Detachment

Top 1 in my movie list!!!!

Mind fried.

The delicate relationships between teachers and students…

The intricate minds between the struggled and the struggling…

The paradoxical tension between the ones who give up and those who dont want others to give up…

The intensity of caring and not caring…

The mutual understanding and destruction simultaneously come all at once…

The distance between over and under…

The engagement and detachment with things you choose to hold onto but should forgo…

Too much to say

Too little words come out of my fried brain

Mr. Nobody(2009)

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My mind experiences a big bang itself after the big crunch is first introduced in the film. Big crunch is where time reverses and you are living your life all over again like Benjamin Button.

 

Mr Nobody is filmed in Belgium, Germany and Canada since Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael believes that each life of Nemo Nobody should be filmed in a different style, with a different grammar, colours and decor for the camera. We could see the three lives are contrasted by color-coding and musical cues.

 

It is not an easy movie to watch, even I myself need to do some research to digest. It tells the story of Nemo Nobody, a 118 year old man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race has achieved quasi-immortality. He is interviewed by some college students and with his fading memory, he recounts his decisions made at three critical junctions in his life: 9, 15 and 34. When Nemo is at the crossroad, he is stuck because he knows fair well that “as long as you don’t choose, everything remains possible.” He is trapped in a Zugzwang, a chess move indicating not moving.

 

Technically, van Dormael employs the nonlinear narrative to ellicit Nemo’s memory to narrate the story. Extensive flashbacks and flash forwards are everywhere. There are parallel distinctive plot lines of his three love lives, dream immersions when he wakes up each time to a different woman. Stylistically, he employs the multiverse hypothesis style, which is simply parallel universes. The idea of parallel lives are prevalent in the movie industry, but Mr Nobody’s ambition stretches to underpin some theories related to physics and philosophy as well. According to Edward Lorenz, chaos theory is when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future, we could see in the movie that Nemo’s weather reporter father himself fails to predict the weather of today, implying the inevitable occurrence of the butterfly effect(i.e. small causes can have large effects). In the beginning of the movie, the pigeon superstition is introduced to illustrate that by acting in a particular way, what you want(i.e. food) would arrive. We humans too can be conditioned to develop superstitions(e.g. walking under ladders). The space-time continuum is pretty obvious in the movie(i.e. three separate lives leading to eleven distinct outcomes).
Personally, I am attracted to this whimsical style and intricate plot lines, particularly how strong van Dormael adheres to the chaos theory. He has no unifying deterministic vision, he just goes whatever way the wind blows. We may pick up some melodramatic posing and mystical non sequitur here and there. The production crew seems more interested in producing a wow factor in the audience instead of straightening out the logic behind each twist and turn. It might be a bit messy on the inside, but it might have been enough for us to hold on to the breathtakingly designed exterior.

Train to Busan(2016)

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Train to Busan is Korea’s first attempt in making zombie films. The result is astounding as it breaks the audience record with over 10 million moviegoers. The zombie apocalyptic plot is so overdone worldwide that I refuse to even watch an episode of Walking Dead. Let alone Warm Bodies.

Normally when people mention Asian horror, they think of Japan. As Japanese folk religion is inside their culture, possession, shamanism(reaching altered state of consciousness to heal), precognition, yokai(spirits) are common in their horror movies. Korean movies usually involve a lot of dramas and actions, with evident love lines triggering our sentiments. Zombie and Korea seem not a possible combination. But they have done it anyway, spectacularly.

Like all other zombie movies, the plot is straightforward. A bunch of passengers get on a train where an infected girl spread the zombie disease. The disease not only concentrates at one spot(i.e. the train), but also nationwide. So is to say, nowhere is safe. In this alarming state of near death experience, nobody feels safe. It is supposed that nobody even trusts anybody due to fear. During the course of the movie, the protagonist needs to make up his mind whether to save himself and his daughter only, or to save the remaining ones who is very close to being infected. Risk yourself to help others or risk others to save yourself. When one is forced to confront a critical crisis, one desperately calls its instinct. Your true colors would unveil itself.

