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July 14, 2006

One Rare Moment Of Flowing Thoughts

I am Nobody. My non–physical characteristics are, as of this moment, Blur and Vague. I am neither Sane nor Insane. I am neither Popular nor Completely Unpopular.

Then my brain hangs. I was supposed to write a lot more than that, then stop at the sentence 'I've lost my Inner Voice'. But inspirations have a way of fizzing out when one gets distracted. Never mind, a different stream of thought flowed in for a while, which I jotted down – in the form of an MSN conversation.

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
hoi

Illusionary says:
yeah, what's up

Illusionary says:
was falling in and out of sleep and having adventures in deep dreams

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
really?

Illusionary says:
yeah

Illusionary says:
am reading the contemporary classic Sophie's World at the moment, that might be why

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
ahhh

Illusionary says:
have you read that one

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
nope

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
i read three chapters

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
felt it was too heavy

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
so put it aside

Illusionary says:
is it? it's very light

Illusionary says:
i mean, try telling the history of philosophy and not scaring ppl off

Illusionary says:
by presenting it from a child's point of view … it's brilliant

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
i was 16 when i picked it up

Illusionary says:
i see

Illusionary says:
hmm, i had something to blog about just a moment ago

Illusionary says:
now i lost it

Illusionary says:
typed only three or four sentences and it dried up

Illusionary says:
was flowing just now

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
darn

Illusionary says:
i was thinking about the idea that perhaps i lost my 'inner voice' (for the lack of a better phrase)

Illusionary says:
am i unique, original? in such a way that i was comfortable with myself?

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
you might have

Illusionary says:
hell yeah, i once was, up till early sec school

Illusionary says:
i get embarassed by some events, by some things ppl say, but on the whole i was proud to be myself

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
really?

Illusionary says:
along the way, more and more ppl begin to ask, why are you like this, or say, i cant understand you

Illusionary says:
but even until towards the end of high school i still felt proud to be weird (emotional and hormonal fluctuations aside)

Illusionary says:
by uni time i was convinved by ppl that i need to change

Illusionary says:
that i cannot go on not knowing how to drive, that i cannot be stuck to just liking to watch movies, that i must learn how to deal with ppl (to socialise)

Illusionary says:
which, by all reasonably standards of society's conventions, makes simple sense

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
i can't drive either

Illusionary says:
so i guess i did try to change … while strongly resisting it at the same time, questioning those ppl, why, saying, i am happy to be myself

Illusionary says:
so now, the question is, did i change or not?

Illusionary says:
i think i did, i was more aware of The World, of Reality (as perceived by immediate friends)

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
you sold out.

Illusionary says:
and perhaps, that revealed how high the possibility is that i will fail as a human

Illusionary says:

  • as a human/person living in current circumstances, at this epoch, this stage of history

Illusionary says:
did i forget to stay stubborn? current conventions would question, must you stay stubborn? stubbornness is bad, means inflexibility

Illusionary says:
current conventions voiced by the liberal (logical? what i mean to say is the doctrine of 'question everything') mode of thinking i suppose

Illusionary says:
so, a) should i go back to being 'myself'? b) is it still possible for me to go back to being 'myself'? c) who was 'myself'? how was it like? is it actually better

Illusionary says:
what did i used to strive to do? i strived to stare at the face of unexpected/surprising/dire/unusual circumstances and say: that is normal, that is okay

Illusionary says:
this becoz it is impressive to others … it perplexes others

Illusionary says:
i wanted to be knowledgeable, more so than any others … and i think for a long time i was quite ahead of others

Illusionary says:
then uni changed all of that

Illusionary says:
no, wait, that started in high school

Illusionary says:
high school showed me someone who could think more maturedly than me

Illusionary says:
a–levels showed me someone who knew more than i could possibly know (in philosophy and ideas of the antiquity and history)

Illusionary says:
uni showed me someone who can demonstrate how much more right (correct) than i am in virtually every issue we dont agree with

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
hmm

Illusionary says:
(in short, someone who is more clever than me)

Illusionary says:
so since high school i have to admit that my life is in a descending shape of decline

Illusionary says:
theory of relativity … who moved? did i stay still (stagnant)? or is it The World who left me behind?

Illusionary says:
(logically i suppose both could be true, but i was going for something else)

Illusionary says:
so anyway … my mind is trickling out now

Illusionary says:
i think that's the end of pseudo–psycho talk

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
you gotta put this in your blog

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
sorry about my lack of response

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
was writing a desperate email to recruit this cinematographer

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
had to sound as sincere as possible

Illusionary says:
well, about half way through writing that i realised i WAS writing for the blog … so your lack of response was kinda inconsequential

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
oh, all right

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
anyway, going to uni doesn't really make me feel anylesser

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
in fact, it kinda boosted my ego

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
made me realize how unique i can actually be

Illusionary says:
maybe going to US will be that experience for me … though somehow i feel like loud and boisterous americans will just scare me off

Illusionary says:
coz the english are reserved … and that's partly why i feel compelled to stay on in london

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
i think it's better for you too

Illusionary says:
well, i dont really want to be loud and boisterous … unless i might enjoy it later, but that's hard to imagine

Illusionary says:
i mean, all i need to be confident is to be sure of myself

Illusionary says:
the reason in the past i am confident is becoz i was sure of myself, even though my ideas and train of thoughts seemed insane to other ppl around me

Illusionary says:
so i didnt really care what other ppl were thinking, all i knew was i was right

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
just try to reclaim that confidence, man

Illusionary says:
and that was probably when i could have directed stuff … coz i was SURE

Illusionary says:
well, it's not just a simple act of reclaiming confidence … question is how, and i need to do this 'right', as in in a manner natural to me

Illusionary says:
not following what other ppl say like what everyone said i should do … and not following self help books (maybe that ruined me for the last ten yrs?)

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
i never read selfhelp books

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
i just believe what is right for me

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
my ego makes me think a lot about myself

Illusionary says:
heh, that's not hard to believe about you

Great Swifty (Edmund) ??? says:
definitely

Okay, some parts were kinda irrelevant. In case you're interested, you can visit the Ultimate Narcissistic, Great Swifty at swiftywriting.blogspot.com.


May 13, 2006

Audiences Are Stupid

There, I've said it.

Okay, fine, I'll say it more accurately. Audiences …

I can't. I don't know how.

Anyways, it was something that got me thinking. There are a lot of movies out there, like The Fast and the Furious which was perennially agreed to be one trash of a movie, and yet the bloody thing has spawned a second sequel set in Tokyo. Who wants to watch stuff like that? Trashy stuff like that?

Apparently, lots of people.

Instead, there are lots of intelligent films, films where both critics and audiences can agree are quality films, and they tend to … earn less. Much less.

