Wednesday, July 25, 2007

goodbye, july!

Just a note to say that I will be absent from blogging until at least Saturday, August 4, and likely a few days of recovery after that. Tomorrow I will be leaving for three days at Comic Con, where I will take as many notes and photos as possible. Immediately after that I am going on a weeklong vacation, and immediately after that I am moving house, once again, and so I will have to pause before getting the chance to fully blog about Comic Con. Maybe I'll try to handwrite it while I'm on the plane to my vacation afterwards, while it's all still fresh in my mind...

Until next time!

the end of an era

Last night I finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, thus finishing the series by J.K. Rowling which has been with me throughout my adolescence. I got the book for Christmas when I was in sixth grade, and I remember desperately wishing that I would be invited to the American version of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry on my eleventh birthday. I must say that I was wholly impressed by this seventh book of the series, and am so glad that I elected not to watch the fifth movie recently, so that I could read the final book while maintaining my mental images of the world of Harry Potter.


1. Severus Snape. As soon as we jumped into the Pensieve and saw him as a little boy, abused and lonely and enamored...I lost it. I didn't stop crying until the end of the book. I was amazed at Rowling's ability to suck me into Harry's frame of mind. Since book six I had totally believed Snape to be wholly evil, and as Harry began wondering what Dumbledore was really like in life, I began wondering what Snape was all about that would have kept him in Dumbledore's good graces. The moment I realized what Snape's childhood and adolescence was like, I was in total sympathy for him, and mourning his death. He really did share something with Harry in that he probably could have suited Gryffindor or Slytherin, and was incredibly brave throughout his turmoil. This morning after a night's sleep, it dawned on me that his last words as Harry peered into his dying face were, "Look at me," because he wanted to look into Lily's green eyes one last time...beautifully written.

2. The deaths. I was incredibly sad when Hedwig and Dobby died. I really didn't feel like I expected that or that those were necessary. I can understand that killing Fred was necessary in a sense that not all of the Weasleys were going to make it, but still. Mad-Eye's death didn't affect me as much as I'm sure it did some people, because I never really made a connection to him. And I expected Lupin, the last of the Marauders, by that point, to join his old friends, but Tonks' death was certainly unnecessary. Okay, so now Harry's godson Teddy is an orphan like Harry, to be raised by his grandmother, like Neville. Cool, but I'm still distraught, J.K.

3. Harry's death. I figured that "Harry is a horcrux" was a pretty obvious conclusion from the end of book 6, but about halfway through book 7 I expected Ron to be the one to die (I really thought one of the Big Three would have to die). Of course, when Ron and Hermione made out I knew that it had to be Harry, but it wasn't until the scene in King's Cross that I understood how the series could end with Harry remaining The Boy Who Lived.

4. The epilogue and the unanswered questions. Look, I get that the epilogue was totally trite and cheesy. So what? This is a children's series that has grown up in its voice with each book, and the epilogue provided and perfect bookend to the whole thing. Certainly for a moment I was rolling my eyes thinking, "Oh, gee, I'm sure that all the childhood sweethearts lived happily ever after," until I realized that that was exactly what I wanted. Certainly I want to know what George is up to with Weasley's Wizard Wheezes (is Percy working for him?), how things are for McGonagall as Headmistress (I hope), and whether or not Luna and Dean decided to hook it up just for the hell of it. Also, I really would love to know what became of the Dursleys. Now knowing that Petunia was just jealous and Dudley is not that bad, I wonder what life is like for them.


I was very pleased with how, in each book, the characters' and the readers' knowledge of and familiarity with the magical world (spells, possibilities, places, history, etc.) has increased so that by the time the book wrapped up, they were full-on adult wizards, using Unforgivable Curses and Apparating and practicing magic without the difficulty they had as novices. And the final epic scenes taking place at Hogwarts, hearkening back to some of the greatest things we've come to love over the years, was much appreciated.

And now I am curious to see how history will treat the Harry Potter series. How will my children react to them, not having grown up with all of the hype surrounding them? I want to try as hard as possible to make my kids wait a year in between each book, but I don't know how effective that will be because they're sure to have gleaned too much plot detail from cultural osmosis to care. It's just like how I have never seen the original Star Wars movies but I don't really want to since I'm sure I won't be as into it as everyone else, since I already know who Luke's father is, and that Leia is his hot sister. Nonetheless, I must end by saying that I was quite proud of Rowling's accomplishments with this book, and I can't wait to read any supplemental material she writes when she realizes that her cash cow ain't goin' nowhere if she doesn't want it to.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

trailer tuesday

I got pretty lazy with this one. Mmmeh.


