Monday, December 28, 2020

Palm Springs: Groundhog's Day with more Passengers

"It's gonna be a beautiful wedding!"

I have been looking forward to this movie for a while. The trailer was exceptionally cut and I was hooked. Plus, I'll always watch anything with Andy Samberg. Him plus Cristin Milioti? Sold.

The concept of time loop interests me, the chance of reliving the same day over and over again. At the start... it would be to anticipate what happens that day, to learn the routine. I'm extremely curious of pondering the what if, being able to remember the outcome for the next day. 

What Groundhog's Day did... was to put the main love interest as a constant, to start the day as the same, and hopefully change her with each version of the day. I found it too drastic the difference between what's shown as the "end of day" for her in earlier versions at the start compared to the canonical "end of day".

At the same time, it does not explore the loneliness that Phil feels, the kind that Bill Murray is really good at in Lost in Translation 10 years later. That's where the Passengers thoughts come in.

Chris Pratt's world does not repeat on a particular day, instead, it is full of emptiness in a futile situation. He's not able to predict the day, but... there's nothing to predict. He does the same things, a mundane repetition. The beauty of setting it in space also helps to give the audience a more direct translation of isolation. He pulls in another character to share the experience, and they're shown to enjoy each other's company. 

It however lacks a motivation for either character to do something... else. The Mcguffin is... oh boy.

The above two movies, completely different settings and storylines but sharing the same theme of repetition and loneliness.

Palm Springs does a great job of learning from the mistakes of both previous movies. The Mcguffin makes sense (for what it is) and they resolve it with a bang. The main events of the day gets covered in the first 5 mins with a lot of scenes left out. Hence, when it does repeat, the viewers get more context and additional scenes for the day.

Story is told from Milioti's perspective, with Samberg showing her the ropes of the day. It is a much tighter movie than Groundhog's Day as a result. In my opinion, the chemistry between Samberg and Milioti is much better than Pratt and Lawerence or Murray and MacDowell. This time as Milioti is in the time loop with Samberg, both have lots of character development and play off each other.

People have been calling Palm Springs a modern revised Groundhog's Day. That is absolutely correct. To me, I reckon it to a more refined and enjoyable Passengers.

Go watch it, is what I'm saying.

"It's gonna be a beautiful wedding!"


P.S. I also love that they threw in a quick 2 seconds of J.K. Simmons holding a whip and "lashing" out at Samberg. It's amazing.

P.P.S. Coincidentally, there's a video on YouTube on how if Passengers was rearranged it would be a much more interesting movie. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020


He sat in the car after driving 2 hours back at a Starbucks off the side of the highway.

Thoughts settled. He dialled up her phone.

The voice on the other end seemed despondent and confused.

"Why are you calling me?"

"I just got back, and wanted to talk to you."

There was silence, and then more silence and then the sobbing started.

"I promised I would call you when I got back."


"I didn't even know who this number was."

"I deleted you off my contacts list"





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Chapter 7: (夜的)第七章




愤怒 - 

失落 - 

开心 - 



我非常推荐Trevor Noah的Born a Crime。


    Racism teaches us that we are different because of the color of our skin. But because racism is stupid, it’s easily tricked. If you’re racist and you meet someone who doesn’t look like you, the fact that he can’t speak like you reinforces your racist preconceptions: He’s different, less intelligent. A brilliant scientist can come over the border from Mexico to live in America, but if he speaks in broken English, people say, “Eh, I don’t trust this guy.” 
    “But he’s a scientist.” 
    “In Mexican science, maybe. I don’t trust him.” 
    However, if the person who doesn’t look like you speaks like you, your brain short-circuits because your racism program has none of those instructions in the code. “Wait, wait,” your mind says, “the racism code says if he doesn’t look like me he isn’t like me, but the language code says if he speaks like me like me? Something is off here. I can’t figure this out.”






