Adventure · Family · historical · Moral values · Movie · Netflix · Politics · Religion · War

The Breadwinner – Review

thebreadwinneransaothraiThe poster beside doesn’t lie. The Breadwinner is a moving movie and the “magic” is part of its enchantment on us.

The first thing to be noticed is that the kind of animation doesn’t follow realism, but the simple style of a fairy tale book for kids and sometimes reminds us of books with three-dimensional pages.

Pavana is the protagonist who, like Mulan, dresses as a boy to life outside, where the world around her seems to belong only to the Taliban’s men. Here, this decision doesn’t happen not only because a war is happening but because the Islam regime forbids women to occupy public space.

Pavana finds a friend from school. It means from a time when girls were allowed to study. Her friend also disguises herself as a boy to help her father in the family’s business. From this moment onwards, they become inseparable and will work together to Pavana gets the money to stubborn the guard on Pul-e-Charkhi prison, where Pavana’s father was unfairly imprisoned. In this journey, she will meet Razaq – a man with a good heart. He will be a kind of “providential helper” for Pavana.

In this review, I’m not going to discuss the representation of Islam regime in Afghanistan, because all reviews already did it. I’m more interested in write a few words about the human relationships constructed among the characters during the movie.

In this movie, there are many kinds of relationships and feelings. In the beginning, we can see the fear. All merchants are supervised by armed guards to guarantee that they are obeying the law strictly and without observing any other factors, as solidarity. It’s true that, until the end of the movie, we will see that some of the merchants only want to take care of their business selfishly and regardless of the situation; but, in the facial expression of others, we can see that they feel sorry for being unable to do anything to help Pavana because they know that with oppression there is no dialogue.

Secondly, we see the interaction between Razaq and Pavana’s father. In the silence, they understand each other through shared pain and regret. They feel sorry for that war that they are forced to carry on despite their wishes and suffer its consequences.

Afterward, Razaq will interact with Pavana. She will read to him a letter from his homeland telling about his wife’s death. Later, she will teach Raza how to write his wife’s name. All this kindness will be rewarded. In the end, Razaq rescues Pavana’s father from prison.

Their interactions confirm the kindness always results in more kindness. So, even within that hopeless situation, human begins can feel and act with empathy and reach out their hands to others. On the other hand, we see how some people are able to find in the external convictions the justification to their twisted personalities, as Idrees shows us.

Pavana’s family is very warm and supportive of their members. Her parents were professionals before the war and they taught their children how to read and write and to love stories. We don’t know much about the older sister, but we can see that she became the support of the entire family after the father was imprisoned. That was a big tragedy for them because he was the only adult male, so he was the only breadwinner. Another male in the house was a very young kid, who couldn’t fulfill this task.

This family strengthens their bounds Telling stories during that hard period. After the father left the house, it was the only way found to keep hope and to calm their hearts. Through the story of Sulayman, we also discover how the older son dead. For me, Sulayman is a unifying character of Pavana (action), and her brother (male spirit). A character that was created to help her overcome the pain of losing her older brother, support the absence of her beloved father and go through the despair of her actual situation, as the new breadwinner.

By the previous account, I wanted to show that humanity cannot be reduced to State’s affair, laws, or other external expressions. We are complex begins who have personalities, cultures (family, city, religion, state….) and social customs, and all the time we are interacting with the others.

It’s impossible to reduce every fact to the Taliban government only. We need to think also about the role of Russia. The reason for the beginning of the war and the actors implied it and so on.

Finally, Islam per se can’t be blamed; as we see in the movie, the family of Pavana still pray for God, even if in His name they are being oppressed. That means that religion and faith are different.

The breadwinner is an interesting movie and provides reflections on gender oppression, but, in my opinion, it is a superficial one when we look at it from a broader perspective.

 

 

Crime · Family · Korean Society · Movie · Netflix · Suspense · Thriller

Review: Forgotten (기억의 밤), 2017 – Netflix

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Kang Ha Neul shows his maturity as an actor in the 2017 Korean movie Forgotten (기억의 밤). Here, we also can see other actors from the k-drama world: Na Young Hee (biological mother of Lee Min Ho’s character in The Legend of the Blue Sea) and Moon Sung Geun (Falsify, 2017). The rising star Kim Mu Yeol (Bad Guys: City of Evil, 2017) also appears.

Synopsis: Yoo Seok (Kim Mu Yeol) is kidnapped and comes back 19 days later, but remembers nothing about his ordeal. His younger brother, Jin Seok (Kang Ha Neul), who once admired his brother, notices changes in him. So Jin Seok struggles to find the hidden truth behind Yoo Seok’s kidnapping. Also, he has to handle a mysterious room inside his new house, from where he listens to weird sounds which only he seems to hear.