I can't tell if this is already out, or what, but it looks awesome. Zombies, man...

Also apparently came out a few days ago, but looks like a really exciting reunion between Cillian Murphy and Danny Boyle. Also, Some of that good old-fashioned Requiem for a Dream music!

Death at a Funeral (August 17)
Dysfunctional British family! Black comedy! Ewen Bremner! Alan Tudyk! With a British accent! On acid! A homesexual LP!

Wall-E (June 2008)
I'm not really that into animated movies. This does bother me, because I feel like I won't let myself open up to a whole world of great movies. But all the ones that people LOVE never really stick with me. That said, I appreciate this concept of a movie without humans in the main action where the subjects don't actually talk!

There better be about a 20 minute sex scene between Sienna Miller and Steve Buscemi.

The Brothers Solomon
Will Arnett. Will Forte. Jenna Fischer. Kristen Wiig. Singing lawyer from Scrubs. Yes, please.

The Ten
Good cast, Wet Hot American Summer, etc etc etc. Whatever. The last 20 seconds of this trailer make it totally necessary.

a little journalism

Last week I posted a review of the documentary The Believers which I saw at its Los Angeles premiere at Outfest. I found out about the film because I work for my school's Office of Alumni Relations, and the co-producer Beth Burkhart is an alumna of my school, Claremont McKenna College. I was able to ask her a few more detailed questions than the ones I had time to get answers to at the screening and the Q&A that followed.

How did you get involved in the making of the film?
The director, Todd Holland, and I met in Los Angeles in 1996, shortly after I graduated from CMC, and then were roommates for awhile in San Francisco in 1999. He studied film in undergrad and I dabbled in a few independent/student productions when I lived in LA. He always talked about making a film and I always said I wanted to help. One day early in 2002, I was sitting at my desk at work and he called to say that he had found his subject and I asked if I would produce. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

What was the most meaningful impression that it made on you?
How the Transcendence Gospel Choir and the members' personal stories can really open hearts and minds, generating empathy for and acceptance of difference. Good stories can really change how people think. My 76-year-old, conservative father cried throughout the film and then at the post-party, hugged Prado, one of the main characters, to tell him how much he identified with and appreciated his story.

What message do you hope the film sends in the end?
I hope the film demonstrates the power of inclusion and acceptance. Bobbie, one of the main characters, has turned her own life around, primarily because she found a community of transgender people when she came to San Francisco, and a supportive, community-based network in the City of Refuge Church and the Transgender Gospel Choir. Similarly, we believe the film will help save lives.

What would you like to see happen in the future with the film?
Frameline picked the film up for distribution last summer. The Believers will begin airing on LOGO cable station on Saturday, 8/11/2007, in the evening. We have just started receiving reviews from the educational market. Fortunately, they are really good, so we hope to have a large outreach push through the course of the next two years, promoting the film at churches, universities, and community venues. In addition, we are applying to international film festivals.

Do you have any other plans to continue producing?
Yes. I would love to continue producing. In reality, this project still needs a fair amount of attention, so for the time being I am not working on anything else as I do have a "day job" as a Marketing Manager at the Clorox Company. I have an idea for another documentary and can trace the roots to my CMC Economics education and Professor Roth's "Perspectives on the American Dream" (that's all I will say for now!).

Please read my review of The Believers here, and tune in to watch it on LOGO starting August 11th!

"we need to do some pick-ups"

So yesterday afternoon was spent navigating the midday traffic on the 10 and the 101, figuring out how to park at the Grove (for all the times I've been to the farmers' market, I had never been to the Grove before - can you believe it?) walking in heels on uneven pavement while my blister constantly reminded me of its existence, and clapping and screaming when told. It was totally worth it, though, because yesterday I got to be in the studio audience for one of my favorite TV shows, So You Think You Can Dance!

Because of where we were standing in the audience, it is unlikely that we'll have ended up onscreen during the reaction shots, but I'll at least be paying close mind tomorrow to see if I can identify my "rolled R scream" (think Speedy Gonzales) which I tried to throw in at random intervals.

