this movie should be titled, "what does it takes for a granddaughter to win her grandfather's love?" it's a great movie, both renata and i cried during the film. by her own admission, renata told me she was crying throughout (although i didn't notice it, but if it's true, it's probably the first time where i've gone to the movies with somebody crying). i got a little teary towards the end, during pai's maori recital, you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel something.

the story is about a modern day maori tribe where for 1000 years a male heir has taken over the title of chief, tracing their lineage back to paikea, the whale rider. the chief's oldest son's wife gives birth to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. the wife ends up dying during childbirth, along with the boy. the father (cliff curtis) leaves the village, where the grandparents raise the little girl, pai (keisha castle-hughes). chief koro (rawiri paratene) ends up having to choose a new leader from amongst the boys, teaching them all the necessary skills to becoming a chief, hoping that one of them will be able to take the reigns. all the while pai stands patiently in the wing, the rightful heir to chieftain, the only thing disqualifying her is her gender.

this movie resonates. it's flawless in its storytelling, almost like a fable brought to life, a fairy tale about a girl who no one really gave much a chance (at least not the people seemingly in charge, i.e. the men), and how she triumphs over adversities to claim her birthright. it's classic in its tale of the underdog, and it's easy to fall in love with pai and root for her success.

i think pai's relationship with her grandfather koro is at the heart of the movie. her love for him is seemingly unconditional, returning to him everytime even though he treats her unkindly. koro's feelings towards pai is complicated, he loves her (he picks her up on his bicycle everyday after school), yet hates her at the same time for what she stands for, a failure on the part of his son to produce a male heir, the end of the lineage. pai wants to be chief not really for herself, but more for her grandfather, since that's what he wants, a chief to take over his place when he's gone. the grandfather, conservative in his ways, sees the idea of a female chief as an impossibility, and the revelation of pai's skills as a potential chief almost makes him angrier, a further reminder that no male heir will take his place.

the ending skirts dangerously close to being a really sad movie, but the final resolution is a happy affair, which makes seeing this film a worthwhile endeavour. it's been a while since i've seen a film so heart-stirring, so true, so beautiful, so easy to fall in love with. keisha castle-hughes' performance is amazing, the child with the stoic face, finally breaking down in the end, makes me tearful just thinking about it. there's a reason why so many critics have been trumpeting this movie, it really is that good.

renata came over around noon (bringing with her a single stem of rose) and together along with andrew (after he came back from grocery shopping) we went out for a walk around cambridge, down to the charles river and back. the weather seemed to threaten rain, and there were a few times when we felt real rain drops. renata kept my camera in her bag so it wouldn't get wet, but as soon as it stopped raining, i got it back. we went by a flock of geese feeding along the banks of the river, andrew and i (reluctantly) tried to corral the birds, but they weren't afraid, shifting out of the way only slightly. our conversation ranged from the people of jamaica to renata's vivid unibrow dream. in the sky, a hood blimp floated slowly over us off in the distance.

we cut across harvard square on our way back, renata in a hurry to get home to rendezvous with deborah (an old high school classmate of ours) and her husband, in town visiting. there was some activity on the harvard campus, summer school students confirming class assignments and finding out where they'll be living. on my street, drums with "street closed" signs sat along the sidewalks in preparation for the supposed block party tomorrow (if it doesn't get rained out, which i hope it does, since i won't be able to go tomorrow).

my parents came to pick me up after they got out of work around 5pm. we went to the super market across the street to pick up some items, and i was surprised to see a shelf of the brand new harry potter book on sale for $20, $10 less than the retail price. was what amazing about it was half of the books had already been bought. driving back home, i sat in the back seat with my ibook, scanning for wireless network signals, which i was amazed to find an abundance source here in cambridge. about 70% were password protected, but that left 30% free access points to get onto the web. i felt like a kid in the candy store and realizing that i could actually get something for nothing.

in the backyard in belmont, the roses and honeysuckle are in bloom, two fragrant flowers. i felt tired, the 6 hours of sleep last night not enough to sustain me fully on this first day of summer. for dinner my parents made dumplings stuffed with homegrown chinese chive. after i finished eating, my father gave me a ride to renata's place.

this was my second meeting with renata (a double feature). i helped her set up her machine to download photos from the new digital camera (nikon 3100) her parents had given her for her birthday last weekend. she ended up printing out two photos she liked. she told me she loves taking photos of people from the back for some reason.

with that done, we drove to harvard square, where we got a sweet parking spot right along church street (parallel parking skills in effect). the ticket line was surprisingly long as we waited in the drizzle to buy our movie tickets for whale rider. i knew renata had snuck in a box of godiva chocolates, but what i didn't realize was she also had a contraband bottle of carbonated water.

after the movie was over, renata drove me back home and then left after we fumbled with our obligatory good bye speeches, the "i had a nice time," "hope to see you again," "thank you for your hospitality," "good bye," "good night," the usual.