Category Archives: My Opinion

Wandering (2022) – A Japanese Arthouse Movie So Good / My Afterthoughts

I love arthouse movies. They got me thinking long after I left the movie theater, reminiscing scene after scene. The synopsis of Wandering (or The Wandering Moon) captured my attention.

In a park on a rainy evening, a 19-year-old university student, Fumi, offers an umbrella to a soaking wet 10-year-old girl, Sarasa. Realizing her reluctance to go home, Fumi lets her stay in his place, where she spends the next two months in peace. They take each other’s hands and seem to have finally found their place in the world until Fumi is arrested for kidnapping. Fifteen years later, the lonely two are reunited both still suffering from the stigma as the victim and perpetrator of “a pedophile case”. Will society give a place to the unshakable bond they have formed?

A movie I hope I will watch again in the future.

The male leading character Fumi is played by Tori Matsuzaka while the 9 and 24-year-old female leading characters Sarasa are played by Tamaki Shiratori and Suzu Hirose respectively. All three are great actors. Fumi is struggling with a secret that he vows to take to his grave. A perpetually constrained personality with rare bursts of emotion at crucial story-defining moments. On the topic of “pedophiles”, every movement, every word, and every thought of Fumi is being scrutinized by the audience. You can see him struggling throughout 150 mins of the movie duration. As an audience, I was constantly being asked to evaluate: is he or is he not a pedophile?

The young Sarasa wants to live freely. She yarns for that. She too carries a secret that she reveals to Fumi during her two months of stay at his apartment. The older Sarasa wants to move on with her life and her past and just live the life that people expect her to live. Marry a decent man, start a family, earn a living, and stay happy.

15 years later, both have their respective relationships but neither is happy. The timeline of young and older Sarasa juxtaposed against each other, throughout the entire movie, as the scriptwriter carefully explains the story while working with the audience to jointly arrive at a conclusion.

What a beautiful plot.

Spoiler-free writeup end here, be warned!

There are some afterthoughts. And yes, it has spoilers.

  • I like how Fumi explains to a young girl that he doesn’t like grown women (but does not admit that he likes young girls). And Fumi doesn’t admit to his ex-girlfriend that he doesn’t like grown women. Instead in a rare outburst, he admits that he likes young girls. I still don’t think he meant it in a pedophile way when he said he liked young girls. I believe that he wanted his ex-girlfriend to have closure (like admitting that he ‘used’ her, which I don’t think is entirely true).
  • I like how the scriptwriter introduces Ryo – a domestic violent man – as Fumi’s boyfriend. That is a massive contrast between Fumi who has never laid a finger on Sarasa versus Ryo who has beaten Sarasa very violently. Who is the abuser? To whom is the victim?
  • I like how the two timelines almost mirror to one another – event by event.
  • Fumi tells Sasara, “Never let others own your life. You are the owner of your life.” I love that.
  • And Fumi never runs away from Sasara. That emotional moment by the beach with them holding hands.
  • I love how as an audience, I went from “he is not a pedophile, is he?” to “OK, he may like young girls” to “Uh oh, he is a pedophile so what’s next” to finally, “Ah, that’s why we thought he is a pedophile”. That ending of revealing Fumi’s secret is priceless.
  • The ending also explains the title of the movie, which is so good. What if the community does not accept us? Just keep wandering elsewhere.
  • Can love transcend sex? This story says love can.

Apple AirPods Pro Gen 2 versus Jabra Elite 75t

Okay. Let’s keep it short and sweet. Jabra Elite 75t is no march to Apple Airpods Pro Gen 2, except perhaps the fitting. We shall get there in a bit. Also, do note that these two earbuds are one generation apart, with Apple’s being the latest.

What an upgrade from Jabra to Apple.

First and foremost, my earbuds should allow me to make phone calls. Jabra is terrible. My voice is always too soft. Without ANC for my mic, it is impossible to use Jabra when I’m outside.