What does make Forgotten special? The form of the narrative, which isn’t chronological and forces the public to join the pieces of the plot until before the last few minutes of the end. 

As it’s common in Korean stories, everything is connected, so you should look at the pieces of information (dates, places, and characters) and try to put them together, but this is difficult because (even without disrupt the rules of the mystery genre) we don’t know everything which is happening, let alone to know for sure who is the person forgotten in this whole story.

(major spoilersThe narrative starts with Jin Seok in a car with his family going to their new house. In the new house, he should divide the room with his older brother, because one of the rooms is already occupied by the former owner of the house. But we know that Jin Seok isn’t a trustworthy character.  He has a psychiatric illness and seems to confuse reality and dream. Could it be possible that is he being gaslighting by his hyung? Is he really reliable about what he is seeing? Is his brother really that perfect guy that Jin Seok believes? These are our first doubts, which will stay with us until the middle of the movie.

Again, we see another common formula of Korean literature: the main turning point occurs in the middle of the literary piece which may or not be the only one. 

In the movie, the first twist isn’t the only one relevant to us figure out the truth behind the weird events of the first part. In this first turning point, we will understand what is happening to the protagonist. Jin Seok discovers that he is living a farce, a murder had happened and he is the suspect of that crime. A second turn point happens when he denies the accusations against him and runs away from his chaser. In the sequence, he suffers an accident and, during his hospital stay, everything will be revealed and all pieces will be put together. This is the last part of the movie.

Forgotten has a political statement. In 1997, despite the previous good results in the national economy, South Korea suffered the effects of the Asian Financial crisis, which affected severely the countries of East and Southeast Asia from that year onwards. Because of that, the level of unemployment increased and many people become desperate.   Also, we need to know that the fraud of the insurance system is a hot topic. We reviewed here the drama Mad Dog (click here to read more) which is entirely dedicated to this subject, but from the point of view of the big companies.

So, having the previous information in mind, we can understand that the movie transmits to its public the idea that people under financial pressure and abandoned by the State (which tends to help the conglomerates and financial institutions) became desperate. At this moment, they tend to succumb to immorality and criminality, and they are interconnected in the Korean mindset, frequently. That is one of the versions of Joseon Hell – an expression to designate the lack of opportunities and high oppression inside Korea society, and that sends us to the times when the Korean peninsula was an authoritarian kingdom working strictly under Confucianism. So, in the end, all the protagonists – in their own way – are a victim of this system which transforms good people into monsters. So, who is the real villain in the movie? Who is the real forgotten? – I will let everyone get your own answer after watching this outstanding Korean movie.

Score: 5/5

Plus, one of the soundtracks of Forgotten:

 

Comedy · Family · Moral values · Netflix · Religion · Romance · Slice of Life

2 States (2014) – on Netflix

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Last Saturday, I watched 2 States, a 2014 Indian movie.  This will be the first review of an Indian movie.

In a few words, that movie is about a couple, each from a different part of India, who meet University. They fall in love and live a romance for two years. Problems start after they graduate.  They wish to work and live in the same city, but convincing their parents to agree to their relationship and marriage provides the movie’s major conflicts.

So, the main point of my review is this: 2 States is a movie about the changes in the marriage culture in India.

 

Isn’t love enough? Not exactly and n. Not always. In India, the parents choose their children’s partners.  They base their decision on more than just their children’s needs.  Certainly, the groom’s family wishes their son finds a good housewife while the bride’s kin knows that she has a stable provider. So, the choice is based on factors as community affinities, family connections, education level, religion, social and economic compatibilities and so on

But what happens when the couple comes from different origins?  In the movie, they are willing to overcome their cultural differences, but their families are less flexible because they trust in traditional values. The groom’s Punjabi parents in Delhi and the bride’s Tamil roots in Chennai, both resist the pairing. Linguistic, caste, economic, and geographic barriers fuel their “stubbornness”. Their love isn’t enough through most of the film. When the couple seeks to marry, they must act also in connection with their families and their cultural values. Will the parents accept the marriage and develop some tolerance among them since they will become an extended family? You should watch the movie and discover it!

