A MONSTER CALLS – the story of a son and grief

by Ruby Chingu

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What is it all about? 

The story of a son and grief.

Prior to watching the movie, I had no clue what A Monster Calls is all about. A friend wanted to watch it and out of boredom, I tagged along with him. What I did not expect was to almost bawl my eyes out, crying and had tears streaming down my cheeks by one and half hour into the movie.

It struck a terribly personal chord within me, the movie, this supposedly children’s movie about imaginary monster and fairy tales.

Oh, children films. I look down on you no more.

It tells the tale of Conor, a young boy whose mother is dying of a terminal disease. To say that his life is pathetic is an understatement. Our Connor has no friends, gets bullied in school, teachers do not give a shit about him and has a strained relationship with his grandmother, a strict blunt elderly woman. Worse, he has been suffering bouts of insomnia or sleep deprivation – he would be visited by the same nightmare each time he closes his eyes. He finds solace in drawing (don’t they all?) dark figures and characters, living in his own world.

In front of his house was a gigantic yew tree, an ancient tree located at the top of the hill. One fated night, the tree turned into a monster (more like a walking wooden figurine, to be honest), came to his house and declared (in his commanding Liam Neeson voice) that he would be paying Connor four visits – he would also be telling Connor three tales and wanted the latter to tell him the fourth tale. After a few times dismissing this experience as a delusion, Connor began to accept it as a reality. Now, the stories told by the monster – I initially thought it would be the usual good vs bad lot – prove to be so much more than that. Each of the stories were of good characters who ended up doing evil things. They were of death, power, retribution, faith and so on. That the line that separates both good and evil is indeed blurry after all, showing us how complex humans can be.

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I was mind blown right away.

The climax of the story is when it was Connor’s turn to tell the fourth tale. I was a bit confused at first – now why would the monster want Connor to do that? What tale was he talking about? Only when Connor finally confessed it that I was like – whoahhh! Damn!! This is dark shit! But beautifully written shit! But dark, nonetheless.

Clue – All of Connor’s struggles go back to the most important person in his life.

Why I love the movie –

  1. Writing, pace and overall tone

The director did not shy away from making the film dark right away. Despite it being a children’s film, there was no effort to make it all rainbows and unicorn, as if saying – some childhood can be dark and this is one of it. Dark does not mean bad, though. Dark means reality, strength and character.

The shots of the vast English countryside contributed greatly to the mood. The music is often dramatic and stretched, an indication of Connor’s heightened emotions as his mother was nearing her death.

2. Acting 

Connor is played by a young actor, Lewis MacDougall, who is so on my radar. Lewis’s big intense eyes expressed the conflicts he kept suppressed in him so well that he needed no words to convey what he felt. Connor’s life is all about being someone he is not out of necessity. Connor is a young boy in need of his mother’s love yet he has to wake up every morning, prepares his own breakfast, does the family laundry and takes care of his own self while his mother is fighting cancer. He also pretends to be calm – at school, he barely says a word. Yet deep inside was a boiling heart filled with rage, grief and sadness.

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And the mother – the spiritual core of the story, I’d say – is none other than Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Star Wars – Rogue One). The final scene where she looked at the monster in the eyes as her son hugged her on her deathbed is profound. That was when my heart screamed, “you can see him! You know him! Good God, did you send him?”

3. Grief, Bereavement, Loss, Acceptance and Strength

Watching this film in the cinema was indeed an emotional journey for me. It wrecked me and, I’m quite sure, other audiences who have experienced loss. Connor was the avatar used by the director to relate to us these emotions that bind us together. With his mother battling cancer, he is not only robbed of his guardian but also his childhood, sense of security, happiness and trust (for he has an asshole father who left his mother and visits him only a few times a year). However, at the end of the movie, Connor learnt to accept all of these struggles instead of fighting against or denying them.

I believe that the monster is a form of his mother – a being created by her to help him deal with her pending death and the guilt that comes with the desire for all of his sufferings to end. In a way, his mother is telling him, “It is alright to want the pain to be over, Connor.”

Deep, people, so deep.

 RATING: 4/5

Because it deserves it. It is a great watch. It teaches me to not underestimate the experiences of a child and the power of everything between good and evil.

Short Getaway to Kuala Sepetang, Perak

by Ruby Gege

All hail the weekends, people! Palah and I decided that for our second weekend getaway, we would go to Kuala Sepetang. Where the hell is that? You may ask. Trust me, I asked the same question two years ago. Hahaha.

