Saturday, December 31, 2011

A short paragraph to sum up my year:

Total liberation. Read and bought many books. Listened to great music. Wrote. Watched films. Traveled from Jan to April. Picked up photography (and now I simply cannot imagine life without a camera.) Went to gigs, a Broadway musical, art festivals. Explored SG. Start of university life at my dream school. Lost some old friends. Gained new ones. Struggled to find my place. Slept at unhealthy hours in hall. Learnt French. ( J'aime beaucoup le francais! ) Learnt to play the guitar. Felt alive again. Told a friend something I should have said a long time ago. Moved on (still trying to). Began to understand that loneliness and being alone are two entirely separate things. Grew comfortable with a solitary existence.

2011 has given me so much happiness.

As always, my hope for the new year is summed up by this quote by Neil Gaiman, “ May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art- write, or draw, or build or live only as you can. And I hope, somewhere, in the next year, you surprise yourself. ”

“ I feel old. But not very wise.”- Jenny, An Education.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

War Horse

What comes to mind when watching War Horse is the story of Black Beauty, albeit a tougher, grittier version of the children's classic.

DreamWorks' picture War Horse is inspired by the Tony award-winning stage adaptation, and the original novel by Michael Morpurgo.

Set in the small town of Devon, England, the film begins with a remarkable friendship that develops between a boy Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey. They are forced to part because of the war.

The film trots on leisurely at first, but picks up considerably as the film traces Joey's tumultuous odyssey during World War 1. Through the eyes of Joey, we encounter different people; from the British calvary, German soldiers, to a French farmer and his granddaughter. The episodic-like transition from owner to owner provides welcome relief to the otherwise weighty narrative.

Meanwhile, Albert enlists in the army in search of his equine friend. This gesture evokes his words, trembling with emotion, in the earlier farewell scene, “Wherever you are, I will find you.”

It is as much a tale about the extraordinary bond between man and beast as it is an epic narration about the universal suffering during the Great War, made apparent in the stark image of hundreds of corpses of men and horses strewn about the battlefield. Yet amid the carnage, hope and tenacity still prevails.

The climatic scene of a distraught Joey ensnared in barbed wire is quietly chilling. Diffusing the tension somewhat is the droll exchange between the British and German soldier when they help free Joey. It is at once darkly humorous and sobering, speaking volumes about the pointlessness of war. The usual finger-pointing is largely absent in the film. Instead, it focuses on the shared humanity of both sides. Thankfully the film does not wallow in over-sentimentality/ stoop to shameless emotional manipulation.

Never mind that Joey's quest to be reunited with his owner seems a tad incredible, but who cares really, when you've got such a lovingly-crafted tale.

Once again, director Steven Spielburg has taken the reins to weave a powerfully moving story reminiscent of past films like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. Together with long-time collaborators Janusz Kamiński ( Director of Photography) and John Williams ( Music composer), the master storyteller has created an old-fashioned classic that will resonate with both the old and young. A word of warning, however, the two and a half hour epic might leave some restless.

War Horse is easily one of the most gorgeously cinematic films Spielburg has done, no mean feat considering that most of the film was shot without CGI effects. Expect to see sweeping, dramatic landscapes of the Dartmoor countryside. Even the most hardened of cynics will be teary-eyed at the breathtaking and poignant ending scene.

Already, War Horse is a contender for the next year's Golden Globe Award for Best Picture of the Year, and has 7 Critics' Choice Award nominations.
Notable performances include doggedly stubborn Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) and his formidable wife Rosie ( Emily Watson). Newcomer Jeremy Irvine's unflagging belief in his 'miracle horse' may strike as absurd, but his youthful optimism is still wonderfully compelling. The appearances of the precocious Emilie ( Celine Buckens) and her stoic, doting grandfather (Niels Arestrup) lend a breath of fresh air to the sombre tale. The Reader's Michael Gross gets a small but memorable role as German soldier Gunther who escapes to protect his brother at the risk of being caught and killed.

A promise', he explains.

If anything, the film is about a solemn promise between boy and horse, between men and brothers alike. It's one dark horse, for sure. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Saturday, December 24, 2011

I admit, I've had my fair share of theatre offerings. But not one of those productions had as much heart, courage and brains as Wicked

The Grammy Award-winning Broadway musical pays homage to the children's classic The Wizard of Oz. It tells of the unlikely schoolyard friendship between two girls who grow up to be Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

The sheer scale of Wicked had me floored, from the set design, lighting, costumes to the choreography, music, and acting. It was a glorious Technicolour extravaganza that treated theatre-goers to a visually spectacular feast.

