Why I Adore Boyhood and Indie Movies in General

Movies and Books

I’ve been wanting to write about both Boyhood and indie flicks for a long time. Since I started blogging, to be quite honest. I kept putting it off because I’m scared of writing reviews on things I love and I’m petrified of failing to meet my own expectations. If I’m excited to blog about something, I expect it to be spectacular (to me, at least). And way too frequently, it’s just not. Anyhow, I’ve decided to just fuck it tonight because it’s so late and I so can’t sleep. I need NyQuil.

So many people hated Boyhood because “nothing happens” and the acting is poor. The first part is technically false but visually true; the second part is 96.9% false. You see, if you’re watching a completed three-hour film obviously something must have happened. A cat farting is something happening. Two people talking about the color of fart is something happening. A boy growing older is something happening. So people claiming “nothing happened” should really just look up the definitions of “things” and “happen” before they open their stupid mouths. Okay, that’s not really fair because the first time I watched it, I too thought, “Why am I so attached to a movie about a some boy going through puberty?” Visially, nothing much really happens at all. There’s no climax (lol), no plot twists, no drama. So yes, Boyhood isn’t your typical Hollywood blockbuster.

But drama does not consist exclusively of action and suspense and noise. It contains tension, emotion, and unexpected changes, none of which have to be coupled with violence or scandal. I think Hollywood blockbusters have trained us into believing that drama and subtlety are mutually exclusive. If your nails don’t dig into the seat rests and your jaws don’t land on the ground at least once, then that movie sucked because “nothing happened.” If you’re neither shocked nor confused nor euphoric nor devastated, then you’ve wasted 1/12 of a day of your life.

The magic of Boyhood is in its realism – its unfiltered, unflinching portrayal of a physical and emotional movement through time. Yes, “nothing happens,” but isn’t that the whole point? Nothing happens when we’re growing up. We just grow up. Literally. Our adolescent years aren’t defined by our first kiss, or the one time we got caught smoking weed, or even graduation. Those are the light posts that illuminate a plain, dark road. That road is our journey, and it’s defined by the mundane moments that we’ve taken granted – awkward silences during family meals, endless arguments about grades, PMSing, getting dressed for school, writing essays deep into the night, talking till dawn with your best friends. And all the laughter and all the tears – you can’t even remember what inspired them but you know they were everywhere during those unforgettable years.

Maybe you’re whipping your head left and right as you’re reading this. Maybe you’re thinking that the definition only covers the highlights, otherwise we’ll never be able to sum up anything succinctly. That’s probably true.

But listen to this: my adolescence is my first kiss, my first drink, my first run in with the cops, and my graduation.

Isn’t that ridiculous? Adolescence (I don’t know exactly when it starts or ends) covers a good decade of our lives. 1/8 of our entire lifespan if we’re lucky enough to die of old age. It should be a struggle to define such a significant period of our existence. Adolescence is a blurry mess of challenges, changes, resentment for parental control, anticipation for college and freedom, and longing for childhood innocence. It’s a plethora of paradoxes. And the only way you define a plethora of paradoxes is by making a three-hour epic over 12 short years. Good luck.

In the end, what I love most about Boyhood…and indie films in general, is that it makes you think twice about the mundane. Boring is a funny word because I don’t think it applies to anything. Calling something boring only confirms our own laziness. If something is complex, call it weird; if something is ordinary, call it dull. It’s so easy to do, and it masks our ignorance. This may be a horrible comparison, but I feel like indie films are the introverts of the film industry. Quirky, quiet, and overshadowed by its louder, more charismatic counterparts. We need indie films as well as introverts, because along with thinkers we need things to make us think.

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The Heart Wants What it Wants

Movies and Books

I’m going to hate on chick flicks again. Because that’s what I do when I’m in a bad mood. Actually I’m not even in a particularly bad mood right now; I just want to piss on something, and dumb shit like chick flicks is such an easy target.

Anyhow, my friend and I had a discussion on feminism the other day, and it reminded me of just how fucking sexist chick flicks are. Your typical scenario: girl & boy fall in love, make plans to marry fuck buy a beautiful house have beautiful kids then, BOOM, life happens. Fate sinks its ugly claws into their perfect little love story because that’s what fate always does. So then comes the big fat misunderstanding that normal couples of the lowest intelligence can work out in five secs but somehow torpedoes their supposed unbreakable bond. The rest you can probably recite my heart: boy leaves, girl meets new boy, establishes new life, gets engaged then, BOOM, life happens again. Fate decides to fuck with her pretty little head by dropping her prince charming, whom she supposed got over years and years ago, back into her perfect new world.

Then the ultimate face-off:

At that point is would be absolutely ludicrous to not get back together with him because how can you reject Ryan fucking Gosling when his eyes are pouring into your soul that like?