Kuala Sepetang is a small town 16 km away from Taiping. It is not much of a town, really, but a highly-functional fishing village. It used to be quite busy as a mining area and was formerly known as Port Weld (fancy name, eh?) It is known for its great seafood, fishing village that looked pretty much the same since Merdeka days and its riverside tourism (boat ride, eagle-sighting, dolphin sighting (if you’re lucky) and some fireflies stuff, too). Since I am not a fan of nature, my purpose was mainly to enjoy the scenery and fresh air, aside from going to the Matang Museum and Mangrove Forest walk.

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Sepetang can be quite tiring. Thus, Palah and I (joined by our master nappers, Jeep and Fatin) decided to stop by Ipoh and spent the first night at Palah’s family home. We headed to Kuala Sepetang the next day, which took us about one hour.

The first place we went was Kedai Makan Yut Sun, a superb kopitiam in Taiping. For the past 2 years, I have been having an intense love affair with this establishment. We orded the best food to have there – kaya and butter bread, chicken chop with rice, Roti Seremban and kuey tiow. The coffee there, I tell you, is one of the best coffee in Malaysia.

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Palah looking absolutely serious and Fatin choosing what to eat.

Afterwards, we headed to Matang Museum, which is situated between Taiping and Kuala Sepetang. Rich in history, it tells the history of a powerful Malay nobleman, Ngah Ibrahim, who ruled Larut (together with Matang and Selama, the districts had Taiping as their capital). During his rule, chaos reigned as the Larut Wars were happening between the clan of Hai San and Ghee Hin, two Chinese secret society based in Malaya during that time. Come the intervention of the Perak Sultanate and the British colonial government, somehow Ngah Ibrahim found himself punished for opposing the British rule. A complex history at that time, to be sure.

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Matang Museum, also known as Kota Ngah Ibrahim

The building itself is beautifuuuul! The fort surrounding the building is actually the original fort of Ngah Ibrahim’s mansion. The house is also quite intact. When we went in, the officers of the museum were quiet but cordial to us. The exhibitions in the museum are also praiseworthy. They have different sections – the different types of miners (Chinese and Malay), the Japanese rule, the replica of offices of Malay noblemen and British officers. Aside from that, the museum also offers lots of knowledge about important historical figures that our mainstream society has seem to have forgotten about.

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Jeep smiling with the vintage background. Looks like a painting, does it not? The wall, I mean, not Jeep.

The outer side of the museum, of course, is highly Instagram-ish. It is a good thing that they did not alter or renovate the paint so much that the building retains a nostalgic and historical feel.

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Where art thou, Captain Speedy? Here’s to me fantasizing myself as a Malay princess 200 years ago, and Jeep ignoring my antics.

A few hundred metres from the main building is the house of Captain Speedy, who was Ngah Ibrahim’s officer. Sadly, though, the building is not open for visitors so we could only get to take a picture outside the house.

Then, off we went to Kuala Sepetang. The first place we stopped by is the Mangrove Forest Reserve. Since I am not much of nature’s lover, I’ll just say this to you – it is quite an amazing place for you to take a nice long walk. In the forest. Literally. Surrounded by a gazillion trees. Palah went cray cray with her love for greeneries. Haha. According to Palah, the Mangrove Forest here was actually declared as the best mangrove forest reserve in the world! Not bad, Malaysia, not bad. Sometimes, the country does make me proud!

There is also a small jetty at the end of our walk. We rested by the jetty for a while. Palah embodied her role as a serious inspiring photographer, taking a picture of what-not.

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After spending some time there, we went to have lunch at the famous Mee Udang Mak Jah. The mee udang there is soooo delicious! It is spicy, soupy and has lots and lots of fresh prawns.

After lunch, we went to our hotel, the Happy 8 Retreat, which is right by the river. It is a nice place to stay, though can be quite tiring as it has no elevator and our room is on the (God forbid) 3rd FLOOR! So, lots of climbing for us fat people! The staffs are quite helpful and friendly, most of them seem to be local people. We took a nap, rested and basically enjoyed our beds and air-conditioner. However, if you guys are serious coffee or tea drinkers like me, I would suggest that you bring your own supply of beverages since they don’t supply it a lot there (like… only one packet of instant coffee for each room).