(Things are never simple of course. M:I–III was generally well–received – compared to other blockbusters – by both audiences and critics as well. But I'm blogging, if I don't generalise, I don't get to put across what I want to say. In fact, do you know that probably half of the argumentative comments generated from any particular discussive blog post are pedantic 'corrections' about what the commentator says the blogger said wrong, and the counter–arguments to that, and … you get the picture. Generalisation is essential. There a whole paragraph just to clarify that. What was I talking about before this?)

I was thinking about … films about historically traumatising events. United 93 was just released in the US, and the film will not earn a lot of money becoz it was ... a well made film. As in, critics all said that the film was even-handed, did not preach, nor comment, did not even dramatise the events, did not give the characters heroic characteristics, did not demonise the terrorists, did not milk or manipulate. It just shows it as it is.

That the experience was too recent and hence too painful for certain sectors of the population aside, the audience for this movie should still be huge. There isn't a lack of publicity for this. But no, people are avoiding this.

Instead, movies like Pearl Harbor get their audience easily. And this one seems to be fairly unanimously rejected as a quality movie.

Notice what I'm saying. I'm not saying that all films should be true–to–life, realistic, grim and depressing – gosh, what an extreme. (Commentators online have a tendency to do that as well. Blogger expresses one viewpoint against a certain extreme, commentator retaliates by saying the blogger must logically belong to the other extreme. The concept of middle ground and spectrum of opinions seem alien.) I do like to enjoy films that are all for entertainment and escapism. The Scary Movie franchise, for example.

What I'm unhappy about is the fact that films that are well made like United 93 don't earn much. Why is this relevant? It's relevant coz I'm not actually thinking about all of this in relation to Hollywood. I'm thinking about the film industry back home, in Malaysia. The industry is still lying at the gutter, but is slowly making it's way up, hampered by heavy stones in the form of politicians and the censorship board (though, kudos to the board, they are making changes for the better). Still, there is potential for the industry to rise up magically, wipe the dust of its shoulder, wear a suit, and run to the world and show what it can do.

But no. Silly, ridiculous, melodramatic, sappy, basically low quality films tend to be the ones filling the theatre seats. Films that try to be different, that are actually worth watching, will, at this point, never see itself garner more than a few thousand audiences. Instead, they have to rely on overseas market just to break even, with no profits left over such that more ambitious films can be made.

Again, keep in mind that I'm generalising. I suppose one reason why the audience is not to be blamed is becoz of the problem of adverse selection. If one were to pick between Malaysian indie films in the cinema, say, The 3rd Generation and Gubra, by just looking at the titles – how would you know which one is better? Only the urban professionals who read a lot and spent time online who knew a lot about the director behind Gubra would say I'd rather see Gubra. (In fact, The 3rd Generation turned out to be the worst, most pretentious arthouse shit I've ever heard.)

I may come to regret typing out this post in the future. I may change my mind and say that bad films need to be made along the way, for filmmakers – especially in a young industry like Malaysia – to make mistakes to get better.

But, at this moment, I feel like there is nothing to watch at the cinemas. Neither in Hollywood nor a home.


February 20, 2006

Top 5 Films Of 2005

So many films that popped out in the last quarter year or so, that it took a long time to get through it all. I find that overhyped films that other people seem to enjoy don't persuade me, seemed more like they wanted to enjoy it because it makes them feel highbrow or something, I don't know – that's generalisation. What I do know is these – I've finally found my own perfect list. The others that people talk about, like Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, & Good Luck., Munich, Crash and The Constant Gardener did not get to me.

Instead, films which were truly emotional, which heavily affected me, caused me to think about it days after, the kind that sucks one into the screen and refuses to let go, in ways that I do not know how to explain they way I usually can for other films where my tendency to analyse prevails – these films are:

1. CINDERELLA MAN

This could have so easily been the most boring concept, most unnecessary film of the year, but under the inexplicable je ne sais quoi that Ron Howard and Brian Grazer puts into it, add to that the more than competent acting that the cast put into it, and with the combination of a creative cinematographer, excellent sound mixing and the services of the incredible talents of Thomas Newman for the score – the film actually made me tear up for the first time in a long time at a cinema.

2. WAR OF THE WORLDS

Lots of people don't get it – I shan't address that for fear of insulting anyone. But I think Spielberg delivered one of the most frightening films. I don't care about frightening films in the horror or suspense genre – what this film did is to convince that all that is happening is real, and that the characters would do what they did. In effect, they are like billiard balls, being knocked around, and they react the best that they can – a metaphor applied to Crash, but apparently no one sees it here. Perhaps I have a higher capacity to suspend disbelief than others – I understand the flaws in the ending, some apparent 'plotholes' (they're not), but I think this came out a better film than most last year.

3. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

Sure it's a kids film. What I like about it: depiction of the elder brother's sense of responsibilities, medieval knights, the dated way in which the kids speak, the way the film can be touching in unexpected ways (the scene at the train station), the brilliant shot when the two armies approach. Now, there are lots of films with clashing armies nowadays – but this one did it in momentous silence. The film is without its flaws, but it is forgivable as the undertaking was huge. For example, I thought the kids were potentially great – they just need someone to tell them to cut down on the pouting and the insecure mannerisms.

4. SYRIANA

The most important film of the year. Frightening in the way it reveals how ignorant all of us are, and why. Depressing in its truthful conclusion that nothing will change because that's the way it is. We are all heading towards the precipice; some of us see it, but we cannot turn back because we are tied to those who don't see. A sincere but violent look at the realities of our hopelessly capitalistic world.

5. PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Period dramas get me – except when they're boring like Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility. Director Joe Wright infuses this with such furious passion that every single nuance and subtlety is highlighted to the audience – if the audience fails to perceive it, it is no one's fault but their own. Less about telling the story and more about making the audience feel every single idea and emotion that the characters go through. Every single one of the cast turned up top notch performances. As I haven't seen the BBC one I cannot say whether I'd ever think the BBC version of Darcy and Bennet are better. Chances are I won't – MacFadyen and Knightley were completely compelling.


February 05, 2006

Watch SYRIANA

Title:
Syriana
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

FROM DIRECTOR Stephen Gaghan

AND STARRING George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Siddig, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, and so on …

What is it about? It's about the world we live in today. It's about oil, corruption, the Middle East, terrorism, capitalism, fundamentalism, unemployment, American corporations, the CIA.

Who's in it? Everyone. It's about fathers and sons. The disillusioned CIA undercover agent. His son. The idealistic energy analyst. His wife and son(s). The reformist Arab prince. His father and brother. The quiet oil lawyer. His father. The Pakistani boy trying to ekk out a living in the Persian Gulf. His father. The corrupted heads of corporations. The old man behind the whole thing. The invisible heads working inside the CIA. The ulamas spreading the word of Allah. The anonymous-looking Chinese who are taking over firms one by one.

