An ephemeral inclination—a diminutive self-jest—that prods me to walk up to a stranger and say hello. Hello. How’s your day? Your week? Your life?
What makes you smile?
What ails you?
Who are you?
Or the seductive temptation to give in to the lack of better self-preservation to smile and say hello to those who were crazy enough to attempt my inclinations with me.
We’re all human, I remind myself when I begin to see people just as walking paintings of a person. In those clothes, in those jobs, and in those moods.
We’re all connected by the reality that binds us. Part of that being that we’re bound as species. Even if the lenses we view all of this might be different.
Most of us want to be happy. Have reasons to smile.
When did the some of us lose that?
Most of us feel love. Have that, that, metaphysical warmth that transcends mere physical contact when hugging someone.
Why were some of us born without that?
Most of us are lonely when we realize the zoo we’ve made ourselves is indifferent and everchanging as much as the universe it’s in regardless of our own dispositions.
What made so many of us simply accept that as just a fact of life?
Sometimes, I just want to hear their stories. I’ve wondered if it was for curious amusement or for a reminder of that connection all human beings should have with one another. A proof of a sort that life isn’t so unique and isolated.
I remember an old man who spoke to me for hours about his life. How he was a sailor when he was young. Found joy in fighting. Found love in a foreign land. He frequented the cafe where I sat and listened to his story. Most of the workers thought he was a crazy old man. I don’t know why he decided to speak to me. He told he was an accomplished professor now slowly dying of a disease. He told me never to get old if I can help it. Near the end, he told me his wife had passed away recently and I saw deep loneliness in his eyes. The helplessness of knowing what was exactly next but not knowing what the road would be like until he gets there.
After about 3 hours of conversation, I asked the old man for his name as I wanted to bid him a proper farewell.
He looked at me as if I was mad for asking for his name. As if I had broken some sort of an unspoken, sacred oath. A venerable rule.
“Why?” The old man asked.
There was half-a-second of empty silence.
“Thank you for your time and for the conversation,” I told the nameless old man and offered him a handshake.
He gave me an unenthusiastic, socially-coerced handshake and walked away.
It’s not a question that many people ask writers but a question I imagine many writers have asked themselves at some point.
Why do you write?
Why do you write even though your work is shit?
Why do you write even though it makes you miserable?
Why do you write even though no one will see your work?
Because I have to.
It’s kind of the line that you’d expect from a Disney movie before the majestic score chimes in and kicks-off the transition for our protagonist to go against the grain and literally run somewhere to progress the plot.
However, this is the reality. So there’s just my dull face with a divine glow from my overly bright computer monitor and my ass is definitely parked firmly in my computer chair. The only majestic music playing is the whirr of my overworked computer fan in this otherwise a silent and lonely room.
But that’s the best answer I’ve accepted about why I do what I do. About why any artists do what they do.
It’s the dilemma of the creatives.
Whether their vice is writing, painting, dancing, singing, and whatever else STEM may deem as empirically worthless, we just want to keep diving into the recourse of our imagination. The very thing that seems to give the plot for ourselves in the randomness and indifference of reality and the colors we can finally choose for it.
To the point where we have to always find the reminders and the balance of the sanctity and nourishment necessary for that reality and the potential sacrilege of the rejuvenation with our delvings in creativity.
But not having it—not delving into it—is divesting our sense of being. We feel severed to something integral to the definition of ourselves when we have to disconnect from our outlets.
Damn, that sounds embarrassingly decadent.
Since Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1, I’ve re-written the plot charts for Black Halo spin-off and the sequel. I’ve written about four separate projects and scrapped two of them.
I’ve also lost two cars, two family members, and got a clean bill of health from the doctor only to get sick a week after.
A business was started. A business blew up.
I met a woman. The woman and I are no longer speaking.
I witnessed one of my dearest friends marry the love of his life. I thought she hated my guts. I think she likes me now.
A friend or two became doctors. I circled around where I was.
As all of this life passed by me, my mind was stuck in a constant of new projects in mind and like a thorn kept pricking at me whenever I wasn’t working on it. I was running in place with the background of life just scrolling past me like an old cartoon. The transition forward, I figured, wouldn’t really be there until I was done with my next project. Or at least I hope that’s the case.
But it doesn’t change the fact that when I look in the mirror, there are few more wrinkles. When I sort through the memories stored of the last two years, the gap between the person I was and am is obvious. And where others were and at seemed astronomical.
This is not unique. So many other creatives have expressed the same thing in one way or another.
How many of us at this point are still creating because we think this would be the one? The one that’ll justify our choices for us? The one that’ll make our careers? The one that’ll finally satiate our endless pit?
Not many I imagine.
But how many of us are still creating simply because we just want to bring it to life. Into this reality. Make it part of the list of things that happened.
Do something that was totally of our own.
The whole endeavor makes me think of being in a relationship.
And also fucking sucks.
But also breathlessly remarkable and seductive.
Makes you palpably helpless at times.
Like seeing the sunset for the first time on the beach of an island. You stand in awe at this thing that you know in time will be gone. It’s gradually disappearing over the horizon right before your eyes.
Then it turns dark, cold, rats are running around, and you realize you’re all alone as if the sun was never there.
