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Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Mini Movie Review: Predators (2010) #badmovies

Predators
2010
Action



Predators comes across as a rehash of the first film with an identical setting (in the jungle) and with a set of characters, who but for the main hero, gets bumped off. Adrian Brody doesn't convince as the lead in an action movie (Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins would be better suited), Topher Grace looks out of place here and he plays a douchebag, the female crew member looks like a cross between Michelle Rodriguez and Vanessa Hudgens & one wonders what Laurence Fishbourne (The Color Purple, Matrix, Boyz N Da Hood, What's Love Got To Do With It?) is doing here. Aliens and Predators have one thing in common: they both end in 'S', but that is all there is to it when the former is the better movie, and the latter isn't. Predators attempts to do the same things as the prequel (jungle setting, the Japanese guy in place of the Native American Indian, Billy as the token ethnic character), and yet it feels nothing like the original Predator and doesn't feel as believable and real. The kills felt scarier in that film than here, it takes up almost half the film's runtime for the action scenes to manifest, and I felt nothing for the characters (who are mercenaries but lack any traits for me to have any sympathy for them when they get attacked). Oh, and it fares well below the much-maligned Predator 2 of 1990 in my book. Gets a half an extra mark for the last 10 mins though. 


Is It Worth Watching?

For die-hard Predator fans who enjoy the franchise only 


Overall:

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Mini Retro Review: Like Father Like Son (1987) #badmovies

Like Father Like Son
1987
Comedy



A body-swapping comedy that came out before the similarly- themed, Vice Versa starring 'The Wonder Years' Fred Savage and 'Beverly Hills Cop' Judge Reinhold, I had reasonable hopes that this would be okay. But instead, this was a tedious watch from beginning to end and seems to be nothing more than a vanity project for Kirk Cameron, who was pretty big at the time and existed to capitalise on his popularity. Dudley Moore is awkwardly utilised and isn't given much to work with, script-wise that because in terms of genuine comedy, it is so lacking and his efforts aren't enough to elevate or salvage it by means of making it funny. I barely laughed. Kirk Cameron tries, but his character is charm less. The plot at the beginning makes little to no sense in relation to the main characters and how it ties in with the story. Aerosmith's 'Dude Looks Like A Lady' plays in the background, a song that featured in Mrs Doubtfire and one that makes far more sense than in Like Father Like Son. I'm pretty sure (and hoping) the remake of Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan of 2003 is better than this. 


Is It Worth Watching?

Even with the negative reviews, I had an inkling that this would surprise me and that I'd enjoy it, but I didn't. Worst still, it was bland and didn't provide anything that was and is remotely amusing for a comedy.


Overall:

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Movie Review: Keanu (2016)

Keanu
2016
Cast: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Jason Mitchell, Luis Guzman, Nia Long, Will Forte, Keanu Reeves
Genre: Buddy Action Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $20 million

Plot: When the adorable kitten of an L.A. crime kingpin unexpectedly enters the life of two cousins, they will have to go through tough gangs, pitiless men, and ruthless drug dealers who all claim him, to get him back. How hard can it be?





'Short On Laughs, It Loses A Few Lives'


2 guys mascarade as heroes in order to get their kitten back, who has been stolen by some drug dealers. Rell is a stoner, who develops an interest/obsession in a kitten, & of whom he names as Keanu after breaking up with his girlfriend. With his cousin, Clarence, they seek to infiltrate the criminal network, lead by a drug pin lord named Cheddar (Wu-Tang Clan rapper, Method Man), who mistake the pair as killers. The idea almost works, yet sadly, suffice to say, the comedy doesn't always land and is very scattered. Key and Peele were best known for their TV series on Comedy Central, and in Keanu, it is an F-bomb-laden affair as a 90 min sketch but in a feature-length movie format. I went into this film based on the poster and assuming we would get something on the lines of a farce parody on the buddy cop movie formula, but instead, this was a self-referential and self-aware comedy.

It would have absolutely worked to a tee, had the humour and comedy been consistent throughout with some big surprises, LOL or chuckle moments, whereas the story and plot didn't engage me immediately as it should have. Keanu falls between semi-serious and self-aware, yet it isn't long until the duo's parodic wisecracks, as good as it is to have them, the film runs out of energy as it plods along.

What is an extended skit, this is stretched out too thinly, and the problem is when you take something from TV like a sketch piece and essentially peppered gags and don't do anything or much to it to pad it out, sooner or later, 45 mins later, some people will stop watching. The comedy was okay. It riffs and spoofs on action and buddy cop movies, but when it constantly relies on continuous George Michael song references, it becomes so cliched and loses steam. 

Patchy, middling and with its pacing issues and runtime at almost 90 mins, this was still watchable for me. But as so-called buddy cop spoofs go, as amicable as it was effort-wise and the last 30 mins were good, I yearn that Keanu had done more to entertain me for me to truly love it. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key are cut out for the movie world and in comedy films with their screen presence & style: it just needs to be harnessed in better projects that not only showcase their talents but projects with fully developed scripts, humour and characters.