I am an audiophile. I would say that Airpods has better clarity. But Jabra has better bass and fuller sound, albeit a bit muffled. It is down to personal preference I would say. Also, Airpods by default switch on ANC. Jabra has to do it every time you put on your earbuds.

What is good about my Jabra is the fitting. It sits very nicely in my ears. I can’t say the same with my Airpods. It fell off my ear once. I have tried out the default medium tips. They have passed the fitting test. I have also tried out the large tips. They have also passed the fitting test. For a better result, I need to clean my ear with tissue paper prior to wearing my Airpods so that they won’t come loose. That is not very environmentally friendly.

I suppose in life, you just can’t have everything.

Sonos Roam – An Honest Review

Update Apr 24th – After 1 week of using Sonos Roam, this product has stopped working. It just cannot be switched on. I shall update this post once the tech team has resolved this issue.

I am among the first batch of consumers in Singapore to receive Sonos Roam after more than a month of waiting through pre-order. TLDR – It is a superb product with great sound quality supported by innovative technology. It is especially fun and useful working in conjunction with other Sonos products. Yes, you can bring it outdoor and play sound through Bluetooth. After one week of usage, Roam has stopped working and cannot be switched on. There may be quality issue especially with the first batch that you may need to be aware off.

Sonos Roam compared to Sonos One SL. Same price, different purposes.

The Sonos Ecosystem

When it comes to Sonos, it is always about building it up slowly by modules if you have a budget constraint (or when you want to test out the suitability of the products). My first Sonos product was Playbar. The sound was amazing. Then I added a Sonos Sub. I love the punchy bass. After that, I have added a Sonos One SL for my study room and another Sonos One SL for my bedroom.

I was tempted by Sonos Move, which is battery-powered and hence, portable. But it is a bit too bulky for me to carry around and outside my home. Now, here comes Sonos Roam.

Why Sonos Roam?

When Sonos Roam was announced, I have made an immediate pre-order. What attracts me is that Roam is small enough to be truly portable. It also can bounce music back and forth to existing Sonos speakers. All you need to do is to hold it close to another speaker and hold the play button. It can also create that stereo or spatial sound effect with my Sonos One SL. How do I use Roam every day you may ask.

In the morning, I would bring Sonos Roam to the bathroom. After my shower, I would bring it to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. I would then bring it to the balcony as I have my breakfast. Afterward, I would head over to the study room and bounce the music from Roam onto One SL and I would start to get ready for my work from home.

In the evening, I would group Sonos Roam with my Playbar and Sub (in the living room) and listen to music with a glass of wine in the dining area. Grouping speakers that way create a much fuller sound especially when I am not sitting directly in front of the speaker.

It is really fun to use Roam not just for bouncing music back and forth to or grouping it with existing Sonos speakers. Taking it outside my home, I could use it through Bluetooth connectivity.

Sonos Roam vs Sonos One SL

Believe it or not, both are very similar in terms of sound quality. I can set up a spatial effect with One SL on one side and Roam on the other and I can’t tell the difference.

One SL has a bigger sound, of course, due to its build. Also, Sonos One SL has a touch design while Sonos Roam’s buttons are physical clicks. It is much easier to skip or rewind a track for One SL while for Roam, I need to click the play button two or three times.

Both are of the same price here in Singapore. One SL requires a power cable while Roam doesn’t. Each has its purpose.

In Summary

It is a strong recommendation. If you already have a Sonos system, Roam is a fun addition and it is practical. If not, it is good to start with Roam and slowly build it up from there.

Pros

  • Superb sound quality.
  • Portable around the home and can play through Bluetooth outdoor.
  • Fun to bounce music back and forth from existing Sonos speakers at home. Just hold it close and press and hold play!
  • Great to group with existing Sonos speakers for a much bigger sound.

