‘Mee Pok Man’

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So our good friend Connor has another piece for you to read on a film called ‘Mee Pok Man’. When he sent it through to me, he said this- “dont bother sorting out the grammar, youll spend most of your life trying to fix it up”. Well, you heard him guys, and I’m not the kind of person to turn down an opportunity to take it easy. I’m washing my hands of the grammar in this piece, and I hope you enjoy this strange, interesting read as much as I did.

*SPOILER ALERT*
I’m not the kinda guy thats into people writing about spoilers, but its the ‘spoilers’ of this movie that are the reason im writing this in the first place.

for context: i just pick up movies in libraries and check them out. if i dont have to pay for them, then realistically it doesnt matter if theyre no good because they dont need to fulfil any kind of goodness-to-cost ratio. for the average person, theyd probably draw the line when the title of the movie isnt written in english. im not that sort of person though. so, i saw a movie entitled ‘mee pok man’, with a dvd cover that had quite clearly been printed off at home by someone who was just trying to avoid copyrighting issues, and obviously thought i needed to see it. turns out it was a gem. sorta.

the first thing to notice about the copy that i had was that it was SCRATCHED — not the disc, but the image on the screen. really, really, really scratched (which i love), and on checking the faux cover, it does say on the back ’35mm/video’, which basically means that it’s been transferred straight from the rolls of film onto a computer and not ‘remastered’, or even edited in any sense whatsoever. that’s a win in my book.

storyline aside for now, theres something interesting about the filming of this movie, and its not even artistic, its just that the movie was filmed in 1995 in the heart of singapore. 20 years on, that place doesnt look the same at all. in this movie it has that old school sleaze and air of poverty that just isnt there anymore. its got all these little things that portray the kind of living conditions that singapore had at that time in a way that you just couldnt replicate now. the whole place just looks so rundown and unhygienic and hustleybustley and i havent yet seen a modern movie manage that same feeling. i suppose you could try it if you just had a load of close ups of different people eating street stall food, but it wouldnt be the same. if you imagine a backstreet thats hidden behind another secret backstreet in the outskirts of a red light district… its that kind of sleazzzy — triple z sorta sleazzze.

aaaaaaannnd onto the actual movie. theres some guy. unsurprisingly hes a mee pok man. that means he cooks fish ball noodles at a food stall. i dont remember his name, i dont think that matters, hes the titular character. hes a little bit slow, or maybe just reserved, its not really explained well, hes just trying to cope with his fathers death apparently. then theres also this hooker, called bunny. mee pok man likes her, but he doesnt know how to tell her that, so… he doesnt. anyway, one night, bunny gets hit by a car outside the mee pok stall. so now, what seems like a normal enough movie premise slowly becomes weird: rather than taking bunny to a hospital, like a normal person, mee pok decides its obviously a great idea to take her back to his dingy little flat. hes not even that good at all the medical stuff, he just puts a wet towel on her head every time she wakes up in pain, after she has been HIT BY A CAR.

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anyway, the movies actually nearly over now.
so, there’s one night where mee pok comes home and shes awake and shes all like ‘ooh, heres a great idea, lets kiss and stuff, even though im assuming most of my body is heavily damaged after a serious impact with a giant block of metal’ (she doesnt actually say that), and essentially they start getting physical and…

—SPOILER—

she dies.
its not a hollywood movie, people can die in a non-hollywood movie, thats fine, i get that, she was of course treated for dry-head syndrome when she most likely had a shattered pelvis and spinal cord.
but now it stops being a normal romantic-tragedy…. it gets a bit more norman bates.
the next scene is bunny sitting at a table, and ol mee pok sits down next to her with his breakfast or something and hes sitting there talking to her, and shes all gaunt and… dead and not moving and hes having a normal conversation with her, and then he goes to fix her hair, and then quite a fair bit of it falls out and hes kinda like ‘yeah… thats not totally normal, but i can live with it’.
i think theres some implied necrophilia, but its not explicit enough, he seems just romantic enough for it to not be a certainty.
then right near the end theres a scene with him holding onto and kissing her GREEN and definitely decayed hand and with a couple of final minutes of contemplative philosophy about what it means to be alive…. the movies over.
it wasnt even that bad a movie. thats the weirdest thing about it. its kinda good, but only if youre me, and you can bear bad film quality, bad subtitling, and out-of-nowhere surrealism. thats my kinda stuff. except, i dont think it wouldve been as good if i knew what was coming. maybe its slightly ironic that im writing a review about it, but for the first time in forever i was watching a movie and thinking ‘whaaaaaat the hell?’ because like most people, i google a movie first and have some kind of understanding of the premise and storyline and would therefore know its going to delve into keeping a dead woman in your flat sorta strange. but at the same time, if i did know that was going to happen, i probably wouldnt have been wondering why theres 2 copies of this movie in my uni library, when theres about 100 votes for this movie on imdb, which is after the worldwide place to vote for movies.
i dunno, i feel like its kind of fitting that a movie that was so scratched and so grimy and nostalgic (in terms of asian cinema imagery) turned a little bit odd and kept me fixed.
if i was a cliched movie critic id probably say something pathetic like ‘ill never look at mee pok the same again’. but im 99% sure im not that stupid, so ill just end it with my internal thoughts as i read the synopsis on the back of the case.

