Monthly Archives: November 2014

Huh… Indecent Proposal?!

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If you could lend your wife to prostitution for a night for a million dollars, would you do it? This is the cornerstone to which ‘Indecent Proposal,’ based on a Jack Engelhard novel, built its hour and forty minute story. I decided to go back and watch the movie after realizing it’s one of those 90s movies I’ve often heard about but was too young to ever care about watching. I believe I was too busy with comic books and video games at the time. So on a Thursday morning I decided to go back to a time when Demi Moore was still quite the vixen on the silver screen.

It didn’t start out well for me. The over-reliance on voice-over narration was a bit of a turn off. You have players on screen! Have them act it out for me. It felt like the movie was rushing for me to get caught up in what the filmmakers couldn’t afford to film. The audience was told how things were instead of being given a proper movie narrative. So by the time things got heated and characters faced their moral dilemma, I wasn’t really too invested to actually care.

But to be honest, I don’t really think the couple, David and Diana Murphy, (David played by Woody Harrelson) didn’t really have too much of a problem with the million dollar proposal made by billionaire John Gage (played by dreamy-eyed, Kennedy-esque Robert Redford). They had one restless evening and off to Gage’s office they go to accept the offer. It was almost a throwback to how prostitution was sometimes dealt with by the wide-eyed 80s, much like ‘Pretty Woman.’

What I have to note however is that contracts which compel parties to perform illegal acts are not legally binding. “Indecent proposals” are illegal in many states, so one might think it weird that a lawyer was involved in arranging the movies’ infamous dalliance. Prostitution is still illegal in Las Vegas, although it is permitted for counties with a small enough population. Even then, legal prostitution occurs under licensed brothels. I doubt if any licensing was covered under the hasty agreement, though articles covering impotence was covered. In any case, if they were caught, I’m sure Diana and John (how subtle!) would’ve only been served with a misdemeanor.

Going back to the film, I felt that the whole movie was rushed, not for wanting it to be longer, but it seems that characters moods and motivations just completely shift on a whim. It wasn’t terribly convincing. There are no build-ups and no believable reactions to things which would otherwise blow a normal person’s mind. I could’ve spent two hours on a different movie about a man dealing with his wife prostituting herself for one night, the mental gymnastics he has to go through. And what about the mental gymnastics Diana has to go through? It seems like she got over it in a day.

I haven’t read any reviews, but I’m sure feminists were up in arms over the movie. The casual treatment of prostitution, treating Diana like an object to trade, and Diana’s almost casual treatment of all the events, and later her falling in-love with her john must’ve been terribly problematic for feminists. It was problematic for me as well, but I felt that all this casual and almost naive treatment of sex and sex trade was again a reflection of the times. It still felt like an 80s movie. But despite its sins, it’s still a more mature and cynical look at the sex trade than ‘Pretty Woman’ was (but that doesn’t say much). And speaking of the 80s, the law office scene with the two screenwriter clients was so 80s that the only thing missing was the funky bass line.

I couldn’t finish this without mentioning how implausible it was to have John Gage, a billionaire who looks like Robert Redford, have trouble finding women, so much so that he has to spend a million dollars per night on other men’s wives. While I don’t blame him on spending money on Demi Moore, I probably would as well if I had the money, but I suspect that the movie makers were either saying A. money doesn’t buy affection, or B. rich men buy affection all the time!

The ending was terribly predictable. It speaks about looking at what you have and returning to what you have left behind, much like the way Paolo Coelho structured his novel The Alchemist. But again, this is a sin I’m willing to forgive. The movie was a product of its time. And during that time, we were willing to have this in our theaters. We were willing to have predictable endings and implausible plots on screen in order to pass time. Sometimes they work to a comedic effect, like Weekend at Bernie’s, and sometimes they work to drive home a sappy message. If you love someone, set them free.

It was good to see Demi Moore when I believe she was at her most attractive. I didn’t find her convincing at all, but I was willing to forgive that as long as she looked good on screen. Misogyny, I know. Woody Harrelson was alright, but I feel like he’s played this part so many times, and for some reason, I wasn’t buying him as Demi Moore’s husband. As for Robert Redford playing a billionaire, he was alright. There was nothing too exciting about him, except that much like Demi, he was candy on screen.

Should people see the movie if they missed it? Probably not. I doubt if they would stumble to any hidden truths about love, life, and laws regarding prostitution. Still, if you are bored on a Thursday morning, there are far worse things you can do than spend your time finding out where the term “indecent proposal” originated from.

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Monkey See

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So what’s on television?

Korean television is 40 percent people eating/cooking, 30 percent dramas, and 30 percent celebrities talking or singing, or being in any format where they’d end up just chatting or singing. That breakdown is a tad unscientific, but it’s basically all that I see whenever my wife channel surfs. Lately, there have been a couple of trends: having foreigners who speak Korean on television, and having celebrities’ children go about their everyday life. All in all, there’s nothing too compelling.

Some people say that Japanese television is also the same, just people eating or watching celebrities react to different topics. But I don’t really watch too much Japanese television.