But the sun rises again and you deal with the abandonment, embracement, and being in awe again when it sets.
One day, maybe, even after the sunset you won’t worry about the sun rising again. It’ll always rise. And it’ll always fall. But that’s okay. Because it’ll rise again.
I’m sitting in front of my computer at 3:30 AM, fresh out of the theaters after watching the latest film of the franchise that had me captured since I was a young boy.
But I can’t tell you the reason for why I decided to share my thoughts before warning you, and I feel the need to warn you as a fan, in big bold caps-locked letters:
DO NOT READ THIS ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET
This isn’t simply because of SPOILERS… though there will be a plenty of that I imagine. I’m just writing this as I go.
This is because regardless of my review being positive or negative if you’re a Star Wars fan, you have to see this film without being tainted in any way. Otherwise, it’d be doing injustice to everything this film is trying to accomplish.
Despite its flaws and regardless of fan’s approval, this is a revolutionary film for the Star Wars franchise.
The Last Jedi, not only introduces profound lore elements to Star Wars universe, but also as a film it introduces a new style, tone, mechanics, writing, humor, and even further modernization to the franchise than they did with Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.
However, as revolutionary as this film is, I couldn’t help but get up from my seat at end wondering how much of the film I actually enjoyed and how much of it… annoyed me. Some reasons I knew why right away but some other I had the chew over on my drive home through the empty freeway in the wee hours of cold December morning.
Anyways. This is a quickie so it’s just me vomiting my thoughts right after the movie. So I ask for your generous understanding for any errors ahead.
The Quick and Dirty
While The Last Jedi may be revolutionary to the franchise in more ways than one, it tries to do too much for a single film and struggles to find a satisfying and perfect execution for most of its endeavors.
It doesn’t leave you with a feeling of witnessing a triumphant victor, but rather, the feeling of awkward silence of witnessing someone try too hard for too long on stage… and you don’t know when to clap or what to clap for exactly even though you’re pretty sure you’ve enjoyed the overall experience.
As mentioned, execution of certain elements of the film feels a bit dissatisfying or unfinished.
One that really comes to mind is Kylo’s development as a character. The film does such a wonderful job giving depth to the character for the first two acts, that it’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating for him to become basically an unreasonable villain suddenly in the third act. It felt cheap.
The pacing felt off and because of so many branching sub-plots, the film felt like watching a miniseries rather than a film.
One of the biggest culprit to the pacing is the unnecessary insertions of comedic scenes and kind of “post-Marvel” vibe the film has. Y’know? Like how most Marvel seems can’t take itself seriously so sometimes it’s hard to feel what’s at stake? But it feels more annoying with this film because the tension and magnitude of the greater plot moments are so high that when certain lighter moments, or lesser interesting subplot moments, intrude… it feels like a sudden car crash.
That’s not to say that those scenes are not funny nor that they were always out of place. But many times they felt frustrating and made the film unnecessarily longer than it needed to be.
The very kid friendly comedic relief scenes are a bit odd because it’s unnecessarily treats the entire audience as if they can’t handle any reasonable duration of drama and tension (and yes I understand the target audience is ultimately kids but…)… while some of its plot conveniences are bandaged by insisting to treat the audience with such amount of respect that it expects them to fill in all the holes.
Mentioning plot conveniences…
There’s a recurrence in modern writing of asserting ‘you don’t have to give the audience what they want, you don’t have to tell them everything.’
Which is fine. I think stories can be incredibly enhanced that way.
The Last Jedi did this wonderfully in some regards.
Many audience members may have wanted Rey to have an epic moment regarding her parents and have her parents be some grand part of the Star Wars lore.
She got none of that and it was fantastic. She’s a better child of prophecy type than Anakin ever was.
Better insight into Snoke?
Nope. And that’s awesome.
But there were plot conveniences where it felt like the film was trying to treat it the same way and just comes off as lazy writing. Here’s the top 3 I can recall at the moment:
After developing Snoke as this incredibly powerful being–whose powers include apparently being able to read into Kylo’s deepest thoughts and feelings and even reach out to Rey in similar ways–and just after him even proclaiming that he can see into Kylo’s thoughts and intentions… Kylo can just kill him by surprise like that? He couldn’t sense the lightsabre moving by the force? This is a moment where the audience is supposed to fill in the blanks by, “ahh, it’s because Snoke’s too arrogant” …but instead it just ends up feeling a bit silly and anticlimactic.
Why didn’t the Resistance do the whole cruiser lightspeed kamikaze attack sooner? Or even bring that up for discussion? It seemed incredibly powerful attack. In fact, almost every ship that’s about to be blown up should just do this if they can. I guess this is the part where the audience is supposed to go, “ahh, it’s because had they attempted that sooner the First Order would have suspected something was up…?” But, why wasn’t the actual plan just explained to everyone in the first place? Even Poe would have been fine since he seems to know if there’s cloaking device the First Order wouldn’t know that they’ve escaped. Other than to teach Poe a lesson in being a leader rather than a hero later? Also, how did the girl on the bridge that helped Poe’s mutiny not know about the plan? And was the First Order really out of all TIE fighters or something to chase down the Resistance?
