Archive | February 2005

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

The movie, based on the book with the same title by Peter Hedges, is somewhat just a shadow of the original story. Even if Peter Hedges did adapt the story himself into the screenplay, there are just many things that were captured in the book that could not make it into the confines of a 2 hour or less movie, hence making the plot a little simpler, and the end a bit cheesy.

For those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is basically a story about a family in a small town called Endora, in the so-called American Heartland. A typical-but-not-so-typical depiction of life of the characters, life in the town itself, and the frustrations and aspirations of the townsfolk, especially the main character, Gilbert Grape. When the book delves into simple rural town imagery to describe and dessicate many issues about man’s striving for something better, the disappointments, the tears, the joy, and the psychology, in many strong undercurrents, the movie only succeeds to envoy the basic story collecting it all together, with few of the questions posed in the book rising to the surface (except if you’ve read the book).
I wonder if the movie would be as good if I had watched it before reading the book, but, I guess, I wouldn’t even be interested in watching the movie if I hadn’t read the book first. It comes to mind that the movie was actually made for those who had actually read the book, as the movie does not make obvious references or introductions to a few secondary characters (which again, were described more vividly in the book). The small conflicts, the questions, the vivid characters enjoyed in the book are sadly diminished or even non-existent in the movie, but a reader would recognize the main story plots to keep the story recognizable. Granted, adaptation of a book to screenplay is one of the toughest jobs out there, and not even the author himself might of made something better than a professional screenwriter. But in all aspects, both the screenwriter and the director did a fair job in bringing the story to the silver screen, and the casting was great (although I thought Momma would be older than depicted in the movie), and they dared modifying certain details of the story, and even taking the ending further than the book, to keep it interesting.
But the sheer strength of the original story (and all its symbolisms) still take What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? into a great movie. Applause for the screenwriter, and the cinematographer.

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Before Sunset

Finally, Friday night, enjoying the temporary health (as on Saturday morning I got tempratures again), after working until late at the office (good thing I had company :)) . After reaching home, I stayed up to watch the sequel (conclusion?) of Before Sunrise, which is Before Sunset, set 9 years after Jesse and Celine’s first encounter.

Taking the same concept of natural conversation, the time frame is even shorter, from the end of Jesse’s book tour visit to a local bookstore in Paris, to about the time he has to go to the airport and go back to his home. From the conversations, we see how the years have changed both somehow, how adolescent ideas have either become mature principles or simply pushed aside, how they remembered their first encounter and what it meant… with long shots taken with them just walking around Paris. It’s really like two real friends, in real life, meet, and the cameras just happen to be there. Their situation borders on the believable with almost a dream fantasy, making us still yearn for such a connection, such a relationship, even when they have changed so much (or so little, in fact).
The end leaves so much to be imagined (or not), as the last scene leaves a happy if ambiguous uptone. And so, we are left yet again with the desire to have such a connection within our lives. So cruelly similar, that we could identify with it, but also so far away at the same time.

Sick Of It All!

I haven’t been posting lately because 1). I’ve been not of good health lately, with a bout of flu overcoming me, high tempratures and everything. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay home and rest because 2). there was soooooooooo much work to do towards the weekend, I had to come in to finish it all. So I had to endure drastic changes of body temprature while mulling away at my computer reviewing Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations. It’s not enjoyable, believe me, and the only consolation was the contstant stream of chocolates I had to uphold to keep my brain in proper working order.
So there were presentations and surveys I had to finish by Friday (I kept putting them off since there was a lot of other work to do) for discussion at a conference early March, and there was a detailed business proposal that I had to make by February end, requiring input and research from a lot of other people (thus taking a lot of time as well).
And there’s the final revelling in the latest situation; I just can’t get my mind off it. I don’t know what to do until it’s over, maybe for the better anyway. But it’s still weeks away,… so I just sit here looking stupid, confused if I should enjoy it while I can or just take steps to get used to the loss. Indeed, however bad or good, it is a loss, and I was never good at handling losses.
I’m taking the weekend to properly regroup my strength and sanity, taking it easy before 2 hectic weeks ahead. I think the worst part of the flu is over, no more tempratures, but now comes the runny nose part. Ugh.
As I said to a friend yesterday, the worst part of being sick is the loneliness. It’s not missing someone anymore, or longing for someone to just, be there,… it’s just pure damn loneliness.

