Movie- & Theatre-Related

Merong Mahawangsa: A Review

This is not much of a reflection the way I normally write for films I saw, just another review.

I went to see Merong Mahawangsa yesterday, also known by its other title ‘The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines’.I was enticed by its trailer to be honest. so I got my brother to accompany me and there we were, in a cinema for two hours.

In summary:

1. The part of script, which is in Malay is incredibly beautiful. It had me fall head over heel, and almost moved into tears, even with the opening line. My brother kept saying that the narrator did his best job in touching hearts with that. Kudos to the scriptwriter.

2. The part in English I would say, falls pale in comparison to the Malay dialogues. It is really sad that I wish the whole film was in Malay, because the English dialogues are ruining it big time. I have always hated, and could not even finish, films with such setting which fail to have scripts with relevant style of language. It doesn’t make sense to have Lord of the Rings in our current, modern tone of language.

3. Too much background music perhaps? The learned ones would have appreciate it, but I don’t. Could not tolerate having background music all the time its cheesy, it’s like ‘I need some music to distract the audience for the tasteless scenes I’m making’

4. Some discontinutity between scenes, sudden changes of background sound..I guess I didn’t enjoy it.

5. Because of some lame scenes in it (mostly due to the dialogues), I have the urges to get out of the cinema almost instantly. But then I recall paying 11 bucks so I persevered. It is almost the same feeling I had when I went seeing Percy Jackson (one we chose randomly, of course).

6. Khir Rahman was marvellous. Perfect performance. Can’t say I don’t like seeing him on screen, though I would not see his film ‘….Dalam Botol’.

7. But hey, two thumbs up for the CGI and of course for the superb Malay lines.

That’s all. Out of MYR11 I paid, I’d rate this film as MYR5-worth one.

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Inception

Watched Inception the other day, and would happily rate it 4.3 star – well, 0.7 short of being at par with my favourite Lord of The Rings movie.

Oh well, I am seriously considering watching it for a second time…

..but it’s Ramadhan!


Dapatkan Mesej Bergambar di Sini

I could finish reciting a juzu’ of the Holy Quran in that two hours period.

Oh, please let me know if the DVD has been released.

Hodgepodge: of David, Rachel and Khan

OK. Let me admit for today, and today only.

I am sick of researching about LCA for businesses and industries, I can’t read anymore about green business, I could not accept anymore environmentally-related words.

I have a few things to whine about – well yeah, I haven’t been writing for quite a while – so here’s a hodgepodge for you. If you still want to read.

Of David

1. I watched the Biggest Loser Asia Finale last night. While it should be starting at 9.00 p.m (or so), it was only played on Hallmark channel at 10 p.m, due to some technical problem.

What? A technical problem at this age and day? That is unacceptable and super ridiculous.

And without judging the content, I have to say that the whole finale episode was a mess. Though I like it when Sarimah is emceeing but this one time the quality was poor. And include all the (unexpected) disruption – where Garry re-proposed her wife (is it?) – the posters portraying the ‘old’ contestants, where each of them had to go through by tearing it up, was broken and fall messily one by one – the less excited audience – well, as compared to the U.S version… everything was unattractive.

Except for Carlo of course.

Now coming to the contest part i.e. the content.

Oh, I think David, regardless of his massive weight loss should not win. Yeah, he loses half his previous weight, but he is definitely looking super unhealthy, and not handsome at all. He was better-looking when he just came back from the villa. Now he looks like a sick person, with a few years added to him.

That’s the price for USD 100K , yes? But seriously, that ain’t healthy. Carlo and other finalists looked vibrant, on the contrary. And that is what you supposed to be when you are getting healthier after losing so much unhealthy weight, people would expect. David could not even walk properly.

Alright, I am biased. I like Carlo for his leadership quality. Enough said.

But hey, I have always like watching the Biggest Loser show, the U.S version, but for Asian version ..err.. why so many injuries and why, oh why, so many faint-hearted contestants, and again – the end of the only positive-promoting reality show turns out to be horrible, with some freaky looking guy who obviously went beyond the healthy line for an amount of money and a Renault MPV.

Of Rachel

2. Have you heard this name – Rachel Carlson? In case you haven’t, please add her name to your list of individual who has managed to change the world by writing a book. She did well in that.