While Luke’s final moments were epic, the execution of it left a bit of sour taste. His death was beautiful, respectful, and an incredible moment in the film. Possibly, one of the most beautiful moments in Star Wars history. But… it also feels like his death was only done because living-Luke had no place anymore in the plot and to keep up with the film’s theme of, “in with the new, gone with the old”.
For formatting reasons (to save your eyes), I’m going to continue my thoughts on Luke here.
Another problem with Luke’s death involves his epic showdown against the First Order.
It was awesome that Luke wasn’t actually there and it was sort of a Force clone of himself instead. It goes to show how incredible Luke became with his force powers and explains how Luke even got to that planet in the first place.
But his death takes away from the grandiosity of his powers because while Luke seemed like he took care of First Order with such ease and demonstrated to Kylo that the master still had his place… in reality the act killed him.
Fine. Maybe that’s just my personal bitterness towards making such a grand act gently a farce.
But the part that I think is a little hilarious is that Poe assumed there had to be an escape route because Luke got into the supposed enclosed building. Poe didn’t know that Luke was an illusion of sort.
I understand the idea is that Luke served his purpose of being “hope” that the Resistance needed.
But given that he was an illusion that appeared out of nowhere, Poe was incredibly lucky not to find those mineral foxes just holed up somewhere deeper in the chasms of the cavern after deciding that following one of those things must lead to how Luke got in.
And what was Luke’s plan exactly? He’ll bide time as the Resistance figure some way to escape? Did Luke know there was even a way to escape?
I guess this is another moment where we’re supposed to fill in the blanks as the audience that ‘Luke knew there was a way through the Force.”
Another mixed-bag I had with the film is the further introduction of moral grays in the world Star Wars as we were introduced to in Rogue One.
We find out that vilified weapons dealers who’ve sold weapons to First Order are also the ones selling weapons to the Resistance.
The point of which loses a lot of his sharpness because not only did we just see Finn and Rose probably maim a few of those people and destroy their city (their whole mission feels like a joke at the end) but also because Star Wars makes you feel like the galaxy is a large place and yet not at the same time…
Basically, these weapons dealers are just business people who don’t want to get involved in these political feuds and just continuing on with their business.
Some sort of moral point feels a bit muddied up because it just seems like a statement of fact of sort that business people will do business and we don’t know if they have any reason to be involved in these political feuds other than the fact the film told us that they should care… even though with the introduction of these groups of people and planet… it doesn’t seem like they have to?
Because it sort of could imply that even Snoke had to rub shoulders with the rich and the business folks to get supplies for the First Order?
And it doesn’t help that the film establishes with such ferocity that Resistance is the good guys that it further muddies up what the moral point exactly is supposed to be.
Yes, I get that it supposed to introduce that the world is gray… but unlike Rogue One, it doesn’t even go anywhere with that in this film. The film continues from that little moral statement to demonstrating that First Order is bad, the guy who introduced the moral gray is a dick, and Resistance is struggling and must survive and is supported by all the protagonists.
I’ve alluded some pros above and I’ll leave those at that.
The action scenes are probably the best it’s ever been in a Star Wars film.
While I didn’t think the whole “arms trade” moral conundrum was done very well, it was still a nice development of Star Wars universe’s morality.
For the first time in Star Wars, the relationships that developed between characters felt complex and organic.
It felt human.
The relationship between Kylo, Rey, Finn, and Rose became surprisingly convoluted, intimate, and mature.
That little look Rey gives to Rose near the end of the film is so hauntingly teasing for what Rey’s feelings must be.
Oh, and the little boy watching the stars at the end, while felt a bit forced of why he’s even in the film in the first place, was a great touch. Not only for demonstrating the theme of the film, but also making the audience feel that Rey and Kylo are also just part of this cycle as Luke and Snoke was.
Anyways. My thought puke seems to be running dry and my eyelids are getting heavier and heavier. I think it’s time for me to take a nap before starting my day.
Oh, and the broken lightsaber was a nice touch as well.
There was a thought that I chewed over about a week before seeing Blade Runner 2049 (henceforth, Blade Runner 2).
I was sitting on the toilet and wondered—with enough self-awareness that I may seem like I had a bit of the stinky grass—
“Does your life end when there are no memories left or does it actually end if there are no moments left ahead that’ll be worth remembering?”
That thought was a byproduct of a dream I had the night before.
A dream of arriving at a hotel in the middle of the desert. In the hotel, murky, emerald water slowly rose at a steady pace. And like the few other occupants of this soon-to-be corpse aquarium, a wide-grin stretched across my face. I was so jubilant as the water slowly crept up above my lips sucking in its last breath. And I woke up in serene tranquility and felt enigmatically liberated.
Thinking back, I don’t really remember the transition from my white porcelain thinking chair to the gas station ran by an elderly Russian couple.
Getting gas was an excuse to be there; buying a lotto ticket was the true goal. I was convinced that the dream meant something. Something good. Maybe I wanted the money in some vain attempt at ensuring worthwhile memories in the future.
The urge was a ridiculous conviction probably deriving from my mother who believes in these sorts of superstitions. And as much as I persist away and criticize her for her unjustifiably-believing-in-supernatural-causation ways, I couldn’t help but buy that lotto.
The old man kept telling me, “This is the winning ticket!”
As if he knew of my dream.
“Bring me back just five dollars if you win!”
