Saturday, August 30, 2008

JFF Report 2

In this report: Shara and The Mourning Forest. This post, unlike the last one, will be spoilerific. You are warned.


The film's pacing feels pretty slow. Some scenes feel like they were longer than they should be. Cases in point: Yu and Shun's bicycle ride home from school, Basara festival comittee meeting, and Basara festival itself, among others. It was as if the film didn't want to miss anything. It wanted us to witness everything.

Then there's the camera. Most of the time it seemed to be handheld, imagine the shaking. It was bullying my eyes (I sat at the frontmost row). In theory, handheld camera is supposed to give a more personal feeling to the movie, as if we're looking not through a screen, but through the eyes of someone actually in the scene. Now, I didn't really understand why would I want to see a drama unfolding live, until the ending that is.

Now the ending is something else. The camera 'walked' through a house's perimeter, with voices of Shun and what might have been his baby brother's in the background. Then it 'flew' to the sky. At this point the hairs on the back of my neck are standing. I just realized something.

In the beginning of the film, we're told that Kei was missing. Then it jumped several years, where Kei is found dead, and his family not being able to face the fact directly. After that we have no more jump, and more or less made to witness what happened to those living people as wholly as penguins. What if the whole film is about us looking through Kei's eyes, then just a spirit or whatever, checking on the people he cared. That kind of explains the not wanting to miss anything; Kei did not want to miss anything. Finally, after they seemed to able to move on, especially Shun, he could be at peace ...and fly to the sky. The end. Think this is a horror movie?

I might be over analyzing, but I like this conclusion.

The Mourning Forest

Different from the previous three films which mostly feature setting with narrow streets and cramped spaces this one has an open hilly landscape and tea (?) plantation as a background in the beginning, and a forest in the middle through the end. The change was refreshing.

Machiko was a young woman who lost her son in an accident which seemed to involve a river, a storm, and letting go. The father seemed to not be able to get over it and blamed Machiko for saving him instead of the child. She worked in a pension house afterward.

Shigeki is an old man living in the pension house Machiko just began to work in. This is NOT a romance story between an old man and a young woman. His wife, Mako, died 33 years back. His only wish was to be reunited with his wife.

Shortly, some sunny day, Shigeki and Machiko were out in a car. The car got stuck, and when Machiko was running around looking for help (which she didn't find), Shigeki wandered off to a watermelon farm, to get one -without telling the owner. That quickly became immaterial because then the two went into the forest. Shigeki said Mako was there.

After quite an adventure, they found a tomb marked with a tree branch; Mako's. Shigeki laid out his diaries of the 33 years after Mako's death until that day. That was a powerful one, as if he's trying to tell Mako everything he has done since. Then he dug a hole, and slept there. Machiko was cranking an old music box Shigeki had, maybe for lullaby. That's the end ...peculiar.


I wonder if these films fall to the realm of artsy movies. Penguin, I don't understand them, but managed somehow to enjoy it anyway, especially Shara, I guess.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


One of the most wonderful things of a variable holiday in lieu is that I can choose to take it when most other people within mass transit distance don't. Which means I can see them going about their business without me having to go about mine.

So was last Monday. I did an experiment: go to my university, dressed as I usually was as a student, and go about attending lectures, eating in canteens, and browsing the library. I got into a freshman mathematics lecture, they were studying calculus, limits specifically. Nice thing is, the lecturer was the same one who taught my very first lecture at the university (it was maths too). Well, I call it experiment, but there was nothing scientific about it.

Just who the penguin go to a calculus class on their day off.

Monday, August 25, 2008

JFF Report 1

Japanese Film Festival. From this weekend to the next weekend. So far I caught two films: Ginza Cosmetics and Love Letter. The summaries are here and here respectively. The rest of this post contains spoiler, read at will, penguins will not compel you.

Ginza Cosmetics

I didn't know it was black and white, it obviously was when it started. The whole film I tried to think what the film is about. In the end, well, it was about a span of time in the heroine's life, that's it. That doesn't mean there's nothing to it, there's also a scene where an honest-to-goodness astronomer caught a 'thief'. Quite enjoyable, but not much surprise (there was any?). If, like me, you're used to more recent films, you might be wondering what that was all about.

