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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Video: Gathering At Ming Tien, Malaysia's Most Beautiful Food Court!

Well, once again, I am here, as a good citizen, and Malaysia's premiere vlogger, to promote the beauty of my country via videos. I did that with my tribute to the greatest shopping mall of my country, and I will now shed light to Ming Tien, a wondrous food court that's opened for 24 hours a day, where all kinds of food await for your exploration. An ultimate hangout place, a place where huge screens are placed around for people to watch football games, fortune tellers, merchants and many others have their stalls set up to ply their trade.

Yes, the place is paradise. Beautiful women lurk about, waiting for young and dashing filmmakers like me to seek them out for some groundbreaking artistic collaboration, hoping to become part of my legend. I shot this video during a gathering with some of my ex-classmates from PRIMARY SCHOOL (yes, we still keep in touch, which is pretty amazing, despite the fact that we all left ten years ago). This video is pretty short, and due to the time of the day, the image quality was pretty bad (too grainy, I couldn't do much to save it), so it doesn't do Ming Tien justice. Miss those days when I was back in Perth, and I had access to those Canon XM-1's and XL-1's. But basically, this short video is just a memento of sorts for those who attended the gathering, and also to let those who couldn't make it see what the hell happened (not much, we just sat there and did a lot of catching up).

The music is downloaded from CCmixter, this wonderful site featuring Creative Commons-protected audio tracks since I'm going to cease using copyrighted music for most of my videos (it's difficult though *sigh*). Amusingly, the singer said that this song is about being in an unhappy relationship and not wanting to change anything. Well, I guess it doesn't matter as long as you don't understand the language.

Watch more of my videos here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Swifty Reviews 'RV'

Long before the days of Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and the Frat Pack, Robin Williams was Hollywood's reigning king of comedy in Hollywood. Alternating between comedic and dramatic roles, he achieved what his successors Carrey and Sandler have yet to achieved, winning an Oscar (although many times, I felt that Carrey was robbed of a nomination for his fantastic turns in Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, but that's another story) for his supporting performance in Good Will Hunting.

Since then, to me, things went downhill, he appeared in one dud (either critical or commercial) after another. Manipulative sentimental schmaltz hoping to reinforce his status as a good dramatic actor, yet the lackluster quality of these films destroyed his credibility. Jakob The Liar? Patch Adams? Death To Smoochy?

But just when I thought he was about to hit rock bottom with his desperate attempts to appear in Oscar-baits, he proved that he could be much more versatile than most have given him credit for as that villain in Insomnia and that psycho in One Hour Photo. After these two critically acclaimed performances, I wanted to see Robin Williams as a bad guy more. (kinda like how I want to see Jim Carrey in serious roles than comedic ones)

Unfortunately, RV is not such a movie. A mediocre family comedy that's sporadically funny, with a manipulatively heartwarming message (I'm not that cynical, but I know when I'm being manipulated). I went to see this with my dad and my little sister because my dad had free tickets for it. Robin Williams plays Bob Munro, a workaholic dad who rented a RV for a road trip with his dysfunctional family. A long-suffering wife (Cheryl Hines), a rebellious teenage daughter (Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque), and a hip-hop loving young son (Josh Hutcherson, the kid from Zathura, which I reviewed here).

Of course, you should know already that it's a tale of a bickering family who ends up learning to bond and understand each other more after the misadventures and obstacles that encountered during the trip (otherwise, you probably haven't seen that many movies). Yes, there's potty humour and slapstick humour for you to laugh at. Other than that, there's not much about the movie that I can recommend.

Being a star vehicle for Robin Williams, it's unsurprising that he is given a lot to do here. But I agree with Kevin Carr's review that his improv-style humour was out of place in this film even though they were kinda funny (when he launched into a rap to protect his son from a bunch of thugs). He's a middle-aged cog getting increasingly out of touch with his family. Carr suggested that Steve Martin would've made this film much funnier. (... look at the numerous family comedies Martin had been doing in the past few years)

But personally, I would go for Bill Murray.

Watch the trailer for RV:

Watch Robin Williams promote this film at the Ellen Degeneres Show:

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Video: Goodbye Ying Zee, The Sister I Never Had.

Today's video is shot more than a year ago (19th of June, 2005), at Fremantle. Ying Zee is a friend of mine who went to Perth with me for our studies at Murdoch University. Two years my senior, she immediately became a surrogate elder sister to me. After all, I'm the eldest in my family, she's the youngest in the family, so we kinda undertook the roles we never had the chance to take under different circumstances. She was fantastic. Cooking for me, or bringing back the food she had gotten from work (she worked as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant nearby) so that I won't starve to death (I suck at cooking), the person who would listen patiently to me when I was whining and bitching about the injustices of life, we would study together in the library before our final exams, and often, during weekend mornings, we would have breakfast either at Perth city, or Fremantle.

Life in Perth changed drastically after she returned to Malaysia. In my crazy and twisted ways, I sorta missed her.

This video is about her doing her last minute shopping at the Fremantle Markets, she was accompanied by Chin Voon, also a dear friend of ours who graduated during the end of last year. (note: Ying Zee's the taller one)

We haven't kept in touch for more than a year. After uploading the video and posting this entry, I was prompted to message her boyfriend and ask him for her contact number (when we last met, she had yet to get herself a phone card in Malaysia, thus I contacted her via her boyfriend), hope we'll meet up soon.

Watch more of my videos here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Swifty Reviews 'Cars'

Cars is about Lightning McQueen, a vain and cocky racecar who got stranded in Radiator Springs while he was on his way to a major race. Hanging out with the eccentric residents of Radiator, he discovers the true meaning of family and friendship. The film is a journey of self-discovery (not just for Lightning, but for other characters too), and also a love letter to the kind of lifestyle long forgotten in the contemporary world.

Being a racecar, Lightning had always been about racing from place to another, everything is just about reaching your destination. He couldn't remember when was the last time he merely went for a drive, and not race in a breakneck pace. But slowing down did make him discover things he had never noticed before, and in the world of Cars, which is populated only by sentient mechanical vehicles and nothing else (human-like cars, cow-like tractors etc.) the landscapes and the sceneries are indeed breathtaking.

The graphics in Cars are amazing. While other Pixar competitors like Dreamworks and Fox are still making 3D films with talking animals, Pixar created one with talking machines, and unlike last year's mediocre Robots by Fox, these cars are so believable and infused with creativity that I cared for them and their world much more (I wanted Robots to end earlier because it got way too stupid). This is a film with heart and soul, where director John Lasseter's (making his first film since Toy Story 2) love for his characters is apparent, and that he didn't need to manipulate audiences with half-assed manufactured jokes and Robin Williams' voice-acting (sorry, I just realized that I seriously despise Robots).

Speaking of voice-acting, Owen Wilson and Paul Newman were terrific in their roles as Lightning and Doc Hudson (Newman said that this would be his second last film), while the others around them provided fantastic support expected in a Pixar film, and proving that they never need all-star voice-acting casts like the other film companies do.

Overall, Cars never reaced the dizzying heights of its predecessors like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, but it's still one of the better films of the year. Not many 3D films are better than Cars, it's just unfortunate that most of the better ones are other Pixar films.

Watch another review of Cars:

Watch a 'making of' featurette of Cars:

Once again, if you've reviewed the film, leave the URL in your comments.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Video: Visiting Relatives During Chinese New Year

As Malaysia's premiere vlogger, I'm making it a necessity for me to post as many videos as possible. While I don't really like sharing my personal life with my writings, I don't mind using my videos to do so, after all, these vlog entries are meant for me to prevent my editing (and camera) skills from becoming too rusty. I think it's good for my international readers to see what my life is like through my camera lens, and for the local readers, well, things I've shot are most probably familiar to many of you.