Final Verdict:

It is telling when one is more interested in the kitten than the main human characters, or be it any of the human characters. But if the writers put a little more effort into the story and the comedy was more consistent, I would have had a heap load more fun with Keanu. Part of me was thinking Keanu could have been, ought to have been and might have been in the Bowfinger and/or The Incredible Burt Wonderstone-vein of self-referential, parodic comedy (and movies, in which for me nailed that aspect so well), but for buddy cop movies and whilst it has some good ideas, Keanu got marred and buried underneath the lack of accessible comedy and humour.


Overall:




Monday, 29 June 2020

Retro Review: White Chicks (2004)

White Chicks (*theatrical cut) 
2004
Cast: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Jaime King, Frankie Faison, Lochlyn Munro, John Heard 
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $113 million

Plot: Two disgraced FBI agents go way undercover in an effort to protect hotel heiresses, the Wilson sisters, from a kidnapping plot 




'Not A Chick Flick, But A Drag Comedy Where Laughs Aren't Aplenty'

Mrs Doubtfire meets Big Momma's House in Whiteface in this undercover crime caper comedy that doubles up as a drag film.

After two FBI agents accidentally foil what they thought was a drug bust, brothers Marcus and Kevin are forcibly assigned to protect the Wilson sisters, a pair of air-headed socialites who are the target of kidnappers. When it fails, our heroes cover it up by posing as them in disguise and with that things become a tad more interesting, as well as get out of hand with plot twists and pratfalls, courtesy of the Wayans brothers themselves.

The slapstick is a hit- and- miss affair, with some of it landing and others, had a Deja- vu feel to it, whereas the heroes' white face disguises don't look realistic, convincing nor believable in the sense that, in real life, anyone won't be easily fooled into thinking they are White people. The make-up itself is supposed to be the draw of this film and serves as a plot device -, but because the make-up artist or whoever was responsible for it didn't do a good job with it, it nearly manages to overthrow the entire movie.

But hey, this is a comedy where it is played out for fun and so there wasn't any intention of White Chicks being edgy or smart. It exists to entertain and make people laugh, - yet which in itself, it doesn't do enough in and do it well. For the most part, the performances are not bad; it's just unfortunate the comedy and humour weren't strong enough to bring out the best in the Wayans' brothers comedic talents. 



Given the general wackiness of the Wayans bros. style of comedy, I expected this to be as consistently humourous as Mrs Doubtfire in the ''men dressed as women'' scheme of things, but it just didn't go as far as that offering. The detective plot, which was also featured in the similarly Big Momma's House, doesn't hold up well, - though I must admit it did engage me a little if no more here than the Martin Lawrence movie.

Whilst it isn't horrifically bad as others have deemed it, although I predicted White Chicks to be way funnier as I thought it would be, in the end, it just wasn't to be and had it had a bit more going for it, this would have been one of my guilty pleasure flicks. It is a silly, dumb, low-brow comedy that appeals to fans of Mrs Doubtfire, Big Momma's House, Ace Ventura and some of Adam Sandler's comedies, & whilst there is no denying the cheap laughs are indeed there, the quantity and quality of the slapstick on display in White Chicks is slightly mediocre. 





Final Verdict

Comedy movies, especially low-brow comedies with silly humour and which are dumbed down require a suspension of disbelief, in order to get into them, but it is also whether we find them funny or not, and funny, humour and comedy are all subjective. There appears to be an uncut version of this film, and I'm presuming it is funnier and better than what I just saw, just for this review. 

This being said, White Chicks is no way better than Mrs Doubtfire when it comes to modern-day drag comedies, but after years of writing this one, off, out of the two, I'd choose this film over Big Momma's House.


Overall:



Monday, 22 June 2020

Besides The Loss of Lives, Coronavirus & Lockdown Has Us On Point Of No Return To The Old Norm, But Moving Forward With Lessons Learnt





*Image credit: Mark Rourke/AP Photo



By Waiching 

There is no disputing that fear-driven behaviours have intensified and are heightening the Coronavirus panic most people are feeling right as of this moment. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has alarmingly manifested, as well as infiltrated nearly every heart and every fibre with its excess of apprehension and uneasiness. The world, as we know it, is well aware of the devastating losses this pandemic has had: from physical death, mental illness, poverty to economic & financial devastation. 

But the coronavirus has stolen one other thing, besides people's lives, our livelihoods, the sense of joy and freedom, normality: it has taken away some of that belief and desire and replaced it with anguish, impending doom and gloom and trauma. 

At its base, trauma inflames and engulfs us by seizing and taking away our power and our regularity and familiarity, slithering away our sense of control. It leaves us on the edge of uncertainty after depriving us of such freedoms: some of these of which we have been endowed with and gotten so used to in the past, in pretty much the same way, the aftereffects of this global pandemic are reverberating around us, robbing us from a sense of security & fulfilment.  

Everything feels new, unbelievable and overwhelming; several months on, most of us are still getting to grips with what has been happening, it is still hard to fathom. It feels like we are part of a Hollywood blockbuster movie.

Hope has been and was a way of believing and accepting that, for the most part, the best times were and are yet to come, no matter how dire a situation was and how big the crisis is. That society will heal, that we will heal from this, that this will be short-lived. Yet the trauma of the coronavirus and the vast scale and rate in which it has escalated and mutated has robbed us from some of that hope and thus forth left us with a glaring aftertaste of calamity and fear instead. It has cultivated widespread and inescapable grief on so many levels and one that hasn't been seen before in recent years, but one which is difficult to pin down and at times absorb. 


