Tuesday, 20 March 2012

NOVEL - We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)

This novel truly depicts every mother's worst nightmare. We Need To Talk About Kevin contains a series of letters from Eva Khatchadourian to her husband Franklin, reflecting on her life prior and subsequent to the high school massacre, known as Thursday, committed by her son Kevin.

Since his birth, Eva notices that Kevin's characteristics and actions are almost sociopathic as the two form a loathsome relationship while Kevin appears to be much closer to his father. Although Eva voices her concern for and of Kevin, Franklin disregards this by "rounding up" these warnings as minor incidents which reinforces the notion that 'boys will be boys', thus pushing Eva and Franklin further apart.

In terms of the storyline, we know the gist of what happens at the start, middle and end but what is a surprise to us is the emotional development. As little is known about Kevin's true motives and thoughts, some surprising discoveries are made. In this book, you see various relationships strain, breakdown and flourish as it examines ideas associated with parental responsibility and unconditional love.

One would assume that a book structured through letters is tenuous to read but We Need To Talk About Kevin is beautifully written and effectively builds up suspense. There are several intricate nuances (as my English teacher would say) within the book which requires multiple readings or a very attentive mind to notice, such as Kevin's response to an interviewer paralleling Eva's ideas prior to Thursday on American accountability. The book mainly explores the complicated relationship between Kevin and Eva of which many can unfortunately relate to.

This is as much as I can discuss about the novel before spoiling it, however I whole heartedly recommend you read it as well as watch the film adaptation with Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller and John C. Reilly. I watched the film first then read the novel and I found that while the film is amazing on its own, the novel adds further depth, of which helped to me understand and appreciate the film even more.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

MOVIE - Shame (2011)

As always, I had very little knowledge of Steve McQueen's film Shame prior to watching it, only that it was about sex, a given considering its R18+ rating. Yes, the film is centred around a man's sexual addiction but there's so much more beyond that.

"In New York City, Brandon's carefully cultivated private life -- which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction -- is disrupted when his sister Sissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay."

The storyline is not complicated or elaborate. There are not sudden plot twists or curve balls, what you see on screen is simply what you get.

That is why the film is simultaneously simple and sophisticated. The film purely displays the destructive combination of Brandon's addiction and Sissy's impulsive lifestyle. Easily put, the siblings cannot function together, but beyond that are dark themes not just about sex, but façades, strained relationships and self destruction portrayed not only in Brandon but in Sissy as well.

The 'explicit sex scenes' didn't disturb me at all. About 3/4 through, I was even wondering what the point of the movie was. But the last 20 minutes of the film really hit hard. The movie is built up and executed well and the ending (and by extension the opening) scene was perfect. Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are excellent and have such good chemistry which is why the movie works so well.

Brandon draw parallels with Patrick Bateman of American Psycho, nonetheless the character stands on his own and I'm conflicted in whether to reprimand or pity him.

Overall, despite my original doubts, this is a very engaging, intriguing, intense film. A seemingly straightforward plot gives you much to think about and more than one viewing is required to comprehend the film.

ART - Picasso exhibition & others (Art Gallery of NSW)

Finally having spare time after exams, Jess, Mon and I decided to see the Picasso Exhibit at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Honestly, I initially didn't have much interest in actually seeing the artworks, as I was only entranced by the fact that is was Pablo freaking Picasso and I would regret a once in a life time opportunity if I decided not to go. There were 10 large rooms of his work, each room illustrating a particular period of his life such as 'A return to classicism 1916-1924' and 'The joy of life 1952-1960'. I obviously could not take any photos, but here are some of my favourite works. [note the following are not the real things (of course) but from Google Images]

 The Suppliant (Source)

Man in a Straw Hat with Ice Cream Cone (Source)

Portrait of Dora Maar Seated (Source)
This was absolutely stunning. Looking back on this on a computer screen is nothing compared to the actual one. In real life, it's so vibrant and gorgeous.

Looking back, there were definitely some 'wtf is this even art?' moments, but overall it was such an interesting experience, that these iconic artworks actually exist and have transcended time for others to view today. It's such an odd feeling, that people come and go in life but what they leave can have such an impact on others. 

I also had the pleasure of looking at the other artworks in the gallery.

There were a lot more people looking at the exhibit than I had originally expected and some of the late afternoon sessions were even sold out. The Picasso exhibit ends on the 25th of March after over 4 months in Sydney, so now's the last chance to see it.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

MOVIE - Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

I've been wanting to watch this movie for awhile and had the chance yesterday to see it. One thing I like doing is watching a movie with no prior knowledge of it and before watching this movie, all I knew about it was self-explanatory from its title, that this one kid really just wanted a day off. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.

Before watching the movie, I was aware of its 7.9/10 rating on IMDB and heard good reviews about it but I did not predict how much I would love it.