SYNOPSIS: a scathing look at singapores sanitised society as well as a moving portrait of perverse obsession and failed love.
ME: thats the fanciest way of describing the human version of finders keepers there will ever be.
SYNOPSIS: an often striking mindf**k…
ME: what’s with the asterisks?

so… a note to people who see a weird looking dvd somewhere… google what the movies about first, otherwise youll probably be surprised — it wont always be a good thing either.

– Connor

Procrastination: What is it Good For?

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imageAs I’m sitting here, writing this piece on procrastination, I should be writing a piece of coursework on “the figure of the wanderer or outsider in 19th century literature”. Instead, I’m procrastinating.

It’s the one thing that stops me from achieving my full potential (a lie I tell myself daily), but no matter what I do, no matter how disciplined I think I am, I always end up doing anything but what I should be. Everybody does it though, at one time or another. Some people are better at it than others, and some people spend their time doing nothing but jumping from one attention-grabbing thing to another, never circling back to that essay they’re supposed to be writing. I know I do it frequently, but I always drag my mind back to the task at hand, and I never allow it to stop me from doing a task entirely. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I still do it.

And I know you do too, Mr/s. Reader.

Yeah you do, don’t give me that look.

Don’t think I don’t know about that really important thing you’re supposed to be doing right now. Yeah that’s right, THAT thing. But instead you keep putting it off to watch another episode of (insert generic TV show here), or to watch those hilarious clips of (insert famously funny animals and objects here), or to read another pointless blog post about (insert common obstacle in people’s lives here).

Procrastination

It’s obvious why we do it. We find more enjoyable activities to take up our time in order to avoid doing the one thing we should be, whether it’s an essay, revision, ringing the gas company, tidying the house etc. However, a couple of years back I decided to look into the subject (mainly because I was interested in the psychology of what makes us inclined to do it) and I read an interesting idea about why people tend to procrastinate more about tests and work than everyday things. The idea, basically, is that our subconscious says to itself-

“Hey, what if I just don’t try? That way, when I fail, on my intelligence can’t be blamed because I just didn’t try. So the reason for my failure will be my laziness, and not my intelligence”

I can really understand that- because pouring your heart and soul into a project and having it fail is not a great feeling. However, there’s obviously a paradox in that logic.

There’s no way you can succeed at something if you don’t try. By using that logic you’re being a defeatist. If you think that you’re guaranteed to fail, you end up asking yourself, why not do it on your own terms? Well, that’s fine I guess, but I personally think you should never accept defeat before it’s happened. There’s always a chance that you could win, but by procrastinating and blaming your laziness you’re throwing away any chance you have. There’s no harm in trying and failing, even if it’s one of the worst feelings you can have, because that’s how you learn in life. You’ll also have less regrets when you look back on your efforts, and everyone knows that regret really sucks.

When I look back at my school days and think about how little work I did for some of my exams and some of my coursework, I really do regret how lazy I became. Sure, there were plenty of other factors that resulted in me losing almost complete interest in a few areas of my school work, but I know that if I had tried more, I could’ve done so much better for myself. Then again, I’m happy where I am now, and so should I really regret the things I didn’t do? I think you should approach regret using the “forgive but never forget” philosophy. Forgive yourself for what you did and didn’t do, but never forget why those things did and didn’t happen (There you go, kids. You’re set for life now).

But before this becomes an article about my failings in life (which I’m sure you’re all really interested in…), I’ll quickly sum up my ramblings.

Basically, everyone procrastinates, so you should never beat yourself up about it too much. But if you begin to fall into the mindset of “If I don’t try that means my intelligence isn’t to blame”, just remember that if you don’t try you can’t win. As the old saying goes, “If you think you’re going to lose, you will”. So the next time you’re avoiding that essay or revision, or maybe you’re sitting at your desk at work and you ceaselessly find other things to do, just remember that you’re going to have to do it eventually, so it might as well be now.

But hey, what do I know?

