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Movie Meta: The Golden Child & Premonition - moonspinner
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moonspinner
Movie Meta: The Golden Child & Premonition
I wasn't able to watch any of the movies I had set my heart on last month. I wasn't able to watch any movie at the cinema at all. *sniffs* But there's always the DVD player and cable TV…

Talking about the latter, has anyone read Samurai Girl, the YA series of books by Carrie Asai? I first came across it when it aired on TV. Apparently ABC bought the rights to make the book series into a TV series. I thought the concept was interesting if a bit too cliché (Chosen One/Child of Prophecy Story #12899) and Western (evils of arranged marriage, etc) for a show called Samurai Girl. But I was able to enjoy it until I found out that this is one more victim of Hollywood's Delete-Minority-Character-Insert-White-Character modus operandi. In the book, Heaven's love interest and trainer is a hot young Japanese ninja called Hiro. In the film, he's been converted to a hot young White American 'ninja' called Jake.

As Tintin would put it:

!!$#@?!


It's almost amusing how I seem to look everywhere these days and find more and more reasons why the outrage over the Avatar casting isn't just a fan thing. Once again, I'm encouraging/imploring anyone who is even the slightest bit bothered by this pattern of behaviour in Hollywood to do something about it.


/takes a deep breath


Now, for more pleasant matters: the actual movie reviews.

Spoiler Alert!



The Golden Child (1986)

One of these days I'm going to learn how to create video clips from DVDs. But in the meanwhile, does anyone remember that scene in the Golden Child where Kee (a.k.a. the Ninja Chick) dies? It's just after Numspa (a.k.a. the Dark Lord) and his demons attack Chandler (a.k.a. the Chosen One) for the Dagger (of Destiny). Numspa is readying the bow to shoot at Chandler (who is just standing there), Kee runs past Numspa then does this high-speed, perfectly timed cart-wheeling run that lands her right in front of Chandler a split-second before the arrow that was meant for his body passes through her. It's an extremely cool scene from an extraordinarily cool movie (one of my all-time favorites) but even as a child, I always went a little cross-eyed at that scene. She runs past Numspa to sacrifice herself and there's no logical reason for it! She could have knocked the bow out of his hands or shoved him so that he mis-fired. But instead she kills herself. Why? What made her think for one moment that Numspa won't have simply notched another arrow and shot Chandler after she died and left him without protection? ::face-palm::


Premonition (2007)

While watching this movie last week, it struck me just how flogged out and tired the whole (what I like to call) Twilight Zone genre is becoming. By Twilight Zone genre I mean the paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy time-travelling-with-a-twist phenomena-of-cause-and-effect genre. You know: Minority Report; A Scanner Darkly; Prestige; the Lake House… Or perhaps it's just my age showing. I could predict pretty early on that unless the film makers broke their own rules, Linda's husband was going to die regardless of what she did and Linda was going to cause his death. They didn't, by the way and that was nice. But they still 'cheated' with the scars of Linda's daughter's face which should have been evident pretty early in the movie; and they 'cheated' with Linda getting committed by her mother because she couldn't remember how her daughter got injured – which she ought to have. But continuity goofs aside, I enjoyed this film. I liked it less for the paranormal themes and more for the themes of family and love and faith. It's a tragedy of a story because Jim dies in the end. But there's a victory there as well when he decides – before the accident – not to cheat on his family. There's a victory in Linda finding it in her heart to forgive him before she even knows his decision, especially after she goes through a stage where she is convinced that he deserves to die. But what really sent the goosebumps crawling up and down my spine (in a good way) was when Linda goes to the Church. There the priest talks to her about the Fate of the Faithless: without faith a person's soul is an empty vessel that is vulnerable to evil spirits - spirits who can curse them with self-fulfilling prophetic visions. It's so rare to see Christianity portrayed in a positive light in mainstream movies that I nearly fell out of the sofa when I realized what was happening. (I always cringe a little when I see a Church or a priest come on scene because you just know it's a toss up between religion being played as a joke or being evil). But even better was the fact that though I have no idea if it's authentic dogma, the conceptof the Fate of the Faithless was sheer genius and fitted perfectly into the movie both in terms of theme and plot: it gave an explanation for Linda's time-walking but still kept it a mystery.

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Comments
laariii From: laariii Date: January 6th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
"Heaven's love interest and trainer is a hot young Japanese ninja called Hiro. In the film, he's been converted to a hot young White American 'ninja' called Jake."