But it’s totally okay to dump the other dude (the one who, mind you, have stood by your selfish, ungrateful ass all these years while your “soul mate” went MIA on you) at the altar because, hey, the heart wants what it wants, right? If pop culture’s taught us anything, it’s that nothing, not conscience or common sense or filial piety, is more important and more reliable than your gut. Fuck’s sake. I’m sorry, but what kind of fucked up message is that sending to young girls?? Go ahead, follow your fickle, shallow heart and shit all over whoever you decide is ultimately not right for you even if you’ve led him on for years and agreed to marry him. And you only feel bad at it for half a second because deep down you know that, as a member of the privileged female clan, you have the inviolable right to put your desires before the feelings of any other individual. As in, being an ungrateful, backstabbing damsel in distress is what’s expected of a woman. Was that a bit harsh? Yeah, well so is the way Hollywood keeps producing weak, despicable female leads.

Now if a guy were to pull the same shit on a girl, he’d be called an indecisive, insensitive asshole. I would know because that’s exactly what I called my friend’s ex boyfriend. The dumped girl would be painted as the victim, and the girl he went back to the home wrecker. And the whole movie a sexist, offensive piece of shit.

Did I already write a post like this? Probably. Oh well, I guess I’m just always salty.

Guilty Pleasures

Movies and Books

Not all movies become classics. Sure, I wanna watch visually astounding, intellectually stimulating, spiritually transporting masterpieces all the freaking time, but that just isn’t possible. The reality is that only a few movies move us in the way we want every movie to. And we’re never going to be interested in every single critically acclaimed movie anyway (I will literally pick up my dog’s shite with my bare hands than watch another minute of Lincoln). Rarity is what makes great movies that much more special.

Since we can’t be watching exceptional movies all the time, most of us probably spend way too much time on movies we know are huge a waste of our time.

My guilty pleasure is sappy romance movies.

Like, the same sometimes cute, always melodramatic, and never original love stories between a very attractive boy and an equally attractive girl. Say Anything, The Notebook, Titanic, 500 Days of Summer, The Vow, One Day, Her. Wait, no, no, no, not HerThat’s actually an incredibly original and insightful and beautiful film that deserves to be watched by everyone. I’d proudly admit I’m a romance flick junkie if all romance movies are half as fantastic as Her. 500 Days of Summer is pretty decent, too. I’m not saying any of those other ones are particularly bad; it’s just that they’re so predictable and shallow. Love stories are like overcooked cupcakes: the icing is heavenly sweet and always delicious, but the core is scorched by overused catchphrases and plot lines.

But that doesn’t matter, does it? Love is irrational (no pun intended). I don’t even know why I’m attracted to those pointless movies in the first place, and I certainly can’t explain why I keep going back for more.

No matter how many times I hear them, stupid ass lines like this still get me all giddy and euphoric:

And this:

And then there are the classics that I can probably (and probably have) recite in my sleep:


I knew I would regret writing this post as soon as I decided to do it. Goddamn this is embarrassing. My roomie called it, and I might as well admit the obvious: I’m a romantic freak. I mean, come on, I spent most of my high school years obsessing over Nicholas Sparks. NICHOLAS FUCKING SPARKS. Thank God that phase is over or nobody’s ever going to take me seriously as a writer.

As someone who’s pretty much allergic to clichés and melodramatic, lovey-dovey shit, I am honestly quite ashamed to bring to light this perennial guilty pleasure of mine. But dammit it’s so freaking addictive. We all love love. Some more than others, but we all love it. We love the exquisite, invincible feeling of knowing that somebody other than your family members (who are obliged to care about you) will be heartbroken if you were to walk into a knife and die right then and there. If we can’t personally experience that feeling all the time, we might as well vicariously live it through somebody else, even if they’re just acting.

So that’s a little Confession Sunday for you. Sometimes confession’s good for the soul; sometimes it’s just a painful reminder that you haven’t quite outgrown the person you foolishly thought you’ve become too good for. This is the latter case.

Time = Money?

Daily Prompts, Musings/Rants

Ready, Set, Done

Our free-write is back by popular demand: today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

Free-writes always make me nervous, mostly because I’m allergic to disorganized thinking and clumsy writing. But I suppose that’s the whole point of unpremeditated writing, so fuck it. This one goes to my friend Julie. Thanks for the idea.

