Friday, 25 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Paranormal Activity a low-budget, so-called psychological horror/thriller. It has been touted as the next Blair Witch Project. I was not expecting this to be great, but rave reviews had me believing that it would be scary – nightmare scary, or so I was told. The premise is a couple who start hearing things in their house late at night, so the boyfriend, Mika, buys a video camera to film the goings-on. His girlfriend, Kate, is really freaked out about the whole business, since apparently she heard these noises before in her previous house. The relationship between to two is fascinating to watch as it unfolds, as Kate becomes more and more disturbed by what is happening while Mika, who was unconvinced, becomes provocative. The strain on their relationship is equally compelling as they call in a psychic and employ measures to "communicate" (a failed Ouija board attempt entails), or at least figure it out. Many kudos to Mika - he's much more together than I would be in that situation, and is willing to source out the cause of any noise.
Having not seen Blair Witch (yet), I cannot compare. I was admittedly sceptical of the film’s potential, but was ready to be scared, having read the hype. While the downstairs frights are spooky, I wasn’t impressed, particularly when I’d been told this was a film that would give me nightmares. The premise behind the film, though – the idea that we might not be safe, even in our own beds – is quite powerful. However, the ending was quite disappointing, considering the film’s play on our imagination.
Due to my unappreciative family, I was forced to go to Where the Wild Things are by myself if I wanted to see it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I was curious as to how Dave Eggers would pad out this sparse, short children’s book which is largely illustration and imagination, but the back story was creative, touching and quite fitting. From the opening scene, which consists of little dialogue, in which Max builds an igloo of sorts and starts a snow fight with his sister’s friends just for someone to play with, it is clear Max is a lonely child who craves attention from his single, struggling mother. After a fight with his mother, he runs away. We can see from his handmade creations and blanket cave in his room examples of his vivid imagination. He crosses an ocean and discovers the Wild Things, who are glorious in their furry fury. Even on his imaginary island the Things are manifestations of his broken home; Carol, who becomes his closest friend, is just as needy and selfish as Max. The Things are in desperate need of a leader to unite them and crown Max their King. However, as Max soon realises, trying to please everyone pleases no one, and that family takes hard work. Despite repeated attempts to have fun, the Things seem dissatisfied. Carol and KW are the most dysfunctional of all the couples/relationships, and perhaps the most heart-breaking, for all Max's efforts to help them be together.
The Things are huge, wonderful creations. They seem quite large and overwhelming but really they’re just big and cuddly; the costumes are terrific. Not to mention the fabulous rough and tumble cinematography, which is only bested by the breath-taking scenary and sunsets.
I was, however, surprised by how dark and sometimes violent the film could be, considering it’s an adaptation of a children’s book. I'm not sure I'd be entirely comfortable with a kid under 10 seeing it. The ending is bittersweet, but Max finally realises what he has taken for granted.
The exclamation clearly expresses the somewhat playful nature of The Informant! Matt Damon is not himself; he becomes Mark Whitacre, the man who – in real life – became a whistleblower on his own company to the FBI whilst embezzling massive funds from the firm. Whitacre is a complex, confused character who Damon portrays in a very sympathetic light – it isn’t until the last third of the film in which his double-crossing begins to unravel, and then the lies come out. But at the end of it all, you feel sorry for Whitacre, who seemed to sincerely believe that even after all he’d done to the company, that the board would understand and make him president once his higher-ups had been arrested. The erratic, often unrelated voice-overs are quite funny, and give us something of an insight into Whitacre’s twisted, bi-polar thinking. It becomes apparent that Whitacre is somewhat deluded, mentally, and perhaps a little unstable, but never does he come across as evil, vindictive, coniving or greedy, and never does it cross he mind that he could be any of these things. His wife, Ginger, is incredibly supportive throughout all of this, and even in life stayed with him. This is a hugely enjoyable film in which Damon is in his element.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
That first thing up there you can't read says "My personal strengths are...I'm independent." And yes, I'd just gotten a horse (I went through a horse-crazy phase) though I was never good enough to justify fancies of competing in the Olympics. I left "I learn best when..." blank. Apparently, "my social strengths are...I am conscientious and caring" and "my best skills are swimming, acting, [indiscernible. a prize if you can figure out what I wrote here]." Yes, I used to play cricket.
And I'm sure you've all noticed "something I believe in strongly is...God." Yes, I used to believe in God. My RE teacher in grade 6 was very devout. At that stage in my life, though I may have been opinionated, I had no firm beliefs about faith. I was religiously apathetic, as was most of my childhood - I don't remember ever going to church, except for weddings and school nativity - though my father has always been a fairly vocal atheist (who now calls him agnostic.) It's like Diana said - Christianity offered me a kind of security, the idea that something cared about me. I prayed a lot - mostly about little things, but also the more troubling things. I made a lot of deals with God about what I would do if he granted me this. I remember going to a discussion group in high school with a friend, where we would talk about each other and pray. I don't know at which point my faith started to unravel - sometime around year 9, I suppose, when I fancied myself as a bit of a Buddhist. I had my doubts - sometime not long after 9/11, I asked my mother how God could allow such evil to happen. She confessed (no pun intended) that this, too, was something she had struggled with in her faith. Thus ended one of the only conversations I have had with my mother about her religious beliefs. To this day, I don't know where she stands. I think she may be something of a lapsed Christian.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
A couple of weeks ago, whilst channel surfing on Austar late at night, in desperate search of something to watch, I came across Live Nude Girls,* which is definitely not what you’re thinking, despite the fact that it stars Kim Cattrall. It’s a movie, apparently about a bride-to-be on the night before her third marriage, having a girls night in with her girl friends. At the point when I started watching, they were having a candid conversation about masturbation, their fantasies, how long they’d be doing it, the fact that one of them didn’t do it at all, and a very interesting point came up. One of the women made the observation that you see young boys jacking off in films all the time over postcards and Playboy and being Peeping Toms, and yet you never see anything about girls doing the same thing.
