Archive for May, 2011

Water For Elephants (2011)

Water For Elephants, based on a novel by Sara Gruen, is a love story set on a circus during The Great Depression. Jacob accidentally hops off on a circus train, looking for a job. His application is about to be denied when he mentioned he is a veterinarian graduate from Cornell. August, the circus manager, take interest and hires him.

At that time, the circus is at the brink of quitting. August thinks an elephant would be the solution – by attracting more attention the circus can gain more profit. Rosie, the elephant, is untrained and knows nothing about tricks or following orders and thus the role of Jacob comes in. At work, Jacob falls in love with Marlena, the star-studded performer and happens to be August’s wife. He knows his feelings would infuriate August and decides to hide it. But he can’t.

The film starts off like Titanic. An aged man is full of stories and when he is prompted, he floods the asker with details. The whole events in the movie happens during the man’s revelation. (more…)

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This film is based on the first three books of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m not an avid fan of the series but I have read the first book, The Bad Beginning, and it was great. Like the books, the film is filled with dreadful events yet shows a little humor – enough to make you hope for a happy ending. But don’t get you’re hopes too high.

The story is about a Happy Little Elf who happens to enjoy quirky songs accompanied by lovely birds and other lovely creatures you can think of. The film is done out of clay and shows gleeful scenes. Am I right? Wrong. The narrator goes to warn the audience that if you love happy ending go see another movie.

The Baudelaire Children

The story is about the Baudelaire children suffering from the clutches of an evil and greedy villain. The Baudelaire children are blessed with uncanny skills. Violet, 14 and the oldest, is an inventor. She fancies herself on machines, both simple and complex. Klaus is a bookworm and it is safe to say that he have read thousands of books and at least one for every subject, which makes him a sure winner of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Top this: everything he read he remembered. Sunny, the youngest , is a baby. She busies herself on biting, almost anything and like every baby, she speaks gibberish language. These are the reasons they survived every threat and the reason that makes the film interesting. (more…)

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Have you ever wondered how far a mother will go to save her leukemic daughter? Would you consider a designer baby as a last resort? Is it the right thing to do? Or if it is normal to stop monitoring your other children because you have to tend the dying one?  Would you choose to save your daughter while putting the other one’s life at risk? Here, in the book, the situation presents itself.

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper (2005)

My Sister’s Keeper is a story about the Fitzgerald family suffering the after effects of considering genetic implantation to conceive a child. The family had two children Jesse and Kate. The latter, at the age of two, is diagnosed of APL, a rare type of leukemia, barely curable. With a perfect donor match, Kate can live longer. The mother, Sarah, decided to conceived a child through test-tube. The embryo’s genes is perfectly altered to match those of Kate’s. Thus, Anna is born.

At childbirth, Anna had already donated a cord blood. Since then until thirteen, she have been giving blood, tissues and bone marrows to her sister Kate. Luckily, Kate had survived these past years and had the pleasure of kissing a boy. However, as time pass, Kate’s body begins to deteriorate and is need not just a refillable source but an organ – a kidney or else she’ll die. At best, Anna has to stop playing hockey and will not be able to drink alcohol. At worst, she might die or experience paralysis. The risks prompt Anna to think twice. In the end, she seeks for medical emancipation. She sues her parents for the rights of her own body. (more…)

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Whenever I ride our car, I always stay in the center on the backseat to get a good view of the road. Regardless of time, whether day or night, I always get annoyed of inconsiderate drivers, people who show total ignorance in driving rules and manners.

They come in different forms. Most popular, and probably most hated, are the drivers who don’t lower their headlights despite of the attempt in flicking yours for the signal. The light blinds, almost instantly, our way, making our short trip to a longer one. Some motorcycle drivers tolerate the lack of a back light, as if inviting us to hit them head-on. Their silhouette blends on the shadows of the trees which makes them unrecognizable. One time, we nearly hit one. Bumper to bumper.

Several unlicensed or show-off drivers pratice in wrong time and in the wrong place, especially in the speeding highway. These drivers are most likely to get killed or merit a lifetime of physical impairment. Trust me. I’ve been there.

One Saturday, we planned on buying gifts for Christmas or something like that. My memory had worn off because of the traumatic event. Happily singing in the backseat of the car, I was teasing my brother for this girl he mentioned. Moments later, there was a noisy crash and I was taken aback against my seat. At the right-side window, there I saw three people flying, hands flailing, probably crying for help.

