Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was OK but not great

WARNING: Major Spoilers, read only if you've seen the movie, read the book, or like me you don't care.

I recently watched the titular film with some friends on the advice of another friend. I didn't know what to expect, I hadn't heard anything about it before then and had no clue what the story was about and therein lies part of the problem I encountered when I watched the film. Overall, I say it was a good movie with a solid story.  However, it was only after about the halfway mark I could really start making out what the story was.

This is what the story was as far as I could gather it before I went to wikipedia and looked up the details. Its the cold war, MI-6 is carrying out small operations and one group in particular is involved with particular operations related to battling a counter-intelligence agency of a similar nature in the USSR. During an operation, their agent is betrayed and they come to realize there is a mole in their small group so they bring in a retired agent played by Gary Oldman, aka Commissioner Gordon w/o a mustache and w/ an English accent, to root out this double agent. He meets with another agent who is in hiding b/c he was also betrayed and puts together all this evidence from various witnesses and accounts from people in the agency.

Eventually, somehow the head of the agency, who was shown as dead in the beginning in a flashforward, makes a partial title drop by naming the 4 main members of the agency as tinker, tailor, soldier, and something else I forgot. It wasn't spy though but once you realize that he's the only one with a different name than whats given in the title, you know that character must obviously be the spy and this is about 3/4 of the way through the film. There's also apparently an agent in the USSR counter-intelligence agency who heads it and is the opposite of Gary Oldman's character in this chess game (they use chess pieces to identify the agency members so its a fitting analogy). The UK agency was trying to outsmart him by hiring an obvious double agent as a reverse double agent (so a triple agent) to give false information to the USSR agency. However, they find the mole giving the real information away and compromising MI-6 agents and then in the end they get rid of him tearfully b/c apparently he was a good friend or something before that.

Now I'm glad there's a wikipedia b/c otherwise I'd remain confused about somethings. For one thing, the Russian counterintelligence head was named Carla and one of my friend's accidentally said it was one of the women Gary Oldman talked with and not that guy. More importantly though, the head of the agency, played by John Hurt, aka Evil Dictator from V for Vendetta, did die early in the movie but his image was brought back in flashbacks later. Early in the movie, they show a mission that went bad b/c of the mole and that happened in the past and b/c of it, Gary Oldman and John Hurt and the agent were fired and John Hurt died b/c he was old and sick.  Also, the names of the group's members, the group being called "Circus", was not directly in line with the title and the "Spy" was not who the actual Spy was so in saying it was obvious who the spy was, I think I mixed up what I saw and what I read on wiki afterward, no biggy. And of course, there were all these other little things too but I got most of thankfully.

Regardless, this film required some patience in the first part b/c there isn't exactly a proper introduction for every character. I find that it would have been helpful to either have seen a trailer or even read a short introduction about what the movie was gonna be about. This isn't like the "traditional" spy flick either with loads of action and excitement though there is some of that.  The excitement and impetus to see the rest of the film comes from wanting to solve this mystery that is undermining a major counter-intelligence organization against a common threat in the west, the USSR, something that is not such a grave threat to the youngins today who didn't live in that era. And when you add a great actor like Gary Oldman in to head the case, you really wanna see him get to the bottom of things and solve this mystery.

I feel like some people who are like that but more accepting of seeing the whole film would not be able to understand it all and would have to see it more than once or read the wiki on it like I did. In that, I admit that I too have kind of short attention span but I am more accepting of different genre's. In fact, I enjoy a lot of old films, black and white included, which most people today groan at having to see while I would trade away a good deal of movies with bazillions of explosions for any one good old film which included and relied on superb acting and story lines more than anything else.

It is true though, b/c this is based off a book, it cannot cover everything that the book probably went into such great deal to explain, especially sometimes when books go into the minds of characters and share their thoughts with us. Maybe I might genuinely have been more disappointed with this movie if I had read the book first but now, I can give it the benefit of the doubt.

BTW, I have NOT proof-read this in anyway, forgive me for any grammar/spelling mistakes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Love is a struggle (or a battlefield)

Ok, I've never heard the entirety of the song with they lyrics and I probably have no clue what she's talking about, Pat Benetar that is, but I agree with that statement because its catchy and generally speaking quite applicable.  No matter how you approach the subject or how much control you give to one person or another, there's so much struggle involved in reaching the goal of a happy relationship with someone you can love. I'm gonna rant about some types of ways people pursue and/or shy away from relationships and/or how I've observed it in fiction and/or real life.

I thought there would be no problem or struggle with an arranged marriage as opposed to however non-Muslims figure it out. Mind you, everything I know about non-Muslim relationships is a mix of what I see from friends and what I've seen in anime and various film or tv shows. However, while it is easier, we still care whether person A is compatible with person B or whether either person is a good person overall and so its an intricate search and examination whenever someone is considered.

In our community, there's multiple places we have access to for finding a suitable person. Most people look in family or friends but if nothing can be found, they'll ask family and friends everywhere to look for people who know other people.  If that doesn't work, then our community actually offers a proper match making service of sorts. I've never tried it or delved into so I wont discuss it because I might get the details wrong. I'm sure though that some people will go straight with the last choice with no qualms and I'm sure they find someone.

Anyways, once someone is found, each side can request some information about the other person like education, age, parentage, etc. and even a picture. They can also ask them about other details like their involvement in the community. The most important thing though is prayer and I'm not ashamed to say that I wouldn't move forward without it. Both sides pray that God show them the best path regarding the proposal and if it is not good for them that He show them a better path. In our belief, God can show signs any way He wants whether it be in our daily lives or in our dreams and it can be a mix depending on how the parties go about the proposal.

