A Cure For Wellness (2017)

Greetings Loved ones! Liu is The Name, And Views Are My game.

When his superiors catch him stealing, ambitious banker William Lockhart is blackmailed into retrieving a colleague from a wellness center in Switzerland. The big shots explain that if the colleague in question, Mr. Pembroek, fails to take responsibility for the irregularities in their books, then not only will they be unable to perform a major merger, but they’ll all be up for criminal charges. So with no other options, Lockhart sets off for the Alps, eager to get back as soon as possible. But when he arrives at the wellness center, and begins interacting with the patients, he realizes that there’s something sinister going on, and that he might not be able to leave.

A Cure For Wellness is one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen. I can’t say that I love it, or even that I like it. But I do think that this movie is well-made, and that there is something very special about it. See, there are some films out there that, even if they aren’t critically or commercially successful, have unique qualities that make them ideal for cult status. These are movies like Demolition Man, Idiocracy, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Heathers. Maybe its their visual style, or unconventional narratives. Maybe its just how strange they are. Whatever the case, they stay in people’s minds, and are given life, long after they’ve left theaters. I truly believe that A Cure For Wellness is destined to be a cult film. Because even though its very long, even though it gets very surreal and disturbing towards the end, there is something hypnotic about it. This movie is 2 and a half hours long, and yet, for the entire runtime, I was never bored once. Something about it, and I couldn’t tell you what that thing was, kept me engaged. Maybe it was the gorgeous shots and camera movement. Maybe it was the exquisite costume and set design. Maybe it was the damn near perfect sound mixing, and eerie musical score. Whatever the case, that thing kept me hooked, and kind of makes me want to recommend this movie to you all. Kind of.

See, as fascinating as I think A Cure For Wellness is, there’s also a lot of things working against it. It’s very long, the main character is kind of a jerk, and there are several scenes in it that are extremely gross. At no less than three points in this movie, Lockhart is strapped down and tortured, and I honestly had to look away during those scenes. In addition to this, some of the film’s subject matter is highly disturbing. If you read my review for Mother, you know that I liked the movie, but was put off by its implications of incest and pedophilia. Well, in Mother they were just implications. In A Cure For Wellness, they are openly discussed facts,and they are two of the flick’s major themes. If that sort of thing bothers you, avoid this film like the plague.

And yet, in spite of all that, A Cure For Wellness’s exquisite production design, and odd-ball charm make it stand out. So, in a way, I would recommend it. If you want to watch something original, and off-kilter, give this flick a look. But go in knowing that what you’re watching is weird and messed up.

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The Hateful Eight

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu is the Name, And Views Are My Game.

Have you ever been to a murder mystery party before? In case you haven’t, it’s when you and your friends get together, and are given a scenario; “We are these people, at the so and so mansion, for this reason.” Each person is assigned a character, and then gets told that there’s a killer in their midst. You spend the rest of the game trying to figure out who said killer is, hopefully before he or she gets to you. It’s silly, but very fun, and gives people the chance to get creative and show off their improv chops. Plus, who doesn’t love hanging out with their friends?

Now, imagine that you’re at a murder mystery party, but things are a little different. You don’t know anyone there, and when you do get to know them, you realize that they’re all bigots, rapists, and murderers. There’s no fun involved with the discovery of the killer, only necessity and petty jealousy. On top of that, certain people keep repeating the same lines over and over again, and it’s really starting to grate on your nerves. If you can imagine what that party would be like, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect with The Hateful Eight, the latest film from writer-director Quentin Tarantino.

The story of two bounty hunters, Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russel, trying to bring a woman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, into hang, The Hateful Eight is a straightforward, contained thriller. 90% of the film takes place inside a single room, and, as with most Tarantino pictures, it synthesizes long, drawn-out scenes of dialogue with occasional outbursts of intense violence. Oh, and racial slurs. Lots and lots of racial slurs. I actually took the liberty of counting, and the n word is used 59 times in this movie. Yeah. 59 times. Look, I realize that Tarantino always uses that word in his films, and that his justification is that there was a lot of racism back in the 1800s, but, I’m sorry, there were other words in the English language back then. You don’t have to use it to such excess, Quentin. You’re not being edgy or provocative when you do so. You’re just coming off as an annoying little kid, screaming for attention.

