Thursday, August 29, 2019

Less Than Zero the Movie.

This is a film came out in 1987, roughly based on Brett Easton Ellis's novel under the same title.  Novel version review:

The characters are the same. They are all spoiled kids from wealthy family trying to fit in the superficial circle of so-called friends. You can still see the main storyline is the same, but what's different is the experience. It is about the main characters' relationships, and the snapshot of the time and era. The sound track takes you back to the 80s.

In short, the film makes you cry while the novel leaves you helpless and empty.

You might complain that film didn't do justice.
And you're absolutely right.
It's a Film - so there had to be a drama.

The movie starts with the high school graduation scene where 3 main characters, Clay, Julian and Blair holding shoulders, and happily posing for camera.

Robert Downey Jr perfectly portrayed Julian, the immature, troubled kid from wealthy family who "used to be" the main character's best friend. Obviously he still was Clay's best mate when they graduated together.

But then the main character Clay decided to study at a collage out of town, leaving Julian and Blair (Clay's ex-girlfriend who later became a model).

Both Blair and Julian seem to share the abandonment issue with the family already, but when Clay left, they also felt abandoned by him,  as Blair infers at the Christmas party at the club. A flashback shows when Clay caught Blair in bed with Julian when he briefly came back in town.

Blair begs forgiveness for herself, and Julian, implying how her having sex with Julian was, kind of, a way to fill the gap left behind by Clay, that they needed each other at that time.

Well, forget it. It doesn't matter anymore, Clay replies, but it is obvious that he hasn't forgiven his friend, and there stll is the strong sexual chemistry between him and his ex-girlfriend. Flirtation grew more and more bold and open when fuelled with cocaine and alcohol.

Half way through the film you start to feel just how out of control the whole scene is. Clay is a college student, and he observes "Others" in a dettached view.
Yes. In the film, Clay is the one who don't merge with anyone.
The shared habits of the in-crowd is exemplified by the frequent snorting scenes.
Clay's look of condescendence, and reluctance is so clear that you can tell he's only tolerating his ex-schoolmates, including his old friend Julian. He's only really engaging in conversation with Blair.
He looks annoyed everytime she mentions Julian's name.
Blair tells him,
- Julian is in trouble.
- Which trouble?
Julian is in deep shit all the time, debt, drug dependence and family issues.
Blair can defend him as much as she likes, like, - he's trying so hard to get off drugs.
But, that's not true, and Blair knows it, everyone knows it. And she herherself snorts more than enough.
Blair declares,
- I can quit any time.
- Really?
- Yeah
- That's impressive.
Clay still cares for Blair. He's not being sarcastic, he's just doesn't want to hurt her by being harsh. After all, she also is a troubled, immature girl trying to act cool and glamourous.

Julian is gullible, vulnerable and sometimes sweet in his awkward way. Clay looks he's had enough of him but
Julian seems to be more attached to him, clinging to the happy memories from the old days. And he hasn't moved on from that time, he's just a boy who can't do anything right on his own.

Young James Spader was superb as a sinister ex-schoolmate, now a drug dealer  who sweet-talks Julian into buying more cocaine if he tries to kick the habit, then coldly demands to clear the debt he owes him and acts as a pimp who forces him to prostitute to pay it off.

Julian has no family or other friends to turn to for help, and like in the book it was already too late to save him when Clay eventually, reluctantly did so, and as 3 of them was driving out of town to escape, Julian died in the back seat of the car.

In the novel Clay gave him money to pay off the debt he owed Rip. Although he was no longer certain about their friendship, Julian was still special to him, thus he couldn't entirely cut him off, as it seemed. However, that was until Clay finally realised there was nothing left he could do to save his old friend.
In the end, he left the town leaving his past behind.

So, which one did I like better?
Well, personally I couldn't decide.
The movie and the novel were two different things.

I loved the book,
I loved the film.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Nagasaki 2 and something else.

Recently I see many TV programs featuring Japan, making me feel nostalgic how we went to the same place and the way we felt there.

One of them was showing the Former Navy Underground Headquaters in Okinawa, which we visited in 2016, one of the main war memorials in Southern part of Japan.

But for now, let me talk about Nagasaki during the war.

When you think about Nagasaki, the first thing that comes into your mind is Atomic Bomb. Everybody knows Hiroshima and Nagasaki are two cities where atomic bomb was dropped, and yet the feel that evokes is somewhat different.

Nagasaki was the first city where the Christianity was introduced and remained to be the most Christian city throughout Edo era.
Shimabara region is famous for the Christian rebellion in 1637-1638, by April 1638, over 27,000 rebels were fighting against approx. 125,000 soldiers sent by the Tokugawa Shogunate government, after the battle ended, more than 37,000 Christian rebels and sympathisers were beheaded according to Wikipedia. Reference: The Shimabara-Amakusa Uprising- Tragedy for 37,000 (jump to the site)

Japan went into National Seclusion Period after that and the Christianity was officially banned, and over 30,000 hidden Christians with unwavering faith held their belief in the shadow until they resurfaced in the 18th century when Nagasaki opened as the first international trading port in Japan.

Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture also shows you how Nagasaki developed to be the most multi-cultural, Christian town in Japan since 15th century.
You can download the English leaflet from the following link.
The Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture (EN)
Oura region (nearby Dejima) became the main foreign settlement during the mid to late 18th century (Nagasaki foreign settlemement) where traders and sailors from China, Holand, France, Portugal, Scotland, England and America lived, and caused its colourful culture to flourish, until the war erupted.

Nowadays, although you don't find many foreigners inh Nagasaki other than Chinese and overseas tourists, you still see the influence of Asian and European influence everywhere in the city and there are many Christian schools that were built before the war and demolished by the atomic bombing.

What made the Nagasaki Bombing more tragic than Hiroshima was the fact that the Christians were killed by all-Christian US army crew on the mission.

The day when the Fat Man was dropped, inside the Urakami Cathedral, which happened to be the most prominent catholic church in Asia back then, were few dozens of Church members and priests summoned for the upcoming preparation for Mass, some for confession.

The church was located within 500 metres from ground Zero and all died instantly. There were over 15,000 Christians in Nagasaki, out of which, approx. 10,000 Christians eventually said to have lost their lives because of the radiation trauma.

What touched me the most was the way the survivors viewed the tragedy as “the sacred sacrifice that was crucial to end the war” and how forgiving they were. Nagasaki Christians stayed true to their belief and didn’t hold hostility towards Americans.

Seeing the photo of the collapsed Urakami Cathedral and then the head of St. Mary exhibited in the museum after that, was an awesome experience. There was this initial hopelessness and sadness I felt when I saw the wreck of the Church, and then the strange sense of tranquillity consumed me after seeing the head of St. Mary.

Growing up in Yokohama, I was used to see the remains of former Hiranuma station in Yokohama, which was destroyed in the great fire bombing of Yokohama.

Towards the end of war, hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians died in the bombings, the total death toll mounted up to easily over 500,000, and yet, it’s far less than the war casualties Japanese military caused in China during the war. And we also mustn’t forget those Koreans, especially young girls brutally raped and killed by Japanese soldiers during the war.

The worst cruelty of the war in general is the fact that innocent civilians are the ones who are really victimised, rather than the military themselves. Why don’t all the ministers, prime ministers and the presidents go to the war and fight themselves without involving civilians? How come do innocent people have to hate each other only because their countries are fighting each other?

Like those all Christian army crew who dropped the Fat Man, many of those who start the wars probably are religious, and yet the hunger for power and/or false sense of obligation and justice always seem to engulf the human conscience.

There was a poem by Akiko Yosano (as seen in the photo below), called Kimi Shinitamou Koto Nakare, which is the most famous anti-war poem of that time, meaning “You shall not die”
It goes like this. (I apologize that I don’t remember the full version.)

Oh, my brother
I cry for you
You shall not die
For you were the last born
Our parents loved you all the more for that reason
Yet did they teach you to grab a sword and kill people?
Kill them and eventually die yourself
At 24?

Born into the prominent merchant family in the town of Sakai
Because you are the young master of the house, who has to carry the family name
You shall not die, my brother
The castle of Ryojun (Port Arthur) may fall but what's the big deal?
It doesn't say in the rule book of our merchant family (that you should fight in the battle)
Although you may not know

Don’t you die, my brother
Our emperor doesn’t fight in the front line himself, does he?
Are you sure you have to shed human blood unnecessarily,
And die like a beast,
Is it really honourable to die (like that)?
As the emperor's being so compassionate,
He wouldn't think like that to start with, would he?

I think I was taught this poem at high school somewhere between Year 10 and 12. Since it is like 3 decades ago I only remember the poem up to here, but it is still enough to represent the true feeling of the civilians (especially females).

I apologize that I translated this poem with my own interpretation. The original Japanese version was written in the old style, which has made it confusing at times.

During my multiple attempts, I even considered changing the style completely. The third verse is full of personal feeling, sarcasm and criticism towards the emperor and his army, therefore it was hard not to get my emotion in the way of making it more accurate. There are heaps of better translations elsewhere under the title "Thou Shalt Not Die" by Akiko Yosano.
Published in 1904, I must say it must've been  a miracle that such a controversial poet got away without getting enjailed or even killed.
We all know that it’s wrong to kill unnecesarily. Whether it’s another human being or animals - and yet we still do if there is even a single excuse or a cause, even if it’s not always justifiable.

Everyday, uncountable numbers of cattle were killed and wasted. The prevalence of vegetarian, and vegan culture may have lessened the total meat consumption, but the decrease in the demand doesn’t seem to reflect much on the supply department.

The cause? The cattle farmers need to sell the livestock to sustain their business, right?

What about human lives?

In present days, many countries banned the capital punishment, resulting in murderers sometimes coming out of the jails depending on their behaviours in prison, WHILE in the war, were too many innocent people who lose their precious lives. Or would you call it the sacred sacrifice?

