Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Comic-Con Trailer

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To most people the batman vs superman trailer is awesome, epic, amazing, badass, cool, bad or ok. To me it’s mythic. The cinematography, the trailer music, the cast and crew, the symbolism and the source material is legendary. It’s like a dream come true and it resonates with my soul in a way that I cannot begin to describe.

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Few people will ever understand the way I see film but that trailer is one of the closest representations I can think of in regards to how I feel. Film will always be a part of my life and that trailer is everything. There just aren’t enough words to describe the beauty in such a masterful trailer. I am indeed inspired. This definitely has to be the greatest superhero trailer ever. My body is ready.

256 days to go.



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Lin Yang

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Grave of the Fireflies – War, Failure of a Society, Poverty and Peace Education

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(Spoilers below)

I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I’ve been watching a lot of emotionally powerful films recently by accident. I’ll read a spoiler-free article that’s praising a certain film and if it can persuade me to download the torrent then I will. This is how I stumbled upon Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli.

2I know in my previous post about Wolf Children that I said it left my in tears, but I will tell you, however, that the only film that has managed to render me absolutely inconsolable is this one, Grave of the Fireflies. Like you wouldn’t even be able to imagine how this movie destroyed my life after finishing it (slight exaggeration). I’m pretty sure I almost cried myself to sleep watching this one because I couldn’t get it out of my head. I think it’s absolutely brilliant and it will always be a special film to me, but I would never want to go through that kind of devastation again.  It’s so emotionally powerful that it truly does hit you right in the feels like no other animated film has. Not from Pixar, or any other anime or film that I can recall.

The film is set in the city of Kobe, Japan. The film tells the story of two siblings, Seita (older brother) and Setsuko (younger sister), and their desperate struggle to survive during the final months of the Second World War because both of their parents are victims of the war.

While I won’t be writing a review, I want to focus on what I enjoyed about the film and what it taught me. For me, Grave of the Fireflies encapsulated so much humanity and beauty that I’m certain, without a reasonable doubt, if you make it all the way to the end, it will make you a better person. I hope this is enough of an intro to make you watch this film.

3Now, if I were to explain what I loved and learnt from this film, I would have to spoil a MAJOR plot point, so either watch the film and come back to this article or read ahead. The film starts with Seita in a train station that’s about to die. He’s sitting against a pillar in a train station. His clothes are torn, his body is covered in dirt, his frail arms rest flimsily next to him, his face lifeless against his chest. “September 21, 1945… that was the night I died.” Due to this, it’s already assumed his little sister died before him because she’s no where to be found. The film then shows a flashback of Seita’s and Setsuko’s life that’s narrated by Seita’s spirit or ghost. It begins with, presumed, American warships bombing Kobe due to desperation to end the war. It destroys the town and leaves a majority of people dead, injured, homeless, starving, poor and so on.

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As the film progresses, you realise that Setsuko symbolises  childhood innocence and Seita symbolises nationalism. During the film, Setsuko begins unable to understand what’s happening during the war. Further through the film, you see how patriotism, nationalism, society and war corrupts and kills Setsuko, both literally and metaphorically.  I say he lost his sister to the shattering effects of war, because war didn’t kill Setsuko,  but the effect it had on people did. This film is often regarded as an anti-war film, but that’s an inaccurate generalisation. We don’t witness any battles or soldiers marching into the frontlines of combat. The film isn’t pro-Japan and doesn’t have any propaganda. The enemy flies above, but they’re not characterised in a villainous manner. War is a mere tool in this survival account, and the central theme here is how war temporarily changes who we are and how war is society’s failure to perform its most important duty to protect its own people. It blinds us from all things human. It turns us into cruel selfish beasts, unsympathetic to the desperate needs of others. This can be seen when Seita and Setsuko live with their distant Aunt who only exploits them for food and money. The kindness and compassion in human souls evaporate into thin air the second we are communally put in a situation where it’s every man for himself. For example, when Setsuko is malnourished and dying, no one is willing to sell their own nutritious food to the two children because the situation is every man for himself. Priorities eclipse our minds, and the fear of regret blocks our thoughts from the reality that we’re all in this together. It is only together, and with the help of one another, that we can all survive through our darkest chapters without being cursed with future guilt, shame, and remorse.

