Monday, February 27, 2006

Moving Soon

So my cousin signed the lease. We're going to be renting this two-storey pre-war house for two years. My next couple of weeks are going to be filled with packing, moving, and decorating. Our official move-in date is March 8, which is just next week. At the same time, I'm gonna have to be juggling some shoots and shit like that. I'm just glad I'm not doing any writing in the meantime.

But there's lots of room for parties and general chilling, so I hope there will be more opportunities for fun things like when the picture below was taken.

BBQ Group

Definitely a Halloween party. Definitely.

More updates on the move as it happens.

Ball's in Your Court

The tennis ball flies back and forth over the net. Then, in a one-in-a-million shot, it hits the top of the net, and for a brief moment, is suspended in mid-air. It could fall on either side, but which one?

For Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' lead character in Match Point, the ball seems to fall on his opponents' side in the metaphorical tennis game of life most of the time. This is a point that Woody Allen wants us to get, and he repeats it several times in various conversations throughout the movie. While it seems heavy-handed at times, there is no doubting Match Point is a wonderful construction of a screenplay. In fact, that's probably the best thing about it, as you look back and marvel over it like one does over a house of cards.

Because it is a beautiful construction, there aren't any real people in the characters; they are archetypes. Stock characters with a few discernible attributes, but they're there just to serve the screenplay, and so we don't really care. Nevertheless, there are some genuinely sexy and witty exchanges, especially in a delicious scene where Rhys-Meyers flirts with Scarlett Johansson over a ping pong table. Seldom has conversation been so sexy.

It was probably a tad long and could've used some trimming in the middle bits, but everything comes together nicely and fiendishly. Just when someone gets too annoying, a plan is concocted to off that person, and the darkly comic scenes after that are lots of fun. And then just when the ending seems to be a deus ex machina cop-out, another question is raised, and the image of a gold ring hitting a guardrail above a river and falling back begins to make more sense.

If the ball fell back into his court, then he would've lost. Yet he gets away scot-free, so how does that image make sense?

Ah, but then again, looking at what he has, are you sure that he won?

(This is a long-overdue post, and will be followed up with more posts on all the movies I saw this month)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Astrology and Me

This was my forecast (abridged) for February from Susan Miller, courtesy of Meihui's recommendation. Not that I actually put much trust in things like this, but let's see how accurate it was.

As February starts... you'll do many video conference calls, telephone calls, and email swaps. It will be a very busy month.

Lots of calls about work. Does that count?

It appears that all the most important opportunities and deals that will happen for you now will happen at a far distance from your natural base.

How about that film festival invite, huh?

Not only are travel and relationships afar lit up for you, but so are all sorts of academic matters, too. You may be going back to college and easing into your study schedule, or you may be studying abroad (or making application to do so at a future date). Your mind is hungry for new experiences and you seem to have had your fill of routine life. You need something fresh and new to think about, and it appears the universe is ready to comply by bringing you all the stimulation you crave.

Not so much. I'm brain dead.

Speaking of ideas and new concepts, many Gemini are involved with publishing or broadcasting industries, and if that describes you, you'll like the developments of the month. You may be in talks about a book, regular column, or special feature that you'd like to write, oversee, or research for a magazine or newspaper. You might even be given a chance to host your own radio or TV show.

I just want a goddamn raise and promotion. Oh yeah, and I directed something.

You may be involved in an important editing or research project, or the development of an ad campaign, new website, publicity project, or marketing program. As a Gemini, you are likely to have solid communication skills, so it is not surprising that these types of exceptional opportunities would come up.

Awfully vague, innit?

Looking aback over the past six months, life has not been exactly easy for you. Lots of things have been going on behind closed doors, and it's been nearly impossible to get the approvals or facts you need to make plans. Others, whose support you've needed, have deliberated in private meetings about the course to take that would affect you (either generally or specifically), but it has been difficult for you to get all the facts. Part of the problem is that management has not been as sure about their decisions as you have been led to believe - that explains some of their waffling and aloofness.

