Monday, March 21, 2011

Temple Grandin (2010) - Autism

On the plane back from Manila, I had the pleasure of watching this amazing movie " Temple Grandin" which encouraged me and also made me tear. Indeed nothing is impossible. God has a plan for everyone. It had the amazing actress of Claire danes who played the character of Temple Grandin . And that of Julia Ormond who played the character of the mother ever so convincing - she also acted in the curious case of Benjamin Button. Even the four year old temple Jenna Hughes played the character of an autism child so well.

This movie is an extract of a biography of Temple Grandin -

Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Richard Grandin and Eustacia Cutler. She was diagnosed with autism in 1950. Having been labeled and diagnosed with brain damage at age two. At age four, Grandin began talking, and making progress. She considers herself lucky to have had supportive mentors from primary school onwards.
After graduating from Hampshire Country School, a boarding school for gifted children in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1966, Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce University in 1970, her master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and her doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.

Based on personal experience, Grandin advocates early intervention to address autism, and supportive teachers who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions. She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She claims she is a primarily visual thinker and has said that words are her second language. Temple attributes her success as a humane livestock facility designer to her ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of her visual memory. Grandin compares her memory to full-length movies in her head that can be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details. She is also able to view her memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows. Her insight into the minds of cattle has taught her to value the changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive, and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal-handling equipment.
Grandin is considered a philosophical leader of both the animal welfare and autism advocacy movements. Both movements commonly cite her work regarding animal welfare, neurology, and philosophy. She knows all too well the anxiety of feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings, and of being dismissed and feared, which motivates her in her quest to promote humane livestock handling processes.

I love her quote
“if I could snap my fingers and become nonautistic I would not do so. Autism is part of who I am.”

In this movie, it truly embodies what was quoted.
Temple Grandin tells the story of a young autistic woman, Temple Grandin (Claire Danes), in a time when autism was not very well understood. The movie pulls us to follow the journey of autism influence from her early school years to her getting her Master of Science. Through her life, she faces her struggles and challenges where people do not understand what she sees - where her understanding comes through pictures. Her social awkwardness attracts weird looks from people which causes her immense distress.

(In the movie, it reminds me of my volunteering in Christian Outreach of the Handicap (COH) where I had volunteered quite often in my university days. How we teach them to recognize things to buy from the supermarkets via pictures, where we held their hand and let them feel things to understand what it exactly is - some people might not understand - but put yourself in their shoes - that if it were you- and you understood but not in the way others do, people laugh at you - would you like that? Instead, show more concern! Sometimes to express themselves, they shout in public and their parents try to calm them down - instead of looking at them and giving weird looks - why not try and help or simply just walk away treating it like a tantrum of a normal child? )

Temple's autism allows her to be more in touch with her senses and hence is able to form pictures in her mind.

Temple came up with reasons for cattle’s behavior and to come up with a behavioral tool that is still used today in the cattle industry. - how to calm them down, and how to make them feel less threatened etc

Throughout the movie, each time she accomplishes something. I felt like clapping my hands in glee and cheering for her. I know its hard and I am so glad that she walked through it and made it work for her.
The quote still stays in my mind each time she meets with an obstacle, she envisions it to be a door and says " A door opened and I went through it"

And I am so touched where she commended her mother. (In the last part, Grandin points out that her mother is the true hero and her success came about because her mother did not give up on her.) This is the strongest and most meaningful message within Temple Grandin – parents of autistic children should not give up hope! Sure, raising an autistic child can be a tremendous and frustrating challenge. Just because a child has autism does not mean that they are not talented or worthy of a normal life. Autistic children think and learn differently than other children, and that needs to be taken into consideration by parents and teachers.

I still remembered when I was volunteering with APSN and COH. One of them completed a marathon! I was so proud of him. It was like re-watching the korean movie- Marathon (Hangul: 말아톤, Maraton) (2005) is a South Korean movie based on the true story of Bae Hyeong-jin, a runner who happens to have autism - another excellent movie which till date, is such a great encouragement to me.

if you want to watch the full movie: here it is: Part 1

To end off, should you get impacted by these movies.
Here are 2 places where I know you can volunteer in Singapore for Autistic children

Christian Outreach of the Handicap




Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aftershock 唐山大地震

After my visitation to China, I was recommended to this local movie " 唐山大地震“ Aftershock.
I am not sure if this would be right to write a review about it now when an actual earthquake disaster has hit our neighboring countries, New Zealand and Japan.
What made me watch this movie was the storyline about a mother having to choose between 2 of her children, where she can only choose 1. Who should she choose? And as a child who was abandon, do you have the right to feel the hatred - after all if it was you who got saved , is it fair? Either way, it's a grey area.

English Synopsis
This movie was directed by Feng Xiaogang, the nation’s most commercially successful director.It tells the story of a mother, Yuan Ni, and her daughter and son, Fang Zeng and Fang Da, and how their lives are forever changed by a historic early morning earthquake in 1976.

