btw hella spoilers for everything, obviously
8/25/16 - Fiddler on the Roof (movie), ✰✰✰✰✰
One of the best musicals I've ever seen, rivaling "The Sound of Music" for first. This movie taught me everything I know about Jewish culture. I like how Jewish people are at once optimistic and pessimistic—the fiddler on the roof is, yes, a symbol of hope and family and love in times of strife, but "Sunrise, Sunset" seems thematically inappropriate for as happy an event as a wedding.
IF I WERE A RICH MAN, YIBA DIBA DIBA DIBA DIBA DIBA DIBA DUM, ALL DAY LONG I'D BIDDY BIDDY BUM, IF I WERE A WEALTHY MAN, AYYY!!!
8/21/16 - Fantastic Mr. Fox (movie), ✰✰✰✰✰
Look. I can't help that I like things that are quirky. I wish I wasn't this way. I wish I wasn't so easily won over with silly plots and distinctive art direction. But here we are. Very, very cute movie. Very bizarre. I would like to make another stop motion film because this one was beautiful. I love his characters, too. I love how they all have three distinctive defining traits, listed one right after the other. It's a very fun movie.
8/20/16 - The Babadook (movie), ✰✰✰✰
It drew me in with beautiful art direction and cinematography, and won me over with its themes of (unwanted) motherhood, repression, and unconditional love. The guy who made the Babadook book (also, an anagram for "a bad book") was the production designer for the stop motion world of "The Little Prince," which is why it's so beautifully designed. I liked how everything in her house was blue. But it also creeped me out.
I will say that it's certainly not as terrifying as everyone said it was. I mean, I am scared very easily, but I didn't find this film to be all that terrifying (except, of course, the psychological implications of unwanted motherhood). I also found the child to be quite adorable, and he certainly redeemed himself towards the end—he just wants to love and protect his mother, but his mother can't do the same for him, and he can tell, even if her disdain is buried in her subconscious.
Can't believe the dog died tho. Very sad about that.
8/20/16 - Bluets (book), ✰✰✰✰
Really similar to Nelson's "The Argonauts," thought perhaps less intellectualized. In comparison
8/18/16 - Stranger Things, Season 1 (tv), ✰✰✰
It's really too bad I know next to nothing about 80s American pop culture; otherwise, I might have enjoyed this series more. While I can appreciate the art direction and nostalgia aspect of this period piece, and while I do appreciate its relationship to things like the X-Files, Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, Steven Spielberg, Alien, Lovecraft, DnD, etc., I felt the entire plot was cliche and was littered with superficial caricatures of teenagers and children. I really, really disliked some of their lines. ESPECIALLY the teenagers' and the bullies'. And the repetition of the whole "promise?" and "friends?" thing was...fake sentimental. Not into that.
Still, the show, at the very least, knew how to make cliffhangers. I really couldn't stop after one episode—and yeah, I did watch 7 episodes today, because I'm still swollen in bed and bleeding from my perforated gums. And like I already said, I REALLY loved the art direction and the strength of some of the imagery: the alphabet beneath the lights, the kids' outfits, the DnD references, the Eggos, and so on. Beautiful lighting and cinematography. But apart from Eleven, Winona Ryder's character, and her older son—the three characters who absolutely steal the show for me—the plot and the characters felt very, very flat.
I'd still watch a second season, tho.
8/17/16 - The Godfather (movie), ✰✰✰✰✰
I mean, it's literally iconic. From the first scene alone I could already tell that this would be a fantastic, tightly-written film with memorable characters and situations. I'm a sucker for dysfunctional family dramas—I also love Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" and the contemporary film "Little Miss Sunshine" (and yes, Anna Karenina is on my to-read list). They remind me, always, so much of my own dysfunctional family. I love, also, the older film aesthetic—the colors aren't so heavily edited, and the cinematography relies more on compositional juxtaposition and lighting than extreme close-ups or luxurious CGI pans. But that's my own gripe with Hollywood. I liked how the film was really sexist and patriarchal—Italy really seems like a beautiful shithole (for women, at least).
