Lady Windermere’s Fan

Lady Windermere's Fan

A typical Oscar Wilde play, this is one of the wittiest works imaginable, and is the origin of many famous quotes such as “I can resist everything except temptation” and “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” Although this play might not be as famous as The Importance of Being Earnest, and it might not have as sophisticated a plot, it is most certainly as witty, and has also more social commentary.

LORD WINDERMERE: Ah, Margaret, only trust me! A wife should trust her husband!

LADY WINDERMERE: London is full of women who trust their husbands. One can always recognise them. They look so thoroughly unhappy. I am not going to be one of them.

Here is another awesome passage, this time on superficiality:

LADY WINDERMERE: Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.

LORD DARLINGTON: I, Lady Windermere? […] I am quite miserable, Lady Windermere. You must tell me what I did.

LADY WINDERMERE: Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening.

LORD DARLINGTON: Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They’re the only things we can pay.

LADY WINDERMERE: No, I am talking very seriously. You mustn’t laugh, I am quite serious. I don’t like compliments, and I don’t see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when he says to her a whole heap of things he doesn’t mean.

LORD DARLINGTON: Ah, but I did mean them.

LADY WINDERMERE: I hope not. I should be sorry to have to quarrel with you, Lord Darlington. I like you very much, you know that. But I shouldn’t like you at all if I thought you were what most other men are. Believe me, you are better than most other men, and I sometimes think you pretend to be worse.

LORD DARLINGTON: We all have our little vanities, Lady Windermere.

LADY WINDERMERE: Why do you make that your special one?

LORD DARLINGTON: Oh, nowadays so many conceited people go about Society pretending to be good, that I think it shows rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides, there is this to be said. If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.

It is Lady Windermere’s very dislike of compliments that leads to the farcical temptation quote:

LORD DARLINGTON: Ah. what a fascinating Puritan you are, Lady Windermere!

LADY WINDERMERE: The adjective was unnecessary, Lord Darlington.

LORD DARLINGTON: I couldn’t help it. I can resist everything except temptation.

Another charming line is Lord Darlington’s speech on good and bad:

LORD DARLINGTON: Do you know I am afraid that good people do a great deal of harm in the world. Certainly the greatest harm they do is that they make badness of such extraordinary importance. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. I take the side of charming, and you, Lady Windermere, can’t help belonging to them.

Also, near the end of Act 3 are three now-very-famous quotes, quite close together:

DUMBY: I congratulate you, my dear fellow. In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst; the last is a real tragedy! But I am interested to hear she does not love you,. How long could you love a woman who didn’t love you, Cecil?

CECIL GRAHAM: A woman who didn’t love me? Oh, all my life!

DUMBY: So could I. But it’s so much different to meet one.

LORD DARLINGTON: How can you be so conceited, Dumby?

DUMBY: I didn’t say it was a matter of conceit. I said it as a matter of regret. I have been wildly, madly adored. I am sorry I have. It has been an immense nuisance. I should like to be allowed a little time to myself now and then.

LORD AUGUSTUS: Time to educate yourself, I suppose.

DUMBY: No, time to forget all I have learned. That is much more important, dear Tuppy.

LORD DARLINGTON: What cynics you fellows are!

CECIL GRAHAM: What is a cynic?

LORD DARLINGTON: A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

CECIL GRAHAM: And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.

LORD DARLINGTON: You always amuse me, Cecil. You talk as if you were a man of experience.

CECIL GRAHAM: I am.

LORD DARLINGTON: You are far too young!

CECIL GRAHAM: That is a great error. Experience is a question of instinct about life. I have got it. Tuppy hasn’t. Experience is the name Tuppy gives to his mistakes. That is all.

DUMBY: Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.

I had certainly known of all three quotes before, but I never thought they were all located within a page of one another. Now, here are two more Wilde quotes, both located on the page before the previous passage:

DUMBY: Good heavens! how marriage ruins a man! It’s just as demoralising as cigarettes, and far more expensive.

and

LORD DARLINGTON: No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

That makes for five infamous quotes in the span of two pages.

