Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Puma Post

In a previous post, I meant to post pictures of Puma tags that came with the T-shirt I bought, along with the plastic bag. However, the tags went missing, so I could only post pictures of the bag.

I found the tags yesterday. They were inside said plastic bag.

I never cease to be amazed at my own ingenuity.

The pictures are rather self-explanatory. I had fun reading the stuff, I hope you do too. They're proof that while Puma is a corporation, and hence evil (since all corporations are, by nature, evil), it doesn't mean that they don't have a sense of humor.

Puma 1

Puma 2

Puma 3

Puma 4

If anyone has trouble reading the red-on-red words above, it says "Why not take two?"

And from the bottom of the plastic bag:

Puma Bag

Monday, August 29, 2005


I doth protest too much.

Four posts in a row complaining or bitching about stuff. Ugh.

I apologize, and will try to do better next time.

Back to Writing

For the past week (plus a few days), I've had to cover AD duties for a colleague while the lucky bugger went on holiday to Rome (yes, fuckin' Rome. I'm so jealous). Of course that got in the way of my writerly duties, and as such my last draft was late by a couple of days. Surprisingly, that was rather well received, except it was way too long, and has to be cut by a quarter or more. I think that won't be too difficult, since much of my dialogue goes on forever (the combined influence of Seinfeld and Frasier). So that looks pretty set.

Unfortunately, because of this covering of duties, I've had to become reacquainted with the Dark Side. Every single point of contact with them then becomes a new round of exasperation and annoyance. I simply don't understand how any group of people can behave this way and still continue to function. Of course, it's a given that they don't function very well, but the fact of the matter is that they've been doing this for years, and unless something happens to tip the balance of the scale, may continue doing this for quite a while.

In my previous capacity as an AD on another team, we were expected to be independent and resourceful, able to make decisions on the spot for the greater good of the project. Would it work better if the location for a scene was changed to facilitate shooting and minimize travel? If so, then it was done. Would it be faster to get the talent to set by cab so that we could end on time? If so, then it was done. Could we do day for night and so fit everything into the day? If so, then it was done.

On the Dark Side, no one wants to make these decisions. Everyone defaults to someone else, and insists on going around in circles. It's bureaucracy elevated to an art form, basically. Why all the red tape even within a group of less than ten people? Why does no one have the fucking balls to make a decision? How can you work with someone for years and still doubt their ability when everyone else feels completely confident about him?

That last question was directed at the production manager, who wanted me to make sure things went all right on set tomorrow morning. The guy I'm handing back the duties to though, has years of experience on me, and the shoot is so simple it doesn't warrant my supervision. He could do it with his eyes shut. We worked it out, and there is no way I'm turning up tomorrow. So there.

Also, why is the writer so disproportionately powerful? Who gives a shit about you. You write it, let others shoot it in peace. Why does the production manager ask the writer for permission to change the location of a scene? In my opinion, you lose all rights and power once you hand in such a shitty script.

And hey, I've probably mentioned before, the guy doesn't have a fucking clue about the direction of anyone or anything in his series. Instead, he insists that the audience is comprised of morons and that he must write a stupid script and talk down to them.

Hey Mr. "Writer", a stupid script doesn't reflect the intelligence of the target audience. It only reflects how arrogant and retarded you are as a person.

But anyway, I'm glad I've handed back the reins of AD, and can concentrate on writing my next script. This is for a new sitcom, and I have completely no feel for any of the characters yet. Hopefully I'll be able to turn in something intelligent. This is gonna be tricky...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Mane Affair

Yes, I know the title isn't very original. So sue me. I am also aware that what I have can hardly be considered a mane. Let's move on, shall we?

A couple of weeks ago I went for a free haircut. Weiwei had given me a card to be used at a certain salon's training school in Bugis, and I was running low on cash, so I thought, why not? I made an appointment and went that very afternoon.

I was originally thinking of dyeing my hair at the same time, just because I was so sick of getting mistaken for a fucking NS boy (or man, if propaganda will have its way - I say you're a boy till you ORD, or maybe even beyond). It being a training school, I soon found out they had specific days and sessions allocated for each type of service, and today was Haircut Day, not Dyeing Day. If I wanted a coloring session, I had to pay a nominal fee ($18 to $50; I thought it seemed quite reasonable) and make a separate appointment.