Well, this is the person who is said to start the contemporary environmental movement through her book entitled ‘Silent Spring’, published in 1960s, which now has reached its 40th edition.

Confession : I haven’t read that book.

I tried to find it back in the UK but was always tempted to buy some other titles. Kinokuniya has copies, in KLCC, at the price of MYR60 or so. But still, I don’t think I am going to buy it any sooner now that I can have a peek at Google Book.

But this lady is well-remembered for her contribution. Silent Spring let people became aware of the impact of DDT , which was widely used after WWII for agricultural activities and now that everything was done in massive scale the impact of the fatal chemical had became more apparent, resulting in a silent spring. So-and-so.

But that resulted in DDT being banned in the U.S. And the start of environmental movement which I believe, apart from what Greenpeace has done, is a positive force.

I want to die leaving positive legacy like that if I could.

‘It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility. ‘ – Rachel Carlson

Intermission

3. I have been thinking about environmentally auditing my daily life. You know, working for a company which is in the phase of transforming itself into a more sustainable entity, I was well-exposed to environmental auditing, though am not directly-trained to do that. While the other environmental personnel is doing that kind of auditing, I am trained to be an expert on some newer environmental management tools and techniques.

I think it is going to be a hell of a task to audit my daily life. But I need to walk my talk – I have been reading, recommending and suggesting higher transparency for the company in term of publishing its environmental performance: carbon footprint, water and energy consumption etc, now it is time for me to do it personally.

Not a bad idea, I think? We’ll see if I am truly an environmentalist.

By the way, here’s just a random thought: Do you agree that there are more women drivers in KL during weekdays, commuting alone?

Of Khan

4. I watched Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film two nights ago – on the night when I was supposed to prepare for my five-minute speech, for Public Speaking training session. Oh yes, I ended up talking about the film for the session, and it took me 7 minutes.

I would not say it was a very good film – I found that somehow some plots were just loosely constructed and it is nevertheless still a typical Bollywood movie where the ending has this feel-good note. And tear-inviting scenes of course – which is not good for someone like me whose threshold is low.

Nevertheless, I’d give a good rating for the perspective it chose to tell the aftermath of 9/11. From an autistic immigrant whose life has been robbed due to 9/11 – which I think could not be any more heartbreaking.

I was not stirred by the ever-controversial part where a Muslim marries a Hindu (though there’s a sense of liberalism there), which is common in Bollywood movie as far as I am concern, for this story only, because if that is not in the story line, the plot would not be constructed well.

But it gets me into thinking the message that keeps being repeated: there’s no Muslim or Hindu, there are just good people and bad people, or something to that effect. I don’t agree completely with the first stance (if I do, you might consider me blasphemous), but hey, is not it true that we judge people and classified them based on what we can see?

I saw no friction between this statement ‘there’s only good people and bad people’ and the Islamic teaching. Of course, Islam teaches us the Oneness of God, but didn’t the Prophet told us that he was sent to perfect our manners? And haven’t we heard the story about this lady whose manner was bad, regardless of her good personal deeds, and later lead her into the Hellfire?

I think that good manners and the inclination towards goodness are just inherent in us – it is a built-in feature, and being a Muslim means you have stronger reasons to practice good manners.

Oh well, another entry that is not worth reading.

Of Harry Potter

[This entry is long back-dated, initially written some time during my five months holiday]

I surrender to my boredom. While my brother was around, we spent hours watching, the first five films, almost back-to-back, once in a while interrupted by guests coming, visiting my family. It was just on the first week of Eid – and there went bowls of ice creams in my bedroom to accompany those long hours in front of my laptop.

It was rather outdated, I know – me watching this. And forgive me all Harry Potter fans reading this entry – I didn’t find the films, or the stories exciting enough to become I die-hard fan myself, not even close to the way I fancy Lord of the Rings (well, can we all agree that this one is in its own league?). I bought the full set of books for my sister last summer, and I did not even flip one page of them, well, until yesterday.

But here’s what I learn most that keeps me going through all five films, and waiting desperately for the DVD version of the sixth one to come out, predicted in December – how it feels to be an orphan. Or worse, a person who is not privileged to know their parents.

