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.
I came across the image above about a month ago, and decided it sounded like the perfect time/excuse to introduce my 9-year-old son to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the coming of the new year. And thus was born The 2018 Father-Son Marvel Movie Marathon Extravaganza, or The Marvelthon, for short. When I shared my plan on Facebook, my friend Maria had the awesome idea of having him write blog posts for each movie. Ultimately, I decided that for him, blog posts might be a little too open-ended and intimidating, so instead I’ll be giving him some questions to answer and which I’ll type up as posts – verbatim, with typos and all. Maybe I’ll even share some of my thoughts on his answers and where I might take future questions. Related: I teach high school film and media courses, so he’s been asking me to give him some “movie lessons,” as he calls them. So I see this as fulfilling that request too.
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…
When I first started writing this post, I began with a story aimed at proving to you how much I like Spider-Man and comics in general, but I don’t want to take up too much blog space trying to establish my fanboyness, so I won’t. Just trust me. I like superhero comics, and I absolutely love seeing them in live-action. And Spider-Man doesn’t really have anything to do with this post, anyway. The story I was going to tell has more to do with how ridiculously slow dial-up connections used to be in early 2000s.
So I finally watched Yuen Woo Ping’s True Legend (2010) last night and had a thought. Well, I had many thoughts, most of them negative, but one main thought. Martial arts cinema – especially from Mainland China – seems to be adapting to the requirements of a globalized cinema audience in all the wrong ways and making history repeat itself in the process.
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 used to love watching movie trailers. I was the guy who would make sure to be at the theater at least 30 minutes in advance, because I absolutely COULD NOT miss the trailers. When the internets came around, I spent hours upon hours watching trailers and teasers of the latest movies to be coming out.
But at some point something changed and I no longer watch movie trailers.
My sister shared this article with me today titled “China’s Homegrown Hit Films Getting Lost Overseas” and it made me want to offer somewhat of a response. Not because I think it’s wrong, but because I think there are other variables that continue to be ignored in these kinds of articles. So really, this response isn’t exclusively to that particular article, but a number of articles that cover the same topic of Chinese box-office successes flopping in the US. As many of you may know, this is a hot topic right now, especially since a series of Chinese comedies – most notably Journey to the West and Lost in Thailand – have shattered China’s previous box-office records.
So let’s take a closer look.
Do you remember M. Night Shyamalan?
I saw the teaser for his new film with Will and Jaden Smith, After Earth, a while back and noticed something strange: it never once mentioned his name. This is M. Night Shyamalan we’re talking about here. The guy who blew everyone’s minds with The Sixth Sense, and then went on to wow audiences at a continually decreasing level with each additional film. The guy who became known for his crazy twist endings. The guy who had the coveted marketing title of “visionary director” written all over him. The guy who became a beacon of hope for directors of color the world over. That last one may be exaggerated, but the point is, he was big.
This post is a little exercise in looking at his career through the posters of the major movies he’s written and directed: The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010), and After Earth (2013).
I wrote briefly in a previous post about how much I love movie posters. I’ve been wanting to write more about them but had a hard time coming up with the best way to approach it, until now. I come across a lot of posters that I immediately have problems with, can’t believe the low quality of, pick out interesting elements from, or really really like, but I’ve never felt it worth devoting a blog entry to.
A possible solution: I’m going to try a potentially recurring segment in which I briefly write about a couple of posters that have recently caught my eye for whatever reason. First let’s remember one of the primary purposes of the movie poster: to make a movie attractive enough that it tips the scales of your purchasing decision in its favor.
[Full Disclosure: I have only seen one movie with Armie Hammer: Mirror Mirror.]
Am I the only one who experienced an Armie Hammer Conundrum? Let me explain.
As I referenced briefly in an earlier entry about the film geek, I tend to have a pretty good recollection of actors’ names and faces. However, every now and then a performer comes along that I just can’t seem to pin down in my memory. I hear their names again and again and see their films but repeatedly find myself having to look them up to remember what they look like and what movies they’ve been in.
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 love movie posters.
Throughout my middle- and high school years, I used to make a point of getting to the multiplex extra early in order to have enough time to wander the halls and look at all of the posters for coming attractions. In undergrad, I had a class on movie marketing during my senior year at the University of Miami taught by Dr. Sam Grogg (now at Adelphi University). Fantastic guy. Fantastic class. We spent A LOT of time covering the concept of key art and analyzing various posters, trailers, and overall marketing campaigns of films being released that fall. The final project involved applying all that we learned throughout the semester to a particular film, dissecting its various posters, trailers, reviews, etc.
I never looked at a poster the same again.
Though the time between my last post and this one was way longer than I originally intended, I’m back, and will discuss what I said I’d discuss: the curious case of Dayyan Eng’s Inseparable 《形影不离》. In keeping with a tradition I set in my previous and less official blog, I will be providing an abridged version at the end of the post.
(This entry will hopefully help me sort through some of the ideas and observations I have about this film and some of the issues surrounding it, so it might be a little stream-of-consciousness. It’s something I plan to write about more, so please comment generously and let’s learn from each other!)
Chinese cinemas and their industries have gotten a lot of attention in the last ten years, both academically and in the news. It’s an attention it fully deserves and which will only increase in the coming years. The growing presence of Hollywood players in China, both behind-the-scenes and in front of cameras will make sure of that. But, in all of the coverage Chinese films get in both academic journals and news outlets, it feels like something big keeps slipping through the cracks: China’s (where China = Mainland China aka PRC) domestic mainstream productions...
Born in Belgium. Raised in Brazil. Cultured in China. Corrupted in America.