I had time that afternoon, so I thought I could just get a quick haircut and still be able to squeeze in a coloring session at a regular salon.

I was very, very mistaken indeed.

Ordinarily, my hair, being very short to begin with, would need possibly 5 to 10 minutes max to trim. It's really very simple, just use the clippers and buzz up the sides and back, and voila, it's done. I thought, since the guy (let's call him D) was a student, he'd probably take 2 to 3 times the amount of time. So OK, 40 minutes, to be generous.

Then I realized D wasn't allowed to use the clippers. He had to slowly snip away using a comb and scissors. As D went along, I further realized that my short hair actually posed a huge problem for him as he had no fucking clue how to handle it.

As time passed, I could sense D getting more and more tired. He got his instructor to "demonstrate" more and more, while his attention span during said "demonstrations" got shorter and shorter. He sighed, he fidgeted, he looked everywhere but where the instructor was wielding his scissors. Basically, D gave up in exasperation.

When I was finally done, two hours had elapsed.

Two. Fucking. Hours.

That's 120 minutes. Which is 12 times what it would take me elsewhere. Hell, if I'd gone to my neighborhood Malay barber it would've taken only 5 minutes, and cost me S$9. Two hours for a simple haircut is just too much, in my opinion. I'd been intending to pass the other postcards around to friends, but instead I promptly threw all of them away. No one should have to be subjected to this torture.

Of course I couldn't manage to fit a coloring session in that day.

I did it the next day. I wonder why, when you say "surprise me" to a stylist, they still insist on telling you exactly what they intend to do. Doesn't that take away the element of surprise? When I say "do whatever you want", or "surprise me", it means just that. I'll take anything you got. I guess not too many people actually say that to them, and they're used to covering their asses in case the customer hates it. At least they can say, "I told you, and you wanted to do it."

Anyway here it is. I like it. Even though it's ash again. I think next time I'll have to insist on "anything but ash".

Stripe of Ash

I Hate Being Sick

I hate being sick.

Especially since when I fall sick, it's usually complete with a major case of the dripping nose. It just becomes a broken tap, stuck on "on" all the time, and I have to walk around constantly blowing my nose. Then of course it gets all red and puffy and tender from the friction and shit, and makes me feel even worse than I already do.

Then there's that horrible feeling of something stuck somewhere in between my throat and nasal cavity, hovering right above my oesophagus and windpipe. Something that I can't clear no matter how hard I blow my nose, cough, or drink water. I suck on lozenges, one after another, but they don't seem to help.

Then I start popping cold relief tablets like a junkie, and while that dries up the dripping somewhat, in exchange I get the disgusting feeling of blocked nasal passages.

Headaches I can take - just pop some Panadol Extra. Gastritis isn't so bad - just eat something. A sprained ankle - I've had too many of those to count, and I usually bounce back pretty fast. But colds, sniffles and coughs, how I hate them so.

And now I have them again.

I blame Xuanfei. And that jug of tequila sunrise that everyone shared.

Which brings me to another question: Why did no one else fall sick from it?

Perhaps it was also the 20 minutes spent in the Ice Palace at Forbidden City. For S$15, you get to spend as long as you like in a glass enclosed freezer kept at -15 degrees Celsius. You also get a shot of 42 Below vodka, which is rather pleasant. They toss you winter jackets and you walk around the place looking out the glass at other (saner) people enjoying their drinks. And you think: Oh, so this is what the polar bears and penguins at the zoo feel. You also feel pretty silly for getting a cheap thrill out of this.

I guess sleeping late regularly doesn't help.

And neither does the smoking.

Whatever the cause may be, it doesn't change the end result one bit. I'm sick, and I fucking hate it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

All By Myself

I never used to have a problem being alone. In fact, I used to relish it. After all, it wasn't easy to find myself all alone while growing up, what with a younger brother, (over) protective parents, and tons of people to mix with in school. In those rare moments when I did find myself alone, I had time to think, to space out, to do whatever the hell I wanted, which was usually nothing.

As I got older, I enjoyed going to the movies alone. After all, watching movies is a pretty anti-social activity in itself. Even if you go with friends, it's bad etiquette to talk to each other during the show. So basically you sit there, together yet not together, each one absorbed in his or her individual interaction with the screen.

