Reflecting on the film An Education (2009): The Hardest Lesson Is Not Always Taught in School

There’s no shortcut to success. Well unless you are really lucky you might be able to live the high life depending on the variables of your circumstance and whether it works in your favor. If you were to ask me, I’m a big advocate for education but think the system is entirely broken and only the privileged benefit from it (I’ll try not to get political) and most of my good friends are book smart, but street smart not so much.

Good girl falls for the bad boy. It’s a classic tale and that has been told several times. It’s as most girls believe themselves to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast thinking they can tame the wild beast. My mature self is thinking: no dear, life is not a fairy tale and yet we girls were to born to believe it otherwise. Wolves simply don’t care. If they are hungry, they will devour you even if you are sweet.

In this film, directed by Lone Scherfig, written by Lynn Barbe, tells a story about a 16-year-old girl named Jenny who got seduced by a man twice her age. Pressured by her dad and school, Jenny sought anything but a boring life because she really is nothing but boring. All she does is prep for the exams to get into Oxford University and once she gets her degree, she’ll continue the tradition. Yes, a boring life. Until one day, all of that change when she got rescued by a guy who drove a fancy maroon car. He noticed her standing beside the street in the pouring rain with her cello and decided to pull up and offer her a ride, claiming he didn’t want the cello to get damaged by the rain. Sounds reasonable enough. Instantly, she is wooed by his random act of kindness.

Sounds kind of romantic but crazy at the same time. You see, not only was the protagonist blinded, but her parents were also blinded by this seemingly charming guy when she brought him home. He’s a classy crook by profession. No seriously, he really is a criminal that gets away with the law. That’s because he is so good at it. He’s so good that he deceived her parents into believing that he has inside connection with Oxford University. Like any parents, they just want the best for their child. So, they fell into his deception and allowed her to date him even though he’s twice her age (I believe I mentioned his age earlier).

As an audience, the film sort of try to make its viewers empathize with the situation but it was hard for me. I think it’s partially my cultural background as I was taught never to accept gifts from men, especially from strangers. So, I found some events in the film unconvincing even though I knew what it was implying. When dealing with a wolf in sheep clothing, it’s hard to put your guard up because everything happens so quickly. And when you are young, you lack experiences so you don’t know any better. I was once a teenager too. We think we know but we don’t know and it’s not really our fault because wisdom comes with experience and there really is no shortcut. At least that is the message I got from the film.

Yes, I know I was stupid. The life I want, there’s no shortcut.

I quote the protagonist.

Overall, decent film with dramatized effects. Good thing, the film is not all tragedy but a lesson to be learned. Perhaps, that’s why it’s called An Education. So go to school and get an education and be self-sufficient so that you don’t get your heart broken by a no-good sugar daddy.

Reflecting on The Duchess of Duke Street Season 1

Lately, anything that inspires me to cook, I watch. And this English show is no exception! Cooking is something I’m not good at which is why I came up with Halsdoll’s Diner. How’s my progress so far you might wonder? My mother would have been proud. I gained 7 pounds since I started cooking, considering the fact I used to be shapelessly thin. And yet, I still have yet to find recipes I enjoy. You see, you got to have passion for cooking and mine is not as strong as the protagonist Louisa Trotter who is known as the Queen of Cook and who is actually based on real life character, Rosa Lewis.

“I want to be a COOK!” said Louisa. And that’s all she ever wanted even till the end. Sadly, along the way she had to deal with the politics that comes with it, especially being a woman in 1920s where women are expected to walk in the shadow of their husbands. What I find so intriguing about The Duchess of Duke Street is to see an ambitious woman rising from the bottom as an assistant cook into a proprietor of a famous hotel in London. Of course, she didn’t do it all alone. The circumstance she was in led her to success. She caught the attention of royalty and got involved in an affair. Simply because she is a great cook and attractive. To cover up the affair, she was persuaded to marry her husband, a butler to whom she had no love for. They moved into a house, and soon needed to make a living. So, they took over a hotel business. Unfortunately, her husband was a lousy manager and a drunk. Instead of bringing in revenue, he brought debt. As a result, she kicked him out and took up his manager position to turn the business around. Who say women can’t manage? Louisa Trotter can!

Not going to lie. I love strong resistant women. All she ever wanted was to be a cook and she had to work twice as hard to get where she wants to be. Sometimes she doesn’t always get the moral support from her female kind. For instance, when her respectable trusted employee name Mary gotten into a dispute with her over a male guest, she called out the most hurtful thing to Louisa. She said Louisa “slut” her way into acquiring the hotel. It was a big blow to the ego. Louisa knew it was partially true. She was young and passionate when she started out and so there were a lot of male admirers. Trying to fend them off was not easy. After all, “Men are born to chase after women, otherwise there’d be no human race,” said Louisa. Clearly, not only did she display a concern for her business but she also protects those around her. That’s what I called an amazing woman. Of course, it didn’t stop there. People started spreading rumors that the hotel is a brothel when it started to gain popularity. Working girls, you say? Not quite but they were indeed working hard to make a living in the hospitality industry. It’s not uncommon to see Louisa boldly surrounded by men.

