Friday, January 28, 2011

Husbands and Wives

I must say that after watching this film, I have a better understanding about what married life must be like. It's difficult to say you know when you really don't have a clue, but that doesn't mean you don't know what real love and respect is all about, and that with the right tools a beautiful relationship can't survive. This Woody Allen film poses many great questions about relationships and communication in general, however quite a morbid and skewed perception of what marriage and love on the whole may be like. It's probably part of the reason why the film most times were completely hilarious; Woody has that gift of being able to show comedy through tragedy, make it thought-provoking, yet always at the end he is left alone. It seems to me that he likes sad endings, or that's his way of making a twist; because they're always the same outlook. He is completely talented, lovable, but always the whiney, "I don't know why the world hates me" type of attitude, that if you're not careful, viewers also can be sucked into that negative, 'woe is me' kind of outlook for life in general.

This film was extremely clever, as all Woody Allen films usually are, the content and script/dialogue/conversation, extremely brilliant, the camera techniques, deliberately jerky and I completely love the way his characters/actors are always as realistic as humanly possible. I always tend to see New York settings and actors more natural, as opposed to Hollywood style and often incredulously glamorous characters; which isn't wrong or right, but just different. I enjoy both, because you take away singular emotions/feelings with it, but I certainly prefer more natural because it's closer to real life, as even when people pretend their hardest, life isn't always glamorous. I have noticed also that people have used this style in films of interviewing characters on what their feelings are about others, which I absolutely find irresistible because it makes the audience feel as though they're bonding with each person and as though it is even a real situation as opposed to just a director's perspective in a story.

Husbands and Wives was about 2 couples and friends who wondered what it would be like to be single again after spending many years together, about questioning about what their relationship was about, and I would say mostly when hitting that 'mid-life crisis' in wondering if they've still got it and they're insecure on what they have or don't have. I would have loved to play Sally's role, because for me she was the most entertaining character. She was eccentric, funny and well cultured, however someone who definitely needed to be married. After splitting from her husband and dating the yummy Leam Neeson, she realized that she was in fact in love with her pudgy husband all along. The film showed how it was easier for an older man in the dating role than for an older woman, because according to the wives, once they began showing their age, they were just thrown out the window. How the mid-life crisis is probably a quest of unfulfilled dreams or lost youth; of how you become friendly and close with people but in fact you don't even really know them. About how one becomes tired of being corrected and criticized, that it becomes as though one is always on an audition, however once you've had roots planted so deep it's difficult to be set free, however you see who your real mate is when you see how they deal with you in time of crisis and where their priorities may lie. Is work/extra-curricular activities/classes more important than your mate if they need you? It spoke about how Love is not about passion and romance only, but about companionship and communication and about being willing to compromise or change for the better, because if you don't you'll just shrivel up inside. You can't overlook some things because it will never go away; you have to face it head on.

Funny parts of the film I'd like to mention would be:

"Como case women crash their plane and you die along with them because they crash their plane into you!"

"Some people are foxes and some people are hedgehogs!"

"Your IQ is suddenly in remission."

"You should have been born in the 1800's."

"Get in the car, you infant!"

And the last words/manuscript narrated by Woody in the end were quite beautiful and went like this:

"The heart raged and demanded, got melancholy and confused. And to what end? To articulate what nit-wit strategy? It told him something about mind-boggling numbers of sperm that competed for a single egg. It was not the other way around. Of course men would make love at any time and place with any number of women including total strangers. While females were more selective. They were in each case conforming to the demands of only one small egg, while each male had millions and millions of frantic sperm screaming wildly let us out, please, let us out now!

Like those desperate ads in the Personal's column with a dozen requirements and if they were not enough, there was added: Must be a non-smoker. Felman longed to meet a woman who attracted him physically and have a following personality, a quick sense of humour, equal to his love of sports, equal to his love of classical music, equal to his with a particular with a liking to Bach and balmy climates. He thought he wanted himself but as a pretty woman.

Pepkin married and raised a family. He led a warm and domestic life, placid but dull. Nap was a swinger; he skewed nuptial ties and was in bed with 5 different women a week. Students, housewives, nurses, actresses, a doctor, a sales girl. You name it, Nap held it between his legs. Pepkin from the calm of his fidelity envied Nap. Nap lonely beyond belief envied Pepkin.

What happened, after the Honey Moon was over? Did the desire really grow with the years? Or did familiarity cause partners to long for other lovers? Was the notion of ever deepening romance a myth we had all grown up on? Along with simultaneous orgasms? The only time Ripkin and his wife experienced a simultaneous orgasm was when the judge handed them their divorce. Maybe in the end, the idea was not to expect too much out of life!"