But, I digress. Concerning the movie itself, I’m going to come right out and say that I didn’t like it. And before anyone says anything, it’s not because Tarantino directed it. I actually do like some of his films. I’ve seen Pulp Fiction many times, and I think Jackie Brown is enjoyable. However, ever since Kill Bill, his works have consistently managed to either enrage, or simply baffle me. And I think I can confidently say that The Hateful Eight is his worst film yet. For starters, certain things that you just expect to be good in a Quentin Tarantino movie, like the dialogue and the acting, aren’t good here. There are numerous scenes where characters will repeat themselves, like one where Kurt Russell says “You really only need to hang mean bastards, but mean bastards you need to hang,” and another where Walton Goggins asks Samuel Jackson three times in a row, “You have a letter from Abraham Lincoln?” There’s absolutely no reason to repeat the same lines over and over again. It just gets annoying. We heard you the first time, Quentin. Move on. And as for the acting, Tim Roth gives an atrociously over-the-top performance in this movie. Every now and then, like in the scene where he says, “the n***er in the stable has a letter from Abraham Lincoln?” his voice will get super high and cartoonish sounding. And while I’m aware that he actually is British in real life, there are points in this film where he sounds more like Nicolas Cage doing a parody of a British person.

So, the acting and the dialogue aren’t much to write home about. But what about the filmmaking? The cinematography? The music? Well, when promoting this film, Tarantino kept bringing up the fact that he was using ultra-wide, 70 mm lens cameras, like the ones they used on Lawrence of Arabia. Problem is, those lenses are more or less wasted in this picture, because, as I said before, 90% of the movie takes place inside a tiny room. Lawrence Of Arabia took place outside, in a gorgeous, rugged landscape, where the huge lenses helped capture the full scope and beauty of the environment. The Hateful Eight takes place in a cramped, dimly lit room. There’s absolutely no reason to be using these big, and expensive, lenses if all you’re going to do is stay inside one location. It honestly just comes off to me as Quentin Tarantino wanting to stroke his own ego by saying “hey! I’m just as great a filmmaker as Cecil B DeMille or David Lean! My shitty little western is on par with The Ten Commandments and Lawrence Of Arabia.” And lest you think I exaggerate with that statement, Tarantino also had the movie be over three hours long, decided to include an overture, and an intermission. That stuff hasn’t been used in movies since the 1960s. If that isn’t self-indulgent, I don’t know what is.

But by far the biggest problem I had with this movie were the characters. It’s not that they weren’t well-rounded or fleshed out. It’s just that they were all such complete and utter assholes, that I really didn’t care if they lived or died. I know that Tarantino likes to write about morally ambiguous, or even downright evil people, but, usually, he tries to give them some redeeming qualities. Samuel L Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction becomes a kinder, less violent person by the end of the movie, and Bruce Willis’s character, as selfish and proud as he is, does go back to save Ving Rhames. None of the characters in The Hateful Eight have redeeming qualities. Kurt Russell is a misogynist who repeatedly hits Jennifer Jason-Leigh, who is a racist and a murderer. Samuel L Jackson is a rapist, and a murderer. Bruce Dern is a genocidal bigot and, well, you get the idea. No one is worth caring about in this movie, and that’s sad. Why have we become so determined to not write kind, decent, or generous characters anymore? Why do we hate seeing good people in our entertainment? Hell, even Superman, the quintessential boy scout, has gotten turned into an asshole in recent years. Why, I ask you? Why?

But, yeah, as you can probably tell, I wasn’t a big fan of The Hateful Eight. It’s got everything you’d expect from a Quentin Tarantino joint, just not done very well. It’s a 5 out of 10, in my opinion. If you’re a fan of his, whatever. You’ll probably love this anyway. But if you want good quality entertainment, avoid this picture.

To The Nostalgia Critic, Regarding Your Video On White-Washing

While you do make some valid points about audiences being complacent with height washing (casting non Little People To Play Little People), and various other forms of impersonation, the crux of your video is both flawed and troubling, and I don’t believe that you are aware of this.

First of all, the title, “Is White-Washing Really Still A Thing?” Yes. It is still very much a thing. That’s why Gerard Butler got cast in Gods Of Egypt, Christian Bale got cast in Exodus: Gods And Kings, Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone got cast in The Last Airbender, and why Emma Stone got cast in Aloha. Hollywood, like you said, is a business looking to make money. And in their eyes, White actors, even character actors with no charisma, are more likely to bring in audiences than actors of color. White-washing is still very much a practice, done out of fear and unwillingness to try anything new, and when you frame the issue as a question, you make it sound like it isn’t a problem. You make it seem as though this is a topic for debate, which it is not. It’s a problem that needs to be solved. This kind of framing the issue as a question is what allowed people, for years, to say that “climate change isn’t real,” or that, “smoking is no more unhealthy than eating twinkies.” So, yes, White-Washing is real, and a problem, whether you want to believe that or not, and when you frame it as a question, you diminish its significance, and the opinions of those arguing against it.

