Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Take 42: Minari

 Tuesday: My "take" on a film.

Minari (2020)

"This is the movie we need right now." ~Los Angeles Times

Local theaters re-opened after a too-long pandemic shutdown and what better way for me to celebrate than to go see a movie written and directed by an alumnus, Lee Isaac Chung!

He graduated from the university three years before I stepped onto campus, but was already making a name for himself, and I met him when he returned to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award. What I remember most about our conversation was his kindness and encouragement.

I was over-the-moon excited when his recent film was nominated for six academy awards!!

It's a semi-autobiographical film portraying a Korean-American family that moves to a farm in Arkansas. Although the family has been in America for a while, they had been living in an urban area in California and now struggle to adjust to an almost isolated rural life.

At the beginning of the film, as the family drives on a highway past country landscapes, I recalled similar scenes viewed from my own family's station wagon during our many moves, and felt immediately drawn into the story. 

Minari is well-directed, well-shot, and has a superb cast. The characters are sometimes framed in close-ups, creating an intimate connection, and when the film ended I felt like I was walking away from loved ones.

Yuh-Jung Youn won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for this film. She portrays Soonja, the grandmother... a wonderful character. She's not like a so-called "real" grandma, according to her grandson David (Alan S. Kim). He insists she smells like Korea, and tells her...
Grandma, you're not a real grandma. 

What is a real