Finally, after resting and before dinner, we went on a boat ride! I can’t really remember the name of the boat service company (Palah does, so you guys can ask her) but it is situated not more than three shoplots away from our hotel. After our phone call, she came to pick us up right away and took us to the boat. Imagine, only four of us and the aunty and the boat driver and the aunty’s son. The boat ride cost us RM 80 but it is totally worth it. We get to see the fishing village in more details! The houses in each side of the village – the one by the river and the other side which is literally… houses on the river… like… floating).

Come the next day, we did not do much. We rested all morning and drove to Ipoh to visit our friend, Ika. She is teaching English at a centre there and we lepak-ed at Plan B, this high-end food chain from KL. I am so surprised to see how Ipoh has changed in some certain parts. People are trying to be more hipster (kinda like Penang) and that annoyed us a bit. Of course, the food, though, is still alright.

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Jeep and Fatin, possibly over-whelmed by the over-hipsterness of Ipoh…

Of course, we would not want to leave Ipoh without going to a museum. First, we went to the Darul Ridzuan Museum but left extremely disappointed as most sections of the museum were closed for renovation. Determined to never give up, we googled and finally found Ho Yan Hor Museum. The outer look of the museum is very pleasing – blue in colour and homey-like. We did not know what the museum exhibits but the staffs there are extremely hospitable and friendly. Ho Yan Hor is a really famous herbal tea brand in Malaysia created by a pharmacist/tabib/healer decades ago. Due to his hard work, he managed to spread the fame of the tea nation-wide.

After saying goodbye to Ika, we then returned, quite reluctantly, to Kuala Lumpur. The short trip to Perak was short indeed. But it was lovely as hell. So guys, if you are looking for a place to visit which does not require lots of planning or money to be spent, we think Kuala Sepetang is the place for you. If you have more days to spare, you can actually stop by many townships on your way there ie Kuala Kangsar and Teluk Intan as well. I’m sure they have lots of interesting things to offer there as well.

That’s all for now! Bye bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Langkawi & Us – The Unforgettable Trip

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

I guess i should at least update something on this blog. It’s been ages since ive been here. (As a threechinguz’s representative) Pardon us , dear followers, as all of us failed to update and review something for the past 4 months. We’ve been busy with work and all kind of adult stuffs. I wish i could say more than apology but whats done is done. Alright, lets get back to real stuff. We have been planning this trip for over 3 months. We picked Langkawi because Fatma never been there and last time ive been there was in 2003. I brought along one of of my best friends, Jibah in this trip. We met in USM and she can get along pretty much with my other best friends so i dont see any harm in bringing her in one of the best friend trip (thats what we called it, its a bit tackly but hey, dont judge). We spent about 300++ per person for 3 days 2 night in Langkawi. It’s pretty much affordable considering we are not effing rich.

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We went there by ETS. From KL Sentral to Arau, it took us about 7 hours to finally arrive. According to Jibah, taking a ferry from Kuala Perlis is quicker than taking it from Kedah. Hence, why we choose the train in the first Place. The ticket price cost us each RM 86 per person. Well, I am not complaining because we cut 12 hours of driving if we decided driving there or going there by bus. Look at us, all happy. Honestly, we killed the time by talking, eating, talking and taking a picture. Brace yourself for a lot of photos and we are addicted to having a selfie or wefie everywhere. Selfie and Wefie is a must for this trip.

We arrived at Arau around 9.00pm. No, we are not going to Langkawi right away. As we are all tired, we planned to spend the night at Megastar Vacation Inn. We’ve got 1 room with 4 beds with affordable price. It was comfy and clean making its hard to believe that for RM 90.00 per night, we can get such room. I forgot to mention that staff there are  nice and friendly too. Its hard to beat our expectation on the Hotel that we are going to stay later in Langkawi.

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For RM 90 per night, you got 2 queen beds at Megastar Vacation Inn.

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We could go to Langkawi by flight but seeing that all of us are feeling a little bit adventurous, we went to the Island by Ferry. Ferry service charged each of us RM 18. I didnt have time to compare price with other ferry lines but i choose Ferry Line Ventures because they have online ticketing service. It makes my work easier as self proclaimed trip planner. Haha. We felt nauseous a little bit when ferry bumped with a big wave but thats just it. Nobody puke. Its a little bit dizzy but all is good in the end. We arrived at Langkawi after 1 hour in a ferry.

