Posted in Film Review

‘Coming 2 America’ (2021) – movie review

The jubilant fanfare is blasting, the majestic elephants are trumpeting, and the sensual dancers are sprinkling rose petals on the ways to herald the emergence of the royal celebrity. It is no other person than Eddie Murphy’s Akeem Joffer himself after thirty-three halcyon years in his kingdom. He is back from the past and in America. Will the king’s festivity have the same level of brilliance it once radiated thirty-three years ago?

King Akeem has got it all, and he envies nothing: the beautiful, thoughtful wife, wonderful daughters, the loyal friend and aides, and the kingdom of his that nothing is wanting. But alas, as it is our human nature wanting something, we think needful or must-have, so is our king who is egged on to bring out-of-wedlock son now living in Queens, New York. Akeem goes to New York and meets his old acquaintances, all of whom look immortalized in the abeyance of time because they are still alive and kicking with a little bit more gray streaks and a few more inches in their midriff circumferences. And yes, Akeem meets his young, intelligent, and brave son because, after all, it’s his son with the good genes in the blood, while the maternal line is the working-class heroine of a good sort. And yes, the storyline is all over but the shouting with introductions of a few more new faces.

Coming 2 America is one of the recent Eddie Murphy’s big ambitious movies that he hopes to resurrect the glory of his days as the awesome, the one and only Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest comedians in the world. His sharp tongue offended no one because it wasn’t out of malice or tension to purge out his angst-ridden self. Even his pejorative language and slang were likable and genuine because he had a natural wit to make the words coming out of his mouth funny. Also, he had self-confidence in every scene he was, but it wasn’t hubris or warrior-like belligerence. People loved him for that and his movies, of course. But to be honest, when I watched this movie with enthusiasm mixed with nostalgia like meeting an old friend, I saw a different Murphy, who seemed to have lost that brilliant luster of the perk that signified him. Maybe that is why the movie’s story is mainly centered in his kingdom, for, in his kingdom, Murphy needed no quirky ad-ribs, no fast actions, no more youthful adventures of city life that would have required horse-whips of energy.

However, the movie is not a failure because it brings fans of everywhere a nostalgia for their days of youth (mainly in the 80s) and gives them PG-13 appropriate entertainment, free of gratuitous sex and violence that movies nowadays automatically opt for. The thematic elements of family value, love, and will to meaning in life metastasize in the narrative, which we so much want in this crazy era of history. Nevertheless, I still miss Eddie Murphy when he was bolder, wilder, and funnier. For those who agree with me, I suggest another recent movie, Dolemite Is My Name, a biopic movie about the eponymous movie star because in the movie Murphy is funny with soul. It is good to see him that way.

Posted in Film Review

‘Tom and Jerry’ (2021) – film review

The cartoons of the olden days always had partners in acts. Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner, Tweedy and Sylvester, the Red-Beard and Bugs Bunny, etc., in the simulation of Laelaps’ eternal chase of the Teumessian fox in the constellation. But none of them are equal to Tom and Jerry in amicability of the characters and the epiphany of our human characteristics mirrored in the figures. Now the likable duo continues the natural chase one after another and together in the bustling and rustling Big Apple with their human accomplice.

Tom and Jerry foray into a cinematic excursion from a classic television show I used to watch as a child. The new cinema platform gives Tom and Jerry more room to chase and opportunities to mingle with different animal kingdom species, from humans of all kinds to high-class elephants. Thanks to the incredible 21-century technology, the lovable duo shakes hands with their human friends, blows raspberries to bullies, and skateboards through the bumper-to-bumper traffic to stop farewell. We see cute Jerry with a rucksack on his shoulders meeting his arch-friend-or-foe Tom, who’s thrilled to see the likewise at liberty park by the Hudson River overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. Usually, the combined features of animated figures and live actors and actresses appear to be incongruent and buffoonish, not least because of the live performers’ exaggerated gestures out of synch with the animated choreography. But not Tom and Jerry. The result is the wondrous alchemy of the living and the animated, bringing the fictional characters, both humans and beasts, into a reality that blurs boundaries between the screen and the audience. What an experience!

Tom and Jerry are still in theaters and on HBO Max, through which I watched and enjoyed to my heart’s content with my tabby Toro, who looks more like Jerry than his kin Tom. It is a vibrant act of comedy on the foundation of humanity, which requires to be rekindled in our current time. Also, for those who grew up watching the classic Tom and Jerry on TV, the movie is a welcome nostalgia to wallow themselves in the memories, hopefully good, of the childhood when life seemed a little bit fun with ice cream in one hand before a TV set. Or for those born post-internet revolutions, the movie will spawn more fans of Tom and Jerry, the Great Comedians. What more can I say? It’s a feel-good movie with actions and romance that children of all ages can entertain and embrace with smiles.