Besides, when I started going to offbeat films that weren't your typical multiplex fodder, it was also a little hard to get people to go with me. And the sheer number of movies I saw a year would put anyone off being my constant movie companion. Perhaps this explains the lack of a dating life then, huh?

I also enjoyed walking down the busy streets in town alone, brushing shoulders with the anonymous mass of humanity thronging by me, looking at everyone else's faces, wondering about their stories. Just me and my discman (later graduating to an MD player).

When I was in college, it got worse. The number of films I watched swelled to titanic proportions, and I quickly gave up any hope of ever accomodating anyone else's schedule into my personal movie-going habits. Of course, it was always fun to go with people, especially film majors, and bitch and discuss the movie afterwards. But the sheer effort involved in these enterprises usually put me off.

Of course, it didn't help that to save money I usually ended up spending an entire day in a cineplex, hopping from one theatre to the next without paying more. I remember the research I used to do, downloading movie times from the internet and printing them out every Friday (which was when new movies opened), then matching the films with the theatre they were playing in at the local multiplex. Then I had to see how long the movies I wanted to see were, and how I could best fit them together without having huge gaps in between.

Here came the tricky part. The local multiplex was divided into two separate sections, one for arthouse fare and the other for mainstream movies. You couldn't mix and match, your only hope of theatre-hopping was if you stayed at one side. To make matters worse, the arthouse side (where I was wont to do most of my hopping) was tiny, which made it difficult to sneak around without being seen by the usher at the end of the corridor.

Ah, those were the days. Now I have to pay for every fucking movie I see. Bah.

Anyway, for reasons unfathomable to me, I have since grown weary of watching movies alone. Simply put, I hate it. I don't know exactly when it started, I just know that somewhere during the year that's elapsed since I returned to Singapore, I began to crave the company of others during a movie.

Now I have a certain method I use. Whenever I want to see something, I ask the few people I go with the most, bearing in mind their typical preferences and trying to assign different genres to different people. Then if that fails, I gradually expand outwards in concentric circles, asking people whom I see maybe once a month or so... and so on so forth. I usually give up after the second or third circle, because it can get really tiring. Then I just cave and see it myself, albeit feeling somewhat disgruntled.

I don't know why it is I need company now though, when I've never needed it before. I mean, it was nice to have, but not really essential, you know. I was perfectly happy on my own. But now, it seems that being alone with the movie isn't enough. I need to feel that elbow fighting with me for the armrest. The presence of a familiar figure in the next seat. The little sniffles or coughs. Being able to discuss the movie with someone after a viewing. Hell, even laughing at and bitching about a terrible movie that we've shared. And nothing quite beats the feeling of bringing someone to a great movie they knew nothing about and have them tell you later they loved it. Even if it is for all the wrong reasons (you know, like a movie that's so bad it's good).

Perhaps I'm becoming a needy, clingy, sentimental idiot in my old age (hey, I have passed the quarter-century mark, you know. I'm old). Perhaps I just crave the company of old friends more as I get older. Hell, perhaps it's a sign my dating habits need more work. Whatever it is, if I call you up for a movie, please take pity on this ol' fool and humor me as far as possible, OK? It makes my job easier if I don't have to move on to the next circle.

Now, who's up for Land of the Dead? It'll be a good bad movie, and you know it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mock, Mokken, Mocquer

Mock: To treat with ridicule or contempt; deride.
Originates from Middle English mokken, from Old French mocquer.

And every last one of these deserves to be mocked, be it in Middle English or Old French.

Huge billboard at Bugis Junction

If I was climbing a mountain and I had no oxygen, I don't think a Casio Pro Trek watch is going to help me much. If it means the watch can survive under low oxygen conditions... then I'll be dead, but my watch will still go on running. Hooray.

Notice at video games arcade in Suntec City

What if I'm in a sleeve? Does that count? Or what if I had a little boy hidden in my shirt pocket? Will he be able to enter?

The following two pictures are from the Picket & Rail branch at Suntec City. Notice the first picture. It seems like a pretty good deal. In fact, it's almost half off.


Don't worry, there's nothing wrong with the picture above. But check out the second one and compare.


Now do you see a problem?

