The Royal Tailor

A lot of the Korean pop culture I’ve witnessed so far eschews context, even before exportation to America. There’s a propulsive energy to movies like Parasite and The Handmaiden, like “Wowzer, where did that come from?” and you’ll see highly-paid and highly-respected Korean celebrities doing absurd things in the name of cinema (or variety shows). A film like The Royal Tailor doesn’t stop to observe its absurdity, doesn’t replicate the audience to lie prostrate before it and be judged, and this allows the earnest deliveries of lines like “I’ll make sure your clothes never see the light of day!” The magic trick, then, is that this line is a gut punch. … More The Royal Tailor

#Alive

Zombie movies stopped being weird a long, long time ago. And I don’t mean “millions of Milla Jovovich clones” weird — though before I fall into this visible trap for genre snobbery, is that any better or worse than Return of the Living Dead III’s zombie power loaders? To my mind, still, there’s a difference between Paul W.S. Anderson and Brian Yuzna. There’s a difference between in-groups and out-groups, the names made in the heyday — teeth cut, conventions defined, practical effects — who attach to a classic like Re-Animator, itself apiece with Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive and the original Return of the Living Dead — the good ones. Whenever a zombie movie passes before my eyes — or I watch a zombie movie, whatever — all of this history trots out again for parade, all this embittered narrative and stolen history, borderline appropriation / vandalism of our darkest realms, us — genre champions — for coercion into the mainstream. What you call perhaps the last bastion against genre monopoly by superheroes I call… the rape of the natural world! … More #Alive

Crisis in Xinjiang: Introduction

I’ve been racking by brain recently with how to introduce the humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang to With Eyes East, a movie/K-pop blog. It’s important, generally, and especially important as the current video duo on the YouTube channel is about Chinese history. It’s crucial context for the next installment of “Sisters of Mulan,” which partly discusses the authoritarian Mainland government. My first thought was to attempt outlining a “solution pipeline,” not to present myself as answer-having, but to discover our part in the answer — I was imagining something like “write your U.N.,” and by the time I get there, the whole thing looks ridiculous. It’s an enormously serious situation, and I feel terrible applying my brand of naive slacktivism to it. So before I do come up with a personal solution here, here are two very helpful articles from Just Security, the first communicating the urgency and the second recommending proper responses from world bodies. … More Crisis in Xinjiang: Introduction

Chadwick Boseman

It was not coronavirus, it was not the police. It was cancer, that most apolitical tragedy — awakening no rage, activating no power. That’s been the American experience in 2020, and so his death stands alone as an unanswerable injustice. Chadwick Boseman is the face of a cinema project unprecedented in the U.S. — film … More Chadwick Boseman

Sisters of Mulan: The Warrior Women of China

What about Mulan? I always thought she was a real historical figure, maybe because she was also pretty. The movie has only a dash of the supernatural — seasoned just right — and we certainly never learned about Chinese history in school, so how, before I looked it up, could I have known, how? Well, it turns out that the Mulan story dates back to a poem, not an actual, factual woman who rode off to war in her father’s place. But that’s such a good story, I want it to be real. And because our perception today of Mulan is so tied in with female empowerment, that she’s the Disney princess who kicks butt and challenges a woman’s place in society, shouldn’t that have some basis in reality? Obviously you can enjoy the Mulan story or the movies any way you’d like, and feel empowered by them, so the answer is no. But if the answer is yes, the question “Was Mulan real?” becomes “Is Mulan believable?” And to answer that question, I’d like to take a look today at the historical figures with similar stories, and their depictions in movies. Because it’s not enough that Mulan has spiritual sisters, we have to understand that she does. And so, our story begins where a lot of great stories begin. … More Sisters of Mulan: The Warrior Women of China

Top 5 K-Pop Songs

Yes, this is the absolutely definitive top five K-pop songs of all time, according to someone who’s been listening to K-pop for, like, a year. I trust that this list will evolve as I continue on in my Koreaboo journey, so maybe I’ll make it a recurring feature. There’s just something about this music that makes me want to surrender to hyperbole, to shout superlatives and classify things as number one best, not to evangelize but simply to accurately express my feelings. And this isn’t a one-way thing, man. I need to know your top K-pop songs, however you reach me. Email, Twitter, a thrown brick upon the temple, message wrapped around it. Two notes before we begin: first, I’m doing one song per group, so that this doesn’t become a Red Velvet show. And second, you may be frustrated to discover that all these songs are by girl groups. Whenever I say “K-pop,” you know, on the street, a brick in your hand, that’s pretty much what I’m talking about, though that obviously makes for somewhat serious omissions. Whatever! Everybody ready? … More Top 5 K-Pop Songs

Do You Remember?

I don’t know if there’s any harm in being upfront with the mission, though I’ll certainly wonder. It’s nice to tease these things out, you know? I might just be speaking into a microphone, but I think in narrative, and perhaps we all do. There’s no intrigue if I just say everything at the start, but maybe that’s the difference between narrative and good narrative. No filler. Well, you’ll have to be the judge on that one. With Eyes East is a multimedia adventure with the aim of promoting Asian cinema and culture. It’s not a very ambitious aim, so I’ll endeavor to keep it that way. … More Do You Remember?

State of the Podcast Address!

And by that, I mean YouTube channel, but I’m used to saying “podcast.” I’d rather just shoot whatever I’m working on out there when it’s ready, but it seems these things are never ready. The October video is gonna be a goddamn cakewalk, but August and September (fka July and August) have been murder. The twin problems? My own writing creep and Disney. Goddamn Disney, moving Mulan around. Now it’s gonna premiere September 4th, on Disney+. After the abysmal failure of the video on The Departed (which has one big fan, so quality over quantity, for sure), I need some of that SEO. Gosh, and it’s not even gonna work, but I got to try something. I’m not used to viewcounts in the triple digits, double digits. I’m a quadruple digit YouTuber, goddamn it! … More State of the Podcast Address!

K-Pop Pick of the Day: “Dumhdurum”

I love everything about this song — the music itself, of course, and also the MV. The colors, the lavish detail, the frowny-girl scowls, and even Naeun’s cornrows (speaking of appropriative). This is a really bold outing for Apink, as far as I’ve seen (having missed a few of their more recent evolutionary steps, namely “%%”). It pops. There’s a big synchronized hair whip in the choreography, and I think that’s the quintessence of the piece. It’s fast and fun — it’s a real jolt. And it’s lean, maintaining a consistent vibe throughout, rather than peaks and valleys. … More K-Pop Pick of the Day: “Dumhdurum”