The survival of an ethically homogenous Korean peninsular can almost be said as miraculous, considering its geography. Surrounded by the powerhouses China, Japan and Russia, Korea has gone through regular conflict since the Old Joseon period (c. 2333 BC to c. 109 BC). It was only after the North and South split into communism and democracy in the 1950s that the Korean peninsular became relatively peaceful, although tensions between the North and South still arise from time to time.

Walking the streets of South Korea, it is hard to believe that the country was still deep in war just some 60 odd years ago. Seoul, a city with a love for neon lights, quirky graffiti and freely available WiFi, does not seem to sleep. Throngs of Koreans hang out by the Hangang River even after 10 p.m. on weekday nights, and the streets of Hongdae increasingly bustle with activity after sunset.

Juxtapositions surface themselves everywhere. Rows of copy-and-paste high-rise flats, a feature common with many other cities, line Seoul’s cityscape, contrasting its  low-rise buildings, overhead wiring and uneven terrain. Traditional architecture are surrounded by those of modern times, while churches can be seen from within temple walls. Christianity is the major religion rather than Buddhism, all while with Confucian values rooted in the Korean society. Historically relevant sites, such as burial grounds, are marked out and often intimately surrounded by densely packed buildings. Traditional melodies play in subway stations to mark trains’ arrivals.

Book Review: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Extract from blurb:

In this extraordinary essay, Virginia Woolf examines the limitations of womanhood in the early twentieth century. With the startling prose and poetic licence of a novelist, she makes a bid for freedom, emphasizing that the lack of an independent income, and the titular ‘room of one’s own’, prevents most women from reaching their full literary potential. As relevant in its insight and indignation today as it was when first delivered in those hallowed lecture theatres, A Room of One’s Own remains both a beautiful work of literature and an incisive analysis of women and their place in the world.

Here is one author whose mind I would gladly pick if I could. Her book was first published in 1929 and reading this in 2017 strikes me poignantly how different things are now for women in many parts of the world. In her time, women had only just been given rights to vote, women who made their mark in history were few and far between, and the world was dominated by patriarchy. Her essay concludes that in order for women to reach their full potential they need 500 pounds a year (i.e. money) and a room of one’s own (which really in all is a representation of independence, privacy, freedom, and education, all of which were not widely available to women).

Here are a few favourite quotes from my speed-reading:

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. We are all going to heaven and Vandyke is of the company—in other words, how good life seemed, how sweet its rewards, how trivial this grudge or that grievance, how admirable friendship and the society of one’s kind, as, lighting a good cigarette, one sunk among the cushions in the window–seat.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

On women in her time:

Imaginatively she was of the highest importance, practically she is completely insignificant.

Woolf makes a point on how the human mind is androgynous, and in order to reach one’s full potential, one should utilise both the male and female parts of their brain. And in order to write well one must have intellectual freedom. And intellectual freedom, for the most part, comes with education and money.

She gives intelligent, unconventional and provocative insights. For someone who threads lightly upon literature waters as I do, it was refreshing. I did not read her book carefully enough, but the book does deserve a re-read (and a good place on my bookshelf IN A ROOM OF MY OWN).

lyrical poem challenge

did a shuffle-and-pick on this one.

  1. the handler//muse
  2. heartbeats//jose gonzalez
  3. postcard//jukebox the ghost
  4. facedown//the red jumpsuit apparatus
  5. sleepyhead//passion pit
  6. viva la gloria!//green day
  7. clock strikes//one ok rock
  8. young blood//birdy
  9. why’d you only call me when you’re high?//arctic monkeys
  10. stole the show//kygo

You were my oppressor
One night to be confused
I don’t want you to feel broken
Hey girl you know you drive me crazy
And you said it was like fire around the brim

Hey Gloria, are you standing close to the edge?
What waits for you?
We’re only young and naive still
The mirror’s image tells me it’s home time
Darlin’, darlin’, turn the lights back on now

print(“hello, world!”)

There are a few things that always remain the same (as far as our human lifespan is concerned) – the sun will always rise and set, the tides will come in highs and lows, and the moon waxes and wanes. A day passes, and another begins. The waves will always hit the shore. In all, life goes on, and I’m no longer surprised by that.