(left: healthcare workers hugging each other in Malaysia, photo credit: DG Hisham/Facebook)

Our grief goes beyond death that has been experienced and the reported numbers of people who have lost their lives has also been felt: it is also the loss of family time and social gatherings, the loss of consoling and hugging our friends and loved ones, losing the sense of wonder and curiosity in exploring different cultures and cultural experiences in travel, & thus scuppering any major plans that we had in doing so. The so-called things we often take for granted, and in hindsight, these have now taken on more profound meaning and in recognising how important they are to us. 

We are constantly bombarded with reports of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting various countries, of mounting deaths, changing government lockdown guidelines and the fear that things will never get back to normal. Things will never go back to what they were before all of this happened, once we come out of this crisis at first, and whilst there is talk that COVID-19 will change our lives and society forever, the question people will ask is whether this world-changing catastrophe and the sheer magnitude it has had, will make us fairer, more open, accepting and caring as a society and being more compassionate as individuals in the long run for many years. 


(right: Tower Bridge in London before and after Coronavirus lockdown, photo credit: ITV News)

On the evidence of what I have experienced, from an essential worker standpoint at least, I doubt it will. Based on the people I work with and talk to, most haven't changed, most of them are still the same persons as they were before COVID-19 hit; some are still (being) difficult, whilst others they are just their usual selves. That, and many other people will try to hold their heads above water just trying to get by and survive to earn a living, whilst many will be so gravely affected by all of this, they don't see any impending good to come out of it.  

The mundane tasks which are undertaken at home, as well as at work as an essential worker have not only reached (a) tipping point: they become almighty efforts in our race to stay alive, but often at the possible cost and expense of our mental health and the risks of getting infected. For some, including myself, the journey hasn't been without its challenges, its cons as well as pros; it has been a mental battle & arriving home at the end of after each shift, either feeling satisfied, happy or tired or unhappy. The Coronavirus has ensued in changes to how we live & go about our lives both at work and home, but some of those changes, in the behavioural sense, such as social distancing, the wearing of masks and limiting physical contact, in order to minimise the risk of contamination, has immensely impacted us in ways in which we hadn't anticipated before.

Many people are expecting the worst, with intense feelings of edginess, irritation and worry playing in the back of their minds, suddenly questioning how, what, when and why. 

Regardless, it is the powerful lessons we must learn, heed and take from this as of this present time, and following after COVID-19, once we do get out of this and try to move on, along with a vaccine that will empower us to do better for ourselves and to become more caring and better people by strengthening our relationships with those closest to us and to heal and move on from a predicament that, quite honestly, has shocked us to the very core of our emotions, feelings and human values that many of us try to uphold for ourselves. 

It has taken the Coronavirus disaster to be as earth-shattering as it has been with the mammoth loss of lives - particularly in hard-hitting regions such as the U.S, China, UK, Brazil, Italy and Spain -, to be the wake-up call that was and is needed & to make most of us believe that we are all in this together as a human race and the sense of togetherness as a country to get through the hard times. It has also proven that this virus doesn't discriminate or omit anyone, be it Black, Asian, younger or old, male or female, or wherever you are from. But, and whilst there is no going back, it is only when a vaccine is produced and distributed to the public that there is a glimmer of hope that things will look up and we'll see an end to all of this upheaval. 

In the space of 6 months (with another 6 months to go, the longer this persists this year), we have lost what was such an intrinsic and easy way of life, and with that, Covid-19 has tested and tarnished humanity and our societies, and yet at the same time, it has transformed them and us and affecting us in so many ways by making us step out of our old norm: from changing our daily work patterns and routines and into the so-called new norm in adapting to new ways of going about our lives, of thinking, working and of understanding, as we fight the unknown. But we are also not only fighting a gigantic battle against a deadly and infectious disease: we are also fighting a mental and emotional battle to remain sane, strong, within ourselves and to not let it defeat us. It has made us see to it that whatever good comes out from and out of this, we must cherish it and never lose sight of what it truly means for us in our lives. 


(left: people exercising in Barcelona, Spain, photo credit: Nacho Doce/Reuters)

It will be something to see if that same community togetherness that has been banded around, harnessed and built up during and throughout Covid-19, in these somewhat daunting and dicey times, will evolve, or indeed disperse, post-Coronavirus.   

The imperious world we are living in right now feels awfully strange and so far removed from normality, but also every change, be it positive or negative outcome, step, change and regulation we are seeing and that is occurring, is so rapid and each one of them has taken on a different meaning. & to remind us not to take anything for granted. The world is unforeseen, is unpredictable as it always is: after this, we cannot go back to the life it was before COVID-19 happened, but we must move forward, heeding the lessons from it and to reconnect with the people we've been separated from and of whom matter the most to us in our eyes. 

That and when we expect the unexpected, to be prepared when and should another pandemic flare up and explode: it's how we oversee it and we do that by soldiering on, showing resilience, as well as remaining hopeful. 


