Posts Tagged ‘Day of the Dead’

Media Update 1/9/20

January 9, 2020


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I have been a Star Wars fan since I first saw the original movie as a kid. Our family had a whole bunch of the Kenner action figures at some point. I’ve seen every movie and played a whole bunch of the video games. I have even read some books. Still, I’m not one *those* fans who feel such ownership for the series (often also combined with hate for it). I enjoyed the movie. Did I have problems with it? Absolutely. Most of it was disappointments about what they decided to focus on versus what they had set up. I was a fan of The Last Jedi and the wild choices it made which I thought would set up an interesting new direction. However, they decided to play it safe and that worked out as well. Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Anthony Daniels did a great job as usual. Everybody else from previous movies had some fun cameos but had very little to do. That’s fine except for Kelly Marie Tran and Lupita Nyong’o who they should have given actual screen time to. Still, I got caught up in the nostalgic rush and Rian Johnson will be just fine. The action scenes are awesome and there are a lot of feel-good moments to close out what ended up being a decades-long story. There was more to like than to dislike and it was fine. I recommend it. Just go ahead and watch it if you’re on the fence.


Dark Phoenix

I have been a fan of the Fox X-Men franchise since X-Men (2000) first came out. Technically, Fox has been killing it with the X-Men franchise since the early nineties. Now that Disney has bought Fox, that chapter is now over. As far as I know, only one film remains and then it’s done. Anyway, X-Men First Class breathed new life into the franchise and allowed for a little more freedom. This is the final movie in that part of the franchise as well. Once again James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender return to deliver strong performances. Nicholas Hoult gets to step up and so does Tye Sheridan. However, Sophie Turner went from a few minutes in the previous movie to really carry this whole movie on her shoulders. She did a really good job with what she had to work with. Jessica Chastain ended up being a pretty neat villain, kind of balancing out all of the very male energy. It was a bit of a mess but, like Star Wars, it was a fun mess. The only real complaint I have is that part of the reason I watch X-Men movies is to see new mutants interpreted by the franchise and there was not much here. I recommend this as well but only for people who want to watch the other parts of the franchise.


Candyman: Day of the Dead

What? Halloween is 365 days a year in my world. Besides, Jordan Peele is working on a remake so I need to finish the original trilogy. The first Candyman is a classic and the second one was a strong continuation of the original concept. The first film covered the Cabrini-Green legends. The second film covered Mardi Gras. It seems fitting that the final installment would take place during Mexico’s Dias de la Muerta celebration. The franchise tries really hard to create a legend based around black culture (and touches on other people of color). The franchise also features a series of white women being terrorized by a black man and somehow the black man is not really the villain. The movies are about karma, the hate that springs from prejudice, and the hate crimes that go unpunished. The movies are all fairly trippy and moody and just so fun visually. Part of that is because such good (and surreal) art is usually involved in the making of each movie. Like previous entries, it also has a crapton of bees in it. That said, this is definitely the weakest entry in the series. Still, it stars the wonderful charismatic Tony Todd who plays a truly iconic horror villain.

 

Music of the Week:
Pale Waves – Television Romance

Otoboke Beaver – Don’t Light My Fire

The HU – Wolf Totem

Todrick – DRIPEESHA

Beabadoobee – I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Closing Out the Arc”
– I finished Runaways Season 1
– I finished Prodigal Son Season 1
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 8
– I watched more Scream Season 1
– I watched more Penn and Teller’s Bullshit Season 3
– I watched more Brooklyn 99 Season 3
– I watched more Ducktales Season 1
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 2
– I watched more Blue Bloods Season 9
– I watched more Stumptown Season 1
– I watched more The Crown Season 3
– I started watching Sailor Moon Crystal Season 1
– I started watching Community Season 6
– Why, yes I have had the flu lately

Spanish

April 21, 2018

Yo pensé que yo escribiría este introducción totalmente en Español porque yo estudió Español por siete años. Yo quiero el idioma Español. Es una idioma muy romántico y musical. Soy familiarizado con la cultura del Mexico porque esta cultura es muy excitante. En particular, estoy fascinado por El Dia de los Muertos. Adicionalmente, yo amo leer las leyendas de los Aztecas y los Mayas. Los dioses de estas culturas antiguo son interesante pero son contaminado por prejuicio. Yo espero disfrutó este pequeño fragmento de mal Español. Lo siento si ofendí. Yo soy un gringo de Baltimore, Maryland.