My final words are, that there must be plenty of truth, however when you've seen relationships that work, when you've been raised in a culture and society where the majority are able to withstand the hurricanes, when you yourself have experienced true love, then no-one can tell you otherwise, because your life is what you want it to be. You have to believe in love if you want it, and when you do find that love, you have to work respectfully and fervently to make it work. True love can stand the test of time; your intuition also never lies, so if both parties are not in it to win it, and do things hurtful and unbelievable, you know that it wasn't true love to begin with. The way you want to be treated, is how you should treat your mate. If your mate is sad or down, offer them comfort, you may not be able to take away their pain or their bruises but can kiss them, embrace them and help them to feel better. If someone breaks that trust or someone doesn't have your feelings/happiness high on their priority list, and cannot make sacrifices for you, then it's not even worth it. Love in a relationship goes way beyond what we see in the movies; growing up with 2 parents who love each other has taught me that. Sure they have opposing views and stop talking from time to time [hahah] but in the end, they're respectful, inseparable, their love is everlasting and they would never do something that would breach that love, trust and commitment to each other; a fire that can burn forever; a love that can never be synched. J


This 1990 film written by the ever illustrious Stephen King, adapted screenplay by William Goldman and directed by Rob Reiner was a delightful and 'off-the-edge-of-your-seat-covers-up-to-your-eyes' kind of thrillers. It starred Kathy Bates and James Caan, and they did both an outstanding job! Another great American artist both my Dadsy and I enjoy, Stephen King!

Misery is a psychological thriller that jolts its audience's senses as well as their opinion on fans and groupies. Kathy Bates plays a daunting character who is in love with novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) and claims to be his number 1 fan. We think he is in good hands when he is rescued by her as his car plummets over a cliff into heavy snow one night, because she is a nurse and wears an enormous smile and uses words like 'cock-a-doodie', however we quickly realize that since Sheldon can no longer use his legs as it would take months to heal, that he is in a prison with a woman who is mentally unstable.

The plot thickens, but with each new scene, you're left biting the hell out of your nails and hoping he won't open the next door; pure, unadulterated horror-full entertainment. It's nice to see most times where respected actors of today start off in their film careers; they kept growing, took on different roles, and formed a good rapport with writers and directors who were also setting the bar of quality film we see not that often today.

The Conversation

The Conversation starring Gene Hackman was unquestionably a creative film; it took its audience into the world of spies and how much they could really find out about a person besides simple pictures. It also shows how one can become quite obsessed with spying on others as well as losing his marbles when he begins to think everyone is against him. It was remarkable to see how young Harrison Ford was in this movie; it must have been back when he first started acting, for if I didn't see his name in the credits I wouldn't have recognized him.

I liked the use of sound in this film, they used many different techniques to muffle and suppress what was being said when they 'tapped' the talk between the young lady and man in the square. There were many different specific and small things I enjoyed as well, like the paintings and pictures on the wall of his apartment, the idiosyncrasies Gene Hackman had, like how provoked he'd get when someone 'called the Lord's name in vain'.

It was interesting to see the colossal twist in the end, when it was already too late for him losing his mind, when things were different from what he had expected. The dream sequence was also quite satisfying and special, because it was the only time the audience was able to learn a bit more about him and his past and what made him the way he was at present.


Yes, it's true, it most times isn't fair. Actually it seems as though it's never fair. Time again and again, you do the right things, give your love, time and effort endlessly and it seems like even with all your faith and trust, you get slapped in the face. You feel drained, used, unworthy, and disappointed; and still somehow you keep moving forward. You try to keep calm and peaceful, you try to regain your confidence and you try to keep positive, but you sigh, you pout, you feel 'weird' and are 'bummed out'. You wonder, "Well…what's next?" You followed the stupid rules, you abided for more than 3 years in unsuitable conditions, compromised and tried to keep the peace, hoping that maybe things will change for the better. Hah! Yea Right! It didn't, and then to top it off, things make a turn for the worst. You're simply tired with the way things are thrown your way, and although you know its right to always do the right things, you wish you could be satisfied with revenge, or see the people/things/situations fall flat on their faces, or maybe have their face slapped as they have done to you. But no; somehow you don't get that satisfaction and you then finally conclude, that this situation and what you're going through isn't fair.

Change isn't easy. It never is; unless of course, perhaps you've just won the lottery and could build a lovely little villa in the Caribbean. J But no, change usually happens when you're not ready for it, you're unprepared, you feel awkward, betrayed, and pushed into a new direction, whether you're ready for it or not. It has already been understood that this year is all about Change. So despite the sadness that creeps in, the tugging in your heart, or the scare of beginning something new, go with it. The Universe/God is all powerful, all knowing, and all wisdom, and just because part of our human traits are to forget about this heavenly intelligence and fight what we not yet understand, doesn't mean that what's happening isn't good. What is happening to you is a blessing in disguise; keep moving forward even if there isn't ground ahead of you, even if you don't know what direction to head in; ground will appear before you and you will be lead to where you need to be.

Why do we find it so hard to let go what is no good for us. Why do you resist so fervently? Open your eyes, or as a funny comment I heard the other day, "Your eyes are the window to the soul, but it looks like yours need a little Windex!" Don't you wish to be free and happy again? Who likes being around someone that never smiles, that never is positive, that always tries to take, take, take? I don't! Love yourself and value yourself and be gentle, the change is already traumatic, so be gentle with yourself and trust in what the Universe has to offer. If you thought what you had was the best, well think again, because what the Universe/God has in store for you is ten times better! And for all your suffering/prerequisites/lessons weren't in vain; you deserve the good things coming to you. Embrace the change, and know even though you feel like you gave in vain, that you haven't'. And about that revenge or satisfaction, know that "every dog has their day", "everyone has their day in the sun", and they will never forget you. Because you held your light out genuinely and let it shine so bright, overflowing with love, and they'll never find somebody like you. You're a unique being, with specific spiritual duties and desires to carry out and there may be similar beauty, and similar beings, but never completely the same.

Somebody is madly in love with youuuuu! J

So what are you waiting for? Move the hell out of that apartment! Sever, slice and dice that unhealthy relationship! Get rid of that junk in your trunk! And look up and give thanks; even through the tears, it's gonna' get better; blessings will be poured in your direction! J The Universe guarantees it! J

Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander, or Fanny och Alexander, was for me a marvelous, thrilling and exquisite film. Set in Sweden with a slew of Swedish actors I found it to be immensely thought-provoking and first-rate story-telling. There were dream sequences, reality, dancing, wonderful sets and lighting, and certainly quite regal and sprawling as far as the amount of different emotions that were displayed within the film. Released in 1982 and part of The Criterion Collection director Ingmar Bergman made an intense and rightfully award winning film. It was the winner of the 1984 Academy Award for Best Language Film. I always enjoy watching foreign films because there is always such depth in content and conversation. You learn so much and see how beautifully specific and thoughtful they are with every small detail. Watching this film ignites my urge to travel and explore, and I do know personally some half Swedish, half Trinis, and although we are different cultures, we have more similarities than one may think. I know I was smiling when hearing the forms of punishments for children of being flogged by the switch or ruler and also taking castor-oil, for I also had such strict upbringing. The sights and sounds and lovely architecture and boating intrigued me as well. Oh how I wish now, to visit Sweden!

I found it interesting that the title would accompany both names when the film was mostly about Alexander; however after reading up a bit more on this film, I found out that it was mostly autobiographical and perhaps he wanted to include his sister in the series of unfortunate circumstances which arose. The dialogue, conversation and actually entire script was such a delight because it touched on reality and what we deem it to be, on paranormal incidences and things we cannot explain, as well as on our moral beliefs and decision-making. I did not enjoy most of the transitions though, I feel that they were mostly always loud and startling at the beginning of every scene, but perhaps it was Bergman's strategy to jolt the senses of his audience from time to time. I found the strange, breathing puppets, the whimsical and eccentric characters, and the constant deliberation of good and evil all quite astonishing! I liked that there was order and reverence and truth to this family and that they were really at heart good people as they embraced even their maids. I found that some moments were uncomfortably disturbing with its sensuality as well as depictions of certain characters faces or imperfections, however I do believe that a good director has done his job if he is able to evoke different emotions and have the ability to make an audience member squirm in his/her chair.

It was fascinating the way the film compared life to an actor's role; when they say:

"Some roles are nice, and other's not so nice…there are strange roles to play. Some you cannot control and can shatter reality. Some remain broken, some don't bother to mend it, and nothing makes sense anymore…"

And, "The unknown makes people angry, it's better to blame it on mirrors and magic, because it makes people laugh…you must be gentle with people Alexander."

One of my favourite moments was when Alexander's uncle who was a fun-loving character with a twisty moustache gave a lovely but long speech about life and celebrating it, I was able to capture some of it, which went:

"The world is a den of thieves, and night is falling. Evil breaks its chains and runs through the world like a mad dog. The poison affects us all… no-one escapes… so it shall be… therefore let us be happy, while we are happy. Let us be kind, generous, affectionate and good. It is necessary, and not at all shameful… to take pleasure in the little world. Good food, gentle smiles, fruit trees in bloom, waltzes."

The last moment of the film was also quite poignant and ended quite brilliantly, with darling 10 year old Alexander, lying with his head on his grandmother's lap, she is reading from a play that she has to learn to perform in theatre and she says:

"Everything can happen. Everything is possible and probable. Time and Space do not exist, on a flimsy framework of reality. The imagination spins, weaving new patterns."

It makes me reminiscent of what life really is, or in fact what we make it out to be. Of our education at school, by our family, our cultures, our downfalls and those that become victorious by always being resilient, being able to dust themselves off, endure the pain, and still be able to hobble forward with the light within us all that reminds us that nothing can break us instead the more trust and patience we have, the greater our sufferings, the greater also our rewards shall be. J

Flower Drum Song

Flower Drum Song written by C.Y. Lee in the 1950's and adapted into a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1961 was a compelling story and rather enjoyable despite it being a musical. I tend to usually dislike musicals, the only ones I'd enjoy watching would be 'Pas Sur La Bouche' and 'The Sound of Music'… and well perhaps, 'Beauty and the Beast', but I must say Flower Drum Song was quite a compelling story! I find it pleasing because each singing and dance number made sense, it was called for, people didn't just break into song like some musicals do, which I find quite difficult to relate to, but in this film, whenever the characters sing, it was them actually singing in a night club or to each other to express their feelings more fully.

This film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Music, and it is a wonderful tale about the problems with assimilation into the United States, about cultural differences, as well as generational conflicts; I really was able to identify with this story, because I too am a foreigner to America. It is mainly if not entirely an Asian-American cast and depitcts society in San Francisco during the 40's and 50's. It was done in such a beautiful way that even though the set may have been built in a Universal lot in Hollywood, it became so real with the set design and costumes that we felt as though we were in the 'real' China-town in San Francisco in the 1950's as well as being able to experience the way people lived back then.

'I Enjoy Being A Girl', 'Chop Sui' and 'A Hundred Million Miracles' were my favourite singing/dance numbers. The film went from comical, to sweet, to respectful, to uplifting, every moment was relatable I think not only to Asians, but Americans as well. What I found rather interesting though, was that it was an entire Asian cast, rightfully so, as it is a story about their culture, however there was one actress named Juanita Hall, an African American, singer/actress, who got no honorable mention at all, except in the credits. She had a reputable and grand part in the film, many lines and even some singing and dancing, yet even in the behind the scenes features, not one person brought up her name. They even spoke of the extras in the film and all other major characters in the film, but never once was a word uttered about her. The other actors who made a phenomenal and timeless show were Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Jack Soo, Benson Fong and Miyoshi Umeki.

I think that nowadays Asian's are still not offered many leading roles; however I believe that Rodgers and Hammerstein who did other great classics like 'The King and I' opened the doors for actors of different races other than Caucasians in a pleasant and grandeur scale. We can see Hispanics and African Americans having much more play in Film and Television these days, and slowly also other races are being able to be brought into the foreground in making their acting debuts.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

What great fun! I'd been interested to see this film because the tabloids had it that this was the film that ignited the divorce of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Oh Bother! Perhaps it did, what great chemistry Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have. Whatever Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston does is their own personal business, but I must say that Angelina is a much better actress! Always saucy and fun, strong, exciting characters, not much needed to be said; her electrifying stare does most of the work. And Brad Pitt, never really fancied him; his acting yes of course, quite wide-ranged and reputable, however celebrity crush, never! In this film though, I rather enjoyed him, it must be those close shots and the ripping off of his t-shirt/everything else he was wearing! J

Writer Simon Kinberg and Director Doug Liman certainly delivered monstrous sparks. Action mixed in with comedy, plenty of sexy and although predictable outcomes, still excellent ingredients for a great Hollywood film. Kerry Washington and Vince Vaughn, were warm friends who kept the laughs coming and the neighbour's reactions, in their perfect suburbia when things went hay-wire were also quite classic. I loved the smooth camera transitions and cinematography, as well as the close-ups and wide pans, seamlessly melting between solid objects.

There isn't very much more I can say about this 2005 Regency Films' classic, except that it was quite cute. No philosophical message or serious drama, but empowering and entertaining, and dare I say the recipe to keep long-standing relationships, 6 years and still going, loads of laughter, name-calling, support and an abundance of strength. I got your back and you've got mine – always and forever! J

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fire in Your New Shoes

** Well-said. Time to Dance! ;)

Whatever God Wants

Ironically, the same friend I had a bite to eat with a couple months prior, who said I was "too nice" for "this town" and that I had to change to suit the wolves in sheep clothing here in LA, is the same person who I think about when I bring up the topic of 'Whatever God Wants'. You see, at the tender age of 18, he was able to write, produce, direct and star in his very own film entitled: If God Wants. Sure the film had a different story line and subject matter, but the simple fact that the film is named what it is, surely states the very clear message of what he wanted his audience to adhere to.

Sometimes there is so much pain… so much suffering… so much disappointment, and discouragement… So many tricks the mind plays on us… and this is when we realize, that no matter how great we human beings can be, with the latest technology and bestselling books, that we are indeed still not all powerful. We are indeed not fully in control. We can buy the latest conveniences of comfort, or have all the fame in the world, we can showcase and play petty games, to puff ourselves up like a pretty peacock, but really, does it bring us peace of mind, does it bring us happiness. For if we aren't humble, will we ever be able to learn lessons or grow? We all live and die, and sure we want to enjoy life, but shouldn't we make it meaningful?

