20 December 2011

Crazy Stupid Love

Crazy Stupid Love is a film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. It's about love that has gone awry. It's about how parents' broken relationship can affect their children. It's about secret love. It's about the mid-life crisis. It's about a new start. It's about love.

Of course, I don't mean to cast a net to sweep every aspect of life under its carpet, but the film does tell you a lot about this crazy stupid thing called love. Cal Weaver, a middle-aged man, is an estranged husband, whose wife, Emily (wonderfully stars Julianne Moore), takes a decision to leave him possibly due to her midlife crisis. The first half of the film sees Cal as a confused man trying to cope with the separation and start seeing other women, with the help of Jacob Palmer, a dashing womanizer. However, things turn out to be more complicated as Cal is not ready to give up his love.

Over the second half, we see how the two men, Cal and Jacob, learn to take a middle road, with Cal being more sophisticated and with Jacob being less. Both start to learn that love is nothing but unpredictable but once one finds it, one should not just give up once it is hampered by any difficulties, be they big or small. What I find interesting about the film is how the directors try very hard not to resort to easy, cliche endings, even though this is almost impossible given the film's genre is clearly that of romantic comedy. Of course, there's no harsh tragedy in the film, but at the end there emerge a hope that some can change to be a better person (both physically in the case of Cal and mentally in that of Jacob) and some (like Cal's own son who falls in love with his own babysitter) just need to soldier on despite the acknowledgement that love cannot be won.

There's nothing new with the film. But if you have some free time on Sunday evening, maybe it's one choice among many.

15 September 2010

Private Eyes | รัก (ทะ) ลวงตา

Private Eyes, adapted for Thai theatre-goers from the original script by Steven Dietz, had its premiere yesterday. The translator and director, Pawit Mahasarinand, also took a role in the play, which aims to make the viewers confused and question the thin line between fiction and reality. Not only does the main actors, Nophand Boonyai and Dujdao Vadhanapakorn, retain their real names throughout the play, the situation is made more complex with them playing the roles of actors. In a sense, this play can be labelled 'metafiction', as it's a work of art that discusses its own fictive status, something that is not totally unheard of in the theatre scene. However, the cast of only five characters does bring freshness to this postmodern structure with the same characters taking different functions in different layers of Chinese-box reality.

Love figures prominently, as the whole play deals with the issues of trust and faith. Scenarios are repeated, though not with precision, only to be revealed later as possibilities in dreams, instigated by either fear or desire. However, even though the play is complex, its complexity is not there just to mesmerize the viewers, but indeed to portray the increasingly distorted mind of a man who believes that his lover has an affair with a director.

Nothing can be trusted in this play, as it revels in its own self-reflexivity and fictive status. Even the psychoanalyst, who is supposed to be a reliable voice of sanity giving 'objective' comments to the viewers, somehow cannot be trusted. What we have left here is our own attempt at understanding and our little faith, faith that what we're watching tells us something about life, even though we know only too well that the writer has a lot up his sleeves. Perhaps towards the end we are merged with the actor, whose last words are simply 'don't fool me' ...

More details of the play can be found here.

14 June 2010


Kinsey is a very touching film that details a man's fight against cultural prejudices. Alfred Kinsey was a renowned scientist working at Indiana University and, despite his religious background, he set out to find truths about life and the world. The film does show how Kinsey, during the early decades of the twentieth century, tries so hard to study sexual behaviour of American people. Of course, given the age and time, what Kinsey does is pioneering and daring, as the oppressive nature of society at the time rarely permits such a study to be conducted without prejudgement. With the Protestant belief riding high, Kinsey manages to secure a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, though it was later put to a stop due to the public panic over such a sensitive issue.

The figure of Kinsey, however, triumphs over all this, as we see the man braving his way through the society full of moral hypocrisy and double standard. His unrelenting fight is comparable to that of Prometheus, who risks his life to give fire to mankind. Kinsey himself is an experimenter, as we see he tries and tests different forms of sex, at times injuring himself in the process and pushing his moral boundaries to the limits. Nevertheless, somehow we see him as a courageous fighter for his own belief -- that everything can be measured and analysed -- and that his belief is itself very cautiously formulated.