Reference:

Cannon, J M.S (LPC), What The Coronavirus Is Really Stealing From Us? - Psychology Today, 18 June, 2020



Tuesday, 16 June 2020

We Must Let Go By Not Reacting To Difficult & Toxic People Emotionally




By Waiching 

Negative and difficult people tend to gravitate towards others: those who are a) compassionate or offer compassion & are patient or b) those who get mildly, highly or extremely offended, angry and upset. I suspect this gives them something to react to & to give you the runaround, whenever they are being a pain in the ass. 

It's also about putting myself in their shoes and trying to see things from their perspective; in doing so, I separate myself from everyone else who sees this person in a bad light. 

When we talk about difficult people, we mean individuals with certain personality traits and emotional characteristics that make it difficult, if not/and perhaps impossible, for us to communicate effectively with them. Likewise, with toxic people, according to Jodie Gale, MA, a psychotherapist and life coach in Australia, these are individuals who are abusive, unsupportive, unhealthy emotionally or of whom s/he has deep emotional and perhaps psychological wounds and do not take responsibility for their feelings, wounds, their issues. I've come across a few of these types before and in my life.

We must let people of this nature go and not give into them: if they are being a negative strain and continue bringing you down, let them go. Let them do their own thing, whilst you concentrate on doing your own thing: not for them, but for yourself. Stress comes from not the words and actions of that individual, but it is fuelled by our mind that conjures up our potential or likely reactions to them. 




Being nice goes a long way and in doing so, you are setting an example, ''Always set an example. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are. & do your best to be thankful for rude and difficult people, too - they serve as great reminders of how not to be''. Be nice to yourself and thus showing why you are (thankfully) not like them. 

And just because I am kind to them doesn't mean I have to accept, give into or choose to expose myself to their negative behaviours for prolonged periods. By disengaging with them or limiting your interactions to work by keeping it work-related only, one can prevent yourself from getting trapped in a negative cycle that can affect your emotions.  



I will not stoop to their level and I won't be playing mind games with him/her: if I distance myself from them, it is not because I want to hurt the other person, but I do it for my own protection and emotional well-being by safeguarding my emotional health. Not out of vengeance, not out of spite & not out of hatred. They want to start being crabby or dismissive towards me when I am being nice? That's their move, their decision, their choice. If they choose to be condescending and negative towards me, then it probably says a great deal about them as a person, and less so about me. Although in the other sense, it can be argued that they are making it about me or you, because quite frankly, who else are they directing their response to? You, or I, and would they react, respond, act differently to someone else? The answer is probably. 

Look, nobody is perfect; nobody is completely goody-two-shoes (me included), we all have our negative traits, as well as positive ones. We are all flawed in certain ways and learning to accept that certain people are the way they are, and we can't change them for us and for our benefit. Yet I have the power, the complete control over what my emotional response will be to their actions, comments, remarks, behaviours as such, and it is up to me - not him, not her, NO ONE, to decide whether I want them in my life, whether or not to me they deserve 110% of my fullest attention and whether I ought to engage with them, as well as if they are deserving of my compassion, which s/he lacks themselves. The onus is not on them as they want or expect attention - it's up to us whether we ought to give it to them, if possible choosing the ideal emotional response to match their quirks and characteristics, & in doing so they feed off it.

As individuals, based on our personal and human social interactions with them, we get a sense or idea of who someone is, or the type of person they are by watching & observing how they treat others and how they treat me or you. 

People have the opportunity to change and whilst difficult and toxic people can change for the greater good, the truth of the matter is in reality, that is so not the case because they choose not to because that is the type of character they are. And although change comes from within him/herself, you can't tell them to do that and if even if you do, they don't want to and will not change and to get rid of their bad habits or negative behaviours. There is a saying, 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it'; well there should be another saying, which is 'if s/he is broken, let them - not you - fix it, fix themselves'. If they won't, they won't. 

If after being around this person for a lengthy amount of time, at work or in your personal life, there will be signs flashing around in your and my head that tell you it is time to let them go for good & for you to leave them alone. With that, it comes to the realisation of me being strong and resilient, understanding enough to accept him/her for who they are, despite their flaws and issues. 

It's okay to walk away and to surrender the need to control the situation, to surrender the need to make a point for them to understand, to leave them in peace and for them to do their own thing, and thus it is also okay for them to leave me alone in peace as well and to allow me to get on with doing what I need to be doing. I have to focus on me and turn my attentions to the healthy relationships that bring joy, happiness, contentment in my life, rather than ones that evidently lead me to nowhere, or be it misery. When I am forced to interact and communicate with the difficult person/s, at work I try to remain professional, keep the lines of communication civil, neutral as possible and brief and that the conversation is strictly work-related. Because, let's cut to the chase, that is all they want from us and they don't have time for general conversations or light-hearted banter or fun to cut through the serious nature of work. Unless they want us to catch them on their good side. 

You shouldn't give in to them by caving in, (alas, there is a saying, "it goes in one ear and out of the other", meaning you should forget about what they said).


You don't owe them anything else, be it an explanation, but your compassion - and if they feel that's not good enough or they don't care, ignore them, move on. Nowadays whenever you and I feel the urge to get worked up whenever they choose to p*** me or you off, I have learnt to stay silent and not respond or react and say a word. They don't and will never define me and who I am. By reacting to him/her, you are giving them want they want/expect and they have provoked a reaction out of you, which is something you don't want. 






