’12 Years a Slave’ enlightens us of our dark past

While I have not been posting any of late, I kept a habit of watching good movies – including this one “12 Years a Slave”.

12 Years A Slave. Entertainmentwise.

A story of a Free Black man’s journey to freedom from enslavement, ’12 Years’ boasts of tasty and artful cinematography, that even the direst of torture scenes look like moving paintings.

Stellar performances are given by artists as Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Eijofor who played Solomon Northup – the man whose life the story is based on, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Quvenzhane Wallis, and especially who for her role as Patsy won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Lupita Nyong’o.

Throughout her event appearances for the film, Lupita proved herself a style powerhouse with her spectacular fashion choices as the caped red gown by Calvin Klein she wore at the Golden Globes, the green strapless gown in the BAFTAs, and the ‘Nairobi blue’ Prada gown she wore at the Oscars.

Lupita Nyong’o at the Oscars. Huffingtonpost.

But amidst her classy celebrity persona, in ’12 Years’ she played the life of Patsy – a female black slave repeatedly maltreated by her masters. Although an arduous worker able to produce the most output in her masters’ cotton plantation, Patsy suffered of sexual advances and physical assault.

In one of her most heartbreaking scenes, Patsy asks Solomon to help her commit suicide in her desperate attempt to escape from misery. But a fellow who believes in God himself, Solomon makes Patsy remember of the sin to take life away, and how they will be not unlike of the ugliness their masters resemble if they do pursue.

’12 Years a Slave’ drove through a quick narrative of Solomon’s life away from home – extensive time span covered and looked slow and emphatic. From that time I saw Director Steve Mcqueen’s vision of Solomon hunched, chained, and writhing in a cellar with a single beam of daylight, I became impatient of seeing him go home as a Free Man again.

But somehow it occurred to me that Solomon may have been one fortunate man to begin with. Despite his enslavement, he was born from a family of Free Black people, has achieved education, and has afforded a life for himself and his family. Other Black people of his time may have been born, continuously lived and died as a slave. Not to say that some notions outweigh others, I believe my observation is valid – that there lived Free Black people in the past – and that they, too, may have been instrumental of alleviating the condition of their people early on.

It reminds me of our own journey as Filipinos to freedom. Our history takes us to 300 years of Spanish regime. The Spaniards had the religion Roman Catholicism as their strongest weapon. Even today, our traditions and belief systems are deeply rooted to religion, yet with changes through the passage of time. What may seemingly freed us from oppression was our forefathers’ access to information and physical action of revolutionary ideas.

Illustrados, what may seemingly like have been Free Black people to us Filipinos then, were natives generally privileged enough as to have afforded education in Europe. Their education abroad harnessed revolutionary ideas to free the people in their homeland. Their tools were words. They formed groups and publications aimed to discard the indignations asserted by the Spaniards.

From novels by Jose Protacio Rizal, to poems and sharp blades by Andres Bonifacio, ultimately the revolution was won by the Filipinos against the Spaniards. Then came the Japanese. And the Americans. But today we are generally free, and at the very least fighting against the odds we made ourselves and brought ourselves into.

In some way I believe the journey to freedom of the Blacks inspired our forefathers to do the same. And maybe our forefathers have inspired their struggle too. In this world where strength comes from everywhere, the ability to inspire and enact what ought to be done transcends through borders. For as long the rule of evil continues, there will arise instruments to make things right.

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The Paperboy touches in the lake.

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If you like weird, dirty, agonizing movies, then you’re up for a treat.

The Paperboy is about this person who allegedly kills a sheriff, imprisoned, without fair trial. Thus, public interest on his case ensued and so did journalistic endeavors to propel the story. There’s this journalist and his assistant. They go to the journalist’s hometown where the “killer” did the crime and is also incarcerated. They invite the “killer’s” pen-pal/girlfriend (Nicole Kidman) to help with the case. Paperboy is Zack Efron – the journalist’s (Matthew McConaughey) brother. Paperboy gets a huge crush at “killer’s girlfriend”, and all. Journalist takes a homo relationship with his assistant. The Black issue is raised. Family issues raised. Blah, I still need to practice explaining big stuff as this movie and I’m trying not to offend, so here’s the link.
Based on a true story, the plot is troubling and effective with the cast acting the characters well, and viewers taken to different places and treats of dirty titillation brought to you by Nicole Kidman.

