GLOCCOVNAA is an abbreviation for 'Great Life of Conflict, Climax or Virtually Nothing At All'. That was the long and ridiculous name I came out for my blog when I was 18 years old. Do click on the colourful icons on the right to check out different types of posts in this blog.

19 August, 2014

Greatest Films of All Time

What is a good film?
What is the greatest film?
Who is to judge?

There are many films throughout the decades since people started using cameras to film pictures that move but how many will be remembered? How many films can you remember watching in the cinema, at home or anywhere else that somehow set a standard in which you use to judge what is a good film? Of course with the internet, everyone has easy assess to every film in existence, some way back to the silent era of film. Let's recount some of those films people consider the greatest and why...

Nowadays most people are so used to colour films that black and white films are just dismissed. Sadly at some point, I was one of those people. I admit I had this film in my library for a long time but did not consider watching it. But now I know that there were many films without colour that were great, this one in particular is still considered by many, and now me, as one of the greatest film of all time.
Citizen Kane tells about a news reporter who is trying to find out the meaning of the word 'Rosebud', the last word uttered by a tycoon, Charles Foster Kane. Throughout the film, the reporter interviews many people closely associated with him, giving audience a flashback of his life. Kane is a man who has all the money, the women and everything else he could buy but had no happiness. Similar to other 'greatest films', this film was relatively successful but did not get the recognition it deserved until many years later. This is a film with deep meaning that was expressed perfectly through excellent cinematography and directing. Give it a watch!

You know that plump bald guy who made himself a celebrity by appearing behind the camera, his name was Alfred Hitchcock a.k.a. the Master of Suspense. Even people who have not heard of this person definitely know at least one of his films. Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window and North by Northwest are some of his most famous works. But recently Vertigo is the one that took the spotlight for being the film that dethroned Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time in the Sight & Sound poll.
Vertigo is a tragic story of a middle aged detective Scottie who is forced to retire due to acrophobia and is hired by an old acquaintance Gavin as a private investigator to follow his wife Judy. However this relatively simple task became complicated when he starts to fall for her, leading to multiple twists in the plot. Obviously I am not going to spoil the experience here, you have to watch the film to appreciate the twists that make this film a masterpiece.

I have always been a geek who loves everything sci-fi. However I'll admit this movie made me fall asleep twice before. But that was long before I learnt to appreciate the epic cinematography and story telling by Stanley Kubrick. Sci-fi films set in space I am used to have always included exciting battles, exotic aliens and lots of loud explosions (that not supposed to be heard in space), so at some point watching the camera shooting a spaceship flying for several minutes accompanied with classical music was boring to me then. The film defines the word epic and watching it is an experience of a lifetime.
2001 has a bizarre plot that follows the novel of the same name quite closely. The plot surrounds a black monolith that appeared millions of years ago to man-apes, then later in the 'future' being studied in secret by Dr Floyd in the second act of the film. The third act is the part most people know about the film when two astronauts on their mission to Jupiter have to deal with problems with their sentient computer controlling their spacecraft. Then the story wraps up in the forth act that I won't spoil here. This is a stylish film that takes its time to bring audience into Kubrick's world of the 'future'.

Those I mentioned above are regarded to be the greatest of their respective genres, Citizen Kane being the greatest biography drama, Vertigo being the greatest psychological mystery and 2001 being the greatest sci-fi. How about other genres?
  • Greatest Sports Film
ROCKY (1976)
  • Greatest Action Film
DIE HARD (1988)
  • Greatest Fantasy Film
  • Greatest Sequel Film
  • Greatest Horror Film
ALIEN (1979)
  • Greatest Animated Film
  • Greatest Adventure Film
  • Greatest Comedy Film

I am sure there are many other genres and films I have left out. I highly recommend watching all these films as they represent their individual genres perfectly. As a film buff and collector, I am certain there is no such thing as a single Greatest Film of all time, nor are there any particular greatest films of any genre. It all comes to the appreciation of film as an art and how it entertains us as viewers. Everyone will have their own personal list and those above are mine. Please note that this is my list, I have not watched every single film in the world, so if you think there are better film in each genre, do recommend them to me!


12 August, 2014

How smart are Smartphones? #2

If you have not read #1, click on this picture.
Let me sidetrack a little, I remember I was given my first cell phone when I was 15. It was a Sony Ericsson J300. I remember it had an awkward looking handle, huge speakers and came bundled together with a King Kong movie merchandise, a phone strap in the same box.
Back then everyone in school had a phone and I begged my parents for months to buy one for me too. Those who had Nokia phones bragged about their high score in Snake and other "cooler" kids had the Motorola RAZR V3, some say is the first phone capable of taking selfies. Those were the days when phones were simpler. I remember being entertained by just a simple composer app on my J300, that may seem primitive now, that had the ability to mix and match simple rhythms to form personal ringtones. Times were simpler then.