The Chinese New Year is one of my all-time favourite festive periods, mostly because it is the time where I can collect angpows/red packets, it's also a time for family gatherings, where you can meet relatives you know you'll never meet in other moments of the year. This year's Chinese New Year was sometime around the end of January until the beginning of February.

I've posted a short video clip of me having my Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner with my family on February, but I never had the chance to upload the other videos I've shot back then due to the limited Internet access I have in Perth. Anyway, the following two videos are also shot sometime around the end of January, probably the 30th, if I ain't wrong. They are pretty much like music videos with minimal dialogue.

If you're from overseas, you'll get the chance to witness our culture. If you're local, you'll get to relive this wondrous festival.

Visiting my aunt's house

This is a tremendously SHORT video of my family and I, visiting my aunt (dad's elder sister) and her family. Nothing interesting, except for a shot where you see me holding a picture of me when I was a toddler. Definitely for all hardcore Swiftyholics who want to see how Swifty looks like when he was a toddler.

Visiting grandma and watching fireworks in Ipoh

Ipoh is the capital city of Perak, a Malaysian state 2 hours away from Kuala Lumpur (by car). My grandmother and most of my mother's family are staying there, and we visit them annually for Chinese New Year. In this video, you'll see the numerous cousins, uncles, aunts of mine (my mother had 7 siblings) chilling in my grandmother's house, but the coolest part is the second third of the video, where you get to see some people playing with fireworks at night, and then witness Ipoh's nightlife, where everyone's gathered at restaurants and cafes that are opened way after midnight (a luxury I never got to enjoy in Perth).

View more of my videos here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Video: My Japanese Friend, Maiko, Makes Oyako Don

When I returned to Malaysia (from Perth) last November, my friend, Maiko, came along with me as she was to tour around Malaysia and Singapore before returning to Japan.

So yeah, here are some photos she took during her stay here. (note: I've posted these photos before)

Maiko and My Little Sister

Left: My little sis. (wearing Maiko's kimono, there's a video of her in this kimono and dancing). Right: Maiko.

With Maiko and my little sister.

Another photo with Maiko in it.

Well, here's a video of her when she was staying at my place back then. We get to see her chillin' with my family and I in a restaurant, and then strolling through the shopping mall, 1-Utama (watch this recent video I posted). But the rest of the video is about her showcasing her culinary skills by preparing Oyako Don in my kitchen. Oyako Don is a chicken-egg-onion mixture over rice. Oyaka means 'Parent and child', which refers to the Chicken-Egg combination. Which is pretty creepy, actually. But the food is pretty damned delicious, so, if any of you are interested to cook this wondrous Japanese dish, check out this video.

No, this isn't the best cooking video ever, if you're looking for some good ones, go to Crash Test Kitchen.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tale of Swifty's Parents's Courtship, Appearing In Newspapers!

So, a week has passed since I've returned to Malaysia. Things have been rather uneventful, I've limited the meetings with friends for the time being due to the fact that I'm still toiling away at my (long overdue) screenplay for my upcoming major project, Girl Disconnected.

I tend to keep the personal stuff out of the way in this website, using this more as a place for me to chronicle my musings on stuff related to filmmaking, films and literature, and also a showcase of my creative works (both film and written ones). After all, I want to keep my web life and my actual real life separated. (I'm one of those people who rarely, if ever, make a mention about this site, despite how relentlessly I promote this online) Maintaining a degree of mystery and panache is my preferred style, not turning my own personal life as a full-blown TV soap opera for the public to watch for their amusement and enjoyment.

But I shall make this entry an exception by shedding some light upon my parents' history.

Just hours ago, I woke up and had my breakfast (bread with kaya, a jam made with coconuts and eggs, that is sorely missed when I was in Perth). And then joined my grandmother at the living room to read some newspapers. Sifting through The Star, Sin Chew and then China Press (note: The latter two are Chinese newspapers, where I usually get my daily dose of Asian celebrity gossip, I don't really read the rest of the papers), one of the photos in page four of China Press's Entertainment Section, caught my attention.

Tale of Swifty's Parents' Courtship Appeared On Newspaper

A photo of my mother during her younger days. I felt a surge of mild jealousy and envy.

Why is she appearing in the papers again? And not me?

Of course, my dark emotions gave way to curiosity, because, according to the headlines, it had something to do with my late grandfather (mother's dad, who passed away two years before I was born) unexpectedly helping my mother find a good husband (that's my dad). So, I realized the article will be interesting since it wasn't just some generic interview with my mom or my dad. It would be a tale that features my parents AND my late grandfather, how bizarre!

The article is way too lengthy for me to translate, so I'll just summarize it. It's about how my dad, representing a music label, had to negotiate with my grandfather in allowing my mom, who was a singer, to sign a contract with my dad's music label (as in, the music label my dad was working in, he definitely did not OWN the thing). My grandfather, finally convinced that my dad and his music label were actually really interested in grooming my mom, relented. And thus, my mom ended up becoming a recording artiste in the music label my dad was in. Of course, the most unexpected thing was, my grandfather had no idea the union/partnership between my mom and dad, initially a professional one, would end up becoming a romantic one. My grandfather, shrewd as he may be, had actually helped send my mom into the arms of a man she would marry soon.

My dad was referred to as 'The Wanderer' in the article (a pen name he used in the past, and also a name that would make him grimace til this very day whenever people of the Chinese literary circles call him that). During the fateful negotiation with my grandfather, my dad had just made a transition from journalism to the music industry, and that wasn't really my dad's first meeting with my mom as he had interviewed her before during his days as a journalist. I smirked briefly, knowing that 'The Great Swifty' is a far greater pseudonym than 'The Wanderer'.

But anyway, over the years, from primary school to high school, I've always serenade some of my friends with highly-fictionalized accounts of my parents' courtship ("he was an ordinary member of the paparazzi, she was a rising singer, desperate to win her affections after meeting her in an interview, he struggles to become a better person"), so much that if I could even write a novel of it, like what Gabriel Garcia Marquez did with 'Love In The Time Of Cholera' (a fabulous book I intend to review very soon).

After reading the article, I looked over at my grandmother, and asked whether she knew about this. Of course she knew, it was, after all, the tale of her husband, her daughter, and her son-in-law.

And to see all these being syndicated weekly? I can't help but realize how surreal the whole thing is. The possibility of people throughout the nation, reading about my parents?

I better have a role in this.

Yasunari Kawabata's Palm Of The Hand Stories

Swifty: Posting for Justin.

Review of Yasunari Kawabata's Palm Of The Hand Stories

(co-reviewed by Brent Peterson)

This pretty Samurai chick is moody after reading Yasunari Kawabata's Palm of the Hand Stories'Affectless' prose is an interesting thing. Despite its supposed merits of subtlety and concision through absence of emphasis, it isn't always the case that 'spare' prose results in anything more believable or affecting than more ornate writing. Indeed, the reverse is often the case. Supposedly minimalist, understated lines become monumental and bloated by dint of their sheer purposefulness; the affected intention shines through the alleged clarity. Think of many Bukowski poems, where every line slams home with a clunk; or the ponderous thud of Hemingway's 'simple' sentences.

One of the few writers I've seen make understatement work is the Japanese Modernist and Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata; and Kawabata does things with understatement that I wouldn't have thought possible if I hadn't chanced to pick up his Beauty and Sadness a few years ago. That book is certainly 'affectless' - as much descriptive weight is accorded to the deaths of major characters as it is to what their family members have for breakfast. But what saves Kawabata from clunkiness is a fine eye for detail: he has an Impressionist's command of light and color paired with a Modernist's appreciation for the strange, for the union of seeming incongruities. In short, he writes narrative haiku - and if that sounds precious, it should be remembered that his stories and novels are devoid of both sentimentality and bitterness.