My father said something funny to me the other day, he said: Eat, Pray, Love, not possess. And even though I laughed heartily at this and a laugh I did need, it really was very subtle wisdom. For we have to eat and live day to day in this life, make a living, eat to live. We should pray, to give thanks and to still our mind that sometimes becomes our enemy. We must certainly love, for that is what life is all about, not to compete and to battle and to ridicule and to take, but to give and share and love each other as the Universe shows us love/kindness. And lastly, not possess; he is right, for not only should we not become attached to worldly gadgets but also we should learn that every beautiful thing given to us does not mean we own it. For we came into this world alone and so we shall leave it, and even though we love with all our heart and do the right things, doesn't mean that automatically it belongs to us, it's a bit of give and take.

We have to train our mind to work with us, to do the right things, yes. To speak the truth, yes. To be nice and loving to others, just as we ourselves would like to be treated also with respect, yes; but also to realize the impermanence within everything in life. We love our parents with all our heart (or at least we should – hahah) and even though we know this love is one that will last forever, one being true. We cannot hold onto them forever. They do not belong to us. They must return from whence they came. Our heavenly father, creator, God, whatever name you give him, created us and when the time is right, like everything else in life, he also makes a perfect timing for our exit as well.

Flowers bloom, and we enjoy looking at them, smelling them, eating them (not me!), but there comes a time when they too must wilt and die. Some things in life are like this too; for instance you are with a job, and things go sour for whatever reasons and you are discouraged and disappointed and it ends. You are devastated and lost, but indeed, it's a change, for something new and special to happen in your life, you are lead to another job and it in fact is a better one. Look at relationships, magical, beautiful, sometimes they evolve because the love is stronger here, the people want the same things and respect each other, and they re-bloom, or because they never will see eye-to-eye, because the love wasn't true, it ends. You're disappointed, discouraged, and you go through changes, but then something new and special happens in your life. J

I remember having Al Green on one of my flights; silly me, I didn't know any of his music (but could you really blame a girl from the Caribbean), I met him, and I learnt many things about him and his music; but anyhow, one of my mischievous friends' knowing this, told me to ask him "How do you mend a broken heart?" Which apparently is one of his very famous tunes, and luckily Mr. Green wasn't bothered in the least by this, smiled and said…"True Love".

Again, in life, things are impermanent, even our lives, the only thing that is everlasting is love. God is love, and therefore, Whatever God Wants is how it shall be, because we dear friends, no matter how much we try to control or possess, are not in charge, things only work in the perfect timing, or is a blessing in disguise, so embrace the pain, and taste your salty tears and surrender and say, "Whatever God Wants!", "Whatever Love Wants!", I trust in you! J

Crime and Misdemeanors

Who doesn't enjoy a Woody Allen film? Scarlett Johansson certainly loves them; Woody Allen was the one to jumpstart/kick start her brilliant career. He has such wonderful comic timing in all of his films and clever stories within all of it; I love the fact that he is talented enough to write, direct and act in his films, also like the lovely Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful among other films) who I absolutely respect. Crimes and Misdemeanors was produced by Jack Rollins and Charles H Joffe and hosted a slew of respected actors, which include: Caroline Aaron, Alan Alda, Woody Allen, Claire Bloom, Mia Farrow, Joanna Gleason, Anjelica Huston (who also starred in The Royal Tenenbaums), Martin Landau, Jenny Nichols, Jerry Orbach, and Sam Waterson.

The camera techniques slow and deliberate, the dialogues always thought provoking, the transitions impeccable, certainly a cinematic gold. Laughter galore, yet definite drama and a tinge of sadness, as each person involved needs to find their own sense of morality. There is a line in the film which goes: "If you want a happy ending, you should go see a Hollywood movie." Well, this ending certainly wasn't Hollywood. There was an old Jewish professor that character Cliff Stern (Woody) interviewed and whose voice/narration is used throughout the film, as a way each man is able to examine what love and life means to them which I found fascinating; and towards the end of the film he sums it up quite beautifully even though he himself seemingly a lover of life commits suicide.

He says:

"We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions; moral choices. Some are on a grand scale; most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfurl; human happiness does not seem to be included in the design of creation; it is only we with our capacity to love and give meaning to the indifference of the Universe. And yet most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generation might understand more."

Well done again Woody Allen…too bad I'm not Jewish and my name isn't Scarlett Johansson! J The journey continues…

Play Their Game

I remember having a bite to eat with a friend a couple months prior, and he expressed to me that I was "too nice", he said I wouldn't get anywhere in "this town", thinking the way I did. Back then, I was appalled and couldn't comprehend exactly what he was trying to explain to me. Sure I've heard of women sleeping with Producers and Directors to get ahead, and he told me apparently, you could sleep with the wives of Producers and Directors as well, and she'd put in a good word for you, if you "rocked her world". I couldn't see then and still don't see now, warping my moral beliefs to make progress on my journey; and the simple thought of all these shared partners within this small town, sounded rather disgusting!