Alright, back to the list:

7. Palm Pilot PDA
This probably has the closest resemblance to current smartphones. It has a touch screen, a home button, a stylus, on/off button and even a charging dock. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this was one the hottest IT gadget in the market. My dad bought a Palm IIIc then and I would always use it to play simple arcade games like Asteroid on it. For those who are not familiar, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) were little palmtop devices that could run simple apps such as alarms, calendar, games and could assess the internet to read and reply e-mails. They even revolutionized the use of stylus on touchscreens and handwriting recognition. Later versions of Palm, namely the Palm Treo had colour and even incorporated a VGA camera behind, Bluetooth and WiFi, USB connectivity and also had phone components, sound familiar? Yup! it slowly evolved into what we now consider a smartphone.

8. 3.5-inch Floppy Disk
I cannot remember how many of these floppy disks I have ripped apart to see what the components were. I was in primary school and a new gimmick was implemented to the curriculum, they call it the Computer Class... Computers.... Technology... Wow! Guess what, they made us play Mario Teaches Typing for a few months before we were allowed to do anything else. Then after building enough finger muscles, teachers sold us a floppy disk each, followed by classes teaching us simple functions of Microsoft Word and Excel. Sadly as a kid, I was more interested in breaking things than learning, so that explains why I did not complete many of my assignments, my disket was in pieces.
Back then what we called as a disket typically has 1.44MB of storage, which may sound like nothing now, but it could hold dozens of document and MIDI files. But I guess nowadays everybody think of disk space in Gigabytes even on little microSD cards that mere 1.44MB is just an artifact from the 1980s and 1990s. Who knows whether in a few years time people would be looking back at 128GB microSD the way we see 3.5-inch floppy disks?

9. Nintendo Gameboy
To bring the arcade to the living room, they invented game console systems.
To bring the game console systems everywhere, they invented the Gameboy.
To play games and make calls on the same device, they made the Nokia N-Gage.
To play games, make calls and connect with the world, they invented the smartphone.
Don't get me wrong, I know smartphones are not made to replace portable gaming systems, but the sales of these systems are definitely affected by the current popularity of smartphones. The question for consumers is very simple, would you buy a portable game console or a smartphone that can play similar games for similar price? Third party software developers that were the driving force of major video game companies are now developing games for smartphones and it is my personal opinion that if this trend proceeds, portable game consoles will be obsolete in the near future.

10. Street Map
There is no doubt that street maps are a thing of the past. Until the 90s, many motorists and tourists still keep street maps in their car to be used in case they get lost. Then there was a rise of the GPS navigation device, Garmin, Navman and TomTom were among the few large companies that produced highly accurate "maps" that could identify the user's location and direct users to their destinations. Nowadays most smartphones are fitted certain apps that exercise the navigation function in the form of A-GPS, satellite GPS or even hybrid positioning system. So why carry thick street maps in the glove compartment when you can bring a talking navigator anywhere you go?

11. Point & Shoot Film Camera
35mm Film? Rewind? Disposable Cameras? Thick photo albums? These are some of the things I have not used or done for more than 10 years. I have used one of those disposable cameras once, it was on my last day of primary school. I was 12 years old then and I wanted to take pictures of my classmates for the last time before we were going our separate ways. It had 27 shots in total, a partially working flash (max 5 shots), fixed focus and that's it. Those were the days when we didn't know how the picture will turn out unless we develop those the film. So every shot was precious and handing the camera to other people to take your photo might be disastrous if they are horrible at framing a shot or are prone to camera shake. Still complaining that your smartphone's camera is subpar?

That's all that I can think of at the moment. Who knows what other functions could be included into a smartphone? The possibilities are limitless as far as I can see.


10 August, 2014

How smart are Smartphones? #1

Remember a time when we had at least one of these items below? I have a feeling some of us 90's kids would have seen and used some if not all of these. Finding one of them around the house brings back so many fond memories.
By the way, for those who are not familiar with the items above, here is a list:

1. Motorola DynaTAC
One of the first cellular phones made to be lightweight (28oz or 790g) and portable enough for users to make and receive calls on the go. It was such a revolutionary invention at the time that prices could go up to $3995 at 1983 and can be considered a luxury item. This was what most people then called "the Brick phone" or "大哥大".

2. Yellow Pages Phone Books
Poor Arnold had to search through the phone book for Sarah Connor in The Terminator (1984)
If you ever wanted to search for a telephone number and address for the nearest coffee shop or find Sarah Connor's house address, what would you do? Just take out your smartphone and say "OK Google, search for the nearest Starbucks". But before Google, before Siri, you had to flip through the pages of the index of these thick telephone directories to find it. Depending on the country you live in, these phone books come in multiple volumes of a variety of businesses and an alphabetical list of every phone number registered in the country. Nowadays with mobile internet, these books are no longer sold due to waste of large amounts of paper. By the way, anyone remember the phone booth?

