Painted Skin is about love, coming from the same author who wrote the story behind The Fox Lovers Movie deriving from Strange Stories From a Chinese Studio. It is a supernatural Chinese classical story based on myths and legends believed by common people in that era – that demons, fox spirits and supernatural powers exist in the backdrop of unorthodox Taoist beliefs to deal with them. In Painted Skin, a warrior rescues a demon who disguised herself as a victim of bandits – she was at the point of getting raped when the warrior rescued her. They fall in love at the point of him rescuing her from the bandits. He brings her home and takes her in as a family member. The tension in the story lies with the fact that the warrior is already married to a woman, and he believes that he has to remain loyal, when in fact, he is in love with the young girl.
In the events that unfold, they find themselves in situations that push the norms of love and marriage conventions at that era.
There are several love triangles at play:
The wife has a past lover who is a war hero, who has came back to the village to hunt down the demon.
Unknown to all, the demon who had disguised herself as a lovely young girl is the source of deaths in the city
The female demon has a male demon lover who kills villagers at night to bring their hearts to feed her, although she is in love with a human, the male demon doesn’t care.
The war hero is still in love with the wife and thinks her husband bringing back a young girl to his home is infringing on her modesty.
At the end, all the characters had to confront what it is to experience true love by letting go.
The wife had to confront that her husband is in love with the female demon and commit suicide so that they can pursue happiness.
The male demon had to accept that the female demon doesn’t love him but has fallen in love with a human, which greatly insults him but he will be there for her nevertheless
The war hero had to accept that the wife did not choose him, but that doesn’t mean he loves her and will be there for her in the moment of crisis.
The female demon had to confront that she could not be selfish in her love and that love wasn’t about getting what she wants, but about letting others pursue their happiness
The demon hunter could only open her sealed sword only by the expression of love and not hate. Only the expression of love could enable her to kill the demons.
I truly enjoyed the movie, especially the pool scene which finally expressed the authentic feelings of the husband, that although he keeps denying what is there, that he is truly in love with the demon by having a vivid dream of her in a red dress, going into a hidden pool behind a cave, and making love in the passionately in an illicit romance that existed as a fantasy but he could not enact in reality due to the fact he was married. It was the moment of revelation in the whole movie that the husband was pretending that there was nothing going on, that he didn’t consider the young girl as his lover, but he kept it so hidden well in his thoughts to be a good husband and general, to the extent he sacrificed his own freedom and expression of love by declining to take on a mistress. Which, was the biggest mistake he made for he could have a wife and a mistress and it would be what he actually wanted, instead of his pretence that he had to prove he is “better than that”.
Chinese love stories mostly end in tragedy. Such is the nature and taboo of romantic love in Ancient China. It is elusive and not attainable by mortals and belonged to the realm of fantasy and one has to be prepared to face death in the face of love. It is a recurring theme in classical love stories originating from Ancient China. Couples did not choose their marriage partners but were matched by their parents based on social class and debt payment.
In The Fox Lover Movie (2013), the debt payment marriage was arranged for the magistrate son. The magistrate had saved a fox in the woods, who was the mother spirit fox of nine lovely daughter foxes and one earthly girl. The son could choose any girl that he liked. However, he was mentally handicapped after suffering from an illness. He chooses all the girls blindly. The mother fox said he could only choose one girl, and if he can’t make a choice, she will fly a kite to the girls. The girl who catches the kite will be the one who he will marry. The kite landed on the most mischevious daughter named Willow. She refuses to marry an idiot as she wants to seek true love, but it is the wish of her mother that she does.
The movie proceeds to go through the levels of love, by exploring the nature of what true love is about.
Level 1 – Obligatory Love
The first scene is obligatory love one’s parent’s wishes, that the magistrate son marries Willow. However, Willow opposes the match, wanting to seek true undying love and is willing to die for love instead of marrying an idiot. She attempts to commit suicide after a humiliating realisation that the magistrate son could not tell the difference if he loved her sisters or her. Willow is stopped from committing suicide by her mother.
