Posted in Film Review

“Insidious” (2010) – film review

“Insidious” (2010), directed by James Wan is an intelligent movie with an entertaining flair to hold the attentions of both serious and light-hearted movie lovers. I am glad to have watched it last night on Netflix after reading a book on the history of ancient magic and ritual, and I must say there must be some kind of strange reason that I came upon the movie. It always seems so pat to find a supernatural movie orbiting around me and materializing at an apropos time that it gives me chilling fillip to my suspected element unrealized from within. Whatever it may be, and apart from all the mysterious signs hinting at something about my unknown anima, I am pleased to write about the movie herein.

The movie is anything but a faulty horror movie. Not “Insidious.” Hardly Ever the criticism of flamboyant cast. Never the limitations of a seemingly infinite range of imaginations that the writer wrote and the director portrayed. It is beautiful alchemy of the harmonious performance of the stellar cast and brilliant storytelling of the extraordinary event in the ordinary existence, all fascinating and riveting. Like an incantation of a professional sorcerer, the narrative slowly builds mystery around the atmosphere. It brings up images of the beyond at the zenith of the ritual when everything seems ready for demons or the superiors to appear before your very eyes.

The magnet of the movie is the Elise character faultlessly played by Lin Shaye, who began to change my perspectives on a psychic that if there is one like her in real life, I would love to chat with her and possibly work for her even as a part-time assistant. Elise reminds me of an ancient Cumaean Sybil who helped Trojan refugee Aeneas meet his father’s spirit in the Underworld with a gentle but powerful voice elucidating her beautiful spirit. But to call her psychic doesn’t do justice to her essence and vocation as a mystic helping people in distress. She balances her spiritual power with a rational mind by scientific methods to discern the origins of the spiritual maladies of her clients. And she does it in the gracefulness of a good witch performing white magic that I believe even priests would be envious of.

What makes the movie on par with the timeless supernatural film is the universal subject of the world beyond our sensory perceptions and across religious dogmas. It’s the world of “Further” where spirits lost wander around and dammed lurk in the darker corners of the crossroads. Elise helps the lost spirit of the boy in the Further find his way back to Here and goes further than she should save people’s lives from the evil power even it means to be at her expense.

“Insidious” is a thoughtful movie dealing with a supernatural thematic element that is harder to play on the screen than it is to envision in the mind’s theater. The movie’s impression spreads into a mind’s garden and stays there in alterations like an insidious charm of ghastly sightseeing so incredible that you can hardly dispel it. If you like to watch a good, decent ghost movie without mutilated bodies and ear-shattering screams, but ghosts or demons only, this movie may do.

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 book review

‘Your Movie Sucks’, by Roger Ebert- review

Your Movie SucksYour Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Criticism of any kind is never a pleasantry. It stings the heart and swells in there until the natural amnesia of time heals the wound. Also, criticism is never an easy task, either. Abraham Lincoln defined a professional critic as one who has “a right to criticize, who has the heart to help.” Therefore, being a critic is a daunting profession that can fall out of favor with the public and the criticized. Yet doing it good and right is even more challenging and requires a wealth of erudition and insight to observe all things and all beings in the world without supercilious prejudice. I can think of any such critic no other than the late Roger Ebert, whose brilliantly witty anthology of unfavorable movies Your Movie Sucks discerns constructive criticism from malicious cynicism that most of his peers love to delve.

It’s a collection of movies that Ebert finds distasteful to the taste and reason. Ebert opines that filmmakers and the performers tend to patronize with their selective elements, usually senseless violence, gratuitous nudity, and infantile comedy under the pretext of the screen reflection of the realities. But to miss Ebert as an ultra-conservative white curmudgeon movie critic does a great injustice to his bona fide intention and judicious reasoning of why he thinks the movies suck, most notably, ‘Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,’ ‘Chaos,’ and ‘the Pearl Harbor.” The plots, characters, and narratives of these movies ignore the taste and reason universal in all human creatures regarding the principles of sense and judgment common to all humankind. They are either devoid of artistic sensibilities or willfully negligent of the humanity that refuses to cease even in the desolate wilderness of calamities, artificial or natural. Ebert seems to seek in movies a common thread that every one of us, regardless of class, race, and gender, can be bound together to understand what it means to live, ultimately.