Cons

  • Build quality issue. Sonos Roam has stopped working after one week of usage. The orange charging light goes off after a few seconds of connection with a wired charger. Roam cannot be switched on at all even as the device is being charged. Sonos app cannot detect the product.
  • Not a Sonos Roam problem per se, it is always frustrating to use Spotify (Android) with Sonos products. Especially with Roam, the track on the Spotify app would appear to have stopped playing but the music would continue. I could use the Sonos app to play Spotify but that Sonos app doesn’t allow me to like songs in Spotify and add tracks onto my playlist. Also, connecting to Sonos speakers directly through Spotify can at times be frustrating. It just wouldn’t connect at first try.
  • I have experienced random music stoppage when connecting Sonos Roam through Bluetooth.
  • In theory, I could project sound via Bluetooth (e.g. YouTube) to my entire Sonos wifi-enable system through Roam. But I have experienced sound stuttering that could be due to my midrange phone. It is a novelty that I see little usage.

A Werewolf Boy – A 2012 Korean Movie

I don’t usually fancy random notifications that stream into my mobile phone. When VIU notified me that A Werewolf Boy is now available for streaming, my natural instinct kicked in, and just when I was about to ignore the notification, the words “Park Bo-young” caught my eyes.

A 2012 Korean movie featuring Park Bo-young.

She is an award-winning actress in Korea – though you must know by now that in South Korea, there are lots and lots of competitions from music to movies to TV-series to what-have-you.

I am a huge fan of Park Bo-young and have been watching her TV series whenever available. Here in Singapore though, K-dramas or K-movies especially the older ones can be limited.

Hence, I have got to give it to VIU and their well-crafted notification (as words are limited). Last night I have attempted to watch A Werewolf Boy but I fell asleep shortly after it had started. This afternoon, I was more alert and have watched the entire 2-hour movie in one go.

While it is an eight years old movie, I still enjoyed watching it. I am familiar with how werewolf themed stories work in the Western world. And it is refreshing to see it from the Korean’s perspective.

OK. Spoilers from this point onwards.

Song Joong-ki played the werewolf boy. His acting was superb. He really acted like … an animal not being able to speak or write and behaved like an untamed wolf. And the trigger for him to transform from his human form is when his loved one was endangered.

Neat eh?

Somehow, in this Korean version, the werewolf was created through a secret government project in an attempt to create super soldiers. I don’t really get why there is only one of them.

Not surprisingly, Park Bo-young was the one who could tame the werewolf.

At the end, when Park Bo-young asked the werewolf boy to wait for her return, the boy waited for decades.

Oh my.

He really loved her.

And yes, Park Bo-young’s acting is amazing, as ever.

A Chinese Novel “Forget You, I Cannot” by 寧靜 – 忘記你我做不到

I have picked up this book from either Hong Kong or Taiwan a long time ago. Three unrelated orphans – one boy and two girls – had been adopted by a couple in Hong Kong. Can these orphans fall in love with each other while maintaining family love at the same time? What if their adopted parents understood and supported such a notion? Would their love ultimately destroy the very family that brought them together?

A Chinese novel

The story started off light as the kids grew up together. But it gets darker when the youngest sister – also the rebellious one – fell in love with her brother but her brother and her elder sister have already fallen in love with each other.

Forget You, I Cannot is a story told from the youngest sister’s perspective. This book is a page-turner. There are a good number of plot twists to keep me hooked till the end.

The story is also a tragedy, which is hinted at through the preface. For those who do not read Chinese, here is my attempt to translate the preface for you.

This is my confession.

In my moment when life and death coexist, I write this so that I can see clearly the things that I have done are so stupid and ignorant.

In my memory, he is small as dust. So small that can be stuck in every corner, living in every space.

Because of loving him, I keep on doing my best, but also keep on doing the wrong things. In the end, he is far away from me; he hates me so much.

Therefore, I always think that the most pathetic person in this world is me. In fact, the one who has shaped my current self is no one but me.

My youth can no longer reach the time when it should have blossomed, now withered and destroyed.

Too bad, we can only live once.

I want to see him – my brother – and tell him that I am sorry. But I know an apology is just an apology. It does not wipe away my mistakes.

Darkness has come too early. The waking hours are coming too late.

There is nowhere to turn back. All I can see now is Heaven and Earth.”

Preface from the book 忘記你我做不到 written by 寧靜