Movie Review: IT

Movie Review: IT

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer

Genre: Horror

Rating: 9/10

Warning: This post is NOT spoiler-free

Despite my general indifference towards the Horror genre, the moment I heard that a new adaptation of Stephen King’s famed “IT” was on the way, I couldn’t help but to sit up. As a fan of his literary works, how could I not? Till this day I look upon “Misery” as one of my favourite books of all time, psychopathy, gore and all.

So anticipation naturally mounted as months passed me by, with posters, dramatic clown sightings and a movie trailer only serving to increase it. When “IT” finally hit cinemas, I was quick to buy tickets the first chance I got.

And mind you, I was not disappointed. While my friend of 19 years squirmed in her seat even though it was already her second viewing of the film, my eyes were shining with anticipation. I had not managed to finish reading the novel like I originally planned -work reasons, of course- but I had read enough to have a good feeling about the general storyline. To think I got to watch the new adaptation so soon after picking up the book!

For those who are unaware of the plotline of the film, here is the gist of it: the small, inconspicuous town of Derry has something about it that slips under the radar for most. Something big. This thing being the chilling fact that it has the highest number of missing people cases in comparison to other towns- and by a startling mile. Even the inhabitants of Derry seem to approach this with a worrying lack of empathy, with the majority of its residents soon forgetting about such disappearances despite their mounting frequency. –And within that mass of bland, grey passivity is a young boy by the name of Ben.

A loner and a bookworm, this library-bound lad seems to be the only one who has noticed this trend at all. It is through his dusty readings that he notes these disappearances occur every 27 years, like clockwork. Such events tend to be isolated incidents as well, which serves as one of the primary reasons why no one living is around to provide any clues as to what had happened.

To delve further into the plot, the story starts with Georgie, the little brother of the protagonist. Whilst chasing the newly waxed paper boat that his older brother, Bill, had made for him, his brand new toy, carried by the flow of water from the heavy rain, falls into the drain. It is here that the unfortunate lad meets It, the being grinning from where it stands inside the drain. Calling itself Pennywise, It is disguised as a clown, for the sheer purpose of luring in its preferred prey- a tool that It utilizes to its very fullest, until it at last succeeds in coaxing poor George to draw closer.

A wash of crimson decorates the quiet Derry street, the colour soon disappearing as it slips into the drain.

Interestingly enough, if one were to step into the cinema without any IT novel knowledge whatsoever, they would find the story incredibly similar to Supernatural’s episode 2 of season 1, “Wendigo”.

The episode bears the following themes: a being that reawakens every set period of years to feast on unknowing victims before slipping into hibernation, few living to tell the tale, the creature’s habit of hoarding extra “sacks of meat” in its abode and its ability to imitate humans (at least in terms of speech).

The similarities are enough to cause one to wonder if wendigo lore had inspired King.

Or if IT had inspired Supernatural, much to Sam’s dismay.

So is it worth the watch?

Despite not being as scary as certain other horror films, “IT” is definitely one to put on your To Watch List. Masterfully created, this film is one that will have you gripping the edges of your seat while watching it- especially with it being one of those rare monster movies with a LOT of monster in it. Pennywise appears rather frequently, yet the terror it strikes into the hearts of viewers doesn’t waver an inch. As a matter of fact, the more often It appears, the more the situation escalates, to the point where you fear for the lives of the entire cast.

Who will die? Who will be the next to disappear?

Pennywise grins as you ponder this, eagerly waiting for more children to follow its psychological lure.

This heightened anxiety is propelled further by the structure of the movie, which is coloured by a thrilling story that explores the human psyche, and a stunning performance by the entire cast- most notably by the actor of the very being that everyone is afraid of.

Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Clown will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable clowns in film history- and yes, this is the very same list with the late Heath Ledger’s Joker on it.

At the same time, however, despite “IT” being scary while watching it, it fails to maintain that feeling even after the reel ends. This might just be me, though. Some people avoid drains and whenever they can, the bathroom, a long while after watching the film.

