oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

shades of ray; andy suzuki

Shades of RayI just finished watching “Shades of Ray,” which turned out to be one of those movies I couldn’t even try to give an objective review of because it is about being a mixed race (South) Asian American. There are so few narratives (filmed or written) I’ve encountered that are consciously centered on mixed race Asians, which means that the minute I do find one, I’m smitten with the mere idea of it. That said, “Shades of Ray” did receive some critical acclaim at festivals, so maybe there isn’t pure self-indulgent fluff behind my two enthusiastic thumbs up.

The main character, Ray, is a half-Pakistani, half-white self-described “mutt.” (I remember my grandpa’s reaction when I labeled myself that in his presence at around nine years old. It was the one time he ever spoke to me in an angry tone of voice). Ray is in love with a white gal, Noelle, who doesn’t say yes right away when he proposes because she has to convince her parents to accept a non-white fiance. (Uh, why this was not a double red flag in the first place is unclear to me… his love is a bit too blind). In the meantime, Ray’s Pakistani dad thinks he made a mistake after three or so decades of marriage to Ray’s white mother, and is pushing Ray to find a “nice Pakistani girl.” Ray acquiesces to a blind (family) date with a woman his dad recommends in return for his dad making an effort to patch things up with his mother. Sana, the “nice Pakistani girl” turns out to be, in fact, half and half just like Ray. You can tell where this is going. Of course, it wouldn’t be feature length unless Ray was all conflicted about who he’s meant to be with.

Anyways, I loved “Shades.” (Spoiler alert) It indulges what could be a commonly held fantasy amongst mixed people like me that a deeper understanding and connection can be found with a mixed partner. “You get me. And I don’t even get myself half the time,” Ray says to Sana. Maybe fantasy is the wrong word. Hope?

One small thing that made me smile (granted, I was a smiling idiot the entire film) was the use of Priscilla Ahn’s “Are we different?” during a scene when Ray is talking to Sana. Ahn is half Korean, half white (I’ve blogged about her before on here). Did the film’s writer/director, Jaffar Mahmood, mixed like his protagonist, include Ahn on purpose? Yay, either way. (Another thing I liked: Fran Kranz, of Dollhouse, as Ray’s roommate).

Hearing Ahn prompted me to check my music blogs (I can’t kick this tendency to have two screens going–TV and computer). Via A-tunes.net, I read about Andy Suzuki, an unsigned talent who I’m happy to add to my list of hapa musicians to follow. Check out this utterly sincere video from his blog about the inspiration behind his song, “300 Pianos:”

There’s another video about Andy trying out for American Idol. Definitely interesting for anyone who ever wondered about the audition experience, as well as a testament to the fact that Idol has a minuscule quota for actual talent (ya ya, no shit, i know). Final note: Just putting it out there, but imho he’s a no-brainer for a Disgrasian Babewatch post… Disgrasian is my new favorite blog, by the way. Read about the bloggers behind it in Hyphen’s latest issue. Here’s my favorite post so far:

http://disgrasian.com/2010/02/best-of-craigslist-teach-me-how-to-kiss/

**end stream of not-s0-consciousness**

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c’mon Tina.

Sometimes I find myself investing a surprising amount of concentration on wanting something to be as good as it sounds, like those seasonal pumpkin chai rooibos earl grey vanilla spice concoctions advertised at Starbucks (which I rarely actually order unless I can figure out a way to indicate I want it without saying “rooibos”). One recent object of such focus was the trailer for Date Night, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Sadly, my willing-to-be-awesome powers had no impact, though I will say the one scene with James Franco and Mila Kunis made me laugh and hope that the two of them will collaborate on a comedy in the not too distant future.

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Leap Year a Load of Shit

Following up on Zy’s post bemoaning Amy Adams’s recent career moves, the media concensus is that Leap Year is notably awful.

In other news, I strongly recommend bento blogs as a nice little addition to your daily visual intake. Of course, I have a lot of love for Hapa Bento. Hapa Bento

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Why I wish I still loved Amy Adams.

