SIR David Attenborough

So, how old do you think that BBC wildlife presenter and enthusiast extraordinaire Sir David Attenborough is? You can take a look at a photo here so you can try to get a better gauge. Go ahead, make a guess.

He is 81 this year. On his 80th birthday, he was in the Galapagos islands, involved in filming giant tortoises, some of which probably aren’t his age.

After some time…

So it’s been a while, eh?

Work’s been a lot more engaging this past week – I have been assigned more things to do, my colleagues and I have been speaking more. All in all, there is more of a sense that I’m working here.

Notable: My mug disappeared. Let me be more specific: The mug that was a birthday present and ensconced in its own tin and removed from the environs of said tin and brought to my new workplace to be a receptacle of excellent coffee as well as that everyday necessity known as water has disappeared. When I found it missing, I traced my activities and whereabouts the previous day, and looked around those places, but there was no sight of my mug. Strange. (Having said that, it’ll probably pop up somewhere one of these days and I’ll say, ah, so I left it there!)

Some comedians do impressions of famous people so well, they are more like those famous people than the famous people themselves. Check out this clip, where Frank Caliendo performs on the Late Show with David Letterman. (Caliendo does Robin Williams, George W Bush and Letterman himself.) Well worth watching, if you like impressions.

Channel surfing

So I was thinking while channel-surfing between Channel U (Li Jiawei taking on a Chinese rival in the Asian Games) and one of the LOTR episodes:

Do women table tennis players (I don’t see this so much in men players) have to engage in fist-clenching grunts and exclamations after every point they win? It seems so obnoxious, so… ungracious. Does it actually help one win?

The Lord of the Rings looks much much better on a wide screen. But even on my 20-inch, the detail in each scene is captivating.

When will they adapt 金庸 classics such as 天龙八部 and the 射雕 trilogy to the big screen as multi-part, award-winning blockbusters?

The new Tiger beer ads feel so much like a rip-off of The Da Vinci Code. The atmosphere in the ads and in the movie are very similar.

流星花园

So it was a while ago that I first heard about the far-fetched exploits of 杉菜, 道明寺 and 花泽类 and their loyal kakis. A good friend introduced me to them rather forcefully (she was full of 流星花园 trivia – like, say, how the 道明家族 was the richest, most powerful of the F4 四大家族 and like, how F4 like to fight, and 道明寺’s the best fighter), and after occasionally watching parts of episodes here and there and reflecting a bit and comparing the show with its 偶像剧 peers that I sometimes caught, I came humbly to realise that, yes, 流星花园 is a good, even moving show – even if it’s toe-curlingly melodramatic at times.

The best part of 流星花园, of course, is its first original soundtrack. F4’s unaccomplished yet maddeningly catchy theme song becomes a forgiveable lapse when one considers Sheena Easton’s Almost Over You, Tara McLean’s Settling (the imagery of the leaves being let go by the tree or swept away by the wind is really quite evocative), 瘐澄庆’s 情非得已 and 戴佩妮’s 你要的爱 (another one of those maddeningly catching tunes). As with all popular things, the 流星花园 OST’s concept of matching hit Western songs to the serial’s themes was imitated by most if not all of its peers. I think none of them chose songs that, as a whole, were as touching or fitting though.

The Banquet

So I watched The Banquet last Friday evening. I think:

  • The movie had some memorable images: the noh masks; the black-clad, implacable 羽林卫, the emperor’s elite guards, whose design seemed inspired by the Uruk-Hai in The Lord of the Rings and whose appearance filled the viewer with the same dread; tthe obviously computer-animated scorpion near the start of the movie; the duckweed-covered pool, in which koi swam and which was the focus of the too-long ending scene of the movie.
  • Ge You is such a good actor.
  • Zhou Xun had only one expression throughout the movie.
  • The movie was good technically – elaborate sets, gorgeous costumes, crisp script, good to outstanding acting, and it was arresting visually and aurally – but it did not make me feel much for its characters. I felt most for the emperor (played by Ge You), who chose to drink from a poisoned cup because his life was no longer worth living. (Come to think of it, whatever their artistic merit, recent high-profile Chinese movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, etc. make me feel less for their characters than sitcoms.)
  • The audience killed Zhang Ziyi. If you watched the movie and have a different opinion, I’d love to hear it, so drop me an email or a comment :)

Japanese Dorama

So my sis passed me a CD with the Over Time theme. Over Time is a Japanese dorama that was screened in Singapore maybe 6 or 7 years ago (it seems much longer than that somehow, maybe because I was in university then and that was such a different separate part of my life), and I hadn’t heard that theme in a while. I am a huge fan of the tall woman who used to play volleyball, Makiko Esumi – I think she can really act :)

That reminds me: When I was in my first year of university (more than 8 years ago), there was a Japanese dorama (that’s apparently the romanised Japanese “word” for drama) about friends trying to get into medical school. I loved the music, and have been trying to find out the name of the dorama so I can get the OST, but no luck – I have no idea what it’s called. I know that the dorama goes to commercial or has starting/ending credits with a drawn picture of a rabbit; that the protagonist – whom I think was played by Takuya Kimura, but I may be mistaken – was named Tamon; that Tamon kept a frog near the end of the show; that although the show was about friends trying to get into med school, (I think) Tamon did not make it there in the end.

Maybe you can help. Drop me an email if you know which show I’m talking about, please :)

Love Letter

So I’ve had the VCD of this Japanese movie for years, and I just decided to watch it tonight. The movie involves Hiroko, a young woman whose fiance – Fujii – had died in a mountaineering accident. Two years later, she finds his address in his high school yearbook, and writes him a letter. And to her wonder, it is answered. It turns out a young woman with his name now lives there. Through a steady exchange of short poignant letters, Hiroko realises that this young woman had been her fiance’s classmate, and Hiroko asks her new penpal to tell her more about her fiance.

Thought it was a really enjoyable, touching movie, but I was a bit disappointed about the ending. Some more things I think I think:

  • The movie was beautifully filmed. Most of it was shot in winter, with snow. Snow is just so evocative visually, isn’t it? People who live where snow is a natural occurrence must surely experience life differently from people who live elsewhere. They would have different metaphors, different frames of reference…
  • Hiroko must have really missed her fiance to have written that first letter:

“Dear Fujii Itsuke,
How are you? I am very well.
Hiroko Watanabe”

  • It must have been strange, learning about a lost love from someone who knew him before she did. (Here I am, talking about the movie as if it were real.) In one of her letters, Hiroko wrote: “There must be many places and times he was in. I probably know only a portion of him.” I think that is so true, and lucky couples get most of their lives to find out more about their loved ones.
  • To me, the movie was about how people leave marks in one’s life and lost opportunities for love. It made me wish I had been braver when I was in school.

I heartily recommend this movie. If you want to watch it, drop me an email, and I can pass the VCD to you :)