Thursday, 21 June 2007

Tiny Story

Carl V's Tiny Story competition motivated me to complete a story or two. It was a good exercise for me: made me think about being consise, telling a story, flow, plot, rhythm, etc. I don't think I wrote any great stories but it gave my engines a kick-start. I'm getting into the mindset of fiction writing and I will continue to do it. It was also satisfying to beat down my own negativity and self-criticism to see a story to the end. Finishing something gave me a sense of achievement.

I leave you with my other Tiny Story, which I did not submit to the competition. Like I said, nothing great but I'd love to hear your advise and constructive criticisms if you'd like to comment. It's still very much a learning period for me. I've never completed a full story before, and never focused properly on writing stories, so I have no illusions nor ego about this. I'd just like to get started and if I get to actually finish a story eventually, that is an achievement in itself at this point. One other thing I really suck at is writing titles. So my titles really suck big time.

(Sorry if I'm a little incoherent today, chatting with and listening to an almost 8-yr-old while writing is really distracting).


We Have Decided

Mathew wasn't sure what he must do now that their secret is in jeopardy.

Hiding's not an option and running, even crazier. So best thing would be: "Letting it out by my own hands. Yes."

Straightening from a defeated crouch, his shakey voice croaked, "Can't take this anymore. Let's go. Time to - save our world." Cackling with ironic laughter, decision made.

"How?" She whispered anxiously.

"I don't know."

Going through locked doors, leading toward hidden dark places, heartbeats growing louder, blood racing quicker, as they approach the room. Both headed onward resolutely. Two of them will face - whatever, everything, together.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Dead High Yearbook

Dead High Yearbook by Ivan Velez is a comic that made me roll my eyes in exasperation by the time I got to the end of reading it. The packaging of the book is very nice, but this does not redeem the stories from bordering on inane. I felt like it was trying to be be innovative, cool and dark, but failing miserably because the writers missed the point and focussed on the shock factor instead of telling a good story.

I'm guessing this book is targetted at a teen audience, seeing all the characters are high school students. For a young person who has not seen much, this book might be fun and provide a few scares. It is a collection of stories telling the demise of young people from a high school, who will be entered into a yearbook that is put together by an editorial team of dead people. The characters include vampires, zombies, mutants and basically some individuals who refuse to die. For a jaded adult like me, though, the stories don't provide much new material. Admittedly some are quite gruesome and ickky but none give new perspectives nor do they entertain with fresh or clever twists.

So overall, it might be ok for an older teenager (I'd keep the visual blod and gore away from younger kids), but it would just be mindless and humourless reading for an adult.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Dog Bite Dog

I finally watched Dog Bite Dog last night. It is another film I saw to satisfy my current obsession with Edison Chen. I'm having a personal Edison Chen Film Fest right now if you haven't noticed.

Why do I say finally? It is because my husband bought the disc last year but I didn't bother about it until I realised recently that Edison Chen is the lead actor.

There's already a very good review and commentary on Dog Bite Dog on the Love HK website and at Swifty so I won't give a synopsis of the plot here, but here are my personal views of the movie:

  1. Edison Chen looked good (such a pretty boy!), even when he was unwashed, dressed in a sack and caked with dirt, mud and blood for the entire duration of the film.
  2. On a personal level is completely violent and dissatisfying. But it is well-filmed though over-the-top in some parts so it might appeal to the art or cult film buff. I only enjoyed it because Edison Chen appeared in 80% of the shots.
  3. For me, Edison Chen again proved his ability as an actor in this movie. He was very good in it! His body language, facial expressions and eyes conveyed many nuances needed in a role where he spoke no more than 10 sentences. (I didn't really count but I think it might even be no more than 5 sentences.) I heard from a friend that Edison Chen is known to be an actor who is serious about his craft but he was given 花瓶 (decorative) roles because of his previous management company.

Are you tired of hearing about Edison Chen yet? Oh well, I'm still obsessed for the moment so you have to bear with me. I'm going to search for more Edison Chen movies to watch before I get sick of him, so you're going to see some more posts about his movies in the coming days.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name

The Death Note movies were released in 2006 but I didn't watch them in the cinemas then because I wanted to watch both Death Note and its sequel Death Note: The Last Name at the same time. The movies are based on the manga series of the same name, and are basically about the battle of wits between Light (Kira) and L. Light is a university student who finds a notebook, the Death Note, that enables him to kill people by writing their names on it, while L is the mysterious detective (we find out later that he is a youth like Light) who tries to bring the murderer, Kira, to justice. The other important characters include CGI death gods who are the previous owners of the Death Notebooks, and the owners of the other Death Notebook.

