Margin Call


Feeling inexplicably tired on this gloomy and rainy afternoon, I decided to pull out this 2011 DVD, hoping to be entertained by something “thrillingly intense” and at the same time learn something about the financial industry. What made me pick this out of the thousands on the library shelves on my last trip is the cast, including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore and Stanley Tucci.

The movie opens with Eric Dale (Tucci), head of the Risk Management department of a Wall Street Investment Bank being retrenched after 19 years on the job. He left a thumb drive to a much younger colleague Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) saying, “Be careful”.

Sullivan has a PhD in engineering, and is actually a rocket scientist, but joined the firm two-and-a-half years ago because to him, it’s all about crunching numbers anyway, and hopes that he’ll earn more.

Other than understanding that Dale was retrenched partly because of a colleague named Sarah Robertson (Moore) who is seeking to take over the job as head of the department, and that Sam Rogers (Spacey) is a senior member with 34 years’ experience with the firm and Jeremy Irons as the CEO, I still do not know how information contained in the thumb drive could potentially cause the firm’s downfall and gave rise to so much decisions and complications to the lives of all involved.

I only understood two lines, both uttered by John Tuld the CEO: Money is just pieces of paper with pictures in it that  people can use to buy food so that they don’t kill each other, and There will always be winners and losers in this world.

I was not even able to appreciate the mostly original music composed and performed by Nathan Larson, or why Chopin’s Prelude Op 28 No 15 was used in one scene. Perhaps I’m really lacking in knowledge about the workings of the financial industry or I was simply too tired, both physically and mentally, to follow the plot.


Me Before You


Based on a novel by Jojo Moyes (who also wrote the screenplay), I expected this 2016 movie to be a joy to watch, although I’ve only read one of her earlier books which I didn’t like vey much.

Set in a lovely quaint English village, with music by Craig Armstrong, this movie tells a very simple story with very recognizable themes:

Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) is klutzy and wears ridiculous clothes, but has a sweet smile and a cheery disposition. Her newest career challenge is that of a caregiver and companion to a young man, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) who is confined to a wheelchair because of an accident.

Will has all but given up, and Louisa is determined to show him that life is worth living to the fullest. They embark on a series of adventures, and both get more than they’ve bargained for. Their lives – and hearts – change; although in ways quite unexpected, and Will follows through with his wish all along – to have his parents (and now Louisa) take him to the Swiss Centre for Assisted Suicide six months later. (“That is what I promised them, and I’ll give them the six months.”)

I wasn’t moved to tears, but I got the message: You can’t change people. You love them. The movie is made better with the splendid view of the sprawling castle and countryside, and the 15 songs and the Wind Concerto by Mozart and the Canon by Pachelbal. I would not rush out to get hold of the book to read, though.


Last Night At Chateau Marmont


This is the last of Lauren Weisberger’s book I’ve read; I’ve enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing and Chasing Harry Winston so much that I wondered why Last Night At Chateau Marmont was always not on the library shelves. I expected this to be another good read; and it did not disappoint.

The story is set around a young couple in New York, Brooke and Julian, a nuitritionist working two jobs to support her struggling musician husband. When, after many years, Julian became an ‘overnight’ success with a debut No 4 on the Billboard, their life changes for ever.

Chauteau Marmont is the glitziest of the many restaurants, hotspots and exclusive clubs for the who’s who in the entertainment industry. Julian’s new-found fame and the hectic schedules of the couple causes tension, in particular the latest picture in an entertainment tabloid that means Brooke must stand up to the savage attentions of the ruthless paparazzi.

The last few pages are moving and I could feel tears welling up. I can envision this being adapted into a screenplay. Cameos (or stand-ins) of the famous musicians and movie stars mentioned would be a definite draw.

Every Time You Smile

The gentle breeze whispers

across my cheeks;

I close my eyes and think

of the love we shared.

The sun sets like your smiles –

nice but fleeting;

I looked into your eyes –

bright and shimmering.

There were tears and laughter,

dreams and promises –

Suddenly, all shattered

but heartache remains.

Alone, separated –

all is empty;

Finally, no more pain –

when the end is here.



So many words –

gossips gone mad;

Some are sad

others are not.

There are stories

I wish are false;

All the tears

I can’t forget.

Let me believe

your heart is true;

I’m speechless

searching for truth.


You’ll never be alone

if you make new friends

if you join a hobbies club

if you visit a community centre

if you join a book club

if you contact people more often

if you talk to friends and relatives

if you are friendly with your neighbours

if you do voluntary work

but you may still be lonely.


You may be alone

if you keep a pet

if you use a computer

if you visit a library

if you read a book

but you’ll never be lonely.



“Smell the roses when you’re young,”

says researchers:

the sense of smell

deteriorates with age.

Test results show –

seniors find it hardest

to detect ‘rose’ smell

and easiest

to sniff out ‘onion’ scent.

Pungent odours indicate

something toxic –

a signal to stay away;

we don’t lose sensitivity

to pungent smells so

we don’t lose

that defense mechanism.