Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monster University (2013)

I watched 3 great movies this weekend, one of them was Monster University. Monster U is a prequel to the previous movie, Monster Inc. (2001). It tells us the life of Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan before their days as Scarers in Monster Inc. The story mainly tells about Mike's dream to become a scarer. It all started when 6 years old Mike was on a field trip to a scaring company, Monster Inc. and saw what its like to be a scarer. One of the scarer gave Mike his Monster U hat and told them that it was the greatest university with the greatest scaring program. So there will Mike go, to the Monster U.

In the movie, we can see a typical university settings. There are many clubs to join, many student with different personalities, big and wide campus, sorority houses, et cetera. The only difference being, there are no human. All of the students and faculty members are monster. These monster are creatively and uniquely design, usually combining two or more animals into one creature. One thing I find interesting and awesome are the commitment these studios show to the audiences about their movies. We have known dedicated websites built specifically for a movie. But Monster U take a bolder step to built an entire university websites for this movie. You can access to see what its like to enroll in Monster U, who are the faculty members, what majors are offered in Monster U. All little details you can find in any university websites are there. Before the movie premiere, there is a website that allow you to create your own Monster U student card with your own monster avatars. You can visit to create your monster avatar or to create your Monster U ID using your own picture.

Furthermore, the stories presented in Monster U are a combination of a typical university movie story with different endings. We have seen nerds trying to be popular, we have seen popular kid joining with nerd to be better in school, we have seen unpopular sorority house ended up popular because of these team of nerd-cool kid students. Monster U combines all of these stories to show friendship and hard work beat popularity and great descendants. The ending is perfect, because most of these movies presented the audiences with happy endings which can only happen in the movies. Monster U brings out the not-so-bad ending because it might happen in real life. This is a fantastic movie to enjoy with family and friends.

P.S. One thing I like about 3D animation movies is the stories they presented are different with other live-action movies. We we can still enjoy the whole story even without the presence of a love line between any of the characters. 3D animation movies are free to explore different stories because they already have a different and unique creatures to present.

Here's an official trailer for Monster U.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Memento (2000)

About 2 weeks ago, I re-watched this movie and just realized that Memento was one of Christopher Nolan's early movies. This is one of the movies that successfully made me fond of psychological thriller genre. The movie is centered around Leonard Shelby (portrayed by Guy Pearce), a man who developed anterograde amnesia (the inability to create new memories) since a traumatic event happened to his wife. He found a way to recollect his new memories with tattoos, hand-written notes, and Polaroid photos.

The presentation of the movies are unusual and unique. The stories are described in two ways: one, chronological black-and-white scenes and the other, full color scenes in reverse orders. The black-and-white scenes represents Shelby's previous stories. By the end of the movie, the audiences will be able to have figured out what exactly happen to Shelby. The first time I watched it, it was very mind blowing that I kept remembered the title after more than 10 years. Other people said it took them twice or three times to understand the movie completely.

This 113 minutes movie is a peek at how fragile one's memories are. Shelby couldn't remember what happen to him 10 minutes after it happened. Even his tattoos and hand-written notes weren't going to help if he met the wrong person. Furthermore, he couldn't remember his own decision and why he decided to do what he did. It sounds frustrating, but the way Nolan developed the ambiance for the movie is perfect so that the audiences didn't feel frustrated watching it. Instead, I am very pleased with the stories.

The stories are complicated, yet I didn't feel tired watching it. The plot was planned perfectly, not too fast and not too slow either. The characters are well built  that I didn't know who is the true antagonist till the end of the movie.

Here's a trailer of Memento.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

I watched Man of Steel about a week ago. I was never a fan to superhero movies, but my colleagues had a spare ticket so I decided to tag along. The movie gave me a fresh perspective about Superman. To  Superman fans, the story is not that different. They said it's like watching the short version of Smallville. I was impressed since the first time I sat on my seat. I remember thinking, "We've come a very long way to make this kind of effects in a movie." The first scene depicts Superman's home planet, Krypton. The CGI was extraordinary. The creatures, environments, and all alien technologies are drawn beautifully.

Despite all of the computer graphics, Man of Steel tells the very basic story of Kal-El (portrayed by Henry Cavill). How he was sent to earth, how he grew up differently from everybody around him, how he learnt to control his power to hide his identity, and so on. Unfortunately the 2 hours and 28 minutes movie barely covers all of Superman's stories. Half of the time is used to portray the epic battle between Superman and General Zod's armies, causing the plot for the initial story to move faster. It felt like I jump and skip a few chapters in a book.
I noticed a cooler ambiance in Man of Steel due to the blue and grey color tone that were used in the movie. It felt familiar with the ambiances of Nolan's other movies like The Dark Knight Trilogy. It was probably Nolan's style, but it certainly triggers gloomy and sad feelings from the audiences as the movie moves forward. Building to the last scenes, there were quite a lot overkill in the CGI effects. It felt unnecessary to bring out all of the effects for some simple character movements. Other than that, everything turns out great.

