The Awesomeness of The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is a film that speaks not only to the outsiders and rebels, the freaks and the non-conformists. But to everyone who has felt out of place in an increasingly disruptive and disturbing world.

Guillermo del Toro‘s film – despite a love story between human and mutants (which may turn some people off) – provides a kind of cinematic comfort in a period of time and history circa.2018 where the order of things (nationalism, trade war and digital disruption etc) can be pretty scary and confusing at times.

For people confronting a world where the internet and new technologies are rendering jobs and skills useless.

For people who faces discrimination, assault and abuse.

For Everyday mom and dad who fear for a intolerant and in hospital future for their children.

For millennials and digital natives who can’t seem to grapple with the legacy of history to make the world a better place.

The Shape of Water is an ode to the bravely confronting our fears and to see love instead of hate, tolerance instead of discrimination, and hope instead of fear.

Have a great holiday ahead.

Advertisements

The Awesomeness of Moneyball (2011)

While Moneyball (2011) tells the remarkable story of a underdog baseball team overcoming the odds to become championship contenders, the “real” story for me is the lesson of using statistics and analysis to derive value from things.

I am no statistician or numbers geek. But this scene shows that it is possible – with time and data – to cut through nonsense and noise by understanding what is it that you want to achieve and how to get there?

To me, the scene is about how a team wants to win: – so instead of buying players in terms of branding or reputation, they buy wins ( players who get them certain things in order to win)

For a layman like me, it means that reputation and branding may be important but sometimes it is important to cut through to core questions of what that thing is and how it will get me what I want, and if it is over or under value.

For those who don’t have much like me, always use stats and data to study and analyse for quality but undervalue items.

It can be going to a school, getting a degree, an unconventional job, housing option or even stocks and shares.

Using stats and analysis can help us to get what we want.

This scene makes numbers not something abstract and forbidding but concrete and accessible. Awesome.

 

 


点球成金 (2011) 是一部2011年棒球题材的美国运动剧情片. 这部电影展示了使用统计数据和历史来理解某些东西价值的重要性。 故事表明我们必须分析和比较该对象的真实价值。 我强烈推荐这部电影。

 

The Awesomeness of John Wick

c3e9a7e6-f35b-11e6-8b6e-25a65c287ec4

It is no secret that Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of John Wick has become an example of how action cinema with attention on genre conventions, character development, and fight aesthetics can deliver a very satisfying and rewarding film experience. Indeed, action cinema is one of the most complex and difficult genres to execute for even the most accomplished filmmaker. Not many can do it well.  But John Wick does it better than most.

Why?

Apart from the fact that John Wick has adopted a philosophy of executing fights and action sequences that allow the viewer to see said fights and action without the “shaky cam” aesthetic, I argue that more attention should be paid on the fact that John Wick 1 and 2  had built up the significance of the action by emphasizing the personal losses of the protagonist.

By extending Liam Neeson’s Taken themes of avenging or protecting loved ones, I argue that John Wick’s “wooh” moment of seeing the stylistic action becomes more impressive and unexpected because the built-up reconfigure the action sequences as personal actions rather than some occupational or externalised motivation.

In other words, the viewer understands John Wick’s drive to avenge the wrongs against him and we cheer for him not only because he has lost something but also because he is good at what he does.

This identification or at least, this kind of fan support, makes the experience more rewarding because the viewer is cued into the expertise of an expert dishing out punishment in an exact manner.

When someone wrongs us in a massive way, don’t we all imagine how we could seek revenge in a way that is not only commensurate with the wrongs but also in a way that makes the avenger professional, cold and calculating?

After us, revenge is a dish best served cold.

 

 

 

 

The Awesomeness of Daniel Day Lewis’ Lincoln

lincoln-daniel-day-lewis-02

Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal as President Abe Lincoln is a virtuoso performance that rightly won the Best Actor Oscar in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012). But DDL’s portrayal is made more powerful not because the film showed the myth of the man but also the deeply personal and flawed nature of the protagonist.

I want to talk about 3 scenes that I feel were particularly revealing in terms of the artist’s attempt to flesh out the character.

The first scene shows the kind of personal dialogues that can take place between husbands and wives. Other than the fact that Lincoln is trying hard to convince Mary Todd that stopping their son to enlist in the war would be a futile effort, the scene also reveals a dark undertone regarding their relationship wife when Mary accuse her husband of finding an excuse to commit her into a mental institution if she does not acquiesce to reason. The scene contains three revealing information about their relationship. (1) Lincoln is not supposedly this mythic and saintly person. He suffers from the same issues as most people would in their relationship. (2) Mary accuses Abe of blaming her and Robert in trapping him in their marriage. (3) As parents – even as leaders – they are rightly concerned about the health and safety of their son.

The second scene shows the psychological and psychic toll on war. Even though this could have been a scene that shows the victors celebrating and congratulating themselves over their victory, it is played out in a somber and even regretful tone (aided by the melancholic score).  The cinematography employs a desaturated and light blue tint to the image. The visuals are helped by the dark and muddy tones of the production design – namely in terms of the costumes and sets design.

There is an interesting use of light and shadow in the section where Lincoln and Grant are sitting together to discuss their plans for their future. The flickering light and shadows – supposedly of soldiers riding past on their horses – washes across Lincoln’s face imply and foreshadow the onset of weariness and exhaustion. The shadows, in my opinion, lends a sense of melancholy and in a more poetic sense – the “souls” that was lost to the war – and the “soul” that awaits the protagonists in the afterlife.

Apart from showing the softer side of our protagonist, Lincoln the film also showed his wisdom and intelligence in several scenes. One of the more instructive scene of Lincoln’s smarts is contained in the dialogue that takes place between Lincoln and Stephens in the cellar.


Thaddeus Stevens: The people elected me to represent them, to lead them, and I lead. You ought to try it.

Abraham Lincoln: I admire your zeal, Mr. Stevens, and I have tried to profit from the example of it. But if I’d listened to you, I’d have declared every slave free the minute the first shell struck Fort Sumter. Then the border states would’ve gone over to the Confederacy, the war would’ve been lost and the Union along with it, and instead of abolishing slavery, as we hope to do in two weeks, we’d be watching helpless as infants as it spread from the American South into South America.

Thaddeus Stevens: Oh, how you have longed to say that to me. You claim you trust them, but you know what the people are. You know that the inner compass that should direct the soul toward justice has ossified in white men and women, North and South, unto utter uselessness through tolerating the evil of slavery. White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country’s infinite abundance with Negroes.

Abraham Lincoln: A compass, I learned when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you true north from where you’re standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp… what’s the use of knowing true north?


And that’s why he is who he is…