He kept asking me for that five dollars as I walked out.
It’s not that I thought I’d win—though I thought might. It just that felt like the event of the day that I had to make happen in reality.
If it wasn’t clear, this isn’t a review for the film.
It’s a blotch of my take on a film that made me want to share my thoughts on it enough to dust off this blog. So I’ll just do a quick run-through of the review-y things and move on.
Obviously, there will be spoilers.
Also, I’ve seen the film only once in theaters as I’m writing this piece.
The film is a bit longer than it needs to be. There are moments where subtlety is thrown out the window and the film feels condescending to the intended audience. Or, perhaps, the film wasn’t really certain who the audience was going to be. While all the performances are strong, not all characters ends up being fleshed out. The final act of the film felt too convenient at times. With all that said, Joe (Ryan Gosling) is one of the most well-developed characters I’ve seen in a long while and viewers caring for the character’s ending is the film’s greatest testament to its endeavors.
Do you need to see the previous film?
No. Absolutely not. It’ll add a lot to the experience but the film can completely stand on its own. You don’t need to know who Rachel or Rick Deckard are.
Did I think Joi in the China Dress was gorgeous?
Yes. Of course, I did. We all did, damn it. Why would you ask such a question all of a sudden?
Does the film have the same depth as the first film?
I enjoyed the first film immensely but never thought it had that great of philosophical depth as many of the cult followers would suggest.
However, I thought Blade Runner 2 had much more interesting pieces in play that provided a more substantial conversation for the topic it wanted to explore.
I’ve read some internet chatter that the film is a discussion of the philosophy of identity. Personally, I think that’s a bit off-mark.
The film is more like a simple program sequence to test the philosophy of being human. Each of the main characters is a different variable raising certain questions, and consequently, becoming a case of an anthropomorphic discussion of what it means to be human.
Joe (Ryan Gosling)
Protagonist for this film is one that I personally found most interesting in recent years. There are many ways the character could have gone wrong. Many ways where the lead character would have kept us bored and frustrated by design.
Joe, aka a serial number he goes by through most of the film that I can’t remember and apparently am too lazy to look up, is supposed to be as emotionless a person could be. That’s how he was built and if he acts otherwise it’s considered a malfunction and due for termination.
The movie opens up with him killing a fellow replicant with a recognition that he’s taking a life-of-sorts but doing so without an inkling of hesitation. Joe does his job well and with frigidness expected by his masters.
Great, the audience may think. Is he one of those “stoic, aloof, always-too-cool, killing machine” types?
And we’re certainly led to believe that until we see another side of Joe in the scenes that follow afterward.
The film had convinced us at this point that Joe is a badass replicant Blade Runner. But as he walks through his precinct, his fellow human officers are blatantly hostile to Joe. And Joe, unlike the tough killer we’ve seen him with the giant, brawny replicant (Dave Bautista), retracts into being a young boy bullied by his schoolmates.
This is the first step we see the film developing Joe into a human being in the audience’s minds.
In the end, Joe dies. Well, at least I like to believe that he died as it gives the movie the most poetic finish. And the audience cares because the film had successfully convinced us that he was a person. A person who’ve felt something, who’ve lived a life with happiness and pain, and a person the loss of whom was a loss on all of us who’ve gotten to know him.
Joe, in a sense, is an appreciation of a life of being human. A rough and succinct definition of being human.
A replicant near the end of the film tells Joe along the lines of: “Isn’t dying for something the most human thing that you can do?”
They tell him this as they comission Joe to kill Deckard to prevent any chance of having their plans foiled.
But Joe had found something hauntingly more human than the other replicants could ever know. He understood the intimate, selfish, and devastatingly powerful relationship of a parent and a child. A relationship tied by blood and birth of life.
He chose that human relationship over a revolution and ideals of his species. Even after he realized he had only experienced the bond and its definitions artificially.
In other words, to give Deckard and his child a chance to celebrate that relationship, Joe sacrificed everything that he had left of his past, everything that could have been his future, and even his own chance of having a father and being a child.
In some sense, Joe’s appreciation of parent-child relationship probably exceeded that of many humans who take it for granted. Both ways.
Joi (Ana de Armas)
Joi became my favorite character after thinking about the film and the topic at hand.
She’s an A. I. hologram that’s so sophisticated that she fools you into thinking that she’s human.
But isn’t she human?
At what point does an A. I. stop being just lines of codes and pre-programmed responses to having enough of those to be human?
It reminds me of the old Chinese room thought experiment.
To simply put, if you tell a computer to translate a word in Chinese to English or vice-versa, does it actually understand the languages and the definitions it’s translating or is it simply mimicking the ability to understand?
When Joi flirts with Joe, feels intimacy with Joe, asks Joe about his day, does she actually understand what she’s doing or is it something else?
If an A. I. has enough responses, can create enough responses for any particular and peculiar types of situations, does it eventually reach the point of being human?
Or does it still lack the fundamental consciousness, the awareness of understanding the responses, to be considered human?
Before Joi ‘dies’ in the film she tells Joe one of the most powerful, mysterious, and most human phrase one could communicate to another.
“I love you.”
But as her memory stick is crushed under Luv’s (Sylvia Hoeks) feet—effectively killing her—Luv tells devastated Joe, “I hope you’ve enjoyed our product”.