It breaks my heart to see the character Harry Potter seems lost, feels unprotected (he doesn’t have a powerful father like Draco Malfoy), once a while blessed with obvious tender loving by the elderlies around him, Dumbledore, Weasleys etc. – but what can match having your parents around?

And I could not help but relate this to the childhood of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Take it one step further – the Arabs were identified by their tribe, and it was this tribe that was the source of respect and honour from others, but even to belong to a powerful tribe, our Prophet lack the protection of a father. There’s no way of you to take cover from the bullies by saying ‘My father will come and teach you for doing this!’ when you don’t have one.

Tariq Ramadan, in his book ‘In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad’, writes about the orphanhood of the prophet p.b.u.h and how that affected the beloved – as it was intended to be a big lesson for him, and eventually, for us too:

Although he did not yet know it, Muhammad was going through the first trials ordained for him by The One, Who had chosen him as a messenger and was, for the time being his Educator, his Rabb.

The Quran would later recall his particular situation as an orphan as well as spiritual teachings associated with the experience of life in the desert:

Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? And He found you wandering, and He gave you guidance. And He found you in need, and made you independent. Therefore [for that reason], do not treat the orphan with harshness, nor chide him who asks. but the bounty of your Lord, proclaim!

Those verses in the Quran carry several teachings: being both an orphan and poor was actually an initiatory state for the future Messenger of God , for at least two reasons, The first teaching is obviously the vulnerability and humility he must naturally have felt from his earliest childhood. This state was intensified when his mother, Aminah, died when Muhammad was six. This left him utterly dependent on God, but also close to the most destitute among people. The Quran reminds him that he must never forget this throughout his life and particularly during his prophetic mission. He was orphaned and poor, and for that reason he is reminded and ordered never to forsake the underprivileged and needy.

Considering the exemplary nature of the prophetic experience, the second spiritual teaching emanating from this verses is valid for each human being: never to forget one’s past, one’s trials, one’s environment and origin, and to turn one’s experience into a positive teaching for oneself and for others. Muhammad’s past, The One reminds him, is a school from which he must draw useful, practical and concrete knowledge to benefit those whose lives and hardships he has shared, since he knows from his own experience, better than anyone else, what they feel and endure.

Aslan Reza in his book, No god but God (which is my favourite book) also tries to demonstrate this fact and its implications:

As an orphan, Muhammad must have understood all too well the difficulty of falling outside Mecca’s religio-economic system. Fortunately for him, his uncle and new guardian, Abu Talib, was also the shaykh of Banu Hashim – a small, not very wealthy, yet prestigious clan within the mighty tribe of Quraysh. It was Abu Talib who kept Muhammad from falling into the debt and slavery that were the fate of so many orphans in Mecca by providing him with a home and the opportunity  to eke out a living working for his caravan.

The prophet had been trained the hard way that to be a good leader, there are crowds whose needs must be taken care of, not by someone else, but you as the leader – their protector in fact: the poor, the orphans, the widows. There are a number of instances in which the prophet’s fondness and love for these groups of people can be observed.

You can’t empathy unless you have been through the same thing, sure, but  you can sympathise nevertheless. To understand and to share – ain’t all of us brothers and sisters?

I recall reading a blog entry by the famous Aznil Haji Nawawi – and touched by how particular he can be while hosting an event with the orphan by carefully not using the words ‘anak-anak yatim’ (orphans), but instead call them as his ‘anak-anak’. Of course it is a fact you can’t deny that you are parentless, but a little sensitivity or maybe, common sense, can go a long way.

It might be the small thing that help, but why stick to the small when you can go for the bigger?

Great Expectations: Love and Skills

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

I could not exactly remember when was the last time (or maybe the only time) I read this masterpiece of Charles Dickens, but watching it being performed onstage was rather different.

I bought the tickets to this play two months ago – £1 each, a reduction of £15 from its original price, and kept the date safe and uninterrupted for I knew this is something I just could not miss – and I was right.

I checked the review right after I reached home, and it seems like everyone agrees with me, the performance deserves 5 stars rating. The best theatre so far, out of close to ten that I have watched in my four years inManchester.

And as always, I was left bewildered at the creativity of the director – and in general, the human mind. The talent that Gos has blessed some of us with. He managed to turn a lengthy story into a two and half an hour show – fast-paced, perfect set -doing justice to the great novel.

