Gobble, Gobble, Goblin

Now let me see, if I were a nineteen year-old high school senior with no parents and an abusive auntie, would I go for a well-dressed, obviously wealthy immortal with a mysterious past and a sword sticking out of his chest? Le duh. All a girl really wants is to be with a guy capable of taking her to Quebec City in the blink of an eye after asking if she feels like having steak.  I might quibble a little, though. The best beef would likely be found in Argentina and Wagyu beef is big, but hey. I’m nineteen years old and easily impressed, Quebec City is romantic in sepia and who wouldn’t want to catch falling maple leaves in slow motion with an admittedly attractive man? Anyone would disown their abusive relatives in a heartbeat after a date like that.

My feed will not shut up about this show, so naturally I jumped on the bandwagon and am gawking at it along with the rest of them. One episode is way too long – an hour and a half, come on people, we have lives to live too – and sometimes the things the people in it do and say are completely contrived and make absolutely no sense. Still, this is a soap opera and it’s par for the course. I’m also chalking the wonkiness down to a bad translation job, and the need to make a story stretch for sixteen episodes.

It does drag on as it goes along. I’m still in the sixth episode. The titular Goblin (Gong Yoo, last seen running from zombies on the train to Busan)   has spent over 900 years looking for his bride – the only girl capable of seeing the sword wedged in his chest, destined to pull it out and therefore end his agonizingly long and lonely existence. Now that’s he’s found her, he  can’t seem to decide whether or not he wants to die. Cue mood music and intimate whispers under raindrops that fall just softly enough not to ruin one’s hair, because he also makes it rain when he gets all emo.

This is a show where the men dress better than the women, and I’m loving it. Even if I’ve never been drawn to fops, it’s hard to ignore Lee Dong Wook, an amnesiac Death God, giving face, face, beauty and moody face each time he’s onscreen, rocking wool coats like no one’s business. All the brooding disappears when you hand him a smartphone, and the results are hilarious.  I’m rooting for him and the owner of a fried chicken shop – that budding romance is way more interesting than the one between a nineteen year-old high school senior and a Goblin who can’t make up his damn mind.

Speaking of interesting romances, the best part of this show is the bromance between the Goblin and the Death God  who wants him to go ahead and die already so he can take over the gorgeous home they both share. Both immortal, both gifted with supernatural powers, both males used to getting their own way, both tired of the vagaries of living.  Like all males, they express themselves in the form of pranking, the level of which is borderline Van Wilder, and this forms a big chunk of what makes this show watchable, extended running time bedamned.  The weakness of one brings out the humanity in the other. It doesn’t hurt that both of them look like they stepped out of the pages of Korean GQ every day of the week. It’s easy to see the script flipped into a homo-erotic story where the women exist on the fringes as superficial interests, but it doesn’t and their Odd Couple setup brings enough charm to keep us rooting for them to succeed with the women who’ve wormed their way into the hearts of these troubled immortals.

 

 

Asgardians of the Galaxy

The new teaser for Thor: Ragnarok is out, and it seems to have taken a page out of the GOtG playbook. More colour, yay! More humour, yay! More friends from work, yay!

The Thor movies have never really been at the top of my Marvel fave list, but this outing by Taika Waititi just may change things, because they had the audacity and sheer genius to cast Cate Blanchett as a badass Hela, Goddess of the Underworld and equip her with multiple antlers. This was a no-brainer – Cate Blanchett is awesome when she plays queens. She was Elizabeth I. She was Galadriel, Elven Queen, she of the pointy ears who brings the light. And now, queen of the underworld + major smokey eye + Mjolnir- destroying, fighting-in-insanely-horned-helmet capabilities? Go ahead and #takemymoney Marvel, you glorious sons of bitches.

PS: I used the version where Batfleck reacts to Ragnarok, because the mash-up works even better than the standalone teaser.

PPS: Major points for using a Led Zeppelin single. I’d never heard of it before, but it fits the mood to a T.

This Broke My Heart Today

A boy wakes up inside a body that doesn’t belong to him. More importantly, the body he wakes up in is female. The first thing he does is feel up the boobs he knows do not belong to him, because of course.

A girl is smothered by the claustrophobia of  living in a small town where everyone knows each other and there is nowhere to escape to except two small pubs; she decides she would rather be a gorgeous teen boy who lives in Tokyo because presumably, being a boy would make her life so much easier. It’s a funny, spot-on illustration of the perils of adolescence. That kind of understanding of the frustration and the confusion that comes with growing up combined with the ability to bring it to vivid life is rare and should be recognized as often as is possible.

What is it about the Japanese and their ability to wring every last bit of emotion from our unwilling, jaded selves? There’s something about seeing the kind of love, however intangible, that makes you believe in soulmates. There’s something wistful, something hopeful about watching a young man allowing himself to live in suspended, baffled animation, not knowing exactly what he wants and simultaneously knowing exactly what it is, and being unwilling to settle for anything less, even if it takes years. He unashamedly embraces the quest to find the woman of his dreams.  That’s the sort of devotion, the sort of loyalty that a girl would kill for.

