Monday, February 20, 2017

Allegiance

This Broadway musical about the Japanese internment was beautifully sung and acted. The sight of people chanting "Resist" in the face of prejudice and wartime paranoia is very timely, and I thank George Takei for pushing this message so we never forget. It's also so refreshing to see a cast of mostly Asian Americans instead of more Hollywood whitewashing. Too bad that this show was not successful against Hamilton. It is not depressing but rather uplifting, with a touching personal story of redemption and forgiveness.

George Takei plays WWII vet Sammy Kimura in the present day, as well as Sammy's grandfather in the past. The flashback introduces us to the family during a Japanese summer festival where they tie wishes to a tree, so that the wind will blow them away and grant the wishes. The song conveys their hopes and dreams for the future, and is bittersweet in light of what the war has in store for them. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Sammy and his friends try to enlist, but are rejected as "enemy aliens." Sammy's father argues not to make trouble or draw attention to themselves, that nothing can be done about the rising anti-Japanese sentiment.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lego Batman

The Lego Batman movie was funny, sweet and great. Not at all grim-dark, though it had serious dramatic moments. Just the right dose of Will Arnett that I needed to cheer myself up these days. And I don't know if it was an Arrested Development nod to the hermano confusion over Marta, but I liked how they kept using Spanish for their terms of endearment. Goofy, earnest Robin was fantastic, as was parental Alfred and awesome Batgirl.

I would say the only complaint I had was that the movie seemed to shove aside all the regular Batman villains in favor of the Phantom Zone villains. We barely had any lines from Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler, etc, simply to focus on the Joker as the greatest enemy. It also took me a second viewing to realize the female police chief was a genderbent Chief O'Hara, and I'm not sure why Batman kept calling Bruce Wayne "Bruno" when talking about his "roommate." But I do agree that "Iron Man sucks" lately in the last couple of Marvel films with the Avengers.

Another thing was that I saw an ad for the Fathom Event showing of George Takei's Allegiance show about Japanese internment camps, so I'm going to see that today. I wish they wouldn't do such short notice on these kind of events. I missed the last showing because I was working that day and couldn't take off.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Effie Gray

Currently I'm reading a book called Parallel Lives, portraying the lives of famous Victorian couples. I've just read the chapters concerning John Ruskin and Effie Gray, and their unconsummated marriage. Very interesting, and the author makes an effort to balance the viewpoints. She shows how each spouse has a different, parallel view of the marriage, just as there are two sides to every divorce. Having grown up a spoiled genius, John Ruskin convinces himself that Effie is insane, and that she is the one causing the problems because she insists on sticking up for her family and wants to avoid his suffocating parents. The author also quotes Ruskin's parents, who think Effie is ungrateful for the wealth and comforts they pay for; they believe she should be obedient and defer to them, while John agrees with his parents. So apart from never having sex, their marriage had fundamental problems from the start. It's really strange how foreign old Victorian attitudes are, and the author even points out that other Victorian marriages had been unconsummated as well.

I remember watching the movie about Effie, and being dissatisfied that the movie ended before we actually saw Effie's marriage annulled. I guess they wanted to emphasize that the annulment was for her own well-being, rather than being for the specific goal of her marrying the painter Millais. (And indeed, the book says in real life that Effie made him stay away for a time to avoid scandal.) I look forward to finishing the book and learning about the other couples, such as the Carlyles.

By the way, I found that the s(her)lock web series has uploaded an episode to Youtube. I'm not sure what that means about the other episodes they made. Will they be available to purchase somewhere? I hope so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Season 5

So apparently there's new AD scoop that the season 5 will be half flashbacks starring other actors as the young Bluths. I find it strange that we keep hearing things like this without Netflix making an official announcement. I want firm news, not gossip and speculation.

I wouldn't mind some flashbacks, if they concerned periods of time that we don't know anything about, like when Michael's wife Tracey was alive, when Lindsay and Sally Sitwell competed during the high school election, or when Lucille Bluth had a pet ostrich and developed her suspicion of brothers colluding. However, I'm not sure I want half the show to be flashbacks; I would prefer the story move forward on plots like Lucille Austero's murder, Gob and Tony's relationship, and Lindsay's new election battle against Sally.

Hope there will be better news soon. In the meantime I'm working again on Far From Over to write things how I want them to be in my alternate universe.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Curious Incident

I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the book of that name. It was less Sherlockian than I hoped; they mentioned once that Christopher liked reading Holmes stories, but did not even explain that the title quote came from a particular story.

I got cheap tickets way up high, but was allowed to come forward 4 rows because that section was mostly unsold. I was still too far away to see any faces, so some emotional, dramatic moments were hard to read and felt like they went on too long. I particularly thought that there was going to be an act break during the scene where Christopher's dad finds him after he discovers the truth about his mother, but the intermission came long after that. Also I found the ending ambiguous when Christopher keeps asking his teacher if he can do anything, and she just glances at the audience and won't answer him.

The production had a lot of jarring light/sound effects to create Christopher's sensory overload, but after a while the special effects felt gimmicky and too long. It also became unclear what was happening in the real world while he was stuck in his internal frenzy. The scenes in London did remind me a bit of my trip to London, from Paddington train station to all the tube stops. It was nice to hear all the British accents, and several moments were funny. An interesting story, though I'm not sure I liked the way it was told.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Coping

I didn't realize that Black-ish was going to do an election episode last night. Though they talked about it being a New Year, I'm sure it was written and filmed weeks ago. I was surprised that they made Stevens anti-Trump, but they explained it as him being a Mitt-Romney supporting Republican. His spoiled son "Pumpkin" was pro-Trump though, and I was disappointed that they brought back the Lucy character to be a Trump voter too, making the argument that she just didn't like THIS particular woman. (I hate that. It's not like we were asking her to vote for Sarah Palin or Anne Coulter. I hate progressives who kept smearing Clinton as a Republican and as a liar who "you don't even know what she's thinking".) Even if that's how you think of Hillary, why wouldn't you want a normal Republican vs an unstable loon like Trump? A puppet of Putin? Oh, but whiny cynics were tired of "the lesser of two evils" and wanted to trust fucking Wikileaks...

Black-ish tried to end on a "let's all get along" moment of not viewing the other side as crazies. I mean, it's fine to ask for politeness and decency in conversation, but it takes two to get along. I know there are Trump voters in my office but I don't want to talk politics with them. And when will enough be enough about Trump's daily outrages against laws and reality? Still can't stand that they're trying to rush through confirmation hearings now, without vetting or anything, when they stalled on even holding hearings on Merrick Garland. I feel as powerless as a Texas Democrat always does, and hearing political news is depressing and draining. That may be why inspirational films like Hidden Figures, Lion, and The Eagle Huntress are so necessary to me lately.

Though I did enjoy last night's Speechless episode satirizing "inspiration porn" and "the magical negro". Really love that show and The Good Place. The Black-ish episode was preachy at times, and reminded me of Norman Lear, but overall I liked it. I doubt if there will be any healing, though.