Prayer however requires continuous practice; you can't just pray once and expect an answer unless you're always in the habit of praying in which case we believe that such a person is close to God and he/she will more often than not be granted an answer sooner than later but even then, its about showing how much you care and believe in the will of God. He alone decides when a person is truly committed enough that he/she believes in God to answer his/her prayers.

So going back to the title of this blog, its a battlefield akin to the fighting of counter-intelligence organizations I think because neither side is totally aware of the best decision to take on any matter and only after great effort in gathering information about the other side as well. I guess it diverges when you consider the belief in God in which case I was just playing around with the idea because I like some Pat Benetar's songs. I hate to compare God to anything because there's nothing really you can compare to His knowledge of all things. I guess counter-intelligence organizations also have people who believe in God as well. Anyways, there's no big losses or suffering if there is a "loss" for either side in this, they just move on to the next big fight or if they win, there's the truce which is marriage and then you know the rest...maybe.

Now the non-Muslim system of relationship making is much more of a physical battlefield I think which involves not only counter-intelligence but multiple adversaries at times. In some shows I've seen in particular, there's 2 people who love one person and they want to be all friendly and let the other person win but they fail to understand that in a society where gender mixing allows an array of feelings to develop between multiple people of opposite genders, they can't just shy back and let genuine attraction go to waste if it is indeed genuine. Of course, it is only this way if they are not married yet because in my belief, marriage represents that bond which is sacred which denotes that 2 people have made a commitment out of their mutual attraction. Where they are still girlfriend/boyfriend, I think it still should be respected but if there was someone who just didn't act and therefore missed out on that relationship, that gets me a bit.

2 shows in particular were annoying like this.  First was this show, Toradora, about guy 1 who like girl 2 and girl 1 who liked guy 2. Guy 1 and girl 1 help each other try to show their feelings to each others crushes but they eventually start developing an attraction for each other.  When girl 1 realizes this, she chooses to step back and let girl 2 have a chance but up till now, its been pretty obvious guy 1 and girl 1 had a developing attraction where they might as well have been going out already. She realizes girl 1's shying away to let girl 2 win and guy 1 is helping because he's still clueless about his feelings for girl 1, as most anime guy characters are except for secondary characters, she flips out and forces guy 1 and girl 1 to be together and when they run off happily ever after, or so we would think as it turns out not to be so simple, she breaks down crying.

I was thinking both girls were stupid, its a fair fight for the heart of guy 1 as he has some attraction to both but only one can win and they should have both put forth how they felt and let him decide. It was already bad enough that they invoked the cliched "I'm too much of a wuss to tell someone how I feel" with guy 1 and how he felt about girl 2 in the beginning but this had me really annoyed.

Another show was one called Kodomo no Omocha or Kodocha or Child's Toy in translation; it comes from the name of a show within the show and the main character who is an actress in it. Anyways, she is oblivious to the feelings of a guy in her class who again invokes being too much of an idiot to just tell her straight up how she felt because she had to invoke the other cliched idea of being as dense as a neutron star to understand how someone feels. It didn't help that her step-mother, whom she loved dearly regardless, essentially taught her that lying is ok without saying that straight out and lied to her about a number of things which eventually brought the chickens home to roost over the timeline of the show and made her as dense and retarded as she was.

So to  the point of the blog, a friend of hers, lets call her girl 2, falls for the guy who likes the main character while she's away and so they become a couple.  When the main character finds out, she's devastated and when she meets them again, she's all angsty about it until she confronts the guy about it and they confess their feelings. Girl 2 overhears and makes it bitterly clear she wont give up the guy and the main character goes "its cool, I don't like him anymore." If I slammed my head into the keyboard then, I would have a new computer right now or none at all, I don't know, but I kind of wanted to slap her.

Besides the ridiculousness of her claim and why she was doing it, it is also funny to note that girl 2 already faced this situation when a guy she liked, call him guy 2, gets another girlfriend, girl 3, when he's away from girl 2. They meet again in this big reunion and girl 3 tells girl 2 to not take him away from her. Girl 2 frustratingly says the same exact absurdity, that she doesn't like guy 2 anymore and she can have him. She feels the pain of having to say that yet she puts the main character through the same crap just as selfishly.

Fortunately, in the manga, the main character realizes soon after that she still loves the guy and that even if he's not with her, he'll compete fairly for his affection and she makes this clear to girl 2. Regardless, she says that she wants to stay friends with her which they do and in the end, the main character gets the guy and girl 2 gets guy 2 when guy 2 realizes he can't be w/o girl 2. The anime vaguely gets to this point after a ridiculous amount of filler probably because the manga was still being written when the anime was being filmed.

Anyways, thinking on all that, I'll take the arranged marriage though if I didn't and I had to compete for someone's affections, I would be honest about how I feel towards someone. I would like to think that I would not shy away from someone who I have a crush on a despite my introverted personality. Unfortunately, I might've been a different person if I wasn't Muslim and maybe a jerk, I don't know. I feel like I have more respect for women than some so-called gentlemen who aren't Muslim and I don't mean to brag about myself by saying that but praise what I believe.

You could say with tv shows its all drama and that's why people are so stupid and it is partly that but I do recall some friends who have told me about problems confronting others about how they feel or expressing how they feel or confronting someone they want to express interest in and it has a good amount of truth. People fear embarrassment or breakup of friendships or casual relationships they had with some people and in that is another model for love being a battlefield where alliances and how they are shaped are important. I believe one should stand up tall for what they believe and if they believe that they see some interest in someone not attached to someone else, they should voice those feelings.

That's all I have to say about that right now, I feel like I've got a bit off my mind now and I've somehow been able to inculcate anime/manga into a serious issue.