We arrived at Langkawi on time. Boy, we went to Langkawi at the wrong time. It is packed with people. I know that i shouldnt expect the island to be empty but man, even the toilet formed a long queue. Its like people are seeking protection from Zombie attack at Langkawi. I blame me for picking the wrong date and i blame all of us that we are being bloody optimistic its not going to be filled with a massive amount of people. What can i expect, we’ve got 2 public holidays plus weekend, of course its a full house. We faced a little bit difficulty with Car Rental Service. We have to wait for 2 hours for the car to arrive. Thank God, it arrived. My mind scared me off by imagining that we have been deceived or scammed. Turned out on that day, those who came to Langkawi without any plan, they couldnt get any car rental. Booking and paying deposit early wont kill you, i guess. We rented Viva Produa from ANON car rental service for the price of RM 180 for 3 days. We slept at Joy Motel near Pekan Kuah. It was not in a good condition comparing to what we have at Arau but we are not going to spend our time in a Motel. Weve got long list locations and places that we’re going to visit. As long it got 4 beds and the toilet is working, we are okay with it. Joy Motel charged us RM 110 per night for family room.

and the trip began….

 

Underwater World Langkawi:

Makam Mahsuri :

Tengah Beach, Langkawi:

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3D Art Museum :

Langkawi Sky Cab:

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Wat Koh Wanaram Temple:

Wildlife and Birdpark Sanctuary :

Langkawi Legend Park:

and the journey ended here…

Again, we took a ferry to Arau by Ferry. I’m telling you that i’m not going anywhere on Public Holidays. It made me realize how overpopulated our earth is.

We made a brief visit at around Arau and Jibah’s house before we went back to KL.

The 12 hours journey began. I cant avoid this trip because all ETS train ticket are SOLD OUT. I managed to get only this even though i turned up early at ticket counter. T___T However, it cost us RM 41 only per person. Its cheaper though.

WILD – 2014 Film Review

by Ruby Jusoh

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Since I’ve received the news that Reese Witherspoon was nominated for Oscars for her performance in Wild, I’ve been looking forward to watch the film. Being story of a young woman on a journey to find herself, I knew that it would resonate with me. However, I did not expect the flood of tears that would occur once the film ended and I was in… well, how would I put it…. brief emotional wreck.

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WILD – 2014 FILM STILL – Reese Witherspoon as “Cheryl Strayed” – Photo Credit: Anne Marie/Fox © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox

Wild is such a strong movie of strong characters. Strong in their own weaknesses and strength, imperfections and endurance. Our 26 years old hiker, Cheryl Strayed had just been divorced after going through a crisis of drugs and sex due to the death of her mother. Having lost her sense of directed, she decided to “walk back into” being the woman her mother wanted her be. The journey through the Pacific Crest Trail was incredibly tough – 1,100 miles to be exact – and one has to face the extreme heat in the desert, the cold snow and mountains. Cheryl sought to push herself into awareness and the desire to live her life, which she had let slipped through her hands.

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The driving force of the film is Cheryl’s relationship with her mother, Bobbi, whom Chery described as the love of her life. Bobbi raised Cheryl and her younger brother as a single mother after escaping her abusive husband. Despite the challenges in her life (no money, no prospects), she remained optimistic and a great appreciator of the beauty of life. Truly, truly inspiring! Get to know a mother like Bobbi in the film and you’ll get why her daughter fell apart after she died. She would sing, smile and live her life to the fullest even when tides were against her. One brief scene that I love the most was when Bobbi was hanging out with her children, sitting on the pavement, soaking up the sun and doing nothing else.

The film stroke a personal chord within me, like I think it did with other viewers. We define ourselves and our identities through our parents. We became the person we are today because of them – the providers, the carers, the moulders of our minds, the first teachers of our lives. Every aspect of our whole being can always be traced back to our mother, father and any other people who raised us. The invisible bond is extremely strong, that it could never be broken. Once such people disappeared from our lives due to situations we cannot control, of course we would fall apart. We would break because we don’t know what to do. We would feel extremely lost.

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That was how Cheryl felt when she lost her mother to lung cancer. She lost the captain of her ship and as she said, the center to her self. Even her marriage with her husband could not salvage her situation. Instead, it sank along with her. Everything sank along with her. Life without her mother did not matter. Why should doing drugs and sex matter, too? They did not. She drowned and drowned until she reached rock bottom, nowhere else to go, no one else to call for.

