Life’s Like That

Sometimes, words of wisdom comes suddenly, sometimes, it comes naturally, and seldom times, it comes wisely. But the best part of it, it always come from the most unexpected and idiotic person. Which, kind of makes him/her special and even wiser than…. the president himself.

Well, last week, my lecturer told us that another lecturer mentioned: Don’t think out of the box, because there is no box to begin with. It made sense, actually, and I kind of like the quote. But, a friend of mine, one full of nonsense, said: Think out of the box, but stay within the walls. Now that caught me! It’s so so true. I mean, so many people tell us to think out of the box, and when we try to do so, they secretly built another wall around us, to keep us in and ‘safe’ still. Cynical, but true. And wise. That’s life anyway.

People always say, go try new things, explore, have your individual freedom, express yourself. And when we try to do what they say, they set another ‘invisible’ but very-there parameter. Ironic huh, but that’s life. Sometimes, that’s the government, the authority, the rules.

Another day, two of my friends were debating over whether we were born to enjoy ourselves and live life to the fullest, or just born to die. They were so deep in the debate when I said, ‘Hey guys, actually, I think we are born to live, and then we live to die.’ Woow, I tell you, there was this moment of silence, and we were like, ‘Wow!’. HAHA. But to me, though I thought of it on the spot, I think I agree with it. I mean, not 100%, but it contains some truth, doesn’t it? We are born, then we try to live life the way we want, or the way people want us to, and then every day is one day nearer to death. We are just waiting for it, subconsciously. Sometimes, ignorantly.

This is not an emo post. I wrote it with an absolutely nonchalant attitude, and even a slightly happy one. Well, like a friend said: if the world doesn’t suck, we’ll all fall out. Which, is true, and I accept it with a smile.


Smile, and the world smile with you. Frown, and the world ignores you.


Battle of the Status

India has recently sent their first man on the moon and that has caused unhappiness among some people. They were angry that the government easily spent millions of dollars on their space mission, when people are dying of hunger on the streets of India.

I have to agree. Why spend so much money to improve the nation’s status while the own flesh and blood of the country is facing poverty and living with the very bare necessities of life? Don’t the people make who the nation is, and not it’s technology? You send the man to the moon, while your fellow countrymen are worrying about how to settle their next meal, about their kid’s education, about their job and health.

Well, I understand it’s about the advancing of science and technology, and the increasing of knowledge, but going back to the basic morals of human mind, I still think that giving one a better life is more important than any of these.

I have absolutely no say in this at all, but as an individual, I’d so much rather the government give the money to the poor than invest on sending man to the space. And when I say give it to the poor, I don’t mean trusting them to some ‘organization’ because I have almost lost all my faith in these charity organizations, but rather walking on the streets and handling them over personally to the people. At least no money goes to the building of a more beautiful organization building, or in the Singapore context, the making of a golden tap.

These are just some random thoughts, not strong opinions, because honestly, I haven’t been following closely on the news on this issue. It is also not my purpose of this post, but it leads to it anyway..

Some days ago, I was greatly affected by a comment/thought of a friend, and it hurt me. He/she said something unkind to another friend of mine behind his/her back, with regards to the issue of the rich and the poor. Ok, I’m not going to specifics and details here to keep it as private as possible. But what I’m saying is that I was greatly affected and disturbed. And disgusted.

Why is it that people judge others with their status in mind, and not the personality and characteristics? Like the people in a nation make who the nation is, doesn’t the personality of a person make who he/she is? It doesn’t make any sense to me that a person’s worth is judged by how much he/she has in the bank account, or how much the family has. The individuality of the person is more valuable than all of these added up together.

I’m not trying to preach here, but this is just what I feel strongly about.

I have a secondary school friend who is rich. Almost, very rich. However, her family lives a humble life, and almost all the clothes she wears are either school t-shirts or the very common shirts and pants. Nothing fanciful, nothing proud. 5-6 years ago, when I first knew her, another friend of mine was telling me that this girl doesn’t want to ‘show off’ her status becasue she’d rather have friends like her for who she is than what she is. She is a lovely girl by nature, very crazy though. And because of that, she have my respect. That was 6 years ago when I heard the comment, but up till now, I will remember it. We are still friends now, she’s studying overseas, but I’ll see her soon, and I miss her. And no matter what, she has my total respect.

I don’t know why did that friend have to make such a comment on the other friend of mine, and what caused him/her to think like that. There’s nothing much I can do I think, other than, well, not ever following my friend’s thought or footsteps.

Well, never judge a person by first appearance or superficial chats with him/her. It takes time to know one, and sometimes, the more you know, the more it hurts.

Like what Brad Pitt’s character in Burn After Reading said, ‘Looks are… deceptive.’

How true.

Love It Only When You Lose It

Many people say that one only knows how to truly treasure sometone only when they have lost him/her. I’ve learnt that lesson years ago, when I have barely lived past my years as a kid. My great grandmother, whom I dearly loved, passed away, and that was when I learnt it the hard way. But that was years ago.

