Archive for November, 2009

Movie Review: A Frozen Flower

Posted in Movies on November 15, 2009 by otakujade

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  • Jo In-sung as Hong Lim
  • Ju Jin-mo as King
  • Song Ji-hyo as Queen

Summary:

In an attempt to shake off the Yuan Empire (China) Emperor’s rule over his kingdom and form an autonomous state, the king of Goryeo Dynasty, Korea forms a palace guard composed of thirty six young soldiers. These were taken to live within the palace at a young age and were trained personally by the King to become his close in security. Among these chosen children one child distiguished himself above the others and gained the attention of the king. The young king of Goryeo took his child under his personal tutelage and eventually appointed him as the military commander, Hong-Lim.

Eventually, a marriage was arranged between the King of Goryeo and a Yuan princess to secure Yuan’s hold on the kingdom even more. But years passed and no heir was produced between the king and his queen that the council such that the Emperor of Yuan threatened to dethrone him if fails to produce and heir and put another man in the throne.

Unknown to the Emperor of Yuan, the Goryeo king was gay and had not the capacity to be with a woman though he takes on many concubines; his heart and his body belong to one man – the military commander Hong-Lim. They have been lovers for years even before the arrival of the queen, though that is a well kept secret among the king and his council and his personal army. So, when the issue came that he would be dethroned without an heir, he came up with a plan to have his most trusted and beloved Chief of the military to lay with his queen and in his stead produce the most needed heir to the throne.

It would have been a very effective plan, but the king failed to foresee one crucial factor – that the queen and the his military chief, Chief Hong-Lim would fall deeply in love with each other. After their two nights of consummation, the two began meeting each other in secret but when the king found out about this he naturally became very jealous and sought to break the two apart. Chief Hong-Lim tried to break his relationship with the queen to save them both and determined to go away for a while but before he could leave the queen begged to see him again to tell him of the “good news”. Their meeting started out very formal, but their desire for each other soon got the best of them and they started to make love…that was when the king caught them. Confronted by the king Hong-Lim admitted to falling in love with the queen and in his jealous rage, the king had him castrated.

Soon after the king had all those who have knowledge of his plot to gain and heir be put to death. For him to really claim the child as his own he must eliminate all those who knew of the secret so killed off his secretaries and his liaison and the queen’s closest maid. He had Hong-Lim thrown in prison but he was abducted by some of his loyal soldiers and taken away from the palace. When Hong-Lim found out about the executions he was angered and tried to go back to the palace but something stopped him on the way, he returned to the temple where he was hiding only to find the temple in ruins and his men taken as prisoners. He secretly made his way towards the palace and saw the heads of his men on a stake with a woman who looked like the queen with the perfume satchet he had given her on the woman’s neck. Thinking that it was the queen, Hong-Lim sought to kill the king in revenge.

What ensued was a very exciting fight between the former lovers which ended with the king dead and the fatally wounded Hong-Lim was finished off by his sub-chief. As he lay dying on the floor the queen walked in and he saw her for the last time; she fought to get to him but the soldiers wouldn’t let her. In the end, it was declared that the king was killed by an assassin and that the his guards killed the assassin in turn, keeping the mention of the Chief’s name out of the report.

 

Review:

This movie was actually a recommended movie on our Japinoy forum and one of the things that caught my attention about this film was the mention that it has a boy-boy love story and a love triangle. Now, there are very few films with that genre and Brokeback Mountain was the only main stream movie with this theme that I know of.

What is interesting about the film was that – first it was a historical film based on a true story; 2nd that this genre was so boldly taken that Brokeback Mountain was actually quite tame in comparison.

Love Scenes:

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The love scenes in the film whether it be homosexual or heterosexual was so vivid and real; you’d think the actors and actress where actually making love right there in front the camera. The scenes were sensually provocative, and bold but not pornographic (lewd) at all; and the actors and actress really gave their all to the scene. To think that Brokeback Mountain was controversial, actually made me laugh after seeing this film. The film showed great maturity not only on those who made the film but also on the audience to whom the movie was made for. Asians, are actually more comfortable with their body that the west and to my personal opinion the only reason we as Filipinos are so self-conscious is because we were colonized by the Spaniards for 400 years and our culture and way of thinking was so off from our Asian neighbors.

Fight Scenes:

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The fight scene were great! It’s clear, not the fast and furious phase of the John Woh films or the Jet Li speed of the fights but these are realistic enough to really give you the feel of danger and the courage of the soldiers and the king. And one notable thing about this king was that he was not like most king who would be at the back of the soldiers being protected to their last breath. The King of Goryeo was a skilled swordsman such that he was even more skilled than his men. He was fighting beside his men and helping in the fight and giving them courage to be fighting with their king.

On Love:

Contrary to the romanticized version of love that western film always put forward such as those in Twilight, here love was seen both as a blessing and a curse.