Rock bottom. I like the sound of that. For people who have been through similar journeys as Cheryl’s, they’d understand that rock bottom is a place you need to go before you get better. Before you start to live again. Before that awaited sense of clarity comes to your head and whisper to you soul – “Okay, Ruby, that’s enough. It’s time to start living.” To be in rock bottom is not easy but it is a necessity. You need to be there before you could push yourself up again. It’s difficult. It’s crazy. Suicidal, even. But it could be done. It’s not impossible. And when you’re finally up again, you’ll realize that you’re meant to travel the journey after all.

On a side note, I miss you, Abah. Everyday. I am living and I am trying my best.

Let me just end this review with my professor’s favourite quote, which I have grown to love and also mentioned in the film.

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Takhta 3 Ratu – Drama series review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

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I’ve been waiting for this kind of drama ages ago. We had so many stories in the period of Malacca sultanate but our film industry failed to take advantage of our history. Takhta 3 Ratu or in english it would be ‘the throne of 3 queens’ take us back on the sultan Mansur Shah period where he ruled Malacca in a glorious manner. According to history, Sultan Mansur Shah’s strength lies on diplomatic relation with many powerful countries at that time like Majapahit and China. In order to achieve their alliance, well, he married their princesses. This story is not entirely based on historical text. There are some things that Erma Fatima changed to match the story well. Why i decided to review this drama, i still couldnt figure out the reasons other than it was historical fiction and the main characters is 3 woman from different backgroud with similar mind set, to make sure their son take over the throne. Dont get me wrong, History text stated that Sultan Mansur Shah is always being fair to all his wives (yeah, Polygamous marriage has been practiced by royal families for so long). While we are allowed to believe otherwise, it would be nice to have someone to take a deeper look at his wives’s relationship and translate it into drama.

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The first 2 episodes, the story revolves between Sultan Mansur Shah and Raden Galuh Chenderai ; how Sultan Mansur Courting Raden to be his wife right after his queen died. Raden disagree to the whole marriage as she doesnt really know the sultan. His father, the Majapahit king already agrees to the marriage as it would do good to their county to add malacca as their ally. Sultan knew he should try to woo Raden herself. He relentlessly pursuing Galuh by imposing himself as shipping captain who just passing by Majapahit. They exchanges letters a few times until they first laid eyes on each other in the wedding ceremony. Raden knew that he would be a good husband and a great king to her. Who knew such happiness would be just in a short amount of time?

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The third episode when Malacca is under attack from few countries. The threat is getting bigger. Sultan Mansur Shah worried over his kingdom. He then heading to China to strengthen their diplomatic relation on Tun Perak’s suggestion. Raden knew that Sultan Mansur Shah left to take another wife when she overheard palace servants has been ordered to bring the best spices to China. As ridiculous as it sounds, Sultan Mansur Shah in this Drama knows how to cook and charmed all his wives, including Raden and Hang lipo via his culinary skills. Raden tried to stop Sultan Mansur Shah from going to Malacca but it was too late. She was stopped by Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah felt symphatetic towards Raden but His loyalty towards Sultan is his top priority. This, most of us knew, that Hang Tuah placed his loyalty towards Malacca and Sultan above everything. He even killed his best friend, Jebat for Sultan.

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Raden mended her feeling by confiding it to Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah and Raden become close friend when Raden learned Silat from him.However,Their feeling and attraction grew stronger each day. Hang Tuah put his own feeling hidden and rejected Raden nicely. After few months, Sultan returned from China with Hang Lipo. Tuah has been ordered to shift Raden to another palace. Raden felt sad and disappointed but she obeyed. On the other hands, Hang lipo felt suffocated and couldnt find anything that she would like in Malacca. She felt frustrated and Sultan Mansur Shah couldnt find any time to entertain her. Raden took her chance by being a good wife and serve his husband right. However, Sultan Mansur Shah returned to Hang lipo’s side when she managed to get herself pregnant. It was unfortunate to Raden as she couldnt get herself pregnant even married to Sultan for years.

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Raden knew she had to do something. She visited Hang Lipo and tried to appear nice as she can be. Sultan Mansur glad to know about it and wanted his wives to treat each other nicely. Little did he know that it was all an act between his 2 wives. They envied amd couldnt stand each other. Raden hated Hang lipo for bearing son first and Hang lipo hated Raden because she is always the Sultan Favorite. The facade of visiting and spying between each other is normal. They will do anything to let Sultan favor them a little bit than others. Hang Lipo gave birth to son and Raden felt insecure for not being the first one to give Sultan Mansur Shah, an heir though at that time, she’s already pregnant.