I am not supposed to say much about the routines before it airs, so I will just say that since we are now down to the top ten, the show is comprised of ten solos and five partner routines. The dancers are no longer paired with the partners they've gotten used to, but select a random partner each week, along with their randomly selected genre. Viewers will vote for the individual dancers, and the man and woman with the least amount of votes will be sent home, because the judges now have no say in that (except Nigel, because he is also a producer). This week the solos were all the same politically conscious routine choreographed by Wade Robson. Though I appreciate how forcing the audience to watch each dancer do the same choreography makes us judge them separately from the choreography, I hope that they start shaking tings up a little bit, because it just seemed like all the dances blended together after a while.

Cat Deely looked amazing, as did Mia Michaels. It was cool to see the judges, the choreographers, and the dancers still in the competition, but for SYTYCD fans such as myself, the real celebrities were the past competitors who were in the audience. Benji and Heidi from last season's top four were there of course, to support their sister/cousin (respectively) Lacey. Snejana who became "Snow" was there as well, looking super hot and uber Russian. Dmitri of the ripped shirt placket was there as well, who choreographed one of the hottest dances the show has ever seen. But my girl friend and I were most excited to see Hok, who sat right behind us, and was probably amused at how we kept turning around to peek at him while we debated whether or not we should wave. I did. I'm lame, get over it.

So tune in tomorrow night for this week's episode of SYTYCD! I meanwhile, and just a little more than halfway done with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It's really good, and this is the longest it's ever taken me to finish a Harry Potter book. I just get distracted chatting about it with my roommate! Thursday morning I will be leaving with a couple of friends for three days at Comic Con in San Diego. Unfortunately, I will probably not be able to blog about either Harry Potter or Comic Con until August, when I get back from the vacation I'm going on next week.

Friday, July 20, 2007

a grain of sand

Last month I posted a review of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, the first film in Korean director Chan-wook Park's vengeance trilogy. You can read that here. SFMV was not a good movie. There were some moments that showed talented composition and cinematography, but the plot(s) and acting were not worthwhile. Thankfully I was able to remain as excited to see Oldboy as I had been for about a year since I first heard about it, and I didn't let SFMV prevent me from watching the second film in the trilogy.

Let me try to organize my thoughts about Oldboy. It is very good, just like everyone says. It is violent and twisted and made me think. And now I'm trying to figure out why I wasn't as haunted by it as many of my friends were. So let me break things down.


1) Violence. I have certainly heard quite a few people say that Oldboy is the most violent movie they've ever seen. Certainly, it ranks high on my list, but I think the award for that one still goes to The Passion of the Christ. All of the unbelievably gruesome images in Oldboy happen just out of frame (except for the octopus - which was awesome), whereas in Passion we are forced to watch images of flesh being ripped from bone. The attention to detail in the violent imagery was fantastic, though...Dae-su's calloused knuckles were such an amazing reminder of what he'd put himself through while in captivity.

2) Identity. This is, I think, why I was not as disturbed by the film as my friend Evan was, who was watching it for the second time when he watched it with me last night. I was particularly struck by the making and unmaking of the Beast. My reading of the film was that he was Dae-su at the beginning, the Beast by the time his fifteen years of captivity were over, able to transform back into Dae-su after meeting Mi-do, and the Beast again once he found out the secret. Not without having his memory wiped clean of the secret can he be Dae-su again. This reading was reinforced to me by the separation of the two identities by the hypnotist during the epilogue. Evan could not differentiate between Dae-su and the Beast, and so he felt especially disgusted by the events surrounding the man.

3) The villain? Okay, so I definitely understood Woo-jin to be villain in this movie. Certainly he is the antagonist, but I could see how some people could think that Dae-su/Beast is as much of a villain as Woo-jin. However, he is clearly evil because of how his sister's death has tortured him, and by the time the movie begins, his vengeance has overtaken what was once human in him. I had the hardest time understanding Woo-jin over any other character in the movie though, perhaps because his hatred was so extreme that I had to wonder what his personality was like before Soo-ah's death.