So this butterfly table was originally free, but they suddenly decided to start charging money for it? Is that even allowed?

China edition of a Jacky Cheung Snow Wolf Lake CD, at a Music Junction in Plaza Singapura

Limied edition. Ooh. Is it some new scratch 'n' sniff thing? Mmm... scent of lime...

Now read this very carefully:

In Novena Square

Now read it again.

No matter how many times you read it, you'll realize that the sentence makes no sense whatsoever.

So the quality has an international flavor. And that same quality also has a texture. And that texture melts in your mouth. Interesting. And I didn't know you could create a quality.

The fish fingers and the calamari ring (one huge calamari ring?) below have some really unique ingredients.

Oriental Spies
Menu in a cafe at Mersing, Malaysia

So that's how Malaysia gets rid of all the foreign spies they nab - they season seafood in them. Although the calamari seems to use local ones... The fish fingers use the Oriental ones... so what about the Caucasian ones? Maybe they make curry with them?

While returning from Rawa, I bought some gum at a little store.

Tour Town Gum

I didn't know there were actually bootleg Wrigley's gum available.

It tasted like shit, by the way. Worst gum I ever had. Well, maybe except for the cinnamon-flavored Wrigley's gum.

At Chomp Chomp Food Centre, Serangoon Gardens

I thought stubbing out a cigarette on a "Quit Smoking" sign was pretty amusing. Maybe only to me, though.

Finally, something a little more sombre:

In the same Music Junction store (see above)

There's nothing amusing about it at all. Sure, I suppose you could mock it if you really wanted. But there's no denying the fact that it's pure evil, and another new money-spinning venture of the evil cult.

That last picture really depresses me.

NOTE: This post has been modified. The Puma picture has been taken out and placed with other related photos in a new post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

High-D Ho!

I couldn't sleep again last night. For no reason again. I guess logically I should've just knocked back a couple of shots and crashed, but I didn't. Instead, I tried to find things to occupy myself with.

Thus, I checked my email, ripped songs into iTunes, input composer and lyricist data, half-heartedly surfed for porn (this gets boring really fast), read some Murakami (Norwegian Wood rocks), flipped through the new Premiere, things like that. I finally crawled off to bed at 4.30am.

Only when I woke up in the morning did I feel like kicking myself for not doing some proper writing during those wee hours. Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything to rectify the situation, as I had to drag myself off to the HD course.

The course/seminar featured a Japanese cinematographer, Yoshitaka Sakamoto (a.k.a. Zensyo), an impressive-looking man with flowing white hair. Apparently he was instrumental in providing feedback to Panasonic in the development of their Varicam. And I certainly have to take my hat off to him. Despite his age, he shows absolutely no fear of embracing new technology, while people half his age balk at the thought of doing so.

Sakamoto-san is the white-haired man on the left, by the Varicam

He certainly seemed to be master of his domain, as he rattled on about the HD workflow, and the reasons and situations in which one would choose HD over film. I have to say, they certainly make the Varicam seem like an attractive camera. Hopefully we'll be able to use that on that new drama next year... fingers crossed.

They also had a little hands-on session where they had a few models come in to be the subjects. Now they were pretty hot. Unfortunately they also looked as if they were 16 and below - definitely no-go territory. Another minus point was that there seemed to be too many people in that session. I quickly got bored of hovering around the cameras and chatted outside instead.

Saw this guy Kane there (we'd met, briefly, before), who'd shot Homerun and the Singapore video for the recent IOC. While I personally hate that movie with a passion, I do think that it is beautifully shot. He's in the running to shoot that new drama I mentioned above, and I think I'd enjoy the opportunity to work with him. Here's a guy who turned down Homerun 2 just because he felt he didn't have enough prep time to do a good job. Anyone who's that serious about his craft I like.

He mentioned how in the past he used to get very discouraged after talking to the Local Media Giant, because they simply did not get it. Now he feels better, because at least he can communicate with some people there (i.e. me and my colleagues) well, and we seem to be on the same page. Hopefully the powers that be will get it soon, and perhaps we can really kick start something. God knows the industry needs a kick in the rear end.

On a related note, the wheels seem to be going into motion at work... Changes seem to be in the future... Good changes... The signs are there, but are we reading them correctly? Is the end of Palpatine's reign finally in sight? We'll find out, I guess.