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After finishing the film, this is what the film taught me about tough times, helping others, being compassionate, caring and loving towards other people. This is specifically why I said the film made me into a better person afterwards.





Lin Yang

Orange Is The New Black Does Rape Right, Unlike Game of Thrones

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I’ve been a huge fan of Orange Is The New Black ever since it started two years ago. I was instantly hooked and I finished the first season in just 2 days. Just a few hours ago, I finished the third season and while it had its great moments, it was the worst out of the 3  because several plot-lines were introduced and then dropped without a real conclusion, and by the finale, I felt like the show didn’t go anywhere or move forward at all. However, one moment that resonated with me was episode 10, where Pennsatucky was raped by the prison Guard, Coates.

For a few episodes, the writers started developing a relationship between Pennsatucky and Coates while they’re assigned van duty. At the same time, they show flashbacks of Pennsatucky having sex with friends for gifts and her experiencing love for the first time. The episode ends with two back-to-back rape scenes: a flashback of a classmate forcing himself on Doggett at a house party, followed by CO Coates raping Doggett in the back of the van in the present day. Each time, the camera zooms in on Doggett’s face, focusing on her silent, defeated expression.

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Now that I think about it, I don’t know when rape became such a popular plot point to use on females in popular entertainment. There are a lot of manga’s, television shows, anime’s and films that use rape now. For example, Berserk, Hannibal, Mad Max: Fury Road, Orange Is The New Black and Game of Thrones. I should first state that I’m not against the use of rape as a plot point in popular entertainment, nor am I against it being used more than once. If written properly, it can be an effective tool for the writer to further develop a character and improve the story. But I think we can all agree that at this point, regardless of its intent, it’s overused. Criticisms of rape in popular media are equally abundant now that the topic of rape culture is creeping its way into mainstream awareness.

But we’re now past the point of think-pieces that ask, “Is rape overused as a plot device?” We already know; the answer is yes. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper and ask, “How can rape be portrayed sensibly? Does it need to be present at all? Can the writer write the scene another way, instead of using rape? What’s the purpose?”

The main problem here is that the predominantly male showrunners who are guilty of overusing this trope aren’t really giving this much consideration. The most relevant example I can provide is Game of Thrones, which used to be everyone’s favorite show, but is quickly falling out of favor, due to criticism for its gratuitous violence between both genders. Sansa’s rape, whatever the showrunners’ excuse for including it, was clearly meant to elicit a shocked reaction (which it did). In addition, the scene wasn’t really even about Sansa; as Ramsey pushes her down and forces himself on her, the camera pans away and focuses in on Theon’s pained reaction. And this is my main problem with the show. They don’t know how to write rape well.

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Game of Thrones is known for its gratuitous violence and is very unapologetic about it. The violence is used between both genders, and it’s equally disgusting for both. Indeed, one of the most baffling things about so many rape scenes in popular culture is that the people who scripted them felt qualified to do so, despite seemingly knowing nothing about rape except that it exists and it is bad. In short, anyone can write a rape scene—but should they? Chances are, the answer is no, and here’s the first reason why Game of Thrones get it wrong.

It’s simple. They don’t know what rape is. Take for example in season 4 when they filmed a rape scene without realising that it was a rape scene. After it aired, its director continued to insist that it was not rape, despite the female character saying “no” and “stop” while her assailant pushed her down, saying “I don’t care.” Instead, the director explained that the assault “becomes consensual by the end”—despite no clear verbal or physical indication of that—and that the coercion was actually a “turn-on” for the woman.

Furthermore, after reading an article, the series has courted controversy by depicting consensual encounters from the books as rape, twice — in the first season, Danerys’s marriage consummation with Khal Drogo; and again this season, when Jaime Lannister raped his sister Cersei beside the corpse of their son.

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Those changes are significant because, for the most part, the story around them stays the same. As the website that I read the information from wrote, “The Daenerys Targaryen [from the books] who falls in love with a man [Khal Drago] who granted her respect when no one else would is different from the Daenerys Targaryen who fell in love with her rapist [on the TV show].” To make Jaime a rapist transforms him from a morally gray but ultimately sympathetic figure to a monster — but a monster who, in the context of the show, continues to live the same life and evoke the same responses as the literary counterpart who’s still on the other side of that moral event horizon. Which leads neatly into my second reason for why Game of Thrones gets it wrong.

