Category: Film

Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2018

Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2018

To me, good art transcends what it is literally. I can point out a superb sentence, share the behind-the-scenes production details, break the plot down like a Wikipedia article, discuss the layers of authorial intent, but in the end, it’s always an attempt at articulating the ineffable qualities. Good art touches something inside us and rouses up emotion that feels bigger than ourselves. It’s an all-consuming, personal, and holistic experience that’s beyond simple explanation or lesson.

Maybe that’s why praising things I like in an isolated, non-fandom context can feel so flat. I always feel a combination of incoherent in trying to match the artistry of what I’m describing and embarrassingly simple of pointing out what seems obvious to me. Does this plate of food taste good? If it is, then why, how? It just is. There’s useful words like flaky, tender, sweet, etc. but it won’t be the experiences themselves, and that irks me, even when I’ve read critics I like, even when I know better.

But I want to practice. I want to tell others about the things I like just as well as I can tell other about the things I dislike. I want to share what art has made me feel greater than myself. I want to talk about good art that’s looked out for me, looked through me, and looked at me. That’s why I make these lists, when when they’re fairly late.

So let’s dive right in.

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What the Future Holds for Spider-Verse in the Hands of Voltron Showrunners

What the Future Holds for Spider-Verse in the Hands of Voltron Showrunners

December 14th of 2018 saw the release of not one, but two monuments in popular culture. One was the highly anticipated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the animated film starring Shameik Moore as Miles Morales. Before the film’s premiere, Sony announced a sequel and a spin-off film in the works. Joaquim Dos Santos has been confirmed director for the sequel. At the moment, Lauren Montgomery is in talks for directing the spin-off. Dos Santos and Montgomery are fresh off their work as executive producers of Dreamworks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender, which had its eighth and final season on Netflix the same day Spider-Verse hit theaters. Spider-Verse was met with critical acclaim, while Voltron season eight was not. Response ranged from lukewarm to furious. After some fans of Voltron were frustrated with the death of a gay man of color character and other developments in season seven, many were left disappointed with the series ending (including the deaths of more characters of color).

A release date wasn’t all Voltron and Spider-Verse had in common, however. Without getting into spoilers, the plot of season eight and themes of grief bare a striking resemblance to those of Spider-Verse. It’s not that one is a rip-off of the other, but that they both aimed to tell stories about loss and family. What made audiences more receptive to Spider-Verse was its delicate consideration and authenticity of characters of marginalized groups. If the Voltron showrunners couldn’t carry out something so similar to Spider-Verse with the same praise, how are they supposed to follow it up well?

This post contains spoilers for Voltron: Legendary Defender and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Also, a disclaimer: this is not meant as an attack on the showrunners (or any crew member) of Voltron as people. This is a critique of the TV show they produced and their role as storytellers.

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Favorites of 2018

Favorites of 2018

It’s that time of year again. Karleen and Malia have rounded up their favorite (not necessarily the best) media of the year enough times now it officially has its own tag: Favorites of the Year.

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12 Days of Anime: Movie and Manga Recommendations for the Grieving Banana Fish Fan

12 Days of Anime: Movie and Manga Recommendations for the Grieving Banana Fish Fan

As of today, the anime adaptation of Banana Fish has come to an end. For those looking for a movie to watch or a manga to read to fill the void, look no further.

This post contains spoilers for Banana Fish and discussion of rape, abuse, incest, and suicide.

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Solo: A Shortcoming of Gender and Sexuality

Solo: A Shortcoming of Gender and Sexuality

Shortly before the release of Solo: A Star War Story, the latest Star Wars midquel film that dives into the backstory of the original trilogy’s Han Solo, screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan supported describing the iconic Lando Calrissian as pansexual. While he may have had noble intentions, the robot-focused exploration of Lando’s sexuality does more harm than good in introducing people to pansexuality. L3-37, his co-pilot and love interest, unfortunately falls into misogynistic tropes for the first leading droid played by a woman in a Star Wars film. Together, they leave Solo with a lot to be desired in terms of gender and sexuality in science fiction.

Of course, this post contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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The Last Jedi’s Balance of Nostalgia and Progress

The Last Jedi’s Balance of Nostalgia and Progress

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a divisive film, to say the least. Many consider it “childhood-ruining,” while positive reception commemorates a rejection of nostalgia and subversion of fan expectations. However, the film is not the anti-nostalgia manifesto many believe it to be. It celebrates the beloved strengths of the series while reconciling its faults and looking to the future because, just as Rey learns, everything is a balance of extremes.

Past and future collide not only through the events of the film and its characters, but the sequel trilogy’s metanarrative on Star Wars fandom as well. The Last Jedi continues how in Episode VII: The Force Awakens the new characters connect with established characters, objects, and concepts like fans of the franchise would. It all comes to the forefront with the story between Rey, Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren on navigating the past, present, and future.

Of course, this post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi.

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Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017

Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017

I saw a lot of films last year. It’s a family tradition to go out and see a movie about once a week. I’ve always treasured it but especially now. It’s been one of my consistent comforts for a year like 2017.

Most critics get their best films of the year list out before the end of the year, but given that I’m not a professional critic, my access and time is a bit more limited, especially when it comes to those that just sneak in at the last minute before hitting wide release in January. Plus, I figured getting out my list a couple weeks before the Oscars would be close enough.

What I’ve realized over the past several years is that media itself isn’t as important, so much as our reactions to it. I don’t just mean big topics like oppression and hegemony, but the easy, personal things. Who did you empathize with? Who pushed you away? What tugged at your heartstrings? What annoyed you? What lingered with you after you left the theater, if anything did at all? Do you still feel like the same person before you experienced it?

The films I list here changed me in some way. Sometimes they gave me new knowledge and sometimes they reminded me of what to hold onto. Each one gave me increased perspective and energy that I hope to bring to 2018.

The ranking here is approximate. I tried to put some films in some kind of order and I have my top favorite saved for last, but really, every film listed here is one that I treasure.

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The Small Things Matter, or Sometimes Adoption Jokes are Funny

The Small Things Matter, or Sometimes Adoption Jokes are Funny

Listen, I promise I can write about other things that aren’t related to adoption. It’s just that I saw Thor: Ragnarok last week and I love Loki (predictable, I know), so of course I’ve been having a lot of feelings lately.

In particular, I was reminded of something about a few nights ago.

Spoiler warning for both The Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok.

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Don’t See Ghost in the Shell: An Informal Listicle of Alternative Recommendations

Don’t See Ghost in the Shell: An Informal Listicle of Alternative Recommendations

I am truly kind of a joke sometimes.

I was so sure I was not going to see Ghost in the Shell. Of course I wouldn’t, it’s offensive, misguided, and probably not even that good.

Spoiler warning for the big plot twist of Ghost in the Shell.

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