Favoritism is slowly evident in the movie- where the mother gives the only fruit left to the son and tells the daughter that she will buy it for her another time.

The earthquake hits and both parents rush home in hopes of rescuing their children. Just as Yuan Ni is about to run into their residential building as its coming down, her husband pulls her back and runs in instead, only to be crushed, but saving her life.All alone, she start searching for her children. Rescuers find them buried and trapped in the rubble.

The rescuers eventually conclude that only one child can be saved, that to save one would crush the other, and the mother must make an impossible choice but a choice nonetheless. Respectably, she agonizes forever, insisting that at first that both be saved, but as the rescue workers get tired of waiting for her to come around to reality, and are called to go help rescue others, she decides and chooses her son. Fang Zeng, still alive, still conscious, but unable to say anything with the slab of concrete crushing down on her, overhears.

As the rain falls and hydrates her lips, Fang Zeng awakes to find herself left all alone - with her dead father beside her.
Thankfully, the soldier rescuers take her as their own and raise her up.

However, this hatred and disappointment in her mother's choice is a deep memory in her life and she bears this unforgiveness for a long long time... till another earthquake happens in her hometown again and she found her brother there...

She goes back to her old house where her mother has continued staying, harboring the hope that one day her husband and her daughter will come back. Indeed her daughter did. Both parties beg for forgiveness from one another - and the movie ends with a final thought in everyone's mind : if it was I, what would I have done?

Chinese Synopsis
1976年7月27日夜,唐山地区爆发7.8级强烈地震,房屋倒塌,灾民无数。面对即将坍塌的危楼,丈夫方大强(张国强 饰)和妻子李元妮(徐帆 饰)都要去救被困的龙凤胎儿女方登(张子枫 饰)、方达(张家骏 饰)。危急时刻,方大强拦住了妻子,冲进去营救时不幸罹难。李元妮在震后发现,一双儿女被困在一块水泥板两端,若要营救,必然牺牲一方。情急之下,她做出了艰难选择——救弟弟。此事成为方登心中难以磨灭的隐痛。后来,她被军人王德清(陈道明 饰)夫妇收养。高考后,方登(张静初 饰)进入杭州医学院学习,并与研究生师兄杨志(陆毅 饰)产生了感情……方达被救却断了胳膊,李元妮以无私的母爱抚养他成人。成年后的方达(李晨 饰)去杭州闯荡,娶了媳妇小河(王子文 饰),并干出了一番事业。32年后,这家人的命运却因为5·12汶川地震再次发生了交叠.

A preview

Personally I had very high expectations for the movie - and I found the actors and actresses amazing and the cinematography were nice - however it did not draw me like I felt it would. Probably they should have more twists in the movie - more emotions when the brother met his sister once again - when the mother met her daughter once again - found that a little lacking towards the end.

But all in all, a good movie with good characters.

The backstage scenes

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TNP Filmfest (Local Films)

Have always been a ardent supporter of local films!
Here's a chance how you can support as well.

TNP has organised a film submission contest. Many wonderful local entries!
Vote for your fave FFF film and win! @ VOTE HERE :)
Dateline: Before midnight on March 15.
Simply treat yourself to a movie marathon by watching all the FFF entries that have been put up on YouTube
[ Below: I have attached the few videos which I find interesting ]
To view all, Filmfest Channel

If you voted for the most popular film, you could be the lucky winner of a one-night stay in a Premier Loft at the Studio M Hotel.
The winner will also be invited to join in the festivities at our March 17 Shanghai Dolly gala awards ceremony and receive his prize there.

Support local films!

You are my inspiration - Touching. It always start somewhere.

Reminisce - In memories of..
This film reminds me of the incident of the bride whose husband was drunk and was found dead in the hotel on their wedding day and eventually she committed sucide a few months after.

Valentine Day - Memories are such a scary thing - it never lets you go.

Back. - Rest in Peace. Go.

Unspoken - speaks volumes about " words can encourage a person but can also hurt a person so deep that it can never heal" between a family- it just makes it ever worse

家 - parents are the role models. Do it right.

The Requiem - Poems just like songs - be the words that you cannot say or confess to.

Soul-searching machine - feels like contemporary dancing - where the dance portays a story." Every soul will still look for its true self despite of their shapes and sizes assigned for their manifestation."

Triangle - "we often adore someone who ignore us and ignore someone who adore us."

Lucified - A police officer being left behind and trys to backtrack in his mind as to what happened

RYAN - About a boy who is obsessed with his game that he walks, talks and sleep in the world of his game

Try - A reflection of an drug addict in society I love the ending: "Not in a society that spits in the face of my addiction instead of a helping hand. - This isn't a suicide. You killed me."

Ordinary - Reaisation of being a routine

Triple X- Funny film. Triple X movie mistaken as mature content ( haha )

Haris Othman -

Paranoia - Interesting way of illustrating how fear and paranoia always grips us and make us think otherwise. Stereotypes that we can't help and ignore.