By the way, the title Lady Windermere’s Fan is actually a sort of pun, as the fan could refer to both her physical fan, which Lord Windermere gave to her as a present, and Lord Darlington, who likes her. Again, it is maybe not as funny a pun as The Importance of Being Earnest, but the content is just as clever.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon

Rating: 7/10

A surprisingly good film. By the way, I watched this on the Chicago–Beijing flight.

This animated film had a very convincing plot, excellent plot twist, and a good mix of Viking customs with dragon lore and fantasy. I was delighted by the film’s humor as well, especially in the protagonist’s name—Hiccup—and in the blacksmith’s tone that is jolly no matter the situation.

Hiccup is one of the best animated heroes. This was overall an enjoyable film in every regard. I wasn’t particular impressed by the music, however, though it might be in part due to the airplane’s constant noise, but it was still enjoyable.

Testing Post Through Email

Since the Great Firewall of China is now blocking my WordPress, most likely due to my post “A Greeting from China,” I shall resort to an indirect means of posting—through email. I do have access to my blog via VPN, but if this way is easier, I shall stick with it.

A Greeting from China

Well, I’m in China with Internet connection, and indeed, it’s been rather difficult to get past the Great Firewall—my first two attempts to access Facebook failed. Anyways, here is my travel log of my trip so far, which has been fairly sleepless:

  • Thursday, June 24: Day before the trip. Wake up at 11 am. Sleep at 2 am the next morning. (I actually went to bed at about midnight, but had severe trouble falling asleep. This would foreshadow the next couple days.)
  • Friday, June 25: First day of trip. Wake up after a one-hour sleep at 3 am. Leave for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at 4 am. Austin–Chicago flight from 6 am to 8:15 am. Now here’s the unexpected part: a sudden NINE hour delay on the Chicago–Beijing leg, which will now leave at 8:30 pm instead of 11:25 am. So we spend over twelve hours at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, where I start suffering from sleep deprivation, to which, being a Westwood student, I thought I was immune. By noon I have gone for 25 hours straight with only one hour of sleep. The book I was reading at O’Hare was Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, which didn’t help my mental condition at all—it’s an extraordinarily book of wit and art, but those two are not quite appropriate for the sleep deprived. And imagining Dorian Gray’s madness didn’t help me calm my own. I had at least two hallucinations: one time I repeatedly saw someone in the right corner of my eye, only to find no one there. At 8:30 pm, we finally head off to Beijing.
  • Saturday, June 26: Once on the airplane, I felt much better, and watched five 2010 movies: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, How to Train Your Dragon, Edge of Darkness, Leap Year, and Bounty Hunter, which I rated 4/10, 9/10, 3/10, 5/10, and 2/10 respectively. I shall probably not write full reviews on these. We arrive at Beijing at 11 pm local time, or 10 am Austin/Chicago time. The airport is incredibly modern, and my uncle, who picked us up, explained that all the renovation was done for the 2008 Olympics.
  • Sunday, June 27: We arrive at my cousin’s place in Beijing. At about 1 am local time, I go to sleep. That’s after 49 straight hours with three hours of sleep including a few naps on the plane. Wake up at 9 am, which is considered super-late in China. A few hours later, write this post, and blog it.

(Remember, the previous two articles on this blog, the reviews of Splice and Toy Story 3, were both scheduled posts written back in Austin.)

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3

Rating: 9/10

The only reason I’m not giving this a 10 is because, for me, it does not top the original Toy Story (1995), which is a beautiful film in every respect. This third movie retains mostly the same level of brilliance; however, in the latter half—when the toys were at Sunnyside daycare and when they were making their escape—there were just a few parts that were very predictable, almost unimaginative.