To Rawa We Did Go

So we did go to Rawa. And we did take lots of pictures. Some of them are up on other blogs already. Me, I was too lazy to blog for over two weeks, and am still too lazy to resize the pictures. I'll do it eventually, I guess. In the meantime, you'll have to look here for a taste.

But hey, I can write about it. Maybe I can't (or won't) wax lyrical, but I'll put down a couple of lines.

Rawa is a beautiful place. Clear waters, beautiful clean soft sand, a real sense that time stops still. The outside world ceases to matter. Time ceases to be an issue. You honestly don't care. We left our watches and phones in the room, and just did whatever we wanted until we got hungry, which would mostly coincide with mealtimes. It felt really good just to be able to laze around all day on a deck chair or in a hammock, reading till I got sleepy, then napping till I woke up, then bobbing around in the waves for a bit till I got bored, then reading again... you get the drift. We walked around without shoes, and I sans shirt most of the time. The wind blowing on my body, the sheer physicality of the sand between my toes... it was gorgeous.

There's really not that much to do besides laze around. Oh, you could go snorkeling or scuba-diving, I suppose, but the waters were too damn choppy when we were there. We did take a little hike up the hill and got to this spot that overlooked the whole island. Real pretty, and you can imagine how lovely the sunrise or sunset would be from that vantage point. Unfortunately the climb up (or down, depending on whether you were catching the ascent or the descent) would be rather hazardous in the dark. As such, that was not a viable option, seeing as how we valued our limbs and necks.

Those were the good points. The bad? Well, I'd really be nitpicking. The hotel was a little pricey. Or to be precise, it was more a bunch of chalets than a hotel. But hey, ties in with the whole beach thing, no? The food was pretty dismal, probably because they catered to a mainly Caucasian clientele - whatever little Asian fare there was was unforgivably watered down and bland. Drinks were pretty expensive, but we managed to persuade the bartender - a really nice guy called (what was he called?... OK, checked my photos) Salam - to make 'em stronger. Which resulted in the most un-tea-like Long Island Tea ever.

I personally think we might have picked the wrong resort. See, ours was filled with families and kids and lovey-dovey couples. Whereas the one next door seemed to be teeming with hot singles. Ah, there's always next time. There's a nice little semi-private beach area... hmmm...

The low point had to come on Saturday, when the arrival of the afternoon ferry brought the quintessential Singaporean family. Oh, they were the embodiment of the Singapore Dream all right - 2.5 kids, in-laws, and even a maid (Filipino? Indonesian? Who cares?) in tow. And with them they brought all their silly Singaporean mannerisms, like lining up at a buffet.

I mean, the very essence, the crux, you might say, of a buffet is that there is no line. You see what you want, you swoop in, you get it, you leave. Nowhere is it stipulated that you have to progress down the table from salads to meats to desserts. You could have all dessert if you wanted. Whatever. You. Want. No line. Just go. This is the simplest rule there is to a buffet. And Singaporeans simply do not understand that rule. They want to form a line for everything. Give them a scenario in which a line is not supposed to exist, and they're lost. They know not what to do. "What? We can just... take it? Anything? No... line? Can it be? No, we must form a line. We must establish a System. For Higher Productivity."

I couldn't bring myself to do it. I went back to the table and had a cigarette. Fuckin' Singaporeans.

If the above rant sounded vaguely Seinfeld-ish, forgive me. I've been watching old episodes on DVD, and man, are they funny. Larry David is a genius.

One of the in-laws, thinking he was funny, made this comment as his granddaughter was about to go canoeing: "Look at her, the Olumpic canoeist."


Now, in what way does "y" even vaguely sound like a "u"? And this is not an isolated incident. I've heard Singaporeans say that, all the time. It's annoying. It's ignorant. I fucking hate it. Is it that difficult? To say "Olympic" properly? To form the sound of "lim"? It can't be. More people have the surname "Lim" than "Lum" in Singapore. Why the "lum" then?

(Actually I just realized that "Lim" and "Lum" are actually the same word in Chinese: 林. "Lim" is in Hokkien/Teochew dialect while "Lum" is in Cantonese dialect. There are more Hokkiens and Teochews than there are Cantonese in Singapore. Hence, there are more "Lim"s than "Lum"s here)

If you can answer that question I will give you a dollar. And a name card. It gets you one-for-one at Winebar. Good deal. Drinks get watered down like no one's business, but still a good deal.