Nicole Kidman was pulling off sensuality 5x more than Julia Roberts’ Erin Brokovich.

Zack Efron plays the toned down acting, creating balance in the film.

Matthew McConaughey makes it good as a closeted gay.

The sex is quite graphic in here and I’ve got no qualms with that, only that it makes the film disturbing.

For its weirdness, I dig it.

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The Beasts of the Southern Wild is the beast you love.

Yes Beauty, this is the one.

I haven’t seen Amour yet, but I guess out of all those nominated for Best Picture this is the one I like most.

The Beasts of the Southern Wild is so dirty that I like it. Watching it stresses me out yet makes me feel so good.

It is actually because it’s giving me a schadenfreude moment – that feeling of goodness I feel for myself because others feel bad. But that’s not to say I’m not sympathetic.

No seriously, it’s because Beasts has the freshest perspective of all. I know it is artsy borderline pretentious but it has one nice point of view.

The indie film treatment at the start just looks quite annoying.

And I so love Quenvezhane Wallis.

That’s all.

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Argo Fact Yourself

The opening spells much of those from Marvel, or from that atrocious Victorian parody Your Highness. We see scene sketches amid the subtle sordid voice-over.

And there went scenes from the Iranian civil war. I thought this won an Oscar for best picture so maybe they’re pulling off another Schindler.

But no, we’re taken to an embassy in 1979.

And then we see tight shots of conversations.We understand everything because the premise is laid early on.

Affleck understood that he is dealing with a tight material that the audience needs to know where this movie is going early on. Unlike those people behind Cloud Atlas who seemed not to care.

Affleck wanted his viewers to understand. And so we did.

Those scenes at the airport was scarier than a Japanese horror movie.

Yet as soon as they got on the plane. I knew Affleck would not blow this thing off.

I just thought some wigs were quite bad. That’s all.

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Anna Kendrick’s Cups takes on dreams with no hang-ups.

This interpretation is rather fitting with what the song tells.

This is easy, fun and a bit deep.

I actually think this way at times.

Sometimes when I’m doing something “important” that the beneficiary’s not only me but others too, I feel a bit of remorse for some unvoiced out fake inequity I feel within.

You know the feeling when it’s normal for you to take on the chore of washing the dishes after dinner, and you feel like why can’t your sister or somebody else do this, and you say to yourself “It’s fine; it’s fine; someday you’ll all be wrecks because there ain’t got to be me to do this. Wait for that time”. That’s overboard, but the feeling is somewhat like that.

Plus we get an extended version of the infamous Cups percussion-y routine.

That’s something to practice on.

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Happy Work Life

I feel happy about work today that I somehow feel compelled to write.

I know this is just about some training I ought to do for a grade; and this too shall pass.

There is no monetary remuneration, and the time to spend is short, yet today I feel so satisfied of what’s happening with this experience, that I don’t care of whatever inequities there may be; I think I am overly compensated in some other ways even economic wise. This is crazy satisfying and exhilarating of sort. Work, some serious fun work, gives me a whim of euphoria.

I thank my superiors for providing a wonderful working environment for us trainees.

I thank them for opportunites, big or small work, that give me this wonderful feeling I feel now.

I’ll end this now. Too phony.

I look forward for another working day tomorrow. :)

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Matchbox for Mother’s Hair

I took this book The Journey Prize Stories from an on-sale bin, and I’m happy it called me.

I’ve enjoyed a few stories and this one by Matt Shaw I knew was special.

And yes it was. It was the winner.

Shaw, in the book’s appendix, wrote about the story being formed as “a focused stream of details using a character with limited capacities.” So the intent was pretty mechanical.

Yet what I like about this story is how it has the least pretense, simple yet full of nuisances that build up the characters.

Then going down the story the reader is treated with gore, titillation and the absurd. As a reader, you finish reading it, you look back to that disturbing bit, and you realize there’s nothing much sexual or absurd directly with the words you’ve just read.

Shaw has the strength of concealment. Somebody can learn something from him.