In India, as the movie makes clear, the family is part of the marital relationship of their offspring. So, if the young want to be happy, they and their families have to negotiate between old and new concepts. We see this movement in scenes where pieces of the culture are more exposed, as the parties, when we can see the differences related to food, drinks, dresses, dances, costumes and so on, of each family.  The families’ prejudices were surpassed during the movie by dance, by laugher, by altruism, and by the pain inflicted on who we love. Not only that, but they also manage to fulfill the groom’s mother’s dreams of being a singer. The father, hitherto the villain in the piece, provides the vital link between the two families. We can observe that every character had to heal some wounds with the help of others for the family to be happy together. There is not much space for the kind of western individualism.

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So, the movie is about how the parents deal with losing their space in the marital decision of their children. However, they also chose to overcome their differences in favor of their children’s happiness.

The movie 2 States is not as good as Motichoor Chaknachoor – a very recommendable movie which discusses the dowry in modern India – but it proposes a more varied range of subjects and permits us to understand better the feelings of the characters in a way we can be sympathetic to them. So, its multi-dimensional approach is a great quality for me.

I also love to see all the dance and music in the Indian movies because the lyrics are part of the plot since they help to tell you the story. The dance conveys to us the feelings and the lyrics’ meanings through body language. Also, I confess I love to see the proud shown by Indian movies of the Holi festival (the spring, love and colors festival). If someday I am going to India, I want to travel in March!

2 States is a movie based on a book about the real love story between Chetan Bhagat and Anusha Bhagat. Here the original couple:

Love Story Of Chetan Bhagat And Anusha Bhagat, The Original '2 ...

He also wrote: Five Point Someone, Half Girlfriend and The 3 Mistakes of My Life.

Moral values · Movie · Netflix · Politics · Religion · Suspense

Review: The platform (2019) – Netflix

The Platform is a much more interesting movie than I imagined before watching it. As the “Hoyo” (the hole) has levels, this review has different layers.

The movie starts with the MV5BOTMyYTIyM2MtNjQ2ZC00MWFkLThhYjQtMjhjMGZiMjgwYjM2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_presentation of the main subject and of Hoyo’s rules. The most obvious theme here is a social critic.

People living in the upper levels eat without thinking about the people who are living in the many other levels below them. Similarly, the richest level of our society concentrates wealth. That produces an unequal distribution of wealth and this generates poverty and hungry in the other classes. So, as the lowest is your position in society, the smaller will be your portion of wealth.

In the movie, the characters can move from a level to another (randomly). It happens to the protagonist, Goreng. He starts on level 48, then 171 and so on. So, there is a perception that, when you are at a “good” level, you have the right to enjoy your privilege, for which you did nothing to conquest. In an upper level, you transform your fear and resentment into avarice and revenge (not against the system, but against who is below you). This is basically the class warfare.

  • This is the first level of the plot: the critic of Capitalism.

Welcome to the second level! It starts when the protagonist, Goreng, meets Imoguiri, the person who interviewed him to ingress in the Hoyo. She has a compassionate heart, which makes her believe that the Hoyo can return the “participants” to the world after transforming them into better citizens to the society. She believes in the existence of “spontaneous solidarity”. Then, Goreng can confront the humanitarian vision of Imoguiri to the ultrarealistic vision of Trimagasi (his first fellow).

On one hand, Goreng understands that there is no way of people spontaneously be convinced of showing solidarity. On the other hand, he starts to think that not everyone is as selfish as Trimagasi. Then, he realizes that there is a medium-term.

Then, he is moved to another level where he meets Baharat.

Baharat has a rope and he trusts that people from above will help him to go up. So, he expects to get out of Hoyo by going level by level up. However, soon, he understands that not everyone is willing to help him, especially if they have nothing to win from it. On the other hand, it is obvious that his endeavor was individual and selfish.

That is how social ascension (not) happens in capitalism. It’s basically impossible, except if you find a good soul to help you; but this is a luck matter only. There is nothing to do with individual will power. Maybe, the individual will count to make the effort to climb using the rope, which is useless if you don’t have anyone to hold the rope on the other side.

Baharat suffers because of his failure. At this moment, Goreng – with a more communitarian mentality, which he got from Imoguiri – he asks Baharat to go down together, using the platform, in order to make the food reach the last level.

Then, they start the level 3 of the plot.

Goreng and Baharat use the force to convince people from level 7 to 51 to do a fast day so that food can be distributed to the lowest levels. A small number of people agree (but they are the minority) with this plan, but the majority must be attacked to keep their distance from Food, because they are more worried about their own survival than collaborated with the others.

It’s a clear analogy. They are using violence in favor of a change (positive – they could argument), and we see how easily they become more and more violent. It’s easy to be dominated by instincts, interests and ideals.

Then, a “wise” man advises them. The important element of their mission is not making the food reach the last level. That is only a circumstantial change for those people. If they want to change the Hoyo deeply, so they need to do something to reach the people on level 0, but not the Administration (it’s only a system, it has no heart). They should reach the workers of the Administration with their message from below.