Man of Steel ends rather sad for Kal-El. He was the only Kryptonian who can build a bridge between his race and human race so that they can live side by side, but because of General Zod's selfishness he was forced to bring an end to his own race. Cavill successfully bring the human side of Kal-El when he screamed in frustration and sadness after he killed General Zod and realized that he is now alone in the whole world.

Totally worthy watching it in the theater. There aren't that many 3D effects, so I would prefer the 2D version.

Here's a trailer of Man of Steel.

Monday, June 24, 2013

At first, there was murder.

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.
13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

--New International Version, Genesis 4: 1 - 16.

This story was supposed to be about the first murder ever recorded in history. The cause of the incident was a simple jealousy. Cain felt jealous because The Lord preferred Abel's offering than his. The Lord told Cain that it was simply because his offering were not the best. He said, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?" Cain's pride was hurt because he felt superior to Abel. He was the first son, he was supposed to be the best, not the other way around. So instead of admitting his fault, Cain attacked Abel and killed him.

Jealousy is the main cause of a rotten heart. It's also the first motive for murder in this modern day. The other two are money and revenge. Its sibling, envy, is one of the seven deadly sins. Jealousy is a very powerful tool that cause to people destroy each other. People who lives in jealousy are incapable of happiness. They lost their purpose in life, because they keep worrying that they will lose. The only thing to overcome jealousy is to let it go. No matter what we do, what we earn, what we'll become, eventually everything ends. Christians believe that everything and everyone is God's gift. Therefore it's not really ours. He gives, He takes. We are just temporarily holding it for Him. Theoretically, we can't lose what's not ours.

By believing, we can never lose anything.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And then we die

As some of you may probably guess, this post is a result of a recent funereal event I attended. My father's brother passed away last Tuesday so I went home to attend his cremation ceremony. In Chinese families, the standard procedure when someone passed away is to put the deceased in a funeral home (or his/her own home), in this case, for 3 days. Families and friends gather around to pay respects, send prayers, and saying goodbyes. I met a lot of people, relatives or friends, many faces, many names. Some of us come to pay respects, some to channel their grieving process, some to meet old relatives and friends, catching up after all these years. The one that couldn't make it, sent bouquets showing their condolences.

The first two days were hard. People came and went, families stayed behind. But the real tragedy was the last day. The day the family realized, we had to put an end to this grief parade. The day that he has finally gone (for good, maybe? we don't know). Many years of life, of relationship, crammed up in that last 3 days. How many people came? How many people cried? How many people stayed until the last moment? How many people willing to give up 3 days of their life to stop and say goodbye?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blastingly Fun

This was when I was having a vacation in Semarang. The setting is a new water park in Semarang. I've always wanted to take candid pictures of people. This place seems fun and perfect to do so.

Another Model

I was practicing to take model pictures. I took this on my uni's photo studio. She's my college friend, a great model to me, and very photogenic I might add. :)

Immature Scenery

So, back when I was learning photography I always wanted to try capturing human model in my camera. She is my 2 years younger cousin, and we did the shoot in my friend's renovated house. There's just something captivating about the combination of good-looking people and the mess in construction.

A Historic Glory

Lawang Sewu is a historic building in Semarang. Its name came from Javanese words 'lawang', which means door and 'sewu', which means a thousand. So, roughly it translates to a thousand doors. Actually there are only approximately 88 doors, but since there are a lot of doors and windows, Javanese people call it Lawang Sewu. I had a chance a while back to visit and take some photographs. (un)Fortunately, when I came to visit, the building was under renovation (or restoration). There were some workers and some of the places were unavailable due to the work in progress.
Deep and dark hallway gives me goosebumps

The beauty in recovery

The rooms were built with train-like structure

This was a hall-like room, it hasn't been renovated yet.

Another creepy hallway

Friday, June 14, 2013

Be who you are

There are literally too many people in the world. Sometimes, it's rewarding to make other people happy. But if you try to please them all, you will never be pleased.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The (un)Fairness of Life

How many times have you said 'life is unfair'? (Probably more than you care to admit. :D) From many people I've met in my life, I learnt that everyone thinks they have the most miserable life when they have a problem. People often think that life is unfair because when they're miserable there are plenty of people who aren't. But the thing is, there's no such thing as fairness. The fairness we want, the fairness we imagine, doesn't exist. Which is why life will never be fair.

