I am a contrary person. I don’t do prestige things. For a reviewer, I rarely read reviews and I rarely listen to critics. I don’t like being told what to do (being raised in a strict household tends to do that?) or what to think, and the more Important(TM) someone says a work is, the less inclined I am to pick something up, and the less I’ll enjoy the process of consuming it.
I like trash, okay? It’s not hard for me to admit that the more people rag on a thing (to be clear, “ragging” does not entail, for example, comments about racism or sexism, etc., because those are “concerns”) the more I like it. My favourite films include Snowpiercer, Pacific Rim, and Jupiter Ascending. I’m not a connoisseur of quality, okay, I’m a connoisseur of having a fucking good time.
And part of this is because as marginalised people, we so rarely get any of it. A good time, I mean. Stories about us have to be Important(TM) to justify their being told. Stories about us have to be about oppression to be interesting and worthwhile. We’re not afforded any escapism, and I’ve learned to recognise that “realistic” is code for “cruel” and “good” is a judgement on the extent to which something shows us suffering. And I’m really, really not into that.
Title: Between the Lines Author: Melissa de la Cruz Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA, Drama Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 of 5.0
I wish I could say I enjoyed this novel. I even wish I say this novel simply “wasn’t for me.” Unfortunately, neither of these are true. I will preface this by saying that I’m neither Filipinx nor undocumented, so my personal impressions should be taken with a grain of salt, and should not take precedent over the opinion of someone who is Filipinx, undocumented, or both. That said, I found the novel to be extremely juvenile for its target demographic, and it was also incredibly microaggressive, especially where it came to respectability politics. I DNF-ed this book at just over 50% of the way through.
Initially, I was excited to read a novel about an undocumented Filipina girl because there are a lot of undocumented Asian Americans, but as a community, we don’t centre their voices nearly enough. Something in Between follows Jasmine de los Santos, who seems to lead a charmed life––pretty, popular, a cheerleader and a contender for valedictorian, she’s surrounded by loving friends and family. She’s fully prepared to live the American Dream. That is, until the day she’s notified that she qualified for a major college scholarship, but her parents tell her there’s no way she can accept, because she lacks documentation. While her world is crashing around her, she becomes increasingly reliant on Royce (…you read that name correctly), whose father is one of the most strident anti-immigrant congressmen on Capitol Hill.
Title: Musa (The Warrior) Starring: Jung Woo-sung, Joo Jin-mo Genre: Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Drama Rating: ★★★★★ | 5.0
warnings: violence, gore
I’m probably not going to do a good job reviewing it properly for this blog because I have too many thoughts to even begin to summarise, but if you guys can handle gore/bloody battle scenes, I highly recommend y’all watch Musa (The Warrior), which stars Jung Woo-sung and Joo Jin-mo. It’s an old favourite of mine and it honestly does everything right.
The overall plot is about a small diplomatic mission from Goryeo (Korea) that gets sent to China right around the turn of the Ming Dynasty, when Zhu Yuanzhang emerged victorious from the war with Toghon Temur, the last Mongol Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty in China. Because Goryeo had previously plead allegiance to the Yuan Dynasty, the diplomatic mission is jailed and then sent into exile in the Gobi Desert.
Title: 错了性别不错爱 Starring: 何佳颖, 米勒 Genre: Drama, Romance Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 out of 5.0
warnings for casual homophobia, sexual harassment, public outing
So it’s not the best English title in the world, but then, English is also not the only language in the world, and I’m quite willing to forgive an indie web film about queer girls falling in love just about anything but killing their protagonists.
This film, shot after and in partial response to the popular BL webseries Heroin 《上瘾》, became quite popular among young Chinese people. It follows the story of Yu Xiaorou (on the left), who finds herself developing feelings for Mi’le (right), her college roommate, and is forced to process those feelings. Meanwhile, she juggles dealing with casual homophobia from her classmates and an obnoxious boy who just won’t take no for an answer.
Title: Creed Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stalone Genre: Realistic Fiction, Drama Rating: ★★★★☆ || 4.5
I’ve never watched the Rocky films and I hate most sports films, so if I cried while watching this on a 15 hour plane ride I want y’all to know this was absolutely not the fault of my own damn sentimentality. No, this was just a good film, period.
Creed follows Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son, Adonis, who despite being raised by Creed’s wife Mary Anne with the wealth and resources and education to escape the life of a fighter, dreams about going professional. He quits his day job to pursue the goal, but quickly realises that his father’s old friends are more interested in protecting him from the pursuit that ultimately killed Apollo. Adonis, going by Donny Johnson (his mother’s maiden name), moves to Philadelphia to seek his father’s old friend and rival, Rocky Balboa. Though Rocky is initially wary and reluctant, Adonis’ confidence and determination sway him, and he soon finds himself up against “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, a British fighter who is looking for one last hurrah before going away to jail for the last of his prime fighting years.
Have you guys seen the recent ads for Amazon TV? Because speaking of show holes, I have a whole category of shows that I have more or less condemned to my personal show hole––that is to say a bunch of shows that have treated its leads of colour so irredeemably poorly that I never want to hear from them again, except to hear about their upcoming cancellations and varying levels of sarcastic biting commentary on them. Sleepy Hollow is one. Teen Wolf is another. And also the thankfully cancelled subject of this review, Twisted.
Twisted began with a neat premise and shaky foundations, even from the start. Years after his conviction for his aunt’s murder, Danny Desai comes back to a town whose attitude towards him has totally changed. Though he maintains he didn’t kill his aunt, no one believes him. No one wants to be near him. No one except his two former best friends, Lacey and Jo (the former more reluctantly than the latter).
In lieu of doing my final essays (10 page paper, here I come!) I’ve opted for marathoning the second season of Grace and Frankie, and imo? #Worthit. I’d watched the first season last year and had considered reviewing it for this blog, but kept putting it off because it felt hard to justify––a story that centres itself around two upper class white ladies? So #diverse. But you know what, fuck it. We’re doing this.
Grace and Frankie follows two women, Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein, who have their lives blown to pieces by the news that their husbands are divorcing them to marry each other. Unceremoniously kicked out of their lives and told that their marriages were a lie these past 20 years while watching all of their friends congratulate their husbands (Robert and Sol, respectively), Grace and Frankie, who have never gotten along, find themselves moving into their shared beach house, and learning how to deal with heartbreak––and each other.