Here, we are talking about the “intellectual” giving some orientation to them mobilize the masses through the discourse but not the violence, with the power of the message itself.

However, very soon Baharat realizes that the message itself isn’t powerful enough to convince people to act with more solidarity and, then, he convinces himself that his job is protecting the “message” and distributing the food. In order to accomplish those objectives, they will use violence, again ( they will say because violence is the only effective way). When the food ends and their presence becomes “the food” itself, they start returning people to their right mind, without much success. It’s the failure of hobbesian model too.

The view of each next lower level gets more and more sad and hopeless and, finally,  we are at Level 4.

Here, they realize that the Hoyo is much deeper than they imagined at the beginning of their descent. So, were all their effort useless? Will always exist people who are going to starve until death?

That’s when they find an Asian little girl, who supposed not to be there. It is because the Hoyo – theoretically – shouldn’t allow people under 16 years old. Goreng asks Baharat to give her the “message” (a panna cotta). For one moment, we can question if Basharat will give her the food. Indeed, he gives it. what does that mean?

He sacrifices the false message (the panna cotta) to get the real one (the girl). Is there any guarantee about which one is the real? No, only their faith can be their assure them that it is the right thing to do. They believed in the new/real message and they accepted it.

Symbolically, they are giving the “false” message (food) up to get the “real” message (hope), which they will soon understand that is the girl – the symbol of hope.

File:Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God) by Zurbarán, San Diego Museum of Art.JPGThat is when the movie makes the most important statement. One against the communist ideology because it only gives a superficial, temporary solution to social problems, by using arbitrary, excessive violence and without touch the super-upper classes (level 1 to 5 in Hoyo), and without being capable of distributing food to all levels, let alone talk about equality. That is the “false message” that succumbs in favor of Christianity ideal, the owner of the real message. It is Christ who brings the promise of hope for the future, where peace and happiness will be capable of reach everyone.

Then, finally, Goreng (the only survivor) together with the little girl reaches the end of the Hoyo. There, he meets Trimagasi, who reminds him that the “real message” doesn’t need a conveyer, the message itself will be enough for those who want to understand it. As it is the message of God. It is when the body of Christ may perish, because the message has been delivered. 

Then there is no need for any further scene because it depends on us receive or not the real message.

Some extra thoughts about the movie

    • For me, it-s clear that the source of the all problem is the upper levels 1 to 51, but especially the level 1 to 5. People on those levels know that every day they will receive food, they can’t keep any food with them after the platform abandon the level and the change of level is inevitable and unpredictable. So with the memory of previous starvation and with fear of feeling hungry again, they eat all they can. It’s a possibility that irrationally they believe that eating much would prevent them to starve in the future (even if they know it is not true). However, I think it’s more probable that they believe that because they are at a high level now, it is their right to eat as much as they want, just as those who were above them did (now or in the past). If everyone is guilty, nobody is guilty.
    • Because of that wrong mentality, everyone below level 51 is condemned to starve. However, if only a few persons (those in the level 1 to 51) had a better conscience at least others hundreds could survive as well as they want to survive, but because their wrong thought all of them will eventually die.
    • The table has everyone’s favorite food. If you can restrict yourself to your own portion, everyone can eat. They make clear that the platform has the “favorite food”, because it means that you have the right to eat your portion and shouldn’t wish nothing more than that.
    • The Hoyo allows a knife inside because violence is always a way to survive (and that is the purpose: survive), but we see that violence is not the best method when survival is the objective. Also, we see an old lady with lots of money but no food, because we know that heaven doesn’t belong to the rich.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you  and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Lucas 6:20

Further possible (crazy) interpretation:

  • “From Quijote to Christ”. Goreng brought to the Hoyo a book. He could bring in only one thing and he chose the Quijote. Quijote is someone who tries to live a certain experience because he believes in the value of this experience. He lives it through a mixture of naiveness and madness. In some sense, Goreng’s journey was a chivalry one. Also, he was guided by a kind of Mephistopheles, which tried to corrupt his little piece of sanity and love for the others, as human being, he falls and stands up (different of Christ, who could go through the temptations without falling). It’s at the end when he could abandon all his masks (as kinds of characters) and see what he really was: the receipt for the message, the lamb of God as the body of Christ. This only can happen after he conveyed the message because just then he has no place in the scene. Goreng and Christ become a character of a narrative about themselves, which the character is not the real protagonist (the girl, God). The plot has a play between sign and meaning, as we can see in Quijote.
  • does the girl really exist? we can believe she doesn’t because it is not allowed kids in the Hoyo, and because she is clean and well dressed when she was found in the level 333 (a possible sign for this illusion). However, I think her own existence in the Hoyo is the “proof” that the system has its fails. Wasn’t the Hoyo the representation of the path between heaven and hell? (as in Dante Comedy?)
PD: This review was 4 hands written.
Scott MacKenzie PhD helped me to create the interpretations offered in this text;
but, of course, all mistakes and misinterpretations belong to the author of this blog.