Palm of the Hand Stories, translated by Lane Dunlop and J. Martin Holman, contains 70 stories in 240 pages. Most are no more than 3 pages; the longest is 11. And yet, these are not jokes, incidents, vignettes, or even sketches: they're full-blooded short stories, just small. They're like ships in bottles where, if you look closely enough, you can see a tiny sailor polishing the deck through the surface sheen of the glass. Even as a young writer (he claimed to have written these stories in his youth instead of poetry) Kawabata seems to have had a perfect command for the right details to include - rather than bludgeoning the reader with extended paragraphs, he fixates on single, telling perceptions. He even condenses his entire novel Snow Country into a palm-of-the-hand story, 200+ pages cut down to 11, without any real loss. You get the feeling that the reverse would be just as feasible: many of these stories could easily be expanded into novels. They're like fictional fractals: zooming in or out only reveals finer points of the construction, possibilities both explored and dormant.

The stories 'The White Flower' and 'Glass' are some of the most emotionally complex pieces of short fiction I've ever read, and neither of them is more than three pages. In the former, a pale, sickly girl, possibly tuburcular, is sent to a sanatorium for her illness. While there, after her rehabilitation, the young doctor attending her confesses his love for her, claiming that if medicine weren't his calling from heaven, "my emotions would have killed you by now." The girl leaves the doctor for a novelist, who wants to 'sketch her soul in words'. But this conventionally romantic sentiment alienates the girl further, and he admits that "If I weren't a novelist, my emotions could not have let you live into the distant future." The story ends with the girl sitting alone in her room after the death of her cousin, reflecting on the word "pink" which both the doctor and the novelist used when discussing their love for her. The girl seems at ease, and the story ends with her smiling. There is a suggestion of incest with the dead cousin, but nothing explicit. Subtly, the story makes much of the interplay of pink/white and the perversity of the frail girl who wishes for a strong man's arms to "make her ribs crack."

'Glass' concerns a husband and wife who learn the details of a young boy the girl once cared for. When they were younger, the boy worked in a hellish glass factory, and was injured by a ball of hot glass striking his shoulder. The wife, a girl at the time, visited the boy in the hospital and gave him money. Ten years later, the husband reads a story in a magazine and learns that the boy has become a writer and written a story, 'Glass', describing his encounter with the girl, Yoko, now the husband's wife. In the story, the boy explains how he got a job making flower vases, and sent the most beautiful one to Yoko as a present. At the same time, the boy resents 'the blessing of a haunting enemy', realizing the social gap that separated him from the bourgeois Yoko. The boy fantasizes about burning down their house, and imagines Yoko's beauty destroyed along with the vase. At the conclusion of the story, Yoko wonders out loud where the vase went, and the husband thinks that "He had never seen such a meek face on his wife." Yoko's possible involvement with the boy is smoothed over as the husband gives a pious homily, pointing out, as he sees it, the futility of class warfare. The surface awkwardness between husband and wife is resolved, but the status quo is not restored:

"But this was odd. The man had never once in all these years felt the loveliness and freshness in his wife that he perceived in the girl in the story. How could that bent-backed, pale, sickly urchin have this kind of power?"

In just two lines, Kawabata shifts emphasis from the husband's suspicion and jealousy to a new realization: the power of the written word to transform perception. These reversals are common: you could think of them as plot twists, except that they twist expectation rather than a direct line of external action.

Kawabata referred to some of these stories as 'unnecessarily contrived.' But, to my mind, that sounds less like self-criticism than a challenge, a personal bet to see if a two-page story can be Samurai girl probably enjoyed reading Kawabataanything other than a potted observation or brief glimmer. There's a nice audacity in having 3-page stories with convoluted plots. This, for example, is the opening paragraph of 'God's Bones':

"Mr. Kasahara Seiichi, managing director of a suburban trolley car company; Takamura Tokijuro, actor in historical movies; Tsujii Morio, medical student at a private university; and Mr. Sakuma Benji, owner of the Canton restaurant - each had received the same letter from Yumiko, a waitress at the Blue Heron coffee shop."

Now, keeping that info-dense, potboileresque setup in mind, consider that the entire length of this story is two pages. And yet, it's one of the best ones here, a consideration of loss, responsibility, and nothingness. Yumiko, the waitress, becomes pregnant and miscarries. Not certain which of the four men is the father, Yumiko sends them all a portion of the child's ashes, claiming they are "the bones of God," construing the facelessness of the child as a purposeful imitation of divinity. The story recounts how each of the fathers discounts the bones. Only the managing director visits Yumiko, and the story ends with him asking her to bury the ashes at a temple rather than holding onto them. Yumiko is confused, and states that she has given all the bones away. This last line does not 'resolve' anything (although Seichii's questioning underpins the hypocrisy of the waitress continuing to hold onto and venerate the child she claimed to have given away) but it conveys the moral uncertainty of the story.

"Thunder in Autumn" tells the story of a town's legend of a boy whose mother feared thunder. After the mother died, the boy ran to the cemetery to embrace her gravestone whenever thunder sounded. Eventually the boy was struck by lightning and charred, and the boy's example of filial piety led the townspeople to feed portions of his ashes to their children in the hopes of the value being passed down. The story picks up as a young man from the village considers the position of his new wife:

"In our new home outside the city, four crickets jumped out from behind my bride's new bureau. The white coverlet had not yet been removed. My new bride had the early summer brilliance of a bouquet of lilacs. Then, once again, the thunder cracked as if the summer would destroy itself. As I held my cowering little bride, what I first felt through her skin was something within her that was a mother. Who could not say I would not become a charred corpse when I embraced this warm, soft tombstone?"

Every story has a passage like this, a moment of counterintuitive intensity. Reading Palm of the Hand Stories is like listening to an album where, instead of the songs' verse/chorus structures repeating themselves into tedium, every track is the peak of each song's intensity and nothing more. There are a million ways many of these stories could have ended up contrived or gimmicky, but Kawabata always finds a small kernel of human behavior to underpin everything; these are always people, never puppets jerked in service of a conceit. Throughout the 70 stories, Kawabata's characters become recognizable - he's fond of sad girls, old men, dilettantes and the blind - but never stereotyped, and often unpredictable. Even when stories like "Bamboo Leaf Boats" (which concerns a crippled girl waiting for her fiance to return from World War II) seem to risk the maudlin, Kawabata cuts away from any melodrama. Where a lesser writer would end this and similar stories with a flourish or lament, Kawabata's endings sometimes seem arbitrary or neutral. Some of the stories, indeed, (many of the dream stories) seem like non-sequiturs at first - and it's easy to see how a cursory reading would dismiss them as trifles. But Kawabata is not being random; even in the stories without tight plots, there is always an order to the proceedings, a thematic connective tissue. Kawabata is very good at evoking the ways in which the mind processes metaphor and memory - in "Tabi", for example, the whiteness of a roundworm crawling from a dead girl is linked in the narrator's mind to the whiteness of her school socks; and this is later connected to a dead teacher the girl fell in love with. These kind of connections seem much closer to actual mental processes than the unpunctuated 'stream-of-consciousness' writing of Kawabata's contemporaries, and feel much less forced. Samurai girl standing beneath the Autumn Rain.Kawabata loves synaesthetic metaphors, and often relies on the combination of contradictory terms: conventionally ugly things become beautiful, and vice versa. In the story 'Autumn Rain', a dream of 'fire falling on mountains red with autumn leaves' is connected to the narrator's observation of drops of rain streaking across a train window. As the narrator explains:

"My vision of the fire falling on the autumn mountains had been entirely soundless, but I imagined that it was the music of the drops that struck the glass and flowed along that had become my vision of falling fire."