3. Britannica Encyclopedia
When I was in primary school, I used to have week long stays with my grandparents during the school holidays. At the end of every stay I always thought of the time spent there was boring but somehow I look forward to the next stay only because I can get my hands on my grandfather's encyclopedia collection. Flipping through the index and searching for random stuff in those dozen volumes was somewhat enjoyable because there were so many interesting articles accompanied by eye-catching illustrations. Later with Microsoft's Encarta on the PC and Wikipedia on the internet, there was no need to reserve a row on the book shelf for these anymore.

4. Sony Betamovie Camcorder
Once upon a time, there were these huge heavy devices with the ability to record precious moments on Betamax videocassette that cost a fortune. Who cares about HD video, 4K video, those were the days when camcorders could only record a maximum of 3.5 hours of blurry videos and the whole family would wait a couple of minutes for the tape to rewind in the VCR to watch them on the TV. Nowadays everyone has a micro camcorder in their pocket that could record high quality videos and could easily share them through social media like Youtube or Facebook in mere seconds. So if you are one of those people who had their birthday party or wedding toast recorded in one of these analog tapes, share this post with your friends....

5. Sony Walkman
No, I am not talking about the Walkman app, CD player or MP3 player. I am referring to the classic compact cassette player that was so portable that youngsters could attach these on their belt and listen to music while they were jogging. A typical cassette tape could play 6-10 songs per side, which sums up to about 60 minutes of music. Some of the more advance Walkman then could even record songs from the radio to blank cassette tapes, a function that was commonly used to create personalized mix-tapes, or what we now call Playlists.
Kyln prison warden listening to Star-Lord's confisticated Walkman in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

6. Motorola Wordline Pager
Flight delayed? John McClane gets a page from Holly in Die Hard 2 (1990)
Beep! Beep! "MOM - JUST A REMINDER, BE HOME BY 12:00"
That was a typical message received by one of those rich kids in school with strict parents. A pager a messaging device now considered the predecessor of the Short Messaging Service (SMS). Years ago pagers had no keyboard, just 2-3 buttons and a display that could show a few lines of text. Initially all pagers could do is make a beeping sound to "page" the user to call he/she back with the nearest payphone. Later pagers included the alphanumeric function which allowed users to read messages and even type a reply message. The equivalent we have now are text messaging and online chatting (WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook messaging, Line....).

You know what all these have in common, they are all obsolete since their functions were incorporated into a device so smart they call it the SMARTPHONE. There are many more in this list, so stay tuned for another "time-capsule" article in


03 August, 2014

The Future: According to film

Science fiction is a genre that gives writers free reign to create new worlds based on their creative imagination. It is common practice for sci-fi writers to invent bizarre worlds that take place in the future since it is a setting of the unknown, so it is open to endless possibilities. Over the years, there were many memorable "Future" scenarios portrayed on film. Let's explore some of the awesome world's created throughout the years.

The new Tower of Babel, headquarters of upper class industrialist in Metropolis
Ever since the silent era of films, a legend was created in 1927... a well-known film called METROPOLIS. A world created by German born Fritz Lang and his then wife during the time when Adolf Hitler gave his infamous speech about uniting citizens of all classes in Germany through the Nazi leadership, the film starts with a distinct upper class group in high rise complexes controlling lower class workers who operate power generators. However the protagonist Freder from the upper class falls in love with a lower class Maria and ends up uniting everyone *ultra short summary for a 2+ hour film*.
The Heart Machine, the central power station where lower class workers operate in Metropolis
It was one of the first films to feature a futuristic world that is used to resonate a relevant issue of the time, the struggle to overcome the differences that separate classes in the city. If you flip any film history books, you will find that this is the first feature length science fiction film ever made.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) starring Peter Cushing as Winston Smith
How about the films based on the famous 1949 George Orwell novel NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR? The term "Big Brother is watching you" came from this novel portraying a dystopian "future" set in 1984 where the Big Brother rules over the nation of Oceania through government surveillance and constant manipulation of the media as propaganda. The main protagonist Winston Smith is one of the editors of the Ministry of Truth that rewrites historical records but is suspected to be in a rebellion called the Brotherhood against the Big Brother and his party. 
1984 (1956) starring Edmund O'Brien as Winston Smith
Once again this futuristic world resonates another issue of the time about censorship of media and surveillance with Big Brother reflecting Joseph Stalin and Oceania reflecting USSR of the 1940's. Several films were made based on this influential novel, the first was Nineteen Eighty-Four, a 1954 BBC television film that caused a huge controversy about its horrific content. Then in 1956, a cinema rendition was made with a bigger budget but still follows the novel closely. In the real 1984, there was the mainstream big budget film Nineteen Eighty-Four starring John Hurt as Winston Smith that coincides with the setting of the film.
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) starring John Hurt as Winston Smith
These are some of the classical ones, how about the newer concepts of the future?
2015 is just around the corner, who knows when we might be getting our self-lacing Nike shoes, Jaws 19, flying cars and hoverboards? Can't wait!