movie

Harry Potter in Perspective

A few weeks ago, the world was taken by a storm when JK Rowling revealed that Hermione should have been with Harry instead of Ron. That was one interesting interview between JK Rowling and Emma Watson. Recently, JK Rowling stated that “Harry did love Ginny”, so I don’t think we have anything to worry about. This ship sinking means nothing to me really. I personally think JKR should have just left the matter alone, because the fandom reaction wouldn’t be nice. She could have spared them the heartbreak haha

One article that gave me all sort of feels though, is this one, entitled “Neville Longbottom is the Most Important Person in Harry Potter—And Here’s Why”. I admit that when I was still a huge Potterhead, I often missed Neville because I only cared about our main trio. I’d never seen him in the light of the Tor article I linked previously. And it made me a bit ashamed.

Sasha and I are in the middle of a Harry Potter marathon now. As of last night, we’ve got up to The Order of the Phoenix. After long years of absence (from the books and movies), I find that my views of the story has changed quite a bit.

Firstly, now I can see why Hermione and Harry could have worked out. I can imagine how their relationship is going to work out. Their dynamic is so different to Ron-Hermione, and even though it’s always been more sibling love, there is room for more exploration if that was the direction JKR wanted to take. Ron and Hermione are cute too though, and I wouldn’t want to change it any other ways. However, Harry and Ginny, this is where I’m starting to have doubts. I always felt their relationship was kind of forced, just for the sake of getting Harry a girlfriend. I think the books would have ended just as nice even if Harry didn’t end up with anyone.

So many things they could have done in the tent.

Secondly, Sirius Black. Not that I hate him, but he’s never been one of my favorite characters, and now I know why. He didn’t care for Harry the way he was supposed to. I can see now that Sirius was drowning in his grief and misery over losing his bro, James Potter, and without realizing it, he treated Harry like a replacement of him, which is not nice. In the movie, when they were fighting in front of the archway, Sirius told Harry, “Nice one, James.” and I wonder if that was in the book, cos I can’t remember. Well, whatever, all I’m saying is it’s rude, and if Sirius didn’t end up dead, Harry would have been offended. There’s also the case when Sirius told the trio, “If you want to know what a man is, look at how he treats his inferiors, not superiors.” yet Sirius treated Kreacher so badly. Technically, JKR has done a great characterization with Sirius Black. As a fan, Sirius is out of my shelf.

Now, as for the movies themselves, I don’t find it as bad as I used to. I realize now that the movies are good, except for The Order of the Phoenix. That one is really bad. It’s flat from the very beginning. I remember finding the kids’ acting to be horrible. I can forgive them now. Neville though. Ugh, all my feels for Neville Longbottom. I should have realized how essential he was to everything.

Right now, I’m all for changing the title of the series from Harry Potter to Neville Longbottom. Really.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (The 2013 Movie)

Warning. Spoilers ahead. I can’t help but to talk about the movie in its entirety.

As you all know already, I’m more of a book person rather than a movie person. I love movies, but I don’t get into them that much. For me, movies are simple, as in there are two kinds of movies: fun movies and the movies that touch your life and change you as a person. I only have a handful of movies that falls in the latter category, most of them being M. Night Shyamalan’s and Andrew Niccol’s movies. Also, my top 5 movies so far always includes the Star Wars saga and The Matrix trilogy, for they’re the catalysts that set me off on the fantasy/science fiction course. Other than the movies I’ve mentioned, the rest is just fun for me. Until I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that is.

It’s about Walter Mitty, that ordinary guy at work, living an ordinary and mundane life. He compensates his boredom and ‘inferiority’ by zoning out, daydreaming himself as the main hero in highly imaginative scenarios. Problems arise when the company he works at goes through a restructuring and everyone’s job is on the line. Walter Mitty suddenly finds himself traveling across the world to save his job. We’ll see if his daydreaming can finally come to fruition with this worldwide chase.

When I heard about this premise for the first time, I was worried it would be like Adam Sandlers’ “Bedtime Stories” (2008), because as pretty as the concept was, that movie just sucked. However, the movie started with a great picture of Walter Mitty’s character. He was writing down his expenses and at the same time trying to make his way in the eHarmony dating site. He’s quiet, awkward, and meticulous. It only took 5 minutes and the audience could already relate to the main character, or at the very least knew someone who was so much like Walter Mitty.

The opening credits appeared following Mitty’s walk to the office and at first I didn’t see it. But then we had bird’s eye view of the monotone architecture of the city and the credits rolled in with a splash of colors that turned the city interesting for a second.