The condensed version of Snow Country displays similar techniques: the opening scene – made famous by the novel - features the extended play of a girl's reflection in the frosted-over mirror of a train window (much is made of the overlapping of visual planes and the diffraction of light); and later on there are a woman's 'small, budlike lips' compared to 'a beautiful circle of leeches'; the 'sweet, rounded sound' of flowing water in a stream (which predates Nabokov's famous 'square echo' of a car door); and, at the end, a second scene of reflection, with the geisha heroine's 'purple-black' hair outlined against a reflection of 'burning snow' in a mirror. Considering how well this poetry comes through, even in translation, it's easy to imagine why Kawabata is considered nigh-untouchable in Japanese literary circles, and a continuation of the haiku tradition of brief and surprising observation.

This book's intensity derives from its lack of anything unnecessary. Pointed, poetic, and greatly re-readable, Kawabata's mastery of concision and detail makes his contemporaries seem to be sculpting with a blunt sledge rather than his laser scalpel. The only problem is that, if I attempted to summarize more of these stories in depth, I'd end up including their entire text. A total absence of filler will do that. In short, this is a fantastic and deceptively dense work from a 20th century master who was more than deserving of his Nobel Prize.

Related Article: Kawabata pwnz J00

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Video: Swifty's Love Letter To One Utama, Best Shopping Mall In Malaysia.

Gargantuan megamalls are one of those things that are conspicuously missing in Perth. While I am barely a shopaholic, shopping malls tend to be a favoured hangout place for me, either to watch a film at the multiplexes, or to meet up with friends for coffee, or perhaps just to pick up the latest PS2 games. All these can be done under one roof. Such experiences are sorely missed when I was in Perth. (especially the part about buying cheap pirated games)

Despite the numerous popular megamalls that are situated over at my place, my personal favourite had always been One Utama (I am surprised to see that it has a Wikipedia entry!!!). Probably because it is nearest to my place. The great KLCC, situated between the famed Petronas Twin Towers, had always felt too alien and cold to me, a place reserved more for tourists eager to witness the exoticism of the fusion culture in Malaysia. The Midvalley Megamall is too claustophobic, despite its dizzyingly massive size (perhaps that is the main reason). And Sunway Pyramid, situated right next to the popular Sunway Lagoon theme park? Nah, too far away for me. And not that much for me to see either.

One Utama, on the other hand, is just right. Not the biggest, not the fanciest, but the most comfortable for me. A home away from home! That's where I conduct most of my meetings with friends whenever I return to Malaysia, or watch most of my films.

The following video is my love letter to this great shopping mall. It was shot and edited early last year (during Chinese New Year), before I returned to Perth, so it lacks the visual flair I've managed to develop since then. In fact, it's pretty weak compared to most of the other vlog by me that you've seen (... if you've ever bothered). However, it IS about One Utama, so yeah, it still OOZES with sincerity. So forgive the mediocrity of the video.

(Of course, besides One Utama, this video also features the Woh Fung restaurant situated at Paramount Garden, which is really near my house.)


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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Screenplay of ASIA: THE MOVIE

(in response to the Sewjin 'The Whites Will Always Be Better Than Asians' post)

We find that this simply isn't the case. Recently, Hollywood has become more sensitive than ever to the nuances of the multicultural twenty-first century, and a number of crucial roles for Asians have been optioned. We were able to come across this tentative script, presented uncut.

Going into pre-production in Los Angeles:


Written by:

Justin Cartaginese

Directed by:

Edmund Yeo AKA The Great Swifty


Patrick Swayze

Zhang Ziyi

Zhang Ziyi

Lucy Liu

Lucy Liu

Pat Morita

Pat Morita

Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan

Ke Huy Quan

Ke Huy Quan of Temple of Doom Fame

Robin Shou

Robin Shou of Mortal Kombat fame

Ken Watanabe

Oscar Nominee Ken Watanabe

Nicolas Cage

Oscar Winner Nicholas Cage

Bae-Yong Jun

Bae-Yong Jun

Andy Lau

Hong Kong Legend Andy Lau

Min-sik Choi

Choi Min-sik

Jet Li

Jet Li

Charlene Choi

Charlene Choi

some black guy

Avery Johnson, NBA Coach


In ancient times, PATRICK SWAYZE is a sailor in the Civil War. His only companion is a random black guy fighting on the Northern side in the Civil War. SWAYZE's ship gets caught in a storm and washes up on the coast of Asia. Immediately he sees a bunch of Shaolin monks carrying a struggling ZHANG ZHIYI off towards a mysterious Asian temple.

"Leave her alone!" he yells, rushing into the fray. Close-up of ZHANG ZIYI's perplexed face as she recognizes the unfamiliar yet obviously superior Anglo-Saxon features of PATRICK SWAYZE, thoroughly different from all Asian men she has seen before.

PATRICK SWAYZE and THE BLACK GUY's animal strength overcome the Shaolin monks momentarily, until their Shaolin Kung-Fu and superior numbers win out. SWAYZE and THE BLACK GUY lie on the beach, defeated.

"How we gonna get home now?" THE BLACK GUY SAYS. "Motherfuckin' bitch-ass Asia! I ain't down with this shit."

THE BLACK GUY provides comic relief for a while.

"I need to find that girl!" PATRICK SWAYZE says.

Flashback to ZHANG ZIYI's confused face.

PATRICK SWAYZE and THE BLACK GUY begin walking through the mysterious Asian jungle. They come upon movement in the trees. Thinking it's a monkey, THE BLACK GUY throws a rock up at the trees. But it's not a monkey - it's JACKIE CHAN! He runs away from them, running up trees and using wu-xia skills to evade capture. Chase scene lasting ten minutes. The superior Western running power of PATRICK SWAYZE and THE BLACK GUY eventually overcomes JACKIE CHAN, and they confront him on the ground. JACKIE CHAN throws himself before them and begs for his life.

"We don't want to kill you." PATRICK SWAYZE says. "We just want some answers."

"" JACKIE CHAN says.

PATRICK SWAYZE extends his hand. JACKIE CHAN looks at it. SWAYZE takes his hand and shakes it. JACKIE CHAN shakes his hand up and down, not understanding the gesture. THE BLACK GUY laughs and JACKIE CHAN smiles.

JACKIE CHAN explains that he is being hunted by the monks for trying to bring peace to Asia. He is the son of the emperor, who was sent to jail when the monks took over. The Shaolin Temple is waging war against the Tokugawa Shogunate over who has the right to distribute opium in Korea. Asia has fallen on dark times, and no one can be trusted.

"That's none of our business." THE BLACK GUY says. "We just want to go home."

"Ports...closed." JACKIE CHAN says.

"There has to be a way!" PATRICK SWAYZE says. "If we help return you to the throne, will you give us ships?"

"We" JACKIE CHAN says.

"That's right. A team." PATRICK SWAYZE says.


JACKIE CHAN extends his hand and shakes it up and down in the air, mimicing the earlier handshake. PATRICK SWAYZE and THE BLACK GUY laugh at CHAN's comical Asian lack of understanding. The team is formed. Fade out as the three walk off into the jungle.

Cut to the interior of the Shaolin temple. The monks carry in the still-struggling ZHANG ZIYI and present her before the Shaolin Grandmaster, KEN WATANABE and his evil sorceror dressed in ancient Chinese robes, MIN-SIK CHOI.

"My beautiful flower has returned to me." KEN WATANABE says.