Second, your claim that no one gets upset when White characters are played by actors of color just isn’t true. I don’t know where you were when Michael B Jordan was cast as the Human Torch, or when Quevenzhane Wallis was cast as Annie, but there was a lot of angry White backlash. People threatened to boycott the movies. They sent the actors and directors death threats. People went nuts. So, already, one of your major arguments, that people who hate White-Washing are somehow hypocritical because there’s no backlash when actors of color get White roles, has no substance to it.

Third, you say that people shouldn’t get upset over the White-Washing in Ghost In The Shell, because there have been numerous instances, as with Seven Samurai, Infernal Affairs, and OldBoy, where Asian films were remade with White actors, and no one got angry. What you fail to realize is that, in each of those cases, the stories were not quintessentially Japanese, or Chinese, or Korean. They were universal stories that could be told anywhere. OldBoy was actually an adaptation of a Japanese manga series, which, in turn, was a re-telling of the myth of Oedipus. Infernal Affairs was just a cop movie about two moles chasing each other. And Seven Samurai was a simple tale about a group of mercenaries being hired to protect a small town. None of those films requires a distinctly Asian backdrop or cast to be told.  Ghost In The Shell is different. It, along with Akira, was one of the first anime films to bridge the cultural gap between America and Japan. It contained many stylistic, thematic, and social elements that were new and unheard of in the States. There’s a reason why so many filmmakers–James Cameron in Avatar, The Wachowskis in The Matrix, Jonathan Mostow in Surrogates–were inspired by it, and sought to emulate its style and ideas; that style, those ideas, aren’t universal. Americans simply wouldn’t dream up stuff like that on their own. What made Ghost In The Shell unique was its distinctly Japanese look and feel. The futuristic Tokyo landscape, the themes of identity and technology going too far, and the rather bleak tone, all are byproducts of Japan’s post-war psychology. Of course Japanese people would write stories in which technology was frightening, they’d seen the horrors of modern technology first-hand in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course Japanese people would make movies dealing with a search for identity, they’d had their old way of life destroyed and reshaped by a foreign power (seriously, Douglas MacArthur wrote the new Japanese constitution ). Everything about Ghost In The Shell is Japanese. A live-action adaptation therefore requires a Japanese cast and crew.

Fourth, you employ the “slippery slope” argument for why people shouldn’t get upset over White Washing. If we actually give leading Asian roles to Asian actors, then, my god, we’ll have to give leading Gay and Disabled roles to Gay and Disabled actors too! What’s wrong with that? As both a Chinese-American, and a person who is physically disabled, I want my story to be told by people who have had the same, or at least similar, experiences to me. And, the truth is, there are so few roles written for Asian, Disabled, Transgender or any non-White, non-male actors, that your irrational fear that, somehow, we’ll have to come up with a person who’s had a sex change and become a lesbian is patently ridiculous. The “slippery slope” argument is always a bad one to use. It’s the same argument that was used to fight ratification of the 13th Amendment, “if we free the slaves, we’ll have to give women the vote,” and to fight desegregation in Brown V Board Of Education, “If we let Black students into our schools, then we’ll have to let disabled students in as well.” Do you really want to be remembered like those people, idiots who fought against progress and the inevitable?

Finally, you spend most of your video criticizing people who want more diversity in their entertainment for not taking a stand against height washing or other forms of impersonation. Yes, height washing, refusing to cast actually disabled actors, and various other practices are awful, and need to be addressed. But the assertion that we shouldn’t get angry over White-Washing, unless we get angry over everything, is beyond ridiculous. You sound like an NRA member saying, “Well, unless it can get rid of all murders and violent crimes, gun control shouldn’t be implemented,” or an idiot writing off the Black Lives matter movement with the statement that “all lives matter.” Yes, all lives matter. Yes, all groups deserve to be represented respectfully and accurately. But some groups have a greater need for representation, or for protection. Asians are virtually invisible in Hollywood, with less than 5% of leading roles going to them. Police brutality is disproportionally aimed at Blacks and Latinos. Saying that people shouldn’t get angry over something because there are other things to get angry over doesn’t achieve anything. We need to focus on each issue individually, work to change it as best we can, and then, when we’ve made progress, move on to the next issue.

