Logan

Logan.

One name. One word. And it explains one thing about him.

Unlike the other X-Men movies and their spin-offs centering on Wolverine character, this movie tastes and feels a world’s apart from its predecessors. After the disappointing “The Apocalypse” back in 2016, during which I, an avid movie-goer, fell asleep because it was just that terrible, I had expected Logan to have a different approach towards a superhero movie and the existence of mutants, and towards Wolverine character in particular. I couldn’t be more surprised and satisfied with what I watched.

To say that Logan is R-rated is a bit off the mark. Throughout the movie viewers would see revolting scenes like Logan stabbing his enemies with his claws ON THE FACE, ON THE CHEST, ON THE EYE, and the list went on. I deliberately counted the number of times someone’s head got cut off by Logan. Three, if my memory served me right. And that didn’t even include the number of heads Laura cut off on her own. The scenes where limbs were cut off and flying over the place were also quite numerous. The slaughtering moments happened really fast, in split seconds. But towards the end of the movie, those split seconds were extended long enough to point out how Logan’s claws go through the body part of his enemies. CGI or not, those scenes looked pretty real for me. I refrained from throwing up on my chair.

It was said that Logan’s final story took place sometime in 2029. There wasn’t much detail on what happened before that, and how Professor X ended up living inside a wooden barrel and being drugged on daily basis, or otherwise his seizure could cause temporary paralysis for the people around him. It was the coolest scene I’d seen since Quicksilver slowing down the time in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Professor X was taken care of by Caliban, an English albino, whose attitude was such a contrast with the rude, vengeful, and go-to-hell attitude of Logan. So, it was told that Caliban was staying with Professor X and Logan was out there making money for them to someday get away and find the Sun Seeker. There was no explanation about what Sun Seeker was and what it could do. Was this something included in the original comic book? I wouldn’t know.

Logan in 2029 was an old, limping, tired, and dying drunk. In one scene Professor X said that he’s in his 90’s. That would make Logan in his 60’s perhaps? Seeing Logan hunching forward with glasses on his nose and seeing Professor X’s dark irises (a sign of somebody being very old) just hit me right in the feel. They’re that old and their ends were coming. As absurd as any comic story would be about a facility where human-weapons were being developed, I saw the character of Laura jumping into Logan’s and Professor X’s life as a sign of hope and continuation; that the mutants wouldn’t just end with them.

The child actress who played Laura had impressively stoic and cold expression. I’d prefer her being mute all through the movie, though. I kind of disliked her tone speaking in Spanish or speaking in English with an accent. What I didn’t expect was seeing Laura killing that much and without remorse. I couldn’t tell whether being genetically-engineered meant no existence of one’s soul, conscience, and overall moral conduct. I could partly understand that she did all that for the sake of her survival. Nevertheless, seeing a kid taking people’s lives was too much for me to handle, considering I’m a mother myself. The other mutant kids might have been taught to kill or be killed as well, but they appeared pretty much normal, just like some orphan kids running away from the cruel orphanage towards a safer house. Until this scene when one of them was using her mutant power to stab some Transigen soldiers with pine needles. That was horrendous. There was also another scene when they were wrapping one Transigen soldier with grass, suffocating him, making him freeze, and blowing his entire body. His red blood cells were splattered all over the ground. That was sick. It would have been more acceptable if adults were assassins performing the killing. But children? It was way out of the line for me.

Logan movie’s approach was not about some mutants saving the world like they used to do. Its approach was about human having hope because DNA could be engineered to prevent disease, to raise human’s hidden best potentials, etc.; and also about human having future destruction if the future generation was not nurtured. Seeing mutant kids killing Transigen soldiers is actually not far from the truth these days. We’ve known child soldiers used in civil wars in many parts of the world: Africa, Middle East, you name it. The innocence of those children is taken away by irresponsible adults who think they have the right to bring their version of heaven to our current earth. When human children are taught from early age to hate anyone who doesn’t have the same religion, who doesn’t come from different race, who doesn’t possess the same physical look, who doesn’t adhere to the same principals; it’s only a matter of time until the scene of human children killing other children or older adults without any remorse will come to reality.