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The Hangman

I’m testing out the post by email feature of WordPress through my phone, this Samsung E222 (I know), so here it goes.

Meet Skelly, the plastic Hangman on my shelf.

He’s been there for I guess a year now.

He doesn’t do anything, and so not unlike me.

The most enjoyable Hangman game I know is Hangaroo. Okay so I should be downloading the game soon.

That’s a chore.

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Work Experience: A First-timer’s Tale, and a Book and a Movie to Unleash the Submissive in You

My title is odd, I know, but the week that has gone by was quite odd really. And troublesome.

Well I take all the blame to whatever has transpired because I, Romeo Martin, is very well known as a dull decision-maker that even the simplest of things as wearing which shirt takes half-a-day for me to think about.

Unlike in America where the opportunity for teenage (or twenty-ish) employment of whatever sort is enormous, some of us kids here in the Philippines are quite happy with Mama and Papa’s care (money) until we get out of college and have a reputable job soon after. So sometimes, kids here like me, gets to have a job until they’re 19 or 20, with the exception of course of very astute working students.

Yeah, I know, I’m a big dilly-dally, that’s what this is about. I never had a job before because I did not strive too hard to find one. But I swear, I tried applying for jobs before which I am not qualified so I never got to have work like work.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, it took a long, long while before which God-blessed agency should I get into for non-paid work because (1) the possibilities are tempting, (2) I’m looking into some factors minute enough borderline non-essential, and (3) I’m a really queasy person.

What happened was “things did not go quite smoothly” and had a “bumpy resolution”.

I’m doing the job (as a trainee) by the way as a course requirement for the degree I’m pursuing.

And now I’m trying not to blow the sensitive things away, but I have to tell this so others would somehow learn or be reminded and not follow my suit.

Lesson learned: choose fast enough, and when you do just stick to your choice, stand by it, accept the consequences, and never look back.

I got into a few appetite-less days and nights due to stress thinking what will become of me after my irascible mind has decided.

But as Kelly Clarkson sings: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Stand a little taller.”

So there. I felt better and coped quite a lot soon after.

Enough of the “first timer’s tale”.

Thankfully, although I had a “bumpy resolution”, I still managed to take what millions of people call “first day of work “. Well, I’d rather think the day was more of playing than working actually as it was all light and breezy. Not the total wreck of a day I’ve expected.

I went to the office the first time as a trainee with a mantra: “Unleash the submissive in you”.

So to prepare myself, I exposed myself to two Submissive stories the world so knows – one totally inappropriate, the other quite fitting.

The first one is EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey.

Of course I didn’t go to work for sex! But I looked closely into the manner by which the author portrayed submission in this erotic piece of fiction.

Setting aside the gripping tale of sexual submission in Fifty Shades, I used Anastasia Steele’s mentality towards submission as a foundation to my frequent inability to be submissive.

Through Anastasia I swear I’ve realized that I have to compromise my hard-headedness at times, especially at work, to learn and for a better tomorrow.

Cheers to that.

The second one is The Meryl Streep’s and Anne Hathaway’s and Emily Blunt’s The Devil Wears Prada.

I’ve had several reruns of this movie and I did another a night before work.

The purpose of such endeavor was to prepare myself for the adversities of work-related stress.

And behold, I was able to surpass first day with a smile.

The movie helped me to objectively see the motives behind the behavior of the people in the workplace, and understand the people in my workplace more closely as to why they do what they do, and the manner to which they treat me.

Given the circumstance I have put myself into my current workplace, my relationship with the people around me there isn’t particularly perfect, but I would say they have all been very cordial and professional in their treatment to me. I thank them for holding back grudges of whatever sort towards me. But then of course, it may just be that I think of myself too lowly sometimes.

And now I would say that I’m having an interesting, borderline exciting, work experience as an on-the-job trainee.

More, more days to go and I will be done with tales and tales to tell!

P.S. I reread this stream-of-consciousness piece and I conclude I have a very complicated attitude. That’s a thing to work on. Just saying.

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Fifty Shades of Grey: A Review of the Titillating Tale by EL James

Sia in David Guetta’s Titanium sings: “I’m talking loud, not saying much…”

This book feels like one. Titillating, yes, but nothing much of a story.

