Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book

I love books, but I feel that it’s becoming more of a luxury pastime leisure. Hard to focus reading when your mind is constantly on the go–literally it’s hard reading when you feel restless which is why I never read a book while walking, although I have seen some do it and it always put a smile on my face when I see such a rare sight. Even taking the public transportation, I could never find myself relaxed enough to read. However, I have once read on the job, but work never seems to get done. So I completely ruled out that option. Lastly, you’re probably thinking how about before bedtime? By then I am too tired to read. So you see, I am in a bit of dilemma. Maybe if I live in a huge library such as the picture below, I’d read more. Reading is a solitary experience and I need a quiet, safe place to immerse myself in a book. The same can be said for story driven single-player games.

Did you enjoy how I bold my words in the second to last sentence of the paragraph above? I just want to make sure you got the most important stuff from this intro. 😀

Reading is a solitary experienceneed.. quiet, safe place to immerse in a book,” says Halsdoll (had to quote myself because I feel enlightened from my own writing).

masterpiece video game
Current game I’m playing: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139

I won’t ramble on about games in this post. This is about Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book. I know based on the title I got it all backwards. It should be read book first and then watch the film because most films I like are based on a novel. And I must confess, I discovered most books through watching the film first. So that doesn’t make me a book snob even though I think the mind is the greatest theatre.

If you are new to this blog. I like to come up with three list of recommendations or three list of anything for this blog because most of us love making list, don’t we? I do. It declutters my brain space so I can think more clearly. Plus short, sweet post like this gives me a break from thinking too deeply and it’s more conversational (I hope I’m talking to a human and not a robot, but if you are robotic that’s okay).

So here are my list. Three list of films I want to read the book eventually:

1) Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Story: Clive Barker

Hellraiser the movie
The Hellbound Heart: A Novel

I was a teenager when I first got exposed to this classic horror film. I believe it was during Halloween, the show aired on T.V. The thought of demons were terrifying to me that I remember having nightmares about it. When you start getting nightmares, you know the film is scary. It never occur to me back then that hell is like the puzzle pieces of the human psyche. But of course that is just my speculation. The book got me curious and puzzles are always fun to solve. I love a good puzzle. That’s why I need to read the book for more details to come with a stronger conclusion. Hopefully, I don’t dive too deep because hell is definitely not the place I want to be.

2) Audrey Rose (1977)

Director: Robert Wise

Story: Frank De Felitta

Audrey Rose film
Film
Book

This film is so intense that I did not finish it. It reminds me of the Exorcist and the famous Silent Hill (video game series),but of course this came before the video game and before I was born so going back in time to find good films is like going on a trip to discover ancient relics (that’s a compliment, not an insult for those who are self-conscious about age. Young doesn’t always mean better. I like a good aged wine. It’s wisdom that I am after, not eternal youth). One of these days, I will watch the film, but definitely not by myself and if I am curious enough–read the book. Reincarnation can be a very scary thing and for horror fans, we know that horror films don’t always need scary ghosts and special effects.

3) Charlolette’s Web (1973)

Directors: Charles A. Nichols, Iwao Takamoto

Story: E.B. White (book)

Charlotte's Web (2006)
Film
Charlolette's Web book
Book

I know it’s contradicting after stating how I am after wisdom and not eternal youth to switch from horror to children’s film. But eventually adults revert back to a child-like state of mind. I really enjoyed the narration in this film and found that it contains full of wisdom. I used to read the book as a child, but somehow, I think some of the concepts in the story are too deep for a child to grasp. Themes about animal rights, life and death are concepts that are a bit hard for a child to internalize. I didn’t like it as much until now. Favorite quote from the film: “How special are we just a moment?” It’s a powerful phrase to remind us to be humble. Charlotte may be just a spider, but she is also a very good friend and a writer who stretches her natural abilities to make something more out of her existence. Truly inspiring.

Yep, that’s my three list of books I eventually want to read. It’s not so bad going back in time as I am finding it hard each day to find something worthwhile to watch or read. Time has changed or it’s simply just that I am getting older and my taste in entertainment is becoming more refined. I need something with depth. I need something classically timeless.

