The Farewell

Last night I went and saw The Farewell. Pre show, the woman working at the theater told us how difficult it was for Lulu Wang to get people to produce her film. But it was a story she desperately wanted to tell. When she finally did find producers, she wanted people to understand that The Farewell isn’t a “Chinese movie,” but it also isn’t an “American movie.” At first, it’s hard to imagine what exactly that means, but after watching this film, I get it.
Yes, there are subtitles. And majority of the movie takes place in China. But it truly was not a “Chinese movie.”
We follow a woman, Billi, who is based off the director. She is a Chinese-American who has grown up in New York since she was 6. When her beloved Grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she goes back to China.
To me, it didn’t so much as feel like a story about a dying Grandmother, as a story about an American woman trying to understand Chinese culture.
The main conflict of the story is in the very long standing tradition of family members not telling their elders that they are dying. In essence, to allow them to die in peace, and for the family to bear the emotional burden. Billi struggles to understand this concept.
The film takes us through various other customs and traditions of Chinese people. While disappointing to hear some of my fellow viewers laugh at the ridiculousness of some of these traditions, for instance a scene in which the whole family goes to Grandpas grave to pay their respects. If you don’t know the process, it is vastly different than how most Americans pay respect at graves..
It is a movie about Chinese customs and life, seen through the eyes of an American. Billi encounters various locals who excitedly ask her about America, if it’s as amazing as they’d always heard. As an American, it is interesting to see how other countries still see America as being such a land of opportunity and freedom.
In a time when Asians are finally starting to get their time in the light, I think this movie was perfect. It wasn’t a “Chinese movie,” but it also wasn’t an “American movie.”
And I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand some of the longer standing customs and traditions of another culture.

On the Basis of Sex

So amazing. The sheer adversity, this tiny, vicious tiger of a woman, climbed mountains for her cause. And honestly, she had the most wonderful and supportive husband. She supported him, and herself both thru law school when he was diagnosed with cancer. And he supported and whole heartedly believed in her thru her career. And given a 5% chance of survival, he fought. He lived on for decades to support her, and was able to finally see her be appointed a Supreme Court Justice.
I fully admit, I have a hard time following politics, but i know human rights. And in this time, when it feels like our nation is falling apart, how can it not bring feelings of hope to know there are people in it like Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Where being Female, and being Asian feel more like a status than a truth, she fought for a change in the precident. And won.
Her life is too extraordinary. This film was just a snapshot. The beginning. Like the prequel to a most relevant and real Superhero.
(…and I teared up a little at the end…)

Three Identical Strangers

What an absolutely, absolutely facinating movie! What a roller coaster ride. The story of triplets, separated at birth, and adopted to 3 different families. And how they found eachother, almost fantastically.
But more than that, it is a movie that delves deep into the psychological aspects of adoption. The age old question of Nature vs. Nurture. And even the aspects of psychological disorder among adoptees. Separation issues, depression, etc.
But the deepest issue of all, how morally and ethically wrong, and Effed up psychology studies were half a century ago. The lengths we would go to just to better understand ourselves.

This might be boring for some, but this documentary was my cup of tea, and a biscuit on the side. Psychology, and Adoption, and the Psychology of Adoption..

Leave no Trace

Finally watched this one.
A father and daughter living in Forest Park, near Portland, Oregon. Filmed in various locations around Oregon itself.
Based on a book. The author admits to basing it on a real story. He’d read a newspaper article about a father and daughter found living in Forest Park. Another article came out saying they had been relocated to a farm, the father had work, and the daughter was to start middle school. Happy ending. But then a third article came out about how they had vanished. He never heard anything more. And out of his own need to find this story’s resolution, he wrote My Abandonment, which was then made into the movie Leave No Trace..
But isnt that the most glorious motivation of a true writer? To seek out endings…