It is the same effect as watching my obsessions (both the animation and the OST) – Spirited Away and the Lord of the Rings (as one of those who know, I forbid myself from mentioning LOTR as a trilogy, because it is not). I could not help but being amazed by both productions.

Spirited Away has me struck in awe to see how everything, every single movements seems so real and natural, despite it being a traditional 2D animation. It feels me with admiration to examine the detailed at whicheverything is made to be -the colours, the background. I just can’t stop thinking of how creative Hayao Mizaki is (and thankful to the Lord that He has given talents to someone who has made my day), and how has he utilised and developed his God-given talent into something useful.

Haku. Can he not be real? *Sigh*

Haku. Can he not be real? *Sigh*

And for Lord of the Rings – how can someone imagine something like that even? Peace and tranquility interpreted and realised into the Shire, the buildings, Minas Tirith and all…and even the ugliest Orc – where did they get the idea of something that hideous?

Way beyond my limit of imagination


Way beyond my limit of imagination

But probably it is true that as we grow up, we tend to be so realistic that we forget to imagine – we are so getting used to the reality that we quickly snapped at everything that is not in line with our idea of reality. Too bad. Too bad I say. I realise that my left brain is not working at its full capacity for a long time – the only creative things I am still doing is perhaps wither writing this blog and trying to make it as interesting as possible, or finding answers to questions I don’t really know, and make myself looks as if I know all.  On the artistic side, there is nothing that I do consistently – I don’t draw anymore, I don’t do creative writings , I don’t paint for a long time, I have stopped making handcrafts – and that makes me above all a dull, dry, mathematical and mechanical person.

The last time I went painting (painting walls that was) on several rehab centres volunteering, I found myself missing the tranquility moving brushes against a flat surface – and I wonder when I will ever again indulge in such things.

And back to the issue, it comes down to me that when love and skills meet, what we can expect is a masterpiece. And it is what they are -Great Expectations the theatre, Spirited Away and Lord of the Rings. And when you do something out of love and passion, complimented with appropriate skills and talents – what you get in return is either this:

Spirited Away was released in Japan in July 2001, drawing an audience of around 23 million and revenues of ¥30 billion (approx. US$250 million), to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history (surpassing the film Princess Mononoke for highest grossing animated motion pictures). It was the first movie to have earned $200 million at the worldwide box office before opening in the United States.[3] By 2002, a sixth of the Japanese population had seen it.

Or this:

The trilogy was a great financial success, with the films being the 15th, 8th, and 2nd highest-grossing films of all time, respectively, unadjusted for inflation. The films were critically acclaimed, winning 17 out of 30 Academy Awards nominated in total, and received wide praise for the cast and for the innovative practical and digital special effects

Probably my courseworks won’t give me this (yet), though.

p.s. The Hobbit is coming out in 2011, mind you!

Spirited Away: Always with Me

 


My housemates say that I have become addicted to this song. I guess I am. I just can’t help.


And it is not just the melody, it’s the lyrics too.


Here’s the translation:

 

 

Somewhere, a voice calls, in the depth of my hear

May I always be dreaming, the dreams that move my heart.

 

So many tears, of sadness, uncountable through and through

I know on the other side, of them, I’ll find you

 

Every time we fall down to the ground, we look up to the blue sky above

We wake to its blueness, as for the first time

 

Though the road is long and lonely

And the end far away, out of sight

 

I can with these two arms, embrace the light

As I bid farewell, my heart stops, in tenderness I feel

 

My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real

The wonder of living, the wonder of dying

 

The wind, town and flowers, we all dance one unity

Somewhere, a voice calls in the depths of my heart

 

Keep dreaming your dreams, don’t ever let them part

Why speak of all your sadness or of life’s painful woes

 

Instead let the same lips sing a gentle song for you

The whispering voice, we never want to forget, in each passing memory

 

Always there to guide you

 

When a mirror has been broken, shattered pieces scattered on the ground

Glimpses of new life, reflected all around

 

Window of beginning, stillness, new light of the dawn

Let my silent empty body be filled and reborn

 

No need to search outside, nor sail across the sea

‘Cause here shining inside me, it’s right here inside me

 

I’ve found brightness, it’s always with me

 


p.s. I fall for Haku. Almost instantaneously.