The world is made by a dizzying multitude of interpretations. Our own little world, along with all its troubles, pales in significance compared to the glorious bustle that constitutes the earth.

my love is a funeral // i wrote some lyrics

my love is a funeral
the ghosts claw
from within

your body’s a wonderland
like a carousel
we spin

don’t stop, please

get high from me
and i’ll get high from you
and all the things that you do
won’t you tell me darling
is your love true?

get high from me
i’ll get high from you
and all the things that you do
oh won’t you tell me honey
won’t you tell me darling
is your love true?

i swam across the ocean
and fell into your embrace
i thought i saw devotion
but i was stuck on your face

you look like a movie star
that i’d seen as a child
but my love is a funeral
the ghosts claw from within

get high from me
i’ll get high from you
and all the things you do
won’t you tell me honey
won’t you tell me darling
is your love true?
is your love true?
is your love true?

Movie Review: 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

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This movie is delivered in three acts and is just over an hour long. The film’s timeline spans from the 1990s, when mobile phones were not yet ubiquitous, to present-day Japan. It centers on Takaki Tōno and shows his transit from a 13-year-old to a working adult.

The film delivers cleanly and simply. It is straight to the point, yet is packed with subtle nuances. Common with Japanese films of this nature, it is bittersweet. It is also realistic and does its magic without being saccharine.

In the beginning, I had a bone to pick with character development. I felt that Act #2 could have had more room to develop Takaki. However, centering heavily on the girl’s perspective could have been the director’s intention. In that way, Takaki becomes a dissociated, untouchable canvas on which she projects herself upon, and allows her to conclude what she concluded eventually. It also aided in the development of one of the best scenes of the film towards the end of Act #2 – the walk that she took with Takaki to her house.

As we go about the process of living, loose ends accumulate. Growing up is coming to terms with these loose ends, and most importantly, learning how to live with them. Life is learning how to let go in order to move forward, and eventually being strong enough to make a choice between light and darkness.

Overall rating: A

A little bit about what my ratings mean:

  • A: Worth a watch.
  • B: May appeal to some audiences.
  • C: Don’t even bother.

Some of my favorite quotes from this film (*SPOILERS ALERT*):

“And right then it felt like I finally understood where everything was, eternity, the heart , the soul. It was like I was sharing every experience I’d ever had in my past 13 years. And then, the next moment, I became unbearably sad. I didn’t know what to do with these feelings. Her warmth, her soul. How was I supposed to treat them? That, I did not know. Then right then, I clearly understood that we would never be together. Our lives not yet fully realized, the vast expanse of time. They lay before us and there was nothing we could do. But then, all my worries, all my doubts, started melting away. All that was left were Akari’s soft lips on mine.”

“By just living one’s life, sadness accumulates here and there, be it in the blankets hung out in the sun to dry, the toothbrushes in the bathroom, and the phone history logs. In the last several years, I have forged ahead without any regard, just to touch what I cannot reach. Without understanding the sources from which this menacing thought surged forth from, I continued working.”

“Maybe we tried to leave as much memories of ourselves with each other because we knew one day we wouldn’t be together any more.”

 

100 Great Movies

A list of movies to watch, movies I’ve watched and found worthwhile (underlined)

This list contains mainly movies that made a significant impact on pop culture and society, and/or films with interesting/thought-provoking/controversial/novel concepts/ideas.

