Thursday, February 24, 2011


The title tells you defensively upfront that gay families are all right... perhaps as all right as traditional families declare they are all right. After all, the actors are the same: parents, children and extended families. I was happily surprised to find some mature faces in the audience catching the opening of the movie today. They looked like parents with adult children. Perhaps something else is playing out in their lives and they had come to take a peak at what gay family life was like. Buffered by the security of the darkness in the theatre, our reflection and response privately held court as we watched the life of a gay family unfold before us.

[Annette Bening is an actor I have long admired, one who has an aura of old Hollywood glamour that eludes many today. For Warren Beatty to be smitten enough to get hitched, she must be some woman.] 

I like the realistic portrayal of marital relationship, parent-teen conflict, [Bening's character sounded like me!], teenage angst, the vulnerability of loneliness in a troubled marriage, and the pain of betrayal. But there was something else that made me feel heavy: I sensed an unspoken sadness in a gay relationship that seems absent even in the worst heterosexual relationship. A buddy of the gay couple's daughter made a pointed remark about another teen: that she sexualized everything. That gave me the thought that maybe that is what gives place to same-sex romance: that perhaps something very good has been sexualized and romanticised.  

This is every bit a family drama but of a different kind. Julianne Moore and Bening are as credible as any married couple and parents. The drama was realistic and I cried when they cried. Maybe that can't be avoided when both partners are women. 

I hope people will see humanity and be humane in their attitude towards gays even though we may see things differently. At the end of the day, what makes them cry, will also make you cry; and vice versa. We can make more room for empathy.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

The King's Speech

Perhaps oratorical eloquence is something we always expect from other speakers, yet something elusive if we have to speak before any size of audience ourselves. Whether royalty or not, public speaking has certain universal effects on body parts - it induces the condition of being tongue-tied, and produces butterflies in the stomach, wobbly knees and cold feet - to the extent of resembling severe deformities!

So it must be with unspoken hidden agenda that others and myself sat around to watch this movie, hoping perhaps to pick up a tip or two to help alleviate the onset and extent of sudden dysfunctions when we have to face our personal ordeals of speaking before an audience!

Adapted from the book 'The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy', the movie is an emotional depiction of the relationship between a stammering king, King George VI [played by Colin Firth] and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue [played by the enigmatic Geoffrey Rush]. The book was written by Logue's grandson. If it's true that one who touches your heart helps you find the voice of self-confidence, then one who empowers you to speak will naturally have an effect on your heart. The therapist's deep empathy for the king and his unorthodox practices helped improve his client's public speaking remarkably. The king was grateful to his therapist for his loyalty and dedication to help him overcome his speech impediment.

If gratefulness and loyalty are ingredients for a great friendship, it's not surprising that their relationship solidified into a steadfast alliance. The epilogue of the movie made mention of this life-long friendship. I saw too the tension and risks inherent in any true and enduring friendship that produce the conditions for maturity. Helena Bonham Carter [I love her as the quaint Red Queen in 'Alice in Wonderland' who shoots off 'off with the head!'] is of course brilliant but real as the resourceful, courageous and just-as-determined-to-help King's wife or Duchess - one with a good head on her shoulder and a good heart to match: must-haves for authentic womanhood.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Love Hong Kong

We just have to live with it, that in Singapore, any Cantonese movie will be dubbed into Mandarin which does a poor job delivering the punch of indigenous Cantonese puns and dry humour. Yet with moral courage, we put up with less to keep up the family tradition of catching a Chinese movie on CNY eve.

Sandra Ng was the undisputed star of the show - totally held her audience, watchable, funny and the linchpin of the whole story. Her comedic talent and expressions more than compensated the placid Mandarin dub. My girls enjoyed it and husband surprisingly stayed awake.

To be fair, this was better than last year's '72 Tenants'. Most of the recent Hkg-made CNY movies are so bad they should consider putting in a charitable component to ticket sales; that is, have ticket revenue go to charity instead of crappy cast and comedy. Or maybe that is charity. Suffice to say, it makes one crabby! Mo lei gum ho hei [in Cantonese means 'not to fight it anymore'] may just be the best way to enjoy a CNY movie, or 'Mo Lei Gum Ho' hei may be the best movie to watch! [in Cantonese, hei is also the sound of the word movie].

Anyway, watching a mindless movie on the eve of CNY is a good tradition to follow.