What's the point? Everything is connected. Who's right, who's wrong? You're asking the wrong questions, baby.

This film is about oil, but not a single drop of it is seen anywhere, the same way oil lawyers never came across the commodity they're defending. The movie keeps moving forward, so fast that if you miss a beat you realise you suddenly don't understand the whole story. And even if you were following the story carefully you may not be able to hold the entire thing in your head.

Because such is the current state of our modern capitalistic world. The film is based on a book, which is based on true events; however, everything in the film is fictional. What writer-director Stephen Gaghan (who won an Oscar for Traffic) tried to do was to present a film that reflects the way the world is, without any political bias or opinion – and he spent a couple of years just to research and write the movie. I trust him. The world he presents is a scary place. It's scary because we've been so ignorant of what's going on, most of us.

Gaghan is aided by a great cast – every one is a bit player, but they are all well-portrayed, and many will leave their impression on you. The cinematography and music are kept simple, chaotic only when it needs to be. All of this helps, because the story is complicated enough as it is.

Film is not just entertainment. Does this entertain? Depends on who you are. But if you want to have an understanding of how our world works – do yourself a favour.

Deserves Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Alexander Siddig and Jeffrey Wright, not Clooney), Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Original Screenplay.


December 26, 2005

Final Blog Entry

Everything needs a good title.

The screenplay just isn't working, and the reason the film project isn't working is that I don't know how to write the next draft. The last six months working on the screenplay – well, it's like chewing gum. You chew gum for flavour. So you chew and chew, and then the flavour gradually fades away but you continue to believe that you're squeezing out more coz of the residual flavour stuck inside your mouth. At some point even those are gone and you begin to think that you should spit it out – but then people encourage you to keep chewing, "don't give up".

But eventually, you realise that it is completely pointless to continue chewing on a flavour-long-gone gum, no matter how much you delude yourself, how much you want to delude yourself.

And even though this is supposed to be my way out of a boring existence in uni and a way into the film industry – well, I suppose the message is, get real, idiot.

Not that I didn't get the message. Obviously it was obvious that I was just deluding myself the past half year. But when you're trying to write, you tend to throw those thoughts out as far as you can.

So the story of Jeremy Wakeham ends here. He will not appear on celluloid, because he has failed as a sympathetic character, and his story is apparently not worth telling.

And the two things a film must have to succeed are a great script and a great cast. I didn't even get past Test No 1.

And to be honest, even if I do punch out a great script, I'm not confident about getting the right actors. It's not like I have a chance to employ James McAvoy, Jordan Metcalfe or Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

I feel like a fool, even though I'm making this decision with a clearer mind than when I was trying to create scenes in my head. This is how it feels like to have Loser and Failure written on your forehead.

And Peter Jackson gets to make King Kong.

Final Rants And Observations

Malaysia is one of a few non-Western countries with a great love for cinema (what a lie – a great love for movies) with a reasonably high command of English who heard, in KING KONG, Jack Black as Carl Denham uttering the words "I'm a movie producer, you can trust me" and not have any inkling that that was supposed to be funny.

And, as much as I like to see Jamie Bell as rising young star – what the hell is the Jimmy subplot doing in King Kong?

Just went to Australia. The country sucks. I could write a long paragraph about why – or I can keep it to myself.

Chances of more entries appearing in this blog due to sudden influx of inspirations that allows the screenplay to continue to be written, or as a useless site for rants: 50/50.


November 26, 2005

University Sucks

I've been trying to consider the problem of why university sucks. I know I don't like it, but the more I try to reason it the more I find that I can't. This probably isn't of importance for most students – the majority seem to be enjoying their time here, whether it's those who are really here for that studying shit (the ones who are scribbling throughout lectures … scribble scribble, fucking annoying, no?) and the ones who slack and party their way through and do weird stuff like walk on the lecture tables to get from one end to the other because it's cool. And everyone else in between (life is a spectrum/continuum).

It is important for me for another reason – I need to be able to answer that question if I am to write my screenplay.

I tried googling to see whether anyone else agrees. Well, I came up with some random sites denouncing certain specific US colleges … which is irrelevant of course. When I do find others who agree … well, the guy also realised he doesn't have a coherent reason why he hates university.

Particularly for me, I guess it's because I'm not doing well here, academically. Used to be one of those A students – and the thing is I never had to try to get an A. I just do. Here, somehow things are different. Friends seem to enjoy being all righteous, saying the right thing - university is different from high school, mate. So what?

Then there's the loneliness. The boredom. The going to lectures wondering what for, when all I do is fall asleep. The assignments … the frustration for doing something that seems somewhat important yet so pointless.

As you can see, not exactly good reasons to denounce university.

I'd really like to know – and I know I will never find out, coz statistics is such a big fucking lie – what proportion of the student population have the same sort of thoughts. It might be surprisingly huge. But as I said, on the surface, everyone else seems to be enjoying their time here.

In which case, I'll be told to just shut up and get on with it.

If I ever thought out the reasons, though – the film is potentially huge. If only I can remove everyone's dependency on university … suddenly things like top-up fees and various other arguments become irrelevant.

Irrelevant.


November 24, 2005

Downfall – A World Gone To Hell

Title:
Der Untergang
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Der Untergang, or Downfall, portrays the final days of Hitler and the Third Reich. Basically, what you see is an empire on its downfall, a once glorious vision reduced to fantasies, an ambitious man reduced to ruins without ever fully realising that he cannot control the world, a group of people forced to make choices for which most of them didn't realise they have in the first place … a world gone mad.

Last week I saw the Korean war drama Tae Guk Gi Hwinalrimyeo (Brotherhood), which tells of two brothers during the 1960 Korean civil war. That one sees a country tear itself apart, people killing their own people, most of them not even knowing at an intellectual level what they were fighting for. It's almost as if everyone's brainwashed, and the result is hell on earth.

Der Untergang does this with a terrible sense of dread. The dread is mostly on the audience, and does not fully descend on the characters (and we are introduced to at least a dozen main ones, which I found very impressive, even in a 156-minute movie) until the final third of the movie. We sense that dread because of what we know today.

We know that Hitler was a monster, and that Berlin would fall.

And in the movie, we are wondering what the hell these people are doing there.

The film is essentially based on the memoirs of Traudl Junge, who serves as a makeshift lead character here, allowing us to see the event through her eyes. At some point we realise that we need to understand her urges to see Hitler as a great man. She was giddy with excitement when she found out that she was to be Hitler's secretary. The less intelligent of the audience members will probably think she and the others are buffoons.