So I know it stems from the fact that a woman’s sexuality has always been a source of shame in society since homo erectus but this is ridiculous. It’s the twenty-first century, for goodness sake, isn’t it time we got over these huge double standards?
I found out about masturbation by reading a book, in year 10. And no, it wasn’t the Karma Sutra. It was a historical romance (and a great book, btw) with some fairly detailed descriptions of a young girl’s discovery of love, sex and herself in Renaissance Florence (and how she sleeps with Michelangelo.)
Possibly because I’m not middle-aged and about to married, but I've never had such a bare-bones conversation with any of my girlfriends (about masturbation), even though I can talk to most of them about anything and everything, and have done in the past. But masturbation has only come up once in any of those conversations, and that was in passing. I’d really like to know if my friends do it too. We’ve talked about threesomes, our periods, kissing other girls; why should it be such a big deal? Why is this something we feel we have to write away to Agony Aunts about to ask if this is natural, these feelings, these urges? Why isn't this part of sex ed, of those conversations where women compare great sex, part of something that isn't the sealed section in Cosmo?
I’m not usually the kind of girl who brings this up, but this is outrageous. Why can’t we be proud of ourselves? Don’t we have the right to make ourselves happy too?
*omg, this blog is going to get so many more misdirected hits now...
Monday, 21 December 2009
"Question: What is the opposite of faith?
Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself is a kind of belief.
The human condition, but what of the angelic? Halfway between Allahgod and homosap, did they ever doubt? They did: challenging God's will one day they hid muttering beneath the Throne, daring to ask forbidden things: antiquestions. Is it right that. Could it not be argued. Freedom, the old antiquest. He calmed them down, naturally, employing management skills a la god. Flattered them: you will be the instruments of my will on earth, the salvationdamnation of man, all the usual etcetera. And hey presto, the end of protest, on with the haloes, back to work. Angels are easily pacified; turn them into instruments and they'll play your harpy tune. Human beings are tougher nuts, can doubt anything, even the evidence of their own eyes. Of behing-their-own-eyes. Of what, as they sink heavy-lidded, transpires behind closed peepers ... angels, they don't have much in the way of a will. To will is to disagree; not to submit; to dissent."
— Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses)*
What I was getting towards in my last post was that the NSLF really made me think a lot about my so-called faith. And it made me wonder if I’m having a bit of an atheist’s crisis of faith.
No, I’m kidding. I’m not really having a crisis of faith. But I am struggling a bit with what I believe, or what I can conceive of (which reminds of me of TOK: can you believe something you can’t justify, or know something you can’t/don’t believe? Who thought I’d ever quote TOK again!)
I’m an Evolutionist. Darwinism seemed a solid foundation for my atheism. My basic biology schooling enables me to comprehend (at least in abstract) the randomness that led to the Big Bang (some accidental collision of molecules), and similarly the first organisms that lived on Earth when it was all gas and hostile.
But what boggles my mind is the very existence of humans. I can theoretically believe that we walked down from the trees when we were monkeys. So to speak. I understand survival of the fittest. But when I think about all that we’ve accomplished – roads, cars, factories, industry, computers, cities, planes – I wonder how it’s all possible. I mean, apart from due to our brains. I don’t mean that we’re superior to other species, we’re simply more advanced and complex in some key technological ways (probably to do with our hands.)
We live in one galaxy of goodness knows how many. And we happen to live on the one planet hospitable to our needs – water, oxygen, food. We’re the right distance from the sun that it’s more or less the right temperature we can live in.
This means I’m not closed to the idea of life on other planets – I mean, if we evolved, either because of our planet’s provisions or in spite of them, who’s to say other life forms can’t? But in the grand scheme of things – to imagine the whole universe is enough to blow my mind, but even compared to this galaxy – humans are less than infinitesimal.
But sometimes it doesn’t seem beyond grasp that we are just someone’s dream. The idea of time stretching out for infinity – the concept of infinity itself – is just stupefying to me.
*Ahem. Lest it should appear that I am much more intellectual than I seem, I have not actually read this. (Yet.) All credit to Sharan, who brought this quote to my attention on her blog. I love the idea of angels doubting. Reminds me of Supernatural. Shh, I have a little thing for the Holy Tax Accountant.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my closest (but unfortunately furthest away) friends, whom I count in my blessings to know and to trust.
Do you realise this is our 1.5 year anniversary?* I went back and found your very first email you sent me over the mid-year holidays, when you sweetly told me how much you missed my blog, and proposed the song-swap idea. Look at how far we've come! It didn't take long before the emails were about anything (and everything!) but music.
Thank you for always being there for me, despite the distance and the time and all the things that got in the way. I can't wait until the day we get to meet in person. Oh the fun we'll have!
Until then, take care. Happy birthday!! I know your friends will help you have a terrific time without me. And soon enough (although sadly not quite soon enough) there will be a little piece of me for you to enjoy!