I can summarize Fifty Shades in Three Key Points:

  1. Girl and Boy mutually like each other sexually the first time they meet, with the Boy’s sexual likeness more severe than Girl’s.
  2. Boy urges and pursues Girl to commit to an intense sexual arrangement, with them having sexual engagements on the side before Girl gives her choice.
  3. Girl is always in doubt which to choose and after a sexual engagement which had gone awry, she says no.

Notice the recurrence of the word ‘sexual’? Because the book is about fucking.

It is marketed as an erotic book so it is technically fine

It does not attempt to be a literary feat and well, it plays its purpose.

Nobody is to blame. It’s all part of commerce.

So I will review the book on the merit of its writing:

  1. We get simple, straight-forward characters and conversations.
  2. EL James is fond of repeating her similes and metaphors. There’s this ‘Icarus touching the sun’ metaphor she keeps on putting in.
  3. Her characterization of Christian Grey in the eyes of Anastasia is repeated again and again and again in every chapter.
  4. Each sex scene is described with motion as pants pulling down, shirts going up, and devoid of the oooohs and aaaaahs. A good thing, actually for erotic fiction.
  5. The language is simple and understandable.

Actually, I’ve skipped several parts in each chapter especially ones involving repetitive sex. For me, it gets quite boring soon after reading sex scene after sex scene.

I cannot say I’ve wasted much time. I quite enjoyed it. But it certainly did not fill my soul. And I’m the only person to blame.

I think the movie coming up would be interesting. I just can’t fathom all the sex put into a two-hour spectacle of sort. But it sure would be interesting seeing it on another perspective.

 

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Dadi Janki and the Power of Purity

This post continues the good intent of the post Dadi Janki and the Power of Peace, and Dadi Janki and the Power of Love.

To supplement more of this week’s meditative spirit, here are more words from Dadi Janki’s Chapter 3 – The Power of Purity:

  • Purity enables me to make my thoughts and actions free from the negativity, waste and weakness that were created when I ceased to understand myself as a spiritual being, and thought of myself only as the offspring of my physical parents and circumstances.
  • You may be experiencing peace through having moved away from your responsibilities. Or people may be giving you love just to keep you happy. As long as there is some weakness mixed inside, however, you can’t really experience peace or happiness. You love will not be constant, either. Sometimes you’ll stay loving, and sometimes you’ll not even be capable of giving love to yourself.
  • In the same way, the true peace of God, the peace and understanding that taste so sweet, that give so much strength and wisdom, will only stay within where there is purity. Purity makes your mind and intellect like gold.
  • Purity gives the recognition of how valuable truth is. Then, when rubbish does come inside, you are readily able to recognize it and remove it. When this habit of maintaining inner cleanliness is firmly established, it’s as if God’s help is always close at hand.

Let us continue to pray, live and love.

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Dadi Janki and the Power of Love

This post continues the good intent of the post Dadi Janki and the Power of Peace.

To supplement more of this week’s meditative spirit, here are more words from Dadi Janki’s Chapter 2 – The Power of Love:

  • Originally, each of us is naturally powerful. Power in this inner context means something akin to the French expression, joie de vivre. It means being well stocked with the energy of positive thought and feeling, and knowing how to use and maintain those stocks effectively, replenishing them from an inner wellspring. In this powerful state you feel love for the self, for others, for life.
  • When the surface of a lake is disturbed, it can no longer reflect the surrounding hills or sky Try to look into it, and you won’t get past the ripples or waves. The water will seem murky. But when it is still, you can see into its depths, and with a slight shift to focus you can also see beauty reflected from above.
  • Then the energy flows. This is an amazing, wonderful thing. It is all that is missing in our lives. It is this energy of love that makes it possible to live from inside to out – to become a beacon, in fact – and to prevent the negativities that exist outside from coming in, draining us of happiness and strength.
  • The secret of living from inside to out is to get to know ourselves again internally, and recover an ability to draw on the energy of our inner truth. Then, we can be free.
  • I think of God as also being like a point or star, dimensionless, but radiant with the power of truth, unlimited and eternal.

Let us continue to pray, live and love.

 

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Thank you very much. Time for more meditation. J

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Dadi Janki and the Power of Peace

Filipinos in the Roman Catholic faith do observe the Holy Week.

