The Wednesday Four

Last week was something else. Wednesday was A Day Without Women, our President released his health care “plan” and so many things happened. I missed a lot of it due to being out of town because Southeast Michigan, where I live, was hit with a huge windstorm and myself, along with around a million others, lost power. I have power again and it’s very nice. It was a sharp reminder how quickly our world can change. Stay safe, everyone. Stay warm (or cool, depending where you are).

Here is week 17.

Due to the above mentioned issues, I haven’t read many articles recently, so here are more old ones. Including one about one of my most favorite movies, Chungking Express. If you haven’t seen it, please do, it’s fantastic.

  • In Dreams: 20 Years of ‘Chungking Express’ (mxdwn)
  • William Gibson Sees the Future: But he’s not trying to predict it. (Slate) Note: Gibson is my favorite author and I loved The Peripheral, which is what this article is partially about. 
  • Did My Best Friend Really Know Me? For 27 years, the writer had a dutiful relationship with her most devoted friend. Only later did she question who needed who more. (Dame)
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Tony Leung Chiu Wai in Chungking Express

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Faye Wong in Chungking Express

Self-Care Friday (Week 5)

Sorry, this one is late due to many things.

Last week I talked about watching some musicals and one of those was Annie Get Your Gun. I knew, going in, that this musical was not a great one. I also expected it to be racist and sexist, but I honestly didn’t really know what I was in for. You can read my full review over on Letterboxd, but suffice to say that I pretty much only gave it one star because I like some of the songs.

Anyway, onto the actual, fun things.

What I’ve Been Reading:

  • Reader Harder:
    • Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel: The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles
  • Completed:
    • Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indriðason (audio book on CD)
  • Reading:
    • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
    • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (audio book – on hold)
    • Chapelwood: the Borden dispatches by Cherie Priest
    • Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
    • Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
    • One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire (audio book)

What I’m watching:

The most recent two episodes of Voice have gotten really intense. There are only two more left. I can’t wait to find out what happens.

  • Voice (Korean drama)
  • Tokyo Tarareba Musume (Japanese drama)
  • Totsuzen Desu ga, Ashita Kekkon Shimasu (Japanese drama)
  • Cabaret
  • Camelot

What I’m listening to:

  • Women of Fresh Finds (Spotify Playlist)
  • Blade Runner OST
  • Arrival OST
  • Perfume – Tokyo Girl (theme to Tokyo Tarareba Musume)

  • Subin

And her new song:

 

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This is Kihyun, of the boy group Monsta X. They are one of my favorite groups and coming back soon. I’m going to try to include pictures of some kind, from now on, that make me happy. This teaser photo of Kihyun is one of those images! Look forward (maybe … you may not be doing that, actually, but shhh) to more (probably kpop related) photos. 

Self-Care Friday (Week 3)

This past week was the one after my birthday and it was all right. I finished a kdrama and a couple of books. Go me! I also ended up listening to some non-kpop music, which was a change. Some of it was Korean, but I did listen to a Mandopop singer from Taiwan. This weekend should be fun, too.

What I’ve been reading:

  • Read Harder:
    • Read a fantasy novel: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Completed
    • Volumes 6, 7, and 8 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga
    • Blood Strikes (Kate Daniels series) by Ilona Andrews
  • Reading:
    • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
    • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (audio book)
    • Chapelwood: the Borden dispatches by Cherie Priest

What I’m watching:

I finished Squad 38, which I should write a review for. It was really good, much better than I expected it to be, actually.

  • Voice (Korean drama)
  • Kaitou Tantei Yamaneko (Japanese drama)
  • South Pacific (musical)
  • Get Out (movie)

What I’m listening to:

  • DEAN

A very good friend of mine, N, finally got me to listen to him, because he’s one of her favorite artists. I resisted, as I am wont to do, but eventually gave in and man, I’m glad I did. His music is really good. You can find it basically everywhere. Please give it a listen.

  • Jinsil (진길)
  • 孫盛希
  • K.A.R.D
  • B.I.G

Self-Care Friday (Week 1)

Since the election, and then especially since the inauguration, I’ve read a bunch of articles, tweets, and tumblr posts about the importance of self-care. As someone who tends to get obsessed with things (think: kpop, sports), the constant news cycle has really taken it’s toll. It turns out that I’m not the only person who is suffering from this — especially since every day it seems like some new horror has been thrown upon the United States.