Oh yeah, you can say that again. Fuck management.

At the same time, you sensed you needed to shore up your position, so you began to strategize a number of new future plans on your own, whether for your professional or personal life, or both. Those plans - that you have been hatching since July 28 - needed secrecy so that you could develop them properly. Yet these plans were taking longer to hatch than you originally thought and only now are they reaching a point where you can share them with the world.

Gee. I have plans? Really? I'd sure like to know them...

You tend to be an open book, but because of these prevailing conditions over the past six months, you have been forced to play your cards close to the vest. Being secretive is not "you" so this added pressure - you like to keep moving in an open, straightforward way. All this behind-the-scenes intrigue has had to be draining.

Oh yeah, fuck the office politics. May they all burn.

You may have also discovered that you were more isolated from others during this past six month period, either by choice or necessity. You may not have felt well, or it might have been that you needed to concentrate in a quiet place on a project that was consuming you. In the latter case, you were probably quite productive.

I really dunno if anything was "consuming" me...

During this time, you were also considering which elements and people should stay, and which should go. On that score, you may have come to some startling conclusions that have led you to make a number of bold moves.

Like what? Oh, maybe going to my boss and demanding a promotion and raise. But we're not supposed to meet till Monday... Fingers crossed.

While all of this was going on, over the past six months you may have also found that competitors, critics, and detractors were particularly aggressive in their attempt to move into your territory. You may never have considered the possibility that you had anything that an enemy would want to target, but apparently you do. It could be a relationship you valued or a market you developed - the list has endless possibilities.

How about the fact that I actually am good at what I do. I bet lots of people find that threatening enough. (Wow, how's that for a big ego?)

If this situation did apply to you, at first the aggressors operated under your radar, so it was hard to detect their movements. You did finally find out what they were up to - probably in early December - and when you did, you had little choice but to protect your flanks, an exhausting process that probably took a toll on your nerves.

My poor nerves... I dunno how I "protected" myself, really. I kinda just stayed away from the fuckers like I always did.

If competitors and critics weren't a concern for you, alternatively you may have had much interaction with medical personnel and / or more conversations with people in certain institutions, whether for yourself or family member or friend. Examples of the types of institutions I am referring to would include a hospital, physical therapy or rehabilitation center, nursing home, psychiatric center, or even a prison (say, for example, if you know someone who has been incarcerated and you had to talk with the police). No doubt, most Gemini have had their hands full.

Um, no.

Now this difficult phase is coming to an end, thank goodness. In its place, you will enter into a magnificent phase when Mars enters Gemini, from February 17 to April 13.

You'll feel strong, confident, and quite determined about the path you will need to follow. If at any point in the past six months you felt at a disadvantage, you won't any more. Soon you will be able to turn the tables in your favor. Your health will rebound and your sprit will be stronger, too.

Oh goody, I like magnificent phases.

Higher-ups who acted in an indecisive or detached way will now become more open and responsive to you, providing answers and facts you will need to make plans and allow you to build on past accomplishments. The uncertain circumstances that plagued you are soon to be a thing of the past. This could well become a golden phase of the year for you, for Mars will put you in the driver's seat. What a difference having Mars in your sign can make!

Yeah! Taking control, baby! Mars can drop by anytime he damn well pleases. Now's the time to be pro-active. I want more money! I want a promotion! Stop treating me like shit!

It has been two years since you last had the advantage of Mars in Gemini. Specifically, that period spanned from March 21 to May 7, 2004. That was two years ago - a long time - but you may recall something important about the themes that emerged back then. Other planets have changed positions, so that's significant, too - no situation is ever a repeat of an earlier time.

I don't remember what I did then, besides shoot my thesis film. What themes were there...? Oh yeah, that was when I last directed!

Keep in mind, a good aspect like this one will only become helpful when YOU take charge and harness the energy at your disposal. You must set the agenda and show your intent. If you know what you want to accomplish professionally or personally, then you'll see lots of progress now.

