The World According to Ploy

August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds, or: This Is How You Do It

Despite the fact that I went to watch Valkyrie and Inglourious Basterds in theaters, I do not like World War II movies. I don’t. What is the point of watching something when you know the end? Hitler dies in a bunker, it is a fact. So when a movie comes up about a group of brave souls plotting against him, I know it’s going to be a tragic drama, which is what Valkyrie turned out to be.

I didn’t like Valkyrie much. Not only did the plot not make sense (or actually, what they were plotting didn’t make much sense), but it was too melodramatic. The only reason I watched it was because at that time, there was nothing else in the theaters.

But for Inglourious Basterds, CC, Ginger, and I practically ran into the theaters. I must admit this was because of Brad Pitt – we are, after all, fangirls at heart.

To my surprise, the movie wasn’t Brad-centric at all. Despite having him on prominent display on the poster and his name, if I remember correctly, listed first, his role isn’t the most interesting. Sure, Brad Pitt’s Aldo “The Apache” Raine was funny, amusing in both his violence, hillbilly accent, and ridiculous attempt at posing as an Italian stuntman, but the stage goes to Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, the SS leader aka “Jew Hunter”

Waltz was, at once, funny, amusing, cruel, and crazy. Towards the ending, when he says, “That’s just bingo!” (before Aldo the Apache corrects him, “We just say bingo”), Landa was even cute.

My favorite character was Til Schweiger as Hugo Stiglitz, a former Nazi soldier turned the Basterds’ resident psycho killer. He’s quiet, sadistic…but in the tavern scene, we see that he also has a sense of humor.

At two and a half hours, yes, this is a long movie. The fact that it has more talk than action might make it seem even longer. Nevertheless, the dialogue, while not extremely snappy, is meaningful. Every word, every gesture, means something. To me, the dialogue felt like a fuse that was burning…but you didn’t know when the fuse was going to end and the bomb was going to explode.

It’s a war film without a frontline. It’s a war film without hundreds of soldiers in bunkers.

Inglourious Basterds, however, is what a war film should be.

You’d probably have heard this by now, so I’ll just say it: Hitler dies. Tarantino rewrites history completely, and since this is his film, he can. The fact that Hitler dies also makes me love this movie. I knew from the preview there’s going to be a great explosion scene…but I thought that maybe, perhaps, Hitler will have escaped, because he ‘needs’ to die in a bunker. But no…The theater is consumed by fire and two of the Basterds (played by Eli Roth and Omar Doom) are machine-gunning the scrambling Nazis to oblivion. It’s violent, verging on sadistic. But it is, somehow, exhilarating….not because of the screaming dying people…but because the fac that here’s one director who doesn’t give a damn about history and will do what he does.

Quentin Tarantino does it right. Inglourious Basterds is how you do it.

August 21, 2009

“A Hope In Hell”

The door to the Skytrain opens and I make my way to the other side, leaning against the doorway which will be closed for the rest of the way home. I pull out The Sandman and flip back and forth to find where I was: the beginning of chapter four, “A Hope In Hell.”

After three chapters, I finally got used to the artwork. It’s usually what I call…ugly. I’ve never been a fan of western comics, if only because I think the drawings, simply, suck. Leave shortbread to the Scots and comic books to the Japanese. This is not racism or discrimination. This is the truth.

But, as I said, I got used to the artwork. Plus, the story’s by Neil Gaiman, and that is enough for me to forge on. Morpheus – or the Sandman or the King of Dreams or simply Dream – continues on his quest to find the relics that were taken from him when he was captured seventy years ago.

He’s already found his pouch of magical sand, and now he’s gone to Hell to find his helmet. It’s in the hands of a demon named Choronzon, skinny and lanky with pink skin and two mouths, equally fanged. He refuses to return the helm to Morpheus, saying that he got it in a fair trade. If Morpheus wants it back, says Choronzon, then Morpheus must meet him in a challenge.

Morpheus agrees, and I held my breath as I turned the page. How would the fight be like? Violent? Would it have the flowing fluidity of Japanese comics? What weapon would Morpheus use? A sword? Energy beams? Would he fight fair? 

Oh, but it wasn’t a battle of might. It was a battle of…words. A battle of imagination. They stand on a stage, face-to-face. The demons of hell are their audience.

“I am a dire wolf, prey-stalking, lethal prowler,” Choronzon begins.

“My move,” says Morpheus. “I am a hunter, horse-mounted, wolf stabbing.”

Choronzon’s mouths gape slightly at this, but he continues. “I am a horsefly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing.”

There are many ways to lose the oldest game, Morpheus reflects.Failure of nerve, hesitation…Being unable to shift into a defensive shape. Lack of imagination. “I am a spider, fly-consuming, eight-legged.”

“I am a snake, spider-devouring, poison-toothed,” Choronzon is snarling now.

Morpheus, however, remains expressionaless. “I am an ox, snake-crushing, heavy footed. I feel the snake writhe beneath my hoof, its spine crushed.”

“I am an anthrax, butcher bacterium, warm-life destroying.”

