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!

Mid-Year Report 2022

You guessed it! Time for lil’ ol’ me to give a tally on the year so far, in the form of a Top 5 and Worst 3, anticipating our annual QNA Year End Review. How much will things change before we hit December? And of course, these are not all 2022 releases, just things I’ve seen this year. We’ll have more later, but a listen-back to “Twenty-Five Twenty-One” by Jaurim calls me here. That song obliterates me. … More Mid-Year Report 2022

And Hideaki Anno as Ultraman

So, Shin Ultraman premiered not long ago and it’s Ultra-smashing up the box office (Ultra Smash being a signature Ultraman move). The review bytes I read reflect the response to the trailer, that it’s a lighter version of Shin Godzilla — that’s all I need. I’m no Ultra scholar, so I don’t know how much political commentary factored into the original. Perhaps with Hideaki Anno ceding the director role entirely to Shinji Higuchi this time, there you have it? Well, that’s not really what a director does. And besides, as I learned today, Anno had a much more important role to play: Ultraman. … More And Hideaki Anno as Ultraman

Genre Evolution [VLOG]

Trying something new — forgoing video essays for something far more specific: Kermode Uncut? Not a flattering comparison for me, but I just like the structure of those videos. I just have to work on cutting down on the chitchat and, you know, video quality.

There Are No Female Jedi

I’m currently embroiled in one of those arguments where the stakes are not even and things could get messy. Podcast guest host Stella took exception to a recent comment I made on QNA about the venerable Star Wars series, how I was uncomfortable as a kid watching the Prequel Trilogy because so many of the Jedi were men. It was only with Rey in The Force Awakens that I felt “Maybe this could be a universe for me, too.” Stella, a far more ardent Star Wars ardherent, with a trove-like knowledge of the Expanded Universe beyond my reckoning and a more intense investment in female representation in fiction (as a female in non-fiction), countered that there are, in fact, Jedi who are non-men. … More There Are No Female Jedi

Comeback Year

This year, long-gestating Tokyo Vice finally came out (though tainted by one very bad actor), we have a new Michelle Yeoh movie that people are flipping out about, Robert Eggers made the best genre flip — horror to action — and I’ve already spoken thousands of words to Kwon Do-eun’s return with Twenty-Five Twenty-One. But even without all these neat TV shows and movies already released, there’s a lot to come for cinema-goers (however you go — I’ve not been to the theater since Birds of Prey). … More Comeback Year

Underworld Politics

By happenstance, I waited more than a year to revisit the world of Johnnie To’s Election, finally sitting down to watch Election 2 (A.K.A. Triad Election) kind of on a lark. I was all geared up for Reign of Assassins while the world is in Yeoh mode, but then a flip switched in my head. I liked the first Election well enough, despite that its depiction of gangsters took me by surprise. They were always getting hit by cars or eating plates or never, ever firing a gun. I also struggled to keep up with the story, thrown immediately into the deep end with way too many characters all talking about many other characters. But by the end, it weirdly clicked. Oh, shit, that’s a hell of an ending. Now that I kind of understand, I’m wondering if the second and final Election movie will be clearer to start out. Nope! But what is clearer is that it’s phenomenal. … More Underworld Politics