Ah, yes. More encouragement for me taking charge!

This full moon falls very close to Valentine's Day, Tuesday, February 14, so you may travel that weekend to see a sweetheart or to spend time with one (and that includes your spouse if you are married). A private weekend at a cozy bed and breakfast would be a great idea. Make your reservations early!

Um, no. Didn't happen.

At month's end, your career will bring all sorts of amazing developments. So much of what you've worked toward will start to blossom at the new moon, February 28, and in the two weeks that follow.

At this time you may find that you are in line for a new job or will be told about a promotion. You may receive special publicity, too - your name seems to be "out there" and on everyone's lips. It will be critical that you be ready to sit at the table and deal, for that new moon on February 28 will open the door to a new professional path.

OK, I'm getting ready to "sit at the table and deal".

The way new moons work is that they provide two weeks of powerful energy to plant your seeds. Do so as close to the new moon as possible. You won't have to actually win your new job assignment in that two-week period, but you do have to START the interview process. That's the way to deal with new moons.

This new moon is smack dab conjunct Uranus, so whatever happens will be a complete surprise to you. You may find yourself in the right place at the right time, so stay alert. For sure, nothing will happen in a way you'll expect.

I love (good) surprises!

Of course, with Uranus involved, you never know what will happen, as Uranus is the planet of unexpected (even weird) developments. You could suffer a setback, too. I feel that's less likely because you will have a glittering crown of planets at the pinnacle point of your chart. A conjunction of four heavenly bodies like this is considered very powerful and beneficial.

Aww, fuck. Please, no more setbacks...

With my anus involved... tee hee (sorry, that was such a childish moment)

Mars will be in hard angle to that new moon, so you may disagree with an authority figure - you could feel strongly enough about your position to leave your job. If so, go with the flow - you aren't going to be short on opportunity, that's for sure. Remember, Mars will help you set up a new cycle, so you do have plenty of cosmic support.

But, but... I can't leave my job. Anyone wanna headhunt me?

Jupiter, the giver of gifts and luck, will support your crown of stars and will be within eight degrees. Ideally, I wish Jupiter were within five degrees of those planets, but this generous planet is still close enough to help you. With this lucky planet based in your day-to-day-work projects sector (sixth house) it appears that the work you have turned out over the past year is solid. That record will explain the growing grass roots support you will enjoy. In other words, it is your customers and other end users, coworkers, and others who will support your push upward. If VIPs are not savvy enough to see your value, those people will, and that will tip the scales heavily in your favor.

Who are these people? Let's start making a list, and checking it twice...

Dear Gemini, it looks like you will finally have the opportunity to grab the fruit that has hung tantalizing close to your fingers, but until now has remained frustratingly out of reach. No longer. Grasping it will be ever so very sweet.

Mmm... Grab it and squeeze...

Financially, you also have reason to be upbeat. The period from mid-2003 to mid-2005 probably brought difficult conditions for making decent money, but that phase has ended. Now that Venus will go full speed direct on February 3 in your commissions / credit / bonus / joint resource center, you will finally begin to see the money you deserve. Watch the days surrounding February 3 for signs that the ice is melting and that better days are on the way.

Money you receive will come as a chunk, in terms of commissions, settlement, payout, inheritance, back pay, refund, or other similar way, but nevertheless will be very welcome.

Nope, didn't happen. Damn.

In terms of romance, you have so much going on this month that your love life will necessarily take second place in your life. Still, Venus' turn direct will bring better news to your romantic situation because Venus is the natural ruler of your solar fifth house of true love.

On Valentine's Day, Venus and Jupiter will be in divine communication, quite a wonderful indication of a highly romantic day. This is rare, as many Valentine's Days in the past have not generally brought great aspects. This one does, so be happy! As said earlier, it would be a wonderful idea to take a little short trip with the one you love.

Bah, fuck that.