There is immense relief knowing when you focus on yourself and not giving away your attention and worth to difficult and toxic individuals as we stop denying him/her in being the person we want them to be & by walking away from something that cannot be fixed, realising that this is for the best. 

Relationships, be it personal or work, coexist based on the dynamics and binaries between two different people, and at times, these come into conflict with one another and can lead to differences of opinion & disagreements and fallouts. Yet no matter what, it is still crucial to see the best in people by not making it personal on a negative scale, and when you and I focus on that, and less so on the worst aspects of their character, it can ease the tensions & make you feel far less pessimistic and critical about that person. 


Sometimes, it is best to let go, to accept certain things as they stand, that in life it is best to let people be who they are and the person/s that they are, - particularly as and so long as they don't change me & I don't allow them to hurt me or my emotions. 

That sometimes, it is necessary to not always having to turn to that one certain person when you don't feel particularly comfortable around him/her. Or that when someone is being rude or condescending for the sake of it, that I take no notice or I'm like, ''whatever you say'', ''okay'' or ''that's fine''. When you do that, when I do that, I see to it that in letting go, rather seeing it as a negative, I see it as a blessing and a huge weight that is lifted off my shoulders. 

Just don't seek change, don't fight for closure, don't argue with him/her in order to persuade them to agree with you, don't react out of anger, frustration and emotionally. Just pause, take a deep breath, then let. It. All. Go. 

...And move forward. 




Tuesday, 9 June 2020

'Let's Admit It: Anti-Blackness Racism Is Instilled In Asian-Based Families & Communities'





By Waiching

In 2018, CCTV now under the synonym CGTN for China Global Television Network, a TV channel that is the mouthpiece for the Chinese communist government aired a variety show, the Spring Festival Gala which airs yearly in China that featured a Chinese actress in Blackface and a Black actor playing a monkey. 

It's the painful truth, but that is the truth sadly - and one many elder generations of Asians, especially our parents will deny, and when they say stuff like how Black people are this and that, that is when I end the conversation because there is no point in me educating them and telling them to stop thinking along the lines of this, as they will never change and dismantle their prejudice and narrow-minded attitudes and beliefs that have been ingrained in many immigrant minds, as much as a leopard never changes its spots. They are clearly racist and being discriminatory. They are ignorant, they choose to be ignorant, but that is their decision and their fault that they choose to be this way. I had to let it go: I can't change them -, but then they don't want to change, and so, why bother making them change their ways? 

Because they sure as hell won't listen. But I don't care, because that is not me, and nor do I let it affect the way I treat others outside of my race/ethnicity, and most of all, unlike them, I don't judge or base my opinions on people, based on who or what they look like on the outside. Why should it matter if they are Black or any other ethnicity, or if they are gay, lesbian, disabled? 

I swear, every time my parents would come up with excuses or say things that were on the verge of troublesome based on stereotypes, I would roll my eyes and pretend I didn't hear the bull**** that came out of their mouths. Like many immigrant parents, mines arrived in the UK from China and Hong Kong seeking a better life and understood, somewhat, of the hardships and struggles to succeed as a minority, as Chinese people. From 'fears' of being in a biracial relationship with a Black or White person, or indeed anyone outside of Asian origin, fears of being mugged and robbed on the street at night and millions of other reasons, some that are unfounded, therein lies deep-seated biases within our community and a hugely problematic issue of division between Chinese people born in China or Hong Kong, and Chinese people born in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and other places, as well as other East and South Asians through the use of our cultures and the so-called model minority status to rationalise racism against people of Black origin. 


And alas, we come to the model minority myth: a myth, a concept, with which has no real foundation or basis, because it was and is built to demean, ridicule Blacks and other minority groups and in saying 'we are better than all of you White, Black, Latino etc folks, because we work hard, are law-abiding and have strong family values'. This same rhetoric has been used over and over by both racist Whites and Asians and blaming the Black community for its oppression, its struggles and woes and in not overcoming them. It is saying that if Black people and other minorities haven't worked hard to get to where they are and where they want to be, that is nobody else's fault but their own. If Blacks obeyed the law, they wouldn't be arrested and in jail. If we, as in Asians, want to succeed, we must side with the dominant & prosperous culture; i.e. the Whites and to reject the subordinate one; i.e. the Blacks. Although we can't compare our experiences in terms of institutional racism and years of slavery with Blacks, many of us have experienced racism at least once in our lives.

I think we can say and agree that as Asians and in reference to the younger generations, our parents' racism is vigorously entrenched in their own sense of pride and respect of being hardworking immigrants who didn't rely on the state or government or anyone for help - the, in their own words, 'we didn't rely on handouts and freebies or charity to be successful and to get through life...so why should we help others if they (the Blacks, the poor) don't make an effort to help themselves?' rationale. That is the Asian mentality and one that bothers me a great deal. Asian cultures are built on respect for elders, their mothers, fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers and the insistence of hard work, prosperity, respect for leaders and those in authoritative positions and family allegiance. It can also be difficult if one can't speak and communicate in their parent's language fluently.