Posted in book review, 미분류, Film Review, Miscellany

Not impossible

It is supposed to be about being a woman that binds all women regardless of race and ethnicity across a great divide of time. Forget all others and let us focus on the parallel circumstances and kindred experiences as women. But alas, that seems only a tale told by a romantic fool such as I am. If you think this is hyperbole, then I suggest you read the tweets and comments on the recent news that a black actress plays the role of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry the Eighth and the mother of Elizabeth the First, in the upcoming British periodical drama, which went viral among the learned and the general.  In addition to the vehemently acrid narratives on the racial authenticity of Anne Boleyn – especially from fellow women-, the juxtaposition of the two women’s images, the actress Jodie Turner-Smith and the queen Anne Boleyn itself, belies the popular sentiment as though to mock the actress’s appearance in the fashion of the Tudor period by making parallels with the classical portraiture of the Anne of 1000 days.  It has produced vociferous tweets full of fury from people who regard the role as audacious cultural appropriation faithful to the PC ethos of the time. 

Actress Turner-Smith’s playing the Tudor woman Anne Boleyn is indeed an innovational idea of breaking the typecasting based on the physical distinction for the roles thinkable and conventionally conceivable for the specific attributable characteristics of certain characters. Thus, non-whites playing the roles conceived for whites are seen as usurping the equilibrium of cultural heritage, upending the very foundation of national identity translated into racial identification, a sentiment prevalent even among the professed liberals anti-everything related to Trump, Republicans, and racism. The rejection of the race crossover representation on screen is supposedly due to the difficulty of following the story’s fluid narrative, unable to be absorbed in the story, not least because performers’ distinctive physical attributes mar the harmony of racial fluidity. But do we really?

I have watched a few good dramas (British) in which the races of performers do not pin down them to the racially charged roles. To illustrate, in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Frankenstein, the wife of Victor Frankenstein was played by a black actress. Besides, his father, M. Frankenstein, is a black actor, a fine ensemble of excellent thespians whose energetic performance brought Mary Shelly’s original Gothic story to a theatrical feast to the eyes and the mind. While watching the drama, I was not distracted by the black performers’ appearances being the father and Genevan Victor Frankenstein’s wife. Instead, the powerfully emotional and assiduously methodological performances resurrected the textual characters to real humans, full of pathos with vigor and wonder. Also, British Asian actress Gemma Chan, who played the role of Elizabeth Hardwick in ‘Mary Queen of Scot’s,’ is known for her versatile roles transcending her racial background. Her recent performance as a cyborg with a touch of humanity named Anita in ‘Humans’ is as naturally harmonious as streams of a river flowing into a great ocean, not highlighting her physical differences.

L-R Laura (Katherine Parkinson), and Mia (Gemma Chan) from ‘Humans’

So why the fuss full of sound and fury of the people who cannot accept the black queen in the Tudor drama when they are boastful of the most advanced mind since the age of Enlightenment? In the wake of the global Black Lives Matter movements, people have become afraid of the wind of changes as a frightful tsunami to subvert social foundations, upending the social orders adverse to their belief systems. Although I don’t eschew their concerns for the wind of changes as I am also conservative, not conventional in belief, the current vehemently acrid opinions about the black woman becoming Anne Boleyn are tokens of latent racialized hostility surfaced by the deluged dissents pouring forth from the socially suppressed sentiments. Indeed, you can’t ignore the differences between the two Anne Boleyns. Still, there are more commonalities than the images seen through your optical sensory input: that they are both women of elegance and confidence who are not afraid of expressing what they can. The actress shows she can pull off the character with what she has, and the queen her the courage to confront the criticism for being the cause of subsequent religious turmoil that changed the face of Christendom in spades. Let not prejudice darken entertainment. 

Posted in Film Review

Stephen King’s ‘Cat’s Eye’ (1985 Film) – Film Essay

When I saw the movie poster of ‘Cat’s Eye’ (1985) on Amazon prime, I was at first hesitant to watch it because it showed the stereotypical association of the cat as a witch’s familiar or something to that nature of foregone horror repertoire. But perhaps I was more afraid of what I would see and reconcile to the stereotype that the cat could not be the dog. Despite all of the phantasmagorial display of the flights of thought, the cat of the poster’s uncanny resemblance to my seven-month-old tabby Toro won me over the resistance. I rented it for Saturday Afternoon Home Cinema with the expectation which was akin to curious Alice in Wonderland.  Be it ever magical or bewitching in a softly purring way, the result is one big wonder conflated with doses of warmth and mirth, whimsically betraying the genre classification as horror and the writer’s Craft of Gothic Fantasy like you never knew.