It was breathtakingly beautiful.

I can’t remember any movies that hooked my attention from the very beginning, but this movie certainly did it.

Walter Mitty worked in Life magazine and at this point, I started to realize what the reviews were talking about, that this movie was a giant advertisements of a lot of products. But guess what? I didn’t find any problems, because they incorporated the ads so aesthetically and amazingly, it became a part of the movie instead. And it still looked so pretty.

Then we began to see the great imaginations of Walter Mitty’s and man, this guy’s one hell of a daydreamer. There’s one I liked, where he had an epic fight in the middle of New York City, and it just reminded me of the superhero movies we have nowadays. That was a great way to make fun of the blockbusters haha there’s also the one where Mitty imagined himself as a tanned Latino guy and I was so stunned, cos I didn’t remember Ben Stiller to be this hot. Yes, I said it. Ben Stiller is uber hot.

20 minutes into the movie, I already loved the movie so much. The storytelling was effective too, it could only be compared to the Roswell series. We finally got to the core of the problem when Mitty lost the 25th negative, the picture that would become the cover of the very last edition of Life magazine. It was taken by the famous photojournalist, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), an excentrique guy who thought that the only decent employee of Life was Walter Mitty. And here we started the chase to retrieve the 25th negative.

To tell you the truth, I actually had already figured out how the story was going to turn out. It wasn’t that difficult, really. I stayed to see if my guesses were right, but mainly to watch how the movie was going to make me stay through this predictable story. They made me stay through the pictures. The imagery, the revelation, the little details that you’d get if you think twice about what they’re saying and seeing, that’s what made me stay. Not a single word or a single picture was wasted in this movie. Very effective storytelling indeed and god knows how hard it is to make one with all the showing off and lack of writing skills we’ve had recently. There was even one scene where they didn’t have any dialogues at all and we could still understand what they’re saying to each other.

But what got me the most was the shadow chasing. I’ve been very obsessed with this kind of stories recently. You know, where the character chases someone that is never directly shown and never directly talks in the story, it’s only a shadow, yet you know so much about that ‘shadow’ through the discussion of the characters. The most famous example is Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, you never see him in the books or movies, yet you’re so familiar with him. This kind of character is really hard to write, because you have to blend her with the plot. The shadow makes the plot. So yes, I was really engrossed with Mitty’s chase of Sean O’Connell/the 25th negative. Would he meet him in the end? How would they meet? What would they say to each other? Would he find the negative? What would the picture be? Would it all be worth it? Without realizing it, it had become Mitty’s chase of a lifetime.

The journey has changed Mitty’s perspective on things and we could see how his daydreaming has contributed to his quest. Through the movie, we were graced by great choices of soundtracks, I just have to have them all. I felt like my heart break into a million tiny pieces when we finally saw what the 25th negative was, and I realized no movies has had touched me this much for a while. It was so beautiful. I have a new found respect for Ben Stiller now.

Ok, now, outside of the movie, the movie is actually inspired by James Thurber’s short story in 1939 under the same title. The movie plot is very different to the original story, but the arc and spirit are about the same: escaping into daydreams. Ben Stiller’s rendition of it is contemporary and it’s so marvelous ♥ It’s not your usual romantic comedy. It’s a slice of life.

Looking more into things, I found myself exploring a lot of ideas to expand the Walter Mitty story. For example, Mitty’s daydreaming is so vivid, borderline hallucinating, can you imagine an alternative story where he’s clinically ill? And then of course, the photo essay by Sean O’Connell regarding the 25th negative that became the cover of Life’s very last edition, wouldn’t it be great if you’re able to read it? Cos I bet it’s great. But since the movie’s relatively a flop (which is a shame), I don’t see them exploiting anything further out of the movie. I can only rely on the fandom, if it even exists. I need this to happen, because it leaves so much to the imagination.

In the end, it’s what Walter Mitty’s really all about.

I’m going to dig into the original short story and the first movie adaptation in 1947 for comparison now. You should really watch it, guys. It’s the kind of movie that changes your life. ♥

PS. All of my guesses were right.

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Jiffest, Jakarta Biennale, and Upstairs

I thought Jiffest was dead. Apparently, they’ve revived it this year under the tagline ‘New Chapter’. Check out the schedule below.

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I was late though cos of the garage sale. That Sunday noon, I immediately texted Rudi.

“Jiffest! Let’s go!”

“Ok! After I’m done swimming.”

I know I could always count on Rudi.
(more…)

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