P.S

I found a good time to read. It’s in the morning with a cup of coffee. That way I won’t get Zzz…from reading. I couldn’t be more happy and content.

Parasite (2019) Review: The Insects of the Society

Have you read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis? Let’s pretend you haven’t read it, then I shall give you a quick summary because if you came to me and ask me what Parasite is all about — I would tell you it’s the opposite of The Metamorphosis. You see, there is one thing they both have in common: It’s about the “filthy insects” of the society that no one aspires to be. Hey, I’m just being real. Unlike The Metamorphosis where the protagonist became a burden to the family, Parasite logically provides a rationale to why leeching is justified. If you think about it, the working class is like the earthworms we find in the garden. They are buried in the underground and hidden from society’s sight, but play a vital role in sustaining the glamourous lifestyle for the wealthy.

Now by no means, the film tries to justify bad behavior as acceptable in the society. Instead, it successfully illustrates the poor’s real struggle by giving them a voice, a different perspective that most often societies are too ashamed to acknowledge. It does bold things by tearing down and distinguishing the rich from the poor. From the wealthy perspective, money can buy many things. Money can ease the mundane worries that life throws at us. In contrast, from the poor perspective, money is power and money can also make one become delusional into believing that the world is a safe haven. For instance, the character Yeon Kyo, the naïve wife, does not deserved to be conned, however, her niceness stems from the fact she never had to deal with the daily struggles that normal people do — such as something as simple as cooking. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of a tragedy and the downfall of the Park family.

For my final thought, the film is a bit of a tragedy and at the same time, a bittersweet victory for the working class. The film does not condemn the rich for their naivety nor depict them as evil villains who suppress the poor from rising above in the society. The rich people in this film are just simply nice folks who provide jobs for the poor, but have become too delusional to relate to the struggles of the lower class. In the end, it’s the working class that rise to the top because they actually do the real work. Seriously, no pun intended. You can’t argue against this notion, which makes this film a powerful statement to the society. I can see why this film was voted for the best film of 2019 by critics.

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.

The Magic Blade (1976) Review: Life Is A Game of Chess

I have always admired those who play chess and are good at it because I don’t know how to play or even know the rules. It seems to require a lot of strategy. I would love to learn how to play one day. It sounds like a difficult game and a game which involves having a sharp mind. Magic Blade, directed by Chu Yuan, is a film revolving around this concept. It’s an action adventure martial arts film with plenty of cool quotes. One of them is “I don’t kill unarmed woman.” The phrase was used towards a flamboyant opponent who had no sword but his hands as a weapon. And the phrase is said again later in this film when his opponent is female, but this time he said, “but you have a weapon.” The protagonist is like a Chinese Clint Eastwood, played by the actor Lung Ti. He just has an air of coolness to him. He doesn’t follow anyone rules and yet he has a sense of deep integrity as a swordsman, which is quite admirable. Plus the choreography in this film is quite entertaining because the protagonist looked so cool beating up the underworld martial artists. It left me feeling good as if I was him beating up the bad people. However, it’s not all just cool in that sense. The film has a deeper meaning beyond the fighting and being the best.

To be on top, means to have no friends and thus you’d find yourself in a lonely place. That same statement can be said just about anything. The wealthier and more famous you become, the less friends you have. I often wonder is that why so many famous people are so depressed and alone? What’s the point of playing chess in real life if your hair will grow grey and you become old and weary from losing your throne? To be king of the martial arts world means death because you are always watching your back–afraid that you’d get attack.

Overall, it’s a great film. I watched it three times. It’s so romantically philosophical and poetic. It’s a reminder not to lose sight of our humanity in the pursuit of our ambition. We want to be the best, but if not careful, we’d end up in a very lonely place.

I watched this on on Amazon Prime Video. It’s free for streaming if you are a prime member, and no I am not advertising Amazon Prime Video. It’s just in case you want to watch the film.