My point is, what is going through the head of Hitler? I think the film brings us closer to understanding it. As many have pointed out, the film humanises Hitler. Now, 'humanising' someone doesn't mean making him nice. It just means that it's showing the fact that YOU COULD HAVE BEEN HIM AS WELL. It all comes down to this fact - Hitler was an ambitious man. (Now, before I continue, let me just say that this is what I think from watching the film ... is Hitler like that in real life? well, history as we know it is never, ever actual truth … do you understand what this means?) He had a grand vision, and I actually found myself thinking, what IS that vision? What does he see in that head of his? Why does it have to involve killing millions of Jews? I'm not a historian so I don't know the context, and I don't really care (really, this film is only gonna occupy my entire being for a rather short period of time, a matter of hours).

Certainly I can understand the feeling when EVERYBODY is letting you down. That is how Hitler sees his world in his final days. Everyone is either betraying him, or not able to execute his orders. Extreme and intense disappointment sets in. He goes into one of his depressive moods – all is lost, it's over, yada yada. So he brings Eva in and they kill themselves. And a scapegoat is born.

I like that the film did not exactly concentrate on him. There's Eva Braun – how is it that she can remain so calm? Cheerful, even. Is she really just chronically naive? And there's Goebbels and his wife – and in this movie, Frau Goebbels really steals the limelight. She insists on staying with Hitler, like many others – along with her kids. 6 of them. All seem to be below the age of 12. She's is a determined woman – my, in today's world, in another movie, she'd be someone you would admire.

She brought the kids there so that she could kill every single one of them. Poison. She could not live in a world in which the Third Reich and the Nazi doesn't exist. A very disciplined woman. She'd rather Hitler live, they might be able to salvage the remains of their world some other time; but if Hitler wants to commit suicide, she would have to bring the kids along with her down with him. I'm sure most of the audience are shocked at that scene, played out over many minutes, yet each minute is compelling. One by one she poisons them.

Among the generals, you see some who seem like they have common sense, who actually considered the consequences on the people of Berlin. And then you get those who only knew how to obey Hitler. To suggest something else is like forcing someone to think out of the box – have you gone mad? Out of the box? Most of the latter committed suicide in the end. So many of them, you get the feeling of them 'dropping like flies'.

And then you get the youth army. So loyal and courageous. They really believed in it all, and were prepared to die defending the city. Such an honourable (read: fun) privilege. So you see this girl with pigtails telling her comrade to shoot her. He shoots. Then he shoots. Two bodies lying on the floor. What would become of them had that not happened?

I doubt anyone would read till this point … in which case, I don't know why I just typed that. When I saw The Pianist for the first time, I was left with feeling like I was about to collapse. Most people saw that film and thought, 'meh, Schandler's whatever was better'. (Fuckers, can't even pronounce the title properly.) However, for me I was really in the moment … every step the pianist took, especially outside, he could be shot for no particular reason. That was frightening … frightening in a way that most of you won't understand because you don't take films as seriously as I do.

Watching this one reminded me again of that fear.

Why?

Because this will probably happen sometime from now. I'd like to find out whether I will be able to live through it.

(Who will start the next war? Corporations? It will probably not be obvious that it's WWIII. You drink your milk and then you fall over dead – chemical in products. Things like that. Basically, something we cannot imagine yet.)

(Can you survive that?)


November 23, 2005

I Am Such A Loser

Just saw Jerry Maguire.

I realised that my script is not compelling enough.

Shit.


Film Score Albums

The following are film score albums where I thought every single track just worked, as whole. There are very few such albums – most albums contain a few brilliant tracks accompanied by some meandering or filler tracks. Pretty much all Thomas Newman scores are like that, a few good ones, so good you'll remember them for the rest of your breathing lives, but the rest of the album … meh.

The Bourne Supremacy (John Powell)

My … Starting from the first track, Goa, which introduces a breezy melody accompanied by strong percussions, all the way to the end, the score basically never lets up. Half the tracks here are action tracks, based around seemingly chaotic percussion beats which races forwards and brakes at random, like a car throwing you forward and back, and you can actually feel the inertia of it listening to it. In between, some relatively quieter tracks blend in and then leave, not intruding the pacing at all. It all builds up the climax which begins with the determined-sounding Moscow Build Up and lets out in full blast for 6 minutes in Bim Bam Smash. As I keep saying, if only all action scores are like this …

The Four Feathers (James Horner)

The film deserved a few Oscars, in my opinion, but most of the world has never even heard of it. Could have been the Lawrence of Arabia of this century – I'm not kidding. The score itself … well, not everyone is going to like it, but I love it! An adventure story about a British finding redemption in the Sudan, what the score does is to have Western epic orchestral music play out, then North African wailing music, then when the battle sequences begin, mesh them together, twisting in and out of each other, sometimes competing with each other. It was a brilliant concept (also done in Black Hawk Down) and what really works here is that both aspects were so strong. I love the Qawwali wailings – it's coarse and rough and out-of-tune and, for most of you, irritating. Maybe that's why I like it, I can bear things you guys can't. The Western orchestral bits – wow … Seriously, the romantic parts were so damn heartbreaking and poignant – and Horner achieved that with 6 piano notes, that's it – while the epic bits were so classical and grand. You must hear it to understand what I mean.

Mighty Joe Young (James Horner)

This one sees Horner doing something he normally never touches – African music. What is surprising is that he did it SO well. While it's still recognisably Horner, the African parts of the score, which includes the percussions and the vocals, are so well used and they create really nice melodies. The first track, Sacred Guardian of the Mountain, is Horner's usual way of starting films, where percussion build into a crescendo, gets more chaotic, climaxes, then softens it. Works really well here. The next track, Poachers, starts in mysteriously, and then very unique and never-heard-before percussion builds its way in, and then the music turns sad when you hear two soft voices singing the main theme (actually when the part when the little girl's mother dies slowly in front of her), and then it blasts off into a strong African choir. The rest of the score is either tender music, which are mostly variations of the rather beautiful main theme, or they're the action bits, taking up most of the second half of the album. The action bits contain lots of very interesting inventions of percussion beats and structures which have never been heard and never heard from again. Strange how much effort went into this forgettable film. The final track ends with the Windsong, and the song was just so beautiful I couldn't get it out of my head for MONTHS. I can even sing the song, which may be Swahili but I'm not sure. (Imba wimbo wa-uh peh po … wakati una ju-wana …)

Under The Tuscan Sun (Christophe Beck)

I've talked about this score before. Basically a dramedy score – and I've never heard any other score balance it so well in between. Many of the tracks leave with you a feeling that's half wanting to break into a smile and half poignant in a way that makes you feel like you're not yourself anymore. Don't know what more to say except that you must hear this one.