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The following episode focuses on how Malacca again is under threat from other prominent states like Inderapura and Siam. Sultan Mansur Shah send Hang Tuah to investigate the issue. Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat went to Inderapura and met Lelawangsa, Inderapura’s princess on the way there. Hang Tuah seize the moment and kidnapped Lelawangsa right away. Sultan Mansur Shah fell sick and the tension arises at the palace. Hang Lipo went to Sultan’s side right away and pretend to care for him as Raden wont be able to do so. Raden is weak at that time prior to her condition after being in labor. Hang Lipo went on badmouthing and accuse others infront of Sultan Mansur Shah after his health has been restored. Sultan Mansur Shah believed her and put Raden in Jail. Puteri Lela Wangsa on the other hands stuck in the situation between wrath of 2 queens after arrived there with Hang Tuah. I wouldnt spoil the ending to you. You guys should watch it in order to know whether Puteri Lela Wangsa end up marrying Sultan Mansur Shah or ran away with Hang Tuah. I bet most of you already know how the ending would be.

Raden Galuh Chenderai portayed by Feby Febiola

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This girl could act. I mean for local standard, her performance is outstanding. I like her character more than others. Yes, she is wicked but she is not 100% evil. What she did in the palace is for her own survival. She never know that Hang lipo will turn more evil than her.

Hang Lipo portrayed by Soo Wincci

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She supposed to be evil. I felt she fell a little short in her character. She just a mean bitch you may have met in High School. Her command in Classic Malay is okay. She can act but not in this role. I guess not everyone could play a convincing evil role.

Sultan Mansur Shah portrayed by Azri Iskandar

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Come on, need i say more? He has a pure talent in acting compared to those group of actors who just depends on good looks. He managed to be a sweet talking husband, sometimes being an unfair assholes to his wives and a sultan who is easily swayed by rumors and false news. I like him when he successfully portrayed this role and i dislike him because this role is just everything that i hate in man ; unfaithful, unfair and pessimist.

Hang Tuan portrayed by Awie

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After the epic tale of Puteri Gunung Ledang of Tiara Jacqueline, i felt no one could bring Hang Tuah alive other than M. Nasir. However, Awie live up to the expectation and didnt disappoint me in the role. I dont know how others felt about it but to me, he nailed it. You can felt the agony in him of loyalty to the Sultan and wanting to follow his own heart. Just watch Awie past films esp. In the 90s, though some of it is very cringing but dude, he performed in each role.

Hang Jebat portrayed by Beto Khusyairi

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I felt he was too intense and emotional in portraying Hang Jebat. In my understanding, Jebat is somehow more rational compared to Tuah. I dont know whether Erma Fatima wanted to Beto to portray Jebat like that or Beto wanted to bring his own depiction in the role. Jebat in this drama always questioning everything, accusing or throwing accusation before investigate it and always being cynical to others including Tuah. If thats how beto really wanted to put his own twist in Jebat character, i guess he did it. Its just me that hate those twist.

Tun Perak portrayed by Datuk Rahim Razali

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Any local film maker knows that having Datuk Rahim Razali in the historical film is an added advantage. He will be perfect for any given roles ; be it advisor, treasurer or warrior. He delivered well in his potrayal as Tun Perak. As a man full of wisdom, he remain composed whenever Sultan Mansur Shah being reckless and lacking in making his own judgment. Aside from his fake wig, i dont have any problem with his role.

Puteri Lela Wangsa portrayed by Erra Fazira

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Puteri Lela wangsa, in my opinion, is the character though short in appearance but making such a big impact to the Drama. Lela wangsa before being kidnapped by Hang Tuah is childish. She has been promised to Siamese Prince and They have been engaged ever since. She is playful and a spoilt princess. After being kidnapped by Hang Tuah, she fell in love with Him during the journey to Malacca. Again, both of them try to hide their feeling. She’s becoming more mature and confronted Hang Tuah about her feeling (whether Hang Tuah did accept it or reject it, i will not spoilt it.) Go watch it, guys.

Coming Home/ 归来/ Guīlái – 2014 Chinese Film

BY RUBY CHINGU

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Ouh, yours truly have been absent from the world of blogging for oh-so-long. Things have been changing so much and so fast, at times I feel like I can’t breathe. BUT hopefully my blogging craze has finally returned. My duties as an amateur film reviewer shall continue!! (dear God, please don’t let me be lazy!)