Score: 5/5

Comedy · Friendship · Korean Society · Moral values · Movie · Uncategorized

Review Microhabitat (Little Princess) – 소공녀

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I have a preference for movies that make me think about life and how human beings can be interesting and complex (for good or bad). That is the kind of movie that I found while watching Microhabitat.

 

Synopsis: Mi So lives from day to day by housekeeping. Cigarettes and whiskey are the two things that get her through the day. When the government doubles the price of cigarettes, Mi So decides to give up her house for cigarettes and whiskey and make a list of her friends to ask a favor to spare a room to sleep. She visits her dearest ex-band members that she hasn’t seen for a long time.

First, I prefer the translated title, “microhabitat”, because it refers to the spaces where the protagonist is circulating: first, her rented room and, then, her friends’ spaces; also, the bar and the small apartments of Seul, where she works.

Each friend of hers brings to us a stereotype, but it also results in an opportunity to understand what each lifestyle brings us (joy, regrets, responsibilities, and sacrifices).

  • the office worker, the poor and rich housewife, the adult who lives with parents, the divorced. We can, also, include a prostitute.

In comparison, the title “Little Princess” gives us the wrong idea about her personality. Mi So, as I saw her, isn’t a spoiled girl neither a person who lives in her own bubble (social, dream, or etc…). Inside her own objectives, she is an organized and methodic person.

The first thing that called my attention is that Mi So is a very kind person. She always brings eggs for her friends’ house. (Eggs have a (traditional) symbolism in Korean Culture, the Koreans believe that eggs are very nutritional) So, for Mi So, eggs are (a cheap) way to show respect and her good wishes towards the others.

Also, it’s interesting that, during the movie, we learn much more about each of her friends and boyfriend than we discover more about her. It is as the director lets the camera on, and each interaction reveals us exactly what is being exchanged there.

2017 - Microhabitat 1

So, I realized that Mi So gives much more affection and listens to her friends with more attention than they pay attention to her or try to understand her. We don’t know, for example, which career Mi So dropped? How her parents dead? etc… But she delivered lots of empathy to each person she met. However, this empathy was barely noticed when she was with them, only after she left all of them, they could appreciate that.

Why is that? Everyone around her made a different choice: work a lot; marriage with love; marriage for convenience; constitute a family. Each one also lost something because of their choices. That’s why she makes every friend angry and could fit in any place with them. She shows them that there’s another option, but they want to believe that their lifestyle is the only option they had. Anyone has her courage to give up the society’s expectations and pay the price for it. So, the normal, adult life seems to be the only way. Soon or late, every one of her acquaintances will choose what is (or, seems to be) easier: the adult life. Confront all this truth made them unable to appreciate her presence; only during their absence, they could appreciate her personality and kindness, because she was no longer a threat to them.

Mi So chose her path: whiskey, cigarettes (and, her boyfriend). In other words, she chose to keep what makes her happy instead of living an adult life according to society’s criteria. This is a very conscientious decision; we see that she controls (very strictly and in an organized way) her finances at the exact minimum to get her pleasures, medicine, and rent. When the government raised the cigarette’s price and her landlord raises the rent, she moves out, choosing the cigarettes (but, the cheapest one) over the rent. In the end, it seems that she chose the pleasure over the medicine (not fatal disease, because she doesn’t seem an irresponsible person at any moment).

About her health condition, there is something interesting too. It’s more a metaphor than anything else. If she doesn’t drink her medicine, grey hair will multiply faster until became all white. This is undoubtedly a sign of getting aged, externally. In this case, we could think that her disease represents everything that is forcing her to grow up from outside, and she is resisting it because she chose the pleasures inside her own mind and heart.

It’s good to observe that she is not an addicted person, for example, she never gets drunk, for example. She is a good smoker too,  who respect the others when she smokes. But, she likes to seat at her favorite bar and taste her favorite whiskey. If she is addicted to something, it’s to balance her minimum effort (at the job, and personal life) to maintain her pleasures.

