Archive for homework

Trainspotting, in more than 100 words.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 2, 2009 by kaye



Before Slumdog Millionaire, before the multiple Academy Awards, Danny Boyle made a film called Trainspotting, which was about a group of heroin addicts in Scotland. In this film, Ewan McGregor had his international breakthrough role as Mark Renton. Trainspotting depicts the lives of these characters in an extremely graphic manner, and this film definitely contains nudity (an explicit sex scene), violence, drug use, and heaps of foul language.

The question: What is the “big idea” in Danny Boyle’s film adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel, Trainspotting?

Well, apparently, the “big idea” that this film is trying to convey is far deeper than simply “don’t do drugs”. The graphic images which depict drug use and its consequences are enough to steer most people away from ever touching heroin, let alone shoot it up. I think that more than just telling people not to do drugs, Trainspotting shows us that most of the decisions that people make don’t just happen, but are rather the result of the environment that these people live in. This is similar to some coming-of-age films and TV series which depict rebellious teenagers that act out as a way to get away from the hostile environments they have to deal with at home.

We see these characters: Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, Tommy and Begbie, who live in a pretty nasty part of Edinburgh, Scotland. These characters could actually represent real people in real life. They live a fairly rough lifestyle, are unemployed and living in pretty nasty housing conditions. Because it’s commonplace for people living in similar conditions in their area to be into alcohol, smoking, violence and drugs, they allow such vices, particularly heroin, to consume their lives, possibly as their own “way out”. Although Trainspotting is likely to be an exaggerated interpretation of such dangerous lifestyles, this film shows the reality that there are places in the world, even in economically developed nations which people from third-world countries look upon as some sort of Promised Land, where people are living in such horrible situations, either through poverty, illness, abuse or vices, that they turn to dangerous substances as a form of escape.

Trainspotting is an inside look into the brutal reality of a junkie’s life, showing that it’s not just about drugs and the horrible consequences that come with heroin addiction. This film also depicts the causes of such actions, such as why Tommy, who was supposedly the film’s paragon of health and well-being, decided to take a hit for the first time, which eventually cost him his life. This film shows that heroin abuse is a gamble, like a game of Russian Roulette. Renton and Sick Boy, who were junkies for a long time, were able to get their lives back together but Tommy, who is the last character in the film to try heroin, dies from its abuse.

Whether or not we, the viewers, are supposed to sympathise with these characters just might be up to us. To some audience members, the characters in this film deserve some pity for choosing such actions. People like Renton are not necessarily “bad people”, just as prostitutes aren’t “bad people”, because even though the decisions they make are destructive, there is a definite reason for everything. I don’t think junkies try heroin for the hell of it, at least not most. Other audience members could look upon these characters and simply think that they had a choice to choose between life and their current lifestyles, and that because they chose the other they should be responsible for their actions. I support the first theory, because what made me so mentally and emotionally engaged into watching this film is the fact that I was looking into lives of people that are so different from me that I’m glad that I’m not in a situation wherein I’m forced to make such choices. So I don’t think that the big idea in this film is “don’t do drugs”. I think that this film is trying to make us reflect upon ourselves and the actions we make, because even our most seemingly insignificant decisions can make a huge impact on our lives.


Awards Ceremonies: Are they even necessary?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 26, 2009 by kaye
Good grief.

Good grief.

In the spirit of recent awards ceremonies, especially Sunday night’s Academy Awards, I would like to answer a question that was presented to me on Wednesday morning: Are awards ceremonies necessary?

Honestly, I don’t think that such glamorous awards ceremonies are necessary at all. They are simply yet another chance for people who make a living by pretending to be other people to dress up in yet another outfit they can’t afford, pose for photographers and be admired by millions of people. I think that our generation, and even the generations before us, are far too obsessed with celebrity, and that in return celebrities are obsessed with themselves. All the glitz and glamour of these red-carpet events sometimes take away from what awards ceremonies are all about, which is recognising the achievements of individuals who have created excellent film masterpieces. I am in no way against the recognition of these individuals. I simply believe that the pre-awards shows are indulgent displays of consumerist individuals who are able to carry on with their normal, materialistic lives even at a time of economic recession.

Film4: A Website Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 4, 2009 by kaye

This entry is about the Film4 website, which was listed in the very long list of links on the ISM Film Blog.