Next time Joe meets Joi is in the city.
She’s not his Joi but an advertisement for other Jois for willing customers. She can be whatever they want her to be.
She was whatever he wanted her to be.
We don’t know what Joe’s thinking as the ad speaks to him. Seeing his once properly dressed wife being offered as almost a sex object for lonely city dwellers.
Maybe he’s regretting ever have fallen for her.
Maybe he’s reconsidering what a relationship even means. A very artificial and invented relationship of the future versus the primal relationship that Joe felt he had when he thought he was a child with a parent and not a product that was born without one. And the camaraderie of a romantic relationship Joe felt with Joi as a real human would with a loved one.
Maybe he’s now just understanding true loneliness.
He and the other customers like him aren’t anything special from the perspective of those who are providing Joi for them. Though to many of them, their Joi would be their one and only Joi.(No pun intended)
Oddly, this does sound awfully similar to how one may view their exes after a break-up.
I recall a class discussion about a picture of a unicorn. When you think of a picture of a unicorn you’re not thinking of a unicorn but a picture of it. And if you’ve never seen a unicorn in real life, then that’s all a unicorn is to you.
But if a unicorn doesn’t exist—and as far as I know it does not though I wonder what made narwhals so special—does it really matter if that picture is all you have for a unicorn?
Or is our quest to define the unicorn properly, after a certain point, simply our desire to quench the need to be as intricate as possible with our definitions.
Because at the end of the day, what good is a reality if our definitions of it are as blurry and undetermined as that of a dream.
Niander Wallace (Jared Leto)
Beauty of the character comes from the fact that his shame for being a mere human manifests not necessarily with melodramatic monologues but from his appearance and demeanor.
A man who invented replicants, a superior species in his mind, is a mere human.
To escape from his own mediocrities and failings he augmented his physical attributes with cybernetics and perhaps the insecurity is also a quiet motivation for him to play Jesus for a species that he doesn’t belong to.
His mannerisms are probably the most inhuman of anyone in the film. Though oddly frustrating to watch at times, Wallace was memorable in his own right.
But I’ve mentioned earlier that there are characters that don’t end up being really fleshed out.
This is a big one.
I never felt like he did anything to contribute to the film other than being the mysterious, all-powerful villain. Not to mention my general distaste for characters that I can’t ever imagine functioning in normal social settings. But I guess that’s a bit of an oxymoron to the praises I gave the character just a few lines above.
Niander Wallace is one of those guys you meet at parties who use eloquence and Oxford vocabularies to go on spiels to exude their supposed intelligence but never… really does anything to demonstrate it in a meaningful way.
Since he’s a movie villain he gives his monologues menacingly and hides in bad lighting to be frightening while throwing in a good literal stab here and there to remind the audience that this guy is cold-blooded corporate of the dystopian future personified.
But he feels surprisingly one note and it’s a note of cliche. Like a guy who sings Don’t Stop Believing at a karaoke and is pretending to be ironic about it because he’s so aware how overdone the song is at karaoke.
A human that’s the least human of them all. I wish there could have been a more discussion in the film regarding this character but the film was already almost 3 hours long. So I digress.
Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford)
The straight man of the film. Almost unnecessary for it to be Deckard but is Deckard to provide us an intimate connection to the first film and for the fans to finally get some answers after all these years.
I only mention Deckard because I was the fan of the first film and he can’t go on unmentioned when discussing Blade Runner 2. Though integral to the central plot of the film, Deckard himself doesn’t really play a big role per say. Deckard could have been replaced with a completely original character and the film would have been no different.
He adds to the discussion of what it means to be human by being the father figure who sacrificed everything to fulfill his duty as a father.
In many ways, Deckard is also the most human character we meet in this world of humans living in urban destitute, humans that simply digressed to their functions, and beings that are up for debate whether or not they’re human.
There’s a lot the film does to connect Deckard to nature. Something closer to what humans once were compared to the world we see portrayed.
He’s found through his connection to a wooden artifact—a rare material in this bleak future.
He has bee farms and raises a dog.
He shows a variety of emotions and connection to history in a very unsubtle ways that unfold in the film.
Also, his daughter is first seen observing a rain forest.
All that and more is what makes Deckard the straight man to the film. The most identifiable character to the audience and perhaps the last bastion of humanity in the dystopian future while ironically also perhaps being the key to the end of it simply by being a father.
There are other explorations in the film that are probably worthy of discussion.
The religious notes, the dystopian future, and why no one else other than Joe seems to drive.
But for me, the main exploration of the film was being human; what it means to be human.
The level of quality of the film dawned upon me actually days after I saw it. I realized it when I found myself having intriguing conversations about the film with my date days after we watched it together. While engaging debates about the film with friends as we had lunch. And even finding myself engaging in fresh discussions with people at my gym.
There’s a lot more I wish I could gush out about the film. Perhaps I wrote this blog after not having written anything in so long because I just wanted to share my thoughts and have even more conversation about it.
Is this a film that was groundbreaking in terms of how it presented its topics? No.
Were there other films that have done it better? As one can infer from above, arguably yes.