Car Crashed

This is not our car but it almost looked like this.

By the looks of our beaten front-right window, it turned out that we hit a motorcycle driver together with his wife and child. The husband tried to make a U-turn on a speeding highway. He had flashed a signal light but not long enough for my father to notice. At our rate, evading the vehicle is futile. The mother and their child underwent extreme pain but had survived – the father did not.

What was supposed to be a jolly and memorable trip became a mournful and dreadful memory. In addition, we dealt in the case – who did what, who pays how much – for months, consuming our monthly budget and making that miserable moment stay longer.

So if you happen to violate traffic rules, think twice if the benefits outweighs the risk. Or even if it’s worth it. Because seriously you are not only putting your life in jeopardy but also the other drivers who have studied and observed traffic regulation for their safety and anticipated a warm welcome from their family.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

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I loathed science since grade school, particularly biology. I don’t get how learning the cell’s structure and its division stages going to help me in getting a job or living my life. Certainly, the subject is not an entertainment with its countless terms, which were probably derived from Greek words. After reading the book I still didn’t like studying science, probably I never will. But at least, for a moment, I enjoyed the topic.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Henreitta Lacks at the cover

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks is a biography of Henrietta Lacks, the woman behind the HeLa (hee-lah) cell line which helped produce in studying tissue culture and develop various medicines and medical advances: polio vaccine, chemotherapy and cloning – to name a few; and the struggle of Lackses family at the death of their mother, Henrietta, both from personal, ethical and political issues. The story does not only tell the grieving loss but also highlights the racism and medical  advances in the past century, which makes it a good choice for a book club discussion.

Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer and an African-American, died at the age of 31 out of urinal dysfunction cause by cervical cancer. Her cells were taken without her consent but before her death, George Gey, a scientist, had already been interested to her cells – the first one to live immortally outside the human body.  Worst of all, the family had been deprived of such knowledge and some companies were making money out of it. (more…)

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enchanted river people

People Swimming in the River

We arrived at noon full of crowded people, that made me realize it was a bad idea going there on weekends. There were many wooden tables accompanied by wooden chairs with parasol umbrella. But of course they were all filled. Even if we brought a table, there would be no place for it to stand. Most people were visitors. Some were in swimsuits and summer shorts. Others were happily eating with their lunch. Most were already swimming. Some, mostly boys, were just plainly staring at the women with swimsuits, . Despite the sea of people, probably excited in dipping themselves to the water, the plank wood sign is evident, saying Enchanted River.

Before we arrived, we traveled rough and dusty roads along the mountains for about four hours, leaving at dawn. The car was covered with dust, barely recognizable as a white Navara pick-up truck. But it was still better than experiencing rain, for it would turn the dust into mud – a more difficult medium to travel with.  Also, landslide is popular in our place, due to mining. (more…)

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We have many candidates. Gathering ideas. Outlining. Drafting. Revising. Editing. Submitting. Or simply getting started, particularly the first sentence. As a writer by a hobby, a profession or a virtue, we have different experiences in the torture of writing process. But of all the hardest part about writing, first sentence is ought to be in the first place, at least in my case. It is not the second sentence, the third or the last. It is not the second body paragraph or the concluding paragraph. It will always be the first sentence. The problem is not what we’ll be writing but rather how will we start it.

Image from after-the-party via Deviantart

Before I mislead you, I am not offering any help or ideas on how to get by this condition or dilemma. (But I certainly need one.) When I open my laptop’s lid and plunge into a word processor, I am faced with a blank document for a half an hour and is subject to extension or lesser if I ever get tempted to watch videos. Or worst: I never get to start anything at all. At that moment, there are many things in my mind. Many but none of deemed worthy to be the first sentence. I wrote the first sentence of the first paragraph of this post after my fourth revision, luckily.


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Pride and Prejudice stood through time. Crossed cultural boundaries. Translated to hundreds of languages. Studied in an English Class. Inspired aspiring writers. Mirrored the early 19th century England. The only thing that a contemporary reader can ask would be how beautiful it is.

