East of Eden (1955)

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I’ve been wanting to watch this for a while, because I’ve been highly interested in catching a movie by the late movie legend James Dean. The movie is also directed by Elia Kazan, the director of my personal favorite movie A Streetcar Named Desire, so I knew that it can’t be that bad.

And I’m impressed. I really am. The story is loosely based on the story of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s first 2 sons. For starters, I’ve always been a sucker for films about sibling rivalry because I think it is a theme that is very difficult to explore and most films/mediums that try to do so always lean towards annoying, over-the-top melodrama *cue korean drama music*. Still, I would recommend a few brilliant films, such as Cries & Whispers (1973) by Ingmar Bergman (which also addresses the cancer sibling storyline in a realistic manner without the melodrama) and maybe Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), although I’m less enthusiastic about this one.

East of Eden depicts the rivalry between 2 brothers, Cal and Aron, and their fight to win their father’s approval. Aron is the boring and predictable goody two shoes “good” son, while Cal is the “bad” one. The story is very engaging for me, not only because the topic is of interest to me (I really want to read the book now), but because the film makes it so. You follow Cal throughout his journey to win his father’s approval, and you gradually begin to understand that he isn’t bad, just a little strange and angst-ridden, which results in his ability to fit into society and his family. But he’s not dumb by any means, in fact I think he’s actually quite resourceful and business minded!

The main problem with the film, I find, is how thinly written the Aron character was. It seems like he’s just a one note model son. This lead to the tension between the two brothers to be rather weak (it was more palpable between Cal and the father). I also don’t like how the role of the mother is being reduced to that of a ghostly presence who shows up only in need of help. Jo Van Fleet won the Oscar for her performance here, which I think is good, but I’ve read some criticisms about how the character is reduced to a much too thin part in this movie. I really can’t make comparisons now, which is why I really, really wanna get my hands on the book.

Having said all that, I still enjoyed the movie what it is, and I think it’s pretty great although it’s probably not Elia Kazan’s best (erm Streetcar?) James Dean was great, and I can understand why he is so iconic despite only starring in 3 films before his unfortunately early death. His acting style is quite over the top and quite off putting to some people (the walking, the mumbling, the way his eyes shifts around when he’s talking) but I think it works especially well in the context of this film. There’s a kind of emotional honesty behind the mannerisms, which is why I felt that the whole performance was very effective. I also think that he has an extremely strong presence, which may or may not be attributed to his good looks. I even find his performance kinda relatable and it reminds me of the weirdo phase I underwent while passing through my adolescent phase…but let’s not got there. Yeeks. I mean, the part where he was swinging and telling his father about what he did was such a “I know that feeling” moment for me.

Ok, moving on to totally unrelated stuff

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I got new headphones! $44 from challenger, original price $55. I wanted to be more adventurous and go for Beats by Dre (too fucking expensive) but I don’t know much about headphones and the reviews I’ve read for this one were pretty good, so I decided to go for it. I wanted to be cheapskate and go for the cheaper zx100 model that are currently sold at $35 but the reviews pretty much said that they’re craps o I decided against it. Excited! Look at how small my army iPod is next to it. Yes, I’m still using it because it’s working fine, and there’s sentimental value lol. There’s this huge as crack across the screen though.

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Say goodbye to earphones with mismatched ear pieces (but miraculous still working). The right earpiece has some weird shit stain, thanks for reminding me how dirty my right ear is, bitch lol.

And last but not least, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! May 2014 be a year filled with genuine joy, happiness and fulfillment (and very importantly, good health) to all of you!

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