Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Let me let go* - Faith Hill

I was in the blue horizon between heaven and earth. The days were unchanging and every night I dream the same dream. The smell of damp earth. The scream no one heard. The sound of my heart beating like a hammer against cloth and I would hear them calling, the voices of the dead. I wanted to follow them to find a way out but I would always come back to the same door. And I was afraid. I knew if I went in there I would never come out.
Suzie Salmon

I can't seem to stop watching good movies!!!!! The latest one is Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones. Released in December last year, it only started playing here rather low-keyed recently. Catch it before its run ends!

I won't give out major spoilers here. It is basically about a 14 year old girl who sadly was murdered near the beginning of the show. The rest of the movie shows her howering at a place between heaven and earth, not being able to let go of her earthly past.

Let me say that i know many critics have not been kind to this movie. I wonder why. Or perhaps i am just terribly biased - after all, it stars the dramatic Mark Wahlberg and the lovely and talented Oscar Winner Rachel Weisz. It has Susan Sarandon as supporting cast. Most of all, it has the Peter Jackson as the director!!!!

But no, i'm not that easily biased. I was critical of the prequel trilogy of Star Wars despite being a huge fan of George Lucas (before the prequels), Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Samuel Jackson.

I loved The Lovely Bones for so many reasons. The acting cast were superb. In addition to the big names mentioned, all of whom did not disappoint, there is Saoirse Ronan, who took the role of Suzie Salmon so well.

The CGI was really beautiful - the main reason why i say the movie must be watched in a big screen cinema and not on a 14 inch laptop screen.

The storytelling was wonderful! The scene where Suzie goes into the small little cave under the cornfield felt so claustrophobic. The comic relief scenes of Susan Sarandon were hilarious. Some scenes were eerie and scary. The scene involving Lindsay, Suzie's sister and the killer was thoroughly nail-biting. The scene where the killer was trying to get rid of the 'lovely bones' was very well done (can't say much without giving up spoilers).

From the reading of online reviews, I think the reason why many din like it was because it is very different from book - and they were disappointed with the outcome.

Well, i din read the book - so perhaps that explains it. I loved it and i was almost moved to tears at the end.

p/s - just to emphasise how good it was, i really enjoyed it despite of the fact that it goes against my Christian beliefs. Not all innocent good people will eventually end up in heaven. And there is no such 'blue horizon' described by Suzie Salmon in the movie. After death, it is just heaven or hell.

Pics taken from various sites online

*This is my favourite song of hers, altho i liked the radio edit version than the one in her album

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Crown him with many crowns* - 2nd Chapter of Acts

Conversation after the dentist did the filing for my tooth:-

Dentist: Eventually, the tooth will hurt and you have to get a root canal done and put a crown on it. When you do that, you'll have to extract the wisdom tooth next to it too. Alternatively, you can just get it extracted.

Moi: Erm... how much would the root canal and crowning cost?

Dentist: Oh... a thousand (Ringgit Malaysia) plus. Together with the wisdom tooth surgery, it'll come up to around two thousand(!).

Moi: (trying to keep my composure) But it'll be alright if i extract it, right (i knew that extraction will cost just around RM50 or so). I dun really need that tooth...?

Dentist: Oh, yes, you can just extract it. But it is better to crown it.

Yeah, right. After comparing the price, obviously it'll be better to crown it. In fact, he'll be glad if he crowns me with many crowns!!!!

The filling which came out - and caused me to have to go to the dentist!!!

*We used to love their version of this wonderful hymn when we were in high school. So powerful and so emotive.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Ride on to die* - Michael Card

They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
Matt 21:7-9 (NIV)

Today is Palm Sunday - the day when the events mentioned above took place more than 2,000 years ago.

It must have been quite a spectacle!!! Large crowd waving palm branches and making lots of noise. After all, their 'hero' has come to town - and he came riding a donkey!!! They did not miss the significance of that - it shows that he is coming as a king! Finally, someone to deliver them from the rule of foreigners! You can watch a clip of it here - i think this is quite a good depiction of wat took place (too bad i couldn't embed the clip here).

But they missed something - yes, he came as a king, but not a conquering king (for that would have meant he would come riding a stallion). No, he came as a peaceful king, to offer them something more than freedom from tyranny. He came to offer them freedom from sin. he came to offer us life - life to its fullest!

After all, he himself had said earlier that he was sent by God not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved!

So in the midst of the revelry, he rides on quietly knowing that in a few days time, some of these people who are shouting 'Hosanna' will soon be shouting 'Crucify him!'. He rides on quietly knowing that he will face a most horrific and gruesome death. He rides on quietly knowing that all his closest companions will desert him and some will deny ever knowing him.

He rides on to die cause he knows there is no other way he can save a lost world.

*Taken from my favourite album of his, 'Known by his scars' featuring songs about the events that took place in the Holy Week during Jesus' life on earth.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sad movies* - Sue Thompson

Been watching a lot of movies wif tGiF in recent weeks. The strange thing is that all the movies we have caught have been really good! And it's all kinds of genre - romantic comedies, dramas, action etc.

