November, 2007

Movie Review: Beowulf

Movie Review: Beowulf

I was pretty excited this weekend since I had planned to watch Beowulf, and, even though my friends attempted to thwart my Angelina Jolie fetishism, I ultimately had the final word against six.

Prior to going to the film, I read some reviews and I was surprised to learn that it was a 3D animated movie – shocked in fact, since I have seen the trailer and haven’t noticed the photo-realistic approach. I suddenly had my doubts and thought this was going to be catered to young kids, but given that Angelina Jolie appears naked in the movie I quickly dismissed the idea and went ahead with the plan.

Quite simply, I was blow away.

Beowulf

The story in Beowulf retells the epic poem tale but actually – like most Hollywood movies – deviates substantially from the original plot and creates a new tale based on the old one. This time though, the retelling is for the better, since the plot of the movie is coherent and relates the events and characters rather than sticking to the bard-song tale of old, but of course this is a bit double edged. On the plus side, like I noted, the story is nicely tied together and the characters now relate to each other in different ways. On the down side, puritans may be put off as well as the Angelina Jolie fans since Grendel’s mother (Ms. Jolie’s role) has her own epic battle in the original poem and not in the new tale. But in the context of the movie, it makes sense to deviate from the original text.

The highlights of the movie – and frankly the sellers of it – are the 3D graphics and Angelina Jolie’s presence in the film. As for Jolie, although her acting part is very small in the film, it really does an excellent job whether you are into the sex-sells business or not. Angelina is the perfect actress to be Grendel’s mother, the main villain and seductress of men – whether or not they rendered her fully nude and had her dipped in liquid gold. She simply rocked the film.

Beowulf

The 3D graphics blow everything else out of the water, and the closest thing that would come to it is Advent Children which was released in 2005 but lo and behold what technology can do in two years. Although, to be all perfectly honest, both movies have perfected the 3D genre in different terms. Just like Advent Children before it, Beowulf has a living, breathing world with beautiful (if somewhat barren) landscapes and a staggering amount of detail put into everything – from textiles to facial features all the way to the textures on the walls and facial hair. In some respects, Advent Children does a much better job, especially in the fluidity of the animation. In a couple of scenes it could be visible that the frame rate in Beowulf drops, and the way the horses and characters run is a bit stiff. Advent Children on the other hand – considering how fast paced the movie is – is technically much more superior in that regard, with not a hint of slowdown with all the action going on. But then again, Beowulf is a much more photo-realistic render (light-years ahead) than Advent Children and surpasses it in that aspect.

My only gripe though is that the pace of the movie was a bit off at first. It starts off very slow until the Grendel battle and the time used in nonsense conversations could have been used to establish the reason behind Grendel’s suffering more so that people sympathise with him. I felt it important because in the retelling, both Grendel and the Dragon have something in common which is not explained until further into the movie, and while I understand the reason behind concealing Grendel’s identity in the beginning, I thought it odd to not at least show some reason behind his actions other than an overly sensitive ear drum.

Beowulf

Other than that, I was thoroughly impressed with the movie, not only because it re-tells an old legend in a new, fresh way with some subtle concepts and ideas, and not only because I am a huge Angelina Jolie fan… but because the movie is thoroughly enjoyable, strange, feels truly epic (the Dragon battle is probably the highlight of the entire film and it was as exciting as the Dragon battle in Advent Children)… and that it pushes the technical possibilities to the limit and shows Hollywood that you don’t need fluffy animals and funny one-liners to make a good 3D film.

 

Oddball of a World vol.6 – On Pedophiles, Gas, Prison, Go-Karts & Teachers

PEDOPHILE WORKS IN KINDERGARTEN

Alright, you captured, finally, the pedophile, and you sentenced him for community services. You look at his profile and think, Hmmm, now where is the best place to put this person so he can have a comfortable working environment?! Gee! Let’s put him as a janitor in a kindergarten!

MAN FORGETS CAR IN GAS STATION

How many times, when you fill in the gas, you go to the mini mart and buy yourself a nice soda or some chips? Perhaps some prepaid? Or a magazine? When you go out you surely return to your car, right? Not this man… he walked right out and all the way home.

SERIAL JAIL-BREAKER ON THE LOOSE

Prisonbreak at its best, this guy has escaped prison four times already. You’d think they’d learn by now how to confine him properly.