Jane Austen

I don’t know if its true but they say Jane Austen started the brigade of Chick Lit, a genre of fiction featuring a female protagonist, often in a humorous ambiance, mostly includes romance and requires less thinking of its readers. I find it likely true if one stripped the language into a contemporary tone, remove the setting from its place, replace with a quirky cover. But it will likely ruin the book.

The novel highlights the economy of the 19th century England, including its system. In the author’s days, it reveals the woman is in need for a man for economic benefits and reputation and least likely for love. The women are powerless and inferior compared to man unless they have money or of in a higher position. (more…)

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The Nanny Diaries

I never knew nannies in New York have job, other than child-rearing, like a personal assistant. Receiving errand one after the other. Trying to make the ends meet. They were also expected to be a governess, to do dry cleaning and to fetch for a restaurant reservation. They are not just to fill the gaps of parenting but they are likely to be considered as the parents. As the looks of it, almost all of them are even underpaid.

Mrs. X, a demanding, careless mother and have grown mindless to her son’s existence, is in need for a nanny to Grayer, a bubbly and sometimes snobby four-year old kid. She then hires Nan, a senior college student at NYU who can’t finance her education and living and thus resolves to make money by childcare.

As Nan gets admitted to the job, she is then bombarded with countless tasks and is invited to numerous events. At once in a halloween custome party, Nan finds out that Mr. X is having an affair with another woman. Afraid of being involved to a rotten marriage, she figures she should quit but the thought of leaving Grayer in the middle of a dillemma is unbearable. Everyday, Nan tries to juggle Mrs. X’s endless tasks and raising Grayer. “But to do it well is to lose it”. (more…)

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The Virgin Suicides

“Cecilia was the first to go,” the movie starts, followed by an ambulance, implying how serious her attempt was. When asks why she did it, she replies,”Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a 13-year-old girl”.

A drastic event about five daughters who commits suicide at Michigan in 1970’s is told by a collective narrator(s) that have a passion and love for the Lisbon girls. Their voice acts as a guideline as the film progresses and the information revealed came from their extensive research and intimate memories. Despite the complex storyline, Sofia Coppola handled a dramatic story, from the book of Jeffrey Eugenides with the same title, with such subtlety and had managed to produce an independent film filled with eerie and sad feeling yet memorable at the same time. (more…)

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The Virgin Suicides (1993)

Before the trash collected itself from the curb, before the fence was remove, before the house was labeled as haunted, before the parents got divorce, before the suicides happened, the Lisbon family was living peacefully in Michigan with their 5 daughters: Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese.

Told nearly twenty years later after “there were no more daughters to save”, the story was narrated by a collective first-person observer from a group of middle-age men addicted to the Lisbon girls. The tragedy started when Cecilia cut herself on the wrist, a near-death experience. As if that was just a game, she tried it again but this time jumped off from her window and was impaled against the fence: a sure kill. The remaining girls suffered from “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”, and peer pressure. As the narrator said,  “Inside their house they were prisoners; outside, lepers.”


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The Way Back (2010)

I can’t walk straight for about one hour, let alone twenty minutes in a sun-baked desert. Their 4000-mile walk, unlike any marathon, they don’t have a stop for a drinking fountain or even raise a white flag to surrender, is a dying cry for freedom . Because they don’t have any choices but to walk. A story about captivity amidst the ongoing war, this historical film recounts the mysterious travelers who escaped prison, from Siberia to India.

Janusz (Jim Sturgess) is convicted a spy to the soviet union by her wife, who was forced to reveal the information due to torture. He ends up in a camp in Siberia and later meets Mr. Smith (Ed Harris) and other people who became an accomplice to the escape. After knowing the way out , and luckily a bad weather to cover their attempt, they cut the wire fence and is chased by the guards. (more…)

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Our church is undergoing renovation and we need fund for the construction. Thus, the committee decided to hold an acrobatic show. That’s how I find myself sitting here on a plastic chair beside the walls of a gymnasium. I think I arrived just in time. The ticket says 7:30pm but it’s already eight and I’m not seeing any action. I drum my fingers out from boredom for the next one hour.

My first saliva is about to drop when the show finally started. I wipe it from the back of my hand and rub it in my pants. I know I doze off but I don’t want anyone having evidence. There is a cranky music and all the performers run through the center stage, each of them bowing as their names are mentioned. I am tempted to cover my ears, the music banging my ear drum like a stand-alone cymbal without a pattern of rhythm.


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