Dear Gemini, in parting, know that next month Mercury will be retrograde practically the whole month, and we have two eclipses on the way. While you have a productive month in February, try to hurry things along. Eclipses bring surprise events, and for you, your home and family life may bring disruptions, so keep your schedule light midmonth. You will have extra things to think about.

Um, that doesn't sound too good.

But then again, this was just for fun anyway. Just in case, though, I should probably work through how I can persuade my boss to give me that promotion and hefty raise.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Let's go to yes!!!!

Fast! EAST! Simple!
Made in China, confirm!

Happy Toilet
They don't sound very happy to me. Or friendly, for that matter.

Mummy Panties
Ooh, kinky.

Devil's Car
The Devil drives a rather boring car.

Glory & Honour
For Honor and Glory!

This Korean store in the basement of Cineleisure Orchard is frightfully bizarre. It sells weird crap, and half the store is devoted to a Korean underwear label called Yes' (apostrophe included!).

Korean Shop wide

Check out the close-up of the sign below.

Korean Shop sign

Hey, june!! Didn't you see my panty and brassiere?
well...Is that yours? NO! How about this one? it's mine!! My underwear!!
why don't go to yes? yes? yes!! yes' Let's go to yes!!!!

What. The. Fuck.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

An Invitation

I'm flabbergasted. Especially when I haven't been sending it to any festivals. Apparently the SFC has been shopping it around for me.

I am writing as I would like to invite your film Pictures On the Wall to screen at the forthcoming Commonwealth Film Festival, which will take place 28 April - 7 May 2006 in Manchester, UK.

The Commonwealth Film Festival is now in its 5th year, and we have over the years grown into one of the UK’s largest and most diverse Festival. Every year we showcase around 200 films and welcome 100 foreign filmmmakers and industry representatives to England. We are also tour elements of the programme to various venues in the UK.

We aim to give our presentations maximum exposure to the press, the industry and the public, with screenings, Q&A’s, press interviews and parties. The festival takes over four screens in Manchester’s city centre. It includes a full programme of discussions, seminars and masterclasses involving visiting filmmakers, critics and academics, as well as parties and networking events. Though non-competitive, we do have a popular audience award.

Would a 35mm print or Beta SP (PAL) be available for the Festival?

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Programming Assistant
Commonwealth Film Association

It's nice to know somebody values my work, even if my company doesn't.

I wonder if I should make time (and money!) aside for a trip to Manchester come April?

Hospital Shoot

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New Year Wrap-Up

Today's the last day of the traditional 15-day Lunar New Year celebrations. Time to collate the financial ins and outs of the season.

Total amount collected: S$656

Total amount distributed: S$405

Total profit: S$251

Spent on buying the lottery (which I of course did not win): S$50

Lost at various mahjong and card games: Approx. S$20

Not too bad, definitely better than last year's loss of S$25. I wonder why that's so. Maybe we saw more peripheral relatives, who just so happened to be bloody rich. Maybe the economy's doing better - I definitely saw less S$2 notes compared to last year. And maybe it's because I cut down my "contributions" significantly, haha. Being a little more conscious of exactly how much I can afford helps. I end the season with profits just short of S$200.

Actually, with all the eating and shopping and shit, I probably ended up spending more money than I took in. Damn.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


The boy ate there while he was at school.

After rehearsals, the actors would gather in the hawker centre for supper. There would always be this old man sitting by himself at a corner. In a word, he was filthy. As he scratched and twitched, he talked to himself and to imaginary people while smoking tiny self-rolled cigarettes. He carried around a tin, though no one had seen what was inside. Once in a while he yelled.

They joked around, saying that the old man was a friend of one of the actresses. It was all fun and games. The boy thought nothing more of it.

The writer seeks out a colleague who had a good idea at a pitching session that wasn't used. He puts forward a suggestion, and asks if he'd like to work together. The response is positive, but somewhat different from what he'd expected. The colleague feels the company is dead, and it'd go nowhere here. He wants to work on it together, then take no pay leave and make a short.