4) Style. Park's directing in this movie is so far beyond what he did with SFMV, and I think I was captivated by every scene. The contrasting foregrounds and backgrounds, the balanced wide-angle shots, the colors and the textures - every moment was beautiful. I was especially impressed by the two shots that I felt bookended the movie. After Dae-su's first year of imprisonment, the camera holds on the painting that hangs in his prison cell. A man's crazed face is dripping with blood, and the first lines of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem "Solitude" are painted below his smile, reading, "Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone." The camera then cuts to Dae-su's face, which is grinning, wildly framed by his out-of-control mane, and wide-eyed with dementia. Towards the end of the film, when Dae-su is fighting Woo-jin's bodyguard, his hair covers his blood-covered face, and he grins, the Beast once more.

So, what exactly is Park trying to say about vengeance in this trilogy? Maybe I won't be able to know until after I watch the third film, Lady Vengeance. Until then, I'll keep thinking about it. For now, I'm going to be so glad I didn't let SFMV ruin my expectations for Oldboy, and ruminate on the other amazing bookend to the film, the line, "Even though I'm no more than a beast, don't I, too, have the right to live?" I don't know...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

the believers

Documentary feature The Believers made its Los Angeles debut at Outfest this Wednesday night, opening audience member’s eyes to the participants in Transcendence, the world’s first transgender gospel choir. Directed by Todd Holland and co-produced by Beth Burkhart, The Believers follows the journey of the choir and its members from its inception until winning an Outmusic Award in 2004.

The film opens with the voices of the choir each proclaiming, “I am made in the image of God.” This statement sets the stage for the balancing act that the members of Transcendence must perform, being caught between two seemingly opposing forces – the transgender community and the Christian ministry. Many from both sides of this spectrum could at first be shocked or offended to find that members of their community are in some way ‘fraternizing with the enemy.’ The main mission of Transcendence is to show that there is no ground for there to be hostility between Christians and transgender individuals.

Holland decided to make the documentary after his coworker, Ash, shared news of his impending transition. After witnessing the transformation, Holland said that he learned so much about the issues present in the transgender community that he had been unaware of. Now called Ashley, Holland’s coworker felt a void in her life where faith and worship were needed to help soothe the pain caused by ignorant accusations that transgender people are “abominations” in the eyes of God. As Ashley began taking steps to create the Bay Area choir, Holland started filming.

Ashley and fellow choir members Prado and Bobbie Jean are the main focus of the film, giving personality to the struggles of the choir at large. They each tell a different story about what their transition was like, but they share the experiences of trying to succeed as a musical group whose member’s vocal ranges are tempered by inexperience and hormones. As the film progresses, the characters grow more comfortable with their performances, their status as notable figures in the transgender community, and their message that Jesus made them the way that they are and will return their love completely.

After Wednesday night’s screening, Holland and Burkhart expressed their relief that as they documented the growth of the choir, a story emerged about their journey to the United Church of Christ international synod in 2003 where they performed and shared their anecdotes in order to promote acceptance of LGBT people in the UCC’s official policies. The film makes it evident that Transcendence has had the ability to open up a lot of people’s minds to the overlapping communities portrayed in it.

The Believers premiered last summer at Frameline in San Francisco, where it won the audience award for Best Documentary. It will be screening again this Sunday, July 22, at 2:15 pm at the Directors Guild of America. Tickets are $12 at the door.

Friday, July 13, 2007


So, after having come back to work directly after an exhausting cross-country long-weekend, I am now in full busy-planning mode for this weekend. It's my birfday on Sunday, and so I am incredibly busy getting everything figured out. Sorry I haven't devoted much time to the blog lately, but I thought I could get a little overview of things to come here:

-OUTFEST: I may be going to see the documentary The Believers at LA's Outfest this week - I'll let you know what I think, as it's made by an alumna of my school, and I'm always looking to give some support!

-COMIC CON 2007: That's right! I'm only going for Friday and Saturday, but it's going to be amazing. I've been waiting for this my whole life. As a first-timer (I went once as a little kid to meet Lt. Diana Troy from Star Trek: TNG, but that barely counts), I will not be dressing up or anything like that. But rest assured, I will be constantly taking photos, and jotting down notes about every event I attend!

-TRALIERS: I really want to get back into posting trailers! For now, just watch "Fido." It looks awesome.

-FALL SEASON ANTICIPATION: In which I judge upcoming TV shows without knowing anything about them. Expect it to turn into a profanity-laden rant about the goddamn Cavemen.