The specific part I didn’t like was at the end of the conveyor belt scene, when the toys were to avoid falling into an incinerator. The beginning of the conveyor belt scene was very nice: to escape a shredder, the toys grab hold of metal objects which are magnetically attracted upward—and even better, Woody and Buzz save Lotso, the main antagonist, out of compassion. Lotso is helpful and seems to turn to the good side, but within a minute turns bad again, leaving the other toys to perish in the incinerator. This I felt was a rather simple characterization of Lotso, and that part and the parts immediately after are very predictable.

That said, the previous paragraph is just some mad, futile criticism for the sake of criticism, solely because I can’t reason out why I liked the original Toy Story better than this one. Perhaps the plot in general was too similar to the first: the main idea is to escape from a building, only the antagonist is changed from Sid (in the first) to Lotso (in the third). I admit I haven’t watched the second.

For some reason the third film evoked more nostalgia for the first film rather than for my life, even though I am exactly in Andy’s position—I just graduated high school, and shall be off to college in less than a month; like Andy, I must leave behind many things. For me, the best moment of the movie came not at the very end, though that was certainly the most emotional, but rather at the escape from the incinerator, when the three-eyed alien toys operate a crane to rescue the others. This is most certainly built in as a reference to the first film, in which the three-eyed aliens were precisely with Andy and Buzz in such a claw crane game (those booths where you operate a claw but always fail to pick up any toys with it), whereupon Sid picks them up. This turn is joyfully ironic because it is now the aliens operating the crane.

The ending is definitely a sad, emotional one, and it will probably be a classic film scene. But because of my blog’s audience, I definitely don’t want to spoil the ending here. Especially for those of you who just graduated in the class of 2010—watch this movie.

Splice (2010)

Splice

Rating: 9/10

A very original sci-fi movie. It pushes the boundaries of science, reality, and ethics, and although it’s perhaps not as field-changing as 2001 or Star Wars, it is certainly innovative in its plot content.

I normally don’t post movie trailers here, but I make an exception here, for this is one trailer you gotta see—it does a surprisingly good job:

What’s really startling is that the trailer’s right—it ISN’T like anything we’ve seen before. The plot is basically that two genetic researchers illegally splice human DNA into a mix of other animals’ DNA, and the result is a creature named Dren (‘nerd’ backwards). Splice is a very believable movie—it could easily happen five or ten years from now, and it’s very scientifically accurate.

Now, onto the rating. The cinematography and acting are fine, and the music is adequate, but there could be more scientific exploration in it: not that the science is wrong, but that there isn’t enough of it. Regarding such science topics, the film covers DNA splicing, accelerated growth, female compassion versus male aggression, natural sex change, nonhuman intelligence, and nonhuman emotion. That might sound like a lot, but it felt inadequate, playing more like a horror movie than science fiction.

Philosophically, however, the movie is very rich. In our current time there are already the issues of animal cloning and human cloning; this movie elevates this with a human-animal hybrid. Another question raised is that of experimentation—to what degree should a scientist become emotionally attached to an experimental organism, as opposed to terminating the organism’s life when it becomes dangerous? Also, as posed in the trailer: Is it morally justified to work on an illegal project because somebody else is probably working on it too? How far should we step out of scientific protocol for academic competition, or perhaps for a more noble goal: to make an important discovery?

There is also, unavoidably, the very disturbing question the film raises about sex. Or as the director put it: “very unconventional sex.” Warning: Spoilers be here, although you probably want to continue reading this paragraph anyway just because of the topic. To be sure, sci-fi films in the past have indeed brought up this topic involving humans and androids (e.g. Blade Runner, though in this case, depending on interpretation of the movie, the human could have been actually an android), but never before involving humans and human/animal hybrids that are the result of DNA splicing. There are two twists as well—first, Dren changes from female to male, and thus has sex with both Clive and Elsa. Second: the original human portion of Dren’s DNA was spliced from Elsa herself. Does that make it incest?

Splice is overall an unconventional film. It very nearly deserves a 10, but it could have covered more in the scientific area. For this I give it a 9, which is so far my highest rating of any film of 2010.