— Hong-Lim

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He was torn between his loyalty and love for his King and the love he feels for a woman (his queen). He was determined to keep his loyalty and give up he feelings he feels for the only other person in the world he loved more than himself, the queen, but every time they’re together and everytime he saw her the feelings were overwhelming that they couldn’t keep away from each other. To the very end he would not have risen a hand against the king except that he believed that the king had killed not only the woman he loves but their child as well. With his last breath he confessed to the king that what he kept towards him was servitude and loyalty but never true love.  One of the most memorable thing he said to the king was “You led to love and for that I am grateful” and this was during his final fight with the king and he was asked by him if love was really that important.  It was through the king’s manipulations that he found that love of a woman and it was his fault that he fell in love but he was grateful for that momentary moment just the same. It’s like living for the moment and being happy for that instead of always looking for more. We this mentality occur many times in the eastern culture.

In Hong-Lim we also saw the epitome of a man, in that he would rather lose his life than he castrated. That was probably the last straw for him, as he said he had been ‘cut to the roots’ – he lost his manhood and therefore will be unable to make a woman happy. A fact that was brutally pointed out to him by one of his soldiers.

— King

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I love the king here. He was manipulative, jealous and crazy with love and yet he was also very level headed and he never lost sight of who he is and what’s at stake. When he was fighting Hong-Lim he was calm and composed, whereas Hong-Lim was fuming with rage he was calculating his moves such that he was winning. The only time he lost his concentration was when Hong-Lim admitted he never truly loved the king..not once. I guess he was shocked but that momentary lost of focus caused him his life. In fairness to him, he was truly and madly in love with his general…too bad he made the mistake of reliazing how much better things are with a woman.

— the Queen

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Oh I love her quiet dignity and sense of loyalty. She was a Yuan princess but when it came time when her husband’s throne was in danger she was quick to defend him. We also saw here something we don’t normally seen in European royalty..here the queen though a woman and second only in rank to her husband has the strength and privilege to speak her mind out. She was not the demure, quiet queen but one that can actually cite her opinion when she wants to.  She was strong-willed and very smart but she was also a woman prone to her own weaknesses and lustful desires. She was human.

 

 

 

Lessons from the Rice stalks….

Posted in Introspection on November 12, 2009 by otakujade

It started with a single rice (palay) grain, humble and seemingly simple. To most he would be nothing but an insignificant being without much value on itself. But in the gentle hands of the farmer, he was planted and tended and from that single rice grain grew a resilient stalk. From the bosoms of the earth it struggled to burst forth into the light; tended by God’s creations…he grew strong and lively. The farmer, God’s steward made sure he got enough water to grow, and the sun made him strong with each passing day; the ruffled his leaves each day – flexing his muscles here and there, sometimes the rain would come and beat him down but always the palay stalk grew stronger still. And in God’s precious time, the palay grew heavy with grains, from a single grain, grew the stalk which produced a hundred other grains. It stood erect for a time but stoop down to bow as its grains turned gold and grew heavier still; humbled and thankful for the blessings he has which he now must share to God’s other creatures.

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If only man would learn from the palay….if only man would see the time he struggles through life as a purging towards self-improvement; if only he could see his troubles as the great Master’s hand working in him, shaping him to be the best that he can be. And when he reached his ripened time, like the palay stalk, man must learn to bow down and give thanks to God and instead of being lofty and proud, he must learn to be a blessing to his fellowmen.

Public Enemies Film Review

Posted in Movies on November 4, 2009 by otakujade

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The film was based on a 2004 non-fiction book by Bryan Burrough entitled Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34.

I’m a big fan of mafia book but sad to say I am not a huge of gangster movies. Actually, I find them slow and at certain times even boring. But what got my attention with this movie was the star of the film, Jonny Depp. Depp’s been known to take a usually common and almost unadventurous role and turn it into a spectacular character (e.g. Captain Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka); anyways, so I got interested in this movie and actually was interested enough to watch it.

Like almost all gangster movie it started with a gun fight between the members of the gang and of course the authorities, this time though the film started with John Dillinger breaking his buddies out of prison. What is really noteworthy about the gunfight was the fact that it wasn’t too theatrical; it was a straight forward jailbreak – they over powered the prison guards, one hot head killed one of the guards and a gun fight ensues wherein one of Dillinger’s gang, his mentor actually was killed and as punishment he left out to the vultures the one who caused the commotion in the first place. It was immediate and gangster type justice.