In the interest of being completely transparent, I do have to admit something: I was falling asleep for almost the entire movie. However, this was ONLY because I got my wisdom teeth removed today, and I was seriously fucked up on hydrocodone and pure acetaminophen (my mom almost killed me through her medicinal neglect, yes), fighting for lucidity for the good part of my day. But despite my grogginess, I still managed to love this film for what it was, even though I missed some major plot points because I had drifted off for a second or two.
8/17/16 - The Minions (movie), ✰✰✰✰
A delightful children's movie. A wonderful combination of cuteness and violence. There isn't really a moral, though, and there's not much of a thoughtful theme to take away (which is what most non-Disney/Pixar movies lack), but the comedy is so funny and memorable that I loved it nonetheless.
8/16/16 - Rick and Morty, Seasons 1 and 2 (tv), ✰✰✰✰✰
This show is magical.
8/14/16 - Frank (movie), ✰✰✰✰✰
UGH. My favorite movie of the summer (so far, with two weeks to go). I cannot believe they got three famous movie stars to play in a weird fake band, but I love it. It's performance art. It's the most accurate televised satire on contemporary art since that one episode of Broad City. It explores mental illness humorously and sensitively. The band reminded me a lot of some bands I saw in high school at a local indie venue—in particular, a show where the band plucked cacti and made music to the sound of dripping water. My jam.
I adore Frank!!
Coca Cola lipstick Ringo
Dance all night, dance all night
I've got dancing legs (woo!)
I've got dancing legs
They won't stop me dancing, no
They won't stop me dancing
Kiss me, just kiss me
Kiss me, Nefertiti
Just the way you like it
Just the way you like it
Kiss me, kiss me
Lipstick kiss me, lipstick Ringo
That's the way you like it
8/12/16 – Sausage Party (movie), ✰
I saw this movie because the trailer looked funny, and I had a $25 AMC giftcard. I wish I could take back the hours of my life I wasted on this film. It was trash. It was not a "nuanced meditation on theology and faith"; it was a story written by two thirteen-year-old white boys who just learned about atheism and want to be the 3dgi3st boys in Sunday school. But holy shit, the reviews are rolling in, and the film is a critically-acclaimed box office darling. Like, THAT QUOTE IS FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES ???? My only guess is that this film so repulsed viewers that in hopes of forgetting what they had seen they turned to bath salts (a staple motif in this soon-to-be-Academy Award-winning film), and now their memory of the movie has been rosily tainted by drugs...and cognitive dissonance, maybe, because Seth Rogen is quite a likeable guy.
I will concede that there was one funny scene. A human tries to kill the chewed piece of gum/Stephen Hawking character, but the bullet wound fails to inflict damage, and the gum says, "Matter cannot be created nor destroyed. You have made a grave error in judgment." That was a pretty good joke. But apart from that line, for the majority of the film my face was literally: ((ꐦ ಠ Д ಠ ))
After the movie finished, I waited with two friends in the mall doorway with all the gumball and candy machines. There was a full bag of popcorn on top of one of these machines, and I was so utterly consumed by a Nietzschean sense of futility and hopelessness that I decided to forego safety and common sense in favor of delicious, free, cold, stale, wet popcorn. So I ate the whole thing. No regrets. Except for watching this godawful movie.
8/8/16 - The Little Prince (movie), ✰✰
The stop motion parts were SO, SO BEAUTIFUL. Some of the best stop motion art I've ever seen. But that was about 20 minutes of a two hour long movie. The rest was derivative. I would have liked the story more if the old dude died. CHILDREN MUST NOT FEAR DEATH, FOR IT IS A PART OF LIFE.
8/7/16 - Ex Machina (movie), ✰✰✰✰
Pretty dope. Creepy ending. I liked how the guy had an Asian maid. As an Asian, I was thoroughly disturbed.