To call Your Name (Kimi no Na Wa) a coming of age romance is to undersell it. It’s about so much more than young love.  This is a movie that tries to capture the feeling of waking up in a body you don’t recognize; the feeling of simultaneous dread and wonder at a comet slashing its way through the sky; the feeling of  of waking up after a dream, desperately clutching at threads of memory that are blown away just beyond one’s reach; the longing for foresight instead of hindsight and the powerful drive to avoid disaster and ultimately, the realization that if one tries hard enough, sometimes things just fall into place if they really are meant to be. It’s a lot for a movie to take on. Your Name tries, and, for the most part, succeeds beautifully. Props to Makoto Shinkai, who, through the power of this movie – which happens to be Japan’s biggest hit of 2016 -has  been anointed as the next Hayao Miyazaki; that is, the next great anime master storyteller.

 

The Lobster Quadrille

If you’re casting about for a movie to watch this Valentine’s Day, save your money, time and sanity and forget about Fifty Shades Darker. Get on Netflix and watch The Lobster instead. I know, it’s been out for a few months and I’m tardy to the Netflix viewing party, but better late than never, I always say. Featuring Colin Farrell, who channels Christian Bale’s paunch from American Hustle, it’s the ultimate Valentine Movie, suitable for viewing each time that silly naked angel with a bow and arrow makes its inevitable appearance and tries to make all of us feel inadequate at love and romance.

Why anyone would choose to leave someone who looks like Colin Farrell – even a near-sighted, sad-sack, porn-stached Colin Farrell – is beyond me, but this is exactly what happens. He soon finds himself in a hotel with 45 days to get boo’d up, otherwise he’ll live out the rest of his days in the sea. The Lobster is billed as a comedy, which is restrictive and fails to give one the whole spectrum of what it’s really about. The humour is there, but it’s humour of the very black, twisted, sad kind. Nowhere is this more glaringly obvious than in the frantic forest hunt where everyone tries to capture a loner to enable them to extend their stay at the hotel in the hopes of buying them a little more time to find that elusive perfect match.

In the Philippines, we use the term “firing squad.” If you have no one on Valentine’s Day, you may as well be taken out to the back and shot. Which is the fate of all the loners in this movie – the ones who don’t willingly submit to what happens if they fail to couple up by the deadline end up being hunted, by the very ones who are about to take their place. It’s a scene rendered in excruciating slow-motion, an allegory for frantically swiping right.

The Lobster exists in a “dystopian” society where people who aren’t paired up are considered animals. I use quotation marks, because it isn’t dystopian at all. This is what real life can sometimes be like. The propaganda is everywhere. No man is an island. Two are better than one. Three’s a crowd. Strength in numbers. Even Ricky Martin says nobody wants to be lonely.

The movie is a scathing indictment of something most of us are aware of and struggle against, but end up tolerating anyway: we will always and forever be partially defined by whether or not we are one half of a significant whole, because society thinks there’s something inherently wrong with single people. To most, single people are like empty subway cars: full of exciting, limitless potential until the doors open and we realize there’s poop. Or vomit. Or a malodorous hobo sleeping on the floor. While this myopic view is thankfully changing, it’s still glaringly prevalent. We sentence single ladies past a certain age to  a life of knitting and cats, or aging bachelors to waning years left balding and alone in an apartment that smells like feet.  It’s the reason well-meaning people ask if you’re in a relationship. Saying no too often to this question marks one as odd. Never mind that solitariness can, is and should be a choice. We don’t always have to be with someone, but people will always wonder why.

Y Tu Rogue One Tambien

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduces itself like another very familiar Star Wars epic, with the words “A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…” While the words are familiar, they’re in cerulean rather than the time-honored gold.  This and the absence of an opening crawl serves to further distinguish this movie from all the others, fostering the sense that yes, this is part of canon but it’s not the story, it’s a story, the odd duck of a brother whose storyline takes place alongside the main event.

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Zootopia

Is there anything worse than being at the movies beside a Chatty Cathy with three kids and a drink who won’t stop talking and flailing about? Yes, I know. Famine, outbreaks, homelessness, Alzheimer’s, the Syrian war, I’m an entitled spoiled brat complaining about minutiae. Still, it’s a bloody theatre. Has civilization so declined we are no longer able to stay calm and collected for two and a half hours? Of all the seats in all the theatre, she chooses the one beside mine. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, indeed.

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Adaptations

It’s been a good week for live-action movie adaptations. By this, I mean their trailers – both adaptations are out  next year.

People on my feed are going gaga for Disney’s latest offering, because Beauty and the Beast is a classic. Here, Hermione Granger dresses up in Belle drag and we all accept that Gaston is the one she really should’ve fallen for, because hello, Luke Evans:

And then along comes the trailer for Ghost in the Shell, which, accusations of whitewashing aside, looks absolutely gorgeous. Sorry, Luke Evans, but my money is on this.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in an Extended PSA for Distracted Driving

Doctor Strange, the latest entry in Marvel’s pantheon of superheroes is the love child of The Matrix and Inception. It’s a trippy, psychedelic, out-of-body experience; it’s also a two-hour cautionary tale of the dangers of driving your Lamborghini and texting at the same time. In a word: don’t.

Stephen Strange M.D., neurosurgeon par excellence, finds this out the hard way.  A genius-level doctor very much in the mold of House, sans cane and pill addiction, he’s a rakish metrosexual with a bloated ego and a thing for expensive timepieces and fancy cars. Since he is one of those people who demand that everyone call them  doctor he’s not an easy man to like – gorgeous New York penthouse be damned. We know a guy this self-involved is headed for a catastrophe of major proportions where  he will… LOSE… EVERYTHING dun dun dunnnnnn! So far, we’re adhering to the Marvel playbook for origin stories.

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