I am a fan of Tom Cruise, but I thought The Last Samurai was boring and overly sentimentalized.
The patronizing characterization of the Japanese as savages transformed into blind idealization of the Japanese as being actually quite lovely and graceful and heroic, which is just as patronizing.
Technology is depicted as inherently, thoroughly bad because it can magnify the consequences of unjust wars.
The emperor of Japan was portrayed as spineless, right up until the end, where suddenly he cared about the protagonist and his Samurai rebel leader friend.
I like fight scenes that are clever and funny, but all these were either loud, chaotic, and bloody, or slo-mo and serious. Nothing in the movie was funny. I was bored by the entire thing and had to go and get something to do while watching it. Not a winner.
Roger Ebert disagrees with me.
This is Guan Yu. I saw this Guan Yu statue at Just Anthony (a Chinese furniture and antique shop) a few months after arriving in Singapore, though I didn’t know who he was.
I took the photo because I though it was exceedingly strange for a warrior to be shown in a pose reading a book. Warriors, I thought, were shown on prancing horses, holding swords or spears, or surveying the landscape. They’re not shown reading.
Ah, but you see, he’s a legendary Chinese general, and he’s reading Sun Tzu’s Art of War. That makes sense!
Figurines and statues of Guan Yu are common, since Guan Yu is commonly worshipped as a deity, or at least displayed as a kind of lucky charm. Most of the time, Guan Yu is shown riding his horse like a boss, wielding his special weapon like a boss, or just scowling and holding his very dignified beard, but some of the time, he’s shown seated, reading a book like a boss.
Hats off to you, Guan Yu, for choosing to fight with your brains and not just your brawn.
Singapore has a reputation for strict laws that stipulate fines for mildly annoying misdeeds. It’s also known as a place where people enjoy durians, which are a particularly stinky kind of fruit with spiky skin.
What cracks me up every time I see a sign like this one (on the wall of the Chinatown MRT station) is that when you look at it, you naturally expect the punishment for the offense on the bottom right to be the worst, and… there’s nothing there!
Not listing any penalty on the sign leaves the imagination free to invent something maximally terrible. Like… execution.
What exactly do they do to you if you bring a durian on the MRT?
Better never find out.