Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Don't Eat A Lot. Really!

So, I’ve had people telling me that I remind them of food. Because my social media updates usually revolve around food, I’ve earned this reputation as quite a foodie. AND that I eat a lot. But seriously, I don’t!

I mean, yeah, the stuff I tweet about are usually the biggies; like steaks, ribs, shrimps and durians…
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But as I usually tell the skeptics; the rest of the time when I’m not confronted by some sort of feast, I eat very little! See, even you guys are going: “yeah, right.”

But it’s the truth lah. I like to eat good stuff, but I’m not such a heavy eater. If I have one piece of steak, that would be enough for me. I never order a second round, or even dessert.

Even at buffets, I usually eat only maybe 40% of what I'm paying for.

And I’m definitely NOT one of those who could eat one rice-cooker full of rice all by himself!
Maybe I should tweet less about food, but hey, with so much negativity going on, even on social media, why not share the good stuff in life right?

Something Big Is Happening August 6th, But Before That...


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yasmin Ahmad's Films -- The Book, And My Other Thoughts

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So, I finally picked up this book and despite being slow reader, finished it in just a couple of days. Hurrah for me.

I must say that it’s one of the best books I’ve read in recent times. Of course I’ve been a fan of its author Amir Muhammad for sometime now (although when I first read his columns in the NST, I thought: “Who the hell is this guy? Macam bagus je”), and the book was hard to put down and simply a delight to read.

I enjoyed the witty approach to the whole thing, and the trivia and other nuggets of info which came from personal knowledge are quite priceless. And although it’s a book about films, it’s not littered with too many film jargons and technical discussion.

But it did make me understand and see that stuff that I probably overlooked in Yasmin’s works before. And that’s the coolest part.

I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan you could find of Yasmin's films and commercials. I like most of them, but there was always that tinge of (forgive me) pretentiousness in her portrayal of people, and that sense of over-optimism, that bothered me quite a bit.

But that doesn't mean I was one of those who condoned the apparent personal attacks made on her by certain members of the media. I believe in freedom of expression (chewah), and it's always better to talk about stuff than shutting people up. If I really can't agree with someone, indifference will be my answer. Buat tak tau jelah, you know. Agree to disagree, and move on.

I never really knew Yasmin. The first time I met her was when she gave a talk at a media prima management retreat in 2007. I thought she was genuine with a lot of useful anecdotes to share. And that was the thing that struck me the most about her; someone who’s not “kedekut ilmu”.

Then I bumped into her at the premieres of “Mukhsin” and “Talentime”. But the last time I spoke to her was at a press conference gua.com.my organized. We had put together a contest in conjunction with the release of “Talentime”, and she had turned up for the PC and prize-giving ceremony.
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I gave a speech that day and afterwards, she actually said to me: “Your speech was so funny!” I don’t think she’s the type who would say something she didn’t mean, so I took it as a nice compliment.

(Ironically, I found out later that she had a brother, Muzaffar, who was a schoolmate of mine. We actually hung out quite a bit, but I never got to know his other family members.)

Anyway, here are my own notes on her films:

Rabun
I remember watching it on TV3 with great anticipation. And because of the hype, I had expected to see another masterpiece ala “Maria” (starring Fatimah Abu Bakar and the late Mustaffa Noor), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

But I didn’t like “Rabun”. More specifically, I didn’t like the camera angles (or the lack of it). So I was disappointed. I thought the story was cute, and I wasn’t offended by scenes of elderly people getting fresh with each other, but I didn’t quite understand the execution. It was different, alright. But not in a good way, in my mind.

Sepet
I can’t quite recall where I saw this first, but most probably it was at a cinema. And I quite liked “Sepet”. The acting was admirable, and it was so different from everything else that was playing then. And I totally bought into the hype of this being the dawn of a new era for Malaysian cinema.

Again, I wasn’t offended or shocked by its content. Having grown up in a place like JB (which was exposed to other cultures via Singapore TV), the whole theme of inter-ethnic love and relationship wasn’t such a big deal for me.