P.S. 希望写的中文还能看得明白

Saturday, June 27, 2020


Dear ____,

This is a letter that I want to send to you. 
I'm not sending it to you because I do not want to engage with you more, or make you feel anything otherwise. Your words when we last spoke on the park bench rings in my head like a bell, constantly ringing... ringing... ringing.

There was something I wanted to recommend you called "Modern Love" on Amazon Prime. I just find it written so... well, so real. I just don't know if you are into things like a romantic drama or not. Maybe you do and just put on a strong face for it. You're a mystery in that sense, always with the thriller and horror recommendations. The closest to a romantic comedy would be The Farewell. I'm glad to hear the Q&A with the director.

I'm writing this letter because I think about you more than I want to. With the world being a crazy place now... I find myself wondering how you are doing. Yet, the chats don't really amount to anything. In that case, why start the conversation at all.

Truth be told, everything is a selfish decision. I'm phasing you out of my life, so I don't think about you. This is an one sided decision.

I look at this as a failure, I'm a fighter for sure. Yet in something like this, I find myself unable to convince even myself why and how to fight. I can't convince myself that this is going to work. Those bells are ringing again. It was a sure 100% done deal... and then there's me.

Still, never expected us to connect in a the way that we did, the one thing I did think about was that I wasn't putting up a front, like there was no filter for me. That... was strange for me.

I remember when you found a new job, I was really happy. Even after I found out you essentially had an internal recommendation. Congratulations were in order. It wasn't until the final elevator lobby that I had the strongest sense of dread. Nevertheless, I held back.

I am suddenly... at a loss for words.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

This is... Halsey

If Selena's song was regret and loss, then today we are talking about anger, with a side of rage.

'Cross my heart, hope to die
To my lover, I'd never lie
He said "be true", I swear I'll try
In the end, it's him and I
He's out his head, I'm out my mind
We got that love, the crazy kind
I am his, and he is mine
In the end, it's him and I, him and I' - Him & I

This was released late 2017. The couple officially confirmed to be dating that September.
It was said for the song to evoke the myth of Bonnie and Clyde. While they say hindsight is 20/20, looking back at it, they certainly got it spot on.

Manic, Halsey's 3rd album released 17th Jan 2020.

It included singles released all the way back from 2018, "Without Me" and subsequent releases like "Graveyard". Curiously however, "Nightmare", the single released in May of 2019 was not included.

Collaborations galore throughout this album.

Today, we're talking about the last single that's released before the album drop:

You Should Be Sad - Halsey

'No, you're not half the man you think you are
And you can't fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs and cars
I'm so glad I never ever had a baby with you
Cause you can't love nothing unless there's something in it for you'

There's not much left to interpretation on how she feels about him.
This leads into the chorus:

'Oh, I feel so sorry, I feel so sad
I tried to help you, just made you mad
And I had no warning about who you are
I'm just glad I made it out without breaking down
And then ran so fucking far
That you would never ever touch me again
Won't see your alligator tears
Cause know I've had enough of them'

Everything is wrapped up in a country style, which I don't remember Halsey ever did. Of course the pantheon of country "Imma wreck his shit" genre that come to mind are "Before He Cheats" and "Picture to Burn". This is decidedly much darker.

'I'm gonna start this out by saying
I really meant well from the start
Take a broken man right in my hands
And then put back all his parts'

Compared to the previous song covered on this feature, it felt like the song was being sung to me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

This is... Selena Gomez

I love artists when they bear their heart and soul out.

The on and off, Ross and Rachel of the pop world, Justin and Selena.

'In time, ink lines
Bitches couldn't get on my incline
World tours, it's mine
Ten little letters on a big sign
Justin Bieber
You know I'mma hit 'em with the ether
Buns out, weiner
But I gotta keep an eye out for Selener' - Beauty and a Beat ft. Nicki Minaj.

That was Nicki Minaj rapping in a Justin song, no doubt it was well known that this was going on.
Subsequently, songs like "Sorry" and "What Do You Mean" are all reflections on what is happening at that point.

Selena did release songs.
Her album Revival in 2015 did not have any songs that addresses Justin specifically (maybe Same Old Love?).
She continued to release singles that are collaborations with other artists throughout the years.