After my three months absence, what better way to start my review with a film by my most favourite director of all time, Mr Zhang Yi Mou? I know – there is no better way. 

Coming Home is a film that reminds us why Mr Zhang is a force to be reckoned with. Truth to be told, I have been experiencing difficulties to enjoy Mr Zhang’s post-2000 films in comparison to his pre-2000 films which I have always worshipped such as Raise the Red Lantern and To Live. However, Coming Home reminded me of the rawness and endurance of human emotions, much like his previous work. 

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Coming Home is a simple tale of a family whose life had changed dramatically due to the Cultural Revolution. There are three main characters in the film – Lu the father, Yu the mother and Dandan the daughter. The film began with Lu, who had been imprisoned by the government for more than ten years for his rightist political leanings, escaping from prison. His wife, Yu was a school teacher who had been taking care of their daughter on her own. Upon receiving contact from her husband, she was exhilerated, desperately yearning for a reunion with her long-awaited beloved. 

However, their daughter, Dandan hated her father. Due to the bitterness of being a political prisoner’s daughter, she reported the reunion to the authorities in hope to receive the main role in a ballet performance in the national dance academy. Having separated her parents, she did not receive the main role as promised by the officer, cast away by her mother who was afflicted with an amnesia-like mental illness a few years later and gave up dancing to work in a textile factory. 

Simply put, Dandan was struck with guilt for tearing the family apart. 

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After a few years, Lu returned home. However, Yu failed to recognize him due to her illness. Despite that, Lu did not give up. For years, he stayed close to Yu, becoming her neighbour, driver, letter reader and even a piano tuner for the sole purpose of taking care of his wife. The touching part of the film was that Yu, despite not realizing that her husband had been in front of her all along, would wait for him on the 5th of each month at the railway station. They stayed like that for many years – together as a family – despite Yu’s non-awareness of the people she loved had been around her all along.

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Shit, the film is so sad… *wiping away my tears* 

That is the specialty of Chinese films. They start off sad. Then, they get sadder. And sadder. Without any moments of happiness and humour. Life is challenging. Life is difficult. Some people never get what they deserved. Deal with it and keep marching on. 

The film displays how policies and action by a bigger foce ie the authorities affects the lives of its people, especially family based on the film’s context. Loneliness and self-reliant led to the conditions of a parent raising the children on his or her own as their partners had been taken away by the government for the purpose of ‘rehabilitation’. Children, who barely knew their imprisoned parent, would grow up to be complicated individuals as they had to bear the labels of ‘criminal’s children’. 

Simply put, families were torn apart and forced to be made incomplete. 

The main question is – how would they find themselves back together? How would they mend all the lost times? 

The father was relentless in his devoted love for his wife. He stayed with her despite his wife not knowing him anymore. He became the father his daughter finally needed. The daughter asked for forgiveness and moved on. With each other’s support, they cared for Yu the mother. 

Chen Daoming (Lu the father) and Gong Li (Yu the mother) were amazing in their performances. Completely in character and superbly realistic, I shall not drag the review with praises for them. Like… c’mon, we know they can act! The daughter, played by a newcomer Zhang Huiwen, was great, too.

I hope there will be more films like this in the future – realistic, poignant, simple and heartrending. At times, we do need films to entertain us. However, at times, I would like to lie down on my bed and let films teach me a thing or two about life…

COMRADES: Almost A Love Story / 甜蜜蜜 / Tián Mì Mì – 1996 Hong Kong Film Review

BY RUBY GEGE WHO IS IN A JAY CHOU-HIGH AFTER LISTENING TO HIS SONGS ALL MORNING

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Rating : A perfeeeeect 10 out of 10

Why? Because Comrades: Almost A Love Story is exactly a tale of love, survival, ambitions, relationships, isolation and hard decisions moulded into a blissful yet intense two-hour watch. Directed by Peter Chan (who is so in my radar now), many critics hailed the pairing of Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung as lovers. 

The story, like all other stories, starts off pretty simply. During the 1980s, Hong Kong was an up and rising economic powerhouse in Asia. It attracted many Chinese Mainlanders (a term to describe those who came from China) who migrated there for employment and success, indicating that there was a lack of opportunities back home.

Our hero, Li Xiao Jun was a naive Northerner who could only converse in Mandarin and moved to Hong Kong to earn money and had a fiance back home, Xiao Ting. He lived in a house with his aunt, who was actually running a brothel, and several other Thai sex workers. Even though his life was hard due to the language problem, Xiao Jun worked very hard, starting from the bottom as a delivery guy for a butcher shop.

