30 Beats

I was surprised this 2012 DVD, with such a “scintillating” cover, was available in the library so I decided to borrow it to find out more. In the end, it took me less than 45 mins to go through this 88min movie. This is why –

The plot is about an ensemble of 10 New Yorkers whose lives interconnect through a series of encounters over three days during a summer heat wave. The first couple involved is virginal Julie (Condola Kashan) and anthropologist Adam (Justin Kirk). Adam is Julie’s sister’s boyfriend who has had many meaningless affairs. He goes to a psychic Erika (Jennifer Tilly) to analyse his problem. They have a fling. The next day, she meets a bike messenger Diego (Jason Day) who inexplicable stalks the girl with a scar Laura (Paz de la Huerta), whose chiropractor Matt (Lee Pace) subjects her to a series of spinal adjustments that crash her bones. Diego then goes for Kim (Vahina Giocante), a switchboard operator in a hotel, who makes a blind date with a guest Julian (Thomas Sadoski), a speechwriter, but sends a friend. He then turns to Alice (Ingegerga Dapkunaite), a call girl. She hits on an innocent boy named Sean (Ben Levin) in a steam room. He shares his experience with his best friend, who turns out to be Julia from the first scene. They decided to have a fling for the experience.

I do not think much of this movie. The dialogues are the worst; for eg, a character says “What you think you feel for me is not really what you feel. What you feel are projected indirected feelings that you shouldn’t feel like feeling. Not real feelings. The feelings from your past that you are transferencing to me, on me, into me –  but not into the real me, into some idea that you have of me. It’s all about the fludity of sexual energy and self-control.”

The pace of the movie is so slow that I had to fast forward many times! The only nice thing is the song Sea of Love (by Philip Baptiste and George Khoury) towards the end of the movie. The other dozen or so songs didn’t leave much of an impression on me.

I also wondered why the director (also one of the producers) chose to dedicate this movie to his father.

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Secret In Their Eyes

I was quite surprised by myself: I missed a movie by Julia Roberts in 2015?! I simply had to borrow this and watch it the moment I got home. I enjoyed the movie but I wish it did not end the way it did.

The movie is set in 2015: Claire Sloane (Nicole Kidman), who has just been promoted to be a supervisor in the District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles (LADA), once worked in a tight-knit team with Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ejofor) and Jess Cobb (Julia Roberts). Ray has since gone into private security practice and, feeling uneasy, now wants to reopen a case that happened 13 years ago.

Then, a woman’s body was brutally and inexplicably murdered,  bleached (so that there would not be DNA evidence) and found in a dumpster next to a mosque. This woman was Carolyn (Zoe Graham), Jess’s teenage daughter. The moment of devastation when Jess discovered this must be one of those that showcased Julia Robert’s acting chops at its best.

Because the victim was her daughter, Jess (now a top investigator) couldn’t be involved in the investigations. Claire’s help is needed; Ray uncovers a new lead that seems to point to a man called Anzor Marzin (Joe Cole), a snitch to another LADA officer for information against potential terrorists. Jess insists the matter is closed, as she has come to prefer living quietly in her isolated farmhouse. She also claims that she killed Marzin a couple of months after Carolyn was murdered.

One day, Ray follows Jess home, and discovers a secret she has kept for 13 years…

Besides a compelling story (after all, the original Argentinian version won the Best Foreign Language Film in the Academy Awards), Julia Robert’s acting is the best thing in this movie – her portrayal of grief, pain, outrage, regret, frustration, sorrow and feeling of injustice – is so affecting and convincing.

 

Trailing

 

A quiet corner,

Away from all eyes –

I’m so lonesome.

Wandering aimlessly,

Facing countless strangers –

No reaason to berth.

Mistakes of the past

And misfortunes cast

A cold hard waft.

Not at all indifferent,

Never solitary;

But I’m still trailing.

The Island on Bird Street

The Island on Bird Street is a 1996 movie based on a true story by Israeli author Uri Orlev. It tells the story of a 11-year-old boy, Alex (Jordon Kiziuk), and his courage to struggle to survive alone in a Polish ghetto during World War II.

When the Nazis come to his hometown in Warsaw, they erect a fence so that nobody can get out. They go into hiding when the Nazis come to take the Jews and haul the children and adults on the trains to a “holiday place”, from which they are never heard of again. Alex manages to escape with his pet mouse Snow to an abandoned building in Bird Street and stays inside a cupboard where he has “everything he needs” with his favourite book, Robinson Crusoe. When Snow dies, Alex cries till he falls asleep. He wakens to pounding footsteps – his father has come back, like a ship that has come into the island to rescue him and take him home.

I like that the music adds an additional layer of suspense and tension to the movie. Besides the orchestra, the various solo instruments – harp, piano, cello –  bring out the sense of hope, positivity, drama and melancholy effectively. There are a few songs too, in a language (Hebrew?) I don’t understand.

I would like to get my hands on an English translation of this book. There are not many books on the holocaust from the point of view of children.

 

Gone

Have they withered?

Where are they now?

Have they been blown away?

To travel the world?

Over time it’s hard to tell

Whether there were once flowers

In the abandoned garden

Like stories with no ending.

Only to reminise –

The times we had together:

In sunshine and full of warmth,

Or moonshine and thunderstorm.

I’ll remember,

Simply but true –

Time cannot erase

The pain in my heart.

One Good Thing

This latest book by Wendy Wax is about four friends who find themselves trying to rebuild their lives. I remember the main characters – Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and their friend Bitsy- from previous books. (Can’t remember which ones exactly, but could be Ten Beach Road, Ocean Beach, The House on Mermaid Point or Sunshine Beach.)

Like her previous books, I expected this one to be witty, dramatic, romantic and simply delightful. My attention was arrested immediately with the opening line of the Prologue: Midlife crisis comes in all shapes and sizes.

One of the women’s husband stole all her money and ran away with another woman; another found herself in a situation where she knew her fear wasn’t warranted, but was terrified anyway; the third was an architect and licensed contractor whose stress buster were the aromas surrounding construction which she found relaxing; one is a mother caught between her ex-husband and her son and the last is unmarried but pregnant with twins by choice.

The friends made a pact to celebrate one good thing at the end of each day, with a toast to the sunset. They each must be strong to pull together, in order to survive the storms and surprises of life.

I found the ending too neat – where many things end happily. It is not as exciting a read as the previous books. Though I’ve always enjoyed Wendy Wax’s writing style, (and I would probably read any new book written by her), I doubt if this little adventure were to continue, there would be much fun. I would prefer her next book to be a stand alone as the series is getting a little tedious.

Dreams

 

Like in a dream

I see my childhood.

An unexpected dream,

Like a distant call.

In my dream,

I fly high and far;

I could pluck any star

And sit on the moon.

But reality

Is dull and gloomy;

I yearn to be ever

Floating among the clouds.

I’ll just hanker

The laughter and joy

Of carefree existence

Found only in dreams.