The Dreamlord pauses, thinks of a new tactic.

Morpheus almost grins when he says, “I am a world, space-floating, life nurturing.”

Lucifer Morningstar, one of the Triumvirates of Hell, looks up from his drink, his eyes sharp, focused, unnerving.

“I am a nova, all-exploding,” Choronzon does not give up. “…Planet-cremating.”

“I am the Universe — all things encompassing, all life embracing.”

I hold my breath. Surely Morpheus must win. Nothing can beat the Universe…nothing.

“I am anti-life, the beast of judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds…of everything.”

I felt a chill go down my spine. That can beat the Universe. The dark at the end of everything…how is Morpheus going to beat darkness. There is always darkness. Space is darkness. The universe has more darkness than light.

“Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?” Choronzon mocks.

I tensed. Yes, what will he be?

“I am hope.”

Morpheus looks straight ahead, while all the demons of hell, including Choronzon, stare at him, perplexed, confused.

Choronzon blubbers, struggles, opens his mouths and closes the again. “I…don’t know.”

The Dreamlord wins, fair and square.

 

 

Disturbing? Yes. And I still think the artwork is lacking…but I want to read on.

August 18, 2009

Push, or: More Like A Half-Hearted Poke

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 1:26 am

If I’d paid 140 baht to see this, I’d probably scream and shout and go all angsty. Fortunately, I rented Push for 20 baht (roughly 40 cents), and so I’m just going to mumble, grumble, and write a note. And truthfully, I didn’t even spend two hours on this. Well, technically it was on for two hours…but I paid attention for around seven minutes. You see, I turned it on while planning my (imaginary?) trip to Barcelona. I had my guidebook out and a notepad and I was furiously scribbling where to go and how long it’d take (by the way, according to my plan, it’d take 10 days, that’s 9 days for Barcelona and 1 for Montserrat.)

Oh, where were we?

Right. Push.

I…don’t know…I just don’t know. The acting was horrible. Camilla Belle can’t really act, and that Flame On! Guy Whose Name I Can’t Remember is also a mediocre actor. Dakota Fanning was, as usual, a great actress, but her lines were so horrible they overshadowed her talent. Djimon Honsou? I love the man but he got the same problem as Dakota Fanning.

There is A LOT to the plot, but that entire lot is rather predictable, so it’s actually safe to say there’s not much to the plot. You see, Camilla Belle plays Kira, is a psychic who can control peoples’ minds. She is the first survivor to a certain drug test by a division of the US government called, quite creatively, The Division. So Kira runs off (quite easily, considering this is a super secretive, state-of-the-art facility and all)…and somehow ends up in Hong Kong.

Ok, fine, I’ll buy Hong Kong. I do realize that China is a really big market and all of Hollywood wants to appeal to the Chinese. Why else would you make Tomb of the Dragon Emperor?

Ahh, but I digress.

In Hong Kong, Dakota Fanning is a 13-year-old girl “who looks at least fourteen” named Cassie. She barges in, literally, into Mr. Flame On!’s apartment (it says something here that I don’t even remember his character’s name.) Cassie’s mom is being held by the Division, and to free her mom Cassie must find Kira and this briefcase she apparently stole. She sees that she would need Flame On!, who has telekinetic powers, to help her. And that’s how we assemble our lead cast. And suffice to say it’s a happy ending for all.

Despite running for two hours, nothing goes on much. There’s not even a car chase scene. What kind of action movie doesn’t have a car chase scene? Look, I’m not particularly enamored of car chase scenes…but it’s like a contractual obligation. I go to watch an action movie…and I know there’s going to be a car chase scene…and I know I’m going to hate it. It’s that simple. Take out the car chase scene and that leaves me really, really confused.

I’d rather have some reaction than no reaction at all.

At one of those few random minutes that I actually looked up at the TV screen, I saw a Thai buddhist monk. And then I paid more attention and saw that the people on the screened looked very Thai….et voila …then there was a building with Thai writing on it and please do not tell me that Hong Kong has a Thai town because it does not.

Anyhoo, the hilarious thing was Mr. Flame On! (as you can see, I am too lazy to google up his name) was walking down that street and then turns into a Chinese restaurant. Yep, from Thailand back to Hong Kong that easily.

Hollywood thinks we’re all interchangeable. Hooray.

So there’s not much. There’s really not much that I can say. It’s not funny, it’s not touching, it doesn’t have a moral or a message (even Rise of  the Silver Surfer attempted to say something about the environment), it doesn’t have a good soundtrack. It doesn’t have anything.

It doesn’t even have proper special effects.

August 14, 2009

Preferred Alternate Endings to Twilight

1) It ends at the Preface. That is, it ends with the sentence “The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.” She dies!

2) It doesn’t even begin. Now that would solve a myriad of problems (mostly chronological and oftentimes grammatical), and save me from nights of headaches.

3) Edward agrees to bite Bella’s neck with the canines-that-must-not-be-named. But then he gets too drunk with her blood and accidentally overdrinks, and she dies.