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

If you have been following this blog, you probably know that I enjoyed Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 very much. Some would argue that the film is a response to the Feminist Movement, calling out all men as filthy horn dogs. Women became criminals because men have wronged them in some ways (okay maybe I am going a bit too far. The Feminist Movement is about gender equality). In contrast to Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41, this film does not condone one sex over the other. In fact, I would label this film as a parody between the battle of the sexes and with the higher authority. It clearly points out the sadistic nature of those who stand for law. Cops can be piggish and anyone who has a heart would side with Scorpion (she is also referred to Nami Matsushima in the film) played by Meiko Kaji. The plot sounds interesting doesn’t it? Actually, the film failed to deliver that message, which then made it a bit of a disaster and cringey to watch. What is the fascination with genital torture, or to put it bluntly, rape?

First off, I want to point out that I am a full grown adult woman. I don’t shy away from watching sex scenes in films. It’s like watching the birds and the bees. It’s part of nature. However, I am against bad sex. It may appeal to some folks, but having your genital burned by boiling water is just brutal. In this film, the male lead, Teruo Kudo played by Masakazu Tamura, works at the sex club. His job is to control the lighting. What’s the irony in that? He got first class seating and yet he can’t get a boner because his “thingy” is messed up; it’s all because of the cops! Kudo’s flashback shows a bunch of cops tying him down, pouring hot water on his crotch! I guess you can laugh about it, depending how sadistic you are, but it’s just not right. Thus, Kudo has a grudge against the cops for ruining his “thingy” which prompted him to help Scorpion escape from the police. Keep in mind, this woman killed eight detectives! She is very dangerous and it’s still a mystery to what really happened to her. But we can draw a conclusion based on the song in the film that she was discarded by the man she loved. The lyrics goes like this:

You are a beautiful flower. His words flatter you today. But once you are in full bloom. He’ll just toss you away. Foolish, foolish, foolish woman’s song. Her song of vengeance.

Another cringey scene that didn’t sit well with me is when Scorpion and Kudo interrogate the detective wife who happens to be pregnant. Watching a pregnant woman falling off the balcony is brutal. Okay, the detective is an a-hole, but what did the unborn child do? It’s just not right. Male cops are bad and the female cops are just as bad with their whips! It seems they look forward to punishing criminals by executing them on the gallows. On top of that, the cops have no problem raping their women! There was no good reason which led to the rape scene, unless I am missing something.

In summary, I was disappointed in this film because it didn’t have any real direction other than the fact Scorpion is a dangerous woman, and she is kind of cool. But watch out! Don’t fall for her because she will sting you! It made me wonder why do men fall for difficult women? It really is a mystery to me. Don’t want good girls because they are too boring. Well you’ll get what you deserve. Your “thingy” will get sting. Hey, I am just reiterating the film’s message, or at least what I got out of it.

Well that is it for now. It’s not a great film, but I hope you had a good laugh or learned something. I know, I sure did.

Kwaidan: A Different Type of Horror (Part I)

What does haunting mean exactly? Does haunting consists of ghosts and terror? Haunting is like a whiff of cigarette smoke lingering in the air which won’t subside, or an ancient ruin that once stood proudly in splendor only to be left abandoned and rotten as time progresses. This is the feeling I get from watching the film. It’s a film comprised of four haunting stories.

The first story is called Black Hair. It’s a tale about a man who abandons poverty by leaving his kind loving wife to gain higher social status. Like most ambitious men, the husband desires to rise the social hierarchy. Unfortunately, when he did achieve his new social status by marrying a woman belonging to a wealthy family, the man realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side. He found his new wife cold and selfish, which makes him yearns for his former wife. What makes this story so haunting is the regret that the man felt–choosing to abandon real warmth for shallow security. His thoughts of his old wife haunted him to the point his conscience begins to eat him up and eventually break him down. In the end, his unwise decision to abandon his former wife indirectly killed her, leaving her alone to die in poverty. All of these points mentioned are done with few words. There is not a lot of talking. Each frame illustrates these points. It’s beautifully well done.