The monks bring ZHANG ZIYI before him. He looks down at her. Suddenly, she spits in his face! He closes his eyes and licks the spit away.

"Our marriage will unite the Shaolin Temple with the Tokugawa Shogunate, giving me supreme control over Asia!" KEN WATANABE says.

"Never." ZHANG ZIYI says.

"Then my evil Chinese sorceror will OPEN THE GATES OF HELL." KEN WATANABE says.

The camera zooms into MIN-SIK CHOI's eyes, where the flames of hell can be seen flickering. He smiles evilly.

Suddenly ZHANG ZIYI jumps into the air and kicks the monks away! She does six backflips and grabs weapons off the walls of the Shaolin Temple. Sixty Shaolin monks rush in from side doors and prepare to attack! ZHANG ZIYI fights them all at the same time, for thirty minutes of screen-time. Eventually all the monks are defeated, lying dismembered on the ground.

KEN WATANABE jumps off his throne and assumes a fighting stance. But ZHANG ZIYI uses Chinese superpowers to fly away! WATANABE looks up as she disappears into the sky, his Asian face stony and impassive.

Cut back to PATRICK SWAYZE, JACKIE CHAN, and THE BLACK GUY as they enter a large Asian city, bustling with life. Montage scene of SWAYZE, CHAN, and THE BLACK GUY exploring the Asian city. They stop for lunch and JACKIE CHAN orders a bowl of noodles.

"That don't look like no dinner to me!" THE BLACK GUY says.

Hilarity ensues as PATRICK SWAYZE attempts to use the unfamiliar and illogical chopsticks.

"This is how we do things back in civilization." SWAYZE says, pulling a bar of solid iron ore from the earth and bending it into a knife and fork with his bare hands.

Everyone in the Asian eating area gathers around to stare at the newly created knife and fork. A small Asian child, KE HUY QUAN, runs up to PATRICK SWAYZE.

"What that? What that?" he says.

"This is how we eat back home." PATRICK SWAYZE says, eating the noodles with his knife and fork.

PATRICK SWAYZE takes a Yankees baseball cap out of his pocket and places it on KE HUY QUAN's head.

"What that mean?" KE HUY QUAN says.

"The New York Yankees. The greatest the history of the world." PATRICK SWAYZE says. KE HUY QUAN's eyes light up.

As they continue their tour of the Asian city, JACKIE CHAN dispenses comical Asian dialogue. Despite his obviously superior knowledge of their surroundings, his broken English and comic timing reassure the audience that a supporting role is where Asians belong.

"Let's split up." PATRICK SWAYZE says. "We need to find a place to stay."

The three separate.

JACKIE CHAN spends his time running around and climbing up walls like a monkey. He gets into a comical scuffle with some security guards. The scuffle takes up twenty minutes of screen-time.

THE BLACK GUY wanders into an Asian massage parlor and objectifies the Asian women for ten minutes of screen-time.

PATRICK SWAYZE passes by a grove of blossoming cherry trees. As the beautiful cherry blossoms drift past his head, his face reflects loss and his desire to return home...but then...suddenly...he receives a vision of the beautiful ZHANG ZIYI, her face flashing up against the falling blossoms. Beautiful Asian violin music plays for a while as PATRICK SWAYZE is lost in revery.

"I have to find that girl!" he says.

JACKIE CHAN and THE BLACK GUY appear from nowhere.

"Where were you?" THE BLACK GUY says.

"Chan!" PATRICK SWAYZE says. "When we arrived here, we saw a beautiful girl struggling with some monks. She-"

Just then they hear a sound and look up to see ZHANG ZIYI flying overhead, towards the direction of the Magical Wu-Xia Mountain.

"It's her!" PATRICK SWAYZE says.

"No! It can't be!" JACKIE CHAN says. "She is daughter of the Shogun!"

"We have to find her." PATRICK SWAYZE says.

Cut to the Magical Wu-Xia Mountain.

The Wu-Xia master, ANDY LAU, welcomes ZHANG ZIYI.

"The power of the Shaolin Temple grows." ZHANG ZIYI says. "The Grandmaster has allied with a dark sorceror of Hell! We must raise an army and defeat them, to restore the emperor to power!"

"Your training is not yet complete." ANDY LAU says.

ZHANG ZIYI's facial expression changes from blandly confused to blandly angry - in a sexy way.

"I am more than ready!" she snaps.

"Then approach me - if you dare!" ANDY LAU says.

ZHANG ZIYI flies at ANDY LAU and the two fly around the Magical Wu-Xia Mountain, battling for seventeen minutes of screen-time. Eventually ANDY LAU defeats ZHANG ZIYI, pinning her to the wall.

"Not so ready after all." he gently rebukes her.

Cut to a montage of ANDY LAU training ZHANG ZIYI in the Wu-Xia arts by forcing her to tight-rope walk across a still pond on a spider-thread, blindfolding her and blowing darts at her, forcing her to dodge them, etc. At the end of the montage, ZHANG ZIYI cuts a bunch of trees in half with her bare hands and the foundations of the Magical Wu-Xia Mountain shake.

ANDY LAU then unfolds an ancient scroll covered with Asian writing.

"The legends say that a great white warrior will come from the West to bring peace to the land." he says.

ZHANG ZIYI's face looks surprised. She has a flashback to the beach and remembers PATRICK SWAYZE, who fought to save her. She bows to ANDY LAU and flies away.

Cut back to the Asian city. Night falls. PATRICK SWAYZE, JACKIE CHAN, and THE BLACK GUY rest at an old-fashioned Asian inn.

"No fuckin' way, motherfucker!" THE BLACK GUY says as they are shown to their room. "I ain't sleeping on no floor!"

PATRICK SWAYZE lectures the BLACK GUY for a while on the importance of accepting other cultures.

THE BLACK GUY gets up and walks out into the hall. As he explores the Asian inn, he comes across a room full of attractive Asian women. One of them is LUCY LIU, dressed in a geisha robe. She performs an elegant geisha dance for ten minutes of screen-time, then takes the robe off and, naked, gets into a hot bath.

"Now you're talking!" THE BLACK GUY says. "I want to get me a closer look at that!"

Suddenly the small Asian child, KE HUY QUAN, appears.

"What you doing here, little man?" THE BLACK GUY says.

LUCY LIU hears them and looks up. THE BLACK GUY and KE HUY QUAN try to run away, but hear movement behind them. As they rush back to the hall, PATRICK SWAYZE and JACKIE CHAN come out.

"What happened? What did you do?" PATRICK SWAYZE demands.

"It was nothing, really." THE BLACK GUY says. "A little trouble with some bitches."

From behind him, LUCY LIU and the other geishas exit the bath, now dressed as ninjas. JACKIE CHAN looks terrified.

"She is daughter of the Shaolin Grandmaster!" JACKIE CHAN says. "Trained since birth in the art of geisha-jutsu! Very dangerous!"

LUCY LIU and the other ninjas fight with PATRICK SWAYZE, JACKIE CHAN, small Asian child KE HUY QUAN, and THE BLACK GUY for fifteen minutes of screen-time. Eventually PATRICK SWAYZE's brute strength overcomes LUCY LIU.

"No man has ever defeated me!" LUCY LIU yells, and disappears with ninja stealth.

"You cannot hope to defeat Asians with such a fighting style." JACKIE CHAN says to PATRICK SWAYZE. "You must receive more training!"

Cut to the Tokugawa Shogunate's headquarters. The Shogun, ROBIN SHOU, unfolds a scroll and reads the Asian writing presented to him by his samurai enforcer, JET LI.

"A new white warrior has appeared in the land." JET LI says.

"Foreigners come to our land?" ROBIN SHOU says. "Any word of my daughter?"

