My Thoughts on Dope

[I wanted to write this reflection the weekend of its release. I decided that I needed a little more time because the film hit home in too many ways and I needed some space from it to get a better handle on how I wanted to approach it. This will not be a typical review, nor will it be an endorsement — despite my endorsing the film whole-heartedly. I have no idea what this is, but I needed to get it out.]

Hip-hop is fandom. While it may not be explicitly geek/nerd culture, it is fandom of the highest order. If anyone chooses to refute this, they aren’t being intellectually or culturally honest. Never has this connection been so blatantly displayed than in Rick Famuyiwa’s 2015 gem of a film, Dope. [I have a lot more to say about this. Watch this space in the next month or two]

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The Five Major Fails of Spike Lee’s Oldboy

It’s been a little over a day since I saw both versions of Oldboy — one by Spike Lee and one by Park Chan-wook — back to back. The more I reflect on the Spike Lee version, the worse and worse it gets in my head. So I’ll just barf out the major wrongs about this sad re-make and be done with it.

This write-up will be chock full of spoilers which will save you a lot of time and money. I’m also assuming that my readers have seen the original, Korean version of Oldboy. And if you’re keeping track at home, both versions (American and Korean) are based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi.

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Kaze Tachinu (aka The Wind Rises): Miyazaki’s Supposed Last Hurrah

The Los Angeles movie screening scene has been in quite a frenzy as movies are trying to qualify for the Oscar rat-race. This meant that Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ) was going to be on the big screen. Just as a disclaimer, I’m Japanese/English bilingual, so I did ignore all the English subtitles and can’t say much about the English content.

Kaze Tachinu, known as The Wind Rises in the States, is an ode to the generation who grew up with Miyazaki since the 1970s. It’s not filled with magic and intrigue, but brings forth Miyazaki’s never ending love for airplanes (you see cameo appearances of past planes including Gina’s private plane from Porco Rosso), the experience of flying, and the human spirit.

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Unidentified: Coming Soon to a Roadtrip Near You…

Last week, the movie Unidentified was screened to a select audience of family and friends in Los Angeles. This movie was a two-years-in-the-making-shoe-string-budget-labor-of-love that began with producer/star Eddie Mui‘s bizarre dreams, then expanded into a full fledged movie when Eddie brought producer/star Parry Shen and writer/director Jason Richard Miller on board.

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