The writer had no idea his colleague was this unhappy. And in a way, he feels sorry for him too, because here is an extremely talented individual working for a company that is blind to his potential. What's he doing in the office so late at night? Painting a fucking rubber snake to be used as a prop.

The professional walks out of the meeting pleased. He felt he'd connected with his cousin's client, especially the Dragon Lady in charge of the association. While the video wasn't even close to good in his opinion, it was the best he could've done to salvage badly-taken footage and shitty performances.

It's funny, he shouldn't be feeling so good. It's just a corporate video, and besides, the client had wanted lots of things changed.

But the things were also points which he'd felt were problems when he was editing it, just that they were out of his control. But now, with the okay given, he could go ahead and change them.

In a strange way, he felt a strange affinity with the older woman. Not just because their Chinese was better than anyone else in the room, but because he felt they'd somehow connected on a professional level. Both could sense the other knew his or her shit, knew clearly what the hell they wanted, and wouldn't feel good until something was done right. The fact that he spoke some Cantonese with her while none of her staff could also helped.

It was nice to be appreciated. Nay, respected.

The scholar is puzzled. His colleague said he was destined for management level greatness. But I don't like playing their game, and I don't want to play their game, he protested. The colleague points out that he has a combination of production talent and presentation flair - he's believable when he talks to people.

But the scholar doesn't think that necessary makes for good management personnel. At least not in the current state of the company. Not when people like his boss are around. Not when ass-kissing matters more than actual capability. Not when schmoozing is more important than real work. And the scholar would rather die than become a political animal.

Anyway, the scholar knows that his company would rather prefer people like him were invisible, swept under the carpet like the remnants of a botched abortion.

The young man eats his dinner alone at the hawker centre. As he tucks into his fishball noodles, he looks around for the crazy old man. He's nowhere to be found.

There's no one to ask, and no one to tell.

The director wanders to the side of the makeshift stage.

It's a ramshackle affair, slapped together with old scaffolding and canvas. The backdrop and banners look worn, leftovers from a previous era. High-pitched warbling, accompanied by screechy erhus and staccato percussion sounds from beat-up amplifiers reminiscent of those he'd had at his primary school. It's in his mother tongue, Teochew, but he understands only half of what his grandmother says on good days, and he can't recognize a single word that's sung.

Onstage, the actors, clothed in traditional bright red wedding costumes, walk around in circles with their stylized moves. They flap their sleeves, they take turns to bemoan their fate and pass cutting remarks about their partner to-be. It seems to be a romantic comedy. The female has a pigtail sticking straight out the back of her head. Her features are obscured by a veil, with an embroidered flower smack in the middle, right over her mouth. Yet still she refuses to be silenced, and sings. It is her wedding night, she doesn't know her husband, and she just doesn't have a very good feeling about him.

Maybe it's because he's also played by a woman. Maybe not.

Through holes in the side of the structure, the director sees old musicians playing their instruments by the light of a dimly-glowing bulb. Through the flapping canvas in the back, he sees other actors and actresses putting on their makeup, stretching, and going through their lines. It must be tough, he thinks. But there's one thing for sure, they're not doing it for the money.

The audience is full of old men and women, more women than men. They sit there and watch silently, almost creepily. Now the director isn't sure if it's a romantic comedy. There are no expressions on their faces. Do they just not care anymore? Are they there just because they have nowhere else to go, nothing else to do? He looks around. The youngest audience member, besides him, is a foreign maid that's probably there to take care of an old lady. He feels a tinge of sadness, yet admits to himself that he's kind of bored too, and would probably leave soon.

As he makes his way back home, the actors are still circling on the stage.

Circling, circling, and going nowhere.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Watch This Show Tomorrow

Tomorrow night at 8.30 pm, please turn your TVs on and tune in to this show:

Actually, watch it for the next 14 weeks too.

Because it's funny, and fun.
Because I had a blast making it.
Because it was the highest rated English show last year.
Because I'd be very happy if it smashed all previous records.

Because I told you to.

And because if you don't, I will do this.