In contrast to Black Hair, The Woman of the Snow is a tale about a warm but cold wife. Woman can become so cold it can send real winter shock to the spine if we are not attentive ( I am guilty of it sometimes). The story is about a young woodcutter who was in near death from the blizzard cold while attempting to cut woods with his father. The father died from the cold, but the Snow Woman, which he encountered in the shelter, pity the young man. She kept him alive on one condition–to never tell anyone that he has faced the Snow Woman, or else she will kill him. Long story short, a year later, when he recovered, he met a beautiful fair skin woman (Snow Woman) just passing along mysteriously. The woodcutter fell in love with her, and had three children together. One evening, while he was making sandals for the children and for his wife, the woodcutter innocently smile at his wife and told her how he met Snow woman in the shelter on that snowy day. The wife got upset because he has broken the promise to never tell a soul–she got up and attempted to kill him, but couldn’t because they had children together. So she left the children and the husband. It’s a shame that a happy family can get destroyed because of one broken promise. It’s an unfortunate tale that we see quite frequently in couples. Sadly, he spoke wrongly unintentionally, as he meant to compliment her on her beauty.

Note: For this film analysis, I will break it into three posts. It’s a long film which runs about 3 hours. I have a lot to say and writing a long post is not my style.

The One-Armed Swordsman (1967): The Servant Leader

It’s so difficult not to fall in love with the one-armed swordman as he exhibits all the masculine traits on what it means to be a man. Ideally, he really is the perfect man. I watched this film several times–not just for the poetic concept of masculinity, but for the cinematography. It’s a visually attractive and soothing film to watch in the evening, just when the sun is about to set.

The story is about an orphan, the son of a servant belonging to a prestigious martial arts school that is famous for its swordsmanship. In the opening of the film, the assassins attempt to assassinate the headmaster, teacher Qi, but failed. Instead the protagonist’s father dies in his place. At the mercy of the protagonist’s father, the headmaster promises to train the orphan like one of his nephews as his disciple.

Even though the orphan is treated well by the headmaster, our hero, the orphan, never sees himself above a servant and continues to accept his social status as a servant. This hard headed “arrogant” personality irritates the headmaster daughter because she has taken a liking to him but he refuses to acknowledge her by her name, suggesting that he is aware of his social status. The protagonist remains distant from her, not because he finds her repulsive because he is a true gentleman.

Rejecting the headmaster’s daughter who resembles a spoiled brat princess causes lethal consequence. They say, a woman’s wrath is quick tempered, unforeseen and unpredictable like the changing weather–one moment it’s sunny and then in a flick of an eye, it’s pouring rain (I hear this generalized statement often in martial art films and I have to disagree with this statement, but I will use anyway because the story is told from a heterosexual male perspective). Out of anger from losing in a duel using just bare hands, she chops off the hero’s right arm, leaving him maimed.

Time and again, being a gentleman, the hero will not lay a hand on the headmaster’s daughter even though he just got his arm chopped off. Instead he flees and falls into a boat that belongs to a beautiful woman, who happens to be an orphan herself. This is one of my favorite scenes. Fate is kind enough to bring him to a kind-heart maiden who not only nurses the hero back to life, but who is able to help him gain his strength.

Humiliated at the fact, the hero cannot defend the maiden when they were harassed by two martial arts disciples, the maiden offers him a powerful martial arts book which contains only the left-handed portion. We learned the martial arts book was thrown into fire because the maiden’s mother blamed the book for taking her husband’s life. Magically, it seems that it is fated that this book is meant for the hero. Ironically, he becomes stronger with the new martial arts technique than he was when he still has his right arm.

This new technique not only helps the hero defend himself, but also came in handy when he learned the headmaster’s daughter has been captured by the dangerous martial artist named Smiling Tiger. To make the story short, the headmaster’s daughter is saved, and the bad guys are eliminated. The hero is then given the praise for being a true martial artist worthy to become the headmaster’s successor. But this recognition and leadership got turned down. His father died because of martial arts. The maiden’s father died because of martial arts. The hero chooses to abandon the martial arts world and become a farmer, living a peaceful life with the country girl, who saved him.

How noble, isn’t it? Willing to die for your fellow brothers and deny the recognition and the leadership role offered to him. The hero, is a farmer, maimed, and a simple man. What I find so admirable about the protagonist is how he sticks to his true self. He has always identified himself as a servant, and he continues to fight like a servant. It’s hard not to fall in love with such a character. You use your strength to protect and not use it to harm other. He really is a true leader. I realized from watching the film that sometimes the most manliest of men is the one who lives a quiet, simple life.