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Rape should not be sexy. This is a hard task to execute because most men in popular media look at women primarily through the lens of sexual attractiveness. Most men objectify the female characters that they’re watching, and most don’t realise it. It’s hard to admit, but women are exaggeratedly—and always—sexy. They’re sexy on the phone. Sexy on the job. Sexy fighting. Sexy tortured. Sexy dead. Sexy raped. I shouldn’t have to say this, but if a movie or TV show can’t visualize a woman in non-sexual terms even for the brief duration of a rape scene, it has no business depicting rape scenes. It’s a rape scene, and we’re not supposed to be aroused by it. We’re supposed to be turned off by it, reject it and hate the rapist afterwards.

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Furthermore, rape is not a shortcut to narrative substance. While rape is widely viewed as a very serious negative topic, there’s a tendency for writers to use it as a plot device for maturity, edginess or shock. One of the reasons that creators of media like to include rape in their work is specifically because it elicits strong feelings towards the viewer (story + rape = instant emotional reaction). Rape has been so overused and misused in Game of Thrones that adding yet another manipulative sexual assault to the world just to heighten the stakes of a story or have a very special episode is not just one of the most offensive things a writer can do, it is also one of the most boring. It’s just bad writing.

For example…

Rape acts in Game of Thrones the TV series (to date): 50

Rape victims in Game of Thrones (to date): 29

Rape acts in ASOIAF the book series (to date): 214

Rape victims in ASOIAF (to date): 117

The books contain over 4 times as much rape as the show

(http://io9.com/someone-has-done-a-statistical-analysis-of-rape-in-game-1707037159)

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When I first saw Sansa being raped near the end of season 5, I was instantly turned off and I rolled my eyes because there was yet another poorly written rape scene. My problem wasn’t that she WAS raped, but that Sansa had to suffer, again, to humanize Theon/ Reek. I questioned; Why use rape as a plot point? Can’t the writer write something else to humanize Theon? Why do they have to use rape? I asked these questions because in reality, millions of other bad things happen to women every day. So unless there is a highly specific and deeply considered reason to use rape, it’s better to not use it. And if rape is the only tool someone has in their bag for creating “complex” female characters, it’s time to get another bag. And finally, this leads me to my last point.

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Why use rape? Why not something else? Yes, there are stories about rape that are worth telling. But without extensive research into the problems, stereotypes, and struggles that rape survivors face—including what makes sexual assault different from other forms of violence—it’s too easy for fictional depictions to contribute to those issues rather than combat them. With so many other narrative tools out there, using sexual assault is almost always unnecessary. There are better ways to tell nearly any story, so why use the one that tends to be both the laziest and the most harmful?

To quote TV Tropes, “Take a good look at your story. Why do you think a rape is what you need for it to progress? Is there something else that could fill the same function? Unless you have a damn good reason to include rape in a story, you probably shouldn’t.”

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By contrast, here’s why the rape scene in Orange Is The New Black did the rape scene right, and Game of Thrones so far hasn’t. Simply, the rape scenes in Orange Is the New Black kept the focus and empathy on the victim. Whatever its intent, it wasn’t meant to shock. It wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t glorified. And the writers knew that they were writing about rape. This was written by a woman, for women. It may have fallen into the trap of using the trauma of rape to humanize a character (like it did for Theon/ Reek), especially as this season sees Doggett transition from a caricatured right wing Republican, Jesus loving conservative villain to a likeable character with an interesting context; but whichever lens you choose to view it through, it can’t be denied that the writing was conscious. That’s how rape should be written because that’s what rape is. Just think about it for a minute.

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Finally, who faces consequences for careless depictions of gendered violence? Game of Thrones remains one of the most-viewed shows on television, despite the controversy it creates with each new episode. In his defense of the story’s gratuitous depictions of rape, George R. R. Martin has said it’s “fundamentally dishonest” not to portray sexual violence, and that it’s “realistic” during the medieval time period. While that’s true and I applaud here’s the kicker—the viewers and readers are aware of sexual violence because you’ve written about it 214 times in the books and the television show has shown it 50 times already. Our parents taught us this fear when we were children. We live in fear of it every day. We don’t need to be reminded of that fear every time we watch TV, and it’s honestly callous for male writers to assume that showing teenagers getting raped in a sensationalized medieval fantasy show is doing anything for anti-rape advocacy.

