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.


Interstellar Gravity

November 12, 2014

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.


April 18, 2011

Attenberg (2010) - A film by Athina Rachel Tsangari

Set in a slow, coastal and industrial Greek town, Attenberg is a coming-of -age movie that explores sexuality and human nature.

The name, Attenberg, comes from the mispronounced name of the British naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who narrates many of the BBC’s documentaries. The protagonist under study, Marina, is a fan of Attenborugh’s series. She is fascinated by chimpanzees walking in the jungles and gorillas fighting in the woods. As a teenage girl, she is also confused about her sexual orientation, or if she has an orientation at all – being disinterested in boy’s and girl’s, or even her own, genital. To me, Marina’s character is, almost, schizophrenic –  a person who likes to observe animal having her most basic animal instinct, sex, sterilized.

Marina’s interests in animals and disinterest in sex make me ponder – to what extent should/would we suppress our animal instincts or nature to qualify us as “human beings”? We use the word “animal” to describe people with immoral or outrages behaviours. But aren’t we all animals after all? What animals do that we shouldn’t? Do animals deserve to be disrespected like that with that adjective?

Why have so many animal instincts been stigmatized in our world? Sex, sleep, eating raw food, having a connection with nature… and I am sure the list go on and on. I am not saying that we should all practice them as, for instance, a tiger does. But what is line that we shouldn’t cross? I should say that Marina’s sexual interest/disinterest is definitely a distorted one. Distorted by our human establishment (media, school, book, religion, political system, etc).

Is the suppression of our animal instincts a form of evolution, or devolution for us as a species – the homo sapiens?