All in all? A movie that largely stays faithful to King’s literary giant (with a few changes, of course) whilst maintaining the ability to act as a stand alone. Simply brilliant, despite the shoddy censorship.

Something I’m sure other Malaysian moviegoers were as puzzled about as I was.

I mean, how could one swear word uttered by a child be censored while for pretty much the rest of the movie, the children swore freely? Then there were the kisses… One was cut out while the other wasn’t. The poor censoring work astounds me, as do the scenes that had been cut out. So a swear word is censored, but a mad clown feasting on a severed arm and waving it around happily isn’t?

Well, then. To each their own, I suppose.

Anyway, watch “IT”.

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7 Reasons Why I Started Blogging

7 Reasons Why I Started Blogging

While I’m no stranger to blogging, the thought of picking it up again after about a decade of having next to nothing to do with it made me hesitate. Sure, I’ve had numerous blogs on Tumblr, and still do, but I never really thought of what I do on them as blogging. Not in the traditional sense, no. The content that I post on those blogs consist of reblogs and works of fiction.

And being the private creature that I am, I absolutely abhor mixing my online identity with my real life one. God forbid anyone ask me to share such information with them- they would be duly greeted with an icy stare or my standard “Oh I don’t do anything online” white lie.

But as time went on, it came to a point where I gained well over a thousand followers on one blog, thousands altogether if you total up the followers from all of my blogs, for my creative writing alone. I honestly thought that this was a waste; to have something that could serve as a portfolio, but because of my need for privacy, it’s not something I’d share on my resume.

My solution? I decided to create a blog that I’d be willing to share on professional platforms.

There is more to it than that, though, so allow me to further clarify my reasons for creating this blog.

To serve as a portfolio

As mentioned before, my biggest reason for setting this up is to have it serve as a portfolio. Not for creative writing, however. Certainly not as one would have expected, but yeah.

For the longest time, I started to feel as though I was stagnating, stuck to one field of writing, and thought that I should perhaps venture into feature writing. You see, I’ve always enjoyed writing different types of characters, as it is a way of trying something new to me, and feature writing was simply yet another area of writing I could explore.

I’m enjoying the process thus far, thankfully enough. And while I’m fairly confident in my writing skills, I know I still have a lot to learn. Hopefully my growth will reflect in the posts I type up, especially as I gradually explore more and more topics on my blog.

To encourage self-expression

Despite maintaining a neutral stance on all of my blogs back then, I’ve always had my own opinions regarding hotly debated topics on my dash.

I just never wanted to express them, no matter how much I agreed or disagreed on a certain topic. Why bother? That was what I would think, not at all eager in engaging in the petty arguments that tend to happen on the Internet.

In a way, this is good as it meant that I’d spend less time bothering with such ridiculousness. In another, I came to regard it as a disadvantage. It’s one thing to avoid drama, it’s another to live without a voice. So I chose to improve myself and express my thoughts in a way I think is acceptable.

By remaining as neutral as possible whilst reviewing both sides of every story.

To help people

How many times have I looked something up, only to come across little to no information regarding the subject? Far too many. I’m always frustrated by the lack of details available about certain beauty products, and so wanted to help those like myself the best I can. Sure, everyone’s skin is different, but this is the sort of thing people would like to know. It’s helpful and would be great in assisting their decision on whether they ought to purchase the product.

The same can be said for Asian dramas. While I’m by no means an Asian drama junkie, I’ve garnered enough of an interest in them thanks to my language classes. It would be great for there to be more reviews and recommendations for them, and since there aren’t many, I’ve taken the initiative to toss my opinion in on the humble pile.

Perhaps more people will show appreciation for Asian films and tv shows in the future.

To help me grow as a writer

While I’d love to say that I’m well-versed in every form of writing there is, I’m not. I’m comfortable with writing fiction, but what about feature writing? After largely focusing on copywriting for so long, I thought it was best to polish up that old feature writing skill of mine.