  1. 12 Angry Men (1957)
    Twelve men must decide the fate of one when one juror objects to the jury’s decision.
  2. Vertigo (1958)
    A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.
  3. Ben-Hur (1959)
    When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.
  4. Psycho (1960)
    A young female embezzler arrives at the Bates Motel, which has terrible secrets of its own.
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.
  6. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    In future Britain, Alex DeLarge, a charismatic and psycopath delinquent, who likes to practice crimes and ultra-violence with his gang, is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society’s crime problem – but not all goes according to plan.
  7. The Godfather (1972)
    The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
  8. The Exorcist (1973)
    When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
  9. Jaws (1975)
    A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a local sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down.
  10. The Shining (1980)
    A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
  11. E.T. (1982)
    A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.
  12. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
    Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet.
  13. Back to the Future (1985)
    Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.
  14. The Breakfast Club (1985)
    Five high school students meet in Saturday detention and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.
  15. The Princess Bride (1987)
    While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.
  16. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
    When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby.
  17. Dead Poets Society (1989)
    English teacher John Keating inspires his students to look at poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings.
  18. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
    A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.
  19. Goodfellas (1990)
    The story of Henry Hill and his life through the teen years into the years of mafia, covering his relationship with wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVitto in the Italian-American crime syndicate.
  20. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
  21. Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)
    A boy develops a disease so rare that nobody is working on a cure, so his father decides to learn all about it and tackle the problem himself.
  22. Jurassic Park (1993)
    During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.
  23. Schindler’s List (1993)
    In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.
  24. Forrest Gump (1994)
    While not intelligent, Forrest Gump has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.
  25. Leon: The Professional (1994)
    Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.
  26. Pulp Fiction (1994)
    The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
  27. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
  28. The Usual Suspects (1995)
    A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.
  29. Se7en (1995)
    Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
  30. Gattaca (1997)
    A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.
  31. Men in Black (1997)
    A police officer joins a secret organization that polices and monitors extraterrestrial interactions on Earth.
  32. Titanic (1997)
    A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.
  33. The Truman Show (1998)
    An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show.
  34. Fight Club (1999)
    An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.
  35. Princess Mononoke (1999)
    On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.
  36. The Matrix (1999)
    A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
  37. Cast Away (2000)
    A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.
  38. Memento (2000)
    A man juggles searching for his wife’s murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.
  39. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
    The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
  40. Amelie (2001)
    Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.
  41. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
    After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.
  42. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
    In order to power the city, monsters have to scare children so that they scream. However, the children are toxic to the monsters, and after a child gets through, 2 monsters realize things may not be what they think.
  43. Shrek (2001)
    After his swamp is filled with magical creatures, Shrek agrees to rescue Princess Fiona for a villainous lord in order to get his land back.
  44. Spirited Away (2001)
    During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.
  45. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
    The hobbit Frodo Baggins and a Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron.
  46. Finding Nemo (2003)
    After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home.
  47. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.
  48. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
    When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.
  49. Mean Girls (2004)
    Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.
  50. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
    The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.
  51. King Kong (2005)
    A movie crew, travelling to a mysterious island to shoot their picture, encounter a furious gorilla, taking their leading actress and forming a special relationship with her, protecting her at all costs.
  52. The Island (2005)
    Lincoln Six Echo is just like everyone else – he’s waiting to go to the Island, the only place left in the world to actually live a life, but he soon discovers that there’s actually a sinister purpose going on at that facility and that he must escape – but not before stopping the sinister plan.
  53. V for Vendetta (2005)
    In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of “V”, plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.
  54. Blood Diamond (2006)
    A fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond.
  55. James Bond Film Series (2006-2015)
    Adventures of the MI6 agent James Bond, “007”.
  56. The Prestige (2006)
    Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion.
  57. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
    A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional career.
  58. Into the Wild (2007)
    After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
  59. No Country for Old Men (2007)
    Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.
  60. There Will Be Blood (2007)
    A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.
  61. The Dark Knight (2008)
    When the menace known as the Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
  62. WALL-E (2008)
    In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.
  63. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
    An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn’t believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her.
  64. Avatar (2009)
    A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.
  65. Up (2009)
    Seventy-eight year old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.
  66. Mr Nobody (2009)
    A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible.
  67. Slumdog Milionaire (2009)
    A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
  68. 127 Hours (2010)
    An adventurous mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.
  69. Easy A (2010)
    A clean-cut high school student relies on the school’s rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.
  70. Inception (2010)
    A thief, who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.
  71. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
    A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.
  72. Shutter Island (2010)
    In 1954, a U.S. marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.
  73. The King’s Speech (2010)
    The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.
  74. The Social Network (2010)
    Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
  75. Django Unchained (2012)
    With the help of a German bounty hunter , a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
  76. Life of Pi (2012)
    A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.
  77. Looper (2012)
    In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits – someone like Joe – who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by sending back Joe’s future self for assassination.
  78. The Avengers (2012)
    Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.
  79. The Hunger Games (2012)
    Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.
  80. The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
    An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
  81. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
    In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
  82. Her (2013)
    A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.
  83. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
  84. Gone Girl (2014)
    With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
  85. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
    A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe.
  86. Interstellar (2014)
    A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival.
  87. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
    A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.
  88. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
    The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
  89. The Imitation Game (2014)
    During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.
  90. The Maze Runner (2014)
    Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.
  91. Ex Machina (2014)
    A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid A.I.
  92. Room (2015)
    A young boy is raised within the confines of a small shed.
  93. Inside Out (2015)
    After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.
  94. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
    A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in postapocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.
  95. The Martian (2015)
    An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
  96. The Revenant (2015)
    A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
  97. Doctor Strange (2016)
    While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
  98. Kimi No Na Wa (2016)
    Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart?
  99. Nerve (2016)
    A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”
  100. Wonder Woman (2017)
    Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