Some of them have been pretty sad - not as in bad but not the kind of movies which leave a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And i'm gonna blog about them - 3 movies, to be exact. Warning here - super spoilers ahead as i will talking about why i say they are 'sad' and this will necessary involve the ending.

The first movie i wanna talk about is Oscar hopeful 'Up in the air' starring George Clooney.

Wonderful show, great cast. george does not disappoint, as usual. And to me, a really original storyline - about someone who is hired to fire people. he flies all over the country just to terminate the employment of people, doing a job that the employers do not want to do.

The main character played by George is Ryan. He loves his job. He loves flying all over the place and living off a suitcase. But as the show progresses, he realises that he is not really as happy as he thinks he is - and he starts to long for a real life. A life shared with someone he truly cares for. A life at a place where he can call home.

My favourite scene will be when he makes a surprise visit to his sister to attend her wedding. On the wedding day, he steps in to prevent a disaster and saves the day - and his other sister turns to him and say "Welcome home" despite the fact that he has been there for more than a day.

But the sad part was when he was ready to give up his empty life of chasing meaningless goals and start a real life with the one he loves, she breaks his heart. So he ended up back where he was at the beginning of the movie, doing what he was doing.

It was really sad but it reminded us all that we should not get caught up with meaningless pursuits in our lives but spend time on the things which really matter. For Ryan, he realised it too late.

The next movie is where we see Mel Gibson on the big screen again, the first time since the brilliant 'Signs' in 2002. The movie is 'Edge of Darkness'.

Mel is Thomas, a cop and a single parent to a daughter whom he loves dearly. She was killed early on in the movie and Thomas tried to find those who were responsible - initially thought to be targeting him.

He soon discovered that his daughter was involved in something really big - a huge government conspiracy to produce nuclear weapons but it would be traced back to other nations and not the US. Her daughter was going to expose the matter and she was silenced for good. Thomas soon found that this was way above his head.

It was great seeing Mel on the big screen again - he is still as charismatic as ever with a strong screen presence. I also loved the character played brilliantly by Ray Winstone - Jedburgh - who was supposed to used by those in power to 'clean up' the evidence. Although he worked for the government, he was still a man of principles and he was almost an ally to Thomas.

This not an all out action movie - but i must admit the best scene for me was when Thomas took out a car and its driver who was trying to run him over. Cool!

Well, the people responsible for the death of his daughter received their just desserts in the end. But Thomas had to do it on his own as the conspiracy is so huge that even his closest frens in the police force were afraid to interfere. It was a bittersweet ending as Thomas dies but we see his 'spirit' walking away with the 'spirit' of his daughter, reunited and happy again.

Finally the last one is certainly not the least. A superb war movie, 'Green Zone'.

You wanna know how good it was? Well, i was so terribly exhausted when tGiF and i bought the tickets and i wondered if i was gonna waste the movie and fall asleep in the cinema. Well, i couldn't! It was brilliant! Matt Damon was in his 'Bourne' element too.

Yes, another government conspiracy/cover-up movie. some have even labeled the show as 'anti-american'. Basically it depicts why weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq in the recent war there.

As the movie goes on, we discover that the main source of intel which the govt of USA depended on never provided info about WMD. On the contrary, he made it clear that there were no WMD at Iraq. Yet, certain people in the government wrongly relayed the intel, saying that the source confirmed that there were indeed WMD. It was based on that intel that USA went to war in Iraq - together with UK and other allies. Was the US government tricked into going to war - or did they just want to hear what they want to to justify what they hope to do?

Miller stumbles upon the truth and worked hard to secure the source and expose the lies. Unfortunately, just when we thought he finally got him, the source was killed. The action in this movie was fast and furious with the Bourne-style of hand-held cameras being used in most of the action scenes. I was pleasantly surprised that i did not get any motion sickness at all!!! Maybe the brain tumour which was taken out recently was the cause of my motion sickness problems?

Anyways, the movie ends off with Miller giving his story to reporters all over the world. We never know wat happens after that.

But as we walked out of the cinema, tGiF said 'That's sad (if the movie was true)'. I personally do not think the movie is very far away from the truth. Why is it that up to today, no WMD is found?

It is indeed sad if so many young soldiers had to give up so much - some their lives, even - just to facilitate the lie so that those in power can achieve their goals. And so much suffering casued to the Iraqis too. So so sad. But so so good - i'm referring to the movie, of course.

So tt's it folks. I hope i can also blog about the other great movies i have seen recently. As even as i look in the papers today, there are so many potentially great movies to catch too! Glad that the Easter break is near. :-)

Pics taken from various sites online

*A huge sixties hit which was one of my fav songs when i was younger. i love the story they incorporated into the song lyrics.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

I will remember you* - Sarah McLachlan

I'm really bad at remember faces. Last Saturday, someone waved me over to her as i took my seat in the church building. I went over and chatted with her for a while before remembering who she is. Just yesterday, a car stopped by mine and someone in the car next to mine waved at me before shooting off. Unlike last week, i could not remember who she is!!!