Before Sunrise

An amazingly touching movie, that only explores 2 characters on an overnight tour to nowhere in particular around Vienna. The best and the ambiguous corners of Vienna are captured in such a picturesque way, sometimes poetic in its mundane clarity, that is only surpassed with the philosophical probing and adolescent flirting of the two main characters, Jesse and Celine. Something that starts brilliantly non-dramatic, just smoothly into a moment in where these two people exist, and start to get to know each other. While their conversation expands, and they get to know each other more, the sentences are profoundly trivial yet with deep meaning we are given the luxury of assuming various facts about the characters, and are rewarded with mild suprises when it turns out to be right or wrong.
The conversations are believable, from the bursts of individuality to the mild tolerance to one another just to make the night more enjoyable, the situation can happen anywhere, but the flow of the one-night romance is maybe a bit too good for all of us, we all end up wanting to be in that situation. Even the characters themselves realize that their night together, however insignificant (compared to usual Western context of ‘great nights’, as in ‘getting laid all night long’ , ‘as wasted as a garbage pit’ or ‘rolling in the money at the poker table’), has deep meaning, and will be remembered for long after. A romance we can identify with but not really grasp (except if you’re lucky enough, I guess. No such luck for me yet).
Even if the movie is basically about their conversations, the best scene for me is when at the record store, the go into a listening room to listen to one of the records Celine picked out, and they just stood there and listened. With Jesse looking at Celine when she’s looking away, and Celine returning the look smiling and then Jesse looks away smiling, on and on, turn in turn, the scene speaks volumes in our head about what they are trying to say to each other without really saying anything on screen.
I think this is the sort of chemistry that we all yearn to find, but hardly ever do.

There Really Is No Difference*

Today is my cup of billowing hot chocolate, made from a sachet of Ovaltine, with a tad of sugar to add to the thickness of it all. Dismantling and recovering frames of mind at a moment’s notice, replenishing the magic of the heart with something a bit vaguely more familiar.
Last night I dreamt of another’s happiness, and how true it felt. Perhaps it’s because i watched half a movie that literally talked about nothing at all, just a conversation between 2 people about anything at all, and the romance of the moment. I haven’t finished it yet, but when I do, and watch the sequel of it later, I will post a combined review.
Sometimes I think I purposely write here to impress, because I think some people actually do visit and read this blog, and one of the most basic human drives is to impress other people, to heighten one’s self worth. So rotten sentences and absurd phrases are the norm, and surrealist imagery is standard procedure.
Write about nothing with the most words you can use, and voila! You have my blog. Still the words come from the heart as my heart wants to please.
Long moments of empty space between my eyes and the computer screen reflect on what either might have been, should have been, or I wanted to become reality. Reality itself has no relevance in itself, only how the senses perceive it. The music entering the room from the computer speakers has more effect to the atmosphere of room, and mind, than the robotic and impersonal air-conditioning. It dictates the thoughts and moods of the air and the mind inside. No chance of escape.
From outside, the light does not have much effect either, as it is constantly at odds with the robotic air conditioning.
I stare outside my door, waiting for nothing.

*title is an excerpt from the INXS song New Sensation.

Finality

I have just received a piece of news, which supposedly is part bad, part good, but it makes me sad. I will not divulge this information as it involves a few people and has profound consquences, but I will, as I always do, tell you how I feel.

So, more or less, I’ll have to part with something I held very dear, even though it has caused me pain as well as pleasure. The sweet little devil will finally be gone, and will not affect me again. The devil is what the devil does, no doubt, and somehow it makes me sad that the devil will have no recollection whatsoever of the evil it wracked upon me (and also the pleasure).

It was a short but meaningful period in my life, and I learned to ask some hard questions about myself, and reevaluate old questions and decisions. The fleeting experiences suddenly have far-reaching repercussions, and defined more of me than was visible before. And now, that moment is over. I do not know when exactly it will end, but I intend to enjoy, savour and curse every moment until it does.

Somehow this is a premature farewell, but so be it; I’ll have to handle it now, better than later.
So, Farewell, and thanks for all the fish.*

*
quoted from Douglas Adam’s book titled the same.

Sweet Little Devil

I have my very own sweet little devil!