Movies Galore

I watched eight films this month. Considering how expensive tickets are (RM16), it’s not something I would be able to do on a monthly basis, even if there were that many films I would want to watch every month.

This month, the Freedom Film Fest (FFF) as well as the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) combined to offer me lots to choose from. In fact, there were several short films screened as part of the FFF that I didn’t couldn’t fit in.

(I also watched IT.)Read More »

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Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

beauty queensThis review was first published in The Star on 31st July, 2011

(I’d forgotten about this YA novel and that I’d reviewed it until the all-female remake of The Lord of the Flies was recently announced.)

BEAUTY QUEENS

By Libba bray

Publisher: Scholastic Press, 396 pages

A PLANE full of teenage beauty queens crashes on a tropical island en route to the 41st Annual Miss Teen Dream Pageant. There are 14 survivors, including Miss Texas, the super-efficient and scarily perky Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins; Miss New Hampshire, razor-tongued Adina Greenberg; Miss California, super-assimilated Shanti Singh; and Miss Nebraska, secret wild-child Mary Lou Novak.

The stress and hardship bring out the worst and the best in the girls. You don’t look the way beauty queens do without being hard as nails (Miss Mississippi is initially gleeful about the lack of food on the island, immediately thinking in terms of weight loss rather than starvation), and one broken nail too many and even the most disciplined beauty bot might blow a fuse.

Still, the girls eventually rise to the occasion, turning their beauty apparatus and pageant-wear into tools to help them survive. And as the girls dig latrines and spear fish together, they learn to trust one other and let their guard down.

The demons each one privately wrestles with range from the usual teen problems with self-esteem and body image to sexuality, gender and race issues. While some of the girls come clean with their new friends, others are not yet ready to be honest with themselves, let alone the other girls.Read More »

One out of Three

The Japanese Film Festival is happening at the moment, in KL. I’ve watched three films so far, two of which (The Long Excuse, and Midnight Diner 2) were excellent in terms of script, acting and direction.

The third, Asian Three-fold Mirror 2016: Reflections, was disappointing. It comprised three short films, each directed by a different Asian director.

The films were Shiniuma (Dead Horse), directed by Brillante Ma Mendoza (Philippines); Pigeon, directed by  Isao Yukisada (Japan); and Beyond the Bridge directed by Sotho Kulikar (Cambodia).

Shiniuma was a moving study of displacement and human expendability, but the other two films were both mawkish and melodramatic stories told in ways that, I felt, pandered to gender and racial stereotypes.

Also, in Beyond the Bridge, the exoticization of some aspects of Cambodian history and culture were extremely cringey to watch. While the male love interest was Japanese, the portrayal of the two Cambodian women in his life was reminiscent of the Western exoticized view of Asian women as seen in films like Memoirs of a Geisha.

As for Pigeon, the acting and direction were way off-point, especially Sharifah Amani’s inconsistent accents (why would a girl whose parents own a warong speak English like a Bangsar hipster?). The characters and storyline were also unbelievable, and seemed to have been written only to showcase certain scenarios and actions.

Will be watching Her Love Boils Bathwater tonight. Will write a post about it, The Long Excuse, and Midnight Diner 2 over the weekend.

P.S. I also watched two films screened at the Freedom Film Festival 2017, so I have really been making up for the years I didn’t watch a single movie except when my kids needed a chaperone.

P.P.S. The last two weeks have been a bit of a blur for me. Have done a lot but also not enough. But I bought my planner for 2018 and that makes me happy.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

respect
Back [l to r]: Kelli; Derek; Tiffany; Issa’s brother; Issa; Sweetie (Kelli’s date); Smug-as-Shit Aparna; random friend of Derek. Front [r to l]: Random friend’s partner; Dro the Cheating Scoundrel; Candice, the Cheater’s wife; Molly; Lawrence. — This photo is property of HBO
What kind of disrespectful arsehole takes his current girlfriend to the birthday party of a friend he got to know through his ex, knowing his ex will be there? A fuckboy, that’s what kind of arsehole. And a fuckboy who thinks he’s a nice guy. Tasha was sooooo right.