We’ve all seen shitty movies before. Horribly acted, scripted, directed bull-crap that cost us $12 (slightly lower or higher depending on where you live) and 120 precious minutes of our lives. After the movie, when we cuss at ourselves for making such a stupid fucking decision to watch such a dreadful movie, are we lamenting on the lost time or the lost money? Both, you probably think. You’d probably say, “Fuck, that was such a waste of time and money.” But is that completely true? We spend those 12 dollars to watch a movie. That is, to sit down in a chair inside the theater and absorb whatever the big screen shows us. The quality of the film is not guaranteed in those 12 dollars. Think about it this way: if money = quality, then why are Oscar nominated films the same price as sappy, shitty Rom-Coms? Money only buys us a chance to enjoy or hate whatever it is we watch. Time, on the other hand, buys us the experience. If a movie is bad, we waste 120 minutes hating the living hell of out it and thinking of all the other less shitty things we could be doing instead. If a movie is good, we feel satisfied, emotionally charged, intellectually stimulated. We maybe even walk out as changed people. In other words, 120 minutes well spent.

So if we put into perspective everything that I just said (which may or may not have made sense), the money we spent got us exactly what we asked for – a seat in the movie theater. Regardless of the quality of a movie, those 12 dollars were not wasted in the sense that it gave us what it was supposed to. But time is linked to our experience of a movie, which is often overwhelming and unpredictable. I think what’s most precious to us if what we get out of the time gone by; lost time hurts us much more than lost money. In the end, when we kick ourselves for choosing a bad movie, what we’re really lamenting is the two hours that passed in displeasure rather than enjoyment. Two hours that we would never get back.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-2/

Me, My Selfie, and Generation Z

Pop Culture

My Investigating Journalism professor at NYU once asked us a very interesting question. We were talking about the changing trends in the last few decades. Kurt Cobain was widely regarded as the voice of Generation X, the “lost” generation. Confused, independent, unconventional. The grunge kids. Then comes Mark Zuckerberg and Generation Y, the Facebook generation; the techies and the innovators.

“So what’s your generation called?” He asked all seventy of us mid-90s kids. The leaders of Generation Z. The privileged kids.

“The ‘selfie’ generation?” Someone answered from the back of the room. Laughter ensued. And that was pretty much the end of the discussion.

But is that really how we will be remembered in a decade or two? As the vain, spoilt kids who Instagrammed everything they saw and smoked pot and went to raves and jammed to hits about “anacondas” and “wrecking balls?” What if this is actually who we are? The lazy, tasteless kids who care about little and do even less? My mother must have reminded me a thousand times how lucky I am to be born in this age rather than hers, telling me how kids my age have no idea what “suffering” or “pain” really means. She is the first one in her family to learn English, the first to go out of her home town for college, and the first to leave China. I already have my path paved out beautifully in front of my feet. I have my own stash of Apple products, eat three meals a day, and get to go to fucking NYC for college without ever breaking a sweat about my financial status. It doesn’t escape me for a second how lucky I am to be born in a family like mine. I don’t always appreciate it nearly as much as I should, but I do realize it.

Being brought up in such privileged circumstances increases expectations. They might not say it, but I think most parents (at least immigrant parents) expect us to achieve more than they did, given the luxurious circumstances in which we grew up. And sometimes it scares the shit out of me that I’m never going to fulfill the expectations my parents have for me. It’s hard not to wonder what my parents or my friends’ parents could have achieved if they had the internet or even a computer back in their days. Even without all that fancy ass technology, they still came up with shit like the internet and Microsoft and awesome rock music. So what is there left for us to discover and brag to the world? Are we just meant to be users rather than innovators? I mean, why waste so much energy making something new when you can’t beat the original?

But then again, we haven’t exactly had the chance to be creators. We’re still getting used to all this fabulous new shit that all these geniuses are still inventing. We won’t be known for the light-bulbs or legendary guitar solos or Google Crome or even Flappy Bird, but we do have the future in our hands. Generation Z is just hatching. The oldest of us are barely over twenty. Maybe our predecessors’ shoes will be too large to fill, and maybe we never will fulfill our potential (I certainly don’t have much faith in myself). But before we’ve tried I think we should have hope. Whatever happens, I’m quite confident we won’t be known as the “selfie” generation at the end of this decade.

It Must Be Love: Why Do We Need Sports to Breathe?

Musings/Rants

It’s that time of the year again: the start of the U.S Open and my favorite two weeks of the summer. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge tennis junkie. I probably spend more time watching tennis matches than I do studying and binge-watching Netflix combined. I kid you not. Anyway, I had to go out earlier today but as soon as I got home in the afternoon I just flopped on the couch, turned on the TV to the Tennis Channel and didn’t move for about three and a half hours. Well, I got up to grab some food but whatever. Two and a half years ago I was up from midnight to 6a.m. watching the Australian Open final between Djokovic and Nadal, which was honestly the greatest six hours of my life even though I shat my pants (metaphorically of course) about twenty times and wandered around like a vampire for the next three days. Would I do it all again? Abso-fucking-lutely.

