

It is no doubt that almost every film screening at the festival is extraordinary. What I am looking for is that extra special thing that will make it a little taller than the other guys standing in a crowded train.

Here are the names of the movies I am attending. I am not including any other information on them. I will try my best to review as I go and provide you my thoughts.I tried to skip any American films knowing that I will have the pleasure of seeing them in few months once they are out in theaters here. It is harder to get hold of a foreign picture.

  • Eastern Plays
  • Plastic City
  • Raging Sun, Raging Sun
  • Give Me Your Hand
  • A Place of One’s Own
  • Claustrophobia
  • Shorts: Escape/Rebellion
  • Spy(ies)
  • Shorts: Animation Nations
  • Air Doll
  • Will Not Stop There
  • Dear Doctor
  • Persecution

Aug 14, 2009

Thirst aka Bakjwi

They say that it is always better in horror movies to leave things to the imagination of the viewer- to hide certain details from the audience in order to tickle their sense of imagination, dip into their fears and let that give birth to their darkest thoughts.

That was not the case when I watched Bakjwi, under the American title Thirst. Now playing at select theaters near you. Seems like the film makers did not want to spare you any details. There WILL be blood in this film and you WILL try to look away.

I have always been a fan of Korean cinema. After all, it did give birth to what may be my favorite film, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Thirst, honorably followed that track of fantastic cinema.

I haven't seen many vampire movies but I can tell you than none of them would have a priest who happens to be a vampire who happens to be in love with a women who happens to be married. I could tell you more about what else other vampire movies lack in relation to Thirst but I would be giving out too many details and I would like not to deprive you of the pleasure of witnessing it first hand. It really does examine the rise and fall of what we call desire/lust/love and it's very comical outcomes. Oddly enough, reminds me of Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I have to say that my favorite actor would have to be Ok Vin Kim. Her portrayal of Tae-joo as, what seems to me, a childish/afraid/happy/adventurer/Sexy/lustful/beautiful/strong/weak/loved/loving woman is just spectacular!

Have I mentioned the great cinematography? At times it honestly felt like the two characters were completely alone in the room. Speed, angles and transition made for an utterly mesmerizing, visually enticing film. Go watch it on the big screen before it's late and you have to wait for DVD release.

Thank you to my younger-than-i-am-senpai for proof reading above. Go check him out, he's got the goods.

Jun 1, 2009

Nurse Jackie!

I received an email from HBO shit its not HBO why do I always mix em up Showtime to check out the first episode of their new series Nurse Jackie. After Showtime brought me some of my all time favorite shows like Secret Diary of a Call girl, although it originated from London, and United States of Tara I knew that I would not be disappointed in Nurse Jackie. Check out the 1st episode @ youtube! Only half an hour of pure awesomeness. Showtime has done it again to my heart. Realizing that I HAVE to get them now. Some of the comments are unexpected but I suppose the show is not for everyone.

Without giving out spoilers, it revolves around a nurse who is a lot like me. Hate people's interactions, really cares about patients and hates figures of authority that suck at their job. O, there seems to be drug abuse involved. Happy happy happy.

I have to admit, the first quarter of the show felt a little slow. I kept waiting for that "umph" that will make me fall in love with the show. Honestly, for me, it didn't come until the last few seconds when she kept repeating "make me good god, but not yet". Flawless. I might be a little over excited about the show but who cares? I don't. Edie Falco does a good job but I think the strength of the show is the actual story and how the other characters come and go. I think that if it was only Nurse Jackie if wouldn't be as good as it is now. Also nurse Mohammed might actually be gay! Wait, his character is gay. I wonder if that's going to get any fire.

I do like Nurse Jackie, she kind of does things that are completely wrong/unethical/illegal but you know that you wish you had the guts she did. I do. Maybe I do what she does sometimes but no one will ever know about them since there isn't a TV show about me.

May 20, 2009


After I saw the previews for Glee I was intrigued. The kind of humor I came to expect from 30 Rock looked like it oozed out of Glee. Some, bottom of the barrel, high school students are in a singing club called Glee and have to over come their loser selves. That's all I gathered from the preview. I was very attracted, in many ways, to the cast. I thought Jessalyn Gilsig was very good in Nip/Tuck and was looking forward to watching her post Heroes.

There are also Matthew Morrison0, as the professor who tries to resurrect the Glee club back to its glory days, Jane Lynch , who is the merciless coach of the cheer leading squad and an Asian Jenna Ushokowitz , who seems to have a stuttering problem, and you have a recipe of happy summer terebi. Let's not forget Jayma Mays! There's a wide range of characters so there will sure be one you like the most or identify with the most. Almost always those two are the same. Unless you love to hate yourself.

I found that there is some sort of honest humor to the show. A very optimistic, or maybe self centered, Rachel asks Morrisono's character if he really thinks someone on a wheelchair will get a lead role in a musical named "sit down, you're rocking the boat" in front of the wheelchair boy. Normally I would wait for the teacher character to let Rachel know she's out of line or for the wheelchair boy to tell her that she doesn't know what it feels to be unable to dance. Instead he tells her that she should see the irony that enhances the musical. What irony?

You should watch the pilot. It did get a little corny for few minutes towards the end. I don't know anything about high school but if felt real... which might mean that it's not like high school. This has potential! The only issue I might have is if they will start having more than two FULL songs/performances each episode.

May 15, 2009

Fashion Show? really?!

It's not often that I witness reality TV at it's worst. Yea right! Who am I kidding. It seems like it has been a wind of disasters that you keep watching, knowing fully that this tornado might come after you and sallow your house.

There has been some talk about Project Runway returning to TV this summer but @ its new home Lifetime. It seems to me that the Bravo did not want to let go of Project Runway was that

Lifetime won and Project is scheduled to air this coming summer.

Bravo now is airing a new show called "The Fashion Show". It sounds like like 4th of July without the firworks, to me. I really think it's an insult to the audience when a network begins showing, to what I think, is an ill fittedproduced show.

Nevertheless, it is rather dramatic. For few moments I wondered if Bravo picked contestants based on personality or talent.

First things first, the lightning seemed extremely dull. Brighter light makes things better. You should know this Bravo. Also, Issa Mizrahi as a judge is really distracting because his hair is all over the place. Reminds me of that song that goes something like "with a hair hair here and hair hair there". Speaking of hair, why are the contestants dressed so horribley?! By the way, I refuse to call them designers, that word is resreved for Project Runway. Kelly Rowland is dull to infinity and beyond.

In the first challenge, the designers contestants were divided into 3 teams, come up with one basic piece of shit and then pair it with 5 different other pieces and present them together in a fashion show. There were hammer pants!

I do have favorites. I acutally really liked the winning look by James-Paul. He looks Asian but his name is James? I also am happy the eliminated designer left. He just had something that could come out of forever19. Yuck. Also, Reco will provide much much drama during this season. I hope he doesn't get kicked out anytime soon. Good times to come because of him. Just like being in a circus.

The Show does promise a lot of laughter. Here are few HAI-larious lines. Mostly provided by Merlin the wizard. He would make some sense half of the time but between his accent and his inproper use of verbs is just too much to handle.

Merlin: it's male domination girl, get it"
Daniella: male? where?

Merlin: it's something 5 and up *talking about his dress*
Issa: you mean after five o'clock?
Merlin: yes yes

I will probably watch the show but I'm not sure if it's worth writing about.