Gladiator (Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard)

Come to think of it, this one also works in its entirety. Not a single boring track. Obviously the score is one of the best in the last decade.

American Beauty (Thomas Newman)

Okay, so I was wrong about Newman. There was this one where every single track worked. Most people only know the Dead Already track though, thanks to some electronic DJ or something converting the score into a dance track.


November 22, 2005

Screenplay Done

Yeah, it's finally done. I don't know why I feel so happy – it's not like it's the best ending I could punch out, and for most of the last week I just kept thinking the things I thought of just doesn't work. At this point I don't know whether it works, but still, I feel happy.

The bloody screenplay is done.

Now all I need to do is to polish it, and send it off to the relevant people. I hope Bea's done with her own film's post-production …

UPDATE: I've finished my screenplay and now I'm listening to depressing music. What does that say?


November 19, 2005

Is The End In Sight?

Okay, I'm getting very close to completing the script. I've spent most of the whole day today finalising my thoughts and ideas and writing the romantic bits. They're not that romantic, but to be honest, I'm happy enough if I can write something that remotely works, and this one remotely works. In fact, thinking about it, there are faint parallels with the Titanic love story – parallels that have nothing to do with content but underlying structure. So that's basically 20 pages done.

Now comes the next difficult bit … and I really cannot afford to spend another two months to figure this one out.

The final act and the resolution.

The final act I can figure out stuff to include – what I'm worried about is that the audience will very quickly find it unengaging. The problem is the first place is that the story I'm writing flies against the face of conventional script plotting. My protagonist is a passive character – meaning he doesn't move things, things move him, or things try to move him and he doesn't. There is a hero's journey here – but that journey is never obvious. Random stuff happen – all the time, from the beginning of the script to the end; whereas in a 'real film' you need to have a certain linkage between events, a recognisable chain starting from the beginning of the story to the end.

And all those problems are much more acute in the final act, when all I have to show for the audience are the uncomfortable scenes. Those uncomfortable scenes are necessary, in the sense that it is partly what I'm making the film for – to allow the audience to experience frustration and boredom. However, in a 'real film', really, either I must find a way to make frustration and boredom appealing, or yank it out of the movie. And I can't figure out a way to make it appealing.

The worst part – the ending. I actually already have an ending in mind for the last two years – it was one of the first scenes I thought of when beginning to think about a film that tells of a guy who lives different lives each day. Problem is, looking at the ending now, it seems very much an example deus ex machina. The thing about great endings are that, they should always be inherent in the story. Even though it is mostly surprising when presented to the audience, it should nevertheless be plausible – for example, the seeds of the ending should be present throughout the story. Take T2. How do you kill the T-1000? Almost all of the audience would be thinking that question at the end of the movie, when no matter what Arnie does the bloody guy just keeps reassembling. When finally the T-1000 gets thrown into the lava pool, the answer was like, so obvious. It's logical. And – this is the key – potentially, the audience could have thought of that earlier on. (It doesn't matter that it's so coincidental that they end up in an industrial plant with a lava pool, because emotionally the audience is so engrossed in the film that any way to destroy the villain ingeniously and save the characters is welcome.)

So, to come up with the perfect ending – and I keep feeling at the back of my mind that it can't be that far away, that it's barely visible, such that it almost seems like it didn't exist, but it's there – I would need to have dump this one. But then I'm too stuck with this particular idea.

On the other hand, even James Cameron made a mistake and wrote an inappropriate ending for Titanic, which can be seen as an alternate ending in the new 4-DVD release of the film. According to Cameron, the ending works on its own (though I don't think so, but then I didn't write the film so I wasn't thinking in the same terms he was as a writer) – but within the context of the ending of the film it just didn't work, hence the version we currently see now, which works a whole lot better.

I guess, the point is, I can always come up with an ingenious, non-deus ex machina ending. But then that is just plain lazy. But then I don't have time. I'm already three weeks behind schedule.


November 14, 2005

Films Worth Watching At The End Of The Year

… and there are many. You have no idea, huh?

(Note: Not strictly speaking end of the year, as UK releases tend to be later compared to the rest of the world. So backward.)

MUNICH

As soon as he finished promoting War of the Worlds, Spielberg dived straight into this one – leaving him six months from production to release date, which was even shorter than for War of the Worlds. He might not finish it in time for the Oscars. Starring Eric Bana, the story is about a group of Mossad-hired assassins sent to kill the Palestinians who were involved in the killing of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Not your favourite action thriller, this one – seems more like a serious exploration of guilt and the damnation of one's soul in participating in something one can never reveal about.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Read below.

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

For a lot of people their interest in watching this one is due to having read the book and liking the story. I couldn't give a damn about the story – it's set in Japan, involves the curious world of the geisha, is directed by Rob Marshall (reason enough to see it), and stars three major Chinese actresses.

KING KONG

Originally I thought – ach, give this one a miss. I never liked LOTR, and King Kong? What the hell? The first trailer was a disappointment. Then details arrive – it's gonna be three hours. Now I'm paying attention. Any movie over 2 hours I usually like – or if not, will try my very best to enjoy. Long movies are great. Then there's Jamie Bell, rising young star. Then there's Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody. And Jack Black in a serious role. And then more trailers appear, and the special effects looks more sound than LOTR. So yeah, I'll be watching this on the big screen.

RENT

Starring Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs … and a whole bunch of other people we don't know. Early previews indicate this one would be good. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes …

SYRIANA

Do you like political conspiracy thrillers? I do. They're so difficult to write – but when written well, hoo boy, it doesn't take car crashes to excite you. No, mere words are needed to send you going crazy over suspense, mouth agape. This one has a long cast list – (a very fat) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper … and so on. The trailer was not bad, great choice of music – does suffer from giving too much details though.

THE NEW WORLD

From the director of The Thin Red Line. Story of John Smith and his men arriving at the New World. Captured, he gets to know no other than Pocahontas. This isn't your cartoony Pocahontas – she's like 15 or something. They try and understand each other – but soon the Indians and the white men will have no peace. Trailer indicates scenes were Pocahontas is taken back to white man's land.

SHOPGIRL

From a novella written by Steve Martin. A dramedy that slants more towards drama. Seems to be about loneliness, trying to make connections. Looks interesting. Stars Claire Danes and Steve Martin and Jason Schwartman. No, there aren't any sex scenes between him and Isabelle Huppert here.

THE FAMILY STONE

Another film with hundreds of movie stars. The list goes – Craig T. Nelson, Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and so on. Looks like a good comedy, with charm and feel-goodness.

JARHEAD

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal – another rising young actor very shrewdly choosing his roles. Directed by Sam Mendes. If you know that name, I know you're going to the theatre already. A war film where the soldiers get bored with war coz nothin's happenin'.

