Grinch is here

Last night we went to watch Super 8. A typical Spielberg movie where kids get the adventure of their lives. A modern day ET, sort of. It was entertaining alright. Right after the movie, I was mentally reminding myself to prepare for today’s lessons for my students. And then something hit upon me.

When I was young, I grew up in the ET film, Smurf and Transformers cartoon era. Add to that the favourite fiction of Enid Blyton’s Faraway tress series, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Famous Five and Empat Sekawan. My friends and I were always looking for ‘adventures’. We had plenty of time to re-enact the scenes from the books we read and from the film ET. We had plenty of time to fantasize about aliens and faraway adventures. We had our own tree which we pretended was our magic faraway tree, just like how we read in Enid Blytons. When we grow up, we often said one another, we want to be He-Man or She-Ra or Superman or that bloke in V. Or drive cars like we watched in Mask. Or even own a bumble bee ala Transformers. Life was fun, carefree and full of make belief dreams which we enjoyed fighting over. We were not unlike the bunch of kids in Super 8.

Alas. My students back home and here, plus my younger cousins and children of my cousins don’t seem to have this kind of childhood. There is no element of play and make belief in their lives right now. They are not even playing so to speak. Most of their time are spent catching up with enrichment classes or with stacks of homework to aid in their schools’ national ranking. Most of the time, they are busy being occupied and busied by their occupied and busy parents. And their teachers who need their ranking as well. When they grow up, at least according to the essays I have collected, they want to be ‘professionals’. IT consultant, doctors, lawyers, curators, TV artists– you name it. It is all so real and so focus.

Not that I am saying that there is anything bad in preparing the kids for the realistic future. It’s just that, after watching the movie yesterday and after connecting with it on a personal level, I feel as though a childhood grinch had slowly but surely been around, actively stealing away childhood from children of affluent societies. That’s kinda sad.

Set in the 70s…

I usually have very little patience with Malay soap dramas. Yes, the kind that is the main staple in the local channels. However, I used to be very addicted to one, which is Nur Kasih. I love the quality of acting in there especially that of new comer Tiz Zaqyah. And that of Remy Ishak as well.

These days, I found myself addicted to yet another Malay drama serial on TV3, and also starring Tiz Zaqyah– Gemilang. Set in 1976, it somehow reminded me of the serial Growing Up, that nostalgic 60s drama shown in Singapore. While Growing Up was about family values and relationships, Gemilang is about teachers/teaching/importance of knowledge and yes, relationships. As with any Malay movies, it is a tad draggy but I like the plot nevertheless. Probably it’s Khabir Bhatia’s production and I’m a fan. It may also be because it’s starring Tiz Zaqyah and I’m a fan too. But probably, it’s about teaching and teachers and that tugged my heartstrings.

Mind your English

Colin Firth was Mr Darcy in both Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones Diary, who charmed, in that endearing stuffy English way. Not the ‘genre’ (of men) who would appeal to me as a partner, but his English-ness suits him and the Darcy character in which he is able to fit in like his second skin made him all the more attractive (in that role).

I watched Firth again in King’s Speech and for the lack of better word, he was adorable as the King who had speech impediment and had to go through therapy sessions for it. The descendant of Richard III, whose ‘winter of discontent made glorious by this summer son of York‘ controlled two years of my college life, Firth filled in this role as amazingly as he did with Darcy.

All my literature teachers for both O and A levels were British men, and probably because of them I have an innate repulsion for their breed. Mr C was an awesome teacher but he didn’t take morning showers and wore different colored socks to work. Sometimes we could see his boxers peeking from the back oh his pants and sometimes they were the same color as the day before. And don’t get me started on his BO. In my family’s language he epitomized ‘kemproh‘ so on attractiveness scale, he was a 2 (out of 10). Mr B was an old man. He started us with Richard III. But he came to work on Mondays reeking of alcohol and sometimes displayed suspicious dementia-like symptoms. He didn’t seem to notice that most of the time in his class I was either asleep or doing homework for other subjects. The last of the lot, Mr R was an egoistic tyrant. He screamed as he pleased, made dark Brit jokes which none of us understood and barked at Malay boys in the college who skipped Friday prayers when he didn’t see them heading for the mosque along with him. He’s blond and couldn’t take our blond jokes and when he was trying too hard to be funny, he was lame. What all of them did well was to pass me well for my literature papers and for that I was grateful.

Now, if only a Firth was one of those who taught me back then, perhaps I could see beyond English stuffiness and enjoy my classes back then better.

Sudin’s Wisdom

Alif Mim Nun Wau… alif tendang wau…

Sarkis darrr..

Just that with each passing year, the sarkis gets more expensive, with more costly songkets and massive traffic jams caused by outriders and calls for the urgency to fulfill the feudalistic needs of the lazy natives.

In which, the clowns ain’t funny. At all.

*We paid for road tax but you spent it on your sampings, is it? The were potholes on the roads on the way back home from KL just now, the same roads with the same potholes since I moved here some years back.

*And oh, by the way… since we are at it, on the journey back, a few traffic lights are not working. The same few which always breaks down. One already senget. Can you put your 100 storey buildings plan on hold first please? People are getting killed on your badly constructed road.

* Well.. I am just saying…since I contribute actively to your economic growth, my husband paid his taxes here, I pay to get my VISA here and we pay for road tax on time… I am just saying…errm, can stop being short of a bunch of clowns, please?