The wacky family dynamics and idiosyncracies were nothing new to me as well, since I come from a mixed family background; my late mom being a non-malay convert herself, we always had a unique sense of openness and self-expression in our own household.

Gubra
I found “Gubra” (which I’m sure I watched on TV, and not in the cinema), to be the funniest of Yasmin’s films. Adibah Noor as the maid was a hoot and the first few minutes of the film was a joy to watch.

What I didn’t like was the subplots, which included one with prostitutes. I felt like there were some wrong messages being sent out somewhere in there, and it sort of renewed my skepticism of her over-optimistic worldview.

I also didn’t like how some religious exceptions were portrayed as the rule. This is also always the MO of certain people who try hard to justify what is haram as halal. They know who they are.

Mukhsin
I went to the premiere of “Mukhsin” at Mid Valley after being invited by the Grand Brilliance peeps. And this was the most “dreamy” of the lot. I liked the simplicity of the storyline and the boy who played the title character did a superb job.

But I must admit, when it ended, I wanted SOMETHING MORE to happen. Well, something DID happen; the cast and crew actually sang and danced (including some Media Prima finance people!) as the credits rolled, but I wanted a real closure. So I left the cinema feeling a tad disappointed.

Muallaf
Haven’t watched it yet and probably I never will.

Talentime
I saw “Talentime” twice. First, at the Sri Pentas theatrette when GB played the film just for me and some colleagues. At the end of it, I remember going: “Wow, I was really touched. This film would win awards, but probably won’t make money”.

The film featured a family speaking not only in English, but Yorkshire English! “Macam mana orang kampung nak relate ni?” I thought.

But I personally liked it, especially the songs. But like Amir pointed out in the book, there are quite a number of “tak logic” things about it; like how a school could get male students to pick up female students on motorbikes for gigs. Gila ke apa?


I was in Gold Coast, Australia, attending a new media symposium when I got the call about what had happened to her. “Bro, Yasmin passed away. She just collapsed here at Sri Pentas, and died,” said none other than 8TV big wig Ahmad Izham Omar.

Of course at that point, she hadn’t passed away, but after a few days in coma, the time came for her to meet her Maker.

I did shed a tear. Ever since both my parents passed on, I always feel a certain kind of sadness upon hearing such news, knowing very well what kind of effect it would have on the people the deceased left behind.

It also made me think about my own life, and what I would leave behind when I’m gone one day.

This book had quite the same effect on me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2 Films, 2 Different Results

So today was a bit of a Movie Day Out for me, catching two flicks at one go, which I’ve not done in quite a while. And here are my reviews

Inception
Highly recommended by my tweet peeps, “Inception” stars Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Dom Cobb, the leader of a team of “dream invaders”, who are able to enter into people’s dreams and steal their secrets. But his one last job is to instead “start an idea” in a corporate dude’s mind, the process of which is called, “inception”.
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The movie really forces you to think almost the entire time, and director Christopher Nolan (“Dark Knight”, “The Prestige”) basically doesn't give you a moment to even look at the popcorn you're shoving into your mouth (although, as usual, some people where happily chatting away the entire time, the bastards).

Your mind needs to stay alert all the time, as you build the puzzle together with the characters. And that's a really satisfying thing when you watch a film.

Incidentally, it was only recently that I got really interested in matters of the subconscious and "dream surfing", so it was extra satisfying for me.

Of course, I cannot not mention the technical virtuosity displayed by Nolan. The scenes served up ARE really like our dreams; real, yet puzzling, and fantastical.

I mean, I can't tell you how many times I myself have gone from taking the bus to KL and ending up in Paris or LA in my dreams!

The actors did a fine job as well, although maybe they could have casted someone a tad more, um, mature than Ellen Page who plays one of Cobb’s team members.

The only gripe I have is with the script; there was too much explaining of the expository bits for comfort.

But overall, this is an instant classic, and the best movie I've seen this year. No doubt about it.


Predators

A bunch of people who are themselves “predator-like” are plonked on to an alien planet where they become the “hunted”. One of which, is an American mercenary played by Adrien Brody.