Sometimes wars and fights are started under the name of justice and yet, I can’t help but feel the doubt as to how much justice was really concerned in the initial decision to start them.

Often when money and greed are concerned, our morals get clouded. Wars often have positive effect in the economy because the munitions industry prospers by selling weapons. It’s all relevant, isn't it?

Why do we have to prioritise things that have little to do with human lives?

Well then, why don’t we all go back to the primitive, nomad life style?

Now I’m starting to sound stupid.

What appears to be meaningless is not really meaningless,

As long as we stay aware.

にほんブログ村 海外生活ブログ オーストラリア情報へにほんブログ村 英語ブログへ

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Massive Challenge Today

- was the photo uploading.

Like I mentioned while I was in Japan, I had a big problem uploading photos on my blog from my mobile phone.

From the time I started to use my android phone, I became slack on using computers, because like all of us know, I didn't need to. Almost everything can be done on your mobile. Almost. That was the only thing that I didn't realize.

Now I figured out that I had to upload them on my computer, I also had to transfer those photos to my PC, from my mobile and my husband's. As I anticipated, it took a long time uploading a huge number of photos. There was also the downer that some of the photos went missing. I searched all folders on my mobile, his mobile on the micro SD disks and even on HDD where the backup copies were.

I can't believe that I've spent over 6 hours today to edit my previous posts from Japan.

I suppose that it's only natural that by finding and uploading those photos brings me back the fond memories of my previous visits to Japan. Just as I write this, I remember that Osaka has a significant Korean population just like Chinese in Yokohama and Nagasaki. I have heard of Tsuruhashi Koreatown in Osaka but decided not to go because my husband can't handle the smell of Kimuchi.

Anyway. I'm only half way through my project. There's other half of Nagasaki I haven't covered yet, and some more I want to write about Nagasaki, and Kamakura, possibly.

For now I have to take a breather, Leave it to tomorrow.

にほんブログ村 海外生活ブログ オーストラリア情報へにほんブログ村 英語ブログへ

Collection of photos from the trip to Japan.

Here, I would like to show you some more photos I took in Shibuya and Osaka.

Incide the funky Nepalese (I am not sure if it was the Nepalese cuisine that we ate but the owner and the chefs were Nepalese.) restaurant we dined in on the third night.


Those guys in the photo below must have really been enjoying riding the go-karts in their costume.

Yes. Novelty item is popular in Japan.

Himonya Park. There's this sign telling you not to fish in the pond, but there always are some naughty boys who dare to break the rules.

I thought those guys were girls who looked like boys, but it was the other way around.

Osaka has a reputation of having a big live band scene.
There is a place called American Village where locals fondly call "Ame-mura", it's not like you see many Americans walking pass, actually there was none...but there were many band venues for certain.
In Melbourne not many people are willing to pay for the live band venues, even when the door charge is under $10, but the average door charge including one free drink costs $26 - $35 in Osaka.
Yet, there are many people who chase around their favourite local bands by saving up their pocket money.

The one we checked out was one of the three venues in the same building called Clapper.

There are a couple of good bands there. One is called Dicentra

Here's another band called Ninth Call.

NINthCALL 1st Single "Drug Addiction" Trailer

The song title is a bit of a cliche and I don't like it, but they were awesome in live.

If you're interested in live bands, there are more venues around the area.
BigCat, Zepp, Shinsaibashi Varon are also popular.

Snap shots of average Osaka life.

Bento (Lunch Box) Stall.
Local Shrine.

Neibourhood Okonomi-yaki Shop (that also sells cheap snacks and fizzy drinks). This oba-chan (auntie) was just back from her shopping (you can see the plastic shopping bag lying in the right corner) when I went to buy one with squid in it.

and Meshi-ya (restaurant).

If you are into old trains and the history, here're some photos for you.

Osaka subway Midosuji line celebrated its 85th anniversary, and those little diecast models are the older designs of the trains. 

On the eve of leaving Osaka we headed to Osaka castle, not to go into the building but to see the surroundings. 

A primitive-style house displayed nearby.

As we walked by the moat, we heard the loud, thumping noise coming from the yard next to the main premises of Osaka Castle. We followed the noise and some other crowds heading down there as I checked on the web to see if there was any special event happening at Osaka Castle Park, and then I discovered that it was a big scale live event called "Rush Ball 2018" . 

Amongst the bands played that day was the one called Creepy Nuts. The guy in the right corner of the photo must be the massive supporter of the band.

Once the performance started, those crowds went berserk, jumping up and down, raising their fists, singing along with the bands, the energy was MAX when our favourite TETO went on stage.

 Music Clips

Jump to TETO's Music Clips.

None of the bands were actually commercially successful bands, but this one may be the next big thing. Who knows.

By the time we left the event it was getting late, after 5 pm, most of those tourists on package tour deals were gone and around the moat was quiet and tranquil.   

Walking around the moat was challenging, though. It was massive compared to the Odawara castle's that I was used to.

にほんブログ村 海外生活ブログ オーストラリア情報へにほんブログ村 英語ブログへ