To me, the graphics are not too grotesque. Enough to make eyes squint. But what interesting is the director building up the suspense in the atmosphere through unexpected plot twist. You never know even the protagonist would be infected, you never know who would survive till the end. You wish you knew though.

I would admit that the scene where the father and the daughter need to be separated brings tears to my eyes. I would resonate to my own deceased father and try very hard to recall what last message he was attempting to convey to me. Fatherly love is often too subtle to be recognized as men usually hide their emotions pretty well. They solve problems instead of talking around it. The ending is hopeful even though I myself prefer a darker side of the human downfall. If you want an engaging ride with zombies, this one is for you.

High Rise

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Shelter gives rise to communities as it offers security. Architecture is the stage or should I say the hardware. As you could see how the director Ben Wheatley takes inspiration from the brutalist Balfron tower in east London as a model to his film. Its architect too lives in one of the penthouse flats shortly after its completion. He too end up as the sinister Royal, even his neighbor objects to his modernist house.

The characters add dynamics to the construction. High rise is a movie adapation from JG Ballard’s dystopian novel.

As Chris Hall stated, “ In Ballard’s space, characters become the building they inhabit.” The physical environment of the inhabitants directly alter their psyches. The tower block designed by the well esteemed architect Anthony Royal embraces the chic, modern living most people have aspired to. Given how furnished the high-rise is, from the abandoned runways to curvilinear flyovers to swimming pools, each external reality projects another imagined dimension. Even a tiny corner may have a rush in adrenaline to tear apart the two walls.

Normally you wouldn’t think of the carpark as being the repressed, undesired thoughts you hide in your subconscious. We’ve become so accustomed to where we are living, where we are taking transport to somewhere else, that we forget these spaces are what we are escaping from(consciously/unconsciously). In Ballardian space, there is no absolute inner and outer space, which means you would not live an exclusively isolated life or a a space totally separated from people. People and surroundings fuse together for transcendence.

Enough talking about space, more onto the human side.

Ballard has a mantra-”in a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom”. We are living in a world with a set of rules and regulations abiding us. We have the duty and responsibility to uphold these universal principles in order for the system to work. So nobody ever questions the validity or the credibility of these norms we are creating out of the rules. We go astray and turn into ash that about to be thrown as trash. We are fixated in the same mode. But our inner voices tell us to do the otherwise. Cognitive dissonance arises. Excessive boredom brings the hell out of us so called normal people.

There are so much more on the psychological level in this movie/book. Like it employs Freud’s tripartite principle. The rebel, Wilder is the ID; the stoic doctor laing is the ego(who is going to make major decisions and probably leaves us to wonder whether he is a reliable narrator); the idealist Royal is the superego. Within the tower block and out there in the wider city resembles a consciousness that is ready to inflict any unresolved mental crisis of the tenants. So as to say the carpark is the ID, the middle floors is the ego and the penthouses is the superego. As you put more cables on each floor, the stress accumulates until the final floor explodes.

It appears as a creation that only expresses what we see is not what it really is. But there are so much more to it. Try to delve into what is around you. Every petty detail may seem entirely human and normal, but is actually so out of place in your own mind. Is it something about the place you are in or that what you doubt becomes what you are?

Lilya 4-ever

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Reviews suggest that Lilya 4-ever is a film that embodies Murphy law,

an epigram that means “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.

But I think Drucker’s law can be applied too,

“if one thing goes wrong, everything else will, and at the same time.”

Both laws illustrate the inevitability of shit happening in life.

As pessimistic as they might imply,

not everyone can manage to turn to the right direction when all their gears are broken.

Lilya 4-ever is produced in 2002.

It is a Swedish-Danish drama film.

No wonder all the characters speak in Russian.