Level 2 – Sisterly Love
Ling, Willow’s sister, emphasises with Willow’s plight and volunteers to take her place as the bride to the son. Ling shares with Willow that she would marry the son because it serves two purpose – to appease their mother’s wishes and to save mankind once the marriage is consummated and the son’s inner powers will be unleashed. She would marry sacrifice herself to save people’s lives, and make things right. Willow does not agree to Ling’s proposal and walks away. Willow tries to sacrifice herself instead to consummate the marriage with the son. Willow and the magistrate son enters the bedchamber. They remove their clothes but she tricks him into believing that consummation is about watching the clouds and rain. They fail to consummate the marriage.
Level 3 – Motherly Love
The fox mother agrees to get a legendary physician to heal the magistrate son ailment so he can make a wise decision on who he wants to marry. Once he regains consciousnesses and restores his mental capacity, he will choose another bride from the remaining girls. Willow should not attend the choosing of bride ceremony. Willow is overjoyed and thanks her mother profusely.
Level 4 – Infatuation Love
The magistrate son talks about Willow in his sleep. When Ling tries to seduce the son into sleeping with her, the son says no, he loves Willow and will only enter the bedchamber with her. Ling is moved and touched, and shares this with Willow, that the son, although appearing as an idiot, truly loves Willow only. Willow has a change of heart towards the magistrate son.
Level 5 – Kindred Love
The demon returns to kill the magistrate’s son after receiving news that the son has superpowers that will be unlocked once he consummates a marriage. Although Willow failed to consummate with the magistrate’s son, they merge powers together and fend off the demon. This is a kind of kindred friendship love, that friends would do for each other but it is still not at the level of true love – which is what Willow wants.
Level 6 – Foolish Love
The magistrate’s son and Willow fall unconscious after the demon attack. The physician rescues the both of them. The physician proposes that Willow fuses her 1000-year-old fox spirit with the magistrate’s son so that he will wake up in one day, instead of one year. There are villagers dying daily from the demon’s demands for fresh victims. Willow agrees to the fusion. The physician warns that Willow will lose her memory and become foolish, so foolish that she will not remember her name. Willow is not deterred. She says this is what she wants to do, and even if it means dying for him, she is willing to do so for love. The physician executes the fusion. Willow will only have 14 hours of consciousness before losing her memory. She says that’s enough for her.
Level 7 – Sacrificial Love
The son wakes up fully conscious and mentally sound from the coma and is given the choice to choose a bride again. This time he chooses Ling, but upon smelling Willow, he remembers her from the past. He chooses to marry Willow. A fairy visits Willow and advises her that he needs to marry an earthly girl to unleash his powers, and being with a fox spirit will not do that. Willow decides to give him up completely to Ling. Willow tells Ling that she is losing her mind, that her mind is blank and empty. Please marry him for me, please replace me and please love him. Ling is moved and touched. She cries and smiles at the same time in agreement. Willow does a dance of love while Ling consummates the marriage with the son.
Level 8 – True Love
The demon attacks the foxes hide out while the marriage was being consummated. The fox daughters defend the territory but they perish one by one. The demons were too strong and they could not fend off their attack. Willow stumbles and falls after being hit. The son emerges from the bedchamber with superpowers and defeats the demon. He sees Willow lying on the ground, almost unconscious. He declares his love for her, that he will hold her in his heart no matter what came in the way. Willow finally experiences true love. She closes her eyes and perished in the wind.
Level 9 – Love Lives On
Ling and the son have a child. The child writes calligraphy and proceeds to tear the paper up like what Willow used to do. Ling reminds him that Willow’s spirit lives in him, and it has been transferred to the child. It is no surprise the child resembles Willow.
In conclusion, this movie explores the layers of love deeply. It is profound on many levels. This is one of the best movies I had watched on exploring the theme of love. I was moved to tears at the ending. True love is a kind of love that most people will never experience in their lifetime, and as the prophecy unfolds – one must be prepared to die for it, which resulted in Willow’s sacrifice and death at the end.
It does not matter if we are in a dream or reality. Even the reality we live in could be a hologram. Or we could be in a dream, dreaming of reality itself. Reality and dreams are both constituted by us, and we are the architect of both worlds. We can create worlds in any form or space. The human imagination is how we create life to be. The moment we give in to our fears it destroys our creations (Mal). The moment we believe and trust in others and their belief in us, it brings out something bigger than ourselves than our limited construct of what we think it is (inauthentic unreal fears that sabotages our creations).