So, it’s February rom-com preview season, and along with Valentine’s Day (subtle title–I guess they felt no other ploy was necessary) is an Amy Adams-Matthew Goode vehicle, Leap Year.  If you haven’t seen the previews, the whole plot (as indicated by the trailer) goes something like this: American gal decides that the “old Irish tradition” of allowing women to propose to their fiances on February 29 (really??) is a good reason to travel to Ireland, grab her conventionally good-looking polo shirt of a guy and do just that. During a harrowing flight, she resolves not to die without getting engaged, right before emergency-landing on the wrong side of the quaint little isle she’s chosen as the backdrop for her bridal fantasy. A local, accented, rugged (read: has stubble) Irishman is enlisted to drive to her to the right side of the island in time for her leap-day proposal. Road-trip hijinks and romance ensue. And guess who she ends up falling for? Seriously, GUESS.

There will be charming locals, troublesome livestock, electrical appliance failure, and…mud! Shrieking! Spirited pouting! YELP! I think I’m falling in love, but I have to tumble down a hill first! EEE!

I suppose it’s a bit passé to complain about a romantic comedy plot. After all, rom-coms are usually pretty cookie cutter–and at least the heroine doesn’t start out as a servant or assistant who gets rescued by a handsome boss. But it’s not the existence of this movie that bothers me so much as the fact that Amy Adams is in it. Even last year’s Julie and Julia was difficult to watch at times, mostly because of Adams. Whether by choice or direction, her Julie Powell was practically channeling Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, down to the flustered typing and self-pitying arm flailing. On a second viewing, I found myself wishing I could edit her out so that Streep could evoke Julia Child’s warbly good nature unimpeded.

What happened to Adams? Though she was never exactly a full-blown indie darling, and her earlier films had her playing wide-eyed innocents, she was using that innocence to good effect.  As a displaced princess in Enchantment, Adams’ goofy charm helped propel the plot. After all, who else would be believable as an animated Disney Princess gone astray? Who else could sing to rats as they helped her clean and make it hilarious? Let’s not forget Adams’ wounded nurse in Catch Me If You Can, and let’s especially not forget her as Ashley Johnsten in Junebug:

That movie was devastatingly beautiful because of Adams: her vulnerability, her curiosity, and her open-faced belief that her new sister-in-law Madeleine would be as enthusiastically receptive of her new family as Ashley felt. The fact that Ashley is attempting to make a connection with all the Johnstens is heartbreaking precisely because of her wide-eyed, childlike faith in the fact that if she just keeps talking, they will all love her back.

Now, a drama like Junebug and a rom-com like Leap Year are nowhere near each other in terms of scope and audience. One is a money-grab while the other is reaching for a prize. But I really wish that Adams’ mainstream success–not to mention that of other actresses–didn’t have to come at the expense of nuance and artistry. After all, we shouldn’t all have to pretend that we are flustered and out of control in order to get the recognition we want and deserve. Talent and desire should play a part, too.

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“Wolverine” in 140 characters or less

I have claws! Aaah! I’m a lumberjack and that’s OK! Will.i.am in a cowboy hat. Anger! Betrayal! Man, you’ll always be my bra. What happened?

wolverine-origins-fl

‘Nuff said.

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sex positivity

I was perusing Salon.com’s movie section today, and noticed a description of a movie entitled “Sex Positive.”

I haven’t see the film, and I’m sure it’s “important” and “fascinating” like reviewers say, but I’m kinda sad that the title, “Sex Positive,” got used for a documentary describing one man’s life–as opposed to a film exploring the concept of sex positivity, more generally. I mean, the title is relevant, for sure, seeing as the focus is on Robert Berkowitz, a “a onetime S/M hustler turned safe-sex evangelist.” But the idea of sex positivity encompasses much more than advocacy for safe sex practices.

For myself and feminist, twenty-something peers with whom I’ve discussed the topic, sex positivity is a vast and nuanced thing that informs our valuation of our bodies and our pleasure, as well as our politics. It is a paradigm within which we can situate both use of and critical engagement with porn, and it’s a foundation for advocacy for sex education that doesn’t delude itself with the detrimental fantasy that kids aren’t already sexually active or aware. Sex positivity gives us stores like Babeland, policies like over-the-counter access to emergency contraception, and honest articles like this one by Tracy Clark-Flory.

Anyways, I’ll probably see the movie and love it, but I’m hoping some filmmaker is adding “Make movie on contemporary sex positivity” to the to-do list.

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