The plot is simple.

But the message hits home hard.

The protagonist is a 16-year old Estonian girl named Lilya.

She is misled by her mother thinking she could go along to America with her,

while in fact her mother is just eloping with a Russian man,

leaving Lilya alone.

Dreams shattered,

her aunt throws her away from her own home and makes her live in some shitty apartment where nobody would pay for her electricity bill.

She is betrayed by her best friend Natasha,

as Natasha twists facts of her being a prostitute in the night club while in fact Natasha is the one.

Drifting into the downward spiral,

Lilya saves Volodya from suicide after being thrown out of his home.

He is a drug addict,

always sniffing glue and drinking cough medicine.

They then become soulmates and live together supporting each other,

until Lilya decides to “open her legs” to get some money to buy a basketball for Volodya’s birthday.

She begins to take up sex trade.

She meets a seemingly good guy Andrei who takes her to eat ice-cream and play games.

He promises to give her a better life in Sweden.

So she comes along with him,

entrusting him wholeheartedly,

regardless of Volodya’s reluctance and despair.

It turns out Lilya subjects to the lowest and most degrading sex-for-hire business.

Without Lilya,

Volodya kills himself.

Lilya continues to live life as if she is dead already,

praying to God after each sexual business.

Many a times she wanna gives up and Volodya’s angel shows up,

persuading her not to.

In the end,

she decides she has suffered enough and jumps off a bridge.

Lilya and Volodya finally can hold each other again.

They finally get the life they have pursued for so long.

This movie is indeed depressing,

unveiling the deepest sorrow behind poverty,

sexual violence and human trafficking.

But the innocence of Lilya and Volodya strikes me to the core.

Volodya is all the way accompanying Lilya through thick and thin.

When Lilya finally realizes he is the one who won’t harm her at all,

it is too late.

Bittersweet moments in the end guarantees you to shed a tear or two.

Dogtooth(2009)

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It’s been a long time since I actually had a surge of energy inside me after watching a movie.

And BOOOOOM, Dogtooth hit me right at the spot.

My mind is racing like electric circuits while each shots fill my vision with shock.

Btw, some background information first.

It is a Greek movie.

Just look at the title.

DOGTOOTH.

What comes to your mind?

Violence? Power? Aggression?

Yep, these elements are all incorporated in this movie.

But there are so much more than these.

Picture there is a family of five. A father, a mother, an elder sister, a sister and a brother. All living together in a mansion. The three adult children are told they have a brother outside the house. And they can only get out of the house once they lose their dogtooth(which is not possible) and get out by car.

So you can see what it is going to lead to.

Brainwashing.

Manipulation.

Keep instilling ignorance into their minds(plain sex tapes, wrong vocabulary meaning etc).

It is a pretty daring productions breaking all rules in the movie industry.

Showing not only the sexist part(like the father would bring in the security guard from his factory to have sex with his son and when she is out, in replacement is his two daughters), it demostrates the horrors behind captivity and isolation of children.

They are taught to be obedient and not to leave the house.

They are taught to win and not to lose.

They are taught to be like dogs to scare away threats like the cat(which is killed by the son brutally).

What is interesting is the development of the eldest(picture above).

She initially plays endurance games with her sister and so and so. Then she herself needs to lick the security guard’s cunt because her brother does not do it. Well. Initially she does it in exchange for a hair band which claims to sparkle in the dark. But she learns the lesson hard and she does attacks her brother and displays signs of rebellion against the household. She cut his arm and watches the hollywood movie. She is exposed to a teeny tiny part of the outside. And she explodes. Like in the wedding anniversary, she dances frantically. That night she uses the hammer to knock her dogtooth out and climbs inside the back of the car(potentially hoping she would get out). At least her mind is liberated somehow, even though she couldnt make it out physically.

They basically believe that airplanes are only palms wide

They believe the cats running into their gardens are demonic like satans

And they believe if their dogtooth still exists they cannot leave home

It is not like ordinary horror movies or psychological thrillers.