And what better way is there than blogging when I have a full-time job on my hands?

Blogging is good practice for helping me organise and write my thoughts in a clear manner. What’s more, it’s excellent for challenging myself to generate new ideas. A valuable skill that every writer should have.

To experiment with different writing styles

The thing that I love so much about writing fiction is that I get to experiment with different character voices. Perhaps one character is a shy, introverted bean whilst the other is loud and brash- both of which require different tones whilst writing their perspectives. It gives a more genuine feel to the character, and allows the reader to connect with them easily.

Although the differences aren’t as obvious with feature writing, they do exist. Does an article demand a more laid-back, casual tone or an energetic one? Or perhaps a tone so conversational, that Malaysians’ signature bahasa rojak crops up from time to time? It’s something I’d like to play with, if only to show my versatility.

To create an online presence

When it comes to the Communications field, having an online presence is one of the many things that will help you stand out from the pack. I don’t deny that there are many others like myself, hoping to catch the attention of a potential client or employer, but every bit helps. Especially in today’s competitive world.

At the end of the day, however, my growth matters more to me than having a wide audience does. After all, having an online portfolio is the main reason I’m doing this.

I’ve come to enjoy it

Ah yes, and this too. From being someone so reluctant to voice her opinion, I’ve gotten more comfortable with the idea thanks to blogging.

So I look forward to watching this blog grow, and hopefully, my skills with it.

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Top 5 J-Vloggers to Keep up With

Top 5 J-Vloggers to Keep up With

Ah, Japan. It is one of those countries that has made itself perfectly at home on many “To Visit” travel lists, yet remains one of the most untouchable due to budget concerns. But really, thanks to the power of the internet, you can find out all you need to know about this country right beneath your fingertips. From its rich history to budget travel tips, everything is laid out for you. This is especially true when you search for information via Google or YouTube, the latter being an increasingly popular choice as of late.

With the number of YouTubers trying to get their shot at fame or who are just eager to share their work with the world, the slew of videos you can go through is incredible. The problem is, though, what channels should you follow? There are so many to choose from!

After spending hours, days, weeks, months watching videos about Japan, I decided to compile a list of my favourite J-Vloggers. So if you’d like to travel to Japan, live there or would simply like to learn more about the culture, read on.

1. Abroad in Japan

Run by a British man and former JET teacher named Chris, Abroad in Japan is easily my favourite J-channel on YouTube. This may be due to my love for dry, sarcastic humour or how, despite his grouchy exterior, Chris has a deep appreciation for everything Japanese and wishes to share what he has learned with the world. It really is charming; his unique blend of unsmiling grumpiness and genuine warmth is something that easily draws you in. And you will notice, once you’ve spent enough time on YouTube, that it is hard to find when most vloggers are full of smiles and positive energy.

Yet, paradoxically, he is no less welcoming than they are.

But what else is it about him that is appealing? Aside from his wit, Chris’ videos are always chockful of information without that dreaded sense of tediousness educational videos tend to come with. Really, with the entertaining way he frames his content, one can easily lose themselves on his channel. The fact that he shows real potential in hosting a television travel program certainly doesn’t hurt either.

If the video above isn’t enough to encapsulate the sheer essence that is Chris’ ughwhatisitnow attitude, then his reaction to Being Rudely Awoken by a North Korean Missile is the one to go for.

There is just something amusing about a British man basically going “Fuck off” at a missile siren warning and going back to sleep.

Subjects to expect on this channel:  Travel, culture, language learning tips and lifestyle

2. Rachel and Jun

This international couple owns one of the, if not the, most subscribed to YouTube channel about Japan. Comprising of Rachel and Jun, who are American and Japanese respectively, this lovable pair spends their time outside of work filming videos about Japanese culture, lifestyle, travel and language learning tips, and occasionally, the challenges that come with their international marriage. Skits crop up on their channel too; not as often as the aforementioned, but certainly no less entertaining.

