Sure as Autumn Flame

Life of Pi: A Sensory Overload, the pleasant type
December 2, 2012, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Arts & Culture, Films and Musicals

I finally get why people love the movies so much, and why they say watching one is like being transported into a realm away from reality. Life of Pi made that transformation for me – in a 120-minute immersive experience with Pi and his incredible tale.

Golden Village’s GVmax at VivoCity screened the 3D version of Life of Pi last Wednesday, featuring their latest installation of the Dolby® Atmos™ sound and speaker system.

When caught up in a stunning visual experience in a film like Life of Pi, the unsung heroes behind the audio effects are normally left behind. I know that all too well, having spent nights in recording studios watching producers perfecting sound, writing about home theatre systems that combine a mix of technology and precise engineering to manufacture an environment that takes its audience away from reality. Many people do not realise how important the presence of sound, and the integral role it plays it creating space, in turn taking us closer to a realistic experience.

I was very impressed with Dolby Atmos, and even more impressed with Doug Hemphill, Ron Bartlett (Re-recording Mixers), Eugene Gerty (Supervising Sound Editor) and the sound crew with Ang Lee. The fact that they created a production track from scratch by collecting sounds from recording on the water, the hollow hull, the animals gave rise to a how “the sound (would) hug the audience”.

Sounds that we used to take for granted – flying fishes over you (from the perspective of a boat), the tiniest splash of water, a hollow tin landing in the water right in front of you – have been well-placed in each of the Dolby speakers to create the feeling of oneself being in the film. Wondered how the storm in the movie felt really huge and threatened to drown you out? That probably came from the overhead ceiling and side speakers as the storm brew and howled around you. Flying fishes that almost slapped your face as they flew by? Sound travelling from right to left speakers through the ceiling ones too.

Complete that with subtle 3D effects that are finally (!) not explosions in your face, but presented in the form of surreal, almost out-of-the-world landscape shots and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself disappointed when the film came to an end, simply because it was a story told and captured so well – in all sensory aspects.

Will I watch it again? In 3D, in Dolby Atmos? Definitely.


Artists vs the rest of us
June 17, 2010, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Arts & Culture | Tags: , , ,

The boyfriend and I have engaged in an ongoing debate everytime a topic fails to produce itself for the evening – artists and their angst, and why artists seem to come from a different universe altogether. Why don’t they act like normal people but always try to think themselves apart, or perhaps even of a higher order than the rest of us ordinary human beings?

It is not so much about “artist angst”, although I would not deny that some of them are really aloof and seem to have their head way too high in the clouds. Being an artist – painter, sculptor, musician, dancer, actor etc – is like being handed the legitimate excuse to indulge yourself into your passion of communicating your emotion through your favourite medium, be it music, artworks, body language and others.

I, for one, enjoy how musicians lose themselves in the music they make, and how their facial expressions and body language portray the love they have for good music. The act of making music is actually simply precision physics put together, but what tells music apart from the theory of air columns producing a variety of sounds?

Art adds an extra dimension. You do not just see nor hear it, you feel it. Art itself is unexplainable, which probably explains why many artists cannot convey their exact feel of their works to their audience, or general public. Once it transcends beyond physical understanding and verbal explanations of the subject, that…truly, I art.

Okay, there are those who float themselves to the clouds and pretend that they have reached nirvana, let us not bother about those. Here is my idea of art: While I hold a normal job in the corporate world, I return home to my piano and tinkle away those ivories – you lose the harsh realities of life, you do away with ugly politics. You hear what your fingers are capable of playing, and it reaches a stage where muscle memory and emotions from within take over your conscious mind. Take it a level higher, and you forget you are the musician, you and the music become one.

Nothing else replicates this feeling. It makes you feel like top of the world, that is, until your last note fades away.

Romance me, in the museums
November 3, 2009, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Arts & Culture, L.ove | Tags: ,

“I recall standing before Panton’s drawings, hand in hand with the lover of mine. I recall our stark differences in design preferences, and I taste his kiss on my lips in the darkened halls of sublime. Voices blended into murmurs, the shuffling of feet became oblivious to me; my mind is on a flight of its own. I smile at the memory, at the lingering thoughts of that stolen kiss.”

Would you have had a similar episode?

Beauty in Solitude
July 30, 2009, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Arts & Culture, Stories from Yesteryear, Two Cents' Worth

Amidst the ticking time-bomb that we desperately race against, we long to escape to a venue of peace and quiet. How many times have we forked out our savings to drive or fly ourselves to a secluded beach, to listen to the waves crashing and the wind howling in our ears?

As we run the inevitable rat race we seemed to be born in, we crave solitude in our own ways. The echo of the wooden boards answered my churning thoughts of yesterday. The artefacts I stare at breathe a life of their own. Many a time I gaze blankly into a random scroll, a statue dug up from eyes never really focusing. I wasn’t at the museum for an educational trip, neither was I there for a dose of history and heritage. I came to find my own comfort, my nest away from the insanely packed schedule I live my weekdays by.