The film was set in the early 1930s where men still wore hats and trench coat was the fashion, sort of a Dick Tracy reminder there, and men can actually walk the streets with their guns and banks doesn’t seem to that any security (at all!) I remember commenting on how easy Dillinger and his men enter the banks they rob with his double handguns. I mean, they just make it so easy for them to get rob imagine a guy entering the bank and breezing through the door and straight to the bank manager with a loaded gun and that’s before he even fired a shot. I guess these events were the things that triggered bank security and such. During the robberies, the movie emphasizes on the fact that Dillinger makes the effort to put on a great show of stealing only the “bank’s money” rather than the small deposits of the general public. Sort of like a steal from the rich and not the working man kind of thing…hehehe! Honor on thievery…a twisted sort of values I guess but a value just the same.

Another noteworthy part of the film was Dillinger’s very gangster like courting of his love interest Billie Frechette (Marion Cottilard, practically demanding that she become his girlfriend and buts or ifs about it. Well, she complies of course what other answer could she give anyway. And he woes her with lavish gifts, of fur coats and expensive dinners, Dillinger promised her the world but the world is changing from the one that Dillinger knew. Crime and the criminals itself were beginning to change, and law enforcement have started to evolve. This was also the time of the birth of the FBI and the enactment of the first ever “National War Against Crime” act.  At one point being recognized as Dillinger’s girl Billie was apprehended by the FBI was viciously interrogated and beaten to learn about his whereabouts but she refuses to talk, instead sneering that they missed their chance to capture him at the hotel, and that Dillinger’s anger will know no bounds when he hears about her treatment. Sadly, though this was the only part of the film where Cottilard was given any decent character development.

It is here in this part of the story that you see the huge difference between the American gangsters and the Sicilian Mafioso. Where the first was just a bunch of crude men with guns, interested only in money and wealth run by crude leaders with very little foresight, whereas the other gets wisdom, tactics and even influence from an entire bloodline of elders, advisers and even at times a council made up of other mafia lords. I personally attribute that fact to why the gangs never stay as long as the mafia.

Well, in the film, Dillinger failed to move and change with the times; he failed to recognize the effect that the new law enforcement arm of the government would have on him. Dillinger lives for the moment, unwilling or unable to consider the future, and with little use for the past.

Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis, Dillinger’s main rival. Bale’s chilly screen persona is perfect for a self-righteous villain like this.  Unfortunately, the two main rivals, Purvis and Dillinger, don’t really connect much onscreen, except for one brief, well-placed discussion through prison bars.  I love Bale’s intensity and his acting had always been flawless, here he was the silent but resilient agent assigned to head the anti-Dillinger team. Bale made us see an effective operator, ruthless sometimes but always justified.

Allow me to comment now on the action on the film, unlike most action films with a lot of big action effects and extravagant explosions the actions on this film are well made and real. I said real because it was believable. The combination of stark lighting and shaky camera movements gave chaos an open invitation to rear its ugly head at any time. The bullets are loud and plentiful and when they hit, the blood is not shy about making an exit.  

What makes this film really different is its loyalty to reality, director Michael Mann made sure that the film stuck as much as possible to what actually happened most especially on the details of Dillinger death. Mann spends a great deal of extra time mining Dillinger’s real-life ending for all its movie-ness. Dillinger was shot just after a showing of Manhattan Melodrama (1934), and so Mann showed clips from that film (with Clark Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy), and deliberately ties in some of its ideas to his own film.

I liked the film, it’s not my favorite Johnny Depp film but it was really good.

Super…nakakainis!

Posted in Random on November 2, 2009 by otakujade

Ewan ko ba kung bakit ako naiinis, pero naiinis ako! I can’t figure it out kse, I mean bakit ba naging habit na ata ng marami lalo na ng mga actresses naging feeling sosyal to use the word “Super” with almost anything as in “Super natutuwa” daw sya; or “Super Thankful” daw sila; or “Super worried” ako…and so many more at sa totoo lang “SUPER” nakakainis sila!!!!

What irks me most is the fact na ang dami na ngang baluktot mag-english sa bansa natin to the detriment and embarassment of others tapos alam naman ng mga artistang ito that they influence people lalo na yung youth and they go around twisting the language even more!

Okay na nga yung tag-lish eh. Kahit papano we have gotten used to it, pero naman…yung mag-invent pa ulit ng baluktot na language eh “Super” nakakalungkot na talaga..pramiz! sheesh!!!!!

Just a few days ago, our domestic help was watching the PBB thing on TV and sad to say my pc is located in the living room of our house WITH the TV! So no choice ako I can hear the entire thing at ang nakakahiya eh these contestants were all trying to get accepted into an exchange program abroad. Then when one girl was asked, “What is your best physical asset?” Ang sagot…”I am patient.” Patay!!!!! Tapos the next girl was asked, “What is your country’s biggest problem?” Ang sagot!? “Early pregnancy because of premarital sex!” WTF!!!!!!??? Kelan pa naging mas importante yun kaysa poverty or graft and corruption!?

Tapos eto, dadagdag pa ng problema yung mga artistang walang magawa! Ano ba yan!?