I guess that as time passes, pain disappears along with it. I’ve learnt to love my family more, and treasure the moments I’m sharing with them now. But as I said, the painful lesson that I have is buried deep in my memories, and if I don’t think about it, I’d probably ignore it somehow, someday.

But something happened today which affected me greatly, and has caused the memories I’ve put aside to surface again. It brought up memories of lost and feelings pain of losing someone, and fear of the future and life itself. It has caused me, in a different maturity level of my life, to reflect about things I usually brush aside and took for granted.

A neighbour of mine passed away few days ago. I won’t be giving too much details because I hope that the grieving family’s identity be kept.

It was a sudden death, one that shocked neighbours and friends, but mostly the family.

I just came back from the wake not too long ago, and I must admit that even though they are not the closest of neighbours, I almost couldn’t control my tears. I did not cry, but it was close to that. When I saw the young kids kneeling in front of the coffin, praying for their father, this indescribable feeling of pain overwhelmed me. My heart literally ached for the kids and their mother. It pains me so much to see the young souls grieving over someone whom they depend on so much, someone who is almost the most important person in their lives. It also pains me so much that the young mother now have to live life, more bravely than she has ever done so (perhaps), playing the role of a mother, and someone whom the kids depend totally from now onwards.

The beautiful girls and lovely boys who lost their father, my one wish for them is that they will be strong. I know I’m in absolutely no position to say this, but I believe that their father loves them so so so much, and I hope they know that. And I hope that the children will be strong and be the hope that their mother has now.

And I hope that the mother will be brave, and be the pillar of support for the kids. She has to be, really, and I give all my blessings to her. I saw her just now, and when I looked into her eyes, I knew she can be all that she ever will. I know that she can do it, for the kids, and for her husband.

Life is cruel. It’s stupid that things happened this way. I’m sorry, but it’s shit stupid. But well, life goes on, days go by. If it’s something we cannot change, we will have to find a way to live it. It sucks, but life ain’t a bed of roses. To me, it’s more of the thorns you get from the roses.

But right now, all I can think about is the family. And all I can ever give them is hope for the tomorrow and love everyday.

I love you guys, you got to be strong, really.

Singing off,


family- people you can count on

Point Proven. HAH!

From this month’s American Cinematography magazine. Made me laugh every time I see it. He’s not just intelligent, but funny too!

Emmanuel Lubezki PROVEN to be the best DP, by me.

I finally managed to catch Burn After Reading with a willing fellow audience, ShuHui, today. And like I said, point proven. Emmanuel Lubezki didn’t disappoint me the least bit. Woohoo!

Plot wise, was just brilliant. The Coen Brothers have definitely done a great job in the storyline and putting the entire masterpiece together. And with credits like The Big Lebowski, Fargo, Barton Fink, Being John Malkovich, No Country for Old Man, etc, they are absolutely the few film making genius ever lived. They’re great!

And cast were amazing too! Brad Pitt was hilarious. Everyone in the theaters burst out laughing whenever he said something ridiculous or did something funny. His character here kind of reminded me of his character, Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys, no idea why. George Clooney and John Malkovich were great too! So are the rest of the cast. And crew.

Never forget the people behind the scenes!

But now, Emmanuel Lubezki! Little camera movements, yes. But this is a comedy, or so to speak, and too much complicated movements might affect audiences’ ability to catch the punchline of a joke by complicating things and distracting us. The scene of Clooney cutting carrots in the kitchen. Simple looking scene, day, interiors. But as said in AC, the natural lighting did not agree with the film makers, so Lubezki had to solve the problem by lighting it the way it was supposed to be. And as it turned out, it looked simple, like, day. Like sun was in favour with them and shinning into the kitchen the way they wanted it to. Lighting was also simple and realistic because the film was about reality.

Here you go,

Emmanuel Lubezki,

Master of Cinematography.

Well, I’m glad some critics did agree with the splendid job by him! Haha!

Trivia from AC:

-Emmanuel Lubezki says he love the Coen brothers “to death” and hopes he did not “destroy the dreams of these two guys I (he) respect so much”. (I definitely believe he did not.)

-Roger Deakins is one of Emmanuel Lubezki’s “favourite cinematographers” and he would consult Deakins for ideas “every time I (he) start a project”.

-Emmanuel Lubezki is very happy to be able to replace Deakins for the film.

Anyway for this month’s great article, you can read the magazine in my school’s library or the Esplanade Library. Or from me! Hoho!

Oh wait, one more thing.

Another reason I really have great respect for this man is because at the 21st Annual American Society of Cinematographers Achievement Awards, he actually invited his camera operator George Richmond to receive the awards with him. He did not gain all credit for himself, but shared it with the person who helped him so much on set. Humble, caring and loving, and intelligent, and talented. And, very talented. Haha!!

