Archives for category: films

It’s September, yeah, but Asian August forever and ever… 

For someone who is not a fan at all of rom-coms, I thoroughly enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians — and, apparently, so do well over $100 million worth of other ticket buyers. Mindy Kaling expresses so much of what makes CRA great here and here and here and here and here (for reals, Mindy, use the thread feature!).

However, I found myself identifying more naturally with David Kim, the father character played by John Cho in SearchingAs Director Aneesh Chaganty put it so well in this great live podcast episode of It’s Been A Minute:

In most films with Asian American actors, Aneesh said, “You usually have to explain — what is the Asian hook? Like, why is this family Asian?” But in Searching, he said, “there’s nothing about this film that explains it.”

That an actor of any race could have played the lead, John added, is precisely the point. “The fact that it doesn’t have to be an Asian-American film makes me want to claim it as an Asian-American film,” he said.

Also, key takeaway: No vlogging. Ever.

Semi-spoiler alert: Does that intro rival Up, or what? I sort of wish I had been given an emotional heads-up beforehand!


On top of all this, having smart, tenacious, faithful, talented Asian American friends who also happen to be authors sharing much-needed insight & guidance? You can read my review of Adrian Pei‘s fantastic book, The Minority Experience: Navigating Emotional and Organizational Realitieshere.

I’ll post a more robust review soon (hopefully!), but for now I’ll say this: Kathy Khang is the real deal and Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up reflects her authenticity and passion. Particularly in this surreal age in which we live, silence is not an option for people of good faith and good will. As Elie Wiesel says, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”


Not too long ago, while waiting to pick up my coffee, I overheard a conversation a Starbucks barista was having with a customer about movies. The customer was enthusiastically into pretty much all kinds of movies, but particularly post-apocalyptic films.

The barista perked up at mention of this genre, saying, “Yeah, I appreciate those kinds of films because they’re really about the human condition.”

“Yeah, totally. Like, how would you survive a zombie attack?”

Judging by the look on the barista’s face, I’d say it’s a safe bet to guess that’s not what he meant. I’d put my money on something in the ballpark of this or that.

Genres like sci-fi can use devices like Cylons to explore deeper questions about what it means to be human.  That, and the awesome outer space pew-pew-pew fights.

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There’s something so creepy about abandoned amusement parks:

[I’m not 100% sure who to credit for the photo below: I found it via a search for “abandoned roller coasters”]

… and industrial ruins:

[h/t: Gizmodo — the photographer who captured this amazing shot is Thomas Jorion]

Is it knowing that even our greatest monuments are subject to decay? That what we build will one day fall?

Or maybe because they’re, like, totally places where zombies would hide out?

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If I were to summarize Elysium in one sentence, it would be: In the future, when you die, it will most likely be by exploding.

Clearly, blogging has not been a favorite of mine this year (although I should resolve to commit myself to more regular writing in the new year. I need to take a Buddy the Elf kind of approach to blogging: I just like to blog. Blogging’s my favorite.)

While this was a bad year for apocalyptic predictions, it was a good year for movie explosions. And my enjoyment of films is almost always directly proportional to the number of onscreen pyrotechnics. Three cheers for The Avengers, Looper, and The Dark Knight Rises. I greatly enjoyed watching Wreck-It Ralph with my family, and trying to explain all of the old-school gaming references to my daughter.

2012 was also a good year for old guys getting the band back together for the purpose of melting faces.

I missed Refused the first time around  back in the late 90s, but managed to catch them twice this year. I even managed to keep both my contact lenses in for the second show! Their genuine gratitude at being given a second chance to perform and their energetic approach to playing reminded me why I love punk rock.

Quicksand played a short, but mean set at the FYF Fest — it was worth kicking around in the dust to catch them (I’m really stoked to see them again in January!).

And, while it wasn’t the Drive Like Jehu reunion show I’ve been pining away for, I was blown away by SD’s own Hot Snakes at the Casbah. It took two drummers to maintain the intensity of their barn-burning punk set.

Not all my live music events were reunions shows, though. There was also the Christmas Unicorn:

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And now, a few of my favorite albums released in 2012, alphabetically:

 151a, by Kishi Bashi

Perhaps you’ve heard his song in that Microsoft ad? Multi-instrumental indie bliss. Always love supporting Asian Americans creating amazing music.

Violins + delay pedal + toss that beat in a garbage can, below!

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Bloom, by Beach House

So sleepy! Bloom’s dreamy shoegaze-y slow jams should bring you back to the 90s, in a good way.

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Swing Lo Magellan, by Dirty Projectors

Jangly, disjointed, frustrating. I don’t always like my music difficult, but when I do, Dirty Projectors.

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Shields, by Grizzly Bear

Headline: Indie bands have a hard time making money! Wait, that’s not news at all.

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S/T, by Monsters Calling Home (now Run River North)

My friend Wayne writes eloquently about why MCH/RRN matters.

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My Head is an Animal, by Of Monsters and Men

Are these Icelandic sprites the reason for MCH’s name change? Their songs make me want to knit an octopus sweater.

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Wrecking Ball, by Bruce Springsteen

If the Boss releases an album, I’m not saying no. Americana, and then some.

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Silver & Gold, by Sufjan Stevens

I’m a Christmas unicorn. You’re a Christmas unicorn, too.

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And a few that I’ve liked so far (but haven’t had a chance to sit down with): Metz, Future of the Left, and Japandroids. More noise!

Is it possible to enjoy the opening title sequence of a film more than the film itself?

Well, maybe not, given the high caliber of films below, but these title designs by Saul Bass are stunning in their own right:

This summer, somehow, I ended up seeing more films than I have in the past five or six years combined.  Since most of these films were from the summer-blockbuster variety (Star Trek, Wolverine, GI Joe, etc.) I ended up seeing many of the same trailers over and over. I feel like I’ve already seen some of those films, even though they haven’t been released.

However, it might have been before District 9 (which was super-intense, by the way; I’m stressed just remembering it!), I saw this lovely trailer for Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are:

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