LSSing on the #GOG soundtrack

I loved the film. I also loved the soundtrack. Combined, they made a great movie experience.

Go out and study nature

180585625We spend most of our waking time in front of screens.

When you wake up, the first thing that you do is look at your smartphone–it tells you time. And it tells you about today’s weather and temperature. It tells you about your appointments for the day. It notifies you of some pending e-mail messages. It brings you the news.

You have your breakfast — a bagel and some coffee or just the latter if you’re rushing out.

Today, I spent half the day staring at the screen–not that I wanted to. But I was enthralled by this film called “The Institute.

I stumbled upon it on Netflix. I read the summary of this documentary. And I watched it. For more than an hour, I was taken for a ride back in time. The film told of a great social experiment done in two years. It involved people discovering a “secret” group, which took participants to a journey around San Francisco. It was a blast from the past, as science-fiction like clues led people from one place to another. In the process, they met strangers. They saw clues that pointed them to another one. For two years, people were led to a place, a story, a person called Eva. I don’t want to spoil it for you. You should see it. I felt the film also took the viewer (me) with them.

I consider this the most mind-blowing documentary that I’ve seen in a while. Nothing this elaborate, this creative can be just purely accident–or is it? Was spontaneity part of this story? Perhaps. Amid the cryptic messages spread throughout the film, one thing stood out: as humans, we’re not fond of isolation. Our existence, our lives must intersect with someone else. It is through this connection that we feel the purpose of our lives. We cannot be alone. But often times, we are. Some call it religion, some spirituality–the communal experience that we all take towards a certain path, purpose–will make sense when experienced together.

Technology has somehow exacerbated our lonesome existence. We rely a lot on ourselves to solve problems, to figure out success. The reality is–we cannot, and we are not alone. Human beings are meant to form communities. Accidental or not, these communities then create cities, nations, and continent of culture.

Our surrounding also gets forgotten when we’re too busy wondering about our next paycheck. We forget to “smell the flowers” when we’re chasing deadlines or e-mail. We missed out on the changing world when all we can see is the end of the road. It’s the journey, the adventure that makes our lives meaningful–and you must share that with someone to make sense.

Call me sentimental–but that’s probably how we cope with life these days. We want to go out and study nature. We just want to be out on a beach, staring at the waves and the blue ocean. It is sentimentality that drives us to climb mountains and explore countries that we only read in books.

Let’s take time to see our world–or we will miss history; we will never meet our Eva who has a story to tell.

HER: A Review

145061817By the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2018 there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita. — Cisco Study

I envy filmmakers who tell a story about a future. Like science fiction writers, they combine science with imagination and create utopian worlds where robots are companions or rebels, are threats to society–are lovers.

“Her” is a love story between a man and a self-learning operating system (is that you HAL?) The man–played by Joaquin Phoenix–works with machines all day. He uses them to compose eloquent love letters for people who seem to have forgotten the art of letter writing.

His world is a lot like ours, with the Internet clearly invisible and yet almost ubiquitous. I love that word: ubiquitous. The operating system follows him around. It talks to him. Comforts him. Bathes him in kind words of encouragement. It is the perfect companion without the human frailties.

She–yes, the operating system is a woman–at least, the voice is a soothing, caring woman in her late 20s, maybe. She sees what he sees. He takes her to the train station. They take strolls. They eat together. Sleep next to each other. And, they play together.

Such a perfect relationship, thanks to technology. However, it was too perfect that it became scary. The operating system starts to learn his language. It starts to think. Feel. Empathize. As it is programmed to respond to his “companion,” the operating system starts to learn about intimacy–and mimics the connection that goes between a man and a woman falling in love.

The man does fall in love with Her–the operating system. He introduces Her to his friends. They make love! It was too perfect to end until he meets his ex-wife who reminded him of his humanity.

He later discovers that there’s so much randomness in human relationships. And that love, when not nurtured, turns to hate. He decides to reveal his love for his operating system. His ex-wife freaks out. And he loses her forever. Conflicted, he begins to reconnect with HER. She, however, has learned something new. There are other operating systems out there that provides her with a sense of purpose, which his Man didn’t. Next scenes show a falling out, a revelation that SHE or HER’S was a bigger universe. She was THE operating system that evolved into every man’s perfect companion.

End of story.

REVIEW: Heavy Metal in Bagdhad: Metal lives

I got hooked to metal music back in high school. I never knew what it was called back then, what genre it belonged. But when I heard Iron Maiden, and later Metallica, I was instantly a fan.

Few people played metal music live when I was growing up. In the 80s, radio was dominated by disco and some local music–which I don’t dig that much. However, there was this local band called Revelation. They sported long hairs. They donned flannel shirts. And they wore tight and torn jeans. Of course, they came with their leather boots–western-style.

Watching this documentary brought me back to those days when I first heard a double-bass drum that went: bridididididididididi. The time signatures were insane. Then loud guitars complemented this “noise” as it escalated into the atmosphere of searing speeds. The cadence of the palm-muted rhythm guitar and the thumping bass provided the canvass. Then out came a guttural scream. That was your metal band. To this, you start banging your head. Banging your head required up and down motion, as if you’re nodding fast. And it has to go with the beat of the drum and the bass guitar. Pam-pam-pam-pam-pam-pam. Headbang.

Metal music, or rock music, transcends culture, race, age, and time. Heavy Metal in Bagdhad is that. Amid a backdrop of civil war, guys in their 20s played in a metal band called Acrassicauda at the risk of getting killed. Influenced by bootleg music from the western world, they saw metal as an escape from reality, a short reprieve from the death and destruction that is happening around them. Ironically, they also love Iron Maiden, which often plays on death and destruction, and the apocalypse as metaphors to their music.

These guys are just like any other 20 something kid who fell in love with metal music. The loud guitar, the searing drums, and the “in your face” lyrics told their stories of frustration, anger, hate. However, in this documentary, all these were directed at the world they lived in. In the end, they wanted freedom. And if metal was the only way they can have it.

As the documentary ended, the filmmakers noted that most of us are “spoiled.” Spoiled because we complain a lot, and yet these guys who had nothing but their music, still try to thrive amid despair. To them, music kept them sane. Music gave them hope. Music gave them a voice to express every Iraqi’s cry for help. It was a sad story, and I hope these guys are still out there, alive.