More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Review - The Dark Knight


There was a lot of hype surrounding The Dark Knight due to the untimely death of one of Hollywood's rising stars, Australia's own Heath Ledger. All that hype has translated into box office success, with The Dark Knight gaining the highest opening weekend box office revenue in the US. I'm glad to say though, not only is the film a financial success, it's also a critical success.

All the reviews I had read before seeing the film all praised how good a film it was. Most had claimed that this film is probably the best film of this superhero genre. I would have to agree. The story and acting made this film a delight to watch, even at a lengthy two and half hours.

This film picks off where Batman Begins had ended. Gotham city has been cleaned of many criminals, but that has meant that the mafia have all joined forces and are working together to terrorise Gotham city. Batman (Christian Bale) is still in the picture, but he is torn between what to do. This uncertainty in Batman's own action is constant throughout most of the film. Batman is struggling with what he thinks is helping the city, but also being judged unfairly by the citizens as a vigilante. He, like us mere mortals, does not liking being wrongly accused and hated.

Hence, Batman sees the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Echkart) as the saviour for Gotham city. He is the white knight to his dark knight. Dent can show his face in public and be the saviour and moral compass that the citizens can rely on.

And this is where the story becomes interesting for me. The new villian, The Joker (Heath Ledger) is hired by the mafia to stop Batman and basically run amuck in the city. However, The Joker is not driven by greed, he is driven by his own quest to prove that humanity is flawed and that any man can be turned from good to bad and do unthinkable evils. At every stage, The Joker tests Batman and the citizens and tries to make them turn on each other. Ultimately though, he wants to turn Dent from a saviour to a killer.

The constant psychological mind games is what makes this movie great for me. We, the audience are unsure whether to feel sorry for The Joker or hate him. His past is a blur of many lies and a truth hidden somewhere in between. His efforts to turn Dent into evil is a journey that takes the audience into many dark places.

The supporting cast all do a good job. Michael Caine is the dependable Alfred again, with some of the funnier lines in the movie. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Lucius Fox and also does a solid job. Gary Oldman's James Gordon is now a lieutenant and again plays a prominent role in trying to catch The Joker. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. Maggie's Rachel seems to lack the fight that Katie Holmes brought to the role. Aaron Eckhart does a great job in portraying both sides to Harvey Dent. Christian Bale has again embodied Batman well, although his prescence in this film is less than in Batman Begins I feel. However, the movie definitely belongs to Heath Ledger. It's no wonder the critics are raving about a possible oscar for him. His portrayal is so astounding. There were so many moements during the film that I was totally captivated and just forgot it was Heath Ledger behind that make up. The vocalisation, body movement and facial expressions from Ledger just made The Joker so multi-dimensional, it was amazing. This may be remembered for Ledgers final and best role.

The interplay between Batman, Harvey Dent and The Joker with its dark tones makes this one of the best superhero movies. The constant pyschological warfare being wagered amongst the main protagonists is a delight to watch. The audience is left guessing as to what the final fate for each character is. The ending is not as you expect. It shows that humans are fallable and that even the best of us can be made weak.

Rating: ****/5. A dark movie with great characters.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Secrets And Lies

"Happiness lies in your own hand, It took me much too long to understand, How it could be, Until you shared your secret with me" Madonna - Secret

"Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies" Fleetwood Mac - Little Lies

Two flaws of human nature is that we tend to keep secrets and tell lies. These two traits both play their roles, but can also cause a lot of problems when things get uncovered. Lets explore how each of these affect us, and how they both combine to bring out the worse outcome.

Secrets, we all have them. I defy anyone (who doesn't have a mental disability) to say that they don't have secrets. If anyone said that, I would say that they are lying. Unless you have a very bad mental disability that stops your brain from functioning "normally", you will have secrets.

Each person is an individual and we have things that we wish to keep to ourselves or only share with selected people. A secret in itself is not harmful, it's only when that secret gets exposed. And exposed it usually gets. The problem with humans keeping secrets is that we're not good at it. We want to share the secret, share the joy or share the burden. It's hard to keep a secret as it's a big weight to hold up. The burden of knowing something that affects others, or affects others judgement of you is not an easy thing to carry.

This is where lying comes into it. Usually, to cover up secrets, we tell lies. The lies could be small, or white lies as people call it, or it could be something huge such as "Brad, you're actually adopted". If you've seen Liar Liar starring Jim Carrey, telling the truth all the time also is not a good strategy. This is because humans are emotional and will take offence to things that are not favourable to us. And the truth tends to be less than favourable. So lying has it's place. But you have to pick and choose when to lie and how servere the lie is. People tend to tell the truth to others that they trust. It's a sign of respect and a way to bond closer. However, when lies are caught out, the consequences are usually not good. People can get hurt or into trouble. Relationships can break down and all parties involved may not trust each other again.

When you combine both secrets and lies in the workplace, well you have a volatile mix that can explode in everyone's faces. The fact that we spend so much time with our work mates, we may think that we can trust them. But really, you are only seeing people from one perspective. To really see what someone is like, you need to see them in their natural environment. It's like David Attenborough watching the real way lions interact in the jungle as opposed to watching caged lions in a zoo. So we're often lured into a false sense of trust and share secrets with work mates, that can then lead to lying, which can then turn around to bite us. We have to keep in mind that our work mates can also be our competitors, each striving to move up in the corporate ladder, and some willing to use secret information to their advantage.

