21 May, 2009

Angels and Demons

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Last time, I finished reading the Da Vinci Code before going to the cinema for the film and the movie experience was rather ordinary.

This time, I watched the movie first because all copies of the book in the libraries were gone and the waiting list was long. The effect: GREAT.

The movie does an excellent adaptation and gives the audience a thrilling theatre ride with clear plot and impressive footage.

Thirty minutes after coming out from the cinema on Sunday last, I went to the library and picked up my reserved copy. On Wednesday, finish reading the whole book. It was as if I was reading a similar adventure which started and ended with a greater magnitude. The movie shows a more down-to-earth version to make the whole thing look very convincing. I totally approve the dramatic change of the assassin -- this more 'politically-correct' adaptation allows more international audience to accept the movie and opens room for deeper reflection of the dark side of humanity. The preserved dialogues and speeches are coherent and to the point.

The book is wilder in terms of fantasy with even more twists and turns. One cannot help to marvel at the detailed research that has been reflected in the book. It is a miracle that a living author who is not old, can be both knowledgeable on such a vast varieties of subjects and skillful in the art of story-telling. I mentioned the short time in which I have finished the book as a testimony to the page-turning magic that the book carries, instead of my reading speed.Frankly speaking, it is not an easy reading at all due to the scientific terminology as well as history and arts. Knowing the key plot from the movie did not in any way compromise the surprises and joys in reading the book and did not make the reading a secondary experience at all.
So, a second visit to Italy seems inevitable. Don't go there without reading/watching this story (a second time)!

12 May, 2009

Trail of the Panda 熊貓回家路

Today is the 12th May, 2009 -- one year after the horrible earthquake at Sichuan. While we morned for the loss of lives and felt for those who have survived with broken hearts and limbs to be healed, we took the opportunity to view this very special film which, as promised, has taken us to a spectacular journey to the Panda reservoir before sending us home with warmth in our hearts and tears in my three-year old daughter's eyes who was totally captivated by the gripping plot, the lovable baby panda and the convincing performance of Harashima Daichi (原島大地). I guess the clever director must have guessed the possible sensation that the children audience would have and therefore help them to say goodbye at the end.

This film is not only about cute pandas and magnificent landscape. It is about doing the right things, and more importantly, testing the very notion of what is 'right'. Through out the film, assumptions are being overturned: man in harsh environment would fall short of compassion; mother-panda would not look after two cubes; science would give the right answer; a child would not know better; hunters would be bad guys; animals would need help from human -- it all turns out to be quite the other way round, especially in the case of the boy -- it is the baby-panda (the apparent victim) who helps the boy (the apparent rescuer) to speak again, to be 'in-touch' again, to use all his skills to find out about nature, to become a man, and to find a father. We are humbled by mother-nature and let's hope that we will stop hurting her because we are no match to her wrath.
Photos and video about the production:

More photos from the production team: