This review contains spoilers.
This is perhaps one of the easiest books to write an outline for! A mentally handicapped person or as the book refer to, retard, goes through an operation that makes him intelligent, but the side effect is he will lose it all very soon with possible regression to a more inferior mental state than the beginning. Yet this outline reflects so little of how detailed and complex the story is.
You know that feeling of relief and accomplishment when you finish a book? I usually get it after completing a read, but after Flowers for Algernon I felt anything but. Not only I wanted the story to go on, even though I have a pretty clear picture of what is likely to happen to the protagonist, Charlie, I wanted to remain in his world, or more precisely, his mind.
Many stories are told through the main characters words, but in this case this had such a profound effect since it made Charlie’s journey through the different mental states more emphasised and so strongly felt. It even got horrifying for me towards the end to witness his downfall, as if I was walking side by side him unable to do anything.
This book made me think a lot about human behaviour, how we see and treat each other, and how much we hide in our minds. It’s as if we all have multiple personalities that manifest themselves in different situations and what a relief it will to be able to have only one, be one. Maybe some people are like that I don’t know.
I hope Charlie managed to keep enough of his wits to make him happy, and someone is still putting some flowers on Algernon’s grave.
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A few days ago I watched a very interesting documentary on the renowned Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli. I am a big animation fan and no other form of entertainment engages my imagination so vividly, but I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about Ghibli animations and especially the work of one of its founders and master animators Hayao Miyazaki.
Miyazaki’s work makes me feel so many things all at once that is so overwhelming I enter a hypothesized state! It takes me far back to the memories I had completely forgotten and then much further back to the memories I never had! In a way it creates new memories! sounds pretty insane I know! and I’m out of words for describing how much I love and admire their work.
I can’t recall the details but somehow I came across a copy of Spirited Away around 2003 and little did I know my world will never be the same. Since then I have been a devoted fan and watched all their animations multiple times and still do! I doubt I will ever get tired of them! It’s kind of the place I go when I need to escape reality. Needless to say it was devastating to hear the news of Miyazaki’s retirement earlier in the year and the unclear fate of the studio. Fortunately a good friend found about this documentary that was screened at ICA for a limited time and it provided for some most needed Ghibli time in these desperate days!
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013) provides an unprecedented access to the behind scenes of Studio Ghibli as Miyazaki is working on his last masterpiece The Wind Rises, in a time when his colleague, and in some point mentor, Isao Takahata is also directing his possible farewell work The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.
Directed and edited and even filmed by Mami Sunada, the documentary looks into the history of the studio, its founders and the main figures but keeps the focus on Miyazaki and the production of The Wind Rises, from storyboarding to the finished film. There are some amazing moments as the camera finds its way into every corner and meetings in the studio to witness some invigorating discussions, as if the camera is one of people there and no one is aware of it, which adds a very nice sense of realism to the whole thing.
We see and hear a lot from Miyazaki, how he works, what he thinks and how he sees the world as he is accompanied through his daily rituals. If you’re a Ghibli fan, this is such a treasure toehold! But even for those less familiar with the studio it will make for a fascinating watch. Never before anyone has been granted such access to the studio and Miyazaki himself and I doubt anyone will ever now, which makes this a unique and important piece of film making and something that I’m glad has happened to provide generations to come with an insight to what is beyond the doubt one of (or for me the one) the most amazing animation students in the history. The film finished on such a beautiful and meaningful shot that I’m not going to spoil here for anyone who hasn’t seen it! It’s well worth the watch.
The only thing I would have liked to see more about was on the relationship between Miyazaki and his son Gorō Miyazaki, who is one of the directors at the studio. He only appears in one scene in a discussion with a couple of producers.
It still feels me with deep sadness to think there is a good chance of not having any more Ghibli animations, but as my friend tells me everytime I bring this up, we should be grateful for what we already have, and what a wonderful gift that is indeed.
I read this book a very long time ago and in my mother tongue; Farsi. I didn’t remember much about it, almost nothing, so I was very surprised to see how religious this book was in my second time reading. What I really liked about it however, is that despite having religion at its core, it’s not a strictly about religion, or a religion, or a belief. It’s about life, it’s about the forces around us, spiritual or otherwise, and the things that we can choose to accept or deny. It’s about the reality of life and the practical lessons we can learn from our every day living, our experiences, and at the same time it looks beyond that and the possibilities of connecting to everything on a higher level.
It is the story of hopes,doubts, giving up, standing back up and making peace with one’s fate. It is about the journey that we all take in our lives, most of us without even realising it.
Whatever life is, with or without any meaning, however we are here, with or without the influence of a higher power or being, we have been given an opportunity to partake in an amazing journey, and for bitter or sweet, you get to do this only once, so you might as well live without any regrets.
This book will probably have a different message for different people, but for me it’s simple, live your life to the fullest and be kind to yourself and to others.
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For such a short book, this was such a heavy read! took much longer than I expected to finish this! I just couldn’t speed up and felt buried under layers and layers of hidden meaning .. well! maybe not so hidden! but metaphors and analogies that engage your thoughts and makes you wonder! take you back to your younger self or show you a glimpse of what you may become.
What I like about the style of the book is, it feels like it’s written by an adult who can still think like a child in a fully self aware state, and as a result he was able to see how we miss the subtle details in things as we grow up, and the life simply becomes going from A to B and so on. We care less about what things truly our and more about what they worth to us.
It’s the first time for me wanting to go back and read a book right after finishing it! I don’t think looking at the stars make me laugh yet! In a strange way, this little story made me wanting to be a more genuine person! more true to myself and others.. and I do believe the little prince was real.
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Mobile photography has come a long way. The combination of better hardware and software have made our daily companions a little more than a toy when it comes to capturing random life moments. I dare to say, perhaps for many it has even replaced their need for a dedicated point & shoot camera. Obviously mobile phones still can’t replace a DSLR or mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses simply due to the lens limitations, same way a low range point & shoot can’t, but I can see they are getting closer. Software tricks to replicate depth of field effect is neat! and an important effort towards that goal, but not very practical yet. I can see a future not too far where interchangeable compact lenses are available for your mobile phone camera, and that future feels more feasible with products such as the Moment Lens.
I’ve had my fair share of fisheye and wide angle lens adapter for my phones, a good and fun way to experiment and take interesting photos, but they never felt like anything more than a toy. Flash forward to 2014 when a group of very talented people who believed in “photography is in our pockets” launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce high quality lens adapters for mobile photography. I didn’t back the project at the time. I was very intrigued by it, yet somehow it escaped my radar and by the time I came across it again sadly the campaign was ended, but fortunately successfully. I kept an eye on Moment and when they started accepting pre-orders I jumped right in and ordered a Moment wide.
I love working with paper, graphics design and packaging, so I pay a special attention to those factors when I buy a new prodcut. I was very excited to receive my Moment Wide lens although I had very moderate expectations. From what I had seen and read, I knew I am getting a quality product, but how good could it be? it’s a just a mobile phone lens after all! So needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I was finally faced with this little beauty.
I don’t remember the last time I was actually excited about unpacking a gadget. Most items come in a pretty standard packaging. They are usually nicely & efficiently designed but there are not many details and special attention to them to slow down the unwrapping! you just tear away to the product. Not the case here.
Everything is fitted inside a little box with the moment logo printed on it. Inside there is a black box with a card wrapper that has little moment logos printed inside, a nice touch. This wrapper is holding two boxes; one houses the lens and the other the mount plate. Here comes the big moment, the first encounter.
First thing I noticed as I picked it up was the weight! this is proper glass! and then the mount plate which is a great feature as you can use your lens with any phone, provided the support from Moment. There’s also a nice little printed card to complete this beautifully designed package. Just when you think you’ve seen it all you discover a little carrying bag gently hidden under the lens! viola! now it’s completed! But let’s dive into the lens quality and the images captured with it.
Most current lens adapters for mobile phones look nice and sharp in the center but degrade rapidly the closer to the edge of the frame it gets. Although that provides some interesting effects at times, you really want an image that is as less distorted and abbreviated as possible, and that’s exactly what Moment delivers; nice, clean, and in my case, wide photos that are indistinguishable from a photo taken with a proper SLR wide lens. It makes your phone all you need for landscape or architecture photography! can’t believe me? see for yourself! (I’ve taken these photos using Google Nexus 5 and Apple iPhone 6)
You need to be patient when installing the mount plate and make sure the lens will be sitting exactly on the center of the camera lens, otherwise you will end up getting some vignetting. It was fairy easy to install it on Nexus 5, but on iPhone 6 no matter many how many times I tried I still ended up getting some minor vignetting. I might need to try again but the point is installing the mount should be much easier than this. Also need to be careful when re-adjusting the plate as the edges could scratch the back of your phone, specially for gentler ones like iPhone, as you lift it up and place it back down. Lastly, be a little careful when holding your phone after mounting the lens as it makes the upper half much heavier, so don’t drop it!
Moment is compatible with most phone cases, so far anything I have tried has worked so you don’t need to worry about that.
What could be better
Although sticking the mount plate on the back of your phone with the provided adhesive works, I wish they would provide other options; a case for example with the mounting plate built in. A lens cap on both ends would also be a welcomed addition as right now it easily gathers dust.
And the final thought is on the price. Right now, Moment it is priced at $99.99. It’s a well made lens and I don’t think I paid too much for it personally, but since it is only a companion lens adapter for a mobile phone, this initial pricing could put many off. Anyone who I have shown the lens and the photos to were amazed by it, but the price instantly became a drawback! specially if you are interested in buying the Tele lens too. What would be more reasonable? not too much lower! I think $74.99 would hit the sweet spot with more people.
Moment is ,without a doubt, the best mobile lens adapter ever made. It matches the great build quality with great images it produces and makes your mobile camera a much more capable one. It can easily rank it as 2014 top 5 gadgets for me and a must have for any mobile or non mobile photography enthusiast.
Update 10/11/14: Moment got in touch with me about the vignetting issue on iPhone 6 and suggested perhaps the lens is not fully rotated into the mount. The mount for iPhone was a little tighter than the one I had for Nexus 5 so I didn’t apply as much pressure as I should have. When I followed the instruction and pushed the lens to rotate until the logos on the sides were in line with with the top edge of the phone the vignetting was gone.
@samsalek The logos on the sides should be rotated till they are in line with with the top edge of the phone. This may solve it.
— Moment (@moment) November 10, 2014
What an amazingly powerful book! As I was reading it, I had this strange feeling of familiarity, but I didn’t know why and I was too immersed in the story to analyse it! and then it suddenly clicked! as I was nearing the end. I too had felt lost, I too made friends and discoveries, I too longed for signs of home, or a place to call one. I felt all those when I moved to a new country! I suppose you can read other things from the story but for me it is a story of a forced change, hopes and fulfilment. It is beautifully illustrated and thinking back on it now I remember it as if I watched a movie, perhaps due to the nature of very detailed drawings and the framing of some of them drawing your attention to specific things. This is quite easily one of the best books I’ve ever read and I’m thankful to a friend who gave it to me.
Took me a long time to finish this book! I decided on my daily commutes to read this is the only thing I would do and nothing else! and how short it made my journeys and how sad I was to reach my destination! Overall I really liked it and the positive overshadows some critique I have so strongly that makes them worthless to mention! by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve lived a 100 year with the character! it’s a bizarre feeling.
It’s hard not to enjoy any film that has David Fincher’s name attached! His involvement guarantees a certain level standard and in a way he is like Tom Cruise for me! I know anything produced with their involvement will get your money worth! It doesn’t mean you’ll be watching something unique and amazing, but you will never come out thinking I didn’t have to pay for this!
Gone Girl is one of those films for me. I knew David Fincher will deliver and he did. For about 150 minutes I was happy to be there and watching it, but for some reasons this is not going to be one of his works that I will remember and go back to for more viewings. I’m trying to analyse why I feel like that here.
The way everything is setup and structured is very fluid,coherent and smoothes your way into the plot. It’s not exactly A to B, but it feels like it because of how the narrative is structured unfolds. You quickly get exposed to a lot of information but it follows the simple one at a time rule, which lets audience run the parallel events in their mind and find the clues, as opposed to break everything down for them Therefore, as you are watching, your subconscious feeds into your viewing and connects the dots for you and halfway through the film you have formed some opinions about the characters and where the story is headed, effortlessly.
What helps the structure is also the overall pace of the edit. The movie never feels too long and you never get bored! nothing feels rushed but at the same time there’s a lot happening.
Fantastic compositions and cinematography is simply to be expected from a Fincher film. Gone Girl makes another collaboration between Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth, who’s been his cinematographer for a number of his films including Fight Club , The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (he is also the son of Jordan Cronenweth, Blade Runner DOP). Although I was sad to see yet another failed chance for him to work with Darius Khondji again (Se7en,Panic Room), Gone Girl showcase Fincher’s mastery in framing a shot once more.
Overall the performances are pretty good. All the secondary roles are played quite efficiently, but the special mention goes to a very interesting portrayal of a psychopath by Rosamund Pike. Her expressions, her eyes and the way she was changing in different stages of the story were quite remarkable. A person who is going through different mental stages, insane but with moment
s of becoming or trying to be normal. She held everything together for me performance wise.
What didn’t work
Although I liked the structure of multiple endings and the twists, and something that is not unique anymore but I still like from the story telling perspective, which is starting and ending using the same shot, I kind of lost interest towards the final third of the film. Not that I wanted to get up and leave! but the story lacked any punch and it didn’t matter what could happen next! As if not matter what happens, even if you couldn’t anticipate it, was predictable! this was enforced by the ending of the film that was kind of finishing things on on a low note.
Ben Affleck has never been one my favourite actors! He has grown a lot of over the years and before I’m not sure if I even could call him an actor, but in this film his performance just seems a little wooden and coached, just too efficient without any extra effort on his side. It felt to me someone was telling him what to do every minute of the film: “ok Ben now sit down, look at your left, then right, gasp! and smile” Nothing seemed to come naturally to him, but because he followed all the instructions given and the script, he was adequate! Also I’m not sure if casting Neil Patrick Harris for the role of the creepy ex boyfriend was the right call. Apart from the problem of trying not to remember his character in How I Met Your Mother TV series, he was just not convincing, both his acting and his physicality.
Ok this was perhaps my biggest problem and what made me constantly aware of watching a film! It hardly happens to me when I fail to suspend my disbelief. I’m usually fully immersed by the world of the story and that’s one of the things I love about movies, but Gone Girl never let me fully in.
I think the main reason for it is how clean and neat everything looked. It is shot perfectly and looks gorgeous, but for a dark story there’s just too much fill light! Even Ben Affleck’s character (Nick Dunne) dad’s house which is supposed to be abandoned and messy, somehow doesn’t feel that way. The hideout flat for Rosamund Pike (Amy Dunne) also seems to be very dusty on her arrival, but still doesn’t look dirty! All the locations, cars, even people … all just looks so clean and perfect, as if you are looking at a catalogue! I can appreciate maybe this was all done on purpose, to make everything feel as if they are on display for everyone to see at all times! but after reading some interviews with the director and DOP that doesn’t seem to be what they were going for. It was just a strange feeling I couldn’t shake. On the plus side this look helped creating an icy feeling and a sense of isolation that worked for some of the sequences. I even felt it could have benefited from a little grain!
Neither worked nor didn’t!
There’s a soundtrack throughout the movie that became very noticeable for me. A repetitive tone, like an echo or something on repeat, that I don’t understand its purpose of. It was not strong enough to add anything to the scene at all, maybe that was the point! but I just found it very odd. The whole soundtrack had a touch of mystery to it and felt very ambient.. but everything kind of sounded the same. Listen to the soundtrack to see what I mean and the repetitive one is called Sugar storm.
As I was writing this I was able to better see the aspects of the film that weren’t working for me and those I liked… but the funny thing is now I don’t mind watching it again to better understand some of the choices made! The film tells this two nonlinear but parallel journeys of these characters and their psychological and emotional demise in a very fluid and coherent manner, but just lacks a little punch to make it to the finish line. This was yet another good ride with Mr Fincher, maybe not the most memorable one.