But is it a film that’s worth watching and perhaps rewatching?Definitely. Especially for those with a creative itch and an eye candy itch. I’d considerBlade Runner 2 as much of a classic as its predecessor.
By the way, I won nothing from that lotto.
Sorry, old man.
Maybe the next ticket.
Minor Gripes + Praises
( – ) Maybe I’m getting old but the fonts were small. I get it’s stylish but they were so damn small.
( – ) It’s never established how strong Joe is through the film. The film sort of misleads the audience into believing that Luv was perhaps particularly strong even for Joe’s standards given how surprised Joe seems to be at how she opened the archive door. But as my date pointed out, perhaps he’s just surprised because he expected her to be a mere secretary? But the movie really doesn’t prepare people for the fact that Joe starts running through walls near the 3rd act of the film. Not to mention how he ends up killing Luv seems a bit farfetched given what was established. But perhaps that was a testament to Joe being human and demonstrating the majesty of the human will or something. I don’t know.
( + ) The film has more than simple nods to the previous film in regards to how cleverly it incorporates the world the franchise built in the early 80s into the imagining of the same world in the late 2010s.
( + ) I like how they included a variety of cultures and languages intermixed in this imagining of LA… even if it felt a bit nonsensical at times. In fact, there are some choices that just seemed nonsensical in general. Like what was up with the sex statues?
With that out of the way, here we go! …Hopefully, I don’t forget any.
Star Wars: Rogue One ( 2.5 / 5) – Inconsistent. Perhaps the one of the most iconic Star Wars scene at the end. Certain questionable dialogue choices. Not sure why they chose to do what they did with the characters as it was unnecessary. Final moments of the movie after the famous Vader scene also makes little sense when we really think about it.
Star Trek Beyond ( 3 / 5) – Not sure about the pacing. Villain made little sense. Action sequences were done better in the previous films.
Captain America: Civil War (3 / 5) – Another fun Marvel film. Winter Soldier was a better film since it at least felt different than the typical formula Marvel films have been following since Iron Man. The moral debate between the two sides is weak and unconvincing. [SPOILER] Weak ending where nothing that matters was lost at the end.
Dr. Strange (2.5 / 5) – Tried to do too much with the first movie. Benedict is likable as Strange. Forgettable villain with convoluted motives. The big baddie at the end is a bit puzzling considering his place in the comics. The end fight itself borders between corny and clever. One of the best post-credit “Marvel teasers.”
Batman v Superman (2 / 5) – Too scattered. Too inconsistent. Plot doesn’t even make sense within its own logic. Snyder seemed to have pieced together moments instead of creating a film. While the actor was great, how they decided to portray Lex Luther felt like a mistake by the end. MARTHAAA
Finding Dory (3.5 /5) – Very heartfelt as to be expected from Pixar. Bigger emotional punch than Finding Nemo. Jumped the shark a bit at the end.
X-Men Apocalypse ( 2 / 5) – Very meh especially considering how impressive the preceding film was. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing really interesting, Apocalypse was surprisingly a boring villain. Gets pretty cheesy near the end.
Zootopia (4 / 5) – Funny, witty, creative, and I’d love to live in Zootopia. It handled the message it wanted to send well for what it was. Nick Wilde is also a great character.
Hell or High Water (4.5 / 5) – Just watch it. Wonderful neo-western with a compelling story and pacing. One of the most intense and clever standoffs I’ve seen in a western during the final moments of the film.
Sicario (4 / 5) – Just watch it. Especially if you liked Hell or High Water.
Moana (2.5 / 5) Some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen in a Disney Film. Best female Disney character to date. A bit Miyazaki-esque. Songs were generally a miss for me. The song by Lin-Manuel Miranda, however, is brilliant. Very weak ending.
Sky Rising ( 2 / 5 ) A bit too in-your-face with metaphors and symbolisms. Lacks certain Magic and nuance that Miyazaki films tend to have. Pacing is too slow. Unnecessary romance that made no sense and wasn’t even biographical. Voice acting by Hideaki Anno was mostly a miss for me.
Swiss Army Man (4 / 5) – Surprisingly thoughtful and touching. Never thought fart & sex jokes can take a movie so far.
Sausage Party (1 / 5) – Dumber than you think it’d be. People will tell you that “it’s just not your type of movie” or “you just didn’t get the jokes” when you tell them you didn’t like it. It sucked. I wanted my money back.
Corner Gas the Movie ( 3 / 5) – If you’re a fan of the show, it just feels like an extended episode… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Caché (4 / 5) – Sometimes a bit too much with the message it wants to send (sometimes too subtle, sometimes too blatant) but it’s one of those films for film students. Masterfully filmed. Each shot has a purpose. Engrossing story.
Winter’s Bone (4.5 / 5) – If anyone wants to see Jennifer Lawrence’s acting chops this is a good film to do it with. Powerful and an organic film. Watch it.
Hail Caesar! (4 / 5) – Coen brothers film for all ages (?). Celebrates film industry while also poking fun at it. Charismatic, colorful, and whimsical.
Penny Dreadful (TV) S1 : (3.5 / 5) – Promising and refreshing. Someone give Eva Green an award.
S2: (4 / 5) – Awesome though the second half of the season is a bit corny. Someone give Eva Green an award.