If you’d really like to learn more about Japanese culture as well as how it compares to America’s, this channel is a safe bet. With Rachel’s bright, chatty personality and Jun’s quiet yet friendly aura, it’s difficult not to be endeared by these two.

What’s more, Jun has his very own cooking channel while Rachel has a pretty rockin’ collection of personally designed Sakura accessories that she sells online. Check ’em both out.

Seriously, if I had the extra cash I’d buy Rachel’s Sakura collection.

Subjects to expect on this channel: Culture, lifestyle, language learning tips, travel and a dash of skits

3. SharmanderSharla in Japan

Sweet and even-tempered, Sharmander is yet another popular J-Vlogger on YouTube. With two J-channels under her belt, both of which she maintains regularly, she has amassed quite a collection of videos to browse through.

Most of which are wonderful for gaining a general idea of what the country is like. From culture to travel to lifestyle, Sharla has a bit of everything to cater to everyone. And thanks to her lengthy stay in Japan, she is able to share accounts of her student life right up to the present as a working adult. Something that would no doubt intrigue those who are interested in staying there for a couple of years.

So roll on over for some wholesome fun! She has even documented festivals and unusual events for your viewing pleasure.

Subjects to expect on these channels:  Travel (especially as of late), beauty, culture and lifestyle

4. That Japanese Man Yuta

That Japanese Man Yuta is run by, you guessed it, a Japanese man named Yuta. Ever eager to learn more about the world and the people around him, Yuta goes out of his way to conduct interviews with random people on the street. This is at times successful, and at others, as you may well witness in one or two of his videos, not so much. Understandable, as some may not have the time or even have the desire to be in front of the camera.

But I digress. What exactly does Yuta talk about on his channel?

A variety of things. Largely informative videos that consist of popular everyday social topics and at times, culture. A thoughtful, intelligent man, Yuta gives the impression that he genuinely wishes to learn about the way other people think, as well as share these opinions with outsiders.

This channel may not be what you’re looking for if you’re interested in travelling to Japan. It is more of a site for those who are interested in hearing the thoughts of the Japanese.

He also teaches Japanese for free right here.

Subjects to expect on this channel: Lifestyle, culture and language learning tips

5. Find Your Love in Japan

Passionate and not afraid to speak his mind, Nobita of Find Your Love in Japan has made it his life’s mission to encourage foreigners to date in Japan. He believes that it is an experience people shouldn’t be afraid to try, cultural barriers be damned, and so works diligently to ensure this message is delivered.

He does this by conducting numerous street interviews as well as recording himself giving motivational speeches, which happens to be rather frequent. A feat to consider seeing that he has a full-time job and the amount of time between each video is a few days instead of the standard week.

With the amount of enthusiasm he puts into his work, one cannot help but to feel reassured and more motivated by what he has to say.

Of course, if you’re not interested in seeking romance in Japan, Nobita has plenty of other videos showcasing different social and cultural aspects of Japan. Language learning tips can be expected as well.

For Japanese lessons from Nobita, click here.

Subjects to expect on this channel:  Lifestyle (particularly dating), culture and language learning tips

BONUS J-VLOGGER… sort of

6. The Anime Man

Now, as the channel name suggests, The Anime Man (Joey) mostly talks about nearly anything and everything to do with anime, and therefore isn’t exactly a J-channel. However, this Australian-Japanese has touched upon the subject of Japan enough times to warrant a mention.

You see, when Joey isn’t ranting or raving about anime, he’s dishing out nuggets of wisdom about Japan. Be it the culture, the country or the language itself, he is familiar enough with his Japanese heritage to provide insightful sneak peeks into it. Expect videos addressing common topics such as the above, as well as a few that are more unheard of ie the existence of tsundere maid cafes and his experience going into one. Honestly speaking, if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have known such a place exists.

So, yeah. The Anime Man is definitely worth a look around.

Subjects to expect on this channel:  Anime, language learning tips and bits of culture

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