Adaptation

November 17, 2014

Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman

Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman

Why is this movie even called Adaptation? The word ‘adapt’ wasn’t even mentioned once in the movie.

If evolution is the key for the survival of the human race, then adaptation would be the key to survive the human life. Charlie said that he never believed that there were some golden rules that would lead you to success. If one’s life is only about fighting for A and B because one believes that A+B = Success then life would definitely be dull and boring. But that’s exactly the trap that Charlie fell into: he wanted to write something that is the antithesis of a Hollywood story –  a story without chase scenes, sex scenes or the main character learning some profound lessons. He believed that by targeting the niche market his movie would be a success. Even when he found it impossible to go on he refused to add a few chase sequences and spectacular ending into his movie. His failure to adapt is the reason of his own misery.

The orchid chaser, John, on the other hand, knew how to adapt. “I once feel deeply, you know, profoundly in love with tropical fish. Had 60 goddamn fish tanks in my house…. Then one day I say, “fuck fish”. I renounce fish. I vow never to set foot in that ocean again.” He have had a number of things that he felt crazy in love with over the years, but he managed to move on without any strings attached, and this made him a much happier guy compared to Charlie. The the movie didn’t offer any clues as on how he did it. Streep’s character, Susan, asked, “but why?“, “done with fish” he replied. But nevertheless the lessons I learnt from John is – being able to move on easily doesn’t mean you didn’t have the passion for the thing you once loved.

Another way to adapt is to understand the fact that we are only a tiny part of a huge system. John told us a story about insects and flowers which explained the idea, “we’re all one thing, Lieutenant. That’s what I’ve come to realize. Like cells in a body. ‘Cept we can’t see the body. The way fish can’t see the ocean. And so we envy each other. Hurt each other. Hate each other. How silly is that? A heart cell hating a lung cell.” When one sees the world through the lens of hatred and hostility, there is no room for adaptation for there can be no genuine conversation. It’s only when we are removed from our tinted lenses and realise we are all inextricably linked, that we will be able to share our stories with others and our legacies can live on.

The Brotherly chat towards the end revealed the golden rule of adaptation, “you are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago“. When we care too much about the external markers of success, what we can all do is to react, but not adapt. Knowing that subtle difference has been a eureka moment for me.

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Interstellar Gravity

November 12, 2014

Christopher-Nolan_Fotor_Collage
I don’t usually compare movies, nor people or things for that matter, because every movie is a work of art on its own right. No matter how hard one tries it would only be a comparison between apples and oranges. So what I am trying to do here is an analysis, not a comparison.

In Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón was trying to tell a story of courage, survival and redemption set in space. Space took a backseat whilst the actions of the protagonists took centre stage. The disheartening silence of space has the ability to captivate audience and exemplifies a sense of despair which makes the story more compelling. Meanwhile, space is not a background, but a character on its own in Interstellar. The scale, colours and the otherworldliness of space confront the audience to think about questions on love, sacrifice and human nature.

Both directors wanted to tell us a great story. While I have great admiration for Nolan’s persistence in keeping film making real with his 70mm IMAX film cameras and reluctance to rely on green screens, Cuarón quest to use pioneering cinematography techniques and cutting edge computer imagery to tell stories should not be dismissed. Whichever tool is used to tell the story, I believe it is fair to say that both movies have provided us with a transcending experience and pushed the limits of the space genre.

Schooling the World

November 2, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 22.49.21Schooling the World is not only a reflection on the role of education in colonialism, but it also an inspiration for us to rethink the very notion of education.

Education is often seen as a panacea for poverty in the developing world. A population with competence in math and science, usually supported by a good command in English, often translate to a more prosperous economy and better integration into the world’s economy. This equation seems logical and it is proven to work for a lot of developing countries – growth in monetary terms. But it ignores the fact this concept of education, largely funded by development agencies, voluntary organisations and goodhearted individuals, is at the core a western one, with a specific agenda to mould subjects to suits the needs of a capitalistic, urbanised and consumption-based economy.

Let’s just first put aside the fact that this economic model is not sustainable – it would take the resources of more than one planet earth if the whole world is to live the western way – an education system that serves this model often put the focus on technical competence over creativity, rationality over spirituality, conformity over diversity. With education and development, a farmer who used to live a perfectly happy life working in the fields could be forced to work in a sweatshop in the city. The farmer earns more, but is he happier?

“Education is a compulsory, forcible action of one person upon another. Culture is the free relation of people… The difference between education and culture lies only in the compulsion, which education deems itself in the right to exert. Education is culture under restraint. Culture is free.”
– Leo Tolstoy

Citizenfour

November 1, 2014

new-york-film-festival-2014-citizenfour-movie-review-ed8ac34b-e9e2-4583-8a9d-a1f72f1b327a

Citizenfour is the code name Snowden used in his communications with the journalists.

Citizenfour完整地紀綠了斯諾登洩密事件的過程和始末,由他最初用加密電郵聯絡記者,及後到美麗華酒店接受訪問,直至他接受俄羅斯庇護,以記者的第一身視點呈現出來。

斯諾登在酒店逗留了超過一個星期, 期間向記者耐心闡釋英美情報機關精密、龐大而駭人的竊聽網絡。在訪問的字裡行間,可以看見他思路和邏輯都非常清晰。對於自己洩密的後果,亦已經想得一清二楚。在計劃中,他並沒有要求記者以保護消息來源為名而隱姓埋名,反之,他希望透過公開自己身份,去鼓勵更多人告密,向世界揭示英美政權違法不義的惡行。記者問:什麼驅使你告密?他帶著一絲年輕人的傻勁,回:Now we live under a government of the ruler and the ruled, instead of one that is made up of the elected and the electorate,擲地有聲。在強權壓迫之下,人不需要受什麼唆擺、煽動或利誘,自己也懂得明辨是非,走在叛逆路上。在鎂光燈背後,衛報記者Gleen Greenward和導演Laura Poitras為了公開斯諾登的故事,也屢遭阻撓。

看畢全片,不禁想起香港的事、香港人多年的奮鬥。有人會說:屌你睇,英國美國咪一撚樣,都係以言入罪,拉晒你啲異見人士,邊有民主㗎。沒錯,我可以肯定告訴你,類似的不文明、反民主事件,每天都在英美發生。但正正就是因為她們的制度,仍然保障人和資訊可以(相對)自由地流通,才造就了這部電影、造就了斯諾登、造就了每天冒死捍衛這個制度的記者。民主,從來都不是由當權者所恩賜的,因為權力就像癌細胞一樣,在沒有制約的情況下必然會無憂止地擴散,直至載體奄奄一息而已。在自由的國度,人們對於癌細胞仍然聞之色變,暢所欲言去探討消滅癌細胞的方法,在一切失效時,用化療解決。又,在另一國自由的國度裡,有人說癌細胞也有牠的可取之處,討論消滅癌細胞是不切實際,而且化療的效果因人而異,亦非必要。

何其諷刺。