That sentence alone makes me shudder.
Why on earth would they do that? Surely the "Harold and Kumar" movies showed that audiences are willing to watch main characters that are non-white. Reminds me of how in " The Last Mohicans" the love story was mixed around so that Cora was in love with a white man instead of an Native American.

I was reading the notes of Jane Eyre the other day and Bertha's mother is identified as a Creole indicating that C. Bronte imagined her as someone of mixed race. Not much of a compliment considering that Bertha is insane but its interesting that in the film and TV adaptions she is played by a white woman.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: January 6th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Surely the "Harold and Kumar" movies showed that audiences are willing to watch main characters that are non-white.

I'm really relieved to read this because, not being American, I have started wondering if there isn't empirical evidence that Hollywood's bigoted modus operandi is encouraged by the White American populace.

Reminds me of how in " The Last Mohicans" the love story was mixed around so that Cora was in love with a white man instead of an Native American.

::facepalm::

I was reading the notes of Jane Eyre the other day and Bertha's mother is identified as a Creole indicating that C. Bronte imagined her as someone of mixed race. Not much of a compliment considering that Bertha is insane but its interesting that in the film and TV adaptions she is played by a white woman.

::shudders:: Both are equally bad, if you ask me. Of course the half-White woman would be crazy - inherited madness, if I remember the story correctly. ::rolls eyes::
sunlit_music From: sunlit_music Date: January 6th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
In the film, he's been converted to a hot young White American 'ninja' called Jake.

Good grief. Why does Hollywood feel the need to turn non white characters into white characters? It's offensive and it implies that people only care about seeing white characters on screen.

It is interesting how Premonition portrays religion in a positive manner without overdoing it. I have seen movies portray Christianity in a positive light before - but they tend to be old movies.

There's a victory in Linda finding it in her heart to forgive him before she even knows his decision, especially after she goes through a stage where she is convinced that he deserves to die.

I like how Linda finds it in her to forgive her father. In some (not all) Christian books and comics there is an emphasis on lack of forgiveness, punishment and people going to hell. So when I find Christian works (like LoTR and the Narnia books) that are truly Christian (by recommending forgiveness), I do find it moving. I'm not a Christian anymore, but works that advocate the true spirit of Christianity (like forgiveness and mercy) do impress me.

I have no idea if it's authentic dogma

As a former Protestant, I don't think the Faith of the Faithless is part of Protestant dogma (can't speak for the other Christian denominations out there).

There the priest talks to her about the Fate of the Faithless: without faith a person's soul is an empty vessel that is vulnerable to evil spirits - spirits who can curse them with self-fulfilling prophetic visions.

Hm...was the priest referring to general faith (faith in people, doing the right thing) or was he referring to faith in God?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: January 6th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good grief. Why does Hollywood feel the need to turn non white characters into white characters? It's offensive and it implies that people only care about seeing white characters on screen.

*sigh*

I have seen movies portray Christianity in a positive light before - but they tend to be old movies.

That's what I meant - I should have specified modern mainstream films in the meta. It isn't really "fashionable" in film-making these days to seriously include religious themes.


Hm...was the priest referring to general faith (faith in people, doing the right thing) or was he referring to faith in God?

I think it's something that can be read either way. The priest first tells Linda that she hasn't been coming to Church in a long while (implying that she is a lapsed Catholic), but he also asks her to find the most important thing in her life and have faith in it. And that is also remarkable from a modern movie perspective - there's no heavy authorial voice clarifying that the priest does not mean Christian faith in order to make the movie more secular.


In some (not all) Christian books and comics there is an emphasis on lack of forgiveness, punishment and people going to hell. So when I find Christian works (like LoTR and the Narnia books) that are truly Christian (by recommending forgiveness), I do find it moving. I'm not a Christian anymore, but works that advocate the true spirit of Christianity (like forgiveness and mercy) do impress me.

It's a grim state of affairs that comes from Christianity - which is not an easy lifestyle choice - being adapted to fit into human nature. It's supposed to be the other way around. So because it's human nature to seek revenge, to be trained by fear, etc, etc, there is an emphasis on vengeance and punishment and death, sometimes to such extremes that they completely contradict both the spirit and the letter of Christianity. So yes, it's always refreshing to read something like Narnia which reminds us what it's really all about.

(On an aside, this is one of the problems I've had with Rowling's statement that her faith as a Christian "gives away the story" of Harry Potter. There is a great emphasis on the themes of courage, brave deeds and grand gestures in the Potter books; but there is very little emphasis on the more spiritual themes of compassion, reconciliation and mercy.)


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