And that’s one of the problems, really; Adrien Brody is hardly believable as the bad ass military man. And the Batman voice is just plain ridiculous.

Maybe a Predator movie can never be good in my mind cos we've basically seen it all before and nothing could come close to the very first one that Arnie made a classic. But at least, give it a good shot lah.

The script, especially, is an absolute disgrace. There are plenty of chances to make it wittier and, um, better, but the filmmakers just couldn’t be bothered.

In one of the scenes, a character said: "There's a belief in my community that bla, bla, bla..." And the other one merely replied: "Yeah, whatever".

That's it? That's the best sarcastic/clever remark they could think of? Is this Hannah Montana?

The action scenes are equally unimaginative, with only one, which involved a samurai battle, sticking out in mind.

But really, the characters are just a bunch of clich├ęs, and we basically know who's gonna die first in the first five minutes. Yeah, it is THAT predictable.

And oh, there's also a Laurence Fishburne cameo that will help you fall asleep in case you weren't already, one hour into the film.

But I guess “Predators” hit the mark as the “B” film that it is.

If “B”, is for “Bullshit”.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So What Do We Do Now?

Yup, the World Cup is over, so what do we do now? I mean, there was always something to look forward to on telly, but now, we have to watch... um, I don't even know what's available now. Thank God for DVDs then.

Anyway, if I had to rate South Africa 2010, I'd give it a 7/10. Which is not bad, really.

In terms of the infrastructure, I think South Africa had done their best. The stadiums look good, although they lack that one venue that could fit in like 100,000 people. That's the benchmark for me, at least.

In terms of the results, this World Cup served up some great surprises, and overall I'm pretty pleased as well. No matter that England crashed out earlier than expected. (like that is such a major surprise lah).

But in terms of the football played; well, it wasn't the best we've ever seen, to be honest. Spain, I guess played the best football and ultimately deserved to win the whole thing. But there WERE plenty of dull matches, especially during the earlier rounds. And it was a shame that the Dutch thought it was a good idea to kick (ass) their way to the cup, which they thankfully failed.

But there are plenty of things to remember this World Cup by; the vuvuzelas, the whole twitter buzz, the HD experience.

So I say, thank you South Africa! And let's do this again in 2014!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The World Cup Terrible XI

Here’s my list of the worst performers, for various reasons, at this year’s World Cup:

Robert Green
At the biggest game of his life so far against the US, the West Ham keeper kissed his international career goodbye by letting slip a tame shot into the net. Approximately three billion people rained curses on him at the same time.

Felipe Melo
A habitually violent player, Melo made things difficult for Brazil by stamping on Arjen Robben in the quarter-final and got sent off in disgrace. Mellow, he is not.

Oh Beom-seok
The South Korean defender gave away free-kicks and was mostly asleep during the entire match against Argentina which saw them whipped 4-1. So unlike a true, high-spirited and alert South Korean player.

Patrice Evra
Couldn’t defend to save his life, Evra then led a revolt against his own coach. Refer “Anelka”…

Mark Van Bommel
The Dutch midfielder committed like a gazillion fouls and was deliberate in his attempt to play like an amateurish thug.

Kaka
Suddenly became a card-collecting menace who failed to score even once.

Cristiano Ronaldo
The most expensive player in the world managed only ONE goal, that too, against North freakin’ Korea. Other times, he mostly strutted around like a peacock on the field and threatened to cry every time he was fouled. Bosan.

Asamoah Gyan
The very last second of extra time and you’re given a chance to take your team into the semi-finals. All you have to do is score. FROM THE PENALTY SPOT. But nooo…. “Super-confident” Gyan crashed his attempt against the bar and broke millions of African hearts. LOOOSER…

Yakubu
Four yards away from a gaping goalmouth (against South Korea) and he fluffed his shot. Budak tadika pun boleh score lah wei…

Nicolas Anelka
Le Sulk managed to suck even more at the World Cup. After a pedestrian performance (literally!) against Mexico in the first half, the Chelsea striker launched into a foul-mouthed tirade against manager Raymond Domenech. He was sent home immediately after refusing to apologise, but the incident led the rest of the team refusing to train. Talk about a bad influence, this guy is the very epitome of it.

