Drama, Movie Review, Screenplay Review 0 comments on Gook – JUSTIN CHON

Gook – JUSTIN CHON

Gook Book Cover Gook
August 18, 2017
Justin Chon
Justin Chon
James J. Yi, Alex Chi
Justin Chon, Simone Baker, David So, Sang Chon, Curtiss Cook Jr., Ben Munoz

Set against the backdrop of the 1992 LA Riots comes the story of Eli (Justin Chon), a 26-year old Korean-American who, together with his brother Daniel (David So), owns a run-down shoe store in Paramount/South-Central Los Angeles. As the Rodney King verdict is reached, the LAPD is powerless against the erupting anger from the black community. The riots take place not too far from Eli's shoe store where Kamilla (Simone Baker), a motherless 11-year-old black girl, loves to hang out instead of going to school. Her older brother Keith (Curtiss Cook Jr), projecting his economic shortcomings, harbors hate toward Eli. Under the pretense of wanting to rob Eli's inventory of sneakers worth thousands of dollars, Keith confronts Eli.

Talk about breaking Asian American stereotypes in cinema! Justin Chon, writer, director and main actor of “Gook” brings to you the movie that many of us Asian Americans have been waiting for. He does what I’ve always wanted to do as an artist; he screams “Hey, your life is shitty, but so is mine. Quit pretending that I don’t exist.”

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Writing Craft/Creativity 0 comments on On Joy and Rejection

On Joy and Rejection

Last week, I was undulating between two emotions: pride and disappointment. For one, my film I CAN I WILL I DID screened at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York to a sold out crowd. It was invited back for an encore screening the following week and picked up its third festival award (this time the Audience Choice Award). In addition to that, we received invitations to two mainstream film festivals. I am beyond thrilled! I want to thank my Facebook friends, film collaborators and blogging community for the kind congratulatory words that were sent my way. Filmmakers bare their souls for everyone to see and make themselves vulnerable to scrutiny and pain. An audience that is moved by what you have to say, is everything.

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Book Review, Dystopian 0 comments on The Handmaid’s Tale – MARGARET ATWOOD

The Handmaid’s Tale – MARGARET ATWOOD

The Handmaid's Tale Book Cover The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood
Fiction
Anchor
1986
311

A woman describes her life in the Republic of Gilead, a dystopian society where an authoritarian Christian extremist regime has transformed the United States into a nation that operates by a caste system. Offred, named after her master ("Of Fred"), is classified as a handmaid and is therefore subjugated to sexual servitude to help curb infertility. Each month during the time of her ovulation, Offred must have ceremonious sex with her assigned commander (while his cold-hearted wife is required to be present ) in hopes that she may conceive of a child that would belong to the couple. Though women are forbidden to read and write, Offred uses this narrative to reflect upon her current life and directly compare it to the time before, when she was still a working woman, a loving wife and a devoted mother. It was a time, when she was still independent and free.

We are living in an era that has enabled an openly misogynist man to become president. Backed in part by alt-right religious fanatics, Trump’s administration actively works on dismantling protections for minority groups, including women. Reading Margaret Atwood’s 1986 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” against this backdrop strikes a particularly sensitive chord with me. Her story is set in a world that represents my worst fears, a world where I’m no longer allowed to follow my passions such as reading, writing and filmmaking, and where I have been forced to relinquish autonomy over my own body. Continue Reading “The Handmaid’s Tale – MARGARET ATWOOD”

Book Review, Contemporary Fiction 0 comments on The Summer that Melted Everything – TIFFANY MCDANIEL

The Summer that Melted Everything – TIFFANY MCDANIEL

The Summer That Melted Everything Book Cover The Summer That Melted Everything
Tiffany McDaniel
Fiction
St. Martin's Press
July 26, 2016
320

Fielding Bliss, a sullen and lonesome elderly man, reflects upon the summer of 1984, the year he made friends with a peculiar drifter boy named Sal. Upon his arrival in Breathed, Ohio, Sal identifies himself as the devil claiming to be answering Fielding’s father’s invitation calling for the devil.

At first, no one believes Sal. He’s but a sweet 13 year-old black boy in soiled overalls. But as strange, fatal events unfold in town, the people of Breathed begin to look to Sal as a scapegoat.

 

This is Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel, and let me tell you… that is one hell of a novel! Set in the Midwestern town of Breathed in the mid-80’s, The Summer That Melted Everything is a story about the strange happenings surrounding the arrival of a young black boy. True to time and setting, we are thrust into a saga that tackles everything from racism, prejudice, small-town mob mentality, homophobia, and HIV/AIDS. It’s easy to want to turn my back on a narrative that normalizes these cringe worthy characters, but McDaniel manages to infuse so much compassion and empathy in these people that I find myself strangely drawn to the anti-heroes of her tale. Continue Reading “The Summer that Melted Everything – TIFFANY MCDANIEL”

Movie Review, Writing Craft/Creativity 0 comments on On Whiskey and Wonder Woman

On Whiskey and Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Book Cover Wonder Woman
2017
Patty Jenkins
Allan Heinberg
Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle
Gal Gardot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Diana is a princess of the Amazons and trains feverishly alongside women warriors on a sheltered island, when American pilot Steve crashes onto the shores. Steve tells her about the war raging in the outside world. Convinced that she has the abilities stop evil in its tracks, Diana embarks on a journey, leaving the secure confines of her home.