I think any sports fanatic around the world can relate to my experiences. We breathe sports. A win or a loss can either tear our hearts to shreds or give us the most exquisite orgasms of our lives. And I still can’t quite figure out why, even after almost nine years as an obsessive follower of tennis. Only a few of the most devoted sports fans actually play their respective sports exceptionally well. Most of us are amateurs. I haven’t picked up a tennis racket in almost four years, and I’m pretty sure I can speak Russian better than I can hit a ball. But none of that matters. No matter where we’re from or what we do for a living, we all go insane when the season starts and when our favorite players or teams show up on TV. Dozens of heart surgeries fail everyday and no one really bats an eye, but when Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 a whole nation crumples. If you think about it, playing football is every bit a job as performing heart surgeries, yet millions of people would pay a ton of money to watch the former while no one would pay a cent to watch the latter (not that it’s allowed, but whatever). Except sportspeople, we wouldn’t spend hours a day watching anyone else doing his or her job.

So what is it about sportspeople that’s so damn compelling? I’ve always thought it’s because they go through so much pain. It seems like the more painful or risky the sport is, the more fans it attracts. Like, boxing/American football/soccer are substantially more popular than archery/table tennis/shooting.Watching sports is not that different to watching reality TV shows. We’re basically just reacting to real people doing what they’ve been doing their whole lives. It has no impact whatsoever on our own lives, but we still care about it anyway. We love seeing people push their bodies to places we are too scared to even imagine. We live vicariously through our sports idols, exploring physical and emotional domains that are way too deep for our own reach. Or maybe we just dig that hunger and love they have for their job. I can’t imagine wanting anything nearly as much as Germany wanted that 4th World Cup or Federer that 18th major or Djokovic that first Roland Garros title (I apologize if you don’t get any of these references). And I think that drive and that desire seep into our veins too. I think maybe we all need that fire to live and loving sports definitely gives us that.

The Curious Case of “Shippers”

Pop Culture, Relationships and Shit

Anyone familiar with Tumblr will probably be familiar with a whole bunch of terms related to “ships” that have absolutely nothing to do with shipsIn Tumblr-sphere, a “shipper” refers to someone who wants a pair of fictional characters or celebrities (most likely those who collaborated in a project like a MV or a film) to fall in love and get together. It may sound incredibly dumb, but the shipping culture has become more and more popular of late, especially among younger teens. And the fandom is not to be trifled with. Not only do you have to wholeheartedly support your dream couple, you also have to wholeheartedly oppose any other pairing, hence creating what is called a “ship war” in which fans who ship different couples fight and abuse each other on social networks.

That’s not to say shipping is not an intellectually-stimulating activity. Every year, the shipping culture produces a slew of impeccably-edited Youtube videos, clever gifs, and highly graphic fanfic dedicated to their OTP (One True Pair). Some of those fan-made works are so remarkably well-created that I often wonder if the sole reason those fans go to sleep every night is to dream about two actors sharing a fake kiss. And I wonder: why is it so important to these fans that two characters with absolutely no connection to their actual lives become a couple? Why do we care so fucking much?? I mean, it’s understandable if you get excited watching two of your close friends who look absolutely adorable together start to develop feelings for each other. But why do we feel like the whole fucking universe just collapsed when Kate went back to Jack, or when Elena dumped Stefan, or when Robin divorced Barney (THAT SELFISH BITCH)?

Though an ex-shipper of multiple OTPs myself, I don’t really have any solid answer other than the fact that it’s just so exciting to live vicariously through the characters once you get attached to them and their stories. Because, let’s be honest, our love lives will probably never be nearly as romantic or exhilarating or illicit as that between a super hot teacher and a student, two castaways on a deserted island, or a vampire and a werewolf. As cheesy as many of these storylines may seem, it’s just nice to know that sometimes love can work out even in the direst situations. Or maybe we just like rooting for something we can’t openly support in real life. Like pedophilia/necrophilia in Twilight, or statuary rape in Pretty Little Liars. Like seriously, who actually thinks it’s hot that their 16 year-old classmate is hooking up with the fucking English professor. And who the fuck would want their bestie to marry a man-whore who’s fucked over 250 girls? No, I do not feel ashamed of shipping Barney and Robin for six whole seasons (FUCK YOU CREATORS), but I wouldn’t think it’s cool if they were people I knew.

To be honest, I think the most compelling part about this whole shipping business is the lead-up. The whole “will they or won’t they” moment that sometimes last longer than the relationship itself. In some ways, the lead-up is probably the most realistic part of an onscreen love story. You know, that magical moment when his hand accidentally brushes yours, or that brief instant when you sneak a glance at him and catch him furtively staring at you too (it goes for both guys and girls, but I’m just too lazy to write “him/her”). It’s cheesy as hell, but we still dig it. And if we can’t experience first hand all the time, we might as well soak it all in on the screen. But it’s only so sweet and beautiful until that first kiss happens. Once the ship sails, the magic leaves as well.

So is this whole shipping thing a waste a time? Probably. But it was fun while it lasted.