S3: (2/5) – This would be 1/5 if it wasn’t for Eva Green and Rory Kinnear. The ending is absolutely atrocious. Build up to the ending is horrendous. Rare moments where I felt my time was wasted starting this series. But, seriously, someone give Eva Green an award.
Fargo (TV) S1: (5/5) – Tight writing, great pacing, memorable characters. Lester is a fascinating character to watch as he twists and turns through the series. Lorne Malvo is basically Chigurh but that’s not such a bad thing and Fargo brings a brilliant Coen brother feel to the force-of-nature character.
S2: (5/5) – As good as, if not better, than S1 but it’ll definitely depend on the audience. It has more “whimsical” elements to the plot that may turn off some viewers–even the fans of S1. And the vibe of the story is essentially different than the S1 as well. It’s more heartfelt and builds much bigger investment into the characters. Every actor is memorable in their own, unique ways. The dialogues are more subtle and also more profound, insightful, uniquely tailored, and at times even haunting.
I think that’s all?
Best Thing I Watched This Year
Runner-up: Hell or High Water / Winter’s Bone
Worst Thing I Watched This Year
Runner-up: Penny Dreadful Season 3
That’s it! Maybe I’ll do books sometime soon as well!
But for now… Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! And I think I speak for all of us when I say…
You might have heard of me from my past works such as… who are we kidding? You have never heard of me. I’m a nobody. But I’m a nobody with some experience.
Last time, I posted a blog about 4 Same Stupid Questions I See All the Time On Writing Forums. Click HERE to fulfill my shameless plug.
This time, I thought I’d do something a bit more helpful and thoughtful.
I’m going to buy your ebooks.
Just kidding. I’m still poor. And with the money I have I’d rather buy a McDouble and a McChicken at McDonald’s with the awesome Mc2Pick for $2.50! What a deal! And make sure to check out their limited-time holiday drinks!
You already know what this is about. You’ve read the title. Get to the point you’re saying. Maybe you’ve already scrolled down.
This is for all of you out there wondering what exactly some of those answers you’ve received meant. Because the random stranger who gave you the answer left you cold and hanging without an explanation. Like my dad on Christmas.
“Show, Don’t Tell”
Let’s get the big one out of the way.
I’m literally massaging my nose bridge with one hand and typing this with my other two hands as I’m trying to explain this one.
Not because it’s particularly difficult to answer, but because it’s so basic.
But not because it’s just so basic, but because it’s so basic and it’s a mistake that I make often and I know for a fact that many other writers who should be above these kinds of things make this mistake as well.
So let’s try to understand WHY this happens.
I have a simple theory: We are describing what we are seeing in our brilliant, gifted minds and forgetting that our jobs as writers are to help the readers experience what we’re seeing and not have them simply understand what we’re seeing. We’re not supposed to be the tour guides but be VR goggles. They want to be inside of our story—not be outside of it.
Showing is taking notes.
Telling is creating worlds.
There are times when you want to “tell” over “show” but this is one of those things where you have to master the rules before you learn to bend them.
And here’s an example just in case:
Jimmy was mad at Moe.
Jimmy’s unibrow furrowed into a rugged U, his hand trembled with fury, and his heart filled with the burning desire to bitchslap Moe.
You want to be a swimmer? Go practice swimming every day.
You want to be a stripper? Go practice stripping every day.
You want to be a writer? Go practice stripping every day.
Well. Why not. Cardio’s important. But you should also practice writing every day.
This somewhat calloused sounding advice exists because most people only talk about writing and never actually write.
They think they can be writers by just spewing their thesis about the craft of ink and paper as they lasciviously rub themselves for their own creativity and avant-garde ideas.
Something about hic Rhodus, hic salta.
Your ideas aren’t worth donkey’s spit on a chicken’s ass if you never actually create something with it. And unless you’re some sort of a Hemingway’s spirit reborn, you’re probably not as good as you think you are.
So how do you “just write”? I personally say do away with the whole “have a word count for the day” thing. You know, when people say things like “just write 1000 words a day”?
Look, fellow grasshoppers, if you’re a professional writer then you know when your due date is so daily word count either makes more sense or not at all since you just have to get’er done by that date.
You know how you work. You can set your own pace.
If you’re a hobbyist it makes less sense because the rigidness and the arbitrary number just turns your hobby into a chore.
But sure. If it works for you—good. Nothing wrong with that.
If it doesn’t—don’t worry about it. And let me recommend, instead, setting up a timed session.
Maybe one hour a day. One hour every other day.
Make it your schedule, like everything else you do in life, and just use that time to write one word or ten thousand words. Or even no words. Just do something writing related. Even if that’s reading for research, doing brainstorms, and whatever. Maybe it’ll be for an hour. Maybe it’s two hours. Just set a time.
This will give you some freedom and some ease with your writing pursuit. And if you have an end goal in mind that’s where you can set a long-term deadline for yourself.
Oh, and, if you’re not letting other people read your work—you’ll never get better. Practice makespermanent and not perfect.
Writing without outside criticism will only make your lack of talent permanent.
“Write for Yourself / Don’t Follow the Trend”
So, this one’s a bit FUBAR.
To unravel this, I’ll just first explain where it’s coming from and then kind of go on about why it’s FUBAR. And just a head’s up: this one’s going to be a bit serious.