If you google “self-care election” you find a slew of articles, including this Wired article, published 2 days after the election. They all discuss how important it is to take time to make sure we’re okay even as we worry about the US and all it’s (my/our) people. This is something that I’ve tried to do myself and it’s hard. So hard, in fact, that I’ve made use of one of my daily tasks on Habitica as a way to reminding myself to stop and take care of me.

I’m going to try to spend a few minutes, each Friday, talking about some of the stuff I’ve done, even if it’s just what I’m reading and what music I’ve been listening to. I hope this helps people remember that you can fight for what’s right but also try to enjoy life a little, too. You’re (I’m) no good to anyone if you’re (I’m) stuck in that low point. Don’t give up the panic and the fear and the protesting and donation of time and money. But take a moment or two to breathe.

Here’s what I’ve been doing this week.

I finished my first book for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge:

Read a travel memoir: The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

I finished a book outside of the challenge:

  • Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels series)

I’m reading these books:

  • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (audio book)
  • A Midsummer’s Equation by Keigo Higashino (Detective Galileo)

What I’m watching:

  • Exiled (movie)
  • Voice (Korean drama)
  • Squad 38 (Korean drama)
  • Kaitou Tantei Yamaneko (Japanese drama)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (documentary)
  • John Wick Ch. 2 (film)

Music I’ve been listening to:

  • BTOB – New Men
  • Seventeen – Going Seventeen
  • CLC – Crystyle
  • Fiestar
  • Block B
  • Taemin

The Wednesday Four (12/07/16)

It’s been a month since the election. That’s pretty much all I’ve got. Onto the links.

  • Blade Runner: the typography and design (Typeset in the Future)
My Grape Jelly Raider

Male baltimore oriole in my back yard (c) Tina :0)

Movie Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Spoilers for all of Jurassic World. But it doesn’t matter, because you shouldn’t see it (at least in the theater — seriously, don’t pay for this movie) and also, you already know what happens (and you haven’t even seen the movie yet).

Chris Pratt, Raptor Wrangler (Whisperer)

Chris Pratt: Raptor Wrangler/Whisperer

There were many, many reasons I wanted to see this movie. The biggest of them being the fact that I love the original movie, Jurassic Park, endlessly. Not just because of my huge crush on Sam Neill, but also because it’s a surprisingly feminist movie. Laura Dern’s character, Dr. Ellie Sattler is pretty awesome in every way (what a great person to look up to!). She doesn’t need Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) or Alan Grant (the aforementioned Sam Neill) to save or rescue her. She’s smart and also quite a badass. And then you have Ariana Richards’ Lex Murphy. She’s afraid of the dinosaurs (but, be honest, who can blame her? They’re SCARY, they’re dinosaurs, they’re supposed to be dead and many of them want to eat you!), but when it comes right down to it, everyone left on the island would be dead if it wasn’t for Lex. She’s the computer nerd, the hacker, the brains and she saves her brother from those raptors, too. There are a hundred more reasons why Jurassic Park is a fantastic movie, like the dinosaurs, the music, all the characters, Jeff Goldblum … I could go on. But I won’t. Instead, I’m going to tell you why Jurassic World failed me in basically every way.

I wanted to love Jurassic World and, failing that, I wanted to enjoy it and perhaps even like it. And, of course, that was my mistake. You see, I thought I had low expectations for the movie, but they weren’t low enough. I should’ve had no expectations and then, maybe, when it broke my heart from the very start, I wouldn’t have been quite so upset. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

I originally wanted to see it because of the picture at the top of this post, Chris Pratt and the raptors. We’ve all seen the trailer, where he’s riding his motorcycle with those raptors, it’s pretty great. That and the fact that there were dinosaurs and it was a Jurassic Park movie that was going to follow in the footsteps of the first, meant that I was stoked, though apprehensive. I should’ve known better, of course I should’ve. But when you have movies like Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max Fury Road and a few others where the female characters are strong, well rounded individuals who are actually people, I was, you know, expecting something more. Those movies ruined me because for a moment I forgot we were in 2015, you know, the present day where ladies aren’t people and was expecting and hoping for something different, something better, something as good as the original.