Time came to a standstill each time I stand along those long stretches of paintings that span the entire breadth of the wall. The sheer size of such grandeur made the rest of me feel small. It is so easy to lose myself amongst these old relics, knowing they have a far richer story to tell than my own little sob tale – and I sigh a long-drawn tunnel of air, hearing my own heart beat dancing to its own rhythm of life in the silent exhibition halls.

I recall standing before Panton’s drawings, hand in hand with the lover of mine. I recall our stark differences in design preferences, and I taste his kiss on my lips in the darkened halls of sublime. Voices blended into murmurs, the shuffling of feet became oblivious to me; my mind is on a flight of its own. I smile at the memory, at the lingering thoughts of that stolen kiss.

The winding stairs withhold their magic, their tale of scampering children and tired old grandmothers who have idled on their steps. Each corner of the museum holds its secrets – and they said that if you put your ear to a museum wall, you will hear its stories, and the people who ran their hands along those walls. And as I press my cheek on the cool concrete, I hear the stories my heart believes.

Written for

Love in the museum – yay or nay?
July 24, 2009, 10:12 am
Filed under: Arts & Culture

Time has come again for museums to ink themselves onto your hearts, and so here I am with an idea to grow, with ears to listen and fingers hovering at my keyboard ready for a talkback:

Meet new friends and have some fun in the most unlikely of places………the Asian Civilisations Museum.

A special weekend event awaits in November, under the National Heritage Board’s latest initiative – I Love Museums.

Roam around the museums for free, and who knows – you may found your soulmate. He/She will be wearing a tag that says, “Hi, my name is ( ), today may be your lucky day.” Or anything that defines his/her mood for that day – your choice, of course.
(I will probably choose something like “Hi, my name is Viviane, I swing both ways.” Best of both worlds, lah.)

Find out how matchmaking was done in the days gone by, and experience the traditions for yourself. Test your compatibility with a new found friend, or win a prize by revealing your “best” pick-up line.

Tell me what you think. Would you be game to take part in this? Toss in your ideas.

Holler back.

When the doors close, the lights turn off…
The evil (short-tongued) Pharoh

The evil (short-tongued) Pharoh

…Life begins after dusk in the museums.

Not in our dear museums, although I wish I will see our trishaw and samsui women come to live, but at Night at the Museum 2, starring Ben Stiller and a whole lot of other characters this round.

Tonight’s premiere was a good one. The sequel to the first movie, Night at the Museum, takes on greater heights with more characters, more artefacts, more history icons, and producers have jacked the humour a level higher. Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley, successful businessman in suit and all…only to rejoin the excitement of a former museum night-guard in an attempt to bring his exhibit friends back to their original homes when they were shipped off to thelabyrinthine subbasements of the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

More funny are new characters like Hank Azaria as a evil lisping Pharoh (complete with a cheesy accent!) and spunky Amy Adams playing as Amelia Earhart who’s ready for a whiff of adventure. It is a superb play of humour in conversations between the evil Pharoh and Larry; comic duo miniature cowboy Jedediah and miniature Roman General Octavius…and other brief but memorable scenes of Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible (he insisted on being called Ivan the Awesome), Abe Lincoln, Napoleon and a giant octopus deprived of water.

Gotta love the mock battle scenes and exaggerated dramatic flair, combined with a touch of cheesiness with Cupid angels groovin’ to pop music of today.

This movie isn’t about Ben Stiller anymore – I think it takes on a new level with a proper scene for every character/artefact/exhibit within the museum – everybody plays an equal (although albeit quirky) role.

Recommended: Watch it for a gooooood laugh.

Christian Lacroix unleashed
April 26, 2009, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Arts & Culture, Fashion

Mikeller’s enthusiasm for fashion rubbed off my enthusiasm for all dramatic things alike – hence the decision to trot down to the National Museum of Singapore to get our long-delayed culture-vulture fix.

T’was a sight to behold with small-scale stage costumes greeting us at the entrance. Dating from the 18th century operas and progressing to romantic (and dramatic) 19th century hits, one could view a medley of costume designer Lacroix’s sketches and thought processes, and admire his translated works onto fabric.

I marveled at the details in his sketches – reflecting a mastered drawing technique in textured fabric, intricate details and the natural flair to dramatize his characters. As I recall a line from Lacroix, he mentioned how he liked to take on a humble position as “theatre director” of his cast and costumes, simply because it enables him to understand each characters, project their colours onto his costumes, and direct the cast members to present the opera’s story and experience to its maximum potential.

It was easy to pick out my favourites in this exhibition – when Lacroix marries masculinity with the soft touches of femininity (see photo above with tailored suit plus a tutu), and the drama-like quality of the 19th century opera costumes, complete with heavy layers and intricate lace, gold and everything else woven in.

I liked how several aspects of fashion are reflected in today’s clothes, apparel that I am a huge fan of – especially when it boils down to the cut and flouncy skirt. Gathers, frills, bubbles, flare…I’m no fashion journalist, nor am I an expert on fabrics. But Lacroix’s versatility and creativity wowed me to warrant a return visit with another group of enthusiasts – that it, after I have infected them with my enthusiasm for Lacroix.

More photos over at the Flickr section on the right.