‘Cat’s Eye’ is a threefold anthology film based on Stephen King’s short stories, the first two from his “Night Shift.” King wrote the last story, especially for the movie. It tells a story of a traveling cat who comes upon three separate incidents during his search of the mission to save a life from danger, as annunciated by a spectral girl. In the first two stories, in which the cat takes an incidental role of witnessing human frailty and duality of evil and good, he goes by the names of “The Kitty” and “Sebastian,” showing the characters of the name doners per se. And who says that the cat is a harbinger of destruction as witch’s familiar? He is the judge of the character as if taking in the sun God Ra’s appearance, who was said to be meowing during what he was doing, representing the sun’s benefits for life on Earth in the Book of the Dead. Kitty and Sebastian do not directly intervene in the characters’ fates in the first two stories. It is the third story in which the cat takes charge of the narrative as the main actor with the name “General” on the stage.


Stephen King is known for his excellent story-telling skills combined with supernatural and psychological elements of lonely and misunderstood characters with wounded hearts dealing with their enemies in extraordinary situations. In the tradition of Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ernest Hemingway, King’s narratives are always free from a baroque figure of speech with florid adjectives and complex sentences that flaunt the ego of an unapproachable writer on the mighty throne of English Literature. That is why King’s stories are attractive and widely acclaimed because they deal with the ordinary lives that are not ordinary when seen in close-up. That alchemical ingredient gleams through this movie, showing how our lives are vicariously interrelated, weaved by multiple strands of contemporary life that we all live now through the cat’s eye. Herodotus, the father of western narrative history, knew the connectedness of separate human lives and combined them into one vast story of humanity employing parataxis, individual narrative accounts’ integrity. King’s “Cat’s Eye” follows Herodotus’s narrative trail.

The movie’s real star that brought the fiction into reality is undoubtedly the tabby, whose performance is so wonderfully natural and deeply impressive that it eclipses the human cast’s performance. And yet, there is no credit for the feline star without his real name and a shred of information. He is now long gone, but then I see my tabby Toro at home and wonder if the actor cat might have been his great-grandfather because of the striking physical resemblance and reflective demeanor. But then I think anyone who has a tabby may be delighted to feel that way because otherwise, King might not have written for this film charmingly, which is unusually lovely with high paws. 

My Toro
Posted in book review, Film Review, Miscellany

Roger Ebert’s Cinema Paradiso

A critic, according to Abraham Lincoln, has a right to criticize, but has a heart to help. Being a critic requires erudition drown upon a wealth of reading combined with a natural sagacity grown from enriched humanity wielded into an alchemy of words. A good critic with a poet’s heart guides the public with a lantern lighting the artist’s labyrinth in his world and helps us see the unseen in the far corner of a maze with a wealth of knowledge, sans arrogance of intelligence as Roger Ebert.

Unlike his other contemporary peers, Ebert was liberal in views, conservative in beliefs, and fair in judgments, the commendable attributes shared by Samuel Johnson, a 17 century English social/cultural critic, essayist, and dictionarian. He wrote a public in his mind and showed no peremptory atmosphere typically attributable to influential critics showing off their mastery of language not accessible to all due to their expensive private high education. Once Ebert trenchantly criticized a specific movie for its crude violence, abject dystopian portrayal of reality, and shuddering absence of humanity. The director of the film remonstrated with him in a public letter that Ebert’s criticism ignored the fact of life, which is akin to earthly circles of hell. Ebert replied to the director that if that was how he looked at the world, then it should not be forced upon the audience’s minds, exerting his raw and one-dimensional creation of reality upon the sentiments and judgments of the audience. Ebert believed that the world was worth living because there’s hope among the odds to sparkle before our eyes with joy flitting at our sides. This belief should be an essence of Arts that gives off beauty, pleasing to our senses that grows into reason. That is the purpose of arts, to which film belongs.

For this reason and my kindred perspectives on films in general, I miss Roger Ebert, although his writings are perennial. He didn’t grandstand with politically charged views on movies. He believed ‘Art is for Art’s Sake’ because films and books and paintings are not to be used as propagandas for a specific party ideology but to be appreciated for the minds’ food. W.H Auden said of his duty as a poet in society was to defend the use of language. I think Roger Ebert as a film critic in society was to defend the use of film as art to give life a shape.