Saving graces

As far as I am concerned, I like Julia Roberts. Period. Hence although I found the movie Eat Pray Love a tad disappointing and just not it, Julia and also the fact that Christine Hakim was chosen to play the minor role of Wayan, were enough saving graces for me.

And oh… the soundtrack and music video are nice too. Other than that, the movie is what I would describe as beautifully shaped chocolates in fancy gift box, but the chocolates do not taste good.

As much as I like Julia, I just think she  didn’t carry the Elizabeth role the way it was intended to be. The Elizabeth played by Julia is always looking forlorn and brooding, while Elizabeth Gilbert as in the book, although very much a scatterbrain and a ‘not-sure-what-she-wants’ individual, she is quirky, witty and full of life. The way Julia played Elizabeth made the whole movie more draggy than it already is, what with her spaced out moments/melancholic moods– is just not it.

Of dragons and fires

I had missed out on all of the film festivals this year, even the Iranian Nauruz festival, which I never missed annually whether here or back home in Singapore. I also missed watching some really good musicals like Natrah and Mahathir  and some others at KLPac  which I really wished I had gone to. All these were either due to work deadlines, husband’s work schedule-hence no transport-at-night-for-me-and-he-doesn’t-want-me-to-take-Malaysian-cabs-at-night, aikido trainings, out of town to SG/JKT and whatever else.

So in their place, I bought two dvds of two films which were screened at the some international film festivals somewhere, ‘Street Dance 3D’ – a UK production and The Girl With Dragon Tattoo, based on the book by Stieg Larsson of the same name.

I wrote here once that I have a fetish for a lot of Swedish things and hence, Larsson came into my warm embrace almost naturally. The first book, The Girl With Dragon Tattoo was thrilling and I finished it off in less than a week, considering the translation deadlines, an unexpected trip back to Singapore to see my ill grandmother, my student’s exams and all those other factors. I read it in the toilet, the cabs, while having my meals, while waiting in Qs and while frying tempe for dinner.

The book was engaging and mentally stimulating, so much so I found myself  taking part in the mystery solving of Harriet Vanger’s disappearance. I got hold of the dvd when I was at the last chapter of the book and I inserted the dvd while reading the last concluding line.

The film was no Hollywood film. It was in Swedish and unfortunately, the copy I got had already been dubbed into English. And may I add, bad subtitling.

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Sander, The Girl With Dragon Tattoo

I like everything about the film, except for the casting of the Blomkvist character. The character in the book depicted him as a charismatic journalist, good-looking lady’s man, suave and all those magnetic factors a protagonist, albeit a boy-next-door one can have. But in the film, they casted Michael Nyqvist, middle aged, heavy on the belly and not even close to being a suave charismatic lady’s hunk, which actually was one of the factors which carried the plot. At the risk of sounding like a bimbo, I was undoubtedly disappointed with this one weak link to otherwise a fantastic film. It was stiff, typical of any European production and it was straight to the point. Colder than German films and not as melodramatic as the French and Spanish films. Swedish film, this being my first time watching one, is as it is. Practical and straight to the point. Something new but refreshing for me.

Now I am onto the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire and at the point of writing this down, I am halfway through it. Honestly, I find this one draggy. It’s like having the perfect full course meal in The Girl With Dragon tattoo, only to be served a blah dessert with so many layers of different flavors. The kind where you don’t like it, but you need to finish it so that you know at least what’s in store in the final layer.

I just hope I have enough drive to want to even reach the final layer. Again, at the risk of sounding absurd, while reading the sequel, my mind cannot stop putting in the pot-bellied Michael Nyqvist into the Blomkvist character and that, I find somehow affected the thrill of my current reading.

Post Donnie Thoughts

This weekend we will rest from training as our teachers are in Jakarta to meet and have teacher’s training course with TheSensei. As such both of us decided to have our date night last night with a movie watching Donnie Yen in TheLegendOfTheFist:TheReturnOfChenZhen.

Image taken from here.

As much as I like DonnieYen, no… correction. I love Donnie Yen especially in the last two WingChun films he played as IpMan. Last night’s choice of movie was solely based on the fact that DonnieYen was in it. The husband loved the movie while to me, it is just another Sino-Japanese war film, Donnie’s presence in it notwithstanding. But the film was way too graphic, on the atrocities of the Japanese war. There were some hilarious moments ala Hindi movie as well, like Donnie fought and won the entire dojo of the Japanese martial artists and how, when at the very last moment when he was to fight the Japanese general, muscles suddenly bulged out of his whole body ala incredible hulk. I let out half a guffaw when I felt the husband’s humongous hand cupped my mouth in his attempt to shut me up.

During the film, my mind wandered a bit. My late grandfather lived through the Japanese war and in my primary school days I remember his rendition of ‘Jepun jahat!’ ‘Jepun zalim’, referring to the atrocities done by the Japanese soldiers to the locals, especially the Chinese.

Hence, I do wonder sometimes, had he still been alive today, what would he think of the very fact that I, his first and most coveted grandchild, is married to the first and most coveted grandchild of a former Nazi.soldier/Nazi.female.youth.winger who were part of the Axis forces together with the Japs, and both of us are devoting more than half of our time learning the ancient martial art of the very people whom he called ‘orang jahat’ ?