Oh, Jurassic Park, you spoiled me. Why couldn’t Jurassic World have been a bit more like this? (source)

But me and Jurassic World, we started off on the very wrong foot. The movie begins with a family (why? I don’t know, it just does, we’re supposed to care about them, but instead they are awkward, at least the family stuff in the new Godzilla made us want to know more about those character instead of less, even if the result was less than interesting) and we find out later (I guess? they were so boring I didn’t pay attention) that the parents are getting divorced and the easiest way to do that is to send their kids to visit their aunt who runs this dinosaur theme park. The first thing I thought, though, was where is the girl? Why is it two boys? Why are they two white boys? And then I thought to myself, what have I gotten myself into and how can I get out of it?

There was a moment, standing in line waiting to go into the theater, when I noticed that the theater we were across from was playing Mad Max Fury Road, I turned to my friend and said we should just skip out on JW and go see MMFR again. She said she’d already watched it and plus, it was half over. I said, I didn’t care. Man, I wish I’d gone. Then I wouldn’t have had to watch this movie. Ugh, regrets.

Ugh

Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) — seriously, she wears that outfit throughout the whole movie. And look at how sensibly dressed Owen is. He’s a man, a real man, and he’s going to save her. Are we in really 2015?

So, the movie is already rubbing me the wrong way and we’re only ten minutes in (give or take). I’m trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s failing me. The kids get to the island where we meet their aunt, who should’ve been an awesome character because it turns out she’s the main character. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, who basically runs the park. There are actually a lot of issues with her character and Chris Pratt’s, many of which didn’t occur to me while I was watching and I’ve provided a bunch of links at the bottom of this post if you want more information. What I did think was that I wasn’t going to like her character because she was the biggest stereotype I’ve seen in a long time (but not the biggest one in this movie! #gross).

You see, the writers of JW proved that everything I said about what would happen if Speed was made now true. Seriously. Claire was dressed in business attire, high heels, and she was shrill. She was every stereotypical frigid female character and she spent the whole movie being rescued by men (specifically one man, who I will talk about shortly) and running around in high heels. She has no agency, her only purpose is to supplement her nephews and Chris Pratt’s character. I really, really wanted to like her. I mean, the movie is basically about her. But it was really hard because the stuff Howard was given to work with was crap. I will say, though, that toward the end of the movie we see who Claire could’ve been — a no-nonsense badass lady who is smart, sexy, AND awesome. We could’ve had it all, Jurassic World.

But now we have two boys I don’t care about, plus their aunt, who I don’t care about … which leaves me waiting for Chris Pratt.

Jurassic-Park-Gifs-jurassic-park-28760595-500-260

This is what you should — run away from Jurassic World. Run far, far away. Listen to Alan Grant, he knows what’s what.

First, a couple of things. Chris Pratt is really hot in this movie, but basically that’s his job. At this point, I was like, just put Chris Pratt and those raptors on the screen because I want to at least enjoy something. And so, that happened. And when it was Chris Pratt, the raptors, Vincent D’Onofrio, and the super great (and hot) Omar Sy, I was happy. And then, um. Claire goes to visit Chris Pratt’s character, Owen, at his weird house (does he live on the island, does everyone live on the island? I want to know more about this, why couldn’t we have a movie about the building of the park and … sorry, I’m distracted by what this movie could’ve been), I suddenly realize what this movie is about.

You see, Owen is also a stereotype. You don’t really notice it at first, it sneaks up on you and then he meets Claire and we realize he’s a macho man, he’s the hero (even if he’s not really the main character). You feel safe now that Owen’s around. And that’s because, Jurassic World, I’m sorry to say, is basically a movie about Owen and Claire developing a relationship. He’s going to save her, from the dinosaurs and from herself. The movie isn’t about dinosaurs, it’s not about the park, it’s not even about Vincent D’Onofrio’s crazy ideas about using the raptors as weapons (wtf, but maybe that movie would be interesting, too? We didn’t get that, though — I mean, they try it but the outcome is obvious.) — instead it’s a stupid story about Owen and Claire and honestly, we all know how this movie was going to end. Which brings up another point — this movie is predictable.