It shocks the crap out of you.

One moment they are playing, the next she cuts his wrist.

One moment she is dancing and eating cake, the next inside the bathroom knocking herself with blood and laughing.

Nice.

Gimme a lot of inspiration to write sth like this.

Maybe because i am living in an abnormal setting

i can feel it

i can feel it really

very intense

that power

hatred

everything

directed

projected

towards the culprit.

 

Zootopia

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This is my first movie review. So please bear with me as an amateur.

After Gazelle’s concert had wrapped up the entire movie in the end, my every fiber and nerve stood up from extreme exhilaration. The seat glued me in, my hip had sunken to its root. I stared at the screen; Shakira’s “try everything” kept rewinding in my mind. So far since I began watching screenplays at the age of 3, I had not had the chance to encounter the movie of my life. Howl’s Moving Castle stayed with me from child till teen. I had always admired Hayao Miyazaki. Yet, it was mainly the reason of me falling in love with the wizard Howl, which was a shallow excuse of me not being mature yet. A number of pretty spellbound films rendered me speechless in the 21st century, for instance the well-deserving Mad Max Fury Road(2015) directed by George Miller that had won the 6 Oscars this year; the classic surrealistic Midnight in Paris(2011); the Australian-American romantic drama The Great Gatsby based on Fitzgerald’s original novel in 1925(2013). Let’s not digress too far. Inside out(2015) was a breakthrough made by the Pixar Animation Studio, personifying our neurological systems and psychological responses. Thank you for delivering the flow of how our long term memory is encoded in the hippocampus, or how our amygdala inflicts rage. Now we know every single emotion does not just pop out of nowhere, but there is a control center/motherboard monitoring their frequency and operation. Side tracked again, I apologize. What I wish to bring forth is that: making a good movie requires selective characterization, unpredictable twist and turns, intriguing world view…most important of all is to give the audience the aftertaste. Most films choose to end their production with a happy ending, whether it is a reunion or a leap forward, they are all in the same recurrent pattern. We can guess it is coming in the middle of the film. And they indeed do not disappoint us. That’s when we feel something missing after the ride. Another oomph maybe? We would not want the ending to fade into the ordinary happily ever after form, which is indicated as a straight line. We want more according to our basic instinct of desire. The majority of filmmakers concentrate too much on the layout of the story, sometimes they neglect the resolution phase, where the audience anticipates another shock wave again. Zootopia did just that. Mad Max faded in the crowd, slightly lifted up the line for us to anticipate a follow-up series. Midnight in Paris Gil met a lot of dead ends and eventually found the love of his life to be the reincarnated Gabrielle. Nick remarked on the pitiful ending of Gatsby…Riley is going to have a boyfriend soon, flipping to another stage/journey of life…But a concert? Alright, maybe High school musical or pitch perfect would seem more suitable staging a concert as a wrap-up due to the nature of their movie genre. As an animal-based animation, its ending is subtly different from the Madagascars, which may celebrate their eventual victory in a party in the perspectives of the animals. What I am saying is that the monkeys would still leap from tree to tree to throw coconut onto the zebra and other jovial, harmonious interactions would be spotted. Zootopia is different. Animals are humans in this film. That’s why the ending shot of the concert not only featuring the aspiration for a more accepting and tolerant society, it also hints to us that we grow tired of humans teaching us lessons in movies and we need to be aware that animals may understand us better than we do. Not that they would one day take over us, but mutual understanding is crucial to the well-being of all the living ones on the planet. Maybe the producers attempt to use concerts as a thread like Ruby’s IPod to connect our reality with their virtual reality. To me, Zootopia captures my mind, heart and soul. I found myself intoxicated like the predators fallen trap into the “night howlers”