-Lewis

#63notout

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Benportrait1As some of you may remember a few months back I cheated on The Minimum Effort with my university newspaper, something I’m not proud of. Anyway, I have apologised to Lewis and he has let me re-publish a piece I wrote about Phillip Hughes (the Australian cricketer who sadly died last November) here, on the promise that I won’t write for them again (Why do you have to make me sound like some kind of tyrannical media mogul?- Lewis). This is something a bit different from what we normally do, but while I was at the pub a few weeks ago I noticed a bat was maintaining a silent vigil for the cricketer… Anyway here is what I wrote, cheers.

imageOn the 27th of November, shock waves were felt throughoutthe sport of cricket following a freak accident, which resulted in the untimely death of a bright Australian batting prospect. The incident occurred during a Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and South Australia on the 25th of November. Hughes, who was 63 not out at the time, attempted to pull a bouncer delivered by Sean Abbot (a man who should be in all our thoughts as much as Hughes’ family). As he positioned himself to carry out the hook shot, Hughes opened up his body, therefore exposing his neck. The short delivery bounced up and, despite wearing a helmet, the ball hit Hughes in an unprotected area of his neck, causing the membrane of the artery to tear, resulting in Hughes suffering a brain haemorrhage. Despite being placed into an induced coma and undergoing surgery, Phillip Hughes passed away two days later, only three days before his 26th birthday.

Hughes was given his first test appearance in 2009 as Australia travelled to South Africa and fell victim, like many a batsman before and after him, to the formidable Dale Steyn. Despite the setback, Hughes scored 75 in the second innings,setting a foundation for the second test in Durban. At 20 years old Hughes became the youngest Australian to score a test century and the youngest player ever to score a century in both innings of a test match. Due to his impact in his first test series, Hughes was brought on the Ashes tour of England in 2009. However, the English bowlers were able to restrict his style of play, preventing his cut shots which proved so effective in Durban. This proved a turning point in his international career as inconsistency plagued him, leaving Hughes on the side-lines for a number of years. However, a move to Worcestershire came about which enabled him to work on his style of play, leading to greatly improved consistency from the still-young Australian. The change of style and vast improvement in consistency resulted in a recall to the National Test Team. Hughes also had a successful stint in the ODI side. In his tragically short career, He was able to rack up 26 test appearances and 25 ODI appearances scoring,1,535 and 826 runs respectively.

I researched some tributes to include in this article, but frankly, there were too many to choose from. Statements from former players, former team mates, former opponents and journalists, all of which couldn’t quite sum up the loss the sport has suffered. His death has sent shock waves through every sport leading to the #getyourbatsout trend on twitter,with images posted from all manner of sportsmen and women,from cricketers to footballers to hockey players. But perhaps for me, the most poignant tribute was another twitter trend which came about on the day of his death.

R.I.P Phillip Hughes

30th November 1988 – 27th November 2014

#63notout

-Ben

PO-TA-TOES. Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew

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imageHere it is, the penultimate film(s) in my Top Seven!

I hope the title gave you a good idea of what I’m going to be talking about in this article, and it definitely should ring a bell with anyone who’s seen these incredible films.

Yep, you got it.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy.

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The films of the classic, epic, fantastical creation by J. R. R. Tolkien that follow the quests of Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Gandalf and a host of other incredible characters as they attempt to destroy the One Ring and the Dark Lord Sauron.

First of all, before I dive in, you might be wondering why I used that particular quote as the title.

I honestly don’t know for certain, but if I had to think about it (and I guess I do), I’d say that it’s just a great piece of dialogue. It’s funny, it’s not a dramatic speech or an ominous warning of things to come, it’s just Sam being Sam. A clueless Hobbit explaining one of the simple passions he has in life (food) to someone who has literally been living in a cave for most of his own. I think that’s one of the great things about these films and the story of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The characters never let the melodrama ruin their personalities; they keep making jokes, keep caring about each other, and they never give up hope, even when it looks like there’s no way out. And, to be honest, there is an awful lot of drama and pain in these films. Sometimes it looks so bleak for the characters that you’re not certain how they can possibly win the day. But win the day they do, and they succeed over and over again, despite losing friends and family.

It’s a story that has stood the test of time, from the original novels to the animated films in the seventies, from multiple radio plays to being mentioned in numerous Led Zeppelin songs. It’s a classic tale that’s inspired epic fiction and the genre of fantasy ever since its conception. So much so, that Peter Jackson was able to make it into three hugely successful films almost 50 years after the novels were published. This is a testament to the timeless nature of the story and its themes.

These are long films, there’s no denying that. And for a lot of people, long run-times can be a big turn-off when thinking about seeing a film. The thing is though, I’ve never heard anyone say that they don’t like the epic length of these films. It’s barely mentioned in a negative way if you’re talking about them, and if it is, it’s usually just a joke about the epic length, it’s never a point they use to discredit them. I think the reason for this is that A, they need to be that length in order to construct the whole story, and B, the writing, the pace, the story and the characters are never dull, and never tedious. In fact, I’d even argue that the theatrical releases should be longer, especially after watching the deleted scenes in the extended editions.

Enough gushing about the story and its epic length though, because that alone doesn’t make a great film(s).