4) The entire Clan Cullen dies, from Vampire Flu. Bella runs off in the sunset – or, if you prefer, moonrise – with Jacob Black. The last paragraph could be her (or rather, Stephanie Meyer) waxing poetic about how soft his chest hair- or fur, whatever – is.

5) Jacob is hungry and eats her. Because her blood is so delicious.

6) It turns out that Bella’s father is actually also a vampire. This would cause loads more family drama!

7) It turns out that Edward is NOT a vampire, but actually some other type of supernatural being with fan—- ahem, sharp teeth and a glittering chest who is masquerading as a vampire because he knows that girls find vampire sexy.

 

Ok, I have to stop. The more I think about Twilight, the more nauseous I become (this could perhaps have to do with my recent tea biscuits binge, but I’d rather blame Twilight.)

Do you have any alternate endings you want to add? I’m sure they’ll be better than the one currently in print.

August 12, 2009

A Miracle! A Miracle!

Filed under: Skincare & Makeup — by Ploy @ 9:39 pm
Tags: , ,

I have fallen in love with Kiehl’s, or at least their products that I’ve used so far. You see, the story is that 2009 brought with it acne on my face. Historically, or at least as far as I can remember, I’ve never had acne on my cheeks. Forehead, perhaps, but never cheeks; plus I never had breakouts, not even during the raging-hormones era; it was always just the occassional pimple.

So imagine my horror when I began 2009 with horrible, horrible skin. I actually went out to buy Origins’ Plantidote Cream (click to read how that turned out)…anyhoo…so I gave up quick-fixing my face for a while and tried to just go back to cleaning well, treating well, and eating well.

So it didn’t get worse. But it didn’t necessarily get better.

For the past few months, however, I’ve heard raves about Kiehl’s. At least five people I know personally have fallen in love with Kiehl’s, so a week ago I figured I had nothing to lose (except money…o__O), waltzed into Kiehl’s, proclaimed to a startled-looking SA that my face is a totally mess and he needs to help me.

He handed me this:

acneblemish

Suffice it to say, a week later, after using Kiehl’s “Acne Blemish Control Daily Skin-clearing Treatment” twice a day (my skin is normal-oily, so I can pull it off. It could be drying on sensitive, dry skin though), there has been a total turnaround. The small bumps that I used to feel on my skin (hidden acne? I have no idea) are gone. Ok, so there are a few dark spots/scars left…but they’re visibly fading. My skin is SMOOTH, for the first time in eight months. There’s discoloration, like I said…but it looks like it’s going to fade away very, VERY soon.

This is worth every baht I paid for it (which is 1600 – that’s not too bad!) It’ s much cheaper than going to the dermatologist, too!

PS. Two days ago I went to buy their Yerba Mate toner and gel-moisturizer. That’s turning out well, too.

PPS. The SA gave me a sample of their Amino Acid shampoo. It smells like coconuts, and therefore, I love it. I love it so much I have decided I will shell out an obscene amount of money to buy it. Yes, ‘obscene’, because I’ve been using Sunsilk my entire life and that has worked out fine…but seriously…Sunsilk does not make coconut-scented shampoo! (Ok, weak argument, but really, when I shop, I throw caution and all logic to the wind.)

August 11, 2009

According to my ‘bible’, you don’t exist.

Filed under: Sheer Insanity — by Ploy @ 11:35 pm

To clarify, my bible is The Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy* – which would make Douglas Adams my god, but I have a feeling he wouldn’t want to be anyone’s god. He’d just want to be himself – ok, we went off on a tangent there – anyhoo – my ‘bible’ says that you are but a figment of my imagination.

“It is know that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.”

Try arguing with that.

……….

Hah!

 

*There are five books in this trilogy. I suggest you read them all. If I had to pinpoint a book, an event, and/or a person who changed my life, it would be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy/the time I stumbled upon it by accident in the library/Douglas Adams.

August 1, 2009

There is a difference between…

Filed under: Sheer Insanity — by Ploy @ 10:37 pm

1. Having a unique sense of style, and having absolutely no sense of style whatsoever.
2. Having mussed-up heair and having messed-up hair.
3. Leggings and pants.
4. Being cautious and being paranoid.
5. Being sexy, being trashy, and being generally confused.
6. Friends, and people you’d die for.
7. Being a smart person, and being a Smart Person.
8. Diet and starvation.
9. Vampires, and Clan Cullen.
10. Love and obsession.
11. Starbucks and say, True Coffee.
12. Listening, and simply just waiting for your turn to speak.
13. Being strong, being stubborn, and being, well, a bitch.
14. Knowing what money is worth, and knowing what’s worth the money.
15. Having faith, and being utterly dependent.
16. Fuji and Japanese food.
17. Being cute, and making an idiot out of yourself.
18. Putting in 100%, and putting in whatever it takes to get the job done perfectly.
19. Putting on make up, and caking on make up.
20. Being rich, and being respectable.
21. Having a job, and having a purpose.
22.  Being happy with who you are, and being self-delusional

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