Anyway, don't even get me started on "stuffs" and "staffs". For the love of fucking God, people, "stuff" and "staff" are plural already!

I swear, there needs to be some kind of grammar police that goes around shooting people in the head for these things. Three strikes, you're out. You make the same mistake three times, they show up beside you and blow your brains out.

"For the last time, it's already plural! No 's'!!" *BLAM*

Sure, it'd wipe out two-thirds of the population, but who cares?

Yes, I do realize I've digressed quite a bit.

For the price we paid, we could've gone to Bali by air and stayed in a five-star hotel. Of course, then we'd have to share the beach with hundreds of other Singaporeans, then I'd really go nuts. So all in all, I guess it was a good thing. Plus, I got a great tan.

Now if I can just get out of the slacker mode it's put me in.

See, I've been procrastinating a lot since I got back. I sit on my ass most of the time, watch movies or DVDs, go shopping, don't exercise - basically do fuck-all. That's how I've seen so many movies. I should be writing, and writing my ass off, but I tend to just throw something together when stuff (see, no 's' at the end, children) is due. I hate doing this. I need to really get in the mode, get disciplined. Someone told me Haruki Murakami sits for a few hours every single day and just writes.

But he's Murakami! some part of me protests. Yet, wouldn't that kind of discipline be a great thing to have? Although, if I had that kind of discipline, I'd also have washboard abs by now...

Anyways, for the next week or so I'll be taking over from someone at work, doing some AD stuff. The lucky bastard's going to Rome - fuckin' Rome! - and apparently there's no one to take over. Palpatine wanted me to take over more, the whole two episodes, in fact, but I worked it out with the guy in question such that I'd basically only do what needed to be done, nothing more. She didn't seem to pleased with that arrangement, but well, fuck her.

I'm also attending this HD seminar thingy, only for two days. I try to be positive, maybe I'll actually learn something. I'll tell ya, HD looks pretty enticing though, given the fact that we never have enough money for actual film.

So yeah, that's my life thus far.

Note to Self: Write! Fuckin' write!

Actual scripts, that is, not this blog shit.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Wayward Charlie, Seven Sisters and a Mail Guy on a Bewitched Island of Weddings

So, loads of movies lately, kiddies. This time I'll do them from short to long.

Wedding Crashers
Uneven. Very, very uneven. Doesn't work. At all.

七劍 (Seven Swords)
Incomprehensible mess. Donnie Yen is cool though.

阿嫂 (Mob Sister)
Ditto. Plus an extremely irritating, simpering newcomer as the title character. I laughed when she died, and at her funeral too.

A restrained Will Ferrell? Who'd have thought it possible? But it works, Nicole Kidman works, and this romantic comedy mostly works. I don't know why most critics seemed to hate it, I certainly found it amusing enough to while my time away with.

Mail Order Wife
Biting satire, sometimes a little too clever for its own good, but it works most of the time. Everyone's an asshole, and everyone's just looking out for themselves. Not exactly a mood lifter, but a decent enough movie that's exactly what it intends to be. That in itself is an achievement of sorts.

Bad Guy
Interesting, even though characters were ultimately unrelatable. Rather misogynistic too. Guy kisses random girl, she slaps him, he orchestrates her fall into prostitution and they fall in love. Head-scratching, innit? But to Kim Ki-duk's credit, he manages to make it somewhat believable, and even end on a poignant note. Oh yeah, and it's set in a red-light district, so there's tons of sex too. I'm sure the Dirty Old Men in the theatre with me had a good time.

天邊一朵雲 (The Wayward Cloud)
Slow and meandering. But it's Tsai Ming-liang, so I expected it to be. He has a habit of taking material which other people would make a short film from and extend it into over two hours. Sometimes it works. This one though, is rather pointless. Of course there's a Theme somewhere in there, but it's just a variation on stuff he's dealt with more successfully before. Oh well, at least there's plenty of sex. And probably one of the rare times you see actual semen on the big screen (unless you have the habit of visiting porn theatres - speaking of which, I wish there was a porn theatre in Singapore. Wouldn't it be cool to watch larger than life porn and munch on popcorn at the same time?). And obviously the censors had a field day with this one. Boo.