I’m not exaggerating when I say that these films are spectacular visions, with CGI and real landscapes that are almost unparalleled in their scope and beauty. You really can believe that the characters are on a journey through a strange, but still familiar world, and there are no landscapes that appear ordinary or plain. I think majestic is the right word to describe the world of Middle-Earth, even the ash-grey and charred wastelands of Mordor.

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It’s not all about the spectacular views or the hugely impressive CGI battles and creatures (although their quality and quantity does help), at the very core of the films is characterisation and personality. You can really believe that these characters, whether they be Hobbits, Men, Elves, Dwarves or even Ents, are real, and that the pains and joys they feel are real too. This level of interaction with the characters is helped along by both the writing and the great performances of the actors. There isn’t a single person on the cast that lets the films down. They all stay true to the personality of the character they play (Although Faramir is slightly more of a dick in the films than the books), and this, combined with great dialogue, makes the story all the more accessible to the viewer.

My final point on these films, is about the direction and the respect I have for Peter Jackson (despite what he has done since with ‘The Hobbit’). Some of my favourite camera shots are from this trilogy, and the pacing of the fights and films as a whole is just as impeccable as the performances by the actors. The camera work really gives you a great impression of the scope and fantasy of Middle-Earth, something which hasn’t been matched since. Peter Jackson took a bit of a gamble by making these films. There were no guarantees that the public would connect with the story in the same way as they did with the novels all those years ago, and it was possible that something would be lost in the difficult transition from text to motion picture. But, despite the risks and the problem-filled production, he managed to create a fitting adaption of those brilliant novels, and made the world of Middle-Earth more accessible than it has ever been before.

I think this trilogy will be just as timeless as the novels it came from.

-Lewis

“We live and learn. I always thought that was the best time”

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imageHello everyone! I’m pleased to present this guest article by ‘Pete (again)’, who you may know from a few of our podcasts. He’s written a piece about the late Sir Terry Pratchett and what his novels meant to him. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

I can’t pretend that I was his biggest fan. I can’t pretend that I even know much about him, but one thing that I know is that Sir Terry Pratchett was the author of two books that will forever form a part of blissful childhood nostalgia to me.

I was only eight years old when he published “The Wee Free Men”, one year younger than his protagonist, Tiffany. I remember fondly the first time I ever experienced Discworld, my father reading this book to my sister and me, and at our constant request, “doing the voices”. Although now, ten years later, the details elude me, I will never forget the silly little Glaswegian men- Rob Anybody (a name he certainly lives up to), William the Gonagall, and the best named character in any book ever-
Not-as-big-as-medium-sized-jock-but-bigger-than-wee-jock jock. The book had an unmatched mixture of profundity and humour that endures to this day. Not only were the Nic Nac Feegles brilliant in their own right, but they managed to bring my whole family together, and create something that to this day we can share as one. As Pratchett himself wrote, “there’s no harm in the occasional cackle”.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember when I first read “The Carpet People”, but as with the Wee Free Men, I still remember being engrossed in the story, even more so than with the Wee Free Men, and being unable to put it down until I had read every last word. I loved how the world he created was simultaneously incredibly normal and boring but alien and wonderful at the same time. Even with this, the first book Pratchett ever wrote, his trademark humour and silliness radiates, such as with the giant “onepenny”- literally a dropped penny. Almost the all of the book is quotable, from Pratchett’s satirical look at the world, to Brocando’s claims about his numerous enemies.

When I grew older, however, I somewhat drifted away from the worlds of the Feegles and the Munrungs, but their legacies remain. Even now I occasionally find myself chuckling at these strange creatures- which often gets me strange looks on buses-and remembering the odd little spark of genius that he accompanied with every page. Sir Terry had what few men do- a perfect blend of genius, wit and complete and utter madness.

It is some cruel trick of fate that such a brilliant man was destined to leave this earth at 66, but with the time Terry Pratchett had, he created so many fond memories, to my family, and I’m sure to many, many others as well. Thank you, Sir Terry.

-Pete

The Minimum Effort Podcast Ep.7: The Greatest Dr Who

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Lewis, Ben, and Pete (again) discuss the pros and cons of each incarnation of the Doctor, and who they think deserves to held above the rest as the “Greatest Doctor” of them all…

Have a different opinion to us? Or do you agree? Leave a comment and let us know who you think deserves the title!

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Audio-

Mixcloud

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Hello everyone, it’s been a while…

First of all I’m gonna apologise for the lack of written content lately, we’ve been very busy people both at University and in day to day life. Hopefully there will be a couple of posts this week though, so keep an eye (or two) out for those!

Secondly, we are now hosting our audio content on ‘Mixcloud’, and so if you want to listen to our opinions and bull-crap, this is the place to go-

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon

-Lewis