GO-KART ALL THE WAY

Speaking of escapes, here is an innovative way to escape the cops: A go-kart. Huh? You may ask… but it is logical. They’re small, agile, and can turn sharp corners. You’d outrun any police vehicle without much effort. Just make sure you know where to park it next time if you’re not planning to get caught….

SUPER TEACHERS!! RUN AWAY!

You may need a go-kart for this one. Super teachers, a new breed of teachers who defy all the rules set by schools. No more naughty corners, no more letting people write “I am sorry” a 100 times and submit it. No no… I am talking about super violent teachers here. Ones that throw desks and chairs at their students. WHAT you may say? It is actually proven that they form better-disciplined students. Hmm!


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End of Days

End of Days

I sit in a 3×3 room; a Toshiba 60″ plasma hangs on the wall, beneath it is an IP Phone that proudly screams CISCO Systems. It is not blinking; there are no new messages.A big, round table made of birch wood is in the middle, surrounded by 4 gray chairs. The carpet is stained with spilled coffee, tea, and orange juice – the latter two of which I had contributed heavily to.

In the corner of the room is a steel dustbin. In it lies 6 empty bottles of Oasis water. The wall behind it is splattered with dry coffee and cappuccino. We missed the dustbin on several occasions.

The room is cold, almost freezing. There are 16 neon lamps in the room, arranged in 4 groups of 4. They are barricaded by steel dividers, just like the room is barricaded from the rest of the complex by a thick brown door with no handles.

It is now locked.

A half filled bottle of water is standing next to a half-drunk cup of tea. The tea is cold. Nothing survives for long in this room.

My laptop bag is to my left, on the floor, a few inches away from a big dry blot of coffee. The carpet is dark gray and stitched in blue. The bag is black, light and comfortable. It has a long strap with IBM engraved on it. Next to the laptop bag is a plastic bag that contains a Kellogg’s Nutri-Gain box. I like the apple flavor.

I look at the Google Desktop side bar, at the to-do list. They are all ticked. “Create so-and-so report”. Done. “Send email to X”. Done. “Get the IP of Server and send to X”. Done. “Configure the XML for This”. Done.

Done Done Done Done Done.

I look at my post-its.

Between the Fairuz songs, doodles, random numbers, random names, random words, the number of kilometers I ran, the calories of food I ate, tonight’s dinner, last week’s breakfast, the phone numbers and the fingerprints and the blots of ink and the drop of blood from the paper cut – between all these I find an un-ticked to-do item.

“Have your last cup of tea, take a moment, say goodbye”.

The tea is now cold.

Moments have come and gone… moments that add up to a year and a half. I have taken all the moments I could take in, in this room.

I had lunch here several times. Mostly Johnny Rockets.

I spilled all sorts of things.

I froze, I worked, I submitted, I corrected, I modified, I altered, I checked, I tested, I blogged, I chatted, I prayed.

All here, in moments past.

I have other offices… but this is the special office.

The office on my first day.

And now I am sitting here. No one else is in the complex. No one I care about anyway.

Today is the End of Days. Sunday is a new beginning.

Same work.
Same department.
Same people.
Different email.
Different account.

Different office.

Learned Helplessness

Learned Helplessness

Thoughts.In the hundreds, thousands, millions… an endless, constant stream cyclones its way through my brain. When was the start of all this? The end? I don’t know. What I know is that, if I stop thinking, I don’t know what else I would do.

I wish for, one day, I would wake up and not have a thought hammer through my head. Actually, I had a day like that, some time ago when I was in Syria. I took with me nothing to sleep, and I woke up with nothing.

It almost felt like death, a sweet death that is. When our to-do basket is finally, truly empty. You’d not want to wake up.

I thought of those things while I was jogging. I thought of those things during three, probably four steps. I still had many steps to go.

“You need to change your strategy” my buddy Windspeed had said, just a few minutes ago. It resonated in my head, awakening other thoughts that have laid dormant for the past month. It woke up my uncontrollable – or seemingly uncontrollable – work train of thought. The coal has been lit. The wheels slowly turn on the spindles. The rail rings with the vibrations, shaking of the dust, alerting the little thoughts that have been asleep for miles and miles ahead.

Miles I would be jogging, along with the train.