Love Letter

Another black and white. In the beginning, I thought: "Brotherly '...Love'", then I realized it was me whose mind was contaminated with Ouran, not the writer. Another thing, it seems that in those days Japanese streets were cramped. Also, the younger of the Mayumi brothers kind of looked like Kotaro Minami (Kamen Rider Black/RX, remember?). I also noticed constant crackling noise in the background, made the film felt more ...dated. Well, it was from 1953. They left the ending hanging, maybe for the viewers to interpret, or maybe 50s people think that the ending is obvious after that. I wouldn't know, my mind would construct an ending in which most characters got as miserable as they could be without sensibility crumbling apart too much (it won't involve godzilla if it's not a godzilla story, for example, but penguins are always relevant)


The person-in-information-kiosk told me that the film festival is yearly, just not always in the same place. Good thing is, there might be more next year, bad thing, where was I the past four years!? (In campus, procrastinating or studying in some healthy proportion).

There's still a week to go, let's see how many more I can catch. Then maybe I can do a pt 2.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Semi-healthy Dinner for the Lazy

One can't survive eating out everyday if one does not live in a university dorm. Well, that's not generally true, but at least it's true for me. To whom that holds false is not my care, especially when I'm hungry.

Hunger invites creativity. That's why many successful artists of the past were hungry people (thus, of the past). I made that up. Hunger calls for food. Maybe I made that up. I wish I made that up and can file a patent for that.

Oh well, I learned to make something to feed myself, and I like it enough to show it off (when did I refuse a chance to show off?).

The name is Semi-healthy Dinner for the Lazy, but if you're a real honest to goodness lazy person, I don't think you'd have the resolve to prepare this meal.


  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Sliced bread
  • Fish fingers
  • Canned tuna
  • Mayonnaise

Anyway, the nice thing of this kind of food is that you can add almost anything edible under the sun and it would still taste okay. Just don't make me your test subject if you're putting in some fake plastic trees.

Chop the vegetables up any way you like (just not too small that you'd need a microscope to see them. Put them all in a bowl, put in some tuna and mayo, mix 'em up.

My bowl is two-layered, separated by a grated plate. I put some water on the lower layer and everything else on the upper. The spoon is in my heart, of course.

Put a lid on the bowl and put it in microwave for about 2-3 minutes at high. You're steaming the thing.

Meanwhile, fry the fish fingers. Drain the oil from the pan, then fry the bread. If you have a toaster, give me one. Oh, as a rule of thumb, make sure that your thumbs are at a safe distance on the outside-side of the frying pan. The same with the rest of your fingers, I guess.

Below is how it looks like after steaming. If you put cheese slices on the vegetables before steaming, they'll melt and make a nice cheese topping on your dinner :)

Arrange things nicely and take a photo. Evidence is needed for every act of show-offery. Also, eat it hot. That's the point of steaming it. It's great served cold as well, but don't bother steaming if you want it cold.

When I was a kid, I hated vegetables with a vengeance. After these years, the conclusion is: don't hate them, they'll have their way eventually.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Armed Expedition 3

With More Excuses!

I just love to have an excuse to go to NTU: it's a chance to do more expedition! I should do one here near my headquarter too, maybe sometime. For the record, I was lost once near my HQ, so I have taken care of that obligation (since when getting lost in a new place is an obligation?).

This time's excuse was SSS AGM (whatever that is, mostly mysteries anyway), but my target was Nanyang House sunset. It was raining in the morning to early afternoon, but the sky was clear around sunset time. Clear except in the general west direction. I could see the sky being reddish around there, but the sun was behind a semi-thick cloud veil. pfft.

It would feel terrible to climb the many stairs to Nanyang House without taking any photo back, so here goes:

ADM Building. Pretty nice angle, I think.

Trees around Nanyang House:

Flowers and such:


Well, I didn't get the sunset, but I did get moonrise :)

After that I climbed down to the meeting ground while talking to myself, looking for the best way to explain why we all must have spoons in our hearts.

Maybe I should do a "Buildings in the Evening" expedition next time I have an excuse.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Panicky Mister Stranger

Yesterday I saw someone carrying The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy book boarding the bus I was going to take to the station. Considering the situation, only one valid action was available to me: board that bus, sit near that mister, and slowly say "Don't panic"; so I did just that.

His face was pretty amusing the moment I said "Don't panic", I wonder if he was thinking if he should panic at the time, or if he was thinking that the bus was on fire or the building has transformed into three-headed fire-breathing robot who just wanted some ice cream. But then I said "I'm a fan too" while pointing to his book.

The rest were standard: forty-two, perfectly ordinary beasts, President Zaphod, etc -even Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Made me want to blaze trough the trilogy (in five parts) all over again.

Problem is, no one introduced himself to another, so maybe I'll just refer to him as, hmm, That Douglas Adams Fan From Upstairs. Yep, that will do.