Of course, most movies are predictable, it’s partly because we’re always remaking things, partly because most stories have already been told in one way or another, and partly because very few big budget films take risks. JW is predictable in the worst possible way — everything I expect to happen, happens and it happens in basically the exact way I expected it to happen. There are things that startle me, but there’s no tension, no shockers. My only gleeful moments involved the raptors and the appearance (and the very end) of our favorite Lady T-Rex.

Which brings me to another thing about JW that completely disappointed me, the dinosaurs. I didn’t really like the hybrid dinosaur idea, but that’s what they were going with, so they did. Unfortunately, it seems they forgot that the point of dinosaur movies is, you know, the dinosaurs. JW is a dinosaur movie about people no one cares about and money. But it’s not even about corporate greed or the problems of meddling with animals that should have long stayed dead. JW doesn’t have a moral compass of any kind, which you know because there are hundreds of character who die terrible, un-Jurassic Park like deaths.

Alan Grant

Alan Grant see the dinosaurs for the first time. They’re amazing. They’re dinosaurs! Sadly, Jurassic World doesn’t know it’s a dinosaur movie.

This is because Jurassic World wants to be a monster movie. It wants to be a monster movie like Godzilla (the originals and the new one) and Pacific Rim. Like Godzilla, it gave us characters we didn’t care about and like Pacific Rim, it gave us the cheesy humor, but it failed at those, too. The humor was dumb, not clever (like the original movie and Pacific Rim) and we all cared even less about the characters than we did in the new Godzilla movie. The monsters weren’t scary, not even the realization of what the dumb hybrid dinosaur-monster-thing was spliced with (spoiler: raptors), and I certainly didn’t care if any of the characters were going to die (spoiler: only one of the “main” characters dies she and she’s a woman (Claire’s assistant, who was treated unfairly the whole movie (and is also a stereotype) and I still haven’t forgiven the movie for this). In trying so hard to be a monster movie Jurassic World forgot what it was — a dinosaur movie. We had no wonder, no awe, nothing that made us realize that we were in a theme park full of dinosaurs. There were a couple of moments, but they were few and far between, when the move briefly attempted to awe us. But unlike Jurassic Park, no one was impressed — not even the kids (who should’ve been) and not even Owen — and he even tries to get us to believe that he thinks that dinosaurs on their own should be impressive enough. No one’s buying it, dude, because you haven’t shown us anything, it’s all tell tell tell.

I wanted to love Jurassic World and that’s what doomed me. I set myself up for failure. After watching the movie, I was trying to explain why I didn’t like it but didn’t hate it to my sister. I wanted her to go see it so we could talk about it. But now … the more I think about it, the more I hate the movie. It wasn’t a waste of time (but man, I would’ve rather seen MMFR again), not really, but it wasn’t good. I probably enjoyed some of it (like the raptors, to be honest), but everything else was so bad that I can’t say that I enjoyed it.

So, should you see this movie? No. Not at all. Maybe in DVD, if you’re desperate to know what people are talking about.

Instead, go see Mad Max Fury Road if you haven’t (or again if you have), that’s money well spent. If you have to see a dinosaur movie, dust off your copy of Jurassic Park. But if you simply must go see Jurassic World (please don’t give this sexist movie a cent), please find the cheapest ticket you can possibly buy.

But I cannot, in good conscious, recommend this movie because it’s awful.

REMEMBER HOW AWESOME THIS WAS? Dr. Sattler is headdesking somewhere. She cannot believe this movie. And, you know what, neither can I? Go watch Jurassic Park again. You won’t regret it. (source)

Further reading on sexism in Jurassic World:

Movie Review: Speed (1994)

Spoilers for the whole movie (though if you haven’t seen it …)

source unkown

(source: unknown)

The other day, while looking through my DVDs for something else, I discovered that I owned a copy of Speed on DVD. I was on the phone with my sister at the time and she got to witness my glee upon discovering I owned the movie. And then, of course, I had to watch it. Sadly, I started the movie with about 30 minutes until I had to leave for work, so it was split up by about 8 and a half hours, but that’s beside the point.

