Age of Adaline

This movie is just wow. Age of Adaline’s story is not your ordinary movie, it is all about a woman who stopped aging. She was married then and loses her husband in the construction of Golden Gate Bridge. The miracle began when she survived a car accident, totally wrecked. After she survived the accident, her age and looks seems to have been frozen and she didn’t age any since that day started. She can be killed but never will she die of natural causes. In the movie, Adaline has a daughter. Her daughter which is played by a older person makes their relationship extra weird but sweet. Adaline lives alone with her dog, yes, she had many dogs already who had left her as they age. She then met a man who is as same age as she is frozen to be, but the thrill goes with her secret that she is aged just like his grandmother. The twist of the story goes with the revelation that the father of the guy she just met was just the very person she was supposed to marry years ago. And the climax then, goes on and on.

Her frozen age miracle ended when she then encountered another car crash and got critical but later on survived it.

She was happy when she saw that first gray on her hair which tells that she is now back to normal.

Blake Lively has a very captivating beauty, poised and just so perfect for the role. The movie would make you want to try having that miracle, too. It captivated my imagination and made me realize a lot of things. This movie is a big budget film, a powerful one too. If it’s mission is to captivate your heart, it won. The movie makes itself like a self-help about the importance of commitment. The sadness of have loving and losing, the family ties. I have never seen a movie like this, that 1 hour and 52 minutes length of movie is so interesting it made me feel like it was just 30 minutes. Every situation Adaline gets into is just so heartwarming. This one is better than that movie, “The curious case of Benjamin Button.” I don’t know but I think this one is close to reality for me. Atleast the idea of preserving someones youth.  

Miracles do happen, I know but this one is different. Most science are giving their best to preserve someone’s youth and fight all the natural causes of death. So thumbs up and they did well in capturing my imaginations and dreams.

The side I want to point out is that, we are given this life and we age, this gives us experience and lesson. This will make our life exciting and more fun to live. If given a chance, I will still live normally. My reason? I didn’t want to see my love ones leave me or anything close to that. I want to grow old with my husband, and want my children to take care of me someday.

But hey, if you want to be entertained, this is a good movie to watch. ☺

 

FACING THE GIANTS

This one is for my father, who loved (or loves) movies love football, more than even the businesses he created. You can see some of his work here: www.pristinepoolclean.com/services.html. He was never afraid to use elbow grease to make something spotless. Chop wood and carry water, right?

The movie is about a coach who has fallen into hard times. His high school team is faring poorly both in and out of the field. Parents are planning to put him out of commission because the team quite, to put it mildly, sucked. A decade or so has passed by but the team hasn’t won any game at all. His married life is also overshadowed by the lack of children. The final nail to the coffin was the visit to the doctor who told him some bad news: no chance of conceiving children at all.

 What’s a coach to do?

The next best thing: on his knees and pray. Yes, pray. You read that right. When everything is falling apart and he didn’t know what to do, pray.

Many would protest at the mention of such an old-fashioned, religious discipline. But this movie is telling you, pray. It connects one to a Being who is higher than us. It is an act of surrender that not everything is within our control.  

The movie takes protagonist into a series of trials. Prayer is only the beginning. The surrender and the yielding to a Rock that is higher than you and me is only the first step. The coach recognized the need to act on his faith and belief. So, he restructured his life, placed his priorities in the order that he understands from the Bible. He trains his motley team of young men, got them started on some death marches (a player crawling on hands and feet, with a mate on the back, all these done blindfolded and without bending the knees), and gave them a pep talk about dreaming and living for God.

For his non supporting teachers, he stood up and asked for another chance.

It’s only natural though, that all this pressure can crush a man so easily. Not a few tears were shed with the issue of difficulty having children. What he and his wife can do at the moment was to cry and pray together. Being and feeling alone is a heavy burden to bear. So when most needed, friends came along to help, it came like a breath of fresh air.

Why this movie, you reader ask. Why this religious hocus pocus? It is because this is where I found my peace. God gave me a peace of mind that I’ve tried to look for, for most of my life. When my sister and father died, it was as though my world fell apart. I was helping out with the family business and I had the perfect relationship with my boyfriend. But there was this huge hole that I cannot patch up. I filled it with work, friends and dreams. It kept on getting bigger and bigger every year. So I distracted myself with hanging out with the wrong crowd, porn and endless ideas of what a perfect boyfriend should be. 