So, I watched the penultimate episode (‘Hella Disrespectful’) of the second season of Insecure early this morning and, after also watching the finale teaser, I have no idea what to expect next.

It seems like Issa and Lawrence aren’t thinking straight and I admit that I’m half hoping that the reason for this is that they still love one another and need to sort things out and get back together. I’m torn about this.

I started the season really wanting them to be a couple again, but as the episodes went by, I started disliking Lawrence and thinking he’s not right for Issa. I also started liking Daniel more and more. And I still think Issa is being silly about what happened between them in Episode 6.

‘He embarrassed me,’ she whines to Molly, who also over-reacts, although perhaps not, as we don’t get to hear exactly what Issa has told her.

I’d actually like to know how Issa (mis)read the incident. When Daniel says, ‘So now we’re even’ she over-reacts once again. I think he meant, ‘So now we’ve both done things we shouldn’t be proud of’, but she reads it as ‘What I did was payback.’ Has she forgotten that she callously told him that he was an itch she needed to scratch? Why isn’t Episode 7 called ‘Hella Self-righteous’?

One explanation for Issa misunderstanding Daniel; and for Lawrence’s bad decision to take Aparna to Derek’s birthday party; for the nasty things they say to one another; and, finally, for Issa thrashing her flat, is that they have both reached breaking point. Whether or not this means they are still in love and will decide to reunite is anyone’s guess.

mud
This photo is the property of HBO

It could be that they just needed to get those nasty words out; that Lawrence (consciously or otherwise) needed to hurt Issa as much as he’d been hurt by her; that Issa needs some time to rest and recover, without the distractions of a hoetation; Lawrence ditto.

The teaser indicates that Lawrence will visit Issa. Maybe it’s to make up. Maybe it’s just to be human, apologise, admit the part he played in the breakdown and breakup of their relationship, and then move on … hopefully without Aparna. I don’t like the girl. She seems smug to me. (Also, why would she go to that party knowing Lawrence’s ex would be there. That girl is either stupid, or she’s looking for trouble.)

Molly … I hope she sticks to her decision to stop seeing Dro. No way is he in an open marriage, that lying ass sonofabitch.

I can’t wait for Sunday and the finale, but of course I’m also dreading life without Insecure.

 

Theatre of Life

I watched the documentary Theatre of Life at the Freedom Film Fest 2017 yesterday. It’s about how, in 2015, world renown chefs used waste food from the Expo Milano to feed the homeless and stateless in Milan.

I didn’t know the chefs, but I take it they are famous. According to Wiki, Massimo Bottura, whose idea the gourmet soup kitchen was, is a ‘restaurateur and the chef patron of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant based in Modena, Italy.’

For those who are unaware of how much food goes to waste yearly, on a global scale, this documentary is an eye-opener. The official website lists all the figures.

I was distracted with wondering about the homeless and refugees featured in the documentary and how they would end up. Some enjoyed a degree of stability in their lives, but others were in more desperate situations.

While the dinners served at the soup kitchen (Refettorio Ambrosiano) may have offered these people a brief escape from their cares, and were repeatedly identified by Bottura as a symbol of ‘home’, I feel they did not make a significant difference in the lives of the diners whose main concern were to secure a safe space where they could live and sleep.

Am I cynical in thinking that even the warmest, most delicious dinner isn’t much comfort if you know that you’ve nothing but the sidewalk to bed down on after the last crumb is swallowed?

At very least, the soup kitchen continued after the Expo, run by Caritas Ambrosiana, the Roman Catholic church’s charitable arm in Milan, with food from the Co-op supermarkets and a nearby school, the Instituto Compresivo Locatelli-Quasimodo.

Watch the trailer for Theatre of Life:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/174869482″>Theater of Life (Trailer)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/nfbmarketing”>NFB/marketing</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>