He clearly distinguishes love from sex and strictly analyses the latter, accepting the fact that the former is somewhat much more complicated and cannot be measured. However, I can't help wondering that at times Kinsey is ill-at-ease distinguishing between sex and love. When his wife wants to 'sexually experiment' with one of his assistants, we clearly see that Kinsey is apparently worried. This perhaps raises a pertinent question that somehow sex can't just be measured either, simply for the fact that sex and love can't be separated. Somehow we try to use reason to analyse sex, but little do we realize that we can't simply be a detached observer of such a delicate issue.

But of course this doesn't mean that the world should ignore Kinsey or that his study should be treated with less respect. Totally the opposite, I reckon.

30 May 2010

The Devil Wears Prada | Confessions of a Shopaholic

Look closely and you'll start to see a lot of similarities between these two recent films, The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic. Needless to say, both are based on the novels of the same names and both feature a central female character who has problems with her lifestyle. In The Devil Wears Prada, we see Andrea Sachs or Andy having problems with choice, whether to be a successful fashion columnist in a top fashion magazine or to have a lovely relationship with her boyfriend. On the other hand, Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic, also chooses to decline a once-in-a-lifetime offer to work in a fashion magazine in order to stop living a lie.

Both films see the whole fashion industry as an arena full of heartless struggles and competitions, where the winners are left soulless and the losers nothing but ... losers. Here, we can't help but aligning this world with working women, a rather new generation of women who need to prove that they can work as effectively as (or even better than) men, women who have been under enormous pressure to prove themselves that they can survive in this dog-eat-dog world of consumerist capitalism. One can't help but wonder how in this day and age of affirmative right and political correctness can women be stereotyped in such a cruel way, especially when one takes into consideration that these negative images are created by female novelists. Of course, I don't mean that they misrepresent women, but they are rather too heavy-handed in painting this rather cold image of women, whose personal lives suffer at the expense of their career success. A good example would naturally be the character of Miranda Priestley, whose ice-queen looks are just a external layer that conceals her vulnerability.

It comes as no surprise to learn that both Andrea and Rebecca at the end decline these lucrative offers but prefer to take low-profile jobs. But the reason actually varies: while Andrea chooses to quit her job because she doesn't want to be cold-hearted as Miranda, Rebecca just refuses to take the job at Alette because she thinks the job just keeps her in a web of lies in the world where she needs to entice people to spend more money in retail therapy. However, despite this difference, what is similar between the two films is that their decision not to enter the fashion world is related to their discovery of the truth of life -- that the meaning of life lies not in jobs or shopping but in ... men. Now, call me sarcastic if you may, but I do believe that in this day and age of postfeminism, we could have done better, to see that perhaps women don't EVEN need a boyfriend or a relationship, but a belief in their true self, the self that they can rely on and be contented with. What I see in these films, however, is that women choose not to depend on a job or shopping, but to depend on men instead.

13 May 2010

Read Out Loud!

I just stumbled on this language joke whilst arranging my stuff at home. Reading it once again, I just realised how imperial the joke was and it did disguise the unequal power relations between the "native" language user and those who are not "qualified" to use their language.


One day ima gonna Malta to bigga hotel. Ina Morning I go down to eat breakfast. I tella waitress I wanna two pissis toast. She brings me only one piss. I tella her I want two piss. She say go to the toilet. I say you no understand. I wanna to piss onna my plate. She say you better not piss onna plate, you sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the lady and she call me sonna ma bitch. Later I go to eat at the bigga restaurant. The waitress brings me a spoon and knife but no fock. I tella her I wanna fock. She tell me everyone wanna fock. I tell her you no understand. I wanna fock on the table. She say you better not fock on the table, you sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the lady and she call me sonna ma bitch. So I go back to my room inna hotel and there is no shits onna my bed. Call the manager and tella him I wanna shit. He tell me to go to toilet. I say you no understand. I wanna shit on my bed. He say you better not shit onna bed, you sonna ma bitch. I go to the checkout and the man at the desk say: "Peace on you". I say piss on you too, you sonna ma bitch, I gonna back home.