Last night, I finally got to watch both Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name.

Personally, I was rooting for Light the entire time, even though he was the increasingly evil protagonist. Right to the end, I wanted him to win the battle with L and get away with his crimes. He was charming, cool, intelligent and very magnetic, even though the actor who played Light, Tatsuya Fujiwara, is rather effeminate in appearance. In the storyline, Light was well-loved by many people in his life, his girlfriends, his family and by the public, as the anonymous alter-ego, Kira. This was because Kira took the law into his own hands, killing off criminals who escaped the law. This made some of the public feel the murders were justified because the crime rates fell as a result. Tatsuya Fujiwara has the appropriate manga-ish looks and he has magnetic eyes which express many emotions with just one glance. Though he is not really my type of actor in terms of looks, he is still nonetheless very attractive. I remember him from Battle Royale too.

L in comparison was seriously too weird and aloof. Munching on sweets all the time, enforcing torturous interrogation methods in a cold and calculative manner, with beady, shifty, kohl-lined eyes which never look directly at anyone. In the movie, many people were also not very emotionally attached to him at all. The actor Ken'ichi Matsuyama who portrayed L is also not charismatic. So, I really disliked him. The only time I felt sympathy for him was at the end where he revealed his modus operandi that entailed a sacrifice on his part.

These characterisations of the main protagists were, in my opinion, very suitable for the 2 who personify the opposite poles of the rule of law versus vigilant justice. The law, represented by L, is cold, not always comfortable, sometimes oppressive and often non-humanistic. Vigilant justice on the other hand, as represented by Kira, is emotional and seductive. In this way I think the movies work very well.

Similarly the plot with its twists and turns is exciting and mind-boggling. The movies were engaging, but they might not be for everyone. My husband got bored with trying to follow the story and ended up walking away before the end of the first movie. I have not read the manga nor seen the anime, but the movies have made me very interested to do so. I am considering purchasing the DVD so that I can rewatch the shows in the future.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The Grudge 2

You all know I watched The Grudge 2 for the sake of looking at Edison Chen (eye candy). I wasn't expecting much from the movie (I thought it's another toned down Hollywood remake) nor Edison Chen (he's no highbrow thespian), but I ended up pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained by both.

Like it says on Wikipedia, The Grudge 2 is the 2006 sequel to the 2004 American horror film The Grudge. The Grudge was a Hollywood remake of J-horror film, Ju-on. Though directed by the same Japanese director as for Ju-on, to me, The Grudge paled in comparison to the Japanese original. It was a considerable box office success which led to the sequels, but somehow, I felt less freaked out by it than I was with Ju-on.

But as I found out last night, The Grudge 2 is not a remake of the Japanese Ju-on: The Grudge 2. The Grudge 2 instead explores interesting concepts of spirit containment (or the loss of it) and the contagion of malicious evil (without giving out too many spoilers). It is not apparent from the start but the show is not told in a traditional linear time-line, and ends in a surprising twist of sorts. It turned out to be a rather clever script with a few thoroughly good scares snuck in between.

In terms of creep factor, I still feel the original Ju-on collection of films is more on the nose. Watching the DVD extras, I learnt that Takashi Shimizu (director of the original series) had to do things differently because he needed to make the story and innuendos easier for the western audience to understand. I have not thought this through properly but I guess that perhaps because of this that some things are made more obvious and left less to the imagination. As a result, the cinematography The Grudge 2 becomes pretty much tamed down and less creepy. Nonetheless, I still had some good shocks and small screams, though I didn't have any lingering images to haunt my dreams.

Besides the clever storyline, I was impressed by the improvement in Edison Chen's acting too. He turned in a credible performance, unlike in most of the Hong Kong productions where he mostly looks cool or emotes silently. To me, like some other actors we know, he has the disadvantage of having a pretty face, which detracts from his acting abilities. Maybe that's why he's mostly given the pretty-boy roles in the Hong Kong movies. Furthermore, in most of the Hong Kong productions he acted in, Cantonese is the main language used and I realised from scouring the web, he's not comfortable with the language at all. I suspect that is why he has fewer speaking lines in the Hong Kong movies. It is no surprise that as a Canadian born Chinese, brought up in the west, he is able to speak fluently and comfortably in English in The Grudge 2 and in the DVD extras interview clips. Perhaps because The Grudge 2 is filmed in language which he is comfortable with, he seems better able to understand the nuances and hence act better! I'm looking forward to seeing more films from him.