The Delivery -

Opportunity - Links message of saving the environment with images

Edit Me! - Its like the movie - Click -

Andrew Fong - the life of a pregnant father - to thank all single mothers and parents on how great they are.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

Read a fantastic book this week - made me think about life. made me cry till my eyes were so swollen I needed an icepack to make the swell go down.

Its an old book by Jodi Picoult that I only manage to borrow now - My Sister's keeper
( Libraries, Kindly have more of her books - she is such an amazing writer!)

The book is about 2 sisters in a family - one sister called Kate who is sick with lukemia while another sister Anna is not sick, but was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate. By the age thirteen, Anna has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can live longer (against the disease) The question is: Is this fair for Anna? Anna goes to court to fight for her rights for medical emanicipation. It may seem to many others that it is a selfish gesture trying to run away from helping her sister. However the story unravels that the sick sister was the one that told her to not continue being a donor for her as she is tired of all the treatments. As the truth is being told, the parents try to absorb this news and Anna signs the rights.

Anna is involved in an accident and is annouced brain dead and the story ends with Anna giving up her body parts - and her sick sister is now recovering - yet the family lives in the memories of Anna : who tried to be the support for everyone in the family but was not given an actual chance to live life.

( Gosh I am crying again)

My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life… even if that means affecting the life of another?

And as a parent, seeing your child suffer from lukemia yet being so helpless and still having to put on this strong front - should you end this suffering now or hold the hope that she might have a possibility of being healthy once again. And in focusing your care all on this child, have you neglected the care of the other children who is also growing up and needs the love. Please don't make them feel like they are invisible. They are children who have a chance to live, help and guide them to live!

And as the person that is sick, having to bear the burden knowing how much medical cost it is to your family, seeing the worry etch on the faces of your family - I guess thats why so many people attempt to commit suicide when they face with sickness. Yet when they do so and people accuses them of being selfish, is it selfish to want to let your family be happy again, to not have them spend so much money on you knowing that there might be relapse or that you might never be healthy again? I wonder what is right? Of course I understand that God has given us life - and that we should never give up on life - but at the expense of others? close ones? This is a question that I can't answer.

And also to the children who have sick siblings, you are not invisible! Tell your parents how you feel, you might feel selfish for doing that, but parents don't know unless you tell them. All children always put on a facade to protect one self from greater disappointment. Even for children from a broken home, where they fight or commits offence, perhaps its the attention they need, perhaps its just a listening ear, a hug, but always remember people become a certain way because of reasons - peel off the reasons and don't judge them.

=> This book really brought tears to my eyes. Got reminded of the recent deaths and sickness that I have witness. 2 of my friends' parent passed away from cancer and my neighbor's daughter having lukemia.

A fantastic book that I wanted to share! Make me think alot about life.

A movie also came out (I prefer the book though but the movie was good as well)

Parents played by Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric
Kate played by Sofia Vassilieva and Anna played by Abigail Breslin

Sunday, March 6, 2011

OCBC Cycle 2011

Been wanting to do the OCBC Cycle challenge since many years ago but never got around to it. This year 2011 - I did it. The Nissan 40km challenge! Thank God it was not the 60km super challenge - I might have died. Its not the distance but the speed combined with the distance. Imagine 30-35km/hr all the way for the 40km. And with my back problem, my legs were numb and I couldn't even straighten my back properly after that. But it was such a great experience. I loved it!

The race started at 715am at F1 Pit so I had to drag my lazy body out of bed at 4.30am to eat breakfast then meet my friends at SMU to ride together to F1.

Reached F1 around 6.45am - it was already packed with people with their road bikes and their carbon frames and their aerodynamic fronts. ( other than mine - a hybrid bike)- it makes me so wanna buy a new bike. Haha... Probably if I find a good deal.

We had to walk quite abit to our starting line. Its was around 6.58am when we reached our starting line so we had to wait till 7.15am for the flag off.

And finally- 7.13am (The announcement 2 minutes to your flag off - Everyone get ready! ) [Siren sounds ]- And off we went!

The headwinds were so strong- something I did not anticipate in Singapore riding.
I could literally hear the gushing of the wind at my ear. I tried to find someone to draft but everyone was moving along so fast constantly!
My backs ached like crazy and I had to constantly stand up on my bike to stretch my back. And with the winds and the speed I was going ( or trying to go) I had to keep drinking water to hydrate myself.

Several incidents along the way:
I found a person to draft behind and suddenly his tire burst, It was like an explosion and I had to suddenly swerve out of the way. Luckily I managed to. Though it nearly caused me to collide with the other cyclists coming up behind me.

Muscle cramps that made me have to slow down a little and drink more water and do some one leg cycling and one leg stretching exercises.

Such an achievement. Especially since I have not been cycling much.
A full SMU Current batch, alumni batch and graduating batch

For those who want to enjoy the ride leisurely, there is the 20km community challenge where you can ride with your family or friends.
If you want this day to be a special one for your children, there is even 100m tricycle ride and 5km mighty savers kids ride.

A brief outline of the routes

The event was quite well-organized. Will consider next years' one too!

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