I cried a bit when Professor X was mumbling to who he thought was Logan, when the dawn was about to break and he thought that they’d be leaving again. Lying on the queen-sized bed while looking over Laura who was sleeping on the floor, reminiscing about the dinner he just had with the strangers who owned the house and the bed, it must have given Professor X a sense of normality even for a brief moment. Home, family, occupation, school, routines. Those were the things his life was lacking of because he was being mutant and taking mutants under his wings for so many years. My heart broke at the sight. And what was left of it was shattered to pieces when X-24 stabbed Professor X on his chest. I wanted to believe that the emotion on Logan’s face when Professor X was dying in his arms, was not only from Logan to Professor X, but also from Hugh Jackman to Patrick Stewart who had worked with him in many X-Men movies.

On the final scenes, Logan was helping the mutant kids to escape to the border. He was running around in his undershirt, with sagging flesh and short breath. His body and his power were not like they used to be. It was obvious when he was confronted with X-24, the newer, younger version of himself (by the way, was Hugh Jackman acting double as Logan and X-24?).  Each passing second was to lead Logan to his death when his body couldn’t take new wounds anymore. When Laura held Logan’s hand, called him “Daddy”, and cried when he took his final breath, I wept. As much as I saw it coming, the deaths of Professor X and Logan scarred my heart as a fan of X-Men movies for seventeen years. It was the end; it was the goodbye. Logan died after he displayed his mutant ability, and he died in the simplest setting any human being would ask for; being next to the person who matters in his life. DNA wise, Laura was his daughter. Emotional wise, well, they had undergone many things together with the death of Professor X as the highlight.

In terms of settings for the movie, James Mangold did a fantastic job. The desserts, the long dry roads, the abandoned mining facility where Professor X was hidden, were enough to symbolize the desperation felt by the few left mutants. However, the woods and the water next to where Professor X and Logan were buried were a simple gesture of a peaceful ending, a closure to the lives which were filled with so much hardship. I loved it when Laura was citing what she heard from the Western movie she watched with Professor X over Logan’s graveyard.

“There is no living in killing. Once you do it, there is no turning back.”

When I remember the heated arguments in social media over simple thing like what brand of water and bread to consume, I can easily change that sentence into: “There is no living in hating. Once you do it, there is no turning back.”

Logan.

One word. One name. And one thing. HUMAN.

I Wish You Well; I Wish You Enough

I had this sad feeling. I was familiar with it because I had experienced it four times before yesterday.

The first time was when my friend YJ went back to Seoul Korea. I woke up early that morning and walked her to the door of our dormitory. Her senior from her lab picked her up and was going to drive her to the airport. I felt sad the whole day. I didn’t cry. I just had this numb feeling and a sudden realization that I might have taken her for granted. She lived right next door to my apartment and we saw each other almost every day. We spent a lot of time having picnics and travelled to new places. On that day I realized that I might have not been able to do those things with her again. I did visit her hometown once a couple of months later, but we practically lost touch until today.

The second time was when another good friend, J, left Tokyo a month after YJ. Like YJ, J and I used to hang out a lot. He was like a big brother I never had. We parted ways in some station; I couldn’t remember its name. He waved me goodbye from the car of his host family who came to pick him up. I sat at the station for the next thirty minutes with somber mood, thinking that so many wonderful people had left. I knew back then that the world is a small place and we might have bumped into each other again somehow, somewhere. But I was being logical. Considering the distance and the traveling costs, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to see my friends again.

The third time was when I left Japan. I went to Narita Airport with L and D, who were flying to Paris and California respectively. We still had chance to take some pictures and they wrote me some messages on my small farewell book. L’s flight was first, then mine, then D’s. My flight was delayed and surprisingly D came to my gate to see if I was still there. We talked while waiting for my time to board. During the flight back home my heart went heavy. Had it really happened? Had I met all those wonderful people and was I parting ways with them? Would we ever see each other again? One year in Japan did feel much more like a dream than a reality.