PRIME

Meryl Streep. Reason enough to watch a movie, don't you think? Anyway, Meryl Streep is a therapist with a patient in the form of Uma Thurman scared of embarking into a relationship with a guy younger than her. Meryl Streep is also a mother with a son in the form of Bryan Greenberg who's just found himself a girlfriend. Those two parts of her life collide – go figure. Trailer indicates it'll be really funny.

CASANOVA

Okay, I'll be honest. The only reason I wanted to see this one was because of the last bit shown in the trailer. Heath Ledger plays Casanova, trying desperately to court Sienna Miller. He arrives at her house with a pig in tow. "May I enter the house?" Sienna Miller sends her maid to greet him. "My mistress says the pig cannot come in."

Then she grabs the pig. "But the animal, we'll take." Door slams.

THE PRODUCERS

From the twisted mind of Mel Brooks, apparently. It's not Tim Burton twisted though, but it's really really funny. Starring Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Uma Thurman (again) and Will Ferrell. Two producers decide that the best way to make money is to produce a flop. And very quickly they find the flop they were looking for – Springtime For Hitler. Guaranteed to shock and anger! Some of the wittiest lines ever found in a trailer …

(After Uma Thurman does a dance …) "I'd like you to know, my dear, that even though we're sitting down, we're giving you a standing ovation!"

Uma Thurman: Do la dance again!


Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain

Forbidden Territory

By Sean Smith – NEWSWEEK

Nov. 21, 2005 issue – Two weeks ago, Ang Lee showed his new film to an audience in Los Angeles, and afterward he stuck around to answer questions from the crowd. Director Q&As are pretty common in the movie industry, and Lee—who won an Oscar for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and has directed such acclaimed films as "The Ice Storm" and "Sense and Sensibility"—has done more than his share. But something strange happened this time—the same thing that happens almost every time Lee screens "Brokeback Mountain." "People don't have many questions," he says. "Most of the time, they just stand up and tell me how they feel." When they're still crying, he already knows.

Based on the short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx ("The Shipping News"), "Brokeback" is the tale of Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), two ranch hands who, in the summer of 1963, are hired to herd sheep on Wyoming's Brokeback Mountain. There, separated from the rest of the world, their laconic friendship develops, almost by accident, into a sexual relationship. As the summer ends, the two men are forced to separate, and they discover that their feelings for each other are stronger than they imagined. Jack dreams of buying a ranch together. Ennis thinks they'll be killed if anyone suspects their relationship. And so they marry women and have children, and for 20 years live apart, seeing each other only on rare camping trips, trying to hold on to the innocence and beauty of that first summer on the mountain. Inevitably, the longing and frustration, the years of repression, lead to a devastating conclusion.

Proulx's story caused a sensation when it appeared in The New Yorker eight years ago. Its raw masculinity, spare dialogue and lonely imagery subverted the myth of the American cowboy and obliterated gay stereotypes. It also felt like a sledgehammer to the chest. "This is a deep, permanent human condition, this need to be loved and to love," says Proulx from her home in Wyoming. "While I was working on this story, I was occasionally close to tears. I felt guilty that their lives were so difficult, yet there was nothing I could do about it. It couldn't end any other way."

The film, written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, is a near-perfect adaptation of Proulx's work. It has already earned the top prize at the Venice Film Festival and is almost certain to be an Oscar contender. More than that, though, "Brokeback" feels like a landmark film. No American film before has portrayed love between two men as something this pure and sacred. As such, it has the potential to change the national conversation and to challenge people's ideas about the value and validity of same-sex relationships. In the meantime, it's already upended decades of Hollywood conventional wisdom.

The day Jake Gyllenhaal was cast in "Brokeback," the chatter around the industry was not about what a wise choice he'd made. "It's the most stupid move he could make," said one top producer over lunch that afternoon. "It'll alienate his teen-girl fan base and could kill his career. What a waste." It's always been considered risky, if not career suicide, for actors with A-list aspirations to play gay roles. Tom Hanks's performance in "Philadelphia" helped a little, but even Hanks didn't kiss another man on screen. Gyllenhaal and Ledger don't dodge it. The kissing and the sex scenes are fierce and full-blooded. But if the actors were taking a risk, they sure don't seem to think so. "I never thought twice about it," Ledger insists. "For one thing, I never felt like I had anything at stake, and I think if you make decisions based on society's opinions, you're going to make boring choices. What terrified me was self-doubt. I knew that if I was going to do justice to this character, to this story and to this form of love, I was really going to have to mature as an actor, and as a person."

Yes, they get asked about the sex a lot. "I'm amazed, really," Gyllenhaal says, laughing. "Everybody is soooo interested in it." And their conversations with journalists have given them fresh insight into straight-male psychology. After seeing the movie, Gyllenhaal says, male reporters will enter a room to interview him and almost always follow the same routine. "They come in and they're all, like, 'I just want you to know I'm straight'," he says, and laughs. If they've been moved by the film, he says, they often rationalize it by saying things like "Well, it's really more of a friendship." No, it isn't. "It's a love story," Gyllenhaal says. "They're two men having sex. There's nothing hidden there." Ledger has a theory about why the movie makes some men uncomfortable. "I suspect it's a fear that they are going to enjoy it," he says. "They don't understand that you are not going to become sexually attracted to men by recognizing the beauty of a love story between two men."

That discomfort would seem to make the movie difficult to market. When the trailer plays in theaters where there are a lot of young men in the audience, it's often met with snickers or outright laughter. How do you get those guys to see the movie? You don't. "If you have a problem with the subject matter, that's your problem, not mine," Schamus says. "It would be great if you got over your problem, but I'm not sitting here trying to figure out how to help you with it." In an early meeting, Schamus told Lee that, from a marketing standpoint, they were making this film for one core audience. "Yes, of course," Lee said. "The gay audience." No, Schamus said. "Women."

When it came time to design the poster for the film, Schamus didn't research posters of famous Westerns for ideas. He looked at the posters of the 50 most romantic movies ever made. "If you look at our poster," he says, "you can see traces of our inspiration, 'Titanic'." Still, questions remain about whether the film will play in rural America, and whether it can make a profit if only women and gay men go to see it. But Schamus says that by selling off the international distribution rights, Focus has already broken even on the film. "Literally, if your mom and my mom go to the theater, we're in profit," he says, laughing.

And it's likely that more than our mothers will buy tickets. The constant stream of positive word of mouth is turning it into a must-see for film lovers. More encouraging to the filmmakers, however, is that it's often having a profound effect on people—even the most seemingly cynical. At the Toronto Film Festival, Lee and the cast faced off against a room of reporters who had just seen the film. One blogger raised his hand and stood up. He didn't have a question, he said. He wanted to apologize. "For the last year on my Web site I've been calling this 'the gay-cowboy movie'," he said. "I just want you to know that I'm not going to be calling it that anymore."