So, overall, The Grudge 2 was a pleasant evening of scary entertainment! I was very happy to see Sarah Michelle Gellar again, in the first few scenes. Maybe I need to have my own Buffy rerun!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman

Fragile Things is a compilation of Neil Gaiman's short stories and poetry, which have been printed before in anthologies but are now collected together in one book. There are altogether 4 poems and 24 short stories. I read 4 of the stories before, and 1 poem, Faery Reel, which appeared in the same-titled short story collection. Other Neil Gaiman fans may find themselves in the same situation, but this collection is worth having even if you've read some of the stories before.

2 of the stories in Fragile Things - Keepsakes and Treasures and Monarch of the Glen - are linked to the character Shadow from American Gods. Monarch of the Glen tells of Shadow's adventures in Scotland and Keepsakes and Treasures is the story of 2 people Shadow met in Monarch of the Glen. After reading these 2 stories, I feel compelled to read American Gods, which shame on me, I have not yet done so.

I enjoyed this book, particularly when revisiting those stories I've read before, as it made me see new details. They all have the unique Neil Gaiman touch of imagination, wit and easy flow. In general, the stories have a tinge of weird and fantastical, even the one story, The Flints of Memory Lane, which according to Neil Gaiman is completely true. Neil Gaiman also provides a detailed and entertaining introduction, shedding light on the origins and inspiration for each of the tales and poems.

This is one book that fans of Neil Gaiman will enjoy owning. I for one do not regret buying this book because I will be rereading some of the stories.

Initial D

I borrowed and watched all 3 installments of Infernal Affairs last week. The first movie was the best, then the series spiraled down into a confused mess by the 3rd installment. I only liked Infernal Affairs 2 because of Edison Chen. He's awfully cute but had very little screen time in Infernal Affairs 2. I wanted to see more of him, so I borrowed Initial D and watched it last night. Again, he had very little screen time on this show but was cute as ever. Since I am also an admirer of Jay Chou I wasn't completely unhappy with the movie. It is a very fun movie with lots of comic relief and exciting racing scenes. I feel like looking up the Initial D OVA.

I couldn't help comparing Initial D with Tokyo Drift. Having watched both Tokyo Drift movies, I prefer Tokyo Drift overall in terms of stunts and cinematography, but I dislike 2 Fast 2 Furious. There are some aspects of Initial D which I feel are nicer than Tokyo Drift though. First of all, I prefer the cast in Initial D, including Edisen Chen (ofcourse) and Jay Chou. I also prefer the way the hero (or main character) is portrayed in Initial D. Takumi (Jay Chou) is the reluctant hero, who has the skills and talent but does not show it off. In comparison, Sean (Lucas Black in Tokyo Drift) was brash and showy. Maybe it is a trite comparison but I think it might be the difference between East and West.

Interestingly, last night I saw Princess Blade, another movie based on anime like Initial D, just before watching Initial D, and Yuki Hime was also the reluctant heroine but with superb skills and talents in Japanese martial arts. I like the reluctant heros.

Polar told me not to write an entire blog entry about Edison Chen. Though I started this entry wanting to do that, I obeyed her. Nevertheless, I will end here by saying I still need more Edison Chen eye candy, so luckily, I have The Grudge 2 on loan from Video Ezy and I intend to watch it tonight. I prefer the original Japanese version, Ju-on, but I watched the first Hollywood remake The Grudge for the sake of Sarah Michelle Gellar (cause I miss Buffy!) so it's not surprising that I will be watching this sequel for Edison Chen. I suspect he will not have much screen time either, he's actually not a very good actor. I wonder why E! placed him as the No.1 next big Asian star (I saw this on TV and I can't remember the title of the show), ranking higher than Rain! I guess it might be because he has this great business acumen, attitude and speaks perfect Canadian accented English. And gosh, he has a blog which ofcourse I'm adding to my google reader. Definitely. Even though it might well be ghost written by some kid on his payroll.

Friday, 1 June 2007

How Much Is My Blog Worth?

I've finished reading Faery Reel, which I took almost a year to read, because I started it last year! Think I will post a review. Can't wait to get started on Fragile Things. It's been sitting there tempting me.

This is how much my blog costs:

My blog is worth $2,258.16.
How much is your blog worth?