The fourth time was when my family and I left Switzerland. Until the night before we left, we still gathered with our friends there. Amazing, kind-hearted people. I looked up to them and considered them our extended families. Two families went to the train station with us on one cold autumn morning. We arrived there just shy of two minutes before the train departed. I remembered pressing my face to the window, trying to remember their faces for the last time. Their images started to get blurry as the train sped up.

The fifth time was yesterday. J and I met again after 13 years. It’s funny that after all this time we didn’t run out of things to talk about. There was no awkward silence creeping in. Catching up with him was really nice. I think J kind of liked my country and he planned to come back (although he didn’t know when). I think the sadness I was feeling was because a good friend departed again.

The people I left, the people who left me behind; I wish you well; I wish you enough.

1 Year of Randomness Inside My Head

In 1998 I fell in love for the first time and had my first heartbreak. The good thing was, a broken heart led me to write a lot in my diary, ha-ha! At that time I was very fond of reading and writing short stories, because there was less demand for a perfect ending and there was wide room for unexpected plot twists. I sent several stories I wrote to several magazines and they always got rejected because they were in English. Until one day the internal magazine of LB LIA English Course, named “Contact”, accepted my story and published it in year 2000. The story’s title was “The Princess’ Name Was Fiona”. The story only fit 2 pages of HVS paper, I typed it using my father’s old typewriter, and I started it by drawing an illustration of two young girls dressed up for a party. I’m pretty sure my father still keeps the copy of the magazine somewhere in my parents’ house, though I haven’t had a glimpse of it in about 17 years.

After the first published story I kind of stopped writing fiction. I didn’t have the urge, the passion, the time, the willingness, you name it. School, work, social life, and family were occupying everything I had until I abandoned this one hobby that once delighted me so much.

Thanks to the Notes feature in FB I still wrote my opinions on random things from time to time. From the meaning of the word “assume” to a critic towards Disney Junior’s “I’m A Princess” campaign few years ago. Flash forward to the end of February 2016 when I was overtiring myself due to sewing and drawing kitchen set designs too much. I got typhoid and bladder infection in the same time and I had to be hospitalized. It was one of the most boring times in my life; I had to rest and lie down a lot. Even when I already got discharged they “recommended” me to refrain from doing physical activities for one month. One whole month! I almost died of boredom.

On March 7, 2016 I was twisting and turning in bed, feeling restless. Because I couldn’t sleep, I took my phone and began typing a note on FB with two thumbs, and voila I was done writing “Bid You Farewell” by 3 AM on March 8, 2016. I ignored my doctor’s advice to have enough rest, I knew that, but I was running on euphoria. I was astounded with what I did. It had been 16 years since the last time I wrote fiction, but it didn’t feel that long, and it surely didn’t feel awkward to start all over again.

The second story “Prince Charming” was created on the same day at 4 PM with different setting and different ambience. After that everything just fell into place. I still wrote on my phone for the next stories; I never allocated a specific time to write. I usually wrote during the waiting in doctor’s office because the queue was always sooo long that I could complete one story in one appointment.

The journey after the stories were written was definitely not an easy one. My husband was the one who encouraged me to make a book out of them, a collection of short stories written in English. Then began the hunt for publishers, printing houses, agents, etc., etc.

Why did I go indie? That’s a question I’d be happy to answer on my upcoming book launch. The thing is I like to learn, and going indie is the real eye-opener to see the world of a published author.

Here’s to many years and many books ahead of “Randomness Inside My Head”.

I’m forever grateful.

Nobody Holds a Gun to Your Head

We live in a world where we have to make choices every day, from the moment we wake up until the moment we close our eyes at night. We make decisions on what to eat, what to wear, where to go, whom to meet, and so on; the list never ceases. In the middle of those decision makings it’s natural for us to ask for suggestion, advice, or even approval from other parties (family members, teachers, colleagues, etc.). However, we should bear in mind that whatever the decision we make (regarding whatever matter), the only person held accountable for the consequence of our decision is ourselves.