Overall, The Duchess of Duke Street is a show about management, friendship, food, hard work and love which made me realize not much has changed in regards to women’s struggles in the male dominated industry. Luckily, I don’t have sophisticated big dreams. As long as I can find metaphors to write about on this blog and cook a nice meal that alone makes me very happy.

Halsdoll eating breakfast
Halsdoll’s Breakfast
Halsdoll’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich with strawberries on the side

Thanks for reading my thoughts on this T.V series. As mentioned, I am open for business on the day I say I publish a post. Perhaps, there’s something more worthwhile next time. For me, it was a comforting show because a bit of Louisa personality reminded me of my mother. I wouldn’t mind being her apprentice.

Savage Streets (1984) Review: The Hunting Bow Heroine

I’ve been thinking a lot about films and I’m beginning to really enjoy the medium. It’s like poetry. It’s full of imagery and it gets to the point, especially someone like me who is on the go and dislike details. I guess I’m a bit savage myself–me think in few words and like simplicity.

According to Miss Young, the school teacher in this film, poetry contains the following:

  • Rhythm
  • Rhyme
  • Meaning

I could see it. There are few catchy phrases that were cheesy but entertaining. The right songs are played in each scene, echoing the edginess theme. Lastly, the film has a good message. We could all take some notes from Brenda, the fiery protagonist played by Linda Blair who also starred in that terrifying film called The Exorcist. She is bold, daring but just. And she is only a teenager–a teenager who dares to lit a cigarette in the classroom and tells her sentimental poetry teacher to back off. As she said, teachers only know their students for 1-2 hours. They don’t know them on a personal level and what they are capable of. Grr…feisty.

[Okay! Forgive me for my poetry rant. Let’s talk about the film.]

Savage Streets is at its savageness. It’s a comedy/drama that’s not to be taken seriously. Unless you are a teenager reading this review, you may find the film offensive. Why? Because teenagers don’t really know anything in life other than peer pressure and seeking one’s identity and purpose in life. Unless you had a rough life like Brenda where you are forced to grow up fast, then that’s a different story. Brenda has to be tough because she got a deaf mute sister to care for. It’s no surprise she takes the lead among her female friends. She is like the hunting bow of the streets with her pack, walking in the night fiercely and patrolling the streets from injustice. Like Scorpion from Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion, she is on a mission to put bad boys in their place. Brenda doesn’t wait for the law to set things straight and offer her justice. Instead, she gives that neanderthal, punk villain Jake what he deserves. She hunts and strikes that barbaric savage down with her sharp arrow. I could hear her say through her eyes: “I got you bad boy!” Like a true heroine, she defends the weak from the domineering apes that prowl the streets.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened in the film because that would ruin the fun. Watch this film with friends, significant other, or by yourself and I am pretty sure you would get angry but then have a great laugh. Well depending on your sense of humor. Mine is pretty morbid. Overall, fun film to watch–a few outrageous scenes and nudity that don’t make any sense other then the fact it’s there for eye candy. On a second thought, it might not be a good idea to watch with an easily jealous girlfriend. There’s nothing more annoying than being accused of stealing someone’s boyfriend like in Brenda’s case. It’s not Brenda’s fault that men foolishly gravitate towards her hotness. I guess some men just want to get burn.

Painted Faces (1988) Review: Never Look Down on Yourself Even if People Do

One thing I love about Hong Kong films back in the 80s to mid 90s is that it has the tendency to praise hard work and perseverance. Netflix did a great a job at recommending Painted Faces to me as I really enjoyed watching martial arts films but not all of them are made with passion and care. This film really depicted the rigorous training behind the scenes as a performing artists which paid its tribute to the Chinese Opera School, which later brought out the best in Hong Kong martial arts films. I can testify because I was about three years old when I got my first exposure to Hong Kong action films and I remember begging my mom to watch more of it. The choreography and the fighting scenes were highly addictive to watch on top of the intriguing plots that always kept me on my toes. But I think what made me really liked those films is how it teaches virtuous ideas and Painted Faces is no exception.

In this film, we follow a young boy called Big Nose. His mother had to join his father in Australia for work. Most parents would rather have their kids go to a university and become a scholar. It’s more prestigious than a performing artist. The young boy, Big Nose was handed over to Master Yu Jim-yuen, a strict Chinese Opera instructor who takes in young boys who are abandoned by their relatives for financial reasons or children who happen to be orphans. In return for lodging and food, the boys have to go through rigorous training to perform the Peking Chinese Opera and make money for the school. It’s a fair situation, putting the boys to use while providing shelter to them. Pretty much they are a property of the school. It sounds kind of bad, but not so bad at the same time.

What I really enjoyed about this film is watching how well behaved and dedicated the children are to their teacher. Likewise, the teacher cares greatly for his students. But most importantly, the film taught me to never look down on oneself regardless of what others think. Master Yu earned my respect. Overall, it’s a heart warming film that reminds us to respect those who come before us. If you are looking for a feel good film to watch, I highly recommend this one.