Leaves Scatter

 

The leaves scatter

when the wind blows;

What have you done

to our smiles, dear?

Currents get fierce

when storms are high;

The sorrows widen

when you are changed.

Why have you turned

into a foe;

causing much trouble

in peaceful times?

Why didn’t you say

what’s on your mind?

When will you know

that I have left?

The Perfume Collector

This is the first time I’m reading a Kathleen Tessaro novel. Right from the first sentence, I thought this could be turned into a script for a movie.

In the Prologue, Eva d’Orsey sits at the kitchen table, listening to the ticking clock, with a copy of Le Figaro in front of her. It is Paris, Winter 1954.

In the first chapter, the reader is brought to London, Spring 1955.  Grace Monroe wakes up with a start, gasping for breath…

In New York City in 1927, Eva is 14 years old and working as a chambermaid. She is short, dark and foreign-looking and wants more out of life.

Back to Paris in Spring 1955, Grace wonders what she would do with all the money. Live. She would like to live in great comfort and peace, with no one to tell her what to do or how to do it.

The novel flits from Paris to New York, and also to Monte Carlo (in 1932), London (in 1928), Oxfordshire (in 1935) and Paris (in Sep 1942, during the Nazi Occupation). It is very well-crafted and I enjoyed it tremendously.

I would be on the look out for another of Katheleen Tessaro’s novel.

My Confidant

 

The night is cold –

I am tired,

I am restless,

Remembering.

I need your warmth

on this cold night;

I’m still searching

for wonderment.

From a distance,

your love is cute;

melting my heart

with your great charm.

Will I be blessed

with happiness

if you remain

my confidant?

Broken City

I was attracted to this 2012 movie because of Russell Crowe; it’s been a while since I saw him in a movie, which I’ve always enjoyed.

Russell Crowe is Mayor Nicholas Hostetler, married to Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), running a campaign against councilman Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper) to keep his seat. He engages private eye Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) to find out whether his wife is having an affair because he’s afraid Valliant may use this scandal against him.

Taggart was a NYPD policeman who was acquitted of murdering a civilian but he wants to seek justice and revenge for the brutal rape and innocent death of a 16-year-old girl whose older sister is his actress girlfriend because he  became close with the family while helping them.

Seven years later, Taggart is facing bankruptcy at his own investigation firm. This is when he accepts the assignment from Hostetler because he would be paid $25,ooo up front, with another $25,000 when the job is completed.

Taggart trails Cathleen and photographs her and Valliant’s campaign manager Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler) at various meetings. Actually, what seems to be adultery is not what it seems. When Andrews is shot dead in front of his apartment, Taggart realises Hotetler has double crossed him. This is when he recalls that Cathleen has warned him that her husband is a dangerous man.

To no one’s surprise – but Hotetler himself – the mayor is arrested at a publi event. Taggart has broken up with his girlfriend because he has been betrayed by her lies, and decides to leave the city for a while…

The pace of the movie would have been more exciting (with the special and visual effects and many stunts eg car chases) if watched at the theatre, I suppose. Watching from a small screen at home, even the music did not make much  impact depite the fact that I recognised the beautiful At Last (by harry Warren & Mack Gordon) and Requiem in D minor K626 by W A Mozart.

A Thorny Crown

When the sun fades

and the night falls,

loneliness calls

‘cos you are gone.

Is love a game

with no logic?

A thorny crown

that pricks with pain?

Lost my senses,

my heart broken;

’twas a bad dream

of tricks and debt.

Now I realise

there is no need

for suffering,

pain and regret.

Aloha

When this 2015 movie was playing in cinemas here, there was a lot of unfavourable reviews so I gave it a miss. Now that I found it on the library shelf, I decided to find out how bad it really is.

The story seems quite straightforward – a celebrated military contractor Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) returns to Hawaii and is assigned to watchdog Allison Ng (Emma Stone). He readily reconnects with an ex-girlfriend Tracy Carson (Rachel McAdams).

13 years ago, Tracy broke up with Brian because he didn’t show up for a vacation. Already pregnant, she then married John ‘Woody’ Woodside ( John Krasinski). She now has two children : 12-year-old Grace (Danielle Rose Russell, who is a marvellous actress) and 10-year-old Mitchell.

Brian falls in love with Tracy; they get into a tiff; he realises that Grace is his daughter; and Woody nearly leaves the family. But all is well in the end.

I was not surprised to find myself nodding off through parts of the movie that are slow-moving and deal with complicated subjects like iriduim flares, sound transducing and aerodynamic flights. I am also not surprised that there was so much criticism about Emma Stone’s character: Allison Ng is supposed to be half-Chinese and half-Hawaiian, with Swedish ancestry. This is ridiculous: Emma Stone does not even look 1% Chinese! Most of the characters in the movie cannot pronounce Ng correctly, making it sound more like Eng. I wonder why Hollywood would bother to choose such a name for the character.

The weaving in of Hawaiian myths, such as the Hawaiian Blessing Ceremony, into the story could have been made more interesting. As it is, the discussion on mana (spirits), menehune (gentle mist), kupuna and ohana border on boring. The saving grace is the hula dances, local musicians and authentic Hawaiian music (of which there are plenty: more than 40, including the well-known Aloha Oe by Queen Liliuokalani).

The cinematography is good, but having visited Hawaii twice (and staying not just for a few days), I wasn’t that impressed. The stunts and visual effects/animation are not impressive either.

The only impressive thing about this movie is that despite it being nowhere near a musical, there is so much music : besides traditional Hawaiian songs, there are more than a dozen popular songs – including I Can See For Miles by Pete Townshend, Factory Girls by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, When I Grow Too Old To Dream by Oscar Hammerstein, Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan and theme songs from Disney movies and I Love Lucy.

 

Faithful Lover

Nobody can invade

my world of music;

Nobody can dictate

how I live my life.

Music will stay faithful

and my love will too.

Who is more devoted

than such a treasure?

Your love is a gamble

that I cannot trust;

I might end up lonely,

floating aimlessly.

My passion for music

is like a fresh spring;

Your betrayal still hurts

like a piercing knife.