Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hero of the Day: Alex Zanardi

Five years ago, on September 15th 2001, former F1 driver Alex Zanardi was leading a race in Germany in what was the first major sporting event in the world following the September 11 attacks.

He suffered a spin late on in the race, and in trying to regain his racing line, was hit full on by Alex Tagliani. The accident nearly cost him his life. He survived, but even more tellingly for a racing driver, he lost both his legs. Such an event would've broken a lesser man.

But not Alex.

He got himself two prosthetic legs, and began the long road to recovery. Not only in life, but also in his racing career. Against all odds, he started racing again two years after the accident, driving touring cars in Europe.

On Saturday, he stepped back into a Formula 1 cockpit for the first time in over half a decade. In what is the most sophisticated and physically demanding motorsport vehicle in the world, he completed lap after lap after lap.

DELL Formula BMW World Final 2006

By the end of the day, his best lap is only a second shy of regular BMW driver Sebastien Vettel, Germany's next big thing and a driver half his age.

But that's not why I'm writing about him.

Not the fact that his comeback was against all the odds, or that as a Formula 1 driver, he was not very successful (or very lucky, I should point out).

No.

The reason why I'm writing about him is that five years ago, he made a decision.

When others would have folded under lesser circumstances, when he himself is on his deathbed...he made a decision to live.

He decided to fight for his life.

DELL Formula BMW World Final 2006

And as far as I am concerned...he won.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Babelling about Borat

Two movies I'm most excited about (click on title for trailer):

Babel

Babel-movie-02
Gael storm: He will rock your world.

The most anticipated movie that I've waited for since...well, since X-Men 3. And before that...Munich. In a year that's loaded with a fair number of decent watches, that says something. With X-Men 3, it's the fanboy in me. With Munich, it's the filmmaker in me, wanting to see a personal dream pan out on the big screen (read 'M for Munich'). It's a similar case with Babel.

From what I've gathered so far, Babel deals a lot with the notion of language. The title itself is derived from the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, whereby people were supposedly driven by their arrogance. Believing themselves to have the capability to be bigger than God, they build a tower to reach to the high heavens, only to have the big man upstairs confuse them by having them embued with different languages. Not being able to understand each other, the tower was never finished in the end.

This story reflects that, in its multi-character perspectives. There are several main characters in this, with the main stars being Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. I am most interested, however, in Gael Garcia Bernal's turn in this. I've seen him in The Motorcycle Diaries and Y Tu Mama Tambien, and he has always impressed me with his verve. He has an incredible screen presence, and word on the street is that he's approached to be the villain in The Bourne Ultimatum. If it's true, then, in addition to this movie, he'll complete his transition as an actor from 'one to watch' to 'one you'd bet your life on'.

OK, I'll stop Babel-ling about him now :>

Borat
Sacha Baron Cohen-5
The Baron Cohen: Staines massive

Now, Borat has been getting a lot of mention in the press elsewhere. In fact, it's already opened pretty much everywhere, and is already the most successful comedy in history ($15 million parlayed into $90 odd million at the time of writing...and that's just in the U.S.). So much so that Sascha got himself a nice $30 million deal with Universal, making him the highest paid British actor at the moment. For those not in the know, the fuss is about him going round pretending to be a Kazakhstani journalist and ask people stupid questions.

But the other reason why I'm very much looking forward to the movie...is the man himself. I've followed his career from the very beginning, when all he had was a small five minute segment on a 30 minute fake news show in England. I lived in Staines for a while (where he came from), and all my friends could say to me was, "Yeah, Fikri, Staines massive, innit?" (a catch phrase from his Ali G. character). Now to see him become this huge international star is...

...well, wow. Never thought it would happen. Quite unbelievable, and yet at the same time...pretty damn exciting :>


I'm also looking forward to:

The Good Shepherd
About how the CIA came about. An ensemble cast with Matt Damon, Angie Jolie, Robert De Niro, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon, Alec Baldwin, Joe Pesci. Directed by Bob De Niro himself. If that doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will.

Blood Diamond
How about Leo D's second movie in as many months? You tend not to see him for a long time, but when you do...he's everywhere. Movie's about people wanting to get their hands on a priceless diamond somewhere in Africa (haven't Hollywood made enough movies there? What about Asia?). Directed by Edward 'I'm gonna Last Samurai your ass' Zwick.

Bobby
About the night Robert F. Kennedy died, and how people's lives were affected by it. If you think the cast for The Good Shepherd is good, then you'd be bowled over by this one. Anthony Hopkins, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishbourne, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Heather Graham, Helen Hunt, Demi Moore, Martin Sheen...and the dude from the Mighty Ducks movie (Emilio Estevez). In fact, that dude is not only acting in this one, he's also the writer and the director. Plus, Bryan Adams is penning the main theme for this.

I'm A Cyborg But It's OK

Korean movie by my favourite Korean director Park Chan Wook. He's more well known for his visually graphic movies about revenge, which is why this movie is about...love. Love between mental patients anyway. Sounds like fun...but even more so when one of the patients is Korean singing superstar Rain (or in Korean, the less cool sounding Bi). He makes his debut in this one, and am most interested to see how he does.