A sign of old age???

But it was a pleasant surprise last night during Bible Study Fellowship when i walked past a brother who used to be in the same discussion group with me. We started chatting and he could remember that i am a lecturer and not only that, he could remember i used to have migraines!!!

Even tho we were in the same group, we never really talked as the group was large. So it was something which really touched me and encouraged that he could remember the problems i used to have.

I wish i could have a memory as powerful as his - or perhaps his memory is just as good as mine but he can remember better because he truly cares. A lesson that i must try to learn.

*It appeared first in the soundtrack of The Brothers McMullen and subsequently the live version was released. This song won her a Grammy too.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

I'd do anything for love (but I won't do that)* - Meatloaf

Oscars have come and gone - and the results (which was a surprise to many) have left a lot including yours truly non too pleased. But then again, this will not be the first time we have felt this way.

But way back in 1981, a small British film made the world look towards the other side of the Atlantic with 7 nominations and eventually winning 4 Oscars including the most coveted honour of the Best Picture. That movie was Chariots of Fire.

(Pic taken from online)

This morning, i was reading 1 Samuel from the Bible and i came across a verse which reminded me of the aforementioned movie. It was part of the verse from 1 Sam 3v20 where God said "Those who honor me I will honor...".

Most of us would know about the true story that the said movie was based on. For those who do not, here is a quick summary - the main character is Eric Liddell, a very committed Christian preacher. He also loved running and represented the UK in the 1924 Olympics.

Unfortunately, the heats for his pet event was to held on a Sabbath - and no matter how much he loved to run, he just could not dishonor God - he won't do that. he pulled out of the race despite all those who told him not to - including the Prince of Wales at that time.

In the end, he ran for a race that was not his pet event. Just before the race, another runner came up to him and reminded him of that very Bible verse from 1 Samuel we have looked at earlier.

Eric went on the win the race and eventually went to China as a missionary and died there.

It is always very encouraging to be reminded of this great servant of God - who went on after the Olympics to do greater things for the glory of God.

Perhaps, as a last word, i would also want to remind us all of the phrase right after the one that was reproduced earlier - God went on to say "but those who despise me will be disdained". A warning that surely must not be taken lightly by all of us.

*This song was a hit at the time we arrived at London to complete our studies there - and all of us absolutely loved it!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Love story* - Taylor Swift

Everyone loves a love story, dun they? But this is supposedly not a love story. It's a story about love! And i love it very much!

(Pic taken from online)

It has been a while since i've watched a really good romcom. I guess perhaps i've seen it all in My Best Friend's Wedding, While you were sleeping, About a boy and Love, Actually. To be honest, i din really think (500) Days of Summer would be really good - i heard it was good but how good can it be? So i was pleasantly surprised when i finally caught it recently. Not as good as those i mentioned earlier but definitely one of the best in recent times!

Wanna know some reasons why i liked it so much? Check it out here. Be warned - there are some spoilers there.

*This is her first single from her 2nd album and also her first international single.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Look away* - Chicago

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" — which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Matt 27v45-46 (NIV)

Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Dali.
I had the chance to view it when i was in Glasgow in 2006

This morning, one of my Church elders reminded me that there was one thing that Jesus truly dreaded when he gave his life for us - it was not the sound of the banging of the nails, it was not the soldiers spitting at him, it was not the humiliation of being crucified, it was not the thorns... but it was being separated from the Father.

It was - and will be - the only time in all eternity when this happened.

And the reason for that is because all the sin of everyone - past, present and future - was placed on him as he died on all our behalf.

Such sacrifice, such obedience, such love...

Oh make me understand it, help me to take it in
What it meant to thee the Holy one to bear away my sin
Katharine Kelly

*Their last song to hit no. 1 in the Billboard charts, way back in 1988.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Buses and trains* - Bachelor Girl

As i was driving home after cell gathering when a Rapid-KL bus passed me along the LDP. I glanced inside the nearly empty bus - and i got nostalgic.

The green-themed interior of a District Line tube

I really miss the days when i used to commute - trains, buses, tubes, DLRs. Sure, having a car is much convenient. But at the end of the day, it feels so good to just sit and relax while being driven back. Dun have to worry about the traffic of the reckless driver or the guy who is travelling at snail's pace on the fast lane.

Train passing by my halls in Colchester

Instead, i can just look out the window and enjoy the view - or just see life go by outside. i do that now while i drive but it has its limitations, obviously - and has resulted in many a near miss!

Funny vandalised sign on the window of a coach!

And after a while, i can just phase out and not worry tt i will run onto the roadside or go off the rails! If i'm not too tired, i can do a spot of reading. If not, perhaps i may get to participate in some people watching if the bus or carriage i'm in is not empty.

The modern double decker buses in London

Just the sight of the bus brings back so many memories from a life that seems so long ago, when time seems to pass by slowly - and i get to take my time and truly savour every last bit of it.

*Their first and most successful single. I loved this song back then. A pity they never did live up to this song.