I'd like to talk about the part where the main guy asks the evil guy (I suck at names) if he had looked through his pornography history in order to construct a female robot who was suited exactly to his "type," and the evil guy was like "ya." I wonder. I wonder what would have happened if he had some sort of deviant fetish and only watched, say, furry porn, or was a gimp suit-wearing sadomasochist, and when encountering the sexy lady robot instead of looking conventionally attractive (and appealing to a large range of people) she instead was a sexy fox lady with boobs and a prehensile fuzzy tail. And the outfit trying scene would instead be with handcuffs and a ball gag. And later he'd be like, "So, u looked through my reddit subscriptions and she's a furry on purpose???" and the evil dude would be like, "I mean, like, duh??? I'm into Asians."
That's an SNL-quality sketch right there. God.
8/4/16 - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (book), ✰✰✰
I read this in a few hours. Scorpius is the heart of the story—he's the adorable angel child hero nobody deserves but everyone loves. Unlike many of my peers, I am not a fan of shipping Scorpio and Albus—I prefer, instead, to think of them as emotionally vulnerable teenage boys. Boys can love each other platonically, too. So, the Malfoys are obviously the most interesting characters in this play. Draco went through a lot of unexpected character development, which was really great to read about, and I especially liked the bit about how he was always jealous of Harry, Hermione, and Ron; they "shone." It was a realistic, unexpected conversation. However, I did find the four adults (Draco and the heroic trio) became a bit too chummy at the end. The story wraps up too nicely, I think.
Despite the robust personalities of Scorpius and Draco, the book failed to captivate me like previous Harry Potter books had. I didn't like the weak logic behind the call to adventure, I didn't like how the adults were all mostly flat characters (except Draco), and I didn't like how Scorpius, a British boy, at one point said, "No way, Jose!" Pretty sure no British person has ever said that.
Apart from Scorpius and Malfoy, the most delightful wonder of the book was the trolley lady, who mutated into a terrifying monster/troll thing while preventing the boys from escaping the train. She's the breakout star, the prodigous talent, the Susan Boyle of the Cursed Child.
8/2/16 - House of Leaves (book), ✰✰✰✰
This book took me a month to read. I don't know enough about semiotics to really comment on that aspect of the story, but I enjoyed the narrative and the experimental nature of the book. A true exploration of form and function. What I didn't like, though, was Johnny Truant, as a character. His interjections were literally all the same: get fucked up on drugs, talk about a lady he wants to have sex with,
6/21/16 - The Argonauts (book), ✰✰✰✰
Maggie Nelson is a genius. I read this for school and was way more into it than I was required to be. She has lots and lots of bits of wisdom, and I catalogued tons of quotes. Here's a presentation I made about the book.
6/18/16 - Pedro Páramo (book), ✰✰✰✰
Truly a wonderful book. I read this per Brian's recommendation and his comparison to Kentucky Route Zero. The book begins simply and ends tragically, and in between is surreal meandering between past and present timelines of characters in a ghost town. Death and life are given equal weight, and the landscapes paint emotional portraits of towns. I missed some of the major plot points, but I think that has more to do with me (and my inability to focus) than the book. I love its structure and its verbal simplicity.
I was thinking of you, Susana. Of the green hills. Of when we used to fly kites in the windy season. We could hear the sounds of life from the town below; we were high above on the hill, playing out string to the wind. "Help me, Susana." And soft hands would tighten on mine. "Let out more string."
The wind made us laugh; our eyes followed the string running through our fingers after the wind until with a faint pop! it broke, as if it had been snapped by the wings of a bird. And high over head, the paper bird would tumble and somersault, trailing its rag tail, until it disappeared into the green earth.
Your lips were moist, as if kissed by the dew.
6/1/16 - The Complete Jack Survives (comic), ✰✰✰
The reviews for this book are extremely commendatory, but I found it to be somewhat lackluster. Granted, I flew through this giant book in about an hour and a half, when the reviewers had likely pored over each line (drawn or otherwise), but I nevertheless felt solidly "meh" throuhgout. I've flown through Lynda Barry's comics but still managed to love them, so I don't think that's quite it. It was an interesting experience to read and I don't regret having done so, at least, but I don't know if I learned much, and I definitely didn't feel very much. There was one comic I liked, but I can hardly remember it now. Maybe that says more about me (and my terrible memory) than the comic.
reviews begin with the summer before my finaly semester of college. everything prior doesn't count, because I wasn't a real person before now.