"She was last seen flying to the Magical Wu-Xia Mountain." JET LI says.

"It must be a plot!" ROBIN SHOU says. "We must act now! Organize all samurai for an assault on the Shaolin Temple!"

Cut to an Asian mountain. PATRICK SWAYZE is wearing an Asian monk's robe and walking up the mountain path alone. He looks at Asian people working in the rice fields and nods to them. Eventually he reaches the top of the mountain. He enters a tiny monastary at the top and finds PAT MORITA in meditation.

"I've come for the training." PATRICK SWAYZE says.

"To know the way of the warrior, first you must know the path." PAT MORITA SAYS.

"The path?"

PAT MORITA looks away. Cut to a Yin-Yang symbol on the wall.

Cut to a montage of PAT MORITA training PATRICK SWAYZE. PATRICK SWAYZE does menial tasks like carrying buckets of water and polishing PAT MORITA's sandals. Eventually he stands on top of the mountain alone, screaming to the heavens.

"To complete your training, you must snatch this reed from my hands." PAT MORITA says.

PATRICK SWAYZE stares at the reed in PAT MORITA's hands for five minutes of screen-time. Then his hand moves.

"I'm sorry." PAT MORITA says. "It appears that-"

PATRICK SWAYZE looks down.

PAT MORITA opens his hand. The reed is gone.

"It cannot be!" he says.

PATRICK SWAYZE looks determined.

"You will be known for all time as...THE WHITE DRAGON." PAT MORITA says.

PATRICK SWAYZE looks steely and determined.

"Rise up and claim your destiny!' PAT MORITA says.

Cut to the Shaolin Temple.

"The Lord of Hell grows impatient!" MIN-SIK CHOI says, brandishing his evil Chinese sorceror staff.

LUCY LIU enters.

"A new warrior has arisen." LUCY LIU says.

The Shaolin Grandmaster, KEN WATANABE, strokes his beard.

"Order an attack on the Tokugawa Shogunate!" he says. "We will drive that Tokugawa filth from the land!"


"Spare the white warrior!" LUCY LIU says. "He is mine!"

Cut to the Asian city. PATRICK SWAYZE has returned from the Asian mountain, dressed in a new Asian warrior costume. Famished from the walk, he heads to a noodle house and orders a bowl.

"Seven dollar!" the old Chinese witch working behind the counter yells out and snatches his money. She is played by CHARLENE CHOI in heavy makeup. Swayze uses his newfound kung-fu skills to snatch the money back before she even notices it's gone.

Suddenly THE BLACK GUY runs out.

"They've got JACKIE CHAN!" he says.

PATRICK SWAYZE walks in to find a bunch of Tokugawa samurai about to execute JACKIE CHAN. As soon as they see him, the samurai rush towards him. The MORTAL KOMBAT theme song begins playing. A fight scene begins, choreographed by YUEN WO-PING. PATRICK SWAYZE takes on thirty samurai by himself and defeats all of them with his new fighting prowess, saving JACKIE CHAN. Ten minutes of screen time.

Suddenly ZHANG ZIYI flies in.

"It's you!" PATRICK SWAYZE says.

ZHANG ZIYI and PATRICK SWAYZE exchange a meaningful look.

"The Shogunate's forces are heading for the Shaolin monastary!" JACKIE CHAN says.

"We'll help you." PATRICK SWAYZE says to ZHANG ZIYI.

"Who's side is she really on?" THE BLACK GUY says.

"We can trust her!" PATRICK SWAYZE says.

PATRICK SWAYZE extends his hand to ZHANG ZIYI. She looks at it, then takes it. Close-up of their faces. ZHANG ZIYI's face shifts from blandly apprehensive to blandly attracted.

"No time!" JACKIE CHAN says. "We have to get to the Temple!"

Cut to ROBIN SHOU and JET LI leading the Tokugawa samurai towards the Shaolin Temple and killing any Asian villagers who get in their way.

Cut to the Shaolin Temple. The Shaolin monks are lined up and training. PATRICK SWAYZE, THE BLACK GUY, and ZHANG ZIYI watch as JACKIE CHAN distracts the guards. He pretends to be an old beggar, and when the guards rush towards him he takes them out. Everyone rushes inside and begins wandering around the corridors of the temple. Five minutes of screen time. The four split up.

THE BLACK GUY wanders around and steals a bunch of treasure from the Temple.

JACKIE CHAN runs up walls like a monkey and avoids danger, creeping around with stealth.

ZHANG ZIYI does battle with some monks.

PATRICK SWAYZE creeps past a a large ornate bedroom. LUCY LIU comes out, wearing her geisha outfit.

"Why are you helping the Shogunate?" LUCY LIU says.

She approaches PATRICK SWAYZE.

"I just want to get out of this country." PATRICK SWAYZE says.

"Join me, and we could rule Asia together." she says.

PATRICK SWAYZE looks conflicted. Just then, screams come from behind him. The Tokugawa samurai are attacking!

PATRICK SWAYZE and LUCY LIU rush out to the balcony. THE BLACK GUY, JACKIE CHAN, and ZHANG ZIYI follow soon after. Below them, tidal waves of samurai march towards the Temple. In response, an army of Shaolin monks begins flooding out of the Temple.

ROBIN SHOU comes to the forefront.

"Seize the Temple!" he yells.

The Shaolin Grandmaster, KEN WATANABE, comes out with his evil Chinese sorcerer, MIN-SIK CHOI.

"Tokugawa, you filth!" KEN WATANABE says. "Now that she's here-" he indicates ZHANG ZIYI, "We will crush you, and rule Asia together!"

"Never!' ZHANG ZIYI says.

"My daughter!" ROBIN SHOU yells.

Suddenly, something approaches from the side. It's an army of Korean ninjas! Everyone turns to look at them. At their head, the Korean leader, NICOLAS CAGE, yells out.

"No longer will you profane our home!" he says. His general, BAE-YONG JUN appears.

"For years the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Shaolin Temple have been selling opium in our land!" BAE YONG-JUN yells. "Now we will destroy you both, and Korea will rule Asia!"

The monks, samurai, and Korean ninjas all rush at each other. An epic battle scene commences, lasting thirty minutes of screen-time. It is intercut with the fighting on the Temple balcony. ROBIN SHOU and JET LI fly up to the balcony and begin fighting with KEN WATANABE and MIN-SIK CHOI.

ROBIN SHOU uses his samurai sword to attack KEN WATANABE, who fights with Shaolin kung-fu.

JET LI uses his ninjutsu to fight MIN-SIK CHOI, who uses dark magic to summon ghosts and demons as well as shooting fire.

NICOLAS CAGE and BAE-YONG JUN use Korean tae kwon do to fight ZHANG ZIYI and LUCY LIU.

"After this, I'm going to kill you!" LUCY LIU says to her temporary partner.

ZHANG ZIYI looks stony and impassive.

JACKIE CHAN and THE BLACK GUY fight off random ninjas, samurai, and Shaolin monks climbing up the walls of the temple.

PATRICK SWAYZE stands alone, meditating in the middle of the war as the camera swirls around him. Dark intensity lights up his eyes.

Suddenly ANDY LAU flies in from the Magical Wu-Xia Mountain and fires Qi blasts at ROBIN SHOU and JET LI. Both are fazed long enough for KEN WATANABE and MIN-SIK CHOI to kill them. ANDY LAU begins fighting with MIN-SIK CHOI.

"After I kill you, I'll OPEN THE GATES OF HELL!" MIN-SIK CHOI says. He uses evil Chinese magic to raise the dead. On the battlefield below, dead ninjas, samurai, and monks return to life as flesh-eating zombies! The battlefield is reduced to total chaos!