It came to a point when my life was outwardly the best there is, but I was dying inside. The joy isn’t there. I couldn’t control myself with looking for perfection in others but couldn’t see what was really missing in me. I cowered against the Giants in my life: bad friends, porn and the insatiable desire for perfection.

I watched this movie one night and I remembered how my father used to watch this so many times.

At the end of the credits, I surrendered my life to Jesus. What a release it was and still is. I felt free, freer than I have ever before. I was free to be myself and free to improve, free to love and free from the Giants.

It’s been almost two years now. There are ups and downs, but to His credit, I have never watched porn again. I wasn’t compelled to go to the wrong crowd. Most of all, the need to be in control was replaced by the overwhelming feeling of being forgiven of all I’ve ever done.

 The movie has a good ending. My life hasn’t ended yet, but I intend to do with every breath, to walk aligned to Jesus’ walk. In Him, I see my sorrows and anxieties disappear. And I don’t ever want to miss a single moment.

HAYAO MIYAZAKI (Part 2)

Mr. Miyazaki incorporated this value throughout most of his movies, anime shorts and manga, even as he produced remakes of classic English and Arabian children literature (The Wonderful World of Puss in Boots, Animal Treasure Island, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Heidi, the Girl of the Alps, 3000 Leagues Under the Sea in Search of Mother, Future Boy Conan, Anne of Green Gables and Sherlock Hound). He is not above mixing good values with romance, however. He does it with a subtle flair even. Howl’s Moving Castle is full of tender moments with the main characters, balanced with crazy antics and comedy. In the end, the only one kiss marred the child-friendly theme going on.

It was a tragedy for me, when he declared his intent to resign as a director somewhere in 2008. Then he went on to make more movies until 2013. At the latest, he is said to produce and finish another movie called Boro the Caterpillar. There’s no knowing when he would really stop from making stories. Probably not. 

All these talk about his works will make an impression that he is a workaholic director. Well, admittedly this contains truth. His personal life is peppered with poor communication with his sons. The mere fact that he married an animator is probably a testament of having his world revolve around his work. In an interview, he has been reported to declare that he does not want his son to be an animator like himself, and that he will not force a sense of anime dynasty in the family. Yet, he was supportive of his son’s venture with anime anyway.

At the moment, he is way past retirement age (he is 70 plus years old) and is looking forward to pass the baton to younger counterparts. The issues surrounding Ghibli studio did not help. There were problems with the anti-war messages he was trying to convey on The Wind Rises (2013). This story was about a man who wanted to design planes but backed off from the idea of installing weapons into the planes themselves. As a background, there is actually a part in the Japanese constitution that considers war as a way to end international disputes, and the director was, in effect, actively against it. Because of this, the Japanese director was labeled as anti-Japanese by the locals. For his credit, he has stood firmly on his convictions. There was even one incident when he refused to go to an American comic convention because he heard that the country was waging war in Iraq.

In addition, Mr. Miyazaki has expressed his concerns over the current trend to highlight shallow otaku and pedophilic styles. The former refers to the excessive obsession of people to anime, up to such extent that people literally dropped out of normal life to immerse in anime: watching anime all day long, buying anime merchandise, dressing up as such and daydreaming of having relationships with the same (think anime role-playing games and this Japanese guy who was reported to have married an anime character in 2009). He also mentioned some anime featuring female characters with huge breasts and children that mixed sexual over and undertones. For him, anime is only one way of making a great story with the intent to pass on good values on children and adults.

No wonder he wants to take a breather and be out of such stressful industry.

I hope he does want to produce more films in the future though. We need more men like him in the film industry, anime or not.

HAYAO MIYAZAKI

A friend once introduced me to Japanese animation movies or more commonly called anime a couple of years ago.  

She gave me a copy of the film, Spirited Away. I watched it and was blown away by the rich tapestry of color and warmth. I am no artist when it comes to printed art and media but this was a beauty. The storyline was even better: girl and parents get lost in a fantasy world of spirits. Parents turned into pigs, and it is up to the girl to save them from being slaughtered by restaurant-owning spirits. Somewhere along the way, the underlying message of not losing one’s identity popped up and it ended with a lingering feeling of having watched a really good movie.

Spirited Away was so popular in the western world that it garnered an Academy Award for Best Animation Feature, and locally overtaking the Titanic when it was released in 2001, in Japan. 