In summary, I think we need to be wary of what secrets we share with others at work. You have to be definite that whoever you are sharing the secret with is someone you can trust. It's always easy to spill a secret than keep one. It's the human nature in us that makes us feel superior to share something unknown to someone else. I admit that I do it too, but you have to know where the line is between things that you can share and things that you can't. It's better not to tell than to risk it exploding in your face. Lying is something that should be treated with even more care. A small lie is probably ok, but trying to be someone you're not can only ever end in disaster. People can see through bullshit very quickly and you will lose the respect of others very fast.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blogging To Happiness

I had written in the past about how blogging is very therapeutic for me. I've long said that the mere act of composing the thoughts and committing them to paper just seems to lighten the burden and worry. Well, there was an article in The Age that there has been a university study that showed that blogging does make you happier.

Blogs, instead of being an anti-social tool where individuals are isolated, are actually a tool for making connections. I find that my blog is a great avenue to make connections with others both in the virtual world and the real world. I'm able to write about varied topics and occasionally someone else will also be interested and discussions will occur. As we all tend to have a limited number of friends who may not necessarily enjoy everything we do, a blog enables me to reach a much wider audience and anyone who chooses to enter the discussion without me forcing it on them.

So I plan to keep blogging so that I can discuss interesting topics with others, remove stress by writing about things that worry me, and give me opinions on various topics.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tour de France 2008

I never thought I would like watching cycling, but this year, I've found myself watching the Tour de France virtually every night. I love seeing the French countryside as I dream of going to France one day. The support from the public is also amazing, with the streets lined from start to finish with supportive people. I have to say, it's also very exciting. Stage 3, from Saint-Malo to Nantes was ultra exciting. A breakaway group of 4 had led bascially from kilometer 1 of the 208 kilometer race. And the commentators kept saying how the main group will probably catch up. But as it got closer and closer to the end, it became apparent that the four breakaway riders would win. As the commentators said, this is a dream for any rider, to be involved in a breakaway and maintain that to win.

Cycling, and especially the tour de france is an extremely strange sport. I don't mean it's strange in terms of what they have to do. In fact, cycling is probably one of the easiest and oldest sports. What I mean is the dynamics that occur in the tour de france. Even though an individual wins the overall race, no individual can win the race. Every single winner in the history of the race has had to rely on their team. And this is what I find so interesting.

In any other individual sports, all competitors enter a race wanting to win. However, in this race, the role of every single rider in a team is to support their number one rider. This means sacrificing themselves and giving protection to their main man and supporting him in any way they can. So you enter a race clearly knowing that you won't win, or have little intention of winning. This race is probably one of the hardest in the world, and to work your body to the extremes to help someone else in an "individual" race is very honourable. I'm sure they get paid well, but it's not easy to ride for a "team" when one man then gets all the glory.

This race also highlights comraderie in sport. Just due to the extreme nature of the sport and how much time the riders spend together, they do develop a mutual respect for each other. They will give their drink to another man who hasn't got one, one teams repair car team will help another teams man who has broken down, the riders won't attack when a rider has fallen etc. It's a uniting experience to undergo something so stressful on your body. I can't even imagine driving my car a few hundred kilometers each day, let alone sit on a tiny uncomfortable seat and peddling my guts out. These athletes are truly gutsy. As to how "clean" they are in terms of drugs, only they will know.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Still Alive

Wow, it's been over two weeks since my last post. I don't think there are any regular readers of this blog. But if there is, I'm still alive. Just been having too much fun and therefore no time to blog.

Here's a quick note on some things.

* Indiana Jones and The Whatever is very boring. I slept through some of it.
* Get Smart was better than I expected. It was quite funny and true to the style of the original series.
* Flight of the Conchords is the funniest show on TV at the moment.
* Go Hawks, we finally have a chance to win the flag.
* I really like macarons now. They're not so hard to make after all.
* I hope I get a pay rise during this coming work performance review. I'm not sure where my career is headed. I don't know what I want to do?
* The Amazing Race is back on. I really want to go on a holiday, but don't have enough money. Paris (the city, not the person), I will see you one day soon.
* Saving money is so hard. I've tried to be frugal this month, but have already spent nearly $800 in half a month.
* Tax time is coming up. I'm not looking forward to doing my personal and business tax at all. I might need an accountant this time. I'm also going to have to pay heaps of tax, damn.
* I went on a couple of training courses at AIM on Fitzroy Street. Their lunches are really good. The training was ok too. I'm now more assertive and can speak in public better.
* The Euro Championships was quite good. I stayed up to watch quite a few games. Guus Hiddink is a genius.
* Wimbledon is on. I hope Federer wins again. He's looking a bit shaky but he's still in it. A Englishman might also win the cup in a long time in Andy Murray. There's been heaps of massive shock exits from the top players this year. It makes things interesting.
* Currently I'm listening to Jordin Sparks, the youngest American Idol winner. I also like listening to Sam Sparro, an up and coming Aussie artist. Black and Gold is the catchiest song at the moment.
* Finally, I'm getting quite fat now. I really need to exercise and eat less.