"Never, monster!" ANDY LAU yells.

ZHANG ZIYI and LUCY LIU have realized that their shared status as violent Asian women forces them to team up to defeat the Korean leaders, NICOLAS CAGE and BAE-YONG JUN. They pick up BAE-YONG JUN and use him as a battering ram, beating NICOLAS CAGE to death with him. Then they throw BAE-YONG JUN off the balcony.

"KOREA FOREVER!" he screams as his body plummets below. He's still alive when he hits the ground...although not for long, as the zombies rush in to devour him! He dies screaming.

ANDY LAU uses his Qi blasts to subdue MIN-SIK CHOI. Suddenly a samurai sword thrusts through MIN-SIK CHOI from behind! It's THE BLACK GUY!

"Can't a brother be a ninja too?" he asks.

ANDY LAU smiles and gives him thumbs up. MIN-SIK CHOI's body slumps to the ground.

KEN WATANABE begins fighting JACKIE CHAN. CHAN runs all around the temple like a monkey, using anything he can find as a prop. WATANABE's power keeps pushing him back. Eventually, WATANABE forces him to the edge of the balcony.


It's PATRICK SWAYZE. WATANABE turns and faces him, his eyes burning with hate.

"Why don't you pick on someone...whiter?" PATRICK SWAYZE says.

KEN WATANABE and PATRICK SWAYZE begin fighting on the edge of the balcony. WATANABE is overcome by SWAYZE's newly acquired fighting skills. SWAYZE prepares to deliver the killing blow, when:

A fireball flies out of nowhere and hits him! It's MIN-SIK CHOI, still not dead.

"The Dark Lord won't let me die!" he says, preparing to deliver another fireball and finish SWAYZE off. THE BLACK GUY immediately cuts MIN-SIK CHOI's head off. But the fireball is launched...

And LUCY LIU jumps in to absorb it. Her body is charred to a crisp.

"White...Dragon..." she says.

PATRICK SWAYZE regains his composure and rushes to her side.

"Why did you save my life?" PATRICK SWAYZE asks.

"I love you." LUCY LIU says. "Remember me..."

She dies.

"Why? WHY?" PATRICK SWAYZE says, cradling her corpse.

"My can't be..." KEN WATANABE says, approaching.

He and PATRICK SWAYZE face each other off.

"She loved you, not me!" KEN WATANABE says, tears in his eyes. "Now, YOU DIE!"

KEN WATANABE and PATRICK SWAYZE fight for ten minutes of screen time.

Eventually, the camera swirls around them. PATRICK SWAYZE remembers his training under PAT MORITA.

"Remember...the path..." PAT MORITA says in his mind.

PATRICK SWAYZE delivers a final blow and knocks KEN WATANABE off the balcony. He falls and is impaled on a samurai sword.

On the battlefield, the samurai, ninjas, and monks have all killed each other. Asia is saved!

"We won...but at what cost?" JACKIE CHAN says.

"CHAN...your father isn't in jail. He was executed." ANDY LAU says.

"NO!!!" JACKIE CHAN cries.

"This makes you the new emperor of Asia." ANDY LAU says.

"It's up to you, now." ZHANG ZIYI says.

"Won't you stay and help me?" JACKIE CHAN says to her.

ZHANG ZIYI walks to PATRICK SWAYZE's side. JACKIE CHAN understands.

"We'll build a new that's drug-free!" ANDY LAU says, placing a hand on JACKIE CHAN's shoulder. ANDY LAU and JACKIE CHAN kiss.

Cut to the beach. Following PATRICK SWAYZE's example earlier in the film, all the Asian people have begun to use knives and forks instead of chopsticks. They all raise their knives and forks and salute in tribute as PATRICK SWAYZE and ZHANG ZIYI step onto a new ship, about to sail back to America. PATRICK SWAYZE kisses ZHANG ZIYI, drawing wild cheers.

"If my love for you has an expiration date, then let it be ten thousand years!" PATRICK SWAYZE says.

ZHANG ZIYI begins crying with joy.

"I guess Asians can show emotion after all!" THE BLACK GUY says.

Everyone laughs.

PATRICK SWAYZE picks up ZHANG ZIYI and carries her inside the ship. He opens a door, and out pops - KE HUY QUAN, the small Asian child! He's stowed away on the ship.

"I see New York Yankees! In America!" he says.

Everyone laughs.

The credits roll, and a new Asian-sounding song by UTADA HIKARU plays.

After the credits, a title comes up which says


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Monday, June 19, 2006

Swifty Rediscovers Meaning In Friendster. Dawn Yang Is Not Happy.

I have long made my transition from Friendster to Myspace, knowing that the latter is a better tool for me to achieve my evil, dastardly scheme. After all, most people have already been using Myspace as a marketing tool, the successes of Flickr, Youtube and Photobucket had a lot to do with Myspace users using their services.

What reason is there for me to remain in Friendster? Except for the fact that many of my old classmates from high school and college are using it? And what's the point even if they're there when my presence on their friends list is nothing more than an ornament? I don't see long-time friends messaging me, asking me how I am, begging to watch the short films I've completed. In fact, there's really not much for me to do in Friendster. Thus I went to Myspace, more users, more options, and hell, the best part of it is the number of indie musicians who are there (and also celebrities).

Once again, I'll evaluate the pros and cons of Friendster (which, to be fair, is actually enjoying a minor revival of sorts in recent weeks) and Myspace.

  • Friendster has a lot of babes. Yeah. But Myspace probably has more since its total amount of members is 3-4 times of Friendster's.
  • Friendster has more Asian users. I think.
  • Myspace has more celebrities, perfect for stargazers like me. (I have Kevin Smith, Tyra Banks, NBA players Ben Gordon and Jamal Crawford on my list, along with many others),
  • Myspace is a better place for me to look for indie musicians.
  • Myspace is seriously a better marketing platform compared to Friendster, being one of the most-visited sites in the world.
  • Myspace has more aspiring filmmakers whom I can network with.
  • The real Dawn Yang is in Friendster.

Then, I found 'her'.

And then...

Along with...

It was a brief moment in Friendster, all I had was a fleeting glimpse of her, but it was enough to last me for an eternity.

I know not who she is, neither do I know her real name. All I had was a link to her Friendster page . Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime...

We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day..."

... eh? What the-!

Dawn Yang in shades

OMG! WTF! Dawn!! How come you're here?

Er, wait, Dawnie-poo, don't be mad, let me explain... it's just that, you were gone for so long, and I was alone for so long, so that I ended up, er...

Dawn Yang is pissed

Uh oh... *whimpers*

(by the way, here's my Myspace profile and Friendster profile)

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

List Of Great Movies About Fatherly Love

All right, so it's Father's Day, thus I shall list some great movies that are simply perfect to watch with your dad (or if you're a dad, to watch with your kids) and get all warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately, most of the films I'll be listing are Father-Son relationships, for reasons I can't comprehend, there just aren't that many Father-Daughter movies I can think of.

Right, so let me begin. Note: They aren't in any particular order.

The Lion King (1994) = Can't really think of any other Disney films that depicts a father-son relationship in such a moving manner. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger wept when he saw Mufasa's death scene (remembered him saying that in a long-ago interview with Premiere magazine). Definitely one of the best Disney films during its 'second Golden Era' (the 90s). Stay away from its straight-to-video sequels though (although Lion King 1/2 isn't THAT bad).

Road To Perdition
(2002) = I saw this with my dad in the cinemas and I got all choked up and teary-eyed. A boy finds out what his hitman dad does for a living, bonds of loyalty are tested. Tragedy strikes, the hitman has to fight to protect his son while seeking those who betrayed him. Yes, definitely a must-watch.

