Runaways Recap #2: They Still Aren’t Swingers

In this second recap episode of this Marvel/The OC mash-up, Raquel and Chris discuss Church Dad, Training Day and the Instagram profiles of every cast member.

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The Blue Haircast (“Abbreviated” and “Full” Versions)

Chris turned his hair blue with the help of his friend Em (though really, they did all of the work)- in this edited version, listen to the careful and delicate process and the nonsense conversations that ensue.

For the patient and way-too-curious, check out this version of “The Blue Haircast,” with an extra THIRTY minutes of prolonged silence, water rinsing, hair drying and dumb comments that Chris said and didn’t like for the “Abbreviated” version.

Noah Hawley’s FARGO, and the Gospel of the Coen Brothers

(Note: This piece was originally published in Film Inquiry.)

Film buffs everywhere had healthy skepticism when FX announced a Fargo television show. The classic 1996 film by Joel and Ethan Coen, that blends the genres of dark comedy and crime, is sacred ground for many. A television adaptation of sorts might cynically be considered as just a money grab, capitalizing on a well-known title. To everyone’s surprise however, the anthology show, helmed by novelist Noah Hawley, exceeded all expectations.

The series recently completed its third season, with a possible fourth cycle possible, but unconfirmed as of now. Acting as a companion to the original film rather than a retread or remake, this show tells a new story of small town Minnesota crime with each season. Fargo looks to its source material as thematic and visual inspiration, with a couple of overt plot references peppered in. Yet, Hawley uses a broader palette of inspiration, utilizing elements from Joel and Ethan Coen’s entire filmography. Whether these references in the show are nuanced or blatant, Hawley avoids simply copying the Coen brothers, and rather shares a vocabulary with their work.

By examining each season of Fargo and their main sources of inspiration, we can understand this shared vocabulary even more, and define what makes the work of the Coen brothers unique.

Continue reading “Noah Hawley’s FARGO, and the Gospel of the Coen Brothers”

What Makes Splatoon a Positive Emotional Experience

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The mainstream often overlooks video games as powerful tools for positive change. Luckily, gamers have reached a point where their medium is more widely accepted as an art form. Like books, television, and film, video games serve as an effective vehicle for escapism. Storytelling in games have evolved in way that they provoke emotional responses from gamers. Most gamers would probably be lying if they told you they didn’t cry during key interactions with Clementine in Telltale’s “The Walking Dead,” or if they didn’t feel any sort of loss at the death of Aerith in “Final Fantasy VII.”

But unlike other forms of media, the interactivity of video games allows for responses that are unique to games. Emotion doesn’t have to be solely drawn from the script and voice performances alone. Instead, the world in which you control your character in can achieve the same effect. Friendships, rivalries, and entire communities can be formed from within video games. And most significantly, video games can be a powerful tool in supporting an individual’s mental health. As someone with anxiety, OCD, and depression, “Splatoon” has acted as a crutch.

“Splatoon” is Nintendo’s unique take on the multiplayer shooter genre, releasing in 2015 on the Wii U and followed up with a Nintendo Switch sequel very recently. This 4v4 frenzy substitutes gruff soldiers with squid kids, and bullets with ink. Rather than murdering every person they see, players instead cover the map with ink of their team’s color in the game’s basic mode. The team that covers the most of the map emerges victorious. If it sounds simple enough, well, that’s because it is. But while the gameplay may be simple, the experiences gained are deeper.

Continue reading “What Makes Splatoon a Positive Emotional Experience”

When A Sequel Is Better Than The Original: The 7 Categories Of Movie Sequels

Aliens (1986) – source: 20th Century Fox

(Note: This piece was originally published in Film Inquiry.)

A good piece of art will create a following, and with that following is a desire for more – a desire for continuation. In the medium of film, these continuations usually come in the form of movie sequels. But whether due to high audience anticipation, studio interference, or simply a dry creative well, follow-ups often fall short of its predecessor’s greatness. The motto “the sequel is never as good as the original” is a common motto for moviegoers.

But an avid film buff will always be prepared with a list of films that prove the contrary. For instance, The Godfather Part II broke ground not for just being one of the first numbered sequels, but being the first sequel to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back in particular is celebrated by fans, and has been a guiding light for many blockbuster directors. The list of good sequels can go on, but for every quality sequel will come several bombs.

With each summer adding more sequels, remakes, and reboots to the pile, it’s difficult to find anything original and exceptional in the movie theater. Some of these sequels are worth the time, but the rest serve as evidence for the aforementioned motto. In an attempt to guide audiences through the sea of unoriginality, I’ve created the following categories to classify the many different types of sequels.

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Iron Fist Didn’t Have to Be Asian, But I Sure Did Want Him to Be

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While I am the son of Filipino immigrants, growing up in a mostly white suburban area created a distance between myself and my racial identity. I wasn’t in touch with my roots, and for the longest time, my own perspective of identity politics was quite limited – a result of both apathy and even ignorance to the state of things.

But leaving that bubble helped to open up my mind and look at my identity from a different viewpoint. But what has driven me even more to embrace my Asian-American label is looking at the lack of representation of Asians in the media – I am motivated to not only promote this issue, but to help fill that void as an artist. With the recent release of Marvel and Netflix’s Iron Fist generating discussions on this topic, I’d like to share how my personal experiences have led me to where I am now.

Continue reading “Iron Fist Didn’t Have to Be Asian, But I Sure Did Want Him to Be”