Using sex as bribe/bate isn't the only way to get ahead in this town; according to the grapevine, people also enjoy stomping upon each other and being sly or nastily competitive. You think girls are the only ones who do it? That's already a given, women like to compete, no ifs, ands or buts; but in the Entertainment field as well as in 'the city of angels'; everybody is competition! I've bumped into more than enough cut-throats, conniving, and back-stabbing rats since I've been here. They smile to your face and pretend to be your friends, suck your energy dry or keep one step ahead of you. Sure, I come from a simple, quiet island where people for the most part are genuine and those that aren't, are the talk of the village! However, I've had the opportunity to travel far and wide and live in other countries and states within the US to know that a high concentration of seedy people resides here. That's right, they come from all over the world to live in this paradise land, and spread their malice and vindictiveness. I love living in LA, every morning I wake up with brilliant sunshine in January, I'm grateful, but within the Film world of Botox and phony stories of people saying one thing and meaning the other, it often-time tends to over shine the few good deeds or doers of the people living here.

Los Angeles is a place of wolves dressed in sheep clothing, and the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", tis may be true, nevertheless because we live in an ordinary time, filled with ordinary people, doesn't mean we must forget our extraordinary qualities and just way of living. I rather be a sheep in wolf clothing, more of an edge is better, don't you think, nice fluffy tail? But no, I much rather be a sheep in lion's clothing! Rawr! For lions are ever so charming and strong, aren't they? Sexy mane…sideburns…hahah j/k J At the moment, everyone is going bonkers because of scientists saying that horoscopes have changed, because the world has changed, but don't you get it? You were born at a specific time and just because the world changes, doesn't mean you have to change too. You are still a lovely Leo, a vivacious Virgo, or an auspicious Aries! There is no need to completely change your ways and how you were raised because the world changes. Guess what? It will continue to change, keep turning, constantly evolving forever more; so what do you recommend, changing your horoscope and personality to suit the scientists observations or perhaps as my dear cousin suggested, tattoo "Was a" in inverted coma's over your astrological sign tattoo?

To live on earth, you must follow man's rules, you have to make a living, learn, eat, get shelter etcetera and with all these things, one needs money. In the Film/Entertainment world, there are even more rules or games to play by, and as the astute Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran reminds us:

"… You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite. When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison? Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune. But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret. But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brown, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written. You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary. And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, And all knowledge is vain save when there is work, And all work is empty save when there is love; And when work with love you bind yourself, and to one another, and to God.

Therefore what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit. It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching. Often I have heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil. And he, who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet." But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass; and he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night."

[Excerpt from The Prophet – On Work]

So if your desire happens to be to work within one of the most difficult, manipulative, and competitive arena's in one of the most expensive states to live in within America, buckle up, put on your gloves and hold on tight, because you're going to get down and dirty. Sometimes to achieve great things you have to leave swimming in your wonderful, lucid pond filled with goldfish and try your best to stay afloat wearing a wet-suit within the tumultuous ocean where the BIG fish are; big fish/biting sharks! And still, I wouldn't trade it for the world…well, maybe just one world…j/k; I absolutely love the challenge of living among these wolves! But again, just because you play their game, doesn't mean you lose yourself in the process. Follow the rules, and try to stay steady on the ladder, there will be many that will clandestinely try to shake you off, but always remember in whatever you do, be fair, have humility and be that extraordinary person that in the end people can believe in. J

If you're doing it for the money and for fame, those are the wrong reasons and the Universe knows what's in your heart. It might bring you many things and temporary pleasures, but it will never bring you happiness, for even the richest man will die one day, and he cannot take one thing with him to the other side, but his good deeds. How many will he have; how many things could he say he did so with love as opposed to feigning affection and praise from others? How many things could he say he honestly enjoyed? How many things could he say brought joy to his heart, things that fulfilled him as would a true love's kiss?

The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria, released in 2008, was a delightful treat; such opulence, dreamlike moments and a pure love story that for me was the most easily relatable than other old royal films made. The use of language was understandable, and although it is still not easy to imagine people living in such affluence in beautiful castles and having an entire court of people wait on them, I find that the way Queen Victoria responded and interacted with everyone to be quite believable and refreshing.

I cannot fib and say I enjoyed Emily Blunt, (Queen Victoria) in her film 'The Wolf Man' when she acted alongside Anthony Hopkins and Benicio del Toro; but then again I cannot say that I enjoyed Hopkins or del Toro's performance either. Nevertheless after seeing The Young Victoria I am pleased to say that Ms. Blunt did a fine job, because it is not only memorizing lines but one can see also the amount of dedication she put into her research of the queen; her body language, posture and grace, are evident in that.