I researched about the director and found Mr. Hayao Miyazaki, the movie’s director. This white-haired Japanese was not only a director, but also a manga artist, a producer, a screenwriter, animator and author. He founded a company called Ghibli studio which produced a number of classic anime movies such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Graveyard of Fireflies, Lupin III, Nausicaa of the Valley and others. 

His works were often compared with Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

After watching a minority of his works (yes, minority! He made so much that I could not watch more than 30% of the total), I am not surprised. His works often enter the realm of fairy tale fantasy but with darker undertones. His themes frequently explored man’s abuse of nature (Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa), the destructive pursuit of power and use of manipulation, as well as war (Graveyard of Fireflies) and greed. In between these serious themes are light-hearted movies like Lupin III (about the incredible exploits of one famous cat burglar), My Neighbor Totoro (a feel-good movie about childhood imaginary friends) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (a coming of age comedy of a novice witch who is training herself to ride the broom to, you guess it, deliver food). If that isn’t impressive enough, he also made over hundreds of manga (Japanese style comic books) and television anime shows.

Much of the nature of the works can be traced to Shintoism, a religion, which promoted love of nature. Much of his original characters are also from Japanese culture. Monsters and ghouls of Spirited Away were based from local folklore. Take for example, one character from Spirited Away, a boy, who saved the heroine, was actually a minor dragon god of a river. It was revealed somewhere in the movie that he first saved her from drowning. The girl was to return the favor without knowing this is tidbit. He also makes use of the childhood transition phase as a common theme.

CHARLIZE THERON

Those mesmerizing eyes; the flawless complexion; the perfect shape of face and lips; and that amazing acting prowess define who Charlize Theron is. Hailing from South Africa, she has taken up so many roles, from serious to funny.

 She enjoyed being the evil, demented evil stepmother in Snow White and the Huntsman. Personally, that was the highlight of the movie. Sorry, girls, even Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bella (Kirsten Bell) don’t count much in that. Thor was a passable actor perhaps, but Bella? No way.

Then there is a hilarious role she took in Hancock. The main character is played by Will Smith, a superhero who turned into a homeless person with little to no charisma. He helps people through superpowers but his methods were more destructive than helpful. He finds me in Theron’s household, who revealed to him that they were actually from one planet and that they were once lovers. Yet, Theron’s character got tired of this pairing and proceeded to hide her own superpowers to live as an ordinary human being married to an ordinary man. When Will Smith popped up, she was forced to break this facade and fight him. This was one of her less significant movie roles, but she did it all with flying colors.

In fact, Ms. Theron started out this way making small movies, gaining momentum until she reached the limelight. She took roles which made her an It girl for some time until she landed the famous Monster role. Up to now, she has garnered a lot of awards. She was awarded an Academy Award, Silver Bear, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Awards among others.

Her most famous role was to play the serial killer in MONSTER. All her efforts and endurance to suffer under long hours of heavy make-up to capture the aura of the said killer were richly rewarded with critical acclaim. I was concerned for her when she played that role, to be honest. Not many can maintain that destructive composure and not buckle under the weight. Take Heath Ledger, for example. His overdose which lead to his unfortunate death was associated with the emotional pressure from internalizing the twisted personality of the Joker. Mr. Ledger was indeed scary onscreen at that time. Ms. Theron was equally scary in Monster. 

Perhaps her history can explain her endurance and effective portrayal. She did not have a happy childhood. Her father was an alcoholic. One day, he threatened to kill her and her mother, but was shot dead by her mother in self-defense. Fitting in was difficult for her afterwards that she had to transfer from one school to another.

At first, she started with a couple of other occupations. She took up serious ballet dancing and worked as a model for a period of time. After a knee injury prevented her from continuing the dancing career, her mother convinced her to try acting. The rest is history.  

In addition to her acting, she is an activist for human and animal rights, a mother of two adopted children and through her own nonprofit organization, helped the improvised African people.

I can see my life through her story. I really look up to her as a woman of strong principles. I can learn from her and say there will be a silver lining against all of these problems I am facing.

Orphan Anne

I like songs and dance. I especially like the ones in the original version of Orphan Anne. “I’m singing about tomorrow…Clear the cobwebs of sorrow…come what may…tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love yah…tomorrow…you’re only a day away..!”

Anne could lift up any spirit if the spirit really want to be lifted up with this song.

This time, I will be talking about hope, again, but with the hope that comes even during extreme duress. Anne did a lot of things here, most of them even illegal. She stole things, ran away from her sole guardian and defied authority of the policeman in a very subtle way. One could even say that she was a brat.