Whew! Well, I hope that any Spanish speakers enjoyed that and are not too mad that I messed up any of the grammar. It has been years since I spoke or wrote Spanish with any regularity. Allow me to translate for my fellow gringos. “I thought that I would write this introduction completely in Spanish because I studied Spanish for seven years. I love the Spanish language. It is a language that is very romantic and musical. I am familiar with the culture of Mexico because it is very exciting. In particular, I am fascinated by The Day of the Dead. Additionally, I love to read the legends of the Aztecs and the Mayans. The gods of these cultures are interesting but are contaminated by prejudice. I hope you enjoyed this small bit of bad Spanish. I’m sorry if it offended. I am a gringo (slang for a white boy) from Baltimore, Maryland.

I really do love the Spanish language. While most of my teachers were from the United States (and probably from here or the midwest) there was one exception. I am blanking on her name but I swear that her first name was Dora. Though, I could be confusing my history with a young girl who taught millions of young kids Spanish. Anyway, she not only taught us the language in sixth grade, she also tried to instill a love of the culture in us. I do not remember where she was from but she taught us a lot of songs native to South America and Central America. It is also the first I heard of the Day of the Dead festival and that is a tradition that I have loved ever since.

For those of you have not seen Coco yet, the Day of the Dead is a (mostly) Mexican holiday that happens to coincide with my favorite holiday Halloween (celebrated in Japan and the USA). The timing is fairly coincidental because the festival was moved to coincide with Western Christianity’s All Saint’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, and All Soul’s Day. That Western tradition gave birth to Halloween but has lost almost all of its religious significance. The Day of the Dead is instead a joyous and reverent occasion. Its purpose is to honor the dead ancestors of the people who celebrate it. It is believed that those ancestors are allowed to visit on those three days out of the year. Because they are visiting, offerings of food, candy, and other gifts are left for them at altars that bear their image. In the 21st Century, this festival was made even more popular when it became a Mexican National holiday as an effort to unify the northern and southern regions.

Later teachers tried to continue that tradition even though Señor Binford and other Spanish teachers were super white. At least Señor Castro was fairly Hispanic (I think?). Anyway, there was so much they had to teach us. I learned more about the contemporary culture of Mexico through Almodovar movies like Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de “Nervios” (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). I learned a new respect for Mexican pop culture that I would never have experienced otherwise. We read many plays written by Spanish-speaking (or just Spanish) playwrights. I read the entirety of Cien Años de Soledad (100 Years of Solitude) in Spanish. It is a Colombian novel about multiple generations that has a few fantasy elements to it which are the parts that really kept me reading.

In fact, every time that I walk by a Catholic church that is distributing ashes for Ash Wednesday, I think of Marquez’ book. This is a small spoiler for a book you may never read but it fascinated me. Basically, the book covers a family that is somewhat cursed. Three of their sons go to get ashes smudged on their foreheads like everybody else. However, when they go to wipe the ashes off later, the ashes will not come off. The book talks about how those seemingly permanent marks on their foreheads are like perfect targets for the government gunmen who later kill them. It is insinuated that the ashes clung to their foreheads and singled them out in a crowd because of the family curse. That sort of thing is a story element that almost always gets my attention.

I really do like the myths and legends of the Aztecs in particular. These were not really offered in the lesson plan for the various Spanish classes that I took. If I could have spoken about the pantheons of other cultures in Spanish class then I would have had way more fun. Of course, some of this was covered in various History classes but usually as a footnote to the discussion about the Greek and Roman pantheons. The first time I really learned about the Aztec gods was when I saw the preview website for Final Fantasy 8 where there was a summoning spell for “Quetzalcoatl”. Since I already knew that many of the summons were gods or mythical creatures, I decided to look up this new one. Quetzalcoatl is a winged snaked (which is basically a dragon) and a fixture in the Aztec pantheon of Gods. This is about the point where I usually got lost in Encyclopedia Mythica for entire lunch periods.