In early 2015 my daughter moved to another ballet school after attending one school for about two years. We made the decision after thorough and careful considerations on our long-term personal goals and what the previous school could offer to help us meet those goals. A couple of months later, a mom of my daughter’s friend asked for advice whether her daughter should stay at her current school, or move likewise. I asked her what her dissatisfaction with the current school was. I didn’t ask her about her personal goals by giving her daughter a ballet lesson, because I realized it was none of my concerns. As someone who had seen the best and worst of two schools, I voiced my opinions. She appreciated them and finally decided to move her daughter to a different school (our current one).

About six months after that, our ballet school held a grand performance and asked parents to finance it (student contribution was about 50 USD per student, excluding theater ticket which cost around 50 USD per parent). My husband and I were not into performance and stuff. What matters for us is that our daughter is learning the ballet techniques and can follow choreographies being taught to her. Months of practice (including weekends) for a two-minute performance and a 50-USD costume for one show only, are the things we never intend to put ourselves into. We know our priorities and we won’t send our daughter to a performance only for the sake of seeing her in glittery tutu under the spotlights. I was taken aback when the mom, whose daughter moved to our ballet school based on my advice, blamed me because now she’s forced to have unexpected expenses for a performance.

My responses were clearly these:

  1. How could have I known that this school would have a performance and charge us this much? I wasn’t even a part of their management team. I didn’t make performance plans. And above all, I couldn’t foresee the future to be able to tell anything to anyone about what our ballet school was planning to do.
  2. It’s her choice, and mine as well, to include our daughters in the performance or not. It had ALWAYS been a choice. We make them and we have to hold ourselves responsible for the results of those choices. Whether she included her daughter or not, it’s none of my business. If she had thought it through and saw the benefits of her daughter being a part of a performance, then she should do it. Good for her. As for my case, I wouldn’t send my daughter because I had my own considerations.

I literally told that mom; there’s no need for you to blame me, nobody held a gun to your head when you made the decision to change ballet school. I appreciated it when you came to me for advice, but the decision was all yours.

What she’s facing right now was the consequence of her decision. It might have turned out differently if she hadn’t changed school. She might have not been asked to spend more money for a short performance. That fact was true, but again, nobody knew the future. To lighten up the somber mood, I told her that taking a part or not taking a part in a performance was not a matter of life and death, and she shouldn’t be blaming me or anyone else for the decisions she made or was about to make.

Let’s apply this concept to life in general. Be it in a relationship, workplace, brands of hygiene products we use, nobody can force us to make the choices we don’t want to make. If situation gets difficult and everything is working to our disadvantage, there are always two choices:

  1. We can suck it up; we can bear with the hostility and see how much we can hold it up.
  2. We can decide that we have had enough, that we don’t want to take it anymore. At the end, we will dust ourselves off and leave.

For the case of that mom, she finally decided to include her daughter in the performance, and I decided not to. She didn’t apologize for blaming me; it didn’t matter anyway. I made my point when I used the gun analogy. Eventually everything worked out just fine for us because, truth be told, we definitely had our different priorities and goals regarding ballet lesson.

 

 

I Dreamt of You Last Night

I dreamt of you last night. It felt so real that I woke up with tears in my eyes. You were sitting across me, next to somebody I didn’t know. You waved at me and I waved back. I laughed because I was glad that you still recognized me. We met outside the stadium. You reached for my right hand and held it firmly. It’s like that one night, the night when you first held my hand. We walked together for some time. I enjoyed the warm feelings you gave me. We talked about a lot of things. I asked you trivia questions like why the road we passed by was under construction. You gave me short answers and not even once you let go off my hand. The time to say goodbye came too soon. I left you behind only to turn around and ran to you again. You wore the ski jacket I gave you 12 years ago. You stretched your arms and welcomed me into them. I hugged you, closely, fiercely. I didn’t want to say goodbye just yet. The dream felt so real, you felt too real. I didn’t want to lose you again. I had missed you so much. I longed to talk to you. I yearned to be with you. You had been ignoring my cries and only in my dreams you’d come to me. If only we had had more time. I never really told you what I felt for you. I had loved you very much, with all my heart.