Wayne Rooney
Where do I even start? Shrek was so bad, it wasn’t even funny. See, I’m too disgusted to even finish this write-up…

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Final Prediction

So now it's down to ONE final match (I mean, who cares about who comes in third or fourth, right?). Whoever it is, the World Cup 2010 final will produce some history of its own. We will see a NEW winner in a long, long time, and for the first time ever as well, Europe will actually bring back the cup from a different continent.

So, who is it gonna be?

Predictions by my Facebook peeps at least have been split, with an almost equal number of people picking both Holland and Spain.

But crucially to most people. the world's most famous Octopus had spoken, I mean, chosen, Del Bosque's men.

And I pick Spain as well...

Why? Cos although Holland has won all of its matches in the tournament, which is an excellent achievement, Spain had taken its time and is peaking just at the right time. They have the confidence, the experience of being in a final two years ago and of course, the players to win the whole damn thing.

Holland has been brilliant in patches, and players like Arjen Robben could turn around the game in a second. But I think Spain will choke them up from the start and not allow the Dutch to get into any sort of rhythm and will ultimately be frustrated.

On Spain's side, the midfielders will reign supreme while the defence will do its job properly. And we know they're more than capable of scoring that crucial goal with David Villa in top form.

So there it is; my pick is Spain. And the scoreline will be 2-1.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

World Cup Semi-final Predictions

Man oh man, so apparently, I only got ONE prediction right for the quarterfinal stage. But really, teams not playing to form has been the theme of this year's World Cup, so it was not a real big surprise that the likes of Argentina and Brazil got dumped and sent home.

Anyway, it's the semis now, and here are my predictions:

Uruguay vs Holland
Holland has the only 100% record in the competition, yet there are still doubts hanging over their heads. But against Brazil, Robben and co showed that they could outplay (and out-annoy) anyone in the competition. Uruguay's damn lucky to be in the round and should thank the fact that the Ghanians are the world's worst penalty-takers. So some might say, "mestilah Holland menang!". Well, it's been proven in this World Cup that nothing should be taken for granted. But having said that, I believe Holland will prevail in 90mins.
Prediction: Holland 2 Uruguay 0

Germany vs Spain
Fuh, what a cracker this is gonna be huh? Obviously, Germany and their fans are now feeling super confident (some Germany fans even believe that they could win the next 4 World Cups, pfft...). Spain have had to labour hard for their results, but look to be in good shape as well, especially with David Villa playing a vital role. I also think the battle in midfield would be brutal, and expect to see some casualties.
Prediction: 1-1 after 90mins, but Spain to win 2-1 in extra time

Friday, July 02, 2010

World Cup Quarterfinal Predictions

Well, I was pretty accurate with the 2nd round predictions, wasn't I? The two I got wrong was based on sentiment, so there you go. But the rest went pretty much according to what I expected.

So now it's time for the quarterfinal predictions!

Brazil vs Holland
Fuh, what a match this is, altho Holland has flattered to deceive on many occasions. But it would be a great encounter if Brazil were to fall behind, which I think we will see tonite. Their star players would then have to show their real character, serving up scintillating skills along the way.
Prediction: Brazil to come behind and win 2-1

Uruguay vs Ghana
High hopes for Ghana indeed, and thankfully they're facing only the 3rd best team from South America. Uruaguay's ok but if you mark out their forwards, you would have a great chance of winning
Prediction: 0-0 at full time. Ghana to snatch solitary goal in extra time.

Germany vs Argentina
Another cracker, this. Germany has been the surprise package with energetic young players and tactical discipline. Argentina has deserved the hype but it would be awesome to see how Maradona would completely lose his mind if they were to lose.
Prediction: Argentina to win 2-1 in extra time.

Spain vs Paraguay
Favourites Spain have shown loads of progress and striker David Villa is on fire. Paraguay's lucky to be in this round and won't put up too much resistance, I'm afraid.
Prediction: The most one-sided affair of the round this will be. Spain to win 2-0.

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