Yes I'm straight, but I'm definitely watching this one.


Noon, Monday, Week 8

Where am I now?

The Script – is not yet finished, but at least I found a way to continue the story.

My RAE Project – is still vague. The others who are more enthusiastic about economics (which includes like 98.6% of third year econs students … lemmings) have probably found their topics, their one question. But at least the tutor seems obsessed about my scatter diagrams.

My Two Essays – are far from completion. This year, they seem to have made it very difficult for us to write essays. Picked titles where there is like, one relevant journal (not that relevant after all) – basically no help, no starting point for us to branch out from. I'm not freaking coming out with new explanations or arguments to write these essays, these 2000-word essays. It is a waste of my time. Much of economics is.

I still have other random stuff to do. Where is that package? I need to call to get my £100 pounds back.

And I still don't know how to take control of my moods. Moods are like horses – some people seem able to just grab the reins and direct the horse. Me? I'm in the carriage, too lethargic to come out and take control of the horse.

So what now?

I slip away and die.

"You deserve to die, you worthless whiner," so says you.

Whine whine whine,
Nothing you can dine.


November 05, 2005

How Much Is This Blog Worth?

Darn.

Well, let's compare it with Malaysia's top blogger, Kenny Sia.


Kenny Sia's blog is worth $1,068,674.22.
How much is your blog worth?

Oh my-


November 02, 2005

British Short Films

I go to the BBC Film Network from time to time to look at the short films there. Not all are good – my definition of good – but I found some that I liked. Some of them just makes me think that I'm really worthless with my ideas.

Back And Forth by Stephan Talneau
A poignant love story told backwards using Four Tet music. The ending is clearly sad, but what makes it poignant is the fact that the beginning (shown at the end) was so nice. Well made, especially the editing (not just the fact that it's backwards, usually a pretentious device).

The Sound Of Silence by James Appleton
Basically a fable. A writer gets continually distracted by various noises while rushing for a deadline. A magical vinyl record saves the day. But then …

Dumping Elaine by Peter Lydon
Eddie is trying to dump Elaine. A comedy of errors where the story misleads the two protagonists, the cafe waitresses eavesdropping on them – and the audience. Charming comedy with great acting from the cast who play it perfectly balanced.

Dialog by Stephen Irwin
Animation about the Doctor contemplating destroying his creation, a simulation town called Clusterville. Just as he is about to destroy it, the behaviour of a human and a mechanical robot in the town attracts his attention. Weeeeeird stuff.

Oedipus
The story of Oedipus Rex may have been so gross and disturbing such that none of us can ever really relate to it – but hell, this short made it very clear how something that happens daily can, ahem, lead to such a result.


November 01, 2005

Gout Regout

Gout returns.

That's a sentence structure that's usually reserved for super-hero types. Well, gout isn't. It's a pain in the arse. No, a pain in the joints – the heels. I can't walk – completely incapacitated. This after a few days of trying to suppress a chesty cough and on the verge of falling into flu (which I managed to avoid, yay! … oh …).

I must be the only person in Warwick who has gout. Okay, leave out people above 25 … i.e. the lecturers, staff and so on … yeah, okay, there might be students above 25 …

Point is, gout usually affects older people. And as much as I used to take pride at being perceived as older (in Malaysia that's how we say more matured … like, you guys say bowler hats, cap, and so on, we just say hat for all of those), gout almost NEVER happens to people below 30. I'm the freaking outlier.

So anyway, when I tell people who are familiar with gout – mostly my medic friends – that I'm having to deal with it, they always seem to come up with a sentence that includes these five words, "... so young already got gout ah …" (that last one doesn't count, it's a phatic utterance in Malaysian English). For my medic friends, the next thing they say is exactly the same as well, except I can't reproduce it … they give me a list of symptoms, treatment, prevention, diet information about it, and it's all the same information. I'm always surprised by that, because they all give the information in the same order. But on the other hand, I guess it's comforting that the doctors of the future are all agreeing with each other. (Except when they happen to be wrong.)

As for the script, yet another idea.

Make it like A Beautiful Mind. In that film, the audience is led to believe one thing, then the story twists inside out. That is not done because Ron Howard and co. are being coy. It's done because it's the best way to represent the disease of schizophrenia to the audience – we are being led to experience exactly what it is like to be told that your best friend, career, etc doesn't actually exist.

So, what I think would be interesting, is to present the story first not through Jeremy's POV. We present it through the eyes and thoughts of those he meets when his lives start changing. So yeah, the audience wouldn't know what is going on at first. Maybe we play out three different days – some will have gotten the hint by then. Then, halfway through the film, we switch to Jeremy's POV - and he begins telling the story from before everything happened.

This is a radical departure from the story I first had in my head, and also quite a radical departure from my storytelling principles. You see, making the story like that, I'll have to utilise techniques that give the film a Chris Nolan feel. Nolan's latest film is Batman Begins (lucky bastard) … but that's not the point. In his first movie, Following, he jumps the story back and forth seemingly without any reason. Basically it makes the audience think harder, because they have to spend some minutes figuring out where the scene lies chronologically. And I guess that works because if he hadn't done that, the story would have been real boring. (It already is, even at 70 mins.) Then he does Memento, the much-loved Memento (freaking no. 22 at IMDb.com), which you probably know, goes backwards. And how does he do transitions for such chronologically screwed up movies?

He straight cuts to black for a few seconds, then straight cuts to the next scene. I didn't exactly like that. I mean, it works, but it rings pretentious to me.

But then, the guy got to direct a multi-millon dollar film in Hollywood. For his fourth film. Maybe I should take the hint.

So yeah, I would have to mess up the storyline a little. Just to make it more interesting. And after all I said about Nolan, no it isn't exactly like what Nolan was doing.

But then, maybe after I've made it, I won't be loved. Critics will call me a hack – that technique's overdone, they say.

You can't please everyone.


October 27, 2005

It Returns

Follow-up to Where Has It Gone? from Cinematic Concerns

It occured to me today where it has gone.

It refers to the creator of interesting stories once found inside my head, but that has mysteriously disappeared these days.

Turns out it didn't disappear, per se. It just needs a catalyst to work. What catalyst?

It occured to me when I was on a train today. Went to Birmingham to get some shopping done – that and long-time-no-eat duck rice. On the way back, on the train, very naturally, a stream of ideas for a new movie came into my head – and yes, they were very interesting ideas, at least to me. And there was no struggle, it just all flowed. I was thinking, what I want to happen next, and it comes, and I think, how bout if we do this different, and I come up with a better idea – all happening within seconds. Then another. Then another.

