Notes on The Dropout

After a phenomenal debut with one of the best seasons of television in the 21st century, the American Crime Story anthology slowly drifted off my radar. I got partway into the second season, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, but it didn’t grab me the same way as the original. Season three (or possibly two) was supposed to be about Hurricane Katrina, and that was delayed before being reworked into this year’s Five Days at Memorial. Finally, we have Impeachment: American Crime Story, and I haven’t seen it yet. In the meantime, I have The Dropout. … More Notes on The Dropout

Koreatown NYC 2022

I recently visited New York City, and by “recently” I mean, like, three months ago. I was typing up this post as a kind of travelogue because it’s a special occasion — I really don’t travel anywhere — and then forgot about it. Apparently, I need to set the record straight, after Stella’s account of events, which make me out to be quite the fool! … More Koreatown NYC 2022

American Kung Fu Primer [PODCAST]

This month, Donovan Morgan Grant returns to provide an overview of the American kung fu movie, which is also the story of the evolution of the action scene and the United States’ cultural perception of China, Hong Kong, and Japan. We start at prehistory, before the advent of martial arts styles, and move through the watershed year of 1973 — challenge the conventional wisdom that that was the beginning — and continue onto the Golden Age and the resulting Doldrums, both pivoting around the rise and fall of The Matrix. Throughout, we introduce the careers of the action icons like Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and whittle down a list of recommendations. … More American Kung Fu Primer [PODCAST]

Emmys 2022

For the most part, I think it was a pretty crowd-pleasing Emmy nomination announcement today, between Abbott Elementary, Yellowjackets, and of course, Squid Game. Does the first-ever nominated Korean show have a chance to repeat the success of Parasite three years ago? Seems unlikely. I have to agree with the Washington Post assessment, because between perennial favorite Succession and two big departures, the smart pick here is Better Call Saul. I’m pretty sure Breaking Bad won only one Outstanding Drama award, and that was for its last season. The Academy, or whatever it is, sure loves pulling that stunt. … More Emmys 2022

Gianna Jun | The Last Vampire vs. Ashin of the North

Like all those books with straightforward titles like How to Learn JavaScript, I’ll note in this introduction that “This is not a book on how to learn JavaScript,” and in this case, I won’t be summarizing Gianna Jun’s career between the films Blood: The Last Vampire and Kingdom: Ashin of the North — not exactly. But I chose these two movies because together, they suggest something about how stars are made. … More Gianna Jun | The Last Vampire vs. Ashin of the North

Zombie Mad Scientist [PODCAST]

With Netflix K-shows being renewed left and right, what better a time to talk about Kingdom than this tense moment before season three gets the green light, too? In other words, I couldn’t wait. How could I resist Gianna, focus of this month’s discussion? For whatever reason, when Kingdom: Ashin of the North was released, my first thought was Blood: The Last Vampire, and together, they may say something about international star-making. … More Zombie Mad Scientist [PODCAST]

The Day It’s “About” the Empire and Not “By” the Empire

Anyway, something I love about Asian movies is when they manage to find white actors to play less than flattering roles, often in recreations of historical events. The question is sometimes, “Where’d they find this guy?” because the acting is so bad, but then it’s “Where’d they find this guy?” because he’s making the British look real fucking stupid. In Ray Stevenson’s case, I’m genuinely curious if his Irish heritage meant no lost love, either, or if it was just a paycheck and an awesome vacation. … More The Day It’s “About” the Empire and Not “By” the Empire

Why I’m Quitting Dinosaurs

It happened with Terminator: Genisys, it happened with Godzilla vs. Kong. I will eventually see Jurassic World: Dominion and anything that comes after it, but I wish I had the inner strength to resist. The self-respect, really. Some of my favorite movies are American blockbusters, but the “artform” is in a valley phase. They’re now produced with a TV model, where every film is an episode. This works on TV where the budgets are low enough to keep the moneymen off the lot. The proud catchphrase from the golden era was “On TV, the writer is king,” though that was before we learned that a lot of those guys were mad kings. To be honest, the role of a good director in television is underrated, and the problem is that our modern blockbusters make no room for directors. Jurassic Park was directed. And given that these legacy franchises are all about worshiping older work, I can’t escape this thought even if I wanted to. “Look at how much better this earlier movie was!” the movie is saying. … More Why I’m Quitting Dinosaurs

Queendom of the Gods

First and foremost, congratulations to WJSN for winning Queendom 2, though the real winner of course was Taeyeon, filling in for Lee Da-hee. I got into Girls’ Generation a bit sideways, so I’m only now reconciling with the scope of Taeyeon’s celebrity. For anyone else who doesn’t fully understand, Taeyeon is an idol for idols. I’ve seen a number of other idols talk about how cool it would be to one day meet Taeyeon, and I saw Bomi all nervous before being in the same room with her. That’s one thing I’d love to really get, the X factor of knowledge that might come from growing up with all that pop culture. The implicit things like Taeyeon’s godliness or what do Koreans reference in their day-to-day? I’ve picked up on some of it, like references to White Tower or The World of the Married? Anyway, speaking of K-dramas, what was interesting about Queendom 2 for me was Bona’s return of the king, where she joined her group after having missed more than half the show due to Twenty-Five Twenty-One. … More Queendom of the Gods

But Not Terminator!

This year I finally got around to checking out Terminator: Dark Fate, which had not been in the cards. I remember meeting up with a friend in Los Angeles and he said, “Why don’t we go see Terminator sometime?” and I replied, “Yeah, I don’t know. Next movie I see in theaters is gonna be The Lighthouse.” Well, joke’s on me, because I still haven’t seen The Lighthouse. I think I may have shared the apathy of the moviegoing public which rejected Dark Fate, something that had been building. I saw Salvation in theaters and enjoyed it, nearly saw Genisys in theaters but went to the wrong theater and didn’t give it another try. Saw it later and, of course, it sucked. As has been documented elsewhere, the prospect of “the third-best Terminator” wasn’t compelling enough. … More But Not Terminator!