To-watch over the summer:

  • 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • Se7en (1995)
  • Into the Wild (2007)
  • The Imitation Game (2014)

Movie Review: Berlin Syndrome (2017)

 This review contains some spoilers.

Berlin Syndrome (2017) is an Australian psychological thriller that is set to release to international communities between May and July 2017. It may not show in Singapore as there has been no scheduled release dates so far. The film runs for 116 min and is rated R for violent content, sexuality, nudity, and coarse language.

The film is set in Berlin, Germany, and involves a relationship between a German English teacher (Andi) and an Australian tourist (Clare) with a penchant for photography. The relationship turns steadfastly dysfunctional as she realizes his intent on keeping her permanently in his apartment and when she discovers a Polaroid photograph of her back, engraved with the words “mine”. Andi leads a seemingly “double life” where he works as a school teacher and is generally well-liked by his colleagues and students.

In all, the film checked all the boxes for a good psychological thriller, in terms of how chilling and psychologically-focused it is. The film does a particularly good job in showing the cool, perverted side of Andi in contrast to his work life as a school teacher and a good son to his father, and in providing suitable atmospheres to its scenes. However, while it is well put together, it fails to draw in the viewer with its less-than-desired climax and repetitive, unneeded scenes. It could also do with more character development.

Even so, I appreciated some of the foreshadowing moments in the earlier parts of the film, such as when she stops to take a photograph of a woman fanning out a colorful sheet from her apartment, just before she meets Andi at a traffic junction. Another foreshadowing bit I enjoyed was when she stops at an alleyway and purchases some clothes (which she wore in the later part of the film when she grows increasingly dysfunctional) and a box of tiny films with photographs of architecture on them (Andi keeps Polaroid films of his victims in photobooks). I also particularly enjoyed the bit where she walks with him and she sees and picks up a wolf mask, putting it on her face briefly while Andi remains stoic. Who is the true wolf now? There was also a bit where there was a play on NSFW, where he said, “Next time, I’m gonna tie you up with ropes,” which actually did happen, just not in the way she probably would have expected.

My favorite part was the scene after they first had sex, in which he says, “I wish we could stay like this, where we don’t know each other,” and she asks, “What happens when you know someone?” He replies in German, “You can see all the ugliness”, but she does not understand this because she does not know German. He dismisses this, then replies in English, “I love your accent.”

I think the film could have been more engaging if there was more on Andi’s backstory. Some parts, such as the more draggy bits of her stay in the house, and the whole bit where he gifts her the dog that used to be his father’s could have been removed from the final cut as well. I mean, the dog even disappears towards the back part of the film when shit went down. Tbh, the film could actually be shortened to about 70-80 minutes.

With regard to whether this film made me think, yes it did, more so on being more careful when traveling, not trusting someone too much, and it made me more depressed than anything else because like I said, the atmosphere was done right. Alternatively, it also made me think about double lives that people lead. It may not be as drastic as Andi, but people do sometimes never show certain sides of themselves and say things they don’t quite mean. I enjoyed this play on the human condition.

TLDR: I’d recommend this film if:
1) you really enjoy psychological thrillers
2) you enjoy the niche theme of dysfunctional obsessive relationships + morbidness
3) you think Max Riemelt (Andi) is cute (I do think he’s pretty cute in the film, especially the bit where he wears glasses) and/or you want to see nudes of Teresa Palmer (Clare) (I have to say, she’s hot)

Overall rating: B 

A little bit about what my ratings mean:

  • A: Definitely worth a watch.
  • B: May appeal to some audiences.
  • C: Don’t even bother.