I wonder if I am the only one who mistaken young Rupert Friend, who plays Prince Albert for Orlando Bloom in this film. The similarities are quite uncanny, and his Belgian accent I thought to be quite good; I thought that although he had a small frame, he held his role well and with great strength. I adored the way he loved Queen Victoria, especially when he said: "I would so like to be useful to you…if there is ever an opportunity…" And Victoria knowing this, responded saying, "I know that…but not yet." Such poignant words for me; she did eventually need him, when she'd made a dreadful mess with political decisions, and he never once tried to sway her thinking, instead stood by her and her decisions, and when he felt she wasn't heading the right way, he would gently recommend other avenues for her to take.

I wish that there were at least one full Opera scene, it was revealed that Queen Victoria enjoyed watching Operas and we the audience had glimpses of her attending, but never really was able to get a full taste or get lost in its beauty. Exquisite classical pieces of music were apparent throughout the entire film though, which certainly added to its magnificence.

The wardrobe was divine; obviously, those gowns from the 1800's are lavish and striking in every way. Her darling, Prince Cavalier puppy, named 'Dash', also made many appearances, I do say, a wonderful film to watch; and invigorating in that GK Films, writer Julian Fellowes, and director Jean-Marc Vallee found it worthy to create a film on a part of Victoria's life that many forget about. For even though she died at 82, she was happily married and in love for 20 years before Prince Albert had to leave by death at age 42, suffering from Typhoid Fever. It was said that every day after his death, until hers, she laid out his clothes in the evening.

Brokedown Palace

It's watching actors like Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale act alongside each other in an adventure of a film like this, that makes one wish they had the privilege also to be sought after and groomed into the film industry at similar pre-teen ages. The magnitude and strength of their characters portrayed in this movie is ground enough to make any aspiring actor take a 2nd look at his/her techniques. Sure this film wasn't Academy Award or Canne's Film Award nominated or winners; however it is a completely spellbinding and thrilling tale which the subject matter will resonate deeper with some than others. For anyone who is an avid traveler, and I don't mean pilots, flight attendants, or those who have million mile status because they travel for work, I'm speaking about someone who is an adventurer , an explorer, one that takes risks and goes hunting to areas of history as opposed to simply lying poolside, are those I speak about; a film like this would ring loud and clear about the dangers involved in traveling alone, and the often time menacing moments when you're caught out of your element. It's a huge risk; but some like the adrenalin, some have no fear, and some, well, are just plain silly.

I decided to dig up this old 1999 film out of my box of VHS and DVD collection because one of my flight mates' invited me to travel with them to Thailand for holiday this year. I have been prior to this wonderful country, and luckily didn't have to experience it alone (as now I don't care to travel very far anymore single-handedly due to similar scares); another trip out there might be nice, especially seeing I hadn't had the opportunity to lie poolside or visit the beaches. I found the content of Brokedown Palace as well as the delightful and believable acting by Danes, Beckinsale and Pullman, always refreshing, despite me seeing and visiting most of the lovely Thai temples and backdrops. This is precisely why this film should not only have been nominated for its good work and message but also should be seen as a cult classic. Writers Adam Fields and David Arata were able to expose the splendor and perils of traveling alone and about what could happen if one does not have a clever head on their shoulders. Director Jonathon Kaplan exemplified and captured what you could enjoy and all you could lose by becoming easily swooned or fooled by charming strangers.

This film is certainly fascinating and wraps you up deeply in lessons of travel as well as the ultimate love and sacrifice one can give to another when they are forced into tragic and serious conditions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dan Black

***Pretty lovely! :))

Edward Scissorhands

I was only a small girl in 1990, however when I saw this Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands, I knew what true love was. Love that wasn't perfect, a combination of beautiful, scary, humble, quirky, however real that was played to perfection by Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. It was then also that I further admired American film genius' like director Tim Burton, and composer Danny Elfman, who developed such wonderful sensibility for each other, and writer Caroline Thompson, that scooped up Tim Burton's idea and made it a dazzling tale that would touch people's hearts over and over again. I'd seen other Tim Burton films before this one, and although I quite liked Beetle Juice, I didn't find it as thrilling or enchanting as I'd found this one. There is so much comedy wrapped up into this film, yet very solemn serious matter at hand, because it speaks to everyone who's ever wanted to fit in. As Caroline Thompson explained it, that "…it's a fable not everyone will believe, but what everyone can understand, when you don't belong, and you should belong, and you try to belong, but you just can't belong…"

What I love about this film is how much it mimics life's peculiarities and callous yet understandable human nature. How ominous everything appeared until they had the courage to enter the garden's gates, it was there they found pure beauty. The Avon lady, played by Dianne Wiest was a person with true eyes, seeing beyond what would appear to others to be scary; for there are so many beautiful people on the outside, but how wretched and twisted they are on the inside.

I enjoyed the Dr. Seuss-like haircuts, and clear-cut Tampa Florida neighbourhood, and the brilliant acting by Johnny Depp; one in a million for sure, as he has always taken his craft seriously and never once let fame and fortune go to his head. Always calm and collected in interviews, and 100% committed to his eccentric characters. I felt his character's tenderness when he gave up after people began judging him because they could no longer get what they wanted out of him, or be who they wanted him to be. Alan Arkin to me was a riot! The things that came out of his mouth every time, so matter-of-factly he had me rolling every time; things like: "Honey, you can't buy the necessities of life with cookies. You can't buy a car with cookies!" and "Teenage girls are the worst, they grow up, they get these glands, they just blow up, and then they go crazy!"

