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Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

Railway Man

Recently I watched The Railway Man, a film about a former British Army officer who was tormented as a prisoner of war during World War 2.  He discovers that the man responsible for much of the ill treatment he received at a Japanese labor camp is still alive. He then sets out to confront him.

Reasons for watching the film I may have a few:

  1. It stars Mr Darcy alias Colin Firth
  2. It is nice to recall trips I made to filming locations in Thailand

Right next to me in the tour van on a latest tour of the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi was a Japanese guy in his early twenties.  Our chat went like this:

“So you studied in London?”

“I had to… Dad’s assignment was there – banking and finance… How did you find London?”

“Cold. Expensive. Perfect for the history lover in me.”

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In grad school I took a course in International Negotiation where I learned this bit of advice on dealing with the Japanese: do not talk about World War II.  I had a Japanese classmate who kept on chuckling when we smilingly turned to her as this point in the lecture came up.

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Railway Man Eric Lomax got into trouble for building a radio. As I remember from the film he also loved trains. My favorite part is of course resolution: getting over a “lifetime of bitterness and hate.”  Forgiveness. Peace.

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Reviews and ratings are available here.

Thanks to our hosts:

Rubbish Tuesday * Ruby Tuesday Too * Our World * ABC Wednesday

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Nanny McPhee’s boxes

It was one of those days when students do extra-cur activities.  I was approaching the office and saw them covering Singha beer boxes with art paper in blue, yellow, red, green and pink.  I wanted to stop by and chat but work was piling up so  I was okay with something charming to remember the sight by – the talking boxes in the store where Isabel Green works at; in the beginning part of the film Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang,

The boxes took turns telling Isabel –

“The person you need is Nanny McPhee”

And I needed to sort out work for the day. Okay, back to reality.

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“During afternoon tea there’s a shift in the air. A bone-trembling chill that tells you she’s there. There are those who believe the whole town is cursed, but the house in the marsh is by far worse. What she wants is unknown but she always comes back. The spectre of darkness: The Woman in Black”

Thus I pulled a blanket and settled myself neatly on the bed to watch.
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There only have to be promises of  ‘gothic, big, isolated house;’ ‘classic’ or  ‘Victorian-era ghost story’ for me to buy a horror film.  Of course there is also Daniel Radcliffe, all grown up from his Hogwarts days that drew me to The Woman in Black.  I found a review of the film on a blog called The Vault of Horror.  It provides considerable amount of details that someone like me would appreciate to know.

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I skimmed the review taking a mental note of relative phrases such as ‘British period horror,’ ‘minimal gore and largely psychological scares,’ ‘mysterious abandoned mansion on a tiny island off the coast of Britain.’ Hmm… sold. I’m watching this and watch I did.

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If I was scared then that’s a bonus. I watched the film mainly because it has something to do with England of course, and I like finding quotes in the interaction.

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As a novel, I like this comment on Goodreads – “What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller–one that chills the body, but warms the soul with plot, perception, and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost [store] story written by Jane Austen?

Alas, we cannot give you Austen, but Susan Hill’s remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as our era can provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House…

The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler–proof positive that this neglected genre, the ghost story, isn’t dead after all.”

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And for collection purposes among obviously obvious others, I’m putting in some quotes by the author Susan Hill.

“A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.”

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Something reminiscent of curiosity killed the cat – “It is remarkable how powerful a force simple curiosity can be…. In spite of my intense fear and sense of shock, I was consumed with the desire to find out exactly who it was that I had seen, and how, I could not rest until I had settled the business, for all that, while out there…. – or at least horrified the cat.

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Since I have not read the novel, I have been wondering why the Goodreads comment mentioned Jane Austen.

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This may not explain everything but what reminds me of Jane Austen when I read this quote: “For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever”?

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Mr Darcy saying ‘my opinion once lost is lost forever’?  Yes, it does sound like the line. This musing will not necessarily boil down to Jane Austen though. Perhaps some place like Scarborough where Woman in Black author Susan Hill was born. She attended Scarborough Convent School and while reading that I wondered if I saw the school, albeit unknowingly, while going around Scarborough when I was in England. It’s the very first English town I toured after arriving in Reading from Heathrow.

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English: A Yorkshire Dales' farm

English: A Yorkshire Dales’ farm (Wikipedia)

In my early days of blogging I did a meme that asked questions to which my answers showed a lot of anglophile symptoms, e.g. To ‘What is your current obsession?’ I answered the English countryside!

To ‘What is your favorite weather?’ I said 28 degrees C, clear blue skies, when actually I was thinking of myself alighting from the car to a patch of smiling daffodils. The sun was bright but the morning air was crisp. From where I come from, if the sun is shining brightly, it is fair to assume boiling temperature. Not England. While approaching Burton Agnes Hall my lips were turning violet.

To ‘If you were given a free house that was full furnished, where in the world would you like it to be?’ I quickly answered definitely in the English countryside!