From analyzing inception I tried to take actions to end the night terrors. I took three actions – call three friends and tell share with them about my inauthentic fears of death and of an apocalypse that will wipe out the world. Before I slept, I called my mum and dad and listened to them for who they are and what they are doing in life. I finally had a beautiful dream.
In this beautiful dream, I am with my family and we are in a park. I was a child running around freely. They are laughing and smiling. My grandparents appeared in the foreground. My grandfather picked me up and said, “Ting, you are beautiful. You will do the family proud.” The dream goes fast forward. I am now in front of a world stage and speaking to an audience about a world government. From this construct radiating outwards, the governments of the world started to melt and converge into one universal government with one universal language. There is no more war or poverty or homelessness. There is an abundance of resources for the human population. At the highest level of civilization – we had achieved utopia.
I dream of Gackt very often. Maybe it’s the way my minions dream about Risque in her Scarlet Throne. But I had been idolising Gackt since I was a teenager and watched and consumed all his songs and videos and got them translated and even hung posters of him on my wall.
Ever so often I will get a recurring dream of him. I would be dating him in a cafe. I am in his presence where he engulfs me into his soul and disappears. He is literally everything I ever wanted in a man. He is multi-talented, plays many instruments, sings like a dove and lastly, he speaks to my soul and tugs my heartstrings like a violin as his voice enters me.
I am inspired by him, and his magical performances. Like the crazy fangirl I am, I read his biography and memorised it. I can’t speak Japanese and I will never end up marrying him or even remotely moving to Tokyo. But he still is in my life like an angel behind me and my creations. When I feel down, I turn to him and his music and it uplifts me. I had never dared write in a fanmail. I kept my obsessive feelings for him in a place where no one will see it, deeply buried in my subconscious, I am floating in the abyss of his voice.
At the back of my mind, he is always with me. In times like now when I feel quite down and upset and lousy about myself, I turn to him. He speaks to me and although he sings in a language I don’t understand, I can hear his soul. Through this healing process, I am energised to create again.
Gackt has this power over me I don’t quite comprehend either. Is it obsessive fan girl love? Or is it just the act of disappearing into his soul that makes me feel alive again? I don’t know. No one else in my life has this effect on me as he does. I could probably sing Mizerable in Japanese although I don’t understand a word just because I had listened to it thousands of times till I had memorised the lyrics in a language I don’t understand.
I totally get his misery, his isolation, his alienation. That sometimes being a creator is a solitary, lonely journey in a vast desert. There is no oasis, just mirages that appear and disappears in the desert storm. In this journey as a creator, I know my soul may never be understood or heard and yet I cry and sing a song no one might ever comprehend.
As I write this, my realisation of why I am doing what I do is pouring back to me like a torrential rain. Why did I stop for so long? Why? My existence is based on the feedback of my surroundings. If the calling is for me to create more works of art and beauty – it should be it.
In the depth of the milky way of creative energies, I am finally at one with creation itself.
I watched Cloud Atlas (2012) four years ago. I know I have a habit of delaying my movie reviews, writing them years after I watched them. But that movie gave me the inspiration to become an author.
My interpretation of Cloud Atlas is that you will never know if you work of creation would indirectly be used to advance the human collective. It starts with a 18th century gay composer, wrote his symphony and committed suicide shortly after although he knew his lover was looking for him. In a dramatic twists and turns of the event, at the final futuristic scene of the movie – it was his symphony that lead to a rebellion and creation of a new world as it passes one time line to the next in different forms.
Cloud Atlas is hard to understand and digest, in fact it would be one of the most complicated movies to analyse after The Matrix and Inception. It fundamentally answers the question – what is the meaning of life, and what is it for the future generation?
In the Hourglass series that I write, I am attempting to contribute to the human collective through my research and writing in the espionage thriller genre. It seems insignificant and even foolish to dedicate my prime years to this task. I could otherwise be using the time to generate more income, assets and material acquisitions to better my lifestyle and travel more. But, to me it makes perfect sense as it would be the Hourglass Series that will stand the test of time and not my videos, audio or blog. It would be in novel form that it will be preserved and last a century or beyond.
But a thousand years? Maybe not. My cousin and I had a discussion that the history that we know a thousand years ago is mostly lost by now. Looking at how insignificant our human lives are, writing a novel is just a small feat compared to the contributions one can possibly make to humanity.