Like stool samples. Poops are fun and games but sometimes you have to use serious, medical terms like “stool” and “samples”.
When there’s a fad, it’ll start a trend.
Star Wars sparked the sci-fi boom.
Lord of the Rings & Game of Thrones sparked the fantasy boom.
Twilight sparked the wtf-happened-to-vampires boom.
Hunger Games started the dystopian boom.
The whole idea of “write what you’d want to read / don’t follow a trend” is that the chances of you actually catching the trend and having your passions align with the trend… are low.
Why is the chance of catching a trend low?
Because writing is a long process and publishing can be even longer. It usually takes years for someone to finish a book and see it in stores. You really think the trend will last that long? And what about passion? Do you think you can write a work you’re proud of without a passion for it? Even if you’ve missed the trend? Can I add any more questions to this paragraph? Well? Can I?
Writing what you’re proud of—something that you can call your own—can mean more at the end of the day than writing something that you thought was going to sell.
But remember when I said this topic is a bit tricky? With the technologies and how the book market is today… you can basically ignore everything I said up there and maybe you should.
You know why trends start? Because they sell.
People tend to want more cake after they had a slice.
Twilight spawned True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and a bunch of other vampire shows, books, and ebooks in a variety of genres.
Erotica was a popular genre to write for on Kindle for a while because they sold like… well… sex.
Publishers will always welcome any book that’ll sell. That’s their jobs. Publish things to sell. And if the genre’s hot right now, they’ll be looking for more of that genre and might even put you through the fast lane.
For indie writers, catching trends is easier now more than ever because you can instantly check what’s selling well. Check the Top 100 on Amazon. There you go.
Passion? Damn, son. Passions tend to suck at paying forstuff. And I like stuff.
Besides, if you’re a professional writer shouldn’t you have a grasp of how to write just about anything?
Timing? You click “publish” and you’re done.
You want to put more work into it? It won’t be too hard for you to chug out a 40-50k novel that follows a formula for a standard successful storytelling in a month. Remember, NaNoWriMo thinks just about everyone can chug out 50k in a month. You’re a professional, veteran writer. If this is your full-time job, you can do it in 2-3 weeks. During the time you’re writing you can hire an editor and an artist and ding-ding-ding you have a Hot Pockets book.
Besides, talking about passion, do you think there’s a lot of market appeal to a book that’s so personally you?
Sometimes a book is too much you and sometimes that’s not a good thing. That’s when a writer is just doing a self-pleasing (there, friends, I didn’t use the word “masturbatory”) project and hoping that people might like it.
Hell, that writer might not even be thinking of readers. If your protagonist is a half-orc, quarter-dragon, quarter-boar stripper named Borga Do’Kora (stage name being Danger Dick) who’s day job is a tax accountant, maybe you really did not give a chicken’s ass on a donkey’s spit about the readers.
And that’s fine. Writing, in its best form, should be reflective and a fragment of your being. Even if that’s a half-orc, quarter-dragon, quarter-boar stripper who’s favorite food happens to be pickled eggplants.
But if we’re talking about making money, the whole story changes.
Wow, the last one was so damn long. I’ll keep this short. You know how you improve your mile run right? You keep running.
But as you keep running, you’ll run into some hurdles along the way. Maybe your ankles will start to hurt, maybe you’ll run into better runners, and maybe some literal hurdles. It’s called gaining experience.
And sometimes, it’ll hurt. They might say you have ugly shoes, ugly face, and that you look downright silly running.
But someone wise once told me… Just kidding. I read this on Tumblr.
“Writer’s who are afraid of rejection are like boxers who are afraid of getting punched. You’re in the wrong line of work.”
In every aspect of our lives, we should welcome valid criticisms. In writing, we have to take-and-thank any sort of feedback we can get and sort it through ourselves like beggars on the street corners Aurora ave in Seattle.
And a lot of times… the greatest of criticisms will come from our own failures. It’s okay to fail despite what my mother says. What’s not okay is to let failures just be failures. Then you’ve wasted your time.
Don’t give up. Everything’s hard and writing as a craft has been around since the beginning of written language. You don’t have to try to rewrite the rule book, the legacy, or try to be the next big thing. Just enjoy it and see where it takes you.
If someone says you suck–say thanks. What can I do to be better?
If you think you suck–well, I suck. What can I do to be better?
And I’m not saying having that attitude is easy. It’s tough. Hell, I always get salty and pissy and depressed about myself and my life. And sometimes about my writing!
But that’s the process of “Keep Writing”. You’ll get better as long as you keep challenging yourself and keep yourself honest. Make sure the cycle of depression and persistence keeps turning. There’s no fast lane here. It’s just gaining experience.
Or just give up. It’s your life. Why are you doing this if you’re not enjoying it unless you’re trying to pay bills with it?
It’s okay not to be a writer. It’s okay not to be a professional writer. I’m sure your friends and family will be happy to hear that you decided not to be an artist anymore and decided to be a Tax Accountant and go make a happy, comfortable living without having to worry about your future.
But if you’re not going to give up, keep running. As you keep running, you’ll also learn how to enjoy running better. And hopefully, y’know, you’ll keep researching into how to run better because that’s part of keep running.