-HARRY POTTER: Okay, so I probably won't even see the fifth movie until it's on DVD, because I honestly don't care enough about the movies, and Daniel Radcliffe pisses me off. But I will be cloistering myself next weekend to read the final book in the series, and I can't wait to write out a retrospective about this series I began reading when I was 11 - the same age as Harry is in the first book! Sidenote: Emma Watson is a stone cold fox, and I have just got to put out there that - baby girl, if you are ever looking to crash with some cool people in me.

Yeah...there's other stuff, I'm sure, but I just wanted to check in. I saw Blades of Glory on the airplane, and it was a lot better than I thought it'd be. I was expecting Anchorman levels of stupidity, but Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, and Jenna Fischer kept me from being disappointed!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

i watch the patchwork farms' slow fade into the ocean's arms...

...and from here, they can't see me stare; the stale taste of recycled air...

So, I'm going to be out of state for a few days with very little internet access. Expect a post about the airplane movies or something when I get back on Tuesday.

If you miss me, need me, want me, check out this short short story I wrote at


Monday, July 2, 2007

a tom shadyac joint

So, on Friday night I went to see Evan Almighty, a movie which I had been intrigued by, but didn't quite have high hopes for. Certainly, I can say that it is much better than Bruce Almighty right off the bat. Steve Carrell isn't given space to flex every one of his comedic chops, but he certainly suits the role of the congressman turned prophet dubbed by media outlets as "New York's Noah" after inadvertently emulating the biblical figure, because he is likable yet over-the-top.

Since I have gained further distance from the movie, it has diminished in my estimation, which I was hoping wouldn't happen. But I guess the problem is that I couldn't understand why anything happened in the movie except to place environmentalism high on the list of things people see in theaters this summer. There can only be so many penguins at a time.

I remembered seeing the "AMC First Look" at Evan Almighty a few months ago, which allowed me to expect that the main theme of the movie was conservation and "going green," and I guess if you're going to make a high-grossing movie about the environment, you should do what you can to have a green production, which is what I gather was the case for this movie.

Past the transparent (and valid) messages of the film -- protect nature, love your family, no man is an island -- everything in the movie just kind of happened just because. When Wanda Sykes wasn't being "that" woman in the theater commenting on everything that was happening, Evan's family was being almost unbearably annoying, and the diegesis was being unbelievable. People would have noticed the miraculous nature of the events surrounding Evan's transformation, and would have made a much bigger deal of them one way or the other. And when demolition of Evan's ark full of animals was threatened, where was PeTA making a fuss? Actors to highlight were certainly John Michael Higgins and Jonah Hill, two great character actors whom I always enjoy. Higgins made me want to break out the not-so-dusty Arrested Development DVDs, and I am really looking forward to seeing Hill in Superbad (see trailer here).

One other point which I can't ignore...Morgan Freeman continues to baffle me. Sometimes he looks really helpful and friendly, and other times his snaggletooth is lit at just the wrong angle and he looks terrifying. I guess it's not a stretch to cast a friendly/scary looking person as God, but he is just the quintessential example of the "mystical black man" nowadays. From actually playing God, to playing an angelic/prophetic figure, to voicing God as an eponymous narrator, Freeman seems to have found his niche. I guess the movie doesn't hit audiences over the head with bible as much as it does its main characters, but it's certainly religiously confusing. I took a "Biblical Traces in Hollywood Film" class a couple of semesters ago, which was fantastic, and we examined how films will try to get a biblical message across sometimes even when there is not explicit content. I felt that Evan Almighty was sweet and gave mostly positive messages, though it never quite answered the questions about why God went to such trouble for so little payoff.


Okay, maybe that's not entirely fair. The message there was certainly "do one small act of kindness and you can change the world," but come on. I was expecting full-on biblical flood action. I really wanted to be able to use the word "antediluvian" in this post. Instead, a freaking dam burst. Sure, it probably killed some people, but I mean...the whole flood thing was really just a big tease. Anyway, the most relieving aspect of the movie after the realization that God wasn't trying to punish a world full of sinners, was that Evan's annoying tic was a little happy dance, as compared to Bruce's "baaaaeeeeeutiful" shtick which made me want to claw my own eyes out.

Concusion: wait until it's on HBO a million times in a row.