The Island
It starts off rather promisingly (except for all the blatant product placements), then Michael Bay reminds us that he is, in actual fact, directing this movie. This means lots of explosions, car chases, ridiculous action sequences, and yet more explosions. And what is with the British Airways commercial-like ending? Highest point: Ewan McGregor using my phone to video-conference. I must have gotten the shittier version, because mine sure as hell doesn't have that feature. And Steve Buscemi is always cool.

Speaking about phones, I saw a Vertu store for the first time the other day. Suffice to say, they are absolutely ridiculous, as are their prices. And if you own a Vertu phone, I think I can safely say that I hate you very much. Please feel free to drop dead.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I really really wanted to like this. And I absolutely loved the first half hour or so, when it concentrated on Charlie's pre-factory life. It felt exactly the way a fable should feel. Freddie Highmore is, dare I say, perfect as Charlie, providing a strong emotional centre for the movie. Unfortunately once they get to the factory, he takes a backseat to Willy Wonka. While Johnny Depp channels Michael Jackson uncannily, it doesn't make for a very relatable character, and the rest of the kids, while pitch-perfect, do not provide any emotional journey at all.

The movie eventually does work its way back to Charlie, but by then it's too late to be anything other than a weak attempt. And while it was fun seeing Christopher Lee in a cameo, Willy Wonka's backstory feels unnecessary, because no one really gives a shit. Too bad, Tim, you could've had a real winner here. The sets were gorgeous, but what the hell was up with the Oompa Loompas? I really did not enjoy the musical numbers at all. Somehow, indefinably, they just didn't feel right.

I'm gonna stop now, because Crash and Mysterious Skin deserve a post all by themselves. After all, they were without a doubt the best of the lot. And yes, they're the two movies mentioned here.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Letter

To Whom It May Concern,

I was walking along the street in the Mohamed Sultan area a few weeks ago when an extremely traumatic incident occured. There were trees lining the sidewalk, and apparently some branches had fallen off and were lying on the ground. Unsuspectingly, I stepped on one of them, and heard a satisfying "crack", as I typically will. However, when I took my next step, the branch moved along with my foot.

I thought it was just stuck on the bottom on my slipper. Even though the enlightened government that we have has banned chewing gum, there must still be some delinquent gum-chewers somewhere in the nation. Perhaps one of them had spit out his gum onto the branch, and that was why it stuck. I stepped on part of the branch with my other foot and wrenched the affected limb upwards.

The branch broke, but part of it still remained stuck onto my slipper. Curious, I removed the slipper and lifted it up for a look. What I saw has been etched into my memory forever.

There was a spike in the branch, and this spike had somehow pierced right through my slipper and was sticking out the top of it. Half a centimetre to either side and it would've stabbed my toes. A shiver ran up my spine at this narrowly-averted disaster.

Now these were not cheap-ass slippers I bought at the local neighborhood store. These were Topman slippers, from the UK, which cost S$19 a pair (S$9 after discount). The Topman name denotes quality, so it must not have been the slippers that were defective.

Rather, it has to be the trees. They have become a hazard to pedestrians, what with their penchant for dropping spiky branches. Imagine, what if a kid fell down and his eye came into contact with the spike? What then?

I propose that the government should take immediate drastic measures to prevent such a tragedy from every occuring. All the trees in the Mohamed Sultan area need to be cleared. I target that zone because I don't see trees in other areas dropping branches. There must be something in the water there. Too much booze or something. Or perhaps it is a terrorist scheme.

The government has never hesitated in protecting us from ourselves before. The ratings system, censorship on the TV, in the newspapers, the archaic justice system, the lack of freedom of speech - all these are for our own good. How can we be expected to grow and thrive with alternative views and distractions all around us? Since it has always been so pro-active in this area, the government also needs to realize that the public also needs to be protected from external threats. Yes, it has done well in that respect - I certainly feel a lot safer with all those armed personnel walking around our public transport system, ready to shoot to kill - but there is an additional threat which now needs to be addressed.

That threat consists of the aforementioned trees.

Please. Kill the trees. Think of the children.


The Cinewhore