Signing off


Trust in the Man

The man: Emmanuel Lubezki.


This great DP finished a film some time ago, but it will only be released here on 9 Oct, Burn After reading, directed by the Coen brothers.


Lubezki, being my favourite DP of all times, and the Coen brothers, being few of my favourite directors, I naturally went to check out goggle news on the new, greatly anticipated film. Boy, I was disappointed with the reviews. Not disappointed at the filmmaker, namely Mr Chivo a.k.a. Lubezki, but at what the critics said.


While many had generally good ratings fot the actors and the directors, a number of critics ‘critised’ Lubezki’s cinematography in the film. Some sources said that he used only simple dolly and camera moves, others said he was a disappointment for a DP who was able to present audiences with masterpieces like Children of men. A site even said something like, oh he’s not that good, no wonder the Coen brothers went back to work with their long time DP, Roger Deakins, on their next film. Come on, Deakins have been working with the brothers for years, given the rapport and trust, they would naturally work with him again when possible. No matter how fantastic another DP who replaced Deakins might be. (Roger Deakins was unavailable to photograph BAF for the brothers. He’s a great DP, though, mabye my 2nd favourite.) Man, when I read it, I have to admit I wasn’t pleased. Not at Lubezki, but at the critics. Call me bias here. I will still have my ultimate support for Lubezki.


I wanted to judge the film for myself. Did Lubezki really disappoint many film-goers? Did he disappoint the colloberators in making the film? Did he not out in his best? I strongly believe in my opinion about him, a very good one that is, and I will never let other opinions wander my believes.


Anyway, being so ‘fed up’ at the discouraging responses, I was glad to finally receive my copy of the American Cinematographer magazine. The best thing is, there is an artical on Burn After Reading! An interview with Lubezki on the making of the film! Wooh! It was kind of like the highlight of that day! haha. And the interview did not disappoint me the least bit. He in a way, justified all the negative comments by the critics.


In the interview, Lubezki said the bothers wanted the film to look ‘ugly’. Some colours were a little mismatched, and when Lubezki wanted to correct it, the directors said no. Also, Lubezki, being so intelligent (haha), gave the brothers some comments, which they accepted and agreed with. He also managed to cleverly solve problems while filming and cleverly made the shots look the way they were supposed to. Lubezki, among other intelligent things he did, also asked the brothers to allow for another re-take because he felt the initial shots ain’t that right. Lubezki had to sacrifice his pride for that, but did what he thought was right anyway, all for the sake of doing a good job for the brothers. I mean, what else can you ask for, man? This man IS good.


And for some who said the film was boringly photographed, I quote directly from the magazine. I sure hope I won’t get sued for plarigism or the like.. haha.


Quoting the DP: “This is not a period movie, and it doesn’t have any of the visual flourishes of Barton Fink or The Big Lebowski– it’s very minimalist. The story happens in the present in sub-urban Washington; I cannot imagine anything more visually boring.” Being able to sustain the audiences attention despite the boring surroundings is a great deal in his part, I must say.


Being a good DP, to me, isn’t just about being able to photograph a scene beautifully. It’s not about being able to capture beautiful, scenic shots that make audiences go ‘wow!’.


Being a good DP, to me, is more about staying true to the story, being able to bring across the directors’s dreams to the big screen visually. Being able to solve the problems on set well and having a good relationship with the cast and crew, respecting and loving them. In this, I think Emmanuel Lubezki did a great job, from what I read from other interviews and the magazine.


Apart from Burn After reading, I want to share with you guys a great, cool, thing I observed from a particular film he photographed, Great Expectations. The film was loosely based on the book, Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.


Great Expectations was beautiful. Story wise and visual aspects. It was photographed very beautifully too, and that was perhaps becasue the story called for it.


Anyway, in scenes when Mrs. Dinsmoor appears, Lubezki employs a certain canted shots, which gave a sense of discomfort and surreality, to me at least. Thoughout the whole film, I felt weirdly uncomfortable whenever she is about to appear. But at first, I didn’t understand why I felt this way. It was some kind of sutle, un-obvious feeling. Which was a great job in Lubezki’s part, because things didn’t happen so obviously. Audiences feel the way the director wanted them to, without knowing why. That’s where Lubezki’s magic lies.


At the later part of the film, after Mrs. Dinsmoor haven’t been seen for quite some time, she appears again. We were not expecting her, though, but Estella instead. However, because of the camera angles and movement, I sensed that Mrs. Dinsmoor is somewhere. Something was not quite right, something was not quite as I expected it to be. Tada! I was right. Dinsmoor appeared. Credict goes to Lubezki.


See, just be manipulating camera angles, movement, lighting, Lubezki was able to protray a character. To convey a certain message or emotion to audiences. To tell the story.


And this, I must say, he is the true artist. I have faith in the man’s work and professionism, and no cirtics’s comments can sway me from that.


Emmanuel Lubezki. The DP.