Film4 is the film extension of the Channel 4 network, which I’m guessing is one of the top television networks in the United Kingdom. Channel 4 Film is similar to HBO in a sense that it shows films all day, and the company also produces films. The website features TV listings and film reviews as well as a section for trailers and clips from upcoming films. The reviews on the site are for films that are currently in cinemas, so it’s helpful for prospective film viewers who might need help choosing which film to watch on a lazy weekend.

The link for Film4 caught my attention for two reasons: one, because Film4 was listed as one of the producers during the opening credits of the multi-award nominated Slumdog Millionaire , my favourite film of the year so far. Also, an extension of the Channel 4 network, E4, produced my current favourite television show. I gotta hand it to the Brits, this one. Those Film4 people know their stuff.

Oscar Bets 2009.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 28, 2009 by kaye

In less than a month, Hollywood will witness the 81st Acedemy Awards. There will be a new Best Picture, a new set of Best Actors and Actresses, a new Best Animated feature film. Before the Academy reveals its winners for the year 2008, I would like to share my bets to win the greatest film event of the year:

Best Picture: As much as I enjoyed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on so many levels, I think and strongly hope that this award will go to Slumdog Millionaire. After winning 4 Golden Globes and 5 Critics Choice Awards, I have strong faith that Slumdog will carry its winning streak along to the Oscars.

Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk. After all, he did win the Screen Actors’ Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role this year.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, Doubt. She’s in a league of her own, and it’s about time she won again.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight. Although I love Robert Downey Jr., Ledger’s performance as The Joker deserves to be recognised by the highest degree.

Best Supporting Actress: Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I enjoyed her performance very much. She carried herself well as her character aged in this masterpiece of a film.

Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire. This movie is almost perfect, and I will carry on believing so until I see the bloopers on IMdB. I don’t plan on doing that any time soon.

Best Animated Feature: Wall-E. It was different from all the Pixar films I’ve seen in the past, and I mean this in a good way. Besides, I don’t care for Bolt, or any movie that has the words “Miley Cyrus” written on its poster.

Best Director: As long as it’s Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millioniare), David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) or Gus Van Sant (Milk), I’m happy. They’re all brilliant. Boyle also directed Trainspotting, which is one of my favourite films of all time. So is Fight Club, which was directed by David Fincher (Brad Pitt was in it as well). Gus Van Sant directed Elephant (2003), and it was a film that I liked a lot, especially because the ending was freaky as hell.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by kaye

This is a homework assignment in honor of some list posted by The Times or something. I watched a plethora of films this year, from Juno to both Harold & Kumar films to City of God to The Dark Knight, and, being the easily amused person that I am, I fell in love with most of the films that I saw this year. These are my three favorite films which I watched in 2008. I considered other films for this list, such as Iron Man, The Dark Knight, The Darjeeling Limited, Twilight, 21, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, St. Elmo’s Fire and City of God, but the three films I listed here just somehow stood out from all the rest (besides, everyone‘s gonna do TDK or Twilight anyway). None of these films were actually made in 2008, by the way, but I saw them all this year and fell in love instantly:

ONE. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Directed/Written by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow
Genre: Drama

IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Wes Anderson’s 2001 dark comedy, The Royal Tenenbaums, explores the importance of family through its twisted plot, witty dialogue and unique portrayal of every single character in the dysfunctional Tenenbaum family.

TWO. American History X (1998)

Directed by: Tony Kaye
Written by: David McKenna
Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong
Genre: Drama

IMDb rating: 8.6/10 (Top 250: #40)

The brash portrayal of racism in Tony Kaye’s American History X are further developed with the use of stark black and white coloring, slow-motion sequences and a dramatic musical score.

THREE. Across the Universe (2007)

Directed by: Julie Taymor
Written by: Dick Clement
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson
Genre: Romance/Musical

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Across the Universe is easily one of my favorite films, ever, because of its use of special effects and a killer soundtrack to convey the prevalence of love against the chaos of the 1960s.

That’s all for now. I’m really looking forward to next year’s series of films. There are quite a few which I’ll be looking forward to, especially the next Harry Potter film. In the meantime, I have to continue fangirling over Edward Cullen (pictured way above).