Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Geek's Guide to the Movies: Sucker Punch

Presenting the return of the Geek. It's been a while. I wish I could've made a comeback sounding like a changed person; I was imagining critiquing a movie so awe-inspiring I just had to write a review about it. Ironically, it's the other way around. Somebody needs to warn the masses about this film. Do not waste 200 bucks on it. In the end, the only person who gets Sucker Punched is you.

I admit, I excite easily. Books, food... and movies. Watching trailers is like foreplay to me. When I saw the trailer for Sucker Punch, it was so mind-blowingly anime-zing that I even alloted a brain cell to remember its showdate. I wasn't expecting an intellectual film, of course. It was obvious to me even then that the movie is akin to an adolescent phantasmagoria. But I wasn't expecting a plotless, spineless film that pretends at empowering girls while encapsulating them further into the stereotype. If I take my lenses off --- all of the lenses at that --- I did feel a certain thrill of imagining myself as a gun-toting, samurai-wielding Lara Croft type of super heroine. But someone should have told the producers that the scenarios they have placed "Babydoll" in are not the inner workings of a woman. Certainly not one that, as the movie took the effort to explain, grew up as a bourgoise bred Anglo Saxon.

Sucker Punch is eye-candy. To be more precise, it's pop rocks for the extremely hormonal. The kind that sizzles and twitches in your mouth. But after all the popping and cracking is done, you're just left with a monstrous sweetness nauseauting enough to lead you into diabetic coma. I wish I could comment on the technicalities of the plot. But as I have mentioned before, it doesn't have one that makes any kind of respectable sense. In a bubble gum, it's supposed to be about a girl who was committed by his stepfather into a mental institution (which is actually a front for a "Dancing" club / whorehouse). She finds it so miserable that in one of her trances, she was told by a hammy looking old man the only way to get out is to find 5 items: a map, fire, knife, key and 1 other mystery object. The movie revolves around the trances she gets everytime they plot to retrieve an item. And the really kooky part is, we don't really get to see her dance.

Oh, and they all die, or get lobotomized in the end, save for one. Which one... is supposedly where you get sucker punched. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The writing prompt was: to take elements from the story of sleeping beauty and to write it under half an hour.

The first time Liz heard David snore, she laughed.

She worked late that night and he offered to drive her home after dinner. By the time they got to her place, it was already past midnight and David looked like he was about to drop. Liz felt guilty, and asked if he would like to take a nap first before heading back to the city. David was too exhausted to refuse.

In a matter of minutes, he was dead to the world on Liz’s bed. Then he snored. Loudly.

Liz found it adorable at first.

But just then, a bitter, ugly voice spoke inside her head asking, “For how long?” How long until what she finds adorable now becomes irritating later? The thought was punctuated by another deafening snore. Without meaning to, she winced. She sat on the chair beside the bed and watched him sleep.

“How un-perfect,” she thought. “Here I am, with a guy on my bed, fast asleep and snoring.” None of the romance novels she read told the story of the guy who fell asleep after rescuing the damsel-in-distress. And certainly, none of them ever mentioned the hero snoring loud enough to wake the dead. Liz knew she should be appalled. But…

There’s something familiar about the way he’s sprawled on the pillows and the way his left arm is splayed to the side. It was more of a boyish pose than a gallant one. And yet instead of being turned off, Liz felt warmth spread through her instead. Because she noticed that even on her tiny, tiny bed, he made a space for her. Beside David is a Liz-shaped space for when she’s ready.

Hesitations slowly faded away. And when she was finally sure, she stood up from the chair, made her way to the bed and fitted herself beside him.

“So that’s how it feels to cross the line between fiction and reality,” she whispered to the sleeping David. In romance novels, the guy is picture perfect, filled with electrifying energy and probably doesn’t snore. But none of them could hold a candle to this warmth, this space where she fits, the rhythm of their breaths syncing in contentment. Liz seals this realization by planting a soft kiss on his lips.

David wakes with a jolt. “Sorry! Am I hogging the bed?” He reaches out to touch her face.

Liz smiled, “Nope, don’t worry, I fit,” she said. “Sleep a few more minutes. I’ll wake you when it’s time.”