Anyway, it was fun to type some Spanish and then talk about my love for the various Spanish cultures (mostly Mexico). I really do hope that I did not mangle the language too badly. I mean, if I did it would feel like a bit of a waste of a private school education. I also really do respect other cultures and I do not want to insult anyone. I was going to write a whole post in Spanish but the thought of a one thousand word post in a foreign language was a little too daunting in a month like this. I hope you enjoyed this rambling post anyway.

Media Update 1/18/18

January 18, 2018


Coco

I have loved Mexican culture for a long time and, as I stated when reviewing The Book of Life, I love Day of the Dead most of all. I do not love it because I love Halloween because I have studied it enough to know how different the customs are. Both have magical origins but The Day of the Dead is primarily about remembering loved ones who passed away. The traditions are both touching and inspiring and I kind of wish we did more of it in the United States. It is akin to Japan’s culture of respect for their ancestors. The movie is about the balance between living your life and your family. The central message is Family Above All Else but also that your family should reciprocate that sentiment and support your dreams. The movie is also about music and is thus a musical film but not a Musical, more in the style of Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and Sing! than a traditional Disney musical. The Day of the Dead is a respectful but jubilant holiday and, from what I can see as an outsider, is about being happy about the memories you have of your departed family members. So, there is plenty of good food, candy, games, and music. That is what this movie feels like. There is the usual Disney/Pixar sweet sadness but there is also an air of celebration and togetherness that just feels really warm. I cannot recommend this movie enough.


Get Out

I had heard so many good things about this movie. I was such a fan of Jordan Peele on Key & Peele that I was intrigued by any horror movie he might have written. Comedians are all about timing and timing is also a huge element in horror as well. Also, I knew from the trailers that the plot had something to do with the black experience. The only reason that I have waited this long to watch the movie is that hypnosis is a large part of the movie. Hypnosis terrifies me and it really did a number on me while watching this movie. I was also more than correct about the movie confronting racial and cultural issues. It does so in such a new and horrific way that I think it is important for people to watch. The plot points of the movie took me by surprise as they unfolded but each of them made so much sense. There is a mystery in this movie and I will not ruin the suspense by revealing any of it here. The acting was so great but most of all I have to shout out Daniel Kaluuya who is rightfully getting nominated for his starring role. He was a fantastic character to follow around. I definitely recommend this one as it is scary but important.


The Disaster Artist

First, yes James Franco is definitely at best a problematic person. I felt that I had to push past that to watch this movie because I have been on a journey ever since I first caught The Room on Adult Swim. I clued into the Internet buzz and I was excited when Greg Sestero published a book on his experiences surrounding the movie. By the way, the movie actually cuts out some crazy bits from the book so I recommend that you pick up the book. It is not often that a truly horrible movie inspires people quite as much as The Room did. This movie goes to painstaking lengths to capture the insanity from the book and The Room itself. It recreates the look of the actors and the weird culture that Tommy Wiseau created. The Franco brothers play Wiseau and Sestero and they really do capture their weird friendship. They detail the arduous, torturous, and nonsensical path that they dragged other human beings down in order to put out a mediocre movie. The movie was interesting to me because I had only read or imagined excerpts from the book but seeing it in motion was fun. The movie is at the same time funny and horrifying as everything goes wrong. The movie celebrates Wiseau and probably lets him off the hook too much but at this point, he has probably been tortured enough. I also recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:
Jan Terri – Journey To Mars

Marlon Craft – Workin’

That Poppy – Lowlife

Bad Seed Rising – Hey Kid

Red Warszawa – Technoparty

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is Award Season 2018
– I started watching Season 6 of Longmire
– I continued watching Season 2 of The Magicians
– I continued watching Season 1 of Gurren Lagann
– I continued watching Season 1 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica
– I continued watching Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek
– I continued watching Season 2 of Little Witch Academia
– I continued watching Season 1 of DuckTales
– As usual, I watched Game Grumps, GTLive and Critical Role


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