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a dream within a dream – is that possible?

There was only one show in recent times that caught my attention and I was glad that I managed to watched it on Friday – the latest psychological blockbuster, Inception. Before I proceed to share my thoughts about this, I’d like to go on record to place this outstanding movie in the list of my all-time favourites. It contains all the ingredients that I hunt for in a movie:

  • A multi-layered plot,
  • In-depth character development,
  • A couple of twists-within-a-twist,
  • A memorable script, and of course,
  • Convincing acting skills.

I’m thoroughly impressed with this film; after all, there aren’t many movies that leave me speechless when I exit the cinema. Yes, I do recommend that you catch it.

Now, there is a huge variety of movie genres and while I prefer drama and inspiration to action and chick-flicks, the ones that truly take my breath away (and arrest my mind) are what I call, “culture-shapers”; I will rename it when I think of a better way to call it – basically, movies that change the way we look at things, us, or even the world.

I’ll list a few examples that come straight to my head. The Sixth Sense causes us to rethink the whole realm of the dead and how it may possibly exist amongst us; The Prestige makes us question the scale of evil that human beings are capable of and the extent we possibly would go to achieve what we’ve set out to do. Inception investigates the subconscious activities in our minds when we dream and leaves us to under ponder upon the hidden creative power that we may have; The Matrix (though it’s not in my list of favourites) challenges us to think about reality and whether we really live in a time and space which we perceive ourselves to occur in.

Basically, all the above-mentioned movies (and I’m sure you could think of more titles) makes us contemplate and challenges us to review what we think we actually know. Without getting existential (and irreverently irrelevant), I actually think it’s great to reexamine the normalcy of what I think is normally normal – know what I mean?

To state the obvious, I’ve decided to call these movies “culture-shapers” simply because they could potentially shape our culture. Regardless of demographic make-up, we will always remain an impressionable generation and it’s films like these that influences us to cross-examine what we’ve been brought-up and educated to think.

(I shall digress here – I think it’s a paradox to be “taught” how to think and in spite of how ridiculous that sounds, we don’t even do that enough, especially in our country – where we are educated to deliver what’s right – where the “correct” answer is the one that gives you the highest score, and not actually what you agree with, or even have a chance to agree with. All right, I think I’m starting to lose my train of thought here and as well as to lose you in them so I shall withhold these particular thoughts for another post in future, if ever. Now, back to movies that make you think…)

There are all kinds of movies, some with twisted and distorted values, some that satisfies our adrenaline appetite, some that quench our lustful desires, some that takes us on a journey back to our childhood days, some that inspires us to dream and achieve things, some that makes us fall in love, some that gently reminds us about the important things in life… And some that simply just makes us think. I’m a huge fan of that last genre because I think it’s the best thing that a secular production could make me do – to think. I’d rather fill my mind with things to think about than things which are spoon-fed to me.

Here are just 15 of my all-time favourite movies (and you’ll understand why I’ve never been a mainstream movie goer), in no order of preference:

  1. Dead Poets Society
  2. The Shawshank Redemption
  3. Remember The Titans
  4. The Prestige
  5. The Devil’s Advocate
  6. The Butterfly Effect
  7. Tuesdays With Morrie
  8. Forrest Gump
  9. Braveheart
  10. Good Will Hunting
  11. Finding Forrester
  12. Dead Man Walking
  13. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
  14. Deception
  15. Inception

I’m sure I’ve missed out other great titles in this list (such as The Godfather trilogy and Schindler’s List which I’ve been wanting to watch for the longest time already). Do you know of any other to recommend? It’d be great if I could hear from you – what’s a “culture-shaping” movie you’ve watched and why did it leave and impression in you? Do leave a comment and share your thoughts with me.

no, they really can’t hear you.

I can’t quite put a finger to it, but there’s just something that I don’t quite enjoy about American sports; I could never identify with the supposed excitement of baseball, basketball, ice-hockey or American Football. (Okay, maybe American Football’s an exception because I’ve really enjoyed The Blind Side or Remember The Titans.) In a nutshell, I cannot and do not appreciate these sports. On the other hand, I find football, and to a lesser extent, rugby, immensely more absorbing. I’ll classify these as European sports.

I’m inclined to think that American sports mimic fantasy while European sports mimic reality. Allow me to elucidate.

In a world of fantasy, there’s always something happening at every minute – be it a high and constantly scoring game like basketball, the player-bashing and violence of ice-hockey, the hope of catching a baseball that’s hit out of the playing arena, or the pre-game, half-time and post-game entertainment elements of the Super Bowl.

Whereas in the reality of European sports, spectators patiently (and optimistically) watch and wait for long periods of time in the game without any action. Then in a moment of sheer brilliance, our breaths are stolen by a mesmerising dribble, a defence-splitting pass, a thunderbolt shot, a trajectory-impossible free kick, a audaciously converted penalty or an incredible gravity-defying save. Our lives in the real world are not dissimilar – long periods of mundane monotony interrupted by a few spectacular and memorable events.

European sports contain the kind of moments that commentators often describe as “edge of your seat”. However, in American sports, there are so many edge-of-your-seat moments that you watch the entire game melted your couch, and head for a water and toilet break without hesitation, because you know that there’s gonna be another specular moment later. When everything is exciting, nothing is anymore.

The funny thing is, regardless of fantasy or reality, we all tune in to our favourite game of basketball or football on TV to be plugged into a world of fantasy (or should I say, non-reality), where deadlines and expectations disappear for that couple of hours.

Perhaps that’s the reason why football-junkies become addicted to Football Manager or Winning Eleven annually (when new versions are released), nullifying the trophy-less frustrations and building that dream team that real-life supported football clubs cannot seem to deliver.  And perhaps that’s why we enjoy planning a well-deserved holiday for ourselves – to get away from all the real-life predicaments we face in the office and at home.

Well, we can’t escape reality and go on a holiday all the time, but we certainly can enter into our worlds of fantasy with our weekly dosages of watching our favourite teams play on our larger-than-life LCD TVs. Maybe that’s why we experience euphoria each time our team scores. Keep watching, keep screaming, keep thinking that they can actually hear you.

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