I’m with Brian, my husband of nearly two years. We enter a fancy New York lounge and he immediately strolls toward the bar. i’m right behind him, waiting for him to order my go-to drink. The bartender does his thing and then comes back with the two beverages.
“Here you go,” he cheerfully says. “One Jameson neat and one Stella.”
He pushes the whiskey glass toward my husband and hands me the beer.

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Book Review, Crime/Thriller, Sci-Fi 5 comments on The Martian – ANDY WEIR

The Martian – ANDY WEIR

The Martian Book Cover The Martian
Andy Weir
Fiction
Crown Pub
2014
369

After a freak accident, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on planet Mars. His shipmates have left him, not knowing he is still alive, and Mark has two choices: either succumb and die a lonely death or put his engineering and botany skills to good use and figure out how to live on Mars. He chooses the latter and becomes the sole living being on the planet. After months of solitary existence, Mark is able to harness his ingenuity to get back in touch with his teammates. Now planet earth must do everything in her power to bring The Martian back home.

What a fantastic, entertaining novel. Do not expect literary nuggets, but if you’re in for an emotional planetary ride, this is your book. I was always at the edge of my seat and found myself laughing out loud more than once. The geek in me is pleased and my interest in sci-fi is deepened.

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Book Review, Crime/Thriller 4 comments on The Girl on the Train – PAULA HAWKINS

The Girl on the Train – PAULA HAWKINS

The Girl on the Train Book Cover The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
Psychological Thriller, Fiction
Riverhead Books (Hardcover)
January 13, 2015
336

Every day, alcoholic divorcee Rachel takes the train from the suburbs into London, pretending to go to a job that she's been long fired from. The train always stops at the same signal, one that lets her take a peek into the old life she once had with ex-husband Tom. She fools herself into avoiding staring at Tom's new life with Anna, the woman he had left her for and began a new family with, by letting her eyes drift to a couple a few houses down, who exhibit the perfect hopeful image of true love. She affectionately calls them Jess and Jason, though those aren't their names. When Meghan, Jess's real identity, goes missing, Rachel thinks she might have seen something, but she can't put the pieces of her memory together. For the first time, she sees her alcoholism as the crutch it really is, costing her not only her sanity but also the clarity around Meghan's disappearance as well.

It’s not enough to be a gripping and jumpy novel. Often, the most successful stories are the ones that remind us of our darkest selves or make us revisit moments in our lives that we thought we had safely left in the past. Good novels make us regurgitate our experiences. We project the nadirs of our existence onto works of art, from a distance at first. If the writing is good and doesn’t distract, we will feel the narrative with every fiber of our bodies.

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Screenplay Review 0 comments on 28 WEEKS LATER – Rowan Joffé

28 WEEKS LATER – Rowan Joffé

28 Weeks Later Book Cover 28 Weeks Later
2007
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Rowan Joffé, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, E. L. Lavigne, Jesus Olmo

Six months after the original epidemic, the rage virus has all but annihilated the population of the British Isles. Nevertheless the U.S. Army declares the danger past, and American soldiers arrive to restore order and begin reconstruction. Refugees return to British soil, but one of them carries a deadly secret: The virus is not gone and is even more dangerous than before.

Of all the horror genres, I’ve always liked the zombies the best. The prequel to this film, 28 Days Later, directed by British filmmaker Danny Boyle three years prior, was such a big box office hit, that (of course!) Fox queued up its sequel soon after. But when writers and directors change hands, you get very different movies, almost unrecognizable from each other.

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Book Review, Writing Craft/Creativity 0 comments on The War of Art – STEVEN PRESSFIELD

The War of Art – STEVEN PRESSFIELD

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles Book Cover The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Steven Pressfield
Psychology, Writing Craft
January 1, 2012
165

"In this powerful, straight-from-the-hip examination of the internal obstacles to success, bestselling author Steven Pressfield shows readers how to identify, defeat, and unlock the inner barriers to creativity. The War of Art is an inspirational, funny, well-aimed kick in the pants guaranteed to galvanize every would-be artist, visionary, or entrepreneur.

There is honor in writing.
But don’t be a one, unless you’re prepared to suffer through years of rejection, financial burden, and critique from peers that make your heart sink to the bottoms of your feet.

Thus, I repeat: There is honor in writing.

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Book Review, Crime/Thriller 1 comment on The Cuckoo’s Calling – ROBERT GALBRAITH

The Cuckoo’s Calling – ROBERT GALBRAITH

The Cuckoo's Calling Book Cover The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith, (J.K. Rowling)
2013
449

Army vet, turned private investigator, Cormoran Strike has just lost his girlfriend and is about to declare bankruptcy, when old acquaintance John Bristow walks into his office. Bristow enlists Strike to look for the murderer of his adopted sister Lula Landry, a supermodel, who months earlier had plunged to her death from her skyscraper apartment in London. Despite the evidence, Bristow refuses to believe it was a suicide. Strike takes the job and together with new assistant Robin (yes, a sidekick named Robin, though it's a female redhead who wears no capes), Strike begins to navigate the world of the rich and famous.

Robert Galbraith put together an enticing cast of characters, rich in complexity and distinct in their agendas. I would not expect otherwise, since Robert Galbraith is actually a pseudonym for none other than Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling (the cat’s been out of the bag for years on that one though, they actually reveal that fact on the back of the cover).

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