I understand that you probably aren’t trying to sound racist, or dismissive, or any of the other things that you came off as in your video, but I felt it was necessary to point out the troubling nature of your arguments. As the type of person not being represented in the media, both racially and ability-wise, I don’t want the discussion surrounding me, or people like me, to be dictated by a guy who has no idea what he’s talking about. Because, this election year, especially, that’s happening a lot.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu is The Name, ANd Views Are My Game.

How often do you come across people who say “I want to be wrong?” Not very, I’ll bet. And yet, that was exactly what I kept saying to myself as soon as I heard that Netflix and The Weinstein Company were making a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. See, I might not have mentioned it here before but, Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon is my favorite film of all time. It’s not only the first movie I ever saw, but it’s also the movie that inspired me to want to make films. Seriously! As soon as I saw it, I went out and made a short movie “Crouching Lion, Hidden Eagle” with my parent’s cam quarter. And, keep in mind, I was only six at the time I did this. Any movie that can inspire a six year old to want to go out and make movies, when he doesn’t even know what a camera is yet, is fucking amazing! And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a huge critical and commercial success at the time of its release, taking home four Academy Awards, and, to this day, remains the highest grossing foreign language film in American history. Everything about it, from its direction, to its screenplay, to its cinematography and its score, were lauded. This was the film that made an international superstar out of Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, who went on to star in such acclaimed movies as Hero, House Of Flying Daggers, 2046, and Memoirs Of A Geisha. This was the picture that cemented director Ang Lee’s status as one of the all-time great filmmakers, and proved to Hollywood executives that, yes, non-English movies can make money, and are, in fact, worth producing.

This sequel, however–this sickening piece of filth that dares to carry the same name as the original, beloved masterpiece–is nothing but garbage. It is the total antithesis of everything the first film was, or stood for. Just to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, the original film was over three hours long, shot entirely in Mandarin, and was primarily a drama, but with fight scenes scattered throughout. The sequel, by contrast, is barely over an hour and a half long, shot entirely in English, and is just a series of fight sequences strung together by the loosest of plots. The original Crouching Tiger took its time before jumping into the action, with the first 20 minutes being devoted to character development and dialogue. The sequel barely waits 2 minutes before shoving us into one of many pointless, poorly shot, poorly edited fight scenes. The first film was done entirely in-camera, with actual people performing the stunts and choreography. The sequel has A LOT of CGI in it, and, half the time when you’re watching the movie, you can tell that those aren’t real people, backgrounds, or objects. I could go on forever, but I think you get the idea.

Now, to be fair, this sequel was doomed from the start. The original Crouching Tiger ended with all but one of the main characters dying. This, by itself, makes it very difficult for anyone to make a sequel without there being a huge shift in tone and style. Add to this the fact that the studios waited over 15 years to make the sequel, and you’ve got a project just begging to fail. Now, by itself, a delayed production and drastic shift in tone aren’t enough to doom a film. Aliens came out in 1986, a whole seven years after the release of Alien, and was an action film as opposed to a horror movie, and yet, it turned out to be great. But in that circumstance, you had a really talented group of filmmakers–James Cameron, Walter Hill–working behind the camera to make the movie the best that it could be. The sequel to Crouching Tiger, by contrast, lacks any such talented individuals on its crew. Just to give you an idea, the film’s director, Yuen Woo-Ping, isn’t even a director. He’s a fight choreographer. He gave us all the combat in The Matrix, Kill Bill, and the original Crouching Tiger, so we know that he’s good at getting people to punch, kick and strangle each other in an entertaining manner. But can he tell a good story? Can he create characters who are well-rounded, and that you want to see prevail? No, and no. Ang lee, the man behind the original Crouching Tiger, has one two Academy Awards for Best Director. He knows how to get good performances out of actors, and to build up worlds with subtlety and nuance. Yuen Woo-Ping is about as subtle as a bat to the head. Add to this the fact that the sequel was written by John Fusco–who penned such films as Thunderheart, The Forbidden Kingdom, and Spirit: Mustang Of The Cimarron–and you’ve got everything you need to know.