TL;DR: Do not write a rape scene. While there are exceptions to this, everybody tends to think they are one of those exceptions, when more likely they are the reason the advice exists.


Lin Yang

Wolf Children – Struggle, Beauty, Humanity and Acceptance

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Every apartment is like its own little world inside… It’d be nice to have a home. A place where I belong… I could build a bookshelf, and once I filled it with books, what’s to stop me from building another? You just can’t put a price on freedom like that.

(Spoilers below)

I enjoy films for many reasons and one of them  is when a film teaches me something and touches me on a personal level. Wolf Children is a Japanese animated film directed by Mamoru Hosoda and it’s a very touching and beautiful little film that shows a single mother, named Hana, raising two children who happened to be human and werewolf hybrids. It showcases the trials and tribulations, struggle and joy that Hana goes through while raising her two children and has many themes and ideas about life and raising children. While the themes and ideas aren’t groundbreaking or shocking, its simple, yet sharp execution and grounded realism is what makes this film a gem and one of the best animated films of 2012.

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One of my biggest fears I had before watching this movie was how the fantasy elements would be handled and if it would balance well with the setting, as it’s set in the real world. Not only did the movie do an amazing job of balancing the fantasy element with the real world and most of all, it never felt sappy in any sort of way and how the director told this story was very believable.

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The plot elements were well grounded and I really enjoyed this heartfelt story about a mother raising her children. Everything from how the main protagonist and her lover met, the struggle that the protagonist is faced in order to take care of her children and the happiness she achieves as she overcomes each challenges were well structured and well focused. The movie followed the characters very well, giving them personality and did a great job of having you care for each character. This film carried a great message and has this “thank you” message for mothers everywhere.

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I loved the theme of perpetual acceptance that Hana showed towards her children and how that echoes towards today’s society where there is a level of intolerance towards people who are different, whether you’re black or gay. It’s very touching and definitely showed that parents should embrace differences in their children.

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Also, the film makes you care about Hana because she has so much on her plate. She’s a single mother who’s caring for two children that she doesn’t know how to raise. This is because when her children turn into wolves, they can still talk, but she doesn’t understand the animalistic side of them so she has to escape the city and live in a farm that’s far away from a judgmental society. So a definite theme of this film is keeping secrets and fearing judgment from a society. The children are afraid of being themselves around other people, being judged, bullied and having no social life because of it, so they have to pretend to be something else in order to blend in. This parallel between the wolf children and real life is emotional and effective because it’s something that everyone has experienced, especially during elementary and middle school.

The film has a lot of mundane, everyday life scenes, such as the mother learning how to be a farmer and failing a couple of times because she doesn’t know how to plant vegetables or take care of them properly. While there’s nothing epic about this, it’s simplicity was emotional to watch because you’re watching her struggle to provide for her children and I found that very heartwarming. All parents make sacrifices and struggle for their children, so it was great to see being shown in other ways. It definitely helped develop her character and make her more likable.

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The animation was great, vivid, colourful and detailed, and the director does not fail of presenting a beautiful world to the big screen. The character animations were good, but I really enjoyed the scenery. You’ll see the character go to this very rural area or go down this snowy slope and the animation for this scenery was simply beautiful. Also, for a film that has a cast of actors with no voice acting experience, I found the performances to be surprisingly good. They weren’t great, but did a great job and I have to give praise to the cast.

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Overall, this is a very wonderful animation movie and I will admit that I did not cry so hard in any other movie as much as I did during the ending credits.


TL;DR

I love film in all forms, some more than others, and animated films is definitely one of the top. This film literally moved me to tears while watching it. It’s filled with heartbreak and joy. Laughter and sorrow. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie and been so touched by it. If you love anime and movies, do yourself a favor and check it out. It might seem long, tedious and bland, but it is so well written and animated beautifully.



Lin Yang