What happened was I watched up through the section where they’re getting awards for saving the people in the elevator. The main things I observed for this first 30 minutes or so of the film were as follows:

  • Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels are both REALLY young.
  • Keanus Reeves is surprisingly hot.
  • Joe Morton looked really familiar and then I realized played Henry on Eureka and everything made sense.
  • Even though I know what happens, and can quote some of the lines, I found the elevator stuff really tense — even now, over 20 years later.
  • Dennis Hopper is great at being a bad guy.
  • Keanu Reeves is really hot.
  • Keanu and Jeff’s character’s friendships reminded me of Steve and Danny from Hawaii Five-0 and John and Rodney from Stargate: Atlantis (Keanu’s character is Jack and Jeff’s character is Harry).
  • I really identify with the character Bob (who pushes the button — “What button did you push, Bob?”).
  • Did I mention Keanu Reeves is hot?

I know, right? But honestly, I think that at age 16, when I saw Speed, I didn’t really appreciate just how attractive Keanu was. Now, though, as an adult, I can very, very much appreciate it. Now, uh, back to the movie review.

I got home from work and put on the rest of the movie. I’ve seen this so many times that I basically know it by heart, but I realized, somewhere in the middle of their time on the bus, that I hadn’t seen it on DVD in a very, very long time. I realized this because none of the swearing was bleeped out and that surprised me until I remembered I wasn’t watching it on TV and instead DVD.

A GIF of that moment after Keanu Reeves shoots Jeff Daniels (“shoot the hostage”) in Speed. (source: bobbyfinger @ tumblr

A GIF of that moment after Keanu Reeves shoots Jeff Daniels (“shoot the hostage”) in Speed. (source: bobbyfinger @ tumblr

To be honest, not everything holds up well. The ridiculous parts, the bus jumping over the broken highway is nuts and now that I know that it’s impossible, it’s a bit funny compared to when it was in theaters. And, of course, the fact that their subway track isn’t finished in the end is also just too much. But none of that matters. The tension is still there — when the bus driver gets shot, it’s upsetting in the right ways and the same with Helen stepping off and being run over (though we don’t see it) when part of the bus blows up early.

I really like the friendship between Jack and Harry and it made me unhappy with Harry died. Necessary to the story, of course, but also sad. Which brings me to another point or rather, person. Sandra Bullock (oh my god, so young, too!) plays Annie and the incidental love interest of Jack. Now, if Speed were made today, Annie never would’ve been the one at the wheel nor would her character have taken the bus because she had her license suspended. Instead, Annie would’ve been on the bus because her car was in the shop and Jack or another male character would’ve been driving the bus instead.

(source: unknown)

But, of course, that’s not what happened. Instead, we get (and god, this is such a great thing that I never realized until watching this movie in 2015) a pretty kickass lady character. Annie doesn’t let anyone get away with anything. She adheres to the rules of the bus, she tries to save Helen, she bitches Jack out when he doesn’t tell her (or the passengers) shit. And she drives this big ass bus – which she’s never driven before. And then, at the end, after Jack tries everything to save her (she doesn’t even blame him for getting her into this mess, even though it’s sort of his fault), she tells him to leave. She says she’d rather sacrifice herself than him, too. And when he won’t leave, when he wraps his arms around her, she just cries. The amazement in her voice when she tells him he stayed is awesome.

Annie is an amazing character. Her dialogue is witty and funny, she’s smart and entertaining and she is the perfect foil for Jack’s stoic badassness. Although, of course, we know Jack is all cop, we know there’s more to him. He’s got a heart, we get that when he saves the woman in the elevator, when he shoots Harry to save his life, when his bus driver friend and then Harry are both killed. We know he cares — and we can see it when he doesn’t leave Annie to die alone.

There’s surprisingly a lot going on this this movie. Most of the people on the bus are people of color. Jack learns both their names and to trust them. And they, too, learn to trust him and each other. They know that if they don’t work together, they won’t survive. And, of course, they trust Annie to drive the bus for them.

I was really pleased with how much I enjoyed this movie, even though it’s 21 years old now. The special effects are pretty good, Keanu’s pretty to look at (so is Sandra, really), and the movie is just so damn entertaining. Plus, now that I’m older, I can appreciate so much more (like how it’s obvious now that there’s no way Dennis Hopper’s character died — if you look at the door, you can see he set charges all around the outside of it so that it would look like he had died even though he hadn’t, but everyone would just assume he’d died).

If you haven’t ever seen Speed, what are you waiting for? If you saw it in 1994 (or more recently), rewatch it. It’s fun. You won’t regret it.

(source: shardwick @ tumblr)