Guys, I’m going to make this very simple by stating that the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is absolute garbage. I award it a 0 out of 10! That’s right. I hate it more than Inglorious Bastards, the remake of Point Break, and 50 Shades Of Grey combined. DON’T WATCH IT!

In The Miso Soup (Book Review)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

How are you all this jolly January day? Are you comfortable? Are you warm? Are you snuggled up in bed with someone you love? If so, you might want to stop reading this review right now, because it’ll likely make you feel cold and empty inside. That’s certainly how I felt after I finished reading today’s novel. “What novel is that?” you ask. Why In The Miso Soup, a horror story from Japanese author Ryu Murakami.

Now, I’m just going to put it out there, I really, really, REALLY didn’t like this book. It’s dark, twisted, sexist, and thoroughly xenophobic. I feel that it’s my civic duty to warn you all about it. But, before I go any further, I feel I should provide some background.

So, for those of you who don’t know, the author of this book, Ryu Murakami, is fairly famous, or infamous, in his native Japan. His 1976 debut novel, Almost Transparent Blue, was a huge critical and commercial success, even winning that year’s Akutagawa Prize; the Japanese equivalent to the Pulitzer. It dealt with disillusionment, drug use, promiscuity, and the influence of Rock and Roll on young people. And even though it lacked a clear narrative, the book was praised for capturing the spirit of the time, and Murakami was hailed as a counterculture hero, and even likened to figures like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S Thompson.

As time went on, however, his writings grew consistently darker and less accessible. Novels like Piercing, Audition, Coin Locker Babies, and Popular Hits Of The Showa Era were either trashed by critics, or became lightning rods for controversy due to their extremely graphic violence and bizarre content. People also started to notice trends in his writing, like the fact that all the female characters in his books are either prostitutes, psycho, or both. In this respect, Murakami is not unlike the American comic book writer Frank Miller, who won tons of critical praise in the 70s and 80s for returning characters like Batman to their darker roots, but is now lambasted by most people for sexist portrayals of women, and excessive amounts of violence in his work.

But perhaps no single book encapsulates everything that Mr Murakami is, or was, than his 1997 novel, In The Miso Soup. It’s got sex. It’s got violence. It’s got characters whining about how messed up Japan is. It’s the story of Kenji, a 20-something Japanese man who takes foreigners on night tours through Tokyo’s red light district, and follows the same basic premise as the movie Collateral. There’s a guy who takes people to various places in the big city, no questions asked, one night he gets a client whom he finds suspicious, things start to get violent and crazy, and the story becomes one of survival, as the main character tries to get away from this dangerous individual. In the case of In The Miso Soup, the dangerous client is a fat American man named Frank, whom it is later revealed is a serial killer, occultist, rapist, and necrophile. How charming. And what makes this even worse is the fact that Frank, an absolute monster, is not the most disgusting character in the novel. See, you don’t really like Kenji, the main character and narrator, because it’s revealed early on in the book that he’s dating a 16-year-old girl. And while you could make the argument that he’s not a pedophile, because maybe the age of consent is different in Japan, he’s still really annoying and xenophobic. Every few pages he’ll stop and whine about how Japanese people are like robots, how, since the economic boom, they’ve lost all interest in things that are real, that they’re all lonely, walking corpses, blah, blah blah. He also talks about foreigners in a really condescending, bigoted manner. He says that the Chinese are stupid and dirty, that all Americans are naive, greedy assholes, and so on. He also uses the term gaijin, a fairly xenophobic slur, to refer to foreigners. (Sigh).

Look, I’ve read tons of books that are critical of America before, but none of them made me angry like this one. Maybe it’s because, more often than not, those other books are written BY AMERICANS. And even if they aren’t, like the last book I reviewed on this blog, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, they usually try to provide a more balanced portrayal of the US. The Reluctant Fundamentalist shows good Americans, and bad Americans. When you read it, you can tell that the author had actually visited, and maybe even lived in, the United States. In The Miso Soup doesn’t have any of that. Frank, a fat, sadistic, corpse-raping serial killer is the only American we get to see in the entire story. It’s clear when you read this book that Murakami has never visited the US, and doesn’t care who he offends. Looking back on this novel, I feel reminded of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu series from the 1920s, books that are so casually racist and ignorant of fact that its not even funny. The only different here is that it’s the Asian people stereotyping Whites, instead of the other way around.