Movie Review: The Lego Batman Movie

“Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman.”

– Batman –

To me the authentic Batman is Christian Bale. Val Kilmer and George Clooney didn’t impress me much. Ben Affleck was just not right. I was happy when Ben Affleck was reported to drop the role of Batman later after Justice League is launching. My daughter asked me if we could go watch The Lego Batman Movie this weekend, and I said yes. We went to the cinema this Saturday right after lunch. It’s been months since the last time we watched movie in a theater. We’re a bit concerned that Sky wouldn’t enjoy the show like the last time, but this time he apparently did enjoy it.

Two sentences that crossed my mind after I watched this movie:

  1. This movie is hilarious.
  2. This movie is not for children.

From the poster and the quote above I can say that Batman in LEGO movie was a narcissistic, self-oriented person. He also had an illusion of grandeur tossed in the plate. From the beginning of the movie I could tell that he’s so full of himself, of his capacity, of his capability, of his being Batman. And at the same time, he’s being lonely. It’s shown from the moment he landed on Batcave, walking down the runway citing the password “Ironman sucks” as he went farther inside the cave. It’s shown from the moment he was waiting for the microwave to heat his lobster. It’s obvious from his facial expression when he found Superman was partying with the other heroes from the Justice League. It’s shown from the second “Jerry Maguire” movie displayed on his big-but-empty personal cinema. It’s supposed to be a sad scene, but I was rolling with laughter the minute I saw Tom Cruise saying “you complete me”, and then the camera moved to Batman’s pathetic face. I found it funny that this simple scene described Batman’s longing for a relationship more than words could.

Batman was one lonely man, people. And he’s too afraid and proud to admit it.

I like Alfred who became someone to talk some sense into Batman when he needed it. His alter identity as Batman is a refuge for Bruce Wayne to ease his guilt because he didn’t die that night along with his parents. His being vigilante is his way to show his gratitude of still being alive and to stop other children to become an orphan like he did. In his ways of fighting crime, he didn’t seem to care about destroying so many buildings and cities (just like The Avengers did). In most part of the movies, he cared only about himself. His caring towards Robin didn’t happen as smooth as I thought it would. But yeah, you know how tough times often bring people together.

Batman’s friend-enemy relationship with Joker was the one that got me thinking of dependency among human beings. In the rare case of Batman and Joker, this saying might work: I exist because you exist. If Joker hadn’t existed, Batman wouldn’t have been needed. If Joker was not the most notorious bad guy in Gotham, Commissioner Gordon and his team might have been able to catch him by themselves, and it led to Batman not being needed. Joker’s demand to be recognized as Batman’s worst enemy was somehow sick. It’s like needing the approval of other party to just simply exist in this world, and it doesn’t feel right. It shouldn’t be like that. What I perceived from Joker’s cry for recognition was that Joker was a lonely man, just like Batman.

Let’s wrap this note by counting the scenes/lines I found hilarious:

  1. Batman speaking in slang. From saying “commiss” instead of “commissioner” Barbara Gordon, to saying “puter” for “computer” (I found it more memorable to say it that way instead of “Jarvis” for Ironman’s backup computer).
  2. The references to Batman movies/TV shows in previous years, going back really far into the 1960’s. Alfred made a point of how he came from a different generation from Bruce by putting in the Batman costume from this era. Not to mention the sounds of punches which were materialized into words whenever Batman and Robin were in the fights. My siblings and I were loyal viewers of Batman TV series with that feature. We were adoring that show, and now we cringe because of what we thought was cool is actually very corny, ha-ha.
  3. Batman’s enthusiasm for music. From DJ-ing, metal, electric guitar, disco, up to beat boxing, this guy is an enthusiast for music from all genres. Kudos.
  4. The time when Batman and his team (later on joined by Joker and his team) took off the hair parts and stuck their heads together to join the cracking streets of Gotham. They made bridges out of their heads and feet, for goodness sake. It just pinpoints the basic idea of LEGO bricks: sticking different parts to make something meaningful and useful.
  5. The time when Alfred read a book in his car while waiting for Batman doing some actions, about setting the boundaries for children, and he followed it up by time-outing Batman. He was disciplining Batman. He acted as Bruce’s surrogate father, not merely his head-butler. Alfred was just awesome.

