academic portfolio & musings of a PhDad on
movies, fatherhood, social justice, and everything in between
movies, fatherhood, social justice, and everything in between
I really tried, but apparently I’m not done thinking about these ideas. So here we go! My first Trilogy! Part 3: in which I discuss some of the ways that thinking about action aesthetics in terms of stunt-centric and choreo-centric could be helpful or useful.
This is Part 2 of my post attempting to more accurately describe and delineate the differences between two general approaches to action. Click here for Part 1, in which I describe the general priorities and emphases of a stunt-centric approach to action. This post will deal with the choreo-centric approach. To recap my goal real quick from Part 1:
Since my last post on the Emmy snub of Into the Badlands for Best Stunt Coordination, I’ve been thinking a lot about one of the claims I briefly made regarding the difference between action stunt work and action choreography. To be absolutely clear, I think that the men and women in the stunt world do not receive the kind of recognition and acclaim they deserve. The same is also true for action/martial arts choreography. However, due the frequent conflation of the two – particularly in the US – choreography gets the short end of an already short stick. While there are certainly overlaps in skills and abilities, they are also distinctly different in many ways.
Yes. This is another post about Into the Badlands. Here are some other things I’ve written about the show.
Let me get right to it: the Emmys announced their nominations for 2018, and Into the Badlands was snubbed completely. Forget the fact that they have some of the most amazing, beautiful, and original costume, makeup, and overall character designs you’ll see anywhere. Or the fact that they have some incredible production design, set pieces, music, and cinematography. All of those areas - and more, like, you know, acting - would have been well-deserving for Into the Badlands to at the very least have earned a nomination, much less a win. And I’m sad that such an original, diverse, and engaging show, and all the incredibly talented people in front of and behind the scenes missed out on all that recognition.
Season 3, Episode 1: Enter the Phoenix
Wow. What a season opener! I was thinking of writing something after each episode, but don’t want to make it too long either, so here’s where I landed. My goal will be to post some hopefully-weekly quick thoughts about what stands out, no more than 2-3 days after each episode. I feel like they should be pretty spoiler-free, since I don’t see myself spending too much time on the specific events of the episode. But, in the event that I do, I will definitely give you a SPOILER ALERT.
This post will be SPOILER-FREE. Though I will have some screenshots.
It’s been criminally overdue, but I’m finally catching up on Season 2 of Into the Badlands, and – mark my words – I will never let another season go by to be caught up later! I feel like AMC developed a technology to go into my head, scour the depths of my psyche for everything I love – and didn’t even know I loved – and created a show from their exploratory efforts. To name a few of its Munib-approved elements: post-apocalyptic settings, kung-fu action, western aesthetics, fantasy-ish elements, Daniel Wu, a diverse cast, strong female characters, father-son relationships, Chinese martial arts cinema aesthetics, appropriate and knowing nods to martial arts cinema history, etc.
So I went to see Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird in theaters the other day, and my trip to the movie coincided with what feels like a significant moment in my movie-watching / media-consuming decision-making process. But first, a bit of background…
Since posting my last post on Iron Fist, I’ve completed the series and kept telling myself that I was done with it. As the show went on, I liked it less and less but wanted to write about it more and more. I still have some Iron Fist demons that need to be exorcized, because I still find myself talking about or thinking about this show on an almost-daily basis. And I feel a little bad because I don’t want it to be all critically negative stuff. I also wanted to discuss some of its greatness (like Claire Temple and Madame Gao), some of its goodness (like some of the not-Danny-Rand-performances), and some of its awkwardnesses (like every time Bakuto speaks).
But I still haven’t said my peace on the martial arts and action of the show. And it turns out Episode 8, “The Blessings of Many Fractures,” provides some really great concrete examples to talk about. AND, since the show’s been out for a little longer now, it’s easier to find clips of specific fights streaming online. So here goes!
So I’m finally getting around to Iron Fist (I’m only 6 episodes in at the time of this writing) and I think I’ve come to certain realizations. Episode 6, in particular, helped crystallize a lot of the thoughts that were bubbling and percolating in my head throughout the first five episodes.
Let’s start with the big one: Chinese martial arts.
AMC’s new show Into the Badlands premiered this past Sunday and man, what an opening!
I’ve written before about how I’ve seen the Chinese martial arts cinema aesthetics travel to Hollywood, particularly through the success of The Matrix, and it’s very exciting to see it coming to the small screen too! I’ve also written about Inseparable, starring Daniel Wu, who leads the cast of Into the Badlands. Another topic I’ve written about quite a bit – but never on this blog – is the representation of Chinese men in Hollywood. What I’m trying to say is, partly as a means of full disclosure before I really get into this, is that Into the Badlands brings together quite a few of my favorite things, making it virtually impossible for me to dislike it. I can already tell that no matter where the story takes me, I’m going to be very forgiving towards this show. Not only because I personally enjoy the various elements that creators Al Gough & Miles Millar and producers Daniel Wu & Stephen Fung have brought together, but also because it feels like a relatively important show to support.
Just a quick post to briefly share/develop some thoughts on the current state of entertainment cinema in the People’s Republic of China. This is a result of my own ongoing research interests in the mainstream film industry of Mainland China as well as what I’ve read in some articles recently.
I recently read a film review, which I’ll discuss more below, and wanted to jot down some thoughts that I’ll probably return to and expand later. A lot of this connects back to issues I’ve discussed before.
Do you know about Feng Xiaogang?
…or, The Eternal Burden of Chinese Cinema
The other day I finally got around to watching Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War. It was alright. Christian Bale and Chinese movies are pretty high up on my list of favorite things, so the film didn’t have to try very hard to keep me interested. There are a lot of things that I’ll eventually want to think through about the film itself. For instance: the often awkward English dialogue, or the changes in Zhang Yimou’s status as a filmmaker, or if he can even be considered a “Fifth Generation” director anymore. But that’s not what I want to discuss today.
I recently read Lucy Montgomery’s China’s Creative Industries: Copyright, Social Network Markets and the Business of Culture in a Digital Age (2010). The book traces China’s shift from state-controlled cultural production and consumption to the rise of what she dubs “entrepreneurial consumers” in the country. What I really liked about this book was its treatment of China in its own terms and not in comparison to inapplicable Western standards and paradigms that frequently populate studies of China. For example...
So, as I mentioned above, I’m currently reading profusely in preparation for my comprehensive exams. The other day I read Chuck Tryon’s Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence (2009). The book aims to address some of the major changes to film culture brought about by digital cinema, which he defines pretty broadly as not only the use of digital technologies in production, post-production, distribution, and exhibition, but the various social practices it involves as well...
Born in Belgium. Raised in Brazil. Cultured in China. Corrupted in America.