The mind can only cup a thousand different inter-lapping things. You wouldn’t want to know what I wanted in my hands when I breathed that answer. What business do assault helicopters have buzzing like dragonflies over the English countryside? Or what does anyone care if eating alone at expensive restaurants is a guilty pleasure?

To ‘What are you currently reading?’ I jotted anglophile blogs. Next to that I said “becoming a bottled pear in Bangkok” to ‘What do you fear the most?’ Bottled pear is Ursula’s (Judi Dench, Ladies in Lavender).

Sense and Sensibility. How fond I was of the film and so glad they asked ‘What’s the best movie that you’ve seen recently?’ I fall in love over and over at how quaint the English countryside is.

And when I saw the final question, I decided to finish the meme and submit my entry in the linky: ‘What’s your favorite book from the past year?’

‘Harry Potter 7.’

Predictably.

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It’s family time at TCP this week. I could not find a trailer for Impromptu 1990 on youtube, (my internet connection has been jumpy too) but I’m convinced it’s one of two films I’d like to feature. Here’s the overview:

A true historical depiction with comedy, romance, & classical music. Nineteenth century England is the setting for this more than a love story about George Sand, an extremely independent woman writer, who often wore stylish men’s clothes and took a male nom de plume in order to be published. She does not allow the mediocrity, pettiness, and hypocrisy of ordinary life to stop her from being a sincere, loving, creative, intelligent, unique, independent and strong spirited woman. A portion of the film deals with her romance with Frederick Chopin. It portrays the vicissitudes of an artist’s life. Highly inspirational for women who dare to be different. (text from the same link)

It’s suitable for growing up or grown-up children.

Here’s something with more visual aid 🙂

The Secret Garden

The overview goes:

Based on the children’s classic by Francis Hodgeson Burnette, the author of The Little Princess (also highly recommended.) A magical film about a strong willed ten year old girl who goes to live with her uncle and cousin in the English countryside at the turn of the century. This independent, strong and delightful character impacts everyone around her and brings life and love to her young cousin. Visually stunning and rewarding, the film shows how illness and faulty belief systems can be overcome by the power of love coupled with strength of character. A film that all young girls should see, it exalts the magic of nature, the power of love, and advances a “believe in your inner feelings” ethic for young ladies.

*Recommended for the whole family – all ages – to watch together. This is a live character film, not animated, so be careful to rent this version as there are several on the market. (text from the same link)

Male characters in The Secret Garden exemplify similar values as the female characters so little boys, sit down and concentrate :).

If class appeals to you, the setting which is England, in both films, surely provides it.

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Header from Samulli. Play T13 here.

Mountains and lakes, quiet dirt roads, pretty meadows, rustic barns, beautiful gardens, quaint cottages or elegant houses, lovely fountains, farm animals – if they are anywhere in a film, whether shown for 1 minute or 10, I am certainly watching. Being a city dweller for fifteen years has not swayed my wish to one day live in a charming countryside. I am a country girl at heart! My T13 today are my favorite films that show the English countryside in some or most parts of each of them. Their stories are great and I love them; I also believe the setting adds a lot of impact and appeal:

1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

2. Ladies in Lavender (2004)

3. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

4. Miss Potter (2006)

5. The Secret Garden (1993)

6. Nanny McPhee (2005)

7. Becoming Jane (2007)

8. Keeping Mum (2005)

9. Harry Potter I – VII of course (2001 – )

10. Vanity Fair (2004)

11. Elizabeth (1998)

12. The Duchess (2008)

13. Atonement (2007)

Bonus: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

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This is an old, imported post.

View more FFF participants at Living to Tell the Story

My week went really fast. It’s probably because of the nature of things happening.

Unexpected break.  A quick storm on Wednesday cut off power for an hour. Everything at work was paralyzed. The academic dean had to cancel afternoon classes. Students cheered, but the biggest cheer rose out from the faculty offices 😀

Discoveries thru a bus window. I made use of the unexpected break by taking a bus ride to the heart of Bangkok. I haven’t observed things along Sukhumvit road for a few years. There’s a garden and an Arts and Culture Center to visit for free.

MP3. When work is not that serious, one of my best friends in the office is a pair of music-filled earphones. Sometimes playing songs, especially when they’re your choice, makes work so much smoother and sets the mood well throughout the day.

Going solo to the movies. I re-watched Harry Potter last Sunday.  This time I was alone, not babysitting a hyperactive 5-year old.  It was relaxing.

And I got myself some highlight:

A deal. I mentioned somewhere among previous posts that I was making a decision to accept a university instructorship or not. I decided not to. It was a NO even after the vice president asked me to drop by his office. He fired off negotiating tactics as soon as I sat down and through it an idea suddenly sprung –

I responded, “Ok, I will take up the post if you write the British Embassy…”

He seemed stumped and it was my turn to negotiate.

“What are you doing in England this time?” he demanded.

I flashed him a (sort of wicked) smile, “no money involved… write the embassy, Boss and you got yourself a new instructor.”

He didn’t ask what did I want him to write about. Without much ado he said, “alright, I will.”

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