Our sweet little rabbit Judy and our seemingly sly fox Nick have a love-hate relationship that involves many push and pull tensions. Originally they both committed the fundamental attribution bias and judged each other with the norms(“rabbits are stupid and foxes are cunning”). Judy encountered crises that she alone couldn’t handle. Fate brought two of them together. Nick turns from reluctance to volunteer to help Judy out with the wisdom he’s gained from this worldly society. After the crisis subsides, Judy makes matters worse by assuming predators have DNA that make them potentially threatening. Her remark drifts them apart for a while. Another crisis hits and she turns to him again. They go hand-in-hand solving the mystery and this combined effort blossoms into something more in the end. How can one not envy how Nick teases and compels Judy to admit that she falls for him? How can I not feel for Judy the heart-throbbing moments when she grasps Nick’s hand as he almost falls into the river during the chase, when Nick confronts the head cop and invites Judy onto the Ferris wheel like a gentleman, when Nick confesses his childhood trauma of being stigmatized as the ruthless predator that only does harm to the prey and needs to be taken under control to calm its wildness, when Nick pretends to have been poisoned and ready to bite and swallow Judy. They may appear very casual. But they care about each other through tiny gestures. Through every challenge, their relationship escalates to a whole new level. And Nick would always bring humor to the table. As I am watching the plot unfolding the feelings they have for each other in a “come on, bro” style, I can’t help but falling in love with Nick as well. He is charismatic. He is charming. He has untold stories and unfulfilled wishes. He is masked with all the bad qualities. Under that mask, he is golden. Judy runs into his life and unveils the mask of his, discovering his talents and wit, helping him find himself back. And vice versa. You can also say that through Nick, Judy experiences a lot more: from the gang, to the frauds, to the loan sharks, to the naturalists, to the drug dealers. Without Nick, she would not have the route to look for such critical persons within such a limited amount of time.

Settings wise, I could not imagine how much time they have spent making the graphics that realistic and meticulous. Every passers-by is detailed and varied from giraffes to hippos to hamsters to elephants; incorporating the facilities that suit their usage too! For instance the train would have exits of three sizes(L,M,S). There are blow-dry section for elephants to dry up their bodies. There are tubes that deliver hamsters to the ground. The infrastructure and facilities are perfectly designed according to the solid worldview constructed.

I have watched some conspiracy theories on YouTube talking about how Zootopia links to African American racism and how it is an allegory illustrating the corrupted social hierarchy against minority groups. I am aware that it is not a film to be underestimated. Its depth rolls deeper than Adele. And if it is not getting Oscar’s best animation next year, I would protest or set someone/thing/where on fire. But we need to take back from going too far. Of course we should not just take Zootopia on its face value, assuming it is an adventure + action movie about a rabbit chasing its dreams and proving to the world what it gets. The other extreme does not do this movie any justice too. Movies are designed to carry messages, to inspire, to entertain, to reflect. Just do not pollute the original intention of Zootopia. Do not make these fun loving characters the clowns which hide the darkest side of humanity. Yes, you could think of Zootopia as an outcry for those being unfairly treated. But perhaps politics is a bit too much. Focus on the bright side too. How it makes you feel like? It indeed cheers me up after a drowsy, depressing day. I believe that is one of the core reasons the Disney animation producers put together a utopia where all animals appear to coexist. But as Nick confesses, “ everyone comes to Zootopia, thinking they could be anything they want. But you cant. You can only be who you are.” Identity is who you are, image is how others view you. How to be who you are regardless of how others think of you? Can you really not care about the world’s perception of you? It does not matter till the end of the day, everyone is flawed anyhow. But it is always up to you to bring out the best of you to present to the world. You can initiate change. Have faith. Try everything even though you would fall. Start again after you have reached the end. Mistakes are not anything compared to our fear of making mistakes. I dare you to challenge yourself. Make tomorrow a new day different from today. Keep moving forward. It does not matter if you crawl. Hold your future tight. Embrace it. Change it.