All I can say is that, unless you want to read a book where every woman is either a prostitute or a bitch, the main character is a xenophobic pedophile, and the antagonist is the most vile and disgusting American stereotype imaginable, don’t buy this novel. It’s a 4 out of 10. I hated it, and feel ashamed for having read it. Be smarter than I was, and avoid it like the plague.

The Remake That I Will Not Call “Point Break”

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Before I begin the review today, I’d like to take a minute and tell you all about my Dad. He’s a fun guy, in every sense of the word. Not only is he kind, easy-going, and funny, he’s also adventurous, and the sort of person who likes to try everything once. He kayaks, hikes, and surfs, and even though he might not be “great” at any of those things, he always has fun doing them, and is always looking to try more challenging, athletic stuff.

Keeping this in mind, it seems quite natural that his favorite movie of all time should be the 1991 cult action film, Point Break. The story of a group of surfers who rob banks in order to fund their extreme lifestyle, the film is as fun, goofy, and free-spirited as my father, and has as much love for extreme sports as he does. It was one of the first movies I ever saw with him, and to this day, it holds a special place in both our hearts. That’s why, when we heard that they were re-making the beloved classic, we went to go see it together. When we emerged from the theater, however, we were anything but happy.

This movie is AWFUL! All the fun, the humor, and the color of the original film is lost. Imagine if someone went to Disneyland, looked around and said, “You know what would make this place a whole lot better? If someone made all the rides ten times bigger, turn them grey, and had them be identical to one another.” That’s essentially what this remake did, and I’m not just saying that. In a promotional video for the new film, the director said that “this movie has all the stuff you loved about the old Point Break, only bigger.” Well, the stunts in the movie are certainly bigger, but that doesn’t make the story interesting. They just feel like salt to cover up bland food. And, to be honest, they are all so big, and so similar to one another, that they kind of get boring. There are at least 5 times in this film where characters launch themselves off a cliff, and even though you know you should be frightened for them, you just aren’t. They’ve done it 10 times before, and on 10 times bigger scales, so why should you get invested?

But, as I said before, the biggest thing that this remake did wrong was lose the sense of fun. The original Point Break was set in California, and had a warm color palette, featuring tons of red, orange, and yellow. The characters joked with one another. The humor was light-hearted. The filmmakers recognized that the premise they were working with was pretty darn silly, and so didn’t take it seriously. There’s a point in the original film where the main character, undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah, is talking to the main antagonist, Bodi, about surfing. Bodi is spewing some quasi-philosophical crap about surfing bringing you into harmony with nature, and Utah jokes “You’re not going to start chanting, are you?” and Bodi winks and smiles and says, “Not yet.” Little moments like that let you know what kind of film you’re watching, a fun, dumb thrill ride that you shouldn’t take too seriously.

The new Point Break is the total antithesis of everything the original film stood for. First off, it’s set in Europe, instead of California. Secondly, it has a cool palette, as opposed to a warm one, with grey being the most prominent color in most scenes. And thirdly, and this is the worst part, it takes itself completely seriously. There isn’t a hint of irony anywhere when, at at least ten different points in this movie, the new Bodi sits down, and drones on in a monotone voice about how mankind is destroying nature, and how skydiving off of buildings somehow heals the Earth. The filmmakers don’t realize just how stupid they sound when they try to sell us on the idea that this surfer heist film somehow has something meaningful to say about life or religion. The original movie includes scenes where characters say things like, “Listen, you snot-nosed little shit, I was taking shrapnel in Khe Sanh, while you were crapping in your hands and wiping it on your face,” and “You’re a real blue-flame special, aren’t you, son? Young, dumb, and full of cum.” No film with that kind of dialogue can be taken seriously. How, filmmakers, do you not get that?

All I can say is that you shouldn’t go see this film. If you loved the original, you’re bound to be disappointed. If you’re just a fan of good filmmaking, don’t expect anything either, because this movie is poorly acted, poorly written, and contains many scenes that don’t make any sense. This abomination is an absolute 5 out of 10. If you want to see Point Break, watch the original. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT give the remake ANY money!

Wild Side

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

And it’s official–Joan Chen loves weird, sexually perverse stuff. Why else would she star in this god-awful erotic thriller?

Wait–that doesn’t make sense to you all? Well, all right then. I guess I’ll just have to start from the beginning.