It has a light-hearted story line of Ferris Bueller and his best friend and girlfriend taking the day off school but touches on issues involving uncertainty after high school, friendship and strained relationships within families in a way which the audience can relate to the movie without dampening the viewing experience.

Ferris is the one kid in the school in which everything goes his way and that you should hate him but find yourself loving him instead and because he's such an engaging and endearing character, you can't help but root for him to make it through the day without getting caught by his school principal.

There is one particular hilarious scene which Solane's (Ferris' girlfriend) father calls the school to get her out of class. The principal, thinking it's Ferris who's impersonating the father insults him, but then Ferris rings up the school to ask that his sister collect his homework. Then the principal realises that the person who he thinks is imitating Solane's father is not Ferris and assumes he's actually been speaking to Solane's father along.

Then it turns out Solane's father is being impersonated by Ferris' best friend Cameron.

One interesting piece of trivia:

Within the movie, the scene with the economics lecture is unscripted. Ben Stein the economics teacher actually graduated with an honour in economics and was supposed to lecture off-screen but this changed and instead was told to improvise the lecture on camera. Stein said that:

"Everybody on the set applauded. I thought they were applauding because they had learned something about supply side economics. But they were applauding because they thought I was boring...It was the best day of my life."

This is a great movie and I especially recommend it if you need a good laugh or your mood to be lifted. To end this, here are some good quotes in the movie (thank you IMBD):

  • Sloane: (talking about life after high school) What do you think Ferris is gonna do?
    Cameron: He's gonna be a fry cook on Venus.

  • Teacher: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
    Simone: Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.
    Teacher: Thank you, Simone.
    Simone: No problem whatsoever.

  • Boy in Police Station: You wear too much eye makeup. My sister wears too much. People think she's a whore.

  • Ferris: Cameron is so uptight, if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

MUSIC - Crystal Castles

From by best friend Wikipedia:

Crystal Castles musical style has been described as "ferocious, asphyxiating sheets of warped two-dimensional Gameboy glitches and bruising drum bombast that pierces your skull with their sheer shrill force, burrowing deep into the brain like a fever."

Their music frequents television shows such as Skins, Degrassi and Gossip Girl but I started paying attention to their sound when I first heard their song "Tell Me What To Swallow" in Xavier Dolan's film 'J'ai tué ma mère' (of which I adore and will review some time in the future).

It sounds euphoric but when you actually pay attention to the lyrics, it's so creepy and reminds me of Nabokov's Lolita. Nevertheless, I love this song, it's enchanting and it's my top played song on iTunes ehehe.

Another one of my favourites is "Not in love" featuring Robert Smith of The Cure. A fun fact: this song is actually a cover of song released in 1983 by a Canadian new wave group Platinum Blonde. Lee Minki also did a cover of it in the Korean drama "Shut Up Flower Boy Band". Personally, I prefer the Crystal Castle's version, but that's just up to personal taste.

I don't predominately listen to electronic music, but I can't enough of them. Other songs include 'Untrust Us", "Lovers Who Uncover" and "Courtship Dating" so check them out if you have time!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

TV - Shameless: Parenthood

Shameless, Shameless, Shameless, where do I even begin? The show is a lengthy 1 hour, but still manages to pack in numerous issues concerning euthanasia, homosexuality, pregnancy and of course, family. The premise of the show, as quoted from Wikipedia:

"The series follows the dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk, his kids learn to take care of themselves."

That's basically all you need to know.

So far in the second season, this has been my favourite episode. Mainly because Ian gets a storyline (finally) but also, there are two stand out scenes for me.

One of them is the break up (well not really, since they were never really together) of Ian and Mickey. I think the two actors how play the characters work really well together, but what's great about this scene is not what's said, but what isn't. The emotions concerning coming out and relationships are there in the scene, but half of it is not explicitly said, something that I think makes the the show amazing.

Either Ian's heart is breaking, or he's mesmerised by Mickey's beard.

Seriously, he needs to shave that thing off.

The other scene that I really liked was the ending scene between Fiona and Lip. Emmy Rossum is an amazing actress and her and Jeremy Allen White's exchange was so intense. During the scene, I had no idea what to think, I was just frozen, staring at the scene. Check out a lovely gif set of the scene here.

One other thing I want to mention is Shelia assisting Grammy in her suicide. Joan Cusack is hilarious and I love Shelia's character and all her mannerisms but that scene was actually really uncomfortable for me to watch. Nevertheless, it's scenes like that which make Shameless, well shameless. It's simultaneously dark, humorous, jarring, far-fetched, truthful, and I whole heartedly recommend it.


  • The front door was locked so I came in the back. No pun intended.
  • Tell St. Peter you're sorry for being shitty!
  • I'm holding a crack baby.
  • I don't get it. Half of the world has penises, why do people get so upset about seeing them?