Friday, October 30, 2009

Julie & Julia and the meaning of life

I have a friend, who has been with this guy forever, but each time I look at them, it is just rather unconvincing to me that they should really be together forever, or that they should really be a couple, because when i look at them, I think of some strange people I heard of, who put durian on rice. Durian and rice has no chemistry at all. 

Watching Julie & Julia, after half an hour is not just like watching someone putting durian on rice, but is rather much like being forced to eat durian and rice. The disparity in the acting between the 2 couples in 2 different time zones - Julia and Paul, and Julie and what's-his-name, - is just really painful. 

Julia and Paul had such natural chemistry and the acting, needless to say, is flawless. Meryl Streep, as usual, never fail to disappoint. Her XXL-Americal-frame, with pants pulled so high to cover her tummy just below her breasts, and a distinct high-pitched voice, happy-go-lucky personality is so lovable and the poignant moment of a childless couple with no option of artificial insemination at that time was fully conveyed in a 3-minute scene when she received a letter from her newly-wed sister Dorothy announcing her pregnancy. Her excitement of receiving a mail from her sister in an internet-less age turned into a confused mixture of joy, jealousy and sadness - that transformation of emotions in 3 minutes was as real as it could get and with her masterful acting made it seemed so easy and so natural and so believable. Lucky Paul didn't really have to do much.

But whenever the scene cuts to Julie and her what's-his-name husband.. gosh.. it just made me want to take a nap. The guy was so bad it was a pain to watch him, first i kept thinking he is the boyfriend, because even as a boyfriend it wasn't convincing and it is so easy to forget that he is The Husband. His "loving acts" to Julie was completely cringe-worthy and when he tries to "act cute" it just makes me feel instantly nauseous. His bad-acting constantly reminds me he is acting. And that Julie, an underdog character who is miserable and trying to find some focus in life reminds me of Bridget Jones but Renee Zellweger was so much more pitiful and lovable, and you just naturally root for her. For Julie, you just hope she fails because she is so annoying. And when she gets a call in the end that Julia Child hates her, instantaneously you thought to yourself - serve you right, you annoying little bitch. Anyway, i read that her latest book, about her new-found passion in butchery and another man, is truly done in bad taste, in more ways than one. If the movie is any reflection of her as a person, then she truly deserves all these. Or maybe that actress* who starred as Julie is simply to blame for all these bad feelings people have for her. 

The good message that you might have missed in the movie - being constantly distracted by Julie and what's-his-name's bad acting - is when Julia and Paul lay in bed one night after news of his new posting to yet another country came, he lamented something like "sometimes i wondered what this is all for.... blah blah blah blah... at least you have a book..." It really reminds me of some of my friends who earn crazy sums of money and enjoy all the luxuries of life, but on very rare occasions such as when their weekend Ferrari breaks down, tries to find an alternative direction in life. It also reminds me of people like me, who lives with little material pursuits in life to idealistically create an alternative world which is fuelled by that daily search for something a little more intangible - a way to change certain things. Not all things, but little things within our reach. Then of course, while my directionless rich friends savour their pan-fried fois gras, i slurp grouchily my porridge with soya sauce.

My mission for Well (meaning) Design is continuing and my principle remains that if as designers we believe that design can change the world - we should never turn down any jobs - no money, little bit of money, some money, a lot of money - i want to do them all. If all good designers want to charge a bomb, then many jobs will go to bad "designers" (printers who want to be designers, contractors who want to be architects) who can do it cheap, because you are not giving options to people who can't afford it, especially non-profit organisations or people with no money.  

Today, i went for a shoot with a photographer, and we saw a caterpillar on the pavement. I literally screamed and jumped, but he very calmly caught the caterpillar in his hands and put it onto the grass patch, he didn't say anything, but i knew he was afraid someone would step on it. I was very touched by his act, and i realised i was far from being that Well (Meaning) Person which he already is. 

True Compassion in people, is what i really admire and True Compassion is what i strive to achieve. Design - done in the spirit of true compassion - can really change the world. There is a Chinese martial arts saying that says - if you truly want to learn a skill, you have to learn how to be a human being first. I still have way to go to learn how to be a truly compassionate human being. I promise myself that the next time I see a caterpillar on a pavement, i will attempt to scoop it up with a leaf and free it onto the grass patch.

* yes i know the bad actress' name is Amy Adams, i just don't feel much like saying her name and that husband who can't bloody act, his name is eric and the actor's name, if you really have to know, go google.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

500 Days of Summer

500 days of Summer is very good for junkies of romantic comedies such as me. I've always been a romantic-at-heart and probably thanks to all these romantic comedies. You name it, i've probably watched every single one of them, and re-watched many - and i credit them for having fucked up my love lives. All these fairy tales about meeting the "right one", how you know it the moment you met that person, fireworks and all, is often your own one-sided fantasy world in real life - they often do not resonate with the other. People like me are just deluded and destined for heartaches like Tom. These fantasy "dream girls" often have their own dream boys, who is not you. 

Stupid love-fools like Tom and myself, who crave for consistencies in someone who has someone else in mind, and living in our own dream worlds even after the affair is over, are really silly and as Tom's little sister wisely advised, to paraphrase, that we are just remembering the nice moments, but if we were to look back and look again, there were always the signs, that their minds or hearts are somewhere else with someone else. We were just blinded by our own delusions.

Tom and me were just refusing to accept those signs and pushing ahead, thinking that at some point, love will conquere all, even subjecting ourselves to being the "invisible" companion, and against our will, accepting that some people do not like "labels". Meantime, all your friends around you would remind you how stupid you are, and that if someone truly loves you, why would they be so concerned about being seen with you, or as being with you. Tom should have seen earlier that there was someone else in Summer's life and hence she was just killing time with him until the other guy affirmed his love. 

We have all been vehicles at some points of our lives, to help someone else get to their destination. Just that sometimes, it is more painful to be driven around without a destination and in the end, realising that there was never a destination when the passenger boarded. She was eyeing the aeroplane in the car. 

Summer is always full of heat and excitement, but luckily for some of us, Autumn arrives with the leaves falling, a cooler weather, a little less colourful than Summer, but more calming and more beautiful.