So, for those of you who don’t know, Joan Chen is a Chinese-born American actress, screenwriter and director. She came to international prominence in the late 80s after she starred in the multi Oscar-winning movie, The Last Emperor. Even though parts for Asian women were–and to be perfectly honest, still are–extremely limited, her beauty and acting talent were enough to allow her to star in multiple acclaimed films and TV series–including David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, and most recently, the Netflix Original Series, Marco Polo. I’m a big fan of hers–I’m a fan of any Asian actor who manages to make it in racist Hollywood–but as I watched more and more of her films, I started to notice a certain…motif in her work. That being that all her projects feature graphic and/or bizarre sexual content. The Last Emperor has several orgies, and some weird lesbian foot scenes between her and this woman who’s supposed to be her cousin. Lust, Caution was banned in several countries because of all its sex scenes, including one where Tony Leung practically rapes Tang Wei. And Twin Peaks: well, Twin Peaks is directed by David Lynch. Enough said. I didn’t see the thematic connection between all these films until a friend of mine heard I was a fan of Miss Chen’s and recommended that I watch the 1998 erotic thriller, Wild Side, which she starred in. And then, oh lord, then I saw the light.

This movie is trashy in every sense of the word. It’s not just that its story is ludicrous, offensive and smutty–there’s heterosexual rape, homosexual rape, sex in airplanes, sex in bathrooms–when you learn about where it came from, you also can’t help but feel a little disgusted. It was written and directed by the late Donald Cammell and his wife China Kong–yes, before you ask, that is actually her name–who met and had an affair when the former was in his 40s and the latter was 14. Yes, I did just say 14. And as if that weren’t bad enough, I did some research, and found that, when Donald Cammell saw the finished cut of Wild Side, he thought it was so bad that he ended up committing suicide. That’s right. This movie was so horrible that it sickened the pedophile who wrote it to the point of killing himself. Now, before any of you get scared, I didn’t think it was THAT awful. Yes, it’s bad, but it’s not so bad that I feel like slitting my wrists. But what, you might be wondering, is this bad, but not THAT bad, movie about? Well, I’ll tell you.

Wild Side follows the trials and tribulations of Alex, a banker and part-time hooker from Long Beach. They never really give a reason for why she solicits sex when she has such a good-paying job, but, to be honest, you learn to stop questioning this film after a while. Anyway, the movie begins with her doing the deed with a client named Bruno, played by Christopher Walken. Bruno, it turns out, is a big-time money launderer hoping to upload a virus to her bank, and his driver, Tony, is an undercover cop looking to bring Bruno down. Tony blackmails Alex into sleeping with him, and helping him set up a sting. Alex tries to get help from the non-corrupt police, but finds that she can’t acquire protection unless she reveals how she and Tony met, and, thus, lose her job at the bank. It’s at this point, when Alex is at her absolute lowest, that Joan Chen, playing Bruno’s wife, Virginia, enters the picture. And, as much as I love Miss Chen, and believe that there should be more Asian characters in movies, I really didn’t think she was necessary to the plot of this film at all. She doesn’t actually do anything that’s vitally important–yes, her and Alex start having an affair in some of the most graphic lesbian scenes ever put to celluloid–but that affair could just as easily not have been in the movie. You could still have had a story about a woman being trapped in a bad situation without needing to throw in a gay romance. It just seemed like the director wanted to masturbate to two beautiful woman making out and touching each other, because there are several–rather long–scenes in this movie that don’t go anywhere, and that are just the two of them having sex. Now before anyone accuses me of being homophobic, I’d like to remind you all that one of my favorite shows right now is Sense8, a series that has several gay and transgender characters in it, as well as A LOT of gay sex. But there, the filmmakers establish, early on, what these characters’ sexual orientations and genders are–prior to Joan Chen’s appearance, Wild Side never gives any indication that Alex likes women–and the writers of Sense8 actually bothered to go into all the politics and nuances of identity and sexuality. They talk about homophobia. They talk about AIDS. They talk about PRIDE and the gay rights movement. They don’t just have two women kiss and hope that it’s shocking or stimulating enough to get audiences to want to buy their product. They actually treat gender and sexuality with the respect that they deserve.

And that, loved ones, is why Wild Side is so horrible. It doesn’t give it’s characters personalities. It just treats them as fleshy tokens to be exploited and drooled over. It tries to shock you into watching it by including controversial things, like rape, without actually addressing why these things are controversial and horrifying. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody, and am sad that Miss Chen decided to be a part of it. I’m just glad that she went on to do better things, and is still working to this day. As for this entry in her filmography, though, it’s a 5 out of 10. Don’t watch it.