Cloud Atlas is one such contribution, it may not be fully understood now but it would be one of those classic movies that would be referred to be cited as a catalyst to something else a hundred years from now.
I had written and compiled a poetry book called The Chase which I am intending to release soon on Amazon. The Chase is essentially about my infatuation and loving term loving relationship with science. To put it precisely – physics. When I was a child, I was intrigued by a computer game about the solar planets in our galaxy. I was drawn to the concept of time on our planet – we have 365 days in a year as that’s the amount of time it takes for a planet to orbit the sun. For other planets, they may take days or years to orbit the sun, and if a human is born another planet we would age differently.
I would say I am an atheist at this stage of my life. I have no religion. As Stephen Hawking says in an interview, “”Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.” In my opinion at this stage of my life, science provides the answer to our existence in the grand scheme of the universe. My dad is an atheist as well. God, by definition is our interpretation of it.
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo
I had expanded on my definition on God to include everything in the universe. To me, that makes perfect sense. When I have a spiritual experience, it is my connection with humanity and all that encompasses in it. Averral is an angelic name bestowed to me by angels on the milky way. My angels in the cosmic flow are watching over me on my journey of creation. I am empowered to make a difference by tapping into the reservoir of possibilities.
In The Chase, it is about my love hate relationship with time. Time will eventually rob us of everything as we know it. My dad says that time stops when one enters the black hole. Death of a galaxy happens when it enters a black hole. All things that start will come to an end. On the book cover of The Chase, I had chosen a picture of a black hole. When writing those poems, I was contemplating about the meaning of life and what is the point of living when it all comes to a definite end. Is our life sole mission to procreate? Or create new worlds that we would never imagine possible? What is it really?
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Having read Venus in Furs when I was 18 years old, I was pleasantly surprised that the flight I was on route to Paris had an independent movie called Venus in Furs by Polanski. It is in French with English subtitles. There were only two actors (the male and female lead who happens to be Polanski’s wife) in a run down theater in the production. The novel Venus in Furs is undoubtedly a BDSM classic, with the term “masochism” originating from the author of novel.
I spent most of my formative years in the theater. My mother performed and taught classical piano. We would be at the theater every weekend.I knew every nook and canny. I would play hide and seek with other children behind the red velvet curtains during rehearsals. At the buffet line I could not drink coffee or tea, so I would pour myself a cup of milk. When I watched Venus in Furs, I was instantly transported back into the theater of my childhood and the performances that it held.
In the movie, the actress lounges on the sofa and struts her stuff by proving to the director (the male lead) that she deserves the role. Hence, the movie is like watching what happens behind a theater production, than the production itself. On how the actress seduces the director, and how the director falls into her whims and becomes her masochist in his own fantasy reenactment of the script as the actor. On many levels, it is like watching Inception but theater style.
First, you have Polanski who is the real director of the play, casting his wife into the female lead role.
Secondly, you have the young male lead act as the director in the movie itself who is casting a new actress who walked in to be his new lead.
Thirdly, you have the director in the movie audition the script (Venus in Furs) with the female lead, and in this sense, the director enacts his fantasy to be the male lead of the show with the new actress.
If you can’t wrap your mind around what I just wrote, you have to watch the movie as it is so subliminal on many levels that it was a mind boggling. I had to research on the nature of Polanski and his wife relationship (Polanski has a 33 years age gap with his wife) and how they met to get a real feel of what he is trying to communicate in this movie.
In my conclusion, this movie is a fantasy of the director, Polanski and his wife Emmanuelle Seigner. It is the fruition of their love for theater and movies, and their collaboration on this is a milestone on their marriage. It is a classic by itself as Polanski hits the mark on this movie on the themes of dominance and submission, and how a woman is able to manipulate and control a man’s thoughts by his lust for her. The actress humiliates the director as a “pervert” as the director falls deeper into the trap she has woven, for she wants the role badly and isn’t gonna let the director stop her from becoming the lead actress. I highly recommend this movie and it is still in my thoughts although I watched it in 2014. I still knew I have to write a review about it to release it from my mind (that’s the impact of this movie, it leaves your brain spinning with intellectual stimulation). Go watch it.