I am not Roman Catholic myself yet I do respect and appreciate tradition.

For me, the Holy Week is about meditation, self-reassurance and rekindling with God and one’s self.

So to start this year’s meditation, I’m rereading Dadi Janki’s ‘Inside Out: A better way of living, learning and loving’.

Dadi Janki is a leader in the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Univversity and the World Congress of Faiths.

The thoughts shared by her does not necessarily transcend the Word, but it is of the same principle – of peace, love purity, divine truth and happiness.

Here are her words from Chapter 1 – The Power of Peace:

  • Free yourself from the crisis that you create through your own negativity. There are so many external crises, you can’t even count them. There is nothing you can do about that. But the crisis you create in your own mind, according to the quality of your thoughts – at least put a stop to that.
  • To experience sorrow is an act of senselessness. Remember this very well. When you feel sorrow about something, understand that you are lacking understanding. For whom should I feel sorrow? Does it help me or others?
  • But to become upset, or to be unhappy about something, even to have an off-mood, is like putting a drop of poison into a pot of nectar. It spoils everything. It does not just take away peace, it brings unhappiness.
  • Ask your heart: Do I have pure, positive feelings for everyone, including myself? Am I paying attention to this, making it my priority as I move through life? Such feelings create an energy that automatically flows outwards, protecting you against negative influence.
  • With peace, with faith, create such a loving atmosphere that whatever comes, it will easily go away. This is the wisdom shown by the ancient story-tellers when they wrote “And it came to pass…”

Let’s be in for some meditation this week. It’s time to reflect and cleanse the mind with spirituality.

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Revolutionary Road: A house is not a home.

The movie somewhat revolves around this premise: What should be more important with a maturing marriage and family life – finances, career and security, or personal and mutual interests achieved?

Young couples at the start of relationships think of doing things together – crazy or not. It may be ideas like traveling to an uncharted land, joining a theater group, sex in public, building a business, or starting a family.

And when the family grows, there are children, the bills pile, the husband could afford but the wife feels like things happen very unlike of the life planned beforehand and she’s unhappy, what should be done?

Should the husband give way? Or should the wife give way?

And there’s a baby coming, and the wife does not want to bear the baby, what should be done?

It is obvious that in cases as these the children are of utmost importance. But I do understand troubled people as the wife in here who happens to have been quite deprived of her longing for a career or personal interests other than being a mother and a housewife. Self-worth is relative.

Sometimes all other important functions of a person vanish when they feel incomplete. There are just things in life that make you feel less. Life can be a constant search to feel full inside.

The movie has really nice people as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet playing as leads. I think everything looks and feels coherent. There’s this very simple retro feel that we get.

There’s subtle darkness with the mood and the theme. It is so sad – great when you want to cry yet just can’t.

Serious movie critics somehow like it:

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The Lovely Bones is that nice chick crime mystery book you read in grade school.

Remember Nancy Drew? That to me how The Lovely Bones is like. It’s quite fitting actually with the colors, hues and vibe of the 70′s and all found in the film.

The movie’s good at taking somewhat a nice perspective at family drama. It’s in that position the movie is really cute and effective.

Saoirse Ronan was good as the lead. She’s kind but hormonal so she’s acting it all weird as an adolescent.

Susan Sarandon as her grandma was cool and sympathetic enough.

And of course, it’s given that I should like the character of Mark Wahlberg as the lead’s father because (1) he’s an accountant and I like all accountants; (2) he has a penchant for arts and crafts which I do too; and (3) he plays as a good father of a family.

But I think there’s some failure with the cross between thriller and fantasy there. I’ve seen afterlife slash crime mystery films before which are quite effective, but this one is quite sadly not.

The problem in here is we know who kills who early on. We know how she’s killed. We know exactly where. Or if not, we somewhat have a clear idea.

Or at the least, we see the director’s intention to start up a crime-thriller movie yet drives it to fantasy, and the transition is not quite well.

Although I do appreciate the effort to make something fresh, this didn’t just quite work and at times felt quite boring.

Yet nonetheless, it’s interesting and worth-seeing for a time. Just once will do.

Well better people have something better to say:

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