It reminded me of a game called StarFox. It is a rail-shooter. Basically you pilot a plane and shoot enemies down, but you don’t have the full freedom to maneuver your ship. You could only do so within limited range – the game programming has control on where you’d go.

You can only do so much and you see the end coming.

This is learned helplessness.

Except I can’t turn off the game, press the reset button, or put in another cartridge. Maybe I could, but I’m too helpless to do it.

I’d tell Windspeed about it later.

On my desk at home I have lots of thoughts scribbled on paper everywhere. Post-its take the majority of the credit – they’re pretty short and sweet and to the point. I have more than five diaries, two of which got burnt and one got lost. Only two remain – one in the closet and one has two pages left. It is the most depressing, and thickest, of the bunch. It chronicled my time since 2003. That’s quite a list of thoughts, a love relationship which ended up as a love fucktagon, and some pretty amusing and terminally scarring events that took place. I flip through some of the pages and the only thing I could see there is that I have always had hope. Helpless and hopeful.

Self imprisonment.

But then again, what do you expect when people close to you accuse you of being a terrorist because you go pray? What do you expect when you had to drink water from the sprinklers and eat only in public events because you had no money (something mandatory for all expat students to go through)? What do you expect when you could count the number of “thank you”s over the past years on two hands and a foot? What happens when you feel alienated from your friends and family and the only solace you can find is in videogames, books, and a fluffy bunny? What do you expect when people are freaked out because you’re reserved, observant and smart? What do you expect when you become so stereotyped among people you know that any attempts to rectify the situation just fires back? What do you expect from someone whose first words were spoken when he was 3 years old, spent his younger years in a catatonic state?

A post-it stuck below the keyboard at home reads:

My name is Kinan Adnan.
Dear Samer, thank you.
Same7, sigh.
Jibneh, I have to go to Kal7a. Good fatteh.
Jarjous. Jar. Jajajaja.
Thanks for everything!
Out of milk. But you don’t drink milk! I might. I think.
Nice messenger.
Bad CAD. CAD cat bat fat mihmih.

In the office I have several post-its, most of them Fairuz songs with several IP addresses stuck in between. It is funny.

How many steps has it been now? 20? 30? This beach road is long. Funny, though, I am guided by this pavement. And in the end I would be stopped by the wall of the villa at the end of the road.

StarFox, railways. I need a gun to shoot things down. Or maybe I should just record these thoughts orally – through a recorder. I already write as much as I can but there is much more to say.

It is exhausting… my mind that is. It feels so helpless and challenged. It just wants to explode.

A nice gun would do. Beretta 9M is a good gun. Does wonders in Resident Evil.

But then who’d clean up the mess. I don’t have energy to start thinking down those lines.

I think I got to 50 steps now. I lost count. I will start counting again after the next lamp post.

It just occurred to me I had a dream a few years ago. I was walking on water – Hamza remembers this I am sure, I boasted about it a lot – and there was a presence behind me which I couldn’t identify. I started to run on the water – endless water everywhere. I was probably running from that thing, or something, I don’t know. I don’t recall now if I had a sense of purpose. I probably did, considering the rest of the dream. While running in the middle of the water, I jump, and the water splits apart. Just like the Moses thing. I fall down into that abyss, with plenty of waterfalls going down around me. I spin and twirl with it. I suddenly open my eyes, and I sprout six wings of light. Yes, an archangel. Or something. The water around me splits in billions of drops, which become rain to the city below. I fly over the barren lands with the rain.

I had the six-winged dream again, some time later, but I was flying over a multi-layered Dubai.

A post it on the speaker says:

Call Sandra. Siyan. Get book.

It hasbeen there at least 4 months and I even got the book, I think.

Almost there. I can see the wall.

Point blank. On the grass. Little mess. I don’t know what I am running from.

It is funny – today I wanted to get a new diary and write my first positive entry in a long time. I have progressed well in my reinvention plan. And my running with Windspeed has helped me a lot. I feel alive. I feel loved. I love my friends and family and life.

I just couldn’t find a good looking book with good quality paper. Yes, label me with OCD. I’m Monica! I dunno how Chandler found her hot. I think some people have fetishes for skinny ones. So anyway, can’t find a nice book to use as a diary.

Which is fine, I guess – 2 pages still remain in my old one.

I wrote them here instead.

 

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