It is no secret I love cats, and anything to do with cats, including humans acting as cats in a musical. I probably wasn’t born when it first premiered on Broadway, but I believe I had seen the video version when I was a child as certain scenes and songs are familiar to me. My mother would take me to the theatre every weekend, and surround the house with music from those plays that she played on the piano from day to night. Occasionally, she would break out and sing. I remember some of the songs she liked are from this play. Anyway, I was curious to watch Cats as I had heard and listened and been surrounded by it but I haven’t watched the actual play. I believe Catwoman from Batman is partially inspired (or the other way round?) from this play.
After watching Cats and Phantom of the Opera, I believe I have sufficient evidence that Andrew Lloyd Webber is kinky. Firstly, in Cats, ALL the actors are wearing collars! That’s seriously OMG how interesting! That is the first sign of an imprint of kink in a play indirectly caused by the person who created the musical himself. I LOVED the costumes, they are very gothic. There are human cats in corsets, leather boots till the knees, high collar fur coats, and lots and lots of fur of course! The play is worth watching just for the costumes. The music varied and it shifts from contemporary to classical with lots of dancing and no dialogue.
I haven’t quite figured out the storyline towards the end of the play because I was paying too much attention to their dance moves and elaborate cat like behaviour. I must say, if I ever have to choose to act in a broadway play of my choice, I would choose to be in Cats for the reasons above. I will kill myself than act as bimbo-tic Christine (WHY DIDN’T SHE CHOOSE TO BE WITH PHANTOM!) in Phantom of the Opera although that’s the leading female role. I don’t mind being a minor dancer in Cats for the pure ecstasy of dancing, crawling, behaving like a fully expressed human being in the role of a feline creature.
Back to the review, it exceeded my expectations. The set was very modern and unexpected. Some scene changes were unpredictable and I couldn’t predict the story, which is a good from a storytelling perspective, because I have been able to guess the ending of 999/1000 stories I come across. Andrew Lloyd Webber is indeed a genuis for his productions, other than him, I personally like Tim Burton’s movies as well. It’s not by coincidence that I like gothic stuff, because simply gothic is kinky, and kinky is fun.
As I attended the premier night, most of the audience I believe are family and friends of the performers and they were queuing up outside the theater from 7pm on-wards in a queue that extended two blocks. The performers indeed put up their best performance (they will dance at their peak if their family is watching) for their special audience, and knowing this secret now, I will try to catch premiers of any opening shows in future. I spotted a child wearing a feline costume with hand drawn whiskers on her face. Another person was watching a big black CATS T-Shirt. I semi regret not wearing my cat ears, I should do totally do that!
I loved the part when the actors would randomly come to the sides of our chairs and prowl and sing and dance so we can look and listen to them upclose. They call this method of acting “breaking the fourth wall ” which means basically the actors are aware the audience are watching them. Since Deadpool inception and welcoming of breaking of the fourth wall, I believe we will see more of this type of productions in future.
Doing up my new apartment and speaking to contractors gave me insights into the effort and love put into constructing homes. When I see a home now, I see a summary of effort by a group of people who put thought and consideration into each facet (lighting, switches, design of blocks etc), and each invention that made our modern lives more convenient (fridge, television, water filter).
I imagined that in the past, there wasn’t air conditioning or any electronics, and how people lived in low density buildings. The advancement of technology has enabled us to build higher buildings with designer amenities. It’s a crazy jump from how our grand parents lived in the past (villages with wooden houses and townships with two storey buildings), to the modern high rise apartments we have now with nearby air conditioned shopping malls.
What a jump of technological advancement in a short span of 50 years! I wonder what would be the type of buildings and communities we will live in 50 years from now. If given an option to shape the future, I would like to see the advancement of drones shipping our parcels and groceries directly to our living rooms. I would like two seater drone vehicle that I could fly out from my balcony to another building balcony so there is no traffic congestion in the skies. I would also like to see more people working from home, with SOHO home offices as the norm to cut down carbon emissions, and a reduction in car ownership and increase in share ride services such as UBER and flexi express bus systems.
Most jobs would be automated by artificial intelligence by then and most people would be working in jobs that automate processes. Robots would do our house work (such as robot vacuum cleaners now, and in future, personal cleaner robots that do laundry and cooking).
She is releasing a novel (Hourglass Series) yearly and weekly YouTube videos. She does experimental flash fiction on this blog, along with song, movies and character analysis using historical and literature references.
One Million Views on Scarlet Queen YouTube (2015)