I really enjoyed this movie and Microhabitat is a very interesting contrast with Parasite. The former is about an individual and small and inner places. The former is about the capitalist society (the class conflict) and the city, and house with lots of people, circulating; the small places are places to escape from not to be in. On the former, the real happiness is in the small things and in a simple life; in the second case, the happiness depends on the material things (expensive) and even the kindness is put on having money. If I have to choose between both I choose Microhabitat, definitely.

Score: 5/5

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Comedy · Crime · Family · Korean Society · Moral values · Movie · Uncategorized

Review – Parasite (Gisaengchung) 2019

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Parasite’s synopsis doesn’t even start to describe what the real plot is about.

“All unemployed, Gi Taek and his family take a peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks, as they ingratiate themselves into their lives and get entangled in an unexpected incident”.

The Kim family is living in a semi-basement apartment and all the members of the family are unemployed and they have no expectation to get a better life.

Kim Gi Woo is invited by a friend to replace him as an English tutor of a rich girl, and then the story really begins.

This is a story about class warfare but narrated as a comic drama. 

I’m not going to complicated about the genres of opera, but it’s important to know that:

opera buffa involves the predominant use of comic scenes, characters, and plotlines in a contemporary setting. It was, in part, intended as a genre that the common man could relate to more easily, so the opera buffa was made for and depicted common people with more common problems. 

That is what I can see in Parasite as a narrative. In addition, this narrative delivers us an idea, to find what it is, we should look at the story as a dialectic. So, we will see a normal low-class family and a normal upper-class family meeting, confronting each other and, then, finding their “synthesis” (the end).

What matters, in my opinion, is to know how the end of the movie represents for Bong Joon Ho a reading of our contemporary times and if he has something to say about solutions for the class warfare. [Parasite was written and directed by Bong Joon Ho (the same director behind Okja).]

spoilers!

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For the upper-class characters, the consequences were much more psychological than anything else. They didn’t lose anyone and they had all means to move forward. The director criticizes the confidence in the foreign (American, especially). This ingenuity added to a badly placed tradition (trust in other’s words) is the trigger of the plot.

In comparison, the low-class character lost their lives (metaphorically or not). It’s not possible to see their end in another way but as a punishment. However, they were punished for their crimes or for their ambition (to be rich)? It’s not clear.

Also, I started to think if there is a difference in what the Maid and her husband take (who enjoyed the art, light, and glamour) and what the Kim family (who want the money, but also happiness) takes from the Parks.

Are Moon Gwang [the Maid] and her husband the real “parasites”? Maybe, that is the reason for them to suffer the most terrible end. When the Maid lost her job, the husband was condemned already. The only salvation for the couple would be the Kims share their part of the cake. That doesn’t happen; however, another parasite came to occupy that space. 

In the end, the father Kim Gi Taek became a prisoner in the own Kim family’s trap. Has he been saved by his son? We could think yes; but, then, all the family effort was in vain because if the son could become rich so easily, why didn’t he made money before? Otherwise, we could think no, he wasn’t saved because he never could leave the house, that was his (not legal) punishment. He got lower than before.

One of the songs of Parasites is from Rosalinda (an opera seria written by George Frideric Handel about a dethroned king), in both stories the ends are equal. The protagonists trick the public with their death to save their families. So, in this case, we can think that the Maid’s husband is essentially different from Kim Gi Taek? In this hypothesis, the former is the real parasite, while the latter is a kind of hero, at least for his family and this is why his son sends him a consolation letter (a hope to recover what was take from them, as the former King in Rosalinda).

Also, the author never explain what happens to the Chung Sook dream of being an athlete. How society cut her way? There was the feeling of something lost, but it is never brought for discussion. What is the part of the guilt of the government and the riches in our society? In the movie, the first is absent and the second is only dazzled and naive.

In addition, if we pay attention, there aren’t reasons to hate the Parks, the wife is “simple” (as she is, initially, described) and the Park husband is an average man, the daughter is the typical teenager and the little boy is the prince of the family.  So the class hate isn’t a subject here, instead of it, envy is. However, I think it’s a simple kind of envy. The Kim family wants to imitate the riches, to be part of their party and to be happy. They really think they could be good and kind if they had money; then, it was poverty that made them commit their crimes. However, when they are invited what happens is humiliation being paid by violence.

Is there salvation for the Kim family? Is there a solution to the conflict between the low and upper classes? Is it possible a serious narrative in which the development isn’t a comedy based on the absurdity of poverty and the end isn’t a drama?

To be sincere, for me, the movie has a very intelligent plot, an interesting narrative structure, but in terms of reflexion about the future, it delivers more questions and pessimism than solutions and optimism. In this sense, it’s more a form to reiterate the real than question the bases that make the real to be so dark and so absurd that it’s laughable.