Why is this movie not for children?

  1. The humors are dark and this movie uses references to popular culture in the last three decades. I think audience in their 30’s can relate best with the content of this movie, but not young children.
  2. The codependent and coexisting relationship between Batman and Joker is quite hard to grasp. I asked my daughter if she understood anything that’s going on between Batman and Joker. And she said she only understood that Batman made Joker feel sad. She didn’t understand that Joker was sad because Batman thought he was not significant enough for Batman.

All in all, it’s an entertaining movie. From all superhero movies I’ve been watching since early 2016 until now, I must say that for me this movie is the best of all (followed by “The Antman”. Can’t wait for its sequel this year!). It’s something I didn’t expect from a supposedly children movie. I would definitely love to watch this movie again, but perhaps without the kids around.

 

 

 

 

 

From Vince Gill To Lady Antebellum

They say that you listen to the kind of music your parents listened to.

Growing up I listened to a lot of Vince Gill’s music, because my father liked it so much. I think it’s the first time I was exposed to country music. I didn’t know much about his personality because there was no internet back then. All I knew that I enjoyed so much his melancholy and desperate voice singing “I Still Believe In You” (it was and still is my favorite song from him). That song ruled the radio back in 1992. I would tune in whenever this song was playing, and I would look for other channels once his song in one channel ended.

The memory of Vince Gill’s music made it easy for me to embrace the music that Lady Antebellum offers. Lady Antebellum is a country music group formed in 2006. From 1992 to 2006 I never listened to any country music. Well, once I listened to a country song sung by Indonesian presenter-turn-singer, Tantowi Yahya. I and my father were not impressed at all by Tantowi’s unnatural effort to imitate the country music like what they had in the U.S. 

I first heard of Lady Antebellum when I watched the casts of Glee Season 2 performing “Need You Now” in one of their classroom routines. I was instantly hooked by the song, mainly because of Rachel and Puck’s flawless duet, and of course a sweet combination of piano and guitar as the musical instruments. A few months after that my husband and I overheard another song by Lady Antebellum “Just A Kiss”, which became a radio hit in 2011 (not that popular in Indonesia, though). I didn’t have any further encounter with their music until recently when I was scrolling through JOOX, trying to find songs to fit the mood for the novel I’m currently writing. I found 95 songs from Lady Antebellum including their Christmas albums. For the past one week, I’ve been listening to all of their 95 songs on the playlist over and over again. For me music feeds off the words I’m thinking and writing. And up to now I’ve been writing 30.000 words inspired by their music alone.

I felt like I hit the jackpot by specifically listening to their “Own the Night” album (2011). Every and each song in this album is a mood-setter for every scene I write. The most special song for me is “Dancing Away with My Heart” that reminds me of Alex, Em, Ava, and Zara from the first book I wrote (Randomness Inside My Head). It makes me thinking about what kind of memory Alex has from his college years, the decisions he makes that result in him losing so much in his relationships, and what will become the end of his love life.

What I love most about this group is that their music tends to be more pop than country so it’s easy to enjoy, and the voice harmonization is wonderful. I’m a complete sucker for male-female singers performing a duet and dividing the notes into high and low. Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott do amazing job in this. Dave Haywood as the guitarist also does a good job being a backing vocal. Whenever they sing, they leave no room for mistakes up to the end of each song where they improvise the tones.

I just added one more thing to my bucket list: meeting Lady Antebellum in person and singing with them. It may sound absurd, but hey, I dreamed of becoming a writer when I was seven years old and 28 years later that dream came true. So, I’d better never say never to myself.

Here’s a video to enjoy in this cold and rainy Tuesday morning. A perfect partner for a cup of coffee and some reminiscences from the past. 🙂