And now I have enough material to write, oh, half a script – the general outlines of it anyway. Can it be made? Dunno, coz this one's too controversial, so I won't talk about it.

Anyways, it was when I reached home that I remembered.

I haven't traveled in a vehicle in a long time.

I used to do that in the past – a lot. That's coz my school tended to be far away from my house. During primary school I would have to take hour-long school-bus rides to get home. During secondary school we have a car-pooling system but it still takes half an hour to get back.

And it was then that my mind wanders and conjure up all these stories.

The moving images outside the window helps me think.

That was the key all along. I knew it, all this while – yet I've forgotten. I've forgotten coz when I'm staying on campus, there's never a need to get on to moving vehicles.

Now I remember.


October 25, 2005

Time For Assessment

The deadline I set for myself to complete the script is this weekend. Probability of that happening: zero. Now that is a serious claim. Probability of one dying in a plane crash is not zero. Probability of one dying along with the rest of the world due to asteroid impact is also not zero. Get the point?

So I think it is fair to bring myself down and face facts.

The script is too difficult to write – maybe it would never work, even if you give it to Kaufman or Haggis. Maybe that's how impossible it is to write the script.

Now, I don't want to say that I'm giving up. Coz then friends would be saying stuff like, oh, don't give up, just try harder, don't be so hard on yourself … I wish, I don't have any friends like that. They couldn't fucking care less what the fuck I'm doing – I'm just a laughing stock, an imbecile who wishes he could be in Hollywood and talks about films all the time; in other words, someone to avoid.

The problem could be this though – I'm supposed to be giving up, but I'm not.

Coz the fact is this – I'm beginning to think that I'm not mature enough to write this script. What, you ask – isn't this a film about a student? I think when I presented this idea to a few people, the film they imagine in their head is, yes, a student production.

Hell, no. I'd rather not do it if it turns out to be just another cheap-ass student film. Anyone can make student films. Not everyone can make a serious, mature, thought-provoking and at the same time, emotional film. Yes, this is the nature of the film I'm making. It has to be good enough that people remember it, think about it. It cannot be a forgettable story.

Which brings me to the next point. You probably read that and felt – well, yeah, everyone wants to do the best film they can. That's not the point – the problem is, I couldn't articulate the point. Half the time when I talk to people my mind goes blank. In the first place, the ideas in my head are muddled – it's like locating for stars in a galaxy: there are billions of them, but they are so far apart that you can only see one clearly at a time, and you can't see the relation and association between them unless you see the big picture; but if you finally do see the big picture, the details get obscured.

Point is, I can't talk to people articulately. How am I supposed to direct if I can't talk to people, express what is inside my head?

So basically, I can't write, and I can't direct. Maybe, maybe not. But at this point that looks to be the case.

I tried, tried so hard to think about what could happen in university – but I can't, becoz I happen to think that university is boring. Nothing much happens here. What can happen here that is dramatic? Yet real? I mean, it's so much easier for me to engineer a story about a virus spreading in the university … if I can blow up some buildings, even easier. But to write an ultra-serious story that requires dramatic moments to work, but not being able to find them coz I'm locating it in a place where nothing much interesting happens (within a day) … I'm screwed.

And, I realised, that as much as I want to make this film a bit of a thesis about why university is a complete waste of time - I can't even reason out why I dislike university so much. I know it's partly because I'm not doing as well academically as I used to be, partly because I don't have any close friends around, no one to spar and debate with on the same level, and partly because I didn't achieve anything here. But that is just me. For this film, I have to find a reason why we all don't belong here. All this while, I know that university is pointless, that we should all find different paths into our careers instead – but when I tried to find the reasons in my head:

COMPLETE BLANK.

You might say – well, that's coz you're wrong, uni is a great place, a fun place, best years of our lives, plus we need the degree to survive in the work place today – the usual cliched reasons one writes into high school-type essays.

My answer to that would be that university doesn't do a lot in terms of giving you the necessary knowledge to survive in the real world. You're here for three years and more – and what comes out of it? Thousands upon thousands of whiny graduates who lament about being in debt, at the same time lamenting that they spent too much, most of them without a clue what financial health is, hence the insecurity about debt. We're not taught the practical knowledge in schools. We have to learn them by ourselves from others who don't have much clue as well in university. Then the real learning starts in professional/unemployed life – a few years too late.

Your reasoning's flawed, you say. University can be a sort of training ground to prepare us for the real world. A time to build up networks, when we have time to do so. Who knows, the guy next to you might be an MP and might come in handy in future times? It is a time where we can make mistakes – and not having to suffer too much from it.

And there goes my flimsy reasoning right out of the window. Along with the film. Scrapped.

And yet I was so sure I had the answer to that in my head a few months ago. Serves me right for not writing it down.

So what now? Scrap it and go back to a life I hate into a future that my university education did not prepare me for because I chose to come here when I did not belong here?

I'm saying no to that. But saying isn't anything. So what if I say no to that – what am I going to do about it? Sit there for a few more months trying to think of what else I'm trying to say through my script?

Should I consider turning it into a short? Should I consider writing a new story, something easier? No, writing anything's hard. I've had this story in my head for two fucking years. Should I just abandon it?

I'm really trying to say no.

I can't do this for long. Something must happen, and soon.

(Fog of disillusionment and hopelessness sets in. Author gets buried deeper and deeper like quicksand. Slowly he begins to give up hope and accepts his death.)


October 23, 2005

The Naked Revelation

Okay, so I've been listening to Big Right from Newman's Cinderella Man, over and over again, and this idea came bubbling up … and a weird one too.

First of all, Big Right is used at the end of the film, the climax, when the protagonist winning looks like a possibility, and the entire crowd stands up and looks on in awe of something they didn't quite expect to happen happening before their eyes, some with mouths gaping. The music is uplifting, dramatic, soaring.

And the scene I have in my head, with this piece of music accommpanying, is this. The protagonist of my story, for whatever reason, begins to realise something. It is a PROFOUND realisation. And, with a DETERMINED look on his face, he begins to walk, confident stride. He takes off his jacket and flings it away. He unbuttons his clothes, still walking. He flings that away. People are beginning to notice him. His eyes are always looking to the front. He grabs his shoes and pulls out his socks, fling those as well. He pulls down his pants, and eventually his boxers - everything, gone. Flings it as hard as he can, and immediately begins to run - run to somewhere.

Does this sound dramatic? If I can provide the reasoning, does this sound like something the audience will root for, something the audience feels like clapping to? (If porn comes anywhere near this, I don't want to hear it. It's not like that. You know it.)

UPDATE: I've figured out now why the character would do that. So obvious …