‘The Wailing’ and the horror of uncertainty


A police officer and his family. A shaman. A ghostly woman. A Japanese drifter. A priest. At the end of its 156-minute runtime, The Wailing puts its Rube Goldberg machine constructed with blood and violence and superstition into motion, sending its myriad forces spiraling into oblivion. It isn’t until these final minutes that the South Korean horror film tips its hand, layering mysteries and revelations one over another, subjecting its audience to the disorienting, oppressive horror of uncertainty.

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Not angry, just tired

Rumors around Disney’s Legend of Mulan swirled around the internet today via an anonymous blog post, claiming that writers Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin centered their spec script around a white European trader traveling through China. This is barely a week after Variety confirmed the film’s 2018 release date. Disney made a point to announce a global casting search for a Chinese actor to play Mulan (and since the post was published, Disney put the word out that it’s definitely looking to cast an Asian love interest). It’s worth noting that the blog post refers specifically to an early draft of the script, which was announced as being rewritten at the time of Variety’s post.

Though there’s been a recent spotlight and furor around Hollywood whitewashing roles of Asian characters, the trend is anything but new. In 1935, Anna Mae Wong lost out to German actor Luise Ranier in the film adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth. Maybe the most infamous example of yellowface is Mr. Yunioshi, played by Mickey Rooney in 1961 in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In fact, for the sake of brevity, here is a depressingly long, non-exhaustive list of yellowface used in American pop culture.

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How ‘The Low End Theory’ redefined my sense of cool

“Back in the days when I was a teenager/Before I had status and before I had a pager…”

I was 15 years old the first time I heard Q-Tip’s iconic opening lines on A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, following the pulsating rumble of that bass riff (sampling this very good Art Blakey joint). I didn’t listen to a lot of hip-hop before then, and what rapping I was exposed to was mostly relegated to a select handful of Eminem cuts, whatever Power 106 had on rotation from 2003 to 2006, and Linkin Park’s Meteora. I also loved Passin’ Me By by The Pharcyde.

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‘JUST SHUT THE F*** UP SOMETIMES’: A lesson from Kanye West to ‘Suicide Squad’

Halfway into my viewing of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, when the film seemed like it was actively defying me to pay attention to it, I was reminded of November 22, 2010, when Complex published a Kanye West cover story and a photo gallery, coinciding with the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, detailing West’s recording process and “Rap Camp,” a revolving door of rappers, producers, and songwriters. One of the photos in particular struck me:

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‘The Neon Demon’ drowns in a pool of its own narcissism

neon demon 1

“How much contempt does Nicolas Winding Refn have for women?”

This question comes to me maybe a quarter of the way into the Drive and Bronson director’s most recent film, The Neon Demon.

The horror/thriller follows Jesse, a 16-year-old California transplant played by Elle Fanning who aspires to break into Los Angeles’ modeling industry. Jesse’s youth and beauty quickly skyrocket her to the upper echelons of the fashion world, earning the admiration of respected photographers and designers, and the scorn of other models, most of whom are quickly aging out of their profession in their early 20s. All of these forces seek to somehow exploit Jesse’s talents, culminating in a scene where women — literally — eat each other alive.

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Hayao Miyazaki, or: the unexpected virtue of tedium

I took a feature writing class this past spring. It was a class I really enjoyed that challenged me and taught me a lot about myself as a writer.

One of our assignments early in the semester was to “draw your writing process.” It was totally open-ended and there were no wrong or right ways to go about it. The day it was due, I saw that everyone in my class had drawn these elaborate flow charts and graphs. They wrote paragraphs detailing their editing process and how they made decisions on what to write and how to write it.

I took a piece of printer paper and, with a #2 pencil, drew a comic about a stick figure sitting in bed with a computer doing nothing but typing.

I am terrible at process.

This might explain why, after seeing it the first time about a month ago, I’ve been struck by The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Read More

Natalie Prass, LARPing, and having to be a person

Nashville Scene

I wrote almost 1000 words on Natalie Prass’ self-titled album before deciding to scrap the entire post for various reasons.*

I don’t want to “review” Prass’ album. You can go and listen to it yourself. You should go listen to it yourself.

Instead, I want to talk about a specific aspect of Natalie Prass that I haven’t really been able to stop thinking about since I’ve listened to it. Read More