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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

REVIEW – Selena

April 20, 2019 Leave a comment
Directed by: Gregory Nava
Produced by: Abraham Quintanilla Jr., Moctesuma Esparza, Robert Katz
Written by: Gregory Nava
Edited by: Nancy Richardson
Cinematography by: Edward Lachman
Music by: Dave Grusin
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Constance Marie, Jacob Vargas, Lupe Ontiveros, Jackie Guerra, Rebecca Lee Meza, Panchito Gómez
Year: 1997

April 16, 2019 would have been the 48th birthday of influential Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Tragically, Selena was murdered just shy of her 24th birthday on March 31, 1995 by the former head of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, who had been recently fired for embezzling money. Despite her young age and shortened career, Selena has gone on to become one of the highest selling Latino artists of all time and has gone on to be a major influence on countless artists after her. I was only 8 when she died and despite having heard a few of her songs here and there, I was not exactly aware of her as an artist until the film based on her life was released a mere two years after her death. The film became a staple in my family’s household, thanks in large part to my younger sister, who also had the film’s soundtrack and, I believe, some of Selena’s other albums. After moving out on my own, I largely forgot about the film beyond a few references (“Selinas!” “It looks like ‘Papa Yoyos’!” etc.), a general feeling that the film was mediocre, but the music was excellent, and so when theatres in my area decided to mark the singer’s birthday this past week with a screening, I decided to revisit the film and see if the experience could help me not only reassess it as a film, but see also if the film could provide me with some insight into the singer’s life, culture, and impact as an artist. Read more…

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The Empathy Machine

June 11, 2015 Leave a comment

There was another version of this article that actually went on quite a bit of a rant, but I had to scrap it. I scrapped it not just for you, my reader, but also for myself, as I was writing more out of impassioned irritation than I was to make a coherent article about my relationship with film, as I had originally set out to do. I think this is a bit more focused, and a bit more biographical than that lecture, which I am honestly glad I had second thoughts about – and I do mean lecture as in “scold,” not “educational speech.” Part of what I almost lost sight of was an expression of my love for the medium of film, which, let’s face it, is the main topic of this blog is, after all!

Wall-E - Watching Hello Dolly

Wall-E

I do love film, though. I even admittedly sometimes love watching bad films, when the mood strikes, despite the fact that I usually end up griping about how awful they are by the time the credits begin – oftentimes earlier. I guess I’m a part time hate-watcher. That being said, however, I am admittedly an amateur when it comes to film appreciation. I’m rarely driven by more than gut instinct when it comes to analyzing the individual parts of a film, so I’m often left feeling quite inadequate to judge things like the composition of shots, the quality of the score, and the inventiveness of certain other techniques unless they really stand out to me. And, honestly, so long as those elements are either so well done that they either don’t call attention to themselves or are so transcendently novel that I can’t help but notice, I’m largely okay with that. For me, film has always been more than just the sum of its parts and more about what it’s actually saying on behalf of the artists involved and the subject it’s covering. (And, sometimes, films are mostly just entertaining, and that’s honestly okay, too!) Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

April 24, 2015 1 comment
Kumiko, the Treasure HunterDirected by: David Zellner
Produced by: Jim Burke, Andrew Banks, Cameron Lamb, Chris Ohlson, Nathan Zellner; Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (exec.)
Written by: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Edited by: Melba Jodorowsky
Cinematography by: Sean Porter,
Music by: The Octopus Project
Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard, David Zellner, Bunzo
Year: 2015 (wide)

 

Opening with a distorted epigraph declaring the following tale to be “based on a true story,” Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is actually based more in legend than true events. The true story became muddled thanks to a misunderstanding between Bismark, ND police officers and a Japanese woman named Takako Konishi, who had come to America from Tokyo and who the police had trouble communicating with thanks to a language barrier. Konishi was seeking some kind of refuge from her overwhelming depression somewhere near Minneapolis. She had lost her job back in Tokyo and had spent some time there with her married American businessman lover, whom she possibly came to see before tragically committing suicide near Detroit Lakes, MN. The language barrier between the police and Konishi, however led to the creation of an urban legend that Konishi had instead come to seek out the money-filled briefcase Steve Buscemi’s character had buried in the Coen Brothers film Fargo, believing the briefcase was real thanks in large part to that film’s epigraph declaring the story to be based on truth (it wasn’t) – this epigraph is, in fact, the very same one that Kumiko borrows for its own story. While David and Nathan Zellner here choose to focus on the myth for their story, however, in so doing, they actually manage to do justice to Konishi’s tragic story by portraying the heartbreaking truth of her emotions that were lost in translation through the story that far more people were compelled to listen to. Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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Special Review: “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” — A Surprising Lack of Inexperience

June 4, 2013 1 comment
The 40-Year-Old VirginDirected by: Judd Apatow
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend, Shauna Robertson
Written by: Judd Apatow, Steve Carell
Edited by: Brent White
Cinematography by: Jack Green
Music by: Lyle Workman
Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Kat Dennings, Jane Lynch
Year: 2005

 

If you’re among my friends, you probably know the story about how I saw this movie soon after it came out on DVD during my first year of college. It wasn’t the sort of movie that I would have sought out myself at the time, but my best friend’s roommate put it on one night while I was hanging out at their dorm, as I was wont to do in those days, and, yeah, I watched it. It was pretty much the first hard R-rated comedy film I had ever sat down and watched at the time on my own. Being 19, living relatively on my own, I felt pretty grown up about the whole situation. And, you know what? I actually quite liked it. (Spoiler alert if you’re worried about those kinds of things with a review.) Read more…

Special Review: “Lost in Translation” – A Personal Valentine’s Day Reflection

February 14, 2012 5 comments
Directed by: Sophia Coppola
Produced by: Sofia Coppola & Ross Katz, Stephen Schible (co-producer), Francis Ford Coppola (executive producer)
Written by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, Akiko Takeshita, Fumihiro Hayashi, Catherine Lambert
Music by: Kevin Shields
Year: 2003

 

First off, if you’ve been tuning in or wondering where the heck I’ve been since last Tuesday (you were, weren’t you, admit it), well, then I’m glad to let you know that I was just sick for a little over 4 days. Luckily, this overlapped with the weekend, and so I only missed two work days (and a birthday celebration, unfortunately). Melancholy about my own body’s tolerance for the common cold aside, I did get afforded a long break from work, which I spent eating ice cream to soothe my sore throat and watching some fantastic movies. Luckily, I am better now, despite a persistent cough and some clogged ears, and am ready to get writing just in time to do a holiday review! Read more…

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