Then in 2018, it was reported that they split in March.
6 months later, Justin and Hailey Baldwin obtained a marriage license.
Selena laid low for that year, one song "Back to You" from 13 Reasons Why.

She returned in 2019.
The first single off her 2020 album Rare, released October 23rd 2019...

Lose You To Love Me

'I gave my all and they all know it
Then you tore me down and now it's showing
In two months, you replaced us
Like it was easy
Made me think I deserved it
In the thick of healing, yeah'

In the making of video, she notes:
"I think it's cool to... see what music has been, cause I did this a year ago."

'To love love yeah
To love love yeah
To love yeah'

She released two songs that day, this one looking at the past.
The other called "Look At Her Now", spoke about strength, recovery, a rebirth.

'And now the chapter is closed and done
And now it's goodbye
It's goodbye for us'

These two songs represent a closing statement.
Everything that needed to be said, has been said.

Everything from here onwards, is the rest of Rare.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Farewell: a comedy?

This was spurred by a best friend of mine exclaiming to me that Awkwafina won the Best Actress by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. In his words... "Why is this film a comedy?!"

Let's ignore the fact that the nominations are actually submitted, and hence could be "decided" (see also: gamed) for the maximum chances of winning.
Side note: going up against Saoirse (sur-sha) Ronan or Scarlett Johansson is daunting to say the least.

I have noted that out of the times that I've been to see this movie, there were scenes that elicit different emotions from the audience.

Minor spoilers
The funeral home scene to me stood out.

There was a juxtaposition between the end of the last scene, with the mother saying that they employed people who cry... straight cut to a woman crying extremely loud and tearful in front of a funeral in progress. Seemingly to showcase the absurdity of the situation.
People laughed.

People laughed at the family burning paper iPhones, credit cards, cash.
People laughed at the peeling of the fruits, the opening of the chip bags, the idea that ancestors can't peel themselves in their corporeal form.
(The directors' real grandfather btw)

Honestly, I was a little taken aback. I mean, I also chuckled at removing the petals from flowers to prevent thieves. I have done it myself, and honestly, didn't think too much of it. It was until I saw some people taking the flowers and food from a grave. They picked out the good looking stalks, and then walked to the entrance of the funeral home to add to their existing flower bouquet.
Those... were for sale of course.

I stopped my chuckle. This... well.

The Farewell is, to me... a drama written and shot like a comedy.
While what's on screen is comedic, the events that trigger your own emotions is... drama.
That's easier to digest for people, and for repeated viewings. Pulling punches if you will.
Still, I don't see the fault in that, the film provides an interesting premise, and delivers.
They are designed as an escape, an outlet.

I wrote more about this film here.

This quote keeps floating back to me:

"You think one's life belongs to oneself. But that's the difference between the East and the West.
In the East, a person's life is part of a whole. Family, Society."

I think perhaps then... the hardest part for me, is to juggle between the two worlds. To be selfish... and be okay with it.

I do hope you find a balance as well.

P.S. While we are on this dramedy train, Fleabag is a good recommendation as well, more Brit dry wit, less ancestors.

Sunday, January 5, 2020


Sat down at a somewhat busy food court. He spoke while picking at his food.

He liked her, but he knows it's not enough. Not for a lifetime, he likes her. She loves him.
It's different.

"It's been a while since we last spoke. I know it is a shitty thing to say, but I'm going ahead with wanting a divorce."

"Did you think it through?"

It sure seems like that question is asked every time we meet.

"Yes, yes I'm sure."

Seems like everything is cyclical. He shifted his weight on the seat, leaning forward.

"This will break her, that I am sure of it. She loves me with all of her heart. But I need to be better to her."

He looked me straight in the eye as he said it. He has convinced himself that this is the best course of action.

He went on about his plan, how it will supposed to be the least disruptive.

"All I'm saying is... they know. They know that something is not right. Hell, I ..."
"Just... talk it though"

"We'll get there."

"Yep... yep."