Before Midnight before midnight

I haven't been to the movies in forever, but thanks to young punk friends who have their shit together, tonight I'm going to a preview screening of Before Midnight, the third movie to come from the Richard Linklater-Julie Delpy-Ethan Hawke triumvirate.

(If you don't know what the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight movies are about, and also want to remain spoiler-free, refer to the first two paragraphs of the current Wikipedia entry on Before Sunset. There's also a fantastic New York Times interview with Julie Delpy from a few months ago, which mentions some lines from Before Midnight but is fairly spoiler-free otherwise.)

Before Midnight is probably about the only movie that I'd drag myself to the cinema for these days. There's a little of the excitement that comes with seeing it as soon as it opens, and also it'll be a treat to see the lush conversation unfold on the big screen, rather than just watching it on the TV at home.

Speaking of which, I had a little free time earlier this week and sat myself down to watch the first two movies again, for the umpteenth time. I prefer Before Sunset because it seems more real and thus less (and more) romantic; I'd come to think of Before Sunrise as too idealised and easy-romantic.

But watching Sunrise again after so many years, I was struck by how light and hopeful it is, and convincingly so ("hopeful" is also the word Delpy's character Céline uses in Sunset, referring to their encounter in Sunrise). It's hard to hit those right notes in any romantic setup, to make a scene turn upon a glance, a word, a pause. I think I might be a little less impatient with Sunrise now.

And I think you have to be someone who loves the space between people to love these movies --- not only the words people say and the things that 'happen to' them and their 'relationships', but the moments that hang between them, silent, conversation-filled or otherwise (and oh dear, I'm channelling the movies again, the character Céline says something similar about "this little space in between" in Sunrise).

Yes, yes, it's also escapist fantasy, set in olde Europe to boot. It doesn't help that I'm close in age to the protagonists.

I'm perilously vulnerable to words.



Little things that have been happening lately

ATMs have started dispensing $100 bills, even when I'm withdrawing just $150 or $200 at a time, at well-utilised ATMs in downmarket locations. I'm not sure when $100 bills moved into higher circulation, and it's a little disturbing. I know the cost of living is going up and sometimes a $50 bill barely gets me any change when I'm buying basic toiletries for the month (think supermarket-brand shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and "feminine hygiene products"). But the psychological effect of having a $100 bill in my wallet --- or rather, of having one briefly and then not-having it, even if I got some change back --- is the kind that sends my brain into a tailspin about how much money I need to be saving for my retirement.

At the other end of the spectrum, I recently came across the new $1 coins for the first time. I'm not sure why we needed a new coin series, other than the anti-counterfeiting features. The first thing I thought about when I saw the $1 coin was: is it still kosher with that story about how the original $1 coin was designed like the Taoist bagua symbol? (See #3 on this list of Singapore urban legends.)  I also realised that the new $1 coins don't fit into the security devices at supermarket trolleys (you have to pop a $1 coin into a slot in order to release a trolley for use within the store; you can pop it out again you return the trolley at a designated spot) --- which is kind of a pain.

In the work/writing department, friends have been contacting me via Facebook regarding work, which is fine and dandy except that Facebook-mail Facebook Messages is not exactly the most search-friendly platform when it comes to long-term archiving of work-related matters (I'm spoiled by Gmail, where I can search for almost every work assignment and conversation I've had since I started freelancing in 2006). Aside from downloading all my Facebook data in one giant clump, I don't think there's any way I can download/save/export a particular message thread, is there?

Friends have also been asking me, "So how's the novel going?" To which I avert my gaze, adopt a sheepish look and mumble something about not having looked at it for a few months. I really should be revising it in order to finish a proper draft to send to my freelance editor and some beta readers, and then revise it some more before the end of this year. So far what I have done is print out the first draft, which makes it more real somehow, but then I left it in a plastic bag in a corner of my office and ... er ... What was the question again?

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