SCORE: 4.0/5

 

Action · Anime · Politics · War

Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (anime review)

Ken En Ken: Aoki KagayakiKen En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary) has a simple story. It’s about three friends and a young Empress. Yin and Ning are two sisters, from a small village. Zhao is their childhood friend. When the Taibain empire invaded and destroyed their home, the three friends were split up.

Zhao was enslaved and find a new ability as an engineer and made friend with the Empress. Yin by causality found a legendary sword, which grants her fantastic abilities in combat for herself and her sister, Ning. As Zhao and the Fu sisters find themselves increasingly caught up in the Empire’s battle, they found themselves in opposite sides. In meanwhile, Yin will find a new family among the rebels.

 

Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

In this sense, all the battles were between humans and machines, constructed by Taibai engineers and using slaved workforce. In my opinion, those moments guaranteed some excitement, but not enough to transform this show in a great action anime.

Resultado de imagen para Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

For me, one of the weakest parts of this show was the sisters’ relationship. Ning always suffered because, even when she betrayed Ning, she received so much love. However, I have serious questions if, at any moment before the last episode, Ning really regretted her disloyalty. As the plot was displayed in the screen, I think that she suffered more about the consequences over herself and her separation from Zhao than for her sister’s feelings. In this same sense, the plot twisted, in episode 10, was quite illogical. [spoiler] Ning begged for and argued against her sister in order to they take part in the rebellion, but suddenly she chose Zhao and started to fight against Yin and the rebels. The only reason: she chose Zhao.

 The empress Cheng Long is a child and she inherited from her father the ambition to conquer the whole world. She followed his words as they were the only truth. Her tutors were apparently good people, who chose the wrong path. Only in episode 12, the girl will question her attitudes and decisions as ruler. However, as empress, Cheng Long was a feeble character. Her fight against the stepmother was pretty much ridiculous and meaningless. I can say the same about her little sister presence in the last episodes.

Why would a slave work as a loyal servant? Because he wants power, Zhao would answer. This was a valid choice until some point in the episodes 11 or 12. From that point, the events gave him the chance to understand that his power was a favor from the Empress and his condition would be always fragile and unstable. Nevertheless, he preferred worked than staying whit her friend, who abandoned her sister for him, with the excuse that he was constructing for all of them a brighter future. He allowed Ning to be tortured than questioning that decision. In other words, he was pretty much blinded by his own ambitions. In that sense, Zhao is more stubborn (and thoughtless) than the young empress, who questioned sooner if her decisions were right and felt her evilness behind her own actions.

Resultado de imagen para Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

There were too many rebels to be presented if we consider the available time. 13 episodes were short to present all of them properly. If the producers had cut some flashbacks, some scenes between the sisters Fu and other useless moments, maybe we could have some more interesting plot. There was potential for it here.

In short word, it was a very average anime. There is no reason to recommend it, but it wasn’t a terrible way to spend some time, especially when I was too tired and wanted an easy entertainment to help me relax. However, after the beautiful and touching Violet Evergarden, this one became one more action anime among many of them.

My score: 6/10

Action · Adventure · Anime · Crunchyroll · Historical (Japanese History) · Travel Time

Bakumatsu (review)

BakumatsuBakumatsu is an anime about the consequences of changing the (real) flow of time and how power can take away the best part of good people. It’s also about learning from the mistakes and don’t repeat them again. We can see it in the relationship between the disciples Katsura, Shinsaku, and the master Shouin (Mugensai).

 

 

 

Shinsaku TakasugiKogorou KatsuraShouin Yoshida

 

Note: Bakumatsu refers to the final years of the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogunate ended (from 1810 to 1867)*.

More importantly, the anime talks about a crucial moment in Japanese history. While describing in a fictional form about Meiji Restauration (1866 to 1869), the anime present some important historical characters as the protagonists.

Ryouma  Sakamoto

 

Takasugi Shinsaku and his fellow Katsura Kogoro were relevant names in this period and they fought in favor of Meiji Restauration. This period begins, at the moment a part of Japanese aristocracy realizes the need to “modernizer” their country, as Ryuyma Sakamoto explains in a flashback.

 

In the anime, the main strategy to create “an interesting world” is the assimilation of military strategy from western. This is pretty clear with Mugensai presence. However, other characters mentioned an alternative plan, it was the strengthing of Emperor authority. We can see the way in which the Emperor is all time confined in his room and his communication with the external world occurs indirectly by letters and thanks to his spies. However, the anime only suggest the secondary effect of that plan: the weakening of the samurai system. This is the disappearance of samurais, as one of the consequences of Japanese commercial opening to western culture. It occurred because the Emperor needed to concentrate real power in his hands, including military force. Another reason is the necessity of “modernizing” the strategy, weapon, and structure of the military.