But this brat was a tough one, and she persevered through it all. She talked about love but was active enough to seek for it. She, by hook and by crook, charmed herself into the heart of one kind lady who happened to be a secretary of one influential and rich man. She was one wild kid.

She never understood what true love meant. I don’t think even Mr. Warbucks did, either, until she found themselves in a precarious position. Anne was at one point of the movie, clutching at the last straws, dangling at least a hundred feet in the air. There, the wild look disappeared in her eyes and she became just a small girl who wanted her Daddy to save her. What happens to true love?

It always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Orphan Anne was saved and then there she fully learned about what it means to have a father. It’s not the money or the security. It’s not even the blessings or the connections. Those are just bonus. It’s when he’s there and that’s all to it. He’s just there. 

I want to film that, not the fake sugary feel that most of the modern remakes often portray. I want to shoot that scene of genuine happiness and relief that Daddy Warbucks listened and reached out.  

Capture that on film and let the audience catch the glimpse of who He is.

 

David

I am mildly apologetic for the previous blog post I wrote earlier. Sometimes my sister and my father’s death is a sensitive topic for me. To an extent, it was torture typing up what I felt yesterday. My sister probably won’t like it when she sees me like this. She would have probably said, “Stop moping around, stupid!” She would rattle on about David when he defeated the giant Goliath. With a swoosh, for she always did like to make sound effects, she would pretend to draw up a slingshot and hit the bull’s eye.

 And we would both laugh. One day, she actually found a movie that featured David and all his glory. It was all in black and white, with no sounds at all. The actor who played him did not do justice on his looks (wasn’t it said that David was one handsome guy?) but to his credit, his acting was spot on.

David, the humble shepherd, drew up his full stature, against the backdrop of cowering Israelite soldiers and to his front, the arrogant Philistines.

The whole film was on black and white, remember but one could feel the suspense and the fear. But, this David was one big figure though, as small as he was displayed on film. His light shone that day, like a city on a hill, or a lamp on a cold, dark, dreary night.

He said (in subtitles) “You come with swords but I have come to fight for the Israelites, God’s chosen people. And He is with me.”

Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, my sister made the sound effects as the stone whirled in the slingshot.

Then bang! The stone hit the giant’s forehead. With a huge crash, he fell. David shouted and charged on. Spurred on by his charge, all the Israelite forces advanced, shouting all the way, “For God and the king!”

The enemies run for their lives. Some stumbled in the chase, and every one last soldier fell under the sword of God’s human army.

What courage did one small boy change the course of history!

And what humility did he credited the victory to God!

Finding Nemo and Finding Dory

People look at these movies and see hope. They see it through the eyes of Marlin, Nemo and Dory. They cheered when Dory and Marlin overcame the jellyfish obstacle course and the toilet where Nemo was flushed down. They smile and laugh. There is so much happiness onscreen that you can feel it oozing, warming the hearts of many. 

When I see this movie, I see differently: the beautiful CGI effects of the coral reef, the smooth water effect. I see the technical, and the minute little details.

I see much work it involved with all these stuff, the long arduous hours and the days devoid of inspiration. How many days did the tech team do the movie? How many hours did they put into making that perfect scar on that fish’s face?

 Did they feel the sense of monotony? The sense of hopelessness? 

The more I watched the movie, the more I see how the course has ripped apart my innocence and changed it into something monstrous, cold and slimy.

It used to be such a great movie. My sister loved it.

What’s not to love? The story was a heart wrenching love story between a father and his son, a friendship between a man (fish) and a woman (fish); and a close-knit friendship among five weird fishes.

 It was a story of triumph, of prevailing hope, of despair turning into joy.

My sister’s favorite character was Dory. She was such an absentminded fish, this Dory. Yet she loved with all her heart. She trusted Marlin even when he turned his back on her. She never held a grudge against him. It must be nice, to be this trusting. Get your heart broken, that’s okay. Let’s fix it with a song and a dance. 

I miss my sister. Thirteen years later and her shadow is in this movie still. Dory is her. If I had the chance, maybe I could change Dory’s countenance. Make it harder, maybe sassier. People love the violence of sassiness. They cheer for it in extreme feminism.

Or maybe I should leave it alone. Put it on a vault, lock it and throw away the key.

Such bittersweet sorrow, this waiting for the time when we could be together again. To talk to her again and tell her I don’t like Dory anymore.