It is a story about acceptance, about true love, about how you think you know somebody, but then see how quickly they point fingers and turn against you in times of stress, and about self-discovery and being okay with who you are. And most importantly having others love you just the way you are. To love and be loved, the age-old story, told in such a wonderful and miraculous way.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The 2009 film by Terry Gilliam, noted Canadian director, with 2 Academy Award nominations and forever a Sony Classic holding the honor of working with the late, great and gone too soon Heath Ledger is positively a fantastic and absolutely magical film. It'd caught my eye a year and a half ago because I'm always quite drawn to enchanting and dazzling tales, like 'Pan's Labyrinth', 'Amelie', and 'Angel-A' to name a few and besides that, who wouldn't want to see a film with Heath Ledger, Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell all in one go; it's an orgasm for the eyes if you know what I mean! Verne Troyer, Dr. Evil's sidekick in the 'Austin Power' movies, and Christopher Plummer a well-respected actor nurturing 2 new and up-and-coming actors; Lily Cole, a striking beauty from all angles and even in bad lighting and cute comic relief Andrew Garfield, now seen in 'The Social Network' film among others.

One becomes easily lost in this visual and imaginative adventure, put in a state of trance by the lovely and bubbly carnival-type music and sheer wonderment and amazement of how much work every one of the crew had to do to pull a project like this off. Besides all the groovy entertainment, I felt it fell short on elevated intensity or lessons. I enjoyed every moment of it, and wished for it not to end, however what meaning or significance could I take from it? Sadly not a whole lot, an educated guess off the top of my head would be, to not make deals with the devil; you'll end up suffering more and will never win. And apart from that I would say that what Heath Ledger's last words in his interview about this film was pure gold. He said something to the effect: What is success? For me it's essentially about doing my best when the lights come on till it's a cut. Because if you don't enjoy what you do, then how can anything be seen as a success?

Perhaps, it is all about the enjoyment, however I'd quickly beg to differ knowing that too much of anything is not good and were we merely beings of enjoyment, how soon would our brains become mush and we become a lazy society of instant gratification gadgets? Ah, but aren't we not there already? J

Merry 2011

How it should have gone:
- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Kiss on the countdown … Mmmm such lovely lips equals lovely kisser
- Counting the stars and mapping out my beloved and I's future together
- Levitating in sheer bliss from my meditation high
- Cooking a fine meal for my beloved and I, wearing only my red lipstick, red apron and red heels
- Moving up to Level 2 in my Improv class; teacher saying he doesn't know how it got past him
- Walking past Hudson News Sellers at the airport, smiling at seeing my book in the best-sellers
- Whatever shall I do with all this money? Feeling better after donating a chunk to charity
- Telephone call from director Luc Besson saying he absolutely needs me as leading lady in his next film
How it went:
- Snoozing and turning down New Year party invites, even though I love to dance; I'm tired
- Work, work, work, sliding onto my arse on ice and getting sun-burnt the very next day
- Voila! Extreme weather equals extreme head cold; bring on congestion and mighty headache
- Massive Fight with roommate, managing to scare me silly by transforming into a raging bull
- Throw up also known as whatever was supposed to be a fine meal, not so fine coming up again
- Lost mobile … Hmmm did I leave it by the toilet?
- Fatigue most likely brought on from the combination of what my life is to what I dream it to be
- Symptoms of altitude sickness; wishing I had a choice on where I could fly
Way to start the New Year eh?

Well how about some icing on the cake …just to slather on the sweetness…how about losing my voice!

Have a laugh! I certainly do, every day it keeps getting better, but I know that sometimes in life you have to be broken down before you can build up again. Things really aren't that bad; at least I try to look at it that way and try to focus on the many great things that happen in between. You know on this journey of life, this journey towards greatness and the journey to my future achievements. When you try too hard, things just fall apart, we are not always in control and we have to step in time with the music and flow in motion with the river. We lose timing, step on each other's feet and bump into rocks but we are flowing and dancing to the beat we are supposed to be moving with. Everything is as it should be, and you're learning more than ever and evolving constantly into revealing the beauty that you are!

With life there is always hope, always stories to be told and films to one day create, always miracles waiting to happen for those who believe in it, those who still have that little spark somewhere inside, that burns for the love of life and all that it has to offer. Nothing to fear; for its always grim before immense sunshine, and always rainbows when you've learned to look past the rain. I have another day, another chance; and the courage to be free! Thank-you Universe! J

Nothing to fear; for its always grim before immense sunshine, and always rainbows when you've learned to look past the rain. ~ By Jair Ananda Massiah.