Gun to Head

January Flicks

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were- Rabbit
Fun, fun, fun. There's an undeniable, irresistible charm about claymation. Granted, it's a scruffy, DIY kind of charm, but charm nevertheless, which is far more than you can say for most movies.

Blood and Bones
Certain individual scenes are really good, but the overall impression I get is one of tedium and repetitiveness. I really have no patience for most films that tell a story spread out over forty years, and this one has more melodrama than most. Takeshi Kitano is scary and a huge asshole, and while there are a few scenes where he manages to bring a little more to the table, the character remains rather one-note and mostly an enigma.

Broken Flowers
It's funny, it's sad, it's romantic, it's anti-romance, it's a character study, it's a movie that goes nowhere and everywhere, it's episodic, it's rambling, it's bittersweet, it's melancholy, it's hopeful, it's crushing. It's all of the above, and I love it. Bill Murray says more with an eyebrow twitch than most actors do with a page of dialogue.

Favorite scene: The dinner with the real-estate agents - probably the most savagely funny and uncomfortable dinner you'll see on film.

Most guilty moment: Sleeping through over 20 minutes (the Sharon Stone scenes!) the first time I saw it. Drinking a pint right before the movie on a sleepy afternoon was not the smartest thing to do.

Le Grand Voyage
You'd assume this was a typical coming of age movie where a young man bonds with his reticent father through a long journey - in this case, driving his father to Mecca to take part in the Haj. You'd be right, except this film at least tries to venture into darker waters and end on a slightly more ambiguous note.

It's a decent movie. That is, until the Plot starts kicking in and Thickening. Plot Twist after Plot Twist follows each other, and finally the whole thing becomes a ludicrous mess. The final scenes are more cheap audience gratification than staying consistent with any character development. Jennifer Aniston is hot though.

In Her Shoes
Plodding chick-flick, boiling over with Unresolved Issues that, in reality, would be so bloody easy to resolve if people just sat down and talked for 15 minutes instead of being Mad With Each Other and Throwing Tantrums in every scene. It's telling when the scene that brought a tear to my eye (I'm somewhat ashamed this actually happened) had nothing to do with the central relationships at all.

Anthony Zimmer
A French thriller that seems to be very clever, with a good final twist... until you walk out of the theatre and actually start thinking, "Wait a minute, that doesn't make sense..." Still, decent entertainment, even though I was actually so tired I slept through a good portion of it. Hmm, maybe that's why it doesn't make sense to me... Oh, and Sophie Marceau still looks damn good.

霍元甲 (Fearless)
I don't know what the big fuss is; I was pretty unsatisfied. The Themes about the Spirit of Martial Arts wasn't anything new that hadn't been explored in many other kungfu flicks, and it was done in a pretty heavy-handed way here. I mean, entire scenes are just full of people saying What the Movie Is All About. His transformation also seems overly simplistic, which is a waste, since the story feels deserving of better treatment. Yes, Jet Li still kicks plenty of ass, but they decided to go for a more gritty, down-to-earth feel this time round. I remember sitting through Once Upon A Time in China II with my mouth open in amazement for most of the movie. None of that here, there's no "Oh my fucking God" element.

By the way, this poster is so much cooler than the American generic version.

Fun with Dick and Jane
Not very fun at all. In fact, not very funny too. In fact, it's almost pathetic to see Jim Carrey do silly, slapstick comedy that doesn't make sense at all. It's like he's taken his great performances in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and completely wiped them from his memory. There was a time when I found Ace Ventura: Pet Detective absolutely hilarious. That was over ten years ago, and it seems Carrey hasn't progressed much since then.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Discoveries During the Course of Research

While doing research for my latest script, I came across two discoveries that blew my mind.

One: That an illiterate driver, not much older than myself, was drawing a higher salary than what I am now. And this was four years ago, when the economy was doing worse.

Now that's just wrong.

Two: That the paramedic who arrived at the scene and pronounced the victim dead was actually a coursemate of mine at medic school.

Singapore is just too fucking small.