Yoshinobu TokugawaIn this context, Yoshinobu Tokugawa also was a real person. He was the last lead of shogunate to resist and, at the end of some conflicts, he transferred his military power to the emperor. This fact we don’t see in the anime since it ends in the middle of the process of dismantling of the samurai system. Hijikata, a member of el Shinsengumi (a paramilitary-police force located in Kyoto), will fight against those changes in the second season, as the last minutes suggested.

As for anime, Bakumatsu is weak. This is why the series got 5.82/10 in myanimelist and 2.157/10 from animeplanet.

The animation wasn’t anything remarkable. The soundtrack hasn’t anything to highlight.

Toshizou Hijikata

 

About the construction of characters, I think there was any significant development. All of them started and finished the series on the same page. The exception is Hijikata, who realized the unhappy future of shogunate and, possibly, will take the place of Mugensai as the villain of the next season in order to save his own perspective of future.

 

For a hero, Shinsaku is really stupid. However, I really liked the last episodes when he faced the truth about his master and had to decide on his own what was the best decision to create his “interesting world”. Katsura provided all good ideas for all plans in this anime. All the other characters had – more or less – only figurative presence. The Shinsengumi, Emperor, Seimei were there because they were part of the history (in a historical sense) but not because they really changed the facts. So, it was quite frustrating. The fights could have been more explored. They could have shown more about the suffering of Kyoto people under a despotic power. There were ideas, but none of them were displayed and, this is why the anime had a very plain plot. However, most of the questions reached a conclusion, so it wasn’t an illogical show.

For those reasons, my score is: 7/10

Anime · Friendship · Netflix · Romance · Slice of Life

Review: Shiki Oriori [or Flavors of Youth]

Shiki Oriori [or Flavors of Youth] is a Netflix original movie. This movie has 3 stories with different young protagonists. Also, the plot happens in different cities of China, as Shangai and Beijing. However, the audio is Japanese originally.

The first story is about a young guy, who remembers his past through the flavor of San Xian [is a type of rice noodle from the Yunnan Province, China]. So, makes that this story is the only one with some relation based on food. However, from the title, I expected that the food was a more important topic.

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Xiao Ming remembers the food, his school, the mornings he spent with his grandmother and his first love.

Now, living in a big city and alone, he comes to the conclusion that the machine made noodles are expensive and don’t taste as in his memories.

I think that everyone can be related to that. It is very common that one has a food from their childhood, which has a nostalgic flavor and brings lots of good (or bad) memories. For example, for my mom, it is eggs Until today she hates eggs because my grandmother determined that she should eat a lot of eggs during her childhood.

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The second story is about Yi Lin, a model who is struggling with her future while she carries the burden of taking care of her younger sister.

Here the main problem is “how does one should keep doing what is dear to them?” and “how is it to face the difficulties of making a dream come true?

Yi Lin will face the aging process difficulties. She realizes that she is not so young anymore and her future options are narrowing each day. What are our regrets and, most important than that, what are your motivation to keep enduring the difficulties of the path?

Additionally, this is a story is about Yi Lin and her sister, Lu Lu. Those who have siblings can tell how difficult it is to conciliate their dreams and, at the same time, to continue to support each other over the years.

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The last story is the most similar to “Your Name”. It is about Li Mo, Xiao Yu, and Pan, who are childhood friends. The focus is on the romantic relationship between Li Mo and Xiao Yu and how they have been separated for many years.

What I appreciated most wasn’t exactly the premise of the plot, but a minor part of it. Li Mo is an architect, who graduated from a good university. However, he is having trouble to find his vocation in his profession. After he went through his self-knowledge journey and the movie finishes, we can see that he is working with Pan in a small hotel. We can see that he started this business where he lived during his childhood with his friends. He rescued not only his families but friendship bounds. From that, we can observe that he looked happier and satisfied. Sometimes, restarting and recognizing our mistakes are not an easy decision, but our protagonist could make it. Can you make it too?

Conclusion:

In general, I had an entertaining moment watching this movie. As I commented, Flavors of Youth has some connections with “Your Name” style, mostly in the last story. Both movies had the same producer: Noritaka Kawaguchi. We can feel more similarities in the visual and in the use of the background sounds. However, I can see how they are different and Flavors of Youth has its own appeal to the public.

Score: 8.5/10

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