The Fountain
Time travelling sci-fi fantasy drama romance thriller whatever about a man trying to save his wife's life. But who cares what it's about? Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz and the guy who married her (Darren Aronofsky). In other words, he who gave us Requeim For A Dream. And Clint Mansell is scoring. But perhaps most impressively of all, believe me when I tell you: no CGI.

The Last King of Scotland
Actually, it's about an African dictator (what did I say about Hollywood films there) Idi Amin, who, if haven't already guessed, is not Scottish, let alone it's king. Forest Whittaker plays the lead role, and from what I heard, his performance is to die for. And mind you...that's the only reason why I'm excited about this film.

The Queen
From The Last King of Scotland to The Queen. About the Queen's perspective in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana. Much like the movie above, I'm anticipating this movie primarily because of Helen Mirren. Personally, I think that she is arguably one of the finest actresses in the world, not just because of the quality of her work, but also because she is incredibly hardworking (five projects in this year and the next alone, according to IMDB). Plus, I want to see how Michael Sheen fares as Tony Blair. Should be fun :>

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Identity

As I was walking up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish he'd go away.

- Hugh Mearns

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Bimbo Post - Superman Returns

So it was that I was pottering around town a few months back. Of course, when I say town, I mean a place where you can do some Seoul searching.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! (falls over backwards and die from laughter)

(comes back to life)

I digress.

Anyways, I walked around town with a girl who I only met once before, having a super time (see what I did there?). We came across this small shop by the corner, stocking all kinds of things from years gone by. Old cards, action figures, even types of sweet.

And then I saw it.

A bird? A plane?

No.

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It's SUPERMAN!!!!!!!!!!!

(John Williams' tune runs through my head)

Jeng jeng jeng jeng jennnnngggg.....jeng jeng jeng.....
Jeng jeng jeng jeng jennnnngggg.....

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...JENG JENG JENGGGGG!!!!!!


As fantasies of yesteryears flooded me, I approached the lady at the counter.

"Kegosen olmaiyeiyo?"

She puts down her battered paperback, looks at me straight in the eye and tells me that she loves me.

Yeah right.

But she did say that it wasn't for sale.

(runs to the top of the building and jumps off out of despair)

(suddenly, I realised that I can fly. So I floated down where my cute Korean waited for me)

"Otdoke?"

"Kenchana," I said. "Nanen Superman iyeiyo."

She laughed. And so did I.

I leave you with this.

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UP...UP....AND AWAY!!!!!

*A response to a challenge by the Paradoxical Fille.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What A Day A Difference Makes

I have a habit of writing emails to my friends back in Malaysia, telling of my escapades here in Korea. Sometimes, something truly exciting happens, like a proper film workshop, or if I happened to go on an interesting trip somewhere. Most of the time, however, I run through the motions.

Even when that happens, however, I write nonetheless. It is what I call "making metaphorical mountains out of metaphysical hills."

So once in a while, I'd go on making such mountains from hills. And the response I get from those who do reply is a positive one. By and large, they are in the mould of "Wow! Your life over there is so exciting! My life over here is so boring!"

Perhaps not in those exact words...but it's definitely the most common underlying message.

Which is interesting...because for me, my life is boring. Not that I'm upset about that, it's just that it's not particularly interesting to me. And I'm living it.

So in reply, I asked one of my friends to clarify a bit further. "Well," she started, "it's because you seem to be doing a lot of stuff, while I'm just here in the office."

A fair comment, which remains valid despite the fact that I myself spend a considerable amount of time in my own office (though for very different reasons). Though not that big a deal in itself, in my idler moments (should that qualify as a word) on a train or on a bus (since I find myself doing a fair amount of travelling these days), I find myself thinking about this.

About this oh-so-interesting life of mine.

I came to realise that it's not so much the interest. Never so much about what it is that I do, and yet everything about it.

It's different. To their life, to the day before, and to the day that will come. It is that difference that strikes them, the difference of the things that I do that makes things seem...interesting.

And I must admit that this is partly calculated. I wake up everyday, and I always intend to do something different. To meet different people, to eat different food, read different books (maybe a magazine today), buy a different brand of coffee (Java Coffee instead of Coffee Bean), walk a different path (the backroads instead of the main way). There's a certain amount of routine, of course, but looking at the larger picture...I don't really like it.

Reading that bit again, it all sounds kinda hypocritical, paradoxical...not making much sense. Even to me.

But that's OK.

It's what makes me different.

Perhaps you'd wanna try it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What Dreams May Come

I haven't been writing a lot, as of late. One can point to a variety of reasons or excuses. Not enough time, not enough inspiration, not enough whatever. The end result is only and exactly that.

I haven't written. Simple as that.

But I have been reading. A fair amount. Books, online stuff, scripts (my own and others), even travel brochures.

I clicked and clicked, and I came across this.

Now I feel like writing again.

Thanks, Gurustu.