Ebert’s credo is the arts of films, paintings, music, and books as a consolation to the hearts that need to relive the yokes of daily lives. Therefore, the artists are to look into people’s realities from all walks of life and illustrate each life’s values, however insignificant it might be, by elevating the ordinariness into arts of life to neutralize the vicissitudes of life that we all experience. In this regard, Ebert agrees with French painter Jean-Francoise Millet’s timeless adage: “It is treating the commonplace with the feeling of the profound is what gives to art its power.”

I always like Ebert’s films’ reviews because they are easy to read and intelligently passionate and witty despite his knowledge of various subjects. There is no hint of malice in the guise of intellectual sarcasm. His views on the world are agreeable to mine, regarded as outdated forseysm in today’s amazingly political world. Maybe we might belong to a previous era where our perspectives of the world would meet with more consensus and fewer disapprovals. In fact, I liken the person of Ebert to that of Samuel Johnson, the great English writer, thinker, and author of A Dictionary of the English Language for their similarities in appearance, weltanschauungs, and styles of writing that thrill the heart and pique the mind with a touch of humanity that is so rare to be found among the contemporary writers. So, if you are a like-minded appreciator of arts in general and curious about what movies someone like Ebert finds distasteful, take heart and read this book. The words leap from pages with wit and wisdom as the time entertains you like you never know. This book may also serve you as a textual trailer of a movie that you might have fallen into the mistake of paying it to watch.



View all my reviews

Posted in book review, Miscellany

Let Children out of Politics.

There has been a vortex of fiery opinions on the controversial Netflix film “Cuties,” directed by French Senegalese Maimouna Maimouna Doucoure as her debut feature. I first heard of the movie while checking on Twitter feed filled with vehement subjective narratives divided -yet again-by the in-vogue trend of racially charged political views, which seems to blur the ambit of art for art’s sake appealing to the universal audience. But the unified viewpoint on the provocative representation of sexualized pre-adolescent girls weighs against the film’s thematic slogan of liberation from oppression, come what may.

The movie has gained a cult status among self-professed progressive keyboard warriors, defenders of social inequality, when in fact, they are seldom in contact with the people they speak for or even get together in their daily lives. That said, the movie has become something of a visual manifesto of social activism, rather than a joy of cinematic experience that bestows a sensory pleasure and mental piquancy on viewers. No pornification and the misguided display of sexual oppression in children’s figures can be sublimated into art. Children are not a medium of political efficacy or a vehicle of personal ambition. The sexualization of children imitating adult acts is counter-productive in translating onto screen per se the socially disfranchised class consciousness in a highly secular society where the income level defines individuals’ worth. Little girls in skimpy attires, gyrating and eyeing in a way that makes them the cult of Ishtar at a Babylonian temple where girls offer their bodies to strange men for holy prostitution. Or shall I say it is a revisionist adaption of “Pretty Baby” or “Lolita” directed by a black woman whose directorial debut is undoubtedly impressive and provocative in the BLM wake?

It amazes me to see people think themselves rational and reasonable when they are just self-professed egoists illustrated with their ostentatiously abstract view of social reality that seems to be out of touch with their own class. They regard “Cuties” as telltale cinematic radical feminism and socialism with a view to liberation by the parody of the reality. However, these intellectuals oversee or willfully ignore the truth about human nature: physical, rather than metaphysical; it is tactile rather than theoretical. Our faculty of mind is affected by the works of the senses and of the imaginations. To this effect, ‘Cuties” will adversely affect people’s judgment when their eyes direct toward the visual feast of perverted pleasure because the impulse, when arisen by stimuli, defeats Ego, voids the Superego, and commandeers false promise of liberation with rapacious sensuality.