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But really… Is there a delivery man as good looking as Leon Lai on earth? Like… really???ti109685_large

He, then, formed a friendship with Li Qiao, a tough young woman who came from southern China and seemed to be more well-versed about Hong Kong then he was. She spoke Cantonese like a Hong Konger, behaved like a Hong Konger and even thought like a Hong Konger. Working at McDonald’s, Li Qiao earned extra money with any possible manner ie selling Teresa Teng’s cassettes, finding Mainlanders to attend her friend’s English classes and working as a cleaner. She was obsessed, obsessed and obsessed about money.

Their completely different personalities bound them together as two poor immigrants in the bustling and hectic city of Hong Kong. Li Qiao had a tough heart and no-nonsense attitude. Alone in Hong Kong, she met Xiao Jun, who offered her unconditional kindness and friendship.

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They spent a lot of time together, being each other’s only friend. The only reason they did not officially become a couple was that Xiao Jun had a fiancee, to whom he wrote letters very frequently. 

Then, Li Qiao and Xiao Jun had sex. From best friends, they became best friends who were sexually involved. Things seemed to carry on quite normally until Li Qiao realized that Xiao Jun had placed her the same importance and affection as his fiancee. She knew that what they were doing was wrong and cut things off. 

Li Qiao moved on and dated a rich gangster, opened up a business and rekindled their friendship after Xiao Jun’s marriage to Xiao Ting, his fiancee who moved to Hong Kong to be with him. Despite being committed to two different people, they were unable to forget their past and declared their love, determined to be together. However, tragedy struck and Li Qiao was compelled to leave Hong Kong in support of her gangster boyfriend and started a new life in another country. 

Xiao Jun’s wife divorced him after his confession on the affair. Xiao Jun also moved overseas and worked as a chef. It was years later that our lovers’ fates finally intertwined in an open ending. Did they end up together? Hehe, I’d rather choose the happy ending and say that they did. 

THE FILM MADE ME CRY. No kidding. And I was not expecting that. I found the film randomly in Youtube and watched it because I hold Maggie Cheung in a very high regard as an actress. Plus, I was curious to see how her pairing with Leon Lai will work out. Their chemistry together is phenomenal, times 1000.

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I was absorbed in their emotional dependency support for each other, their innocence and loneliness, their conversations, the rides they had on the bicycles and their trips to the ATM machine every time they received their salaries. They were two young people, seemingly lost amid the drowning reality of Hong Kong, trying to build up a life. It was a love story at its best. They ended up together even when they were not supposed to. Like Li Qiao said to Xiao Jun, life depends on your goals and dreams. Li Qiao had achieved her dream of having businesses, Xiao Jun achieved his by being a successful chef. Both were in great relationships. Yet, their hearts pined for each other, still. 

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Can I just mention how endearing Leon Lai is as Xiao Jun? As a nephew, he is filial. As a friend, he is helpful, kind and patience. As a lover, he is selfless, gentle and considerate. In short, he is perfect. WAIT, even ‘perfect’ is an understatement. Please, God, give me a man like Li Xiao Jun and I will never let him go!! 

The music of Teresa Teng also plays a huge role in this film. The Chinese title, Tian Mi Mi is one of Teresa’s songs and our couple loved humming to the song while riding on the bicycle and after having sex. Li Qiao was an ardent fan of Teresa Teng and sold her cassettes as a part time endeavour. Li Qiao herself is a very interesting character to watch in this film. Underneath that harsh straightforward manner she displayed, I’d like to think that her love for Teresa Teng’s songs represented her softer side. She could have been gentler if life was a bit nicer to her. Yet, unlike the innocent Xiao Jun, Li Qiao was often in a survival mode, her mind set to make money as much as possible. Teresa Teng’s music made the film a much sweeter journey for me as it serves as a stark contrast to the city-centred cinematography of the film.

Ahhhh…. If you love a great love story, Comrades: Almost A Love Story is a must-watch. Let me just repeat that – a must must must watch!! The after-effects of the film stayed with me for almost a week, making me smile just thinking about how sweet and beautiful the relationship between Li Qiao and Xiao Jun was. 

*am now listening to Tian Mi Mi by Teresa Teng non-stop… Her voice is very sweet, I can cry!!*