04/11/2021 – Pilot Pains

It’s just how things are these days, that the credits on the Kung Fu revival fade in and make a promise soon to be unfulfilled: “Based on Kung Fu by Ed Spielman.” This new show has nothing to do with the earlier one, which was a western, and the current narrative in television is that Kung Fu has been reclaimed by the Bruce Lee estate, by way of Cinemax’s Warrior. Why go back and reclaim again, in that way we ordinarily do, by only populating a problem canvas with better faces? The whole thing needed restructuring, from the draft phase, and it was already done. It was done. So I guess, well, now time for the next one! Hell, bring on The CW’s Kung Fu, because I don’t need to hear the argument that The Hunger Games is a ripoff of Battle Royale. If The Hunger Games can offer anything new, anything extra or different or special, why argue it shouldn’t exist just to boost your cult film creds? (Battle Royale does not count as “cult”). I’m perfectly willing, even possibly excited, to see the Y.A. version of “martial arts woman,” because I want to see all versions. I want to see a martial arts woman in everything I ever watch — provided she’s treated with respect. Or rather, demands respect — takes it, by the throat. … More 04/11/2021 – Pilot Pains

04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

What did everyone think of Wendy’s solo debut? We have the video for her single “Like Water,” and a mini-album with — appropriately so — great B-sides, including a duet with Seulgi adorably titled “Best Friend.” It’s been a long, strange journey, but for Wendy, she’s arrived. After suffering an injury around Christmas 2019 during a rehearsal, she spent 2020 recuperating, and while Red Velvet fans (myself included) imagined that’s all she did, here she comes with another stunning SM production. The album itself Like Water may not have the sheer dynamism of the Iseul debut before it, cleaving entirely toward the Velvet concept — no wild synth here or colorful bubblegum — but it’s a long-awaited showcase for Wendy’s vocals. … More 04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

04/03/2021 – Donovan Was Right!

My introduction to the happy world of podcasts came in the mid-2000s, and it was supplied entirely by iTunes, back when computers were slow enough to mask how poorly iTunes ran on Windows (to this date). Off the very first podcast I ever heard, Slice of Scifi, iTunes would give me the old “You’ll Also Like” tab, which led me to Cinemaslave and then Genrebusters, The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast and Fast Karate for the Gentleman. The last two are the only ones still active, with Fast Karate having technically released an episode earlier this year. “Active” rings oddly here, because I simply don’t know what happened to everyone else. If you’re a podcaster, either you’re active or you’re…? And that’s upsetting enough that I simply have to believe these people are fine and living their lives. Still, it’s the disappearance of the Genrebusters off the entire Internet that gets me the most. Those guys had such a different vibe, in terms of online discourse, something sort of West Coast but northern. Very laidback, but passionate all the same. I think sometimes we confuse passion for volume, and when I say “we” I mean “I.” Damn it! … More 04/03/2021 – Donovan Was Right!

Where Are All the Burmese Movies?

I’ve been fucking around on YouTube and this blog for more than a year now, attempting to lay down a foundation and attract some eyes before embarking on the “mission” for real. Generally, the idea here is “to promote Asian cinema and culture,” and that’s easy when such material is immediately available for consumption in the United States. We all love our Japanese anime and Chinese kung fu movies and K-pop, but what about countries who don’t have prominent relations with the US? There are a lot of those countries, or at least, there are many countries of which I’d say, “I have no idea” what their art and culture is like. “Does Asian country X even have a film industry?” I’m often surprised when the answer is yes, and then I feel bad. So let’s start with a random example, oh, off the top of my head, I don’t know — Myanmar. Does Myanmar have a film industry, and a deep history of film? Yes. In this case, I don’t have to feel as bad as usual, and there’s a reason for that. … More Where Are All the Burmese Movies?

“Warrior” Couldn’t Be More Relevant in 2021

Just as some believe anti-violence in film can be achieved by sickening the audience with ultraviolence, any cinematic depiction of racism necessarily traffics in the imagery and narratives of racism. And necessary they may be in turn, all the brutal historical dramas which bring atrocities to vivid life beg the question: isn’t there another way? Perhaps there have been or could be movies about racism that forgo such descriptions as “confrontational.” Instead, we could have two strangers from opposite sides of the track building a new and honest relationship with nary a slur slipping out. Sometimes you want that, and that’d be nice. But sometimes, you want to see a racist guy kicked through a wall. … More “Warrior” Couldn’t Be More Relevant in 2021

03/13/2021 – My Name is Nobody

Have you seen the trailer for this movie Nobody? You’d be excused for not remembering the title, it’s horrible. Looks like Bob Odenkirk is the latest dad action hero, and I appreciate his gradual rise in stardom. I mean, I think he’s a good actor, but more so the rise is visibly apparent. He goes from sketch comedy to memorable supporting character on buzzy TV show to lead role on buzzy TV show sequel to supporting roles on A-list Oscar movies. With an arc like this, we see how some roles and projects are more “legitimate” than others, whether or not our personal valuation of them is consistent with the objective assessment. Similarly, our previous understanding of Odenkirk slots into a different kind of spectrum. On Breaking Bad, he’s menaced by Jonathan Banks, an actor typecast as action movie heavies. Do we buy the funnyman as badass? … More 03/13/2021 – My Name is Nobody

Masokaiju Tendencies: Those American Godzilla Movies

Godzilla is a metaphor for the atomic bomb in a film from Japan, a country struck with the atomic bomb by America, so when Godzilla shows up in America, how do you want me to take that? Hollywood has a concise answer: “I don’t give a shit.” A seemingly inevitable statement made as consequence of international intertextuality is forfeited upon the altar of I don’t know what. Three American Godzilla movies have been released so far, and I understand this to be a controversial statement, so I apologize in advance, but none of them have been good. Granted, Godzilla movies are usually not good, but this is different. At least, I think it is. … More Masokaiju Tendencies: Those American Godzilla Movies

Your Guide to the Politics of Shin Godzilla

I’d wanted to write this story about a giant monster attack and realized I didn’t know how it would play out, point by point. Which government organization would do what, at what moment? Who are the key people? And then it struck me, with the power of discouragement: that story already exists, and it’s one of my favorite movies, Shin Godzilla. So onto the shelf that story went, but the question stuck: what would have to happen if a giant monster attacked? I imagined there’d be a treasure trove of resources for “speculative crisis management” or something like that, but maybe some things are too silly even for the Internet. We’ll have to go straight to the source: how do co-directors Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno answer this question? A closer look at the bureaucratic drama of Shin Godzilla might help us understand their political critique. … More Your Guide to the Politics of Shin Godzilla