But then I realised that my Asian community, my Asian identity which is supplemented by my British identity, as much as it partly makes me who I am, it also emphasises aspects of Chinese culture that I don't agree with and nor do I buy into, and again a lot of that had to do with the model minority & Asian tiger parents - tropes. As Jeff Guo rightly points out, many Asian parents are so preoccupied with education, because for them it acts as a defence mechanism against racist people when Asian kids are confronted by or experience racism - and yet this same tool is used and as an 'excuse' by Asian parents and many Asians to vindicate and validate racism towards other people who aren't the same race as them. 

Asians are heavily stereotyped as being highly intelligent and being well-educated in their academic studies in school, college and university, - and yet many ( and not all) of them choose not to educate themselves to be open-minded, tolerant and understanding when it comes to race, culture, ethnicity and people of other nationalities. 

What struck a nerve, as well as a sense of fury amongst the Asian people was seeing that an Asian cop, Tou Thao, an Asian man was an accomplice to the perpetrator of the beating of George Floyd: just seeing him, and a person who looks similar to other East Asians, appearance-wise, with his back turned and not intervening to stop the abuse, was sickening to me. It was also something that was overlooked by many media sources and reporters, although it was picked up by some people who were aware of who was involved in the attack. 



(left: mural of Houston-Born George Floyd in Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, UK - image by Joe McGrath)

Just a couple of months ago, this year, the East Asian community, particularly the British Chinese, the Asian American, Chinese Canadian and Chinese Australian communities bore the brunt of racist acts and racist backlash, in the wake of COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus, which has been nothing but been on nearly everyone's mind, ever since the outbreak that was reported in Wuhan, China. & now what with the senseless killing and murder of George Floyd, it's not just the issue of institutionalised racism and the role of the police within it; some Asians are aggrieved that one of their groups are discriminated against, and they have brought it to their own attention to sense and feel it is necessary to blame and chastise the Black and African American communities... all because the guy who died was a Black man and all they perceived him as a criminal, a bad person... like all or most Black people they view in a xenophobic light, whilst overlooking that one of the murderers involved was Asian. 

For many years, institutionalised racism has been the main talking point when it comes to policing and other public and private sectors, industries and institutions, - yet at the same time, the model minority concept has been given a 'get out of jail card' and thus forth, is overlooked by general society in an attempt to downplay attempts and experiences of racism by and towards Asians. 

Many Asians rarely stand up for themselves, are passive and go about everything else as if it will all subside. No wonder Asians are deemed as subservient and submissive that speaking out is seen as not acceptable. No wonder that anti-blackness and White privilege go hand in hand and becomes rampant. & it's no wonder that anti-blackness is so embedded in Asian communities throughout (take for instance in China, a homogenous country and one where there have been reports of Black Africans and African Americans being forcefully evicted from their homes and denied service in restaurants, bars), as there is so much resentment due to affirmative action for Blacks & the touting of the model minority concept held in high regard when all it does is suppresses other minorities and pigeonholes Asians. 

And don't get me started on the hypocrisy.... how my parents complain about Black people being racist to Chinese people, and after that, 5 mins later they ramble and whine all types of hateful and racist bile about Blacks that comes out. 



In the wake of George Floyd's death and countless other unlawful and tragic deaths of Black people at the hands of police brutality & murderers & the ensuing global Black Lives Matter protests, taking place in the US to the UK and beyond, as Asians, we must seek to challenge, defy and defeat the tropes, to become more open-minded and to engage the way we think, treat and view minority groups in society and our consciousness to be wary of and recognising that racist attitudes, especially anti-blackness racism in traditional Asian communities exist, but at the same time, that we do not and must not take these on board ourselves and accept them as our owns and not to pass them onto the next generation of Asian Americans, Brits etc. 

During these eventful & challenging times such as COVID-19 and the ''Black Lives Matter'' movement right now, we need to be in solidarity with Blacks, emphasising and resonating with what they are going through and everybody else who has been affected in these circumstances, rather than to oppose them one way or another and to come out of these situations and the lessons we learn from these horrific & negative experiences, as well as social injustices that leave no stone unturned.  




Tuesday, 19 May 2020

To Feel Valued By Others, Or To Value Our Self-Worth Ourselves?




By Waiching

According to Annie McKee, author of  How To Be Happy At Work, ''we all have a human need to be appreciated for our efforts, and so when your colleagues don't notice (your contributions), it makes you feel as though you don't belong. Self-doubt starts to creep in, and you think, 'if no one notices what I'm doing, how am I going to get ahead?''.

I guess one should ask themselves, why should I toot my own horn? Validating myself is a form of external validation and to make a concerted effort to pat myself on the back for a 'job well done'.

Feeling valued and appreciated at work is something we need to boost our confidence and to encourage us to do even better. Whether we admit it, or not. As humans, it's in our nature to want to feel appreciated, loved, supported and included. As employees, when we feel valued and that we matter we tend to find ourselves engaged with our work and feel satisfied and motivated when things go right. It acts as a motivator for us to do better and for him/her to realise that my/our efforts count for something by recognising and acknowledging them. 

Self - value is often behavioural than emotional and it is all about how you act towards something you value. When we value or place value on others, we value and pride ourselves more and are able to grow and develop as humans. It is often said that by putting ourselves and our needs first ahead of others, we are being vain, selfish and unkind: this line of thinking may ring true to most people, but deep down, the thing is that if either you or I don't take care of ourselves and make ourselves the number 1 priority, first and foremost and realising that as we are not all perfect, we have imperfections and flaws that need to be ironed out and addressed, then when problems do arise, we are, unfortunately, ill-equipped in dealing with them on an emotional level. Alas, we end up doing and saying things that we regret later on. 

Why should we preach to others in valuing, acknowledging and respecting us, - yet we don't take care of and look after ourselves and manage our own self-care? It doesn't make sense. You and your needs come first before others. 

For years since I was young, I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and trying to appease people to get them to value and like me. I was giving so much of myself, but I ended up being pushed back. I surrounded myself with certain people, of whom instead of lifting me up, brought me misery, who dragged me down. That, and the 'rejection' and resentment hurt me. As I got older, I saw to it that this was unhealthy and that I couldn't afford to go down that road. 

By convincing others of your worth and not having self-respect for yourself, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, because you are seeking validation from them, in an attempt to determine your happiness, your joy. This is wrong. It is also wrong for people to mistreat you, and if they do that, you need to walk away and keep a distance. 

Valuing yourself is not of you lowering your guard or your standards, it does not mean being arrogant or bragging about how good or amazing you are: rather it is by you in recognising the skills, traits, positive qualities that we acquire that make you of value, reinforcing what are your strongest assets, whilst still actively working on your weakest ones. As long as you do it without disrespecting others, you are free to stay true to who you are and that whenever someone tries to dampen your mood, you never take it personally & that you ignore it and brush it off.

In all walks of life, people accept and work in low-paid jobs or jobs where they are dealing with and working alongside different types of people from around the world and whose personalities differ and vary across the board. There are people of whom you may get along with, and others of whom you don't & won't: HOWEVER, if you go to work with the intention of earning and making money and not making friends, then this won't be such a big deal to you. 

Remember, you can't change other people by being so dependant on them, especially so that you want them to see that you are of merit to them, as well as for them, - but what you can do is to change and control yourself, your emotions, your responses, your actions for yourself, for the greater good, and in doing so, recognising your self-worth. In doing so, you are confident, content, happy. Be kind, be positive and compassionate and tune out those negative feelings.

I must stop in giving so much of myself away to other people that do not value and respect me & to place a higher worth on myself. I deserve to be happy.

Know what you are worth, appreciate your own worth and the good deeds that you hold in high regard. Don't compare yourself to others, but rather challenge yourself. Establish boundaries and when you sense that someone has infringed them, let them know or just maintain a distance from him/her. Work to the best of your ability, even if others may not see it themselves or shout about it. And so what if they don't see or appreciate your true worth? Happiness comes from within you, from not giving a damn what anyone else thinks or says and by valuing the skills and strengths that you bring to the table and your successes and achievements in life. 

You live your life for yourselves - not them, not him/her, & neither for anyone else. 




Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Retro Review: Disappearing Acts (2000)

Disappearing Acts
2000
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Q-Tip, John Amos, CCH Pounder, Laz Alonso, Michael Imperioli
Genre: Romantic Drama

Plot:  A couple in the midst of a tumultuous relationship fight to stay together







'Strong Performances in this Made-For-TV Movie That Deserved The Big Screen Treatment'

Disappearing Acts is another in the long line of relationship-based (romantic) drama films that, while touching on the trials and tribulations of two people who fall for each other and of whom love one another, unfortunately, doesn't attempt to reach any new territory, and in doing so, it ends up being nothing more than a rehash of familiar material that one has seen elsewhere in countless other movies and with a new set of characters. As with any TV movie film, Disappearing Acts serves up the expected ups and downs in a soap-opera-ish way. Based on the novel by best-selling author, Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back), HBO Films dished up this version in 2000, and whilst this is not an incredibly memorable film, it does hit a nerve several times; however, due to its limitations as a TV movie, I cannot help but feel how much more it could have achieved, had it been given the full cinematic treatment. 

Disappearing Acts follows Franklin, an uneducated construction worker and Zora, a music teacher and aspiring singer, from the first time they meet up, and tracks their troublesome and turbulent relationship and all of the various inevitable conflicts that arise. Neither Zora and Franklin are without faults and this makes them more believable as people and gives the story something to focus on. They take it in turns to exhibiting less than amiable behaviours, and things come to a head when complications arise and Zora falls pregnant and Franklin is unable to support her. Most of the drama that occurs is cliched and fairly predictable, and henceforth, becomes a little tiresome after a while.

At first, earlier on, I sort of wanted Zora and Franklin to get together, but as the film went on, I felt that they weren't right for each other, and they appeared to be ill-defined. Disappearing Acts is a look at relationships and it shows that not everything is as rosy as it seems: two people are drawn together based on physical and sexual attraction, thinking this is as good as it gets for them... until the realities of a relationship start to sink in, gets complicated and become difficult.

It's pleasing to see and hear characters talk and act like real people; it's just that the twists and turns don't seem to be as surprising and revealing, and that is due to it being a TV movie. Disappearing Acts offers nothing new and doesn't really attempt to break any new ground. The film relies entirely on the strong performances and chemistry of Sanaa Lathan and Wesley Snipes: the characters go through an array of emotions, they constantly argue and fight with each other, they make up. Snipes gives a surprisingly good turn, - although some will argue about his casting and that they could have got another actor instead of him, Lathan fares just as well as her male star. The ending, which whilst it is supposed to satisfy, feels somewhat forced, because its outcome seems to be exactly what the film had been struggling with, as opposed to what it was alluding to. 





Final Verdict:

The film gets by because of the story and the performances by Lathan and Snipes and the onscreen chemistry that they exhibit, and less so because of Zora and Franklin as characters and people, who are less defined and not as well developed by the writers, and which is why I was glued. 

As a whole, whilst it's not great, it was still watchable. 



Overall:

Monday, 11 May 2020

Retro Review: Anger Management (2003)

Anger Management
2003
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzman, Woody Harrelson, John Turturro, Heather Graham 
Genre: Buddy Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $195 million

Plot: A timid businessman is wrongly sentenced to an anger management program, where he has his life turned upside by an ultra-aggressive instructor who hardly practices what he preaches 







'Don't Get Mad - In Fact, This Is A Surprisingly Witty Buddy Comedy'

You'll either dig Adam Sandler's humour or not, and the same goes with his films: for every Punch- Drunk Love, Reign over Me and Uncut Gems in the drama stakes, there is a Eight Crazy Nights (which I heard, and based on the number of comments on Letterboxd from users, is one of his sheer worst), Little Nicky, Jack & Jill, The Ridiculous 6 and Billy Madison amongst other so-called comedy no-nos. For me, I like Adam Sandler's humour in small doses, and when he isn't relying on being angry, brash and mean all of the time. Anger Management was his follow-up to the groundbreaking indie drama, Punch-Drunk Love, which won him plaudits, - and, whilst this was a return to his usual, dumb comedian-ish self, for once and for a change, Sandler didn't mug the camera, as the Sandler formula here doesn't feel shoved down our throats, but rather restrained in places and as he allows co-lead, Jack Nicholson to share the spotlight.

Thus Lo and behold, in Anger Management, I have found an Adam Sandler comedy that I actually enjoyed. I'm not a big Adam Sandler fan, but I love watching comedy movies, and yet I can't deny he can be and is a funny person, onscreen. 

Following a misunderstanding on board an airplane, where a flight attendant is injured, executive secretary, Dave is ordered to attend anger management therapy by the judge and under the supervision of Dr Buddy Lydell: the guy, who was sitting next to him on the plane. Yet Dave insists he doesn't have an anger problem. When he gets himself into trouble the second time, Dave is sentenced to 30 days of intensive anger management. He is not too keen on the idea; however, he sees it as a way to keep himself out of jail. Yet things get a little weirder, when overtime, Dave realises that the doc, of whom Dave is forced to live with 24/7, might be far more unstable than his patients.  

What seems to be different about this picture is that unlike other Adam Sandler movies, it is relatively fun; not in a thought-provoking way but it remains amusing in places without being too dumbed down and resorting to childish, low-brow jokes too often. 


Sandler's Dave Buznik comes across as sincere and Sandler's performance as that character was so refreshing to see; to see him play Dave as the down-to-earth, nice guy, and a mild-mannered guy who designs outfits for fat cats, as in felines (and as amusing and sweet as it sounds) and of whom has a beautiful girlfriend to share his life with. Sure, there are instances where Sandler goes loud, but he manages to show restraint and doesn't overwhelm the movie and his co-stars with his turn. Jack Nicholson was exceedingly good, it brought back memories of The Witches of Eastwick and As Good As It Gets as he dabbles in comedy, revelling and embracing himself in the silliness of it all. It might be hard to fathom picturing Nicholson playing an eccentric shrink and in a light-hearted way, yet he does so here, along with that Nicholson charisma aplenty: Rydell is a shrink all right, but one whose methods are bonkers, so much so, Nicholson and Sandler's roles/characters could've been the other way round, with Sandler as the crazy doctor and Nicholson trying to keep things sane. Nicholson is a great foil for Sandler, and though it is an unlikely pairing one doesn't expect, the way they go about their characters onscreen makes it work. If there were any downsides it is that the supporting cast including John Turturro, Woody Harrelson, as a flamboyant drag queen, and Luis Guzman in bit-part roles were underutilized and just weren't given enough to do. The Heather Graham eating chocolate cupcakes gag felt flat as well, although the fight scene with John C. Reily in the role of Dave's former childhood nemesis/buddy, was chuckle-worthy. 




Anger Management is a buddy-ish comedy that succeeds in parts but also it goes down the rom-com territory during the last part of the movie involving Dave and Marisa Tomei's Linda. This was something I didn't anticipate, and when I think about it, it feels like the way they handled it made this aspect feel out of place. I mean, it's good that it gives the film something else to focus on, besides Dave and Dr Buddy Lydell, but it didn't quite click with me as it should do. The story then loses its way a little when it is discovered that Linda has been going out with Buddy. That and the ending could have been better. 





Final Verdict:

A comedy that shows off more of the gentler side of Adam Sandler that we need more of, even if he tones down his antics just a little, it doesn't make Anger Management less entertaining and amusing as it is. That, and, with the side helping of Jack Nicholson as one-half of the buddy comedy duo, you have yourself a comedy that, surprisingly, smacks of occasional wit. 


Frankly, this is the movie that Analyze This or the follow-up in Analyze That should have been. 



Overall:



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