Suppose two high school students A and B. A is the usual trouble maker and a cheater while B is the usual nerds who never cheats before. One test, both of them cheat for a different reason. A cheats because he doesn't want to try harder, B cheats because he didn't have the time to study and was doing two part time jobs the night before to help his family. Both of their test got zero because they cheat. B thinks the teacher is unfair because it's the first time he cheat and not for a bad reason. A thinks if B doesn't get zero it means the teacher discriminated him because both of them cheat but he's the only one punished. What's fair for one, doesn't always fair to another.

Life is never fair, but everything has its own consequences.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fact and Fiction

I might have mentioned before in my previous post that I watch a lot of TV Series, mainly western, and I observe an interesting phenomena (if I might said so, dramatically). There are a lot of characters in TV series that we, the viewers, deeply loved. Some of them are the lead character, while others are more of a sidekick but somehow become way more lovable than the main character itself.

Recently, I realized that there are some people around me who behave similarly to these lovable characters. Do we love them in real life? My answer is no. They are either self-centered, arrogant, or just plain jackass. Either way, I found out that if these characters are presented in front of me I would probably punch them rather than love them and try to understand them like what I think I would do to the TV characters I adored.

Here are some of the characters:
Dr. Sheldon Cooper, PhD (portrayed by Jim Parsons) is one of the character in The Big Bang Theory. The series centered around the life of four physics geniuses: Leonard Hofstadter, an experimental physicist; Sheldon Cooper, a theoretical physicist; Rajesh Koothrappali, an astrophysicist,  and Howard Wolowitz, an aerospace engineer who worked in Caltech University. The main story is about Leonard who falls in love with the new neighbor, Penny, a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. Their love story focuses on the amusing fact that Leonard, who is  super genius and nerdy, tries to date Penny, who is a high school prom queen with the fame and beauty.

Sheldon is Leonard's roommate. He has certain quirks that drive his friends crazy. He's a genius who realize his power of mind. As a result, he's self-centered, always feels he's better than everyone else, condescending, and loves himself more than anything else. His mom is a devoted Christian so their relationship is funny to watch because Sheldon is clearly an evolutionist while his mom is a creationist. Sheldon can't drive, so his friends have to take him whenever he needs. His impossibly large ego cause him to be unable to care about his friends being. Everyone has to cater to his needs. He has an annoying habit to give lectures to everyone, mainly because he feels like he knows everything. This particular habit forces his friend to follow what he wants just so he would shut up.

Barney Stinson, portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris, is one of Ted Mosby's best friend in How I Met Your Mother series. He has some famous catchphrases, such as: "Suit Up!" and "Tonight is gonna be legend, wait for it, dary!"

HIMYM is a sitcom show about how the main character, Ted Mosby, met his wife. The show has a unique set up: Ted  narrates his love story to his children about how he met their mother which then played by the actors in a series of flash backs. HIMYM characters are Ted Mosby, an architect; Marshall Eriksen, a law student which later become an environmental lawyer; Lily Aldrin, a kindergarten teacher who loves art; Robin Scherbatsky, a Canadian TV reporter; and Barney Stinson, an awesome person (as he always said, because none of his friends seems to know what he did for living, even after the show reaches its 8th season).

Barney is basically a rascal. He keeps inventing elaborate acts to deceive women to sleep with him. He has all sorts of tricks that he put in The Playbook. He never listen to what anybody says. He just act as he wants, whenever he wants. He's the type of person who thinks that women are sex objects. Well, not all women, just bimbos, but still..

Gregory House, portrayed by Hugh Laurie, is a medical doctor specializes in diagnostic. He has his own team consists of 3 young doctors: dr. Allison Cameron, an Immunologist; dr. Robert Chase, a Surgeon and Intensivist; and dr. Eric Foreman, a neurologist. The story is about House, a diagnostician working with his team to diagnose patients that come with strange symptoms. The show is set up like many crime-solving series, so it's interesting to watch. House is working for a hospital in New Jersey under hospital administrator and Dean of Medicine, dr. Lisa Cuddy. His ability is off the record, he is the best in his field. However, his personality often causes him troubles among his colleagues.

House rarely talks to his patients because in his mind, everyone lies. He diagnoses patient based on their medical records and his keen insight. He is like Sherlock Holmes of medical world. His treatments are often controversial. He doesn't quite care with hospital rules and often disobey them to get what he wants. He thinks unexplained diseases are like puzzles. He has to know the answer and he doesn't care if he have to manipulate patients' families as long as he got the answer he needed. He's a genius, and his lack of social skills probably works effectively in his field. But what would you do if you meet an actual person with his personality?