He nodded and moved to his side to hug her. “Thanks, love. One full REM cycle should do it,” he quipped.

“Take two, if you want.”

David leaned forward and kissed Liz’s forehead. “I should probably tell you, Liz. I snore in my sleep.”

“Ha! I should probably tell you David, I talk in my sleep.” She replied.

He grinned at her and hugged her tighter. “Well, that’s just perfect.”


“Yeah… that’s exactly what I realized. Perfect.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not an Average Love Letter

Lately, I have been hinting heavily at my boyfriend that I would “appreciate” receiving a love letter. He’s been spot-on so far --- big boxes of chocolates, scouring shops and shelling out the bucks for my “craving of the month” munchies, flowers in vases and fluffy stuff to clutter my bed with. Everything except the Letter.

See, some girls dream of breathtakingly expensive proposals, some of big fabulous weddings, and some fantasize of babies in a twin carriage. But ever since I was young, I only had one romantic notion and that is to receive one heck of a searingly honest, non-sappy, ultra-passionate love letter. The kind of letter that bares the soul and seals in ink the reasons and unreasons of Love --- so real it makes all other literature pale in comparison.

I guess on the off-hand, it sounds like a tall order. I can imagine litgeeks balking at this request. And my guy, who like my sister believes that reading and writing are things you suffer through only for a perfectly iron-clad and inescapable logical reason, might not be comfortable trying to find the right words. And so I thought, maybe I should give it a try first before I ask it of anybody else. But I hit a problem.

I honestly haven’t written a love letter before --- and given it to the person I wrote it for. I managed to write a few which were supposed to be unsent, and they are now populating the bottom drawer of my study table along with clippings of articles about Boyzone and Backstreet Boys.

A love letter meant to be read however, must not just be heartfelt. I suppose it has to be relatable. It also cannot have any signs of delusional psychopathy (just like signing it off as Yours forever, Mrs. Liv Gately).

Unsure on how to proceed, I decided to do what geeks and nerds do whenever they are faced with a new problem --- research, of course. I have no intention to plagiarize. I was just wondering, really 100% wondering, how other geniuses like myself (oh wait, yeah, we agreed on a zero delusions policy so scratch the last part) wrote love letters.

And as it turns out, they weren’t all what they’re touted to be. I came across a lot of “Ohs” ( as in Oh, oh, love, thy light is oh, oh, so bright) and “Dears” (Dearest of my heart; I hold you dear my darling) and over postulated sentences such as “Your scent a thousand sultans crave… it perfumes the onerous, palpable night, my beautiful, breathtaking (insert name of flower here)” which in the end really only wanted to say “You smell good, babe.”

No, I was looking for the perfect balance of beauty and practicality with a dash of imagination and science. A person could say, “ The nearness of you intoxicates, blurs the line between here and there, today and tomorrow --- a heady mix of truth that is present and truth we wish will be” or settle with “You drive me crazy insane, love.” Both are acceptable, but neither suits my taste. One is too flowery and sounds too much like prescribed reading for English class and the other one fails to justify the parameters of insanity.

So maybe… Napoleon Bonaparte said it better to Josephine? Let’s see:

Paris, December 1795

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.

Well, yeah, I guess that’s not lame stuff. Miles better than what Mozart can cook up with a pen. Seriously, the guy should’ve just stuck with sheet music. How would you feel if you were the lucky recipient of these fond words:

"I now wish you goodnight, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind and try to kiss your own behind. [...] Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this! ---- maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck..."

Mozart. Ever the romantic. Aren’t you glad his music never had any lyrics? One could wonder what words he sang under his breath while composing the Hallelujah chorus. Thankfully, he’s dead and we will never know.

At this point of my research, I decided how pathetic my endeavour is. Seriously, nobody SANE researches love letters. Only me and 54,900,000,000 people have looked it up.

Besides, love letters aren’t something you force on people. It’s most beautiful when unprompted and unscripted. I may not have the pretty yellowing paper to show for it someday, but I have heard it from his lips and I have seen it with my eyes.

I am somebody’s true north. Knowing this, I can wait a little longer for the letter. And if it never gets written, I wager it’s because it got lived instead.