No expenses were spared with Eugene Lee's stage design, which was a architectural masterpiece in itself. The elaborate and marvelous set designs were reminiscent of the fantastic worlds of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. Before the show even began, I was already awestruck by the stage centre piece, an enormous Time dragon. The musical was in constant motion throughout, with the perpetual whirring of the giant levers and gears to signal the changes in location. In just a matter of seconds seconds, the audience was transported from the gilt-edged, glittering Emerald City to the dark fortress of Elphaba's citadel.

With a staggering 350 set of complicated costumes designed by Susan Hilferty, live music supplied by 14 musicians, flying monkeys and broomsticks, a sinister talking puppet head and levitating witch, Wicked was a musical executed to near perfection. It was difficult to fathom the sheer amount of technical wizardry involved.

Casting wise, my only regret is that I did not get the chance to see Kirsten Chenoweth play Glinda, or Adam Lambert/ Aaron Tevit play the dashing Fiyero. Nevertheless, the Australian cast did not disappoint.

Playing the privileged Glinda, Susie Mathers was in full-blown blonde airhead mode. Her vivacious, larger-than-life persona commanded attention, with her uninhibited prancing onstage like a hyperactive fluffy pink bunny on steroids, her breathless giggling and girlish squealing, and her eye-roll-inducing yet delightful mishmash of words.

I was hugely entertained when she sang “Popular', in a misguided but well-intentioned attempt to mould Elphaba into someone popular. “ Just not quite as popular as me,” she trilled merrily, all wide-eyed innocence. Personally I felt she was hamming it up a little too much, till her performance hovered dangerously close to being a caricature of the typical insufferably perky cheerleader. But somehow she sidestepped that trap nimbly, managing to win the audience over with her boundless enthusiasm, and scoring the most titters (and even guffaws) from the audience that night.

While Glinda's appearances functioned as comic relief, Elphaba's (Jemma Rix) scenes were often lengthy and emotional. Yet Jemma Rix held her own in such a challenging role. Her steely gaze, feisty spirit, candour and witty retorts made for an equally memorable delivery. Her powerful vocals surged into an exhilarated, triumphant crescendo in her 'Defying Gravity' solo, making evident her proud defiance in the face of such moral corruption. There was no question about which song was the crowd's favourite that night.

I felt that the first act was more enjoyable, as too much was going on in the second half. It dwelled on more weighty issues like moral ambiguity, standing up for one's beliefs, friendship, love, betrayal and loss, but without coming across as being too preachy.

It is nearly impossible to find fault with the musical Wicked. Without a doubt, it is one of the most imaginative musicals in Broadway. In the words of the Wizard, “ Believe me, it's hard to resist, because it's wonderful, it feels wonderful”.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

                                                          and these lines tell the truth
                                                          these city veins answer all you do 
                                                          so could you keep me in the pulses
                                                          could you keep me in the sound

Monday, December 19, 2011

I wanted you to care enough to break the silence but you didn't. No one ever does.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

and i said i know it well

cold, rainy saturday night in december
i'm safely ensconced in the tiny attic,
strumming to the likes of bon iver and ' first day of my life'
close my eyes and lean back against the wall
as my voice floats upwards, a distorted aria
play until my fingers have lost all feeling
till the metal strings cut deep into my flesh
nearly-frayed skin
find myself fighting back tears
is this what brokenness feels

Friday, December 16, 2011

marina bay

Thursday, December 15, 2011

you'd think i'd have gotten over it by now but no- something keeps pulling me back in, time and time again. here i am, reduced to such a state. i want to hit myself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

past few days of my holiday:

playing with my lil brother

found this second-hand copy while rummaging around sultana bookstore at peace centre! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In my head I'd imagine how our days would play out, perfectly idyllic and unapologetic

we'd linger over cake and warm coffee in tiny cafes tucked away in shophouses, giddy with excitement on having stumbled upon another gem. we'd traverse the streets, wanting to document every single beautiful thing, seeing the city for so much that it could be and more. at night we'd sit by the river dangling our legs over the black waters eating ice cream that we bought on a whim from the pushcart uncle. and of course, we'd wander around bookstores, greeting the books like old friends, picking up our favorite copies and quoting passages to each other because only words can affect us so profoundly. i'd look right into your eyes, without any trace of fear, which is something i can't do with anyone else.  you'd see into the very core of me, and your quiet understanding would be enough, would make me somehow whole

that is, if i even find you at all

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Long due pictures from wkw halloween ^^

plastered with posters

damien and his new friend

Photo: Credit to school photogs
ah lian bee hoon