Big Fish (2003) = A son tries to learn the truth about his dying dad via the numerous fantastical tall tales and myths his father used to tell him in this fabulous Tim Burton film. Once tremendously annoyed with his dad's stories, the son slowly accepts all these as a part of his dad. To me, this is a better film than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Barbarian Invasions (2003) = Winner of Best Foreign Film oscar, this is also another tale about a man trying to deal with his dying estranged father just like Big Fish, but without the fantastical elements. (this French Canadian film is kinda like a more realistic and darker twin of Big Fish) A millionaire struggles to forgive his father for his womanizing ways that led to him abandoning the family years ago, and attempts to arrange a gathering with all his father's friends so that they can share his last breath.

All About Ah Long (1989) = The West may only know Chow Yun Fat for his action roles. Which is unfortunate, because in this award-winning role of his, Chow Yun Fat was simply mesmerizing as a poor penniless single father trying to raise his son. They both enjoy a fine relationship... until the son's mother returns to reclaim him. It's sheer Asian melodrama, with a heartwrenching motorcycle race ending that will haunt anyone who has seen the film. The film definitely destroyed me when I first saw it all those years ago. (read Lovehkfilm's review here)

Stars Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Stars Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983): ... I'm kidding. But it's possible.

Father Of The Bride (1991): I was running out of ideas, thus I asked my little sister to suggest a good father-child film. She suggested Cheaper By the Dozen (2003). I cringed. But I went off to check Steve Martin's filmography because I vaguely remembered he had something nice watching. And I ended up find this film. This one's more about father-daughter, a father has to deal with letting his little girl go as she is about to get married. Pretty enjoyable and heartwarming comedy, even though it's largely forgotten.

I Am Sam (2001): A mentally handicapped man (Sean Penn) fights for the custody of his 7-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning). I don't think I need to say more.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989): Many regard this the best Indiana Jones film around because we get to see Indy's funny relationship with his dad, Dr Henry Jones (Sean Connery). Let's hope he'll return for Indiana Jones 4.

Jersey Girl (2004): All right, I'm seriously kidding.

That is all I can think of so far. Not the greatest list around. What about you? Any good father-child films to suggest for Father's Day?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Swifty Reviews 'The Break-Up'

Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in The Break-UpI wasn't sure what to expect from this film. Hell, I wasn't even looking forward to see it despite the fact that Vince Vaughn's last few films were been pretty damned funny (especially The Wedding Crashers, one of my favourite comedies of last year, read my review here). With its lackluster trailer and numerous tabloid coverage, I thought this film has 'crap flick' written all over it, and yeah, I was especially wary cos' Jennifer Aniston's in it. I mean, as good as she was in Friends, I just felt that she wasn't good enough to make the transition to the big screen despite her various attempts to transform her own image. The only two films (I'm not counting the awesome Iron Giant, which she did voice work for) I've remotely enjoyed watching that had her in it were Bruce Almighty (and I consider that one of the weaker Jim Carrey films) and Along Came Polly (and that's because I'm secretly a sucker for romantic comedies, and the film's harmlessly forgettable, thus I can't remember whether it actually sucked or not, just that I had some laughs whilst watching it).

However, I was alone by myself at the streets of Perth, feeling rather pissed off with the pointless farcical comedy of 'Combien tu m'aimes?'(my review here) I saw just a day before, thus I thought I would just go for something more safer and conventional, a Hollywood rom-com, to soothe myself. After all, completing my short film Vertical Distance had given me a mild case of post-creativity depression, a happy little chick flick would probably cheer me up. (Despite it being advertised as some 'anti-romantic comedy', I was pretty damned sure it was just another romantic comedy trying to use the whole breaking up thing as a gimmick) Besides, I was also intrigued to see why this film turned out to be such a surprise box-office hit when everyone was expecting it to die like Gigli.

Well, turned out the film isn't exactly a laugh out loud comedy, or some fluffy little rom-com I've been exposing myself to endlessly. It IS a dramedy about the disintegration of a relationship. And no, this ain't like Mr and Mrs Smiths without the guns, it's more realistic and poignant, more angst and tears, no, not really as conventional as I've expected, but due to some shortcomings of the screenplay (character development here was just as conventional as a generic rom com, unfortunately), I couldn't really immerse myself completely into the story.

Granted, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, who played Gary and Brooke, have some good onscreen chemistry. And their characters are flawed human beings who would infuriate you just as often as you would sympathize for them, but ultimately, I just didn't care enough to really remain fully interested throughout the film, although like most viewers, I was hoping for an ending with more closure. Not that I wanted a fairy tale-like conventional ending, and the film's current ending was open-ended and uplifting enough for all kinds of interpretation, it just didn't have the ah, emotional impact of, er, Lost In Translation's ending.

All I can say is that, The Break-Up is interesting for its attempts to break away from conventions, and it does have some truly affecting moments towards the end, but it's really nothing special.

Here's a video of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston talking about the film:

Here's a trailer of the film:

Watch other reviews of The Break-up:

Swifty's Trilogy of Videos Featuring His Misadventures In Perth!

I've returned to Malaysia from Perth! Yes, I think this is pretty sudden since I've not made any mention of this in previous posts, but then, I haven't really been updating that much until the last few days. So yeah, I'm currently in Malaysia to rest the energies I've expended to make my short film, Vertical Distance (read this, this and this entry if you interested in a bit of its filmmaking process).

So, the first semester has ended, my adventures as a postgrad film student has temporarily came to a halt. This is the intermission, a halftime break, just before I launch into working on my even ambitious and large-scale project next month (Vertical Distance was just a warm-up). Now that I am in good old Malaysia again, I've freed myself temporarily from the shackles of limited internet connection, and will be able to post numerous videos I've made throughout last few months which I've not been able to upload onto Youtube as it would take away too much of my Internet quota money.

After all, it is time for me to reclaim my throne as Malaysia's most-loved vlogger (though the throne has pretty much been vacant during my absence, no?) by unleashing numerous videos for you all to watch. Most of them are personal, and they will kinda shed some light upon my personal life, which I've pretty much avoid speaking about in most of my written entries because this site isn't intended as a personal blog, but a platform for me to share my creative works, be it written or filmmaking, with the outside world.

In this entry, I shall post three videos that were shot during different moments of my life in Murdoch University in the last five months.

Murdoch University's Guild Day 2006

The first one is a short little clip of Murdoch University's Guild Day 2006 held on the 13th of February, which is not that much except for me playing with fast motion, removing certain colours from shots, and, oh yeah, some cute girls around. So just watch it for the cute girls who appeared towards the end of the video.

Welcoming Himeji Visitors At Fremantle

This one is shot during the 26th of February. Just before the Sony Tropfest 2006 in the evening (which I made a short video clip of as well, check it out here) . A group of students from Himeji, Japan were to have a month-long exchange program at Murdoch University. Justin, president of the Japanese Club, organized a welcome tour for them at Fremantle. This is a video of him and other Japanese club members showing these guests around at the sunny streets and beaches of Fremantle. Quite a nice-looking video, if you ask me.

Kimiko's Birthday Party

Kimiko's a Japanese friend of mine who came to study in Murdoch this year. This is a birthday party held in her flat back in the 18th of April, 2006. Due to her popularity, it was a pretty big party, with lots of stuff going on. But this video I made is more about presenting the great friendship she has with her best friend, Yukiko. I truly enjoyed making this video, and think it's one of the better (if not the best) party videos I've ever made. Song used is 'Birthday Eve' by TiA (who sang for the Naruto anime). A great song. Yes, there are numerous pretty girls in the video.

More videos will come. Tell me what you think of these videos!

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