There are foreign channels here but they are simply awful. There’s Discovery Channel, National Geo, and TLC. So if you want to learn about panning for gold, ghost hunting, or baking cupcakes, you got your channels. Local stations would show different CSIs, NCIS, and other network dramas, but not so much of the amazing Renaissance television has been experiencing on cable.

For years, all of my viewing entertainment has been on the Internet. I’ve become one of those people that would just watch whole seasons of shows within a week. Thank you, Internet. I’ve gotten access to long dead shows and movies that people don’t really hear too much about. These shows probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Korean television. But then again, they probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Canadian television either. Do they still show reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Last time I was in Canada, I wasn’t too impressed with what my sister had on television. She was watching OWN.

Speaking of sister, she was watching a lot of Filipino television as well. The shows seem to be very celebrity driven as opposed to being about good writing. There’s a lot of melodrama and schlock. Like everything, it could be good in small doses, but I’m not sure about a steady diet.

I also stayed with my best friend while in Canada and she’s content with just having Netflix. I guess much like me, she prefers to watch seasons of shows or have a movie playing. She’s not much for keeping up with what’s on on television either. I guess it’s not just me being here in South Korea that’s driven my viewing to the Internet. I guess it’s the future of the media.

In any case, if you’re in Korea, the Internet is vital. Otherwise, you’d either be watching a lot of Koreans eating things or you’ll simply be getting a lot more reading done.

I recently saw the latest Planet of the Apes film. I really like where they’re going with this franchise.

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We’ve Seen This Before, People!

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Sometimes, you just have to take a break from some people. Instead of divorcing them from your life, allow yourself some time and maybe miss them a little. Step back a bit before you do anything else to damage the relationship. A little absence can be bliss. Better to stay out of things, maybe rant or write about it on a blog or a Website which no one ever visits.

I just learned about Aelita Andre. Haven’t we been through this road before? We’ve been through this bullshit before. This happens every few years, a film was made about it, people start getting critical of art sales pitch, the rich have way too much money, and there’s a backlash over fraud. We’ve seen this before! (http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/what-makes-a-child-an-art-prodigy/382389/ )

You know what we haven’t seen before? A child art prodigy who doesn’t make abstract art. 

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Let’s talk K-pop, Musicals, and Street Cred, Yo!

prepubescent

 

Whenever someone mentions the word “Zorro” to me, the first thing that comes to mind is a prepubescent Asian boy wearing make-up.

A problem with K-pop is that it’s all basically manufactured. Real artists are rare, and the songs, the dance, the clothes, are all engineered products. And while the banner is that of a musical, it still runs into the problem of men in K-pop which Abigail Covington over at the A.V. Club eloquently explains:

“The biggest problem with K-pop’s boy bands is that they are as equally manufactured as the girl groups but much less convincing. Manufacturing charm is feasible. Manufacturing sex appeal is a no-brainer. But manufacturing grit (a relatively necessary quality for men if you are working within the heteronormative boundaries of a conservative culture like South Korea’s) is nearly impossible. It always turns into cheese. ”

And cheese is exactly what you get, especially when Korean music companies manufacture hip-hop. While the west makes stars out of people with a bit of, for a lack of a better word, “street cred,” here it seems they make stars out of anyone with good looks and a ton of choreography. There is no grit, just “cuteness” and clothes that were carefully chosen by a fashion coordinator. How clueless could a person be about grit and rapping when they have to pay Coolio to be a hip-hop teacher for a day? (http://noisey.vice.com/en_ca/blog/bts-american-hustle-life-coolio-k-pop-hip-hop-school) Isn’t the medium supposed to be an expression of truths and real life experiences?

I’m not saying that western music is immune to such corporate products, after all; I’m from Canada, the country that produced Avril Lavigne and Justin Bieber. It just amazes me how some people buy into it.

Anyway, back to “Zorro.” Aside from the lameness of incorporating K-pop into the production, I notice that the recent local musical productions have been on properties and stories that are all already long established in people’s psyche: Three Musketeers, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula. It seems like the only way to get musicals in here is to have it already be popular in other mediums. I don’t think local productions of “Chicago” or “Dreamgirls” would have been made here if they weren’t already popular years ago in film. Not many people know Jennifer Holliday. They do know Jennifer Hudson. And this is not a condemnation of local tastes, but rather the unwillingness of production companies to trust their audience and their own musical talent. They fail to truly believe that a musical production would succeed by its own strengths. Instead, there has to be familiarity or a gimmick. In both cases they both appear to be cynical marketing crutches.

I don’t think there would be a local production of “The Producers” anytime soon, which is probably for the best. I wouldn’t want prepubescent Asian boys playing Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom.

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Drawing Again

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I’m finally making art again. I’ve been in a funk for a couple of months and was unable to make any art at all. It can be a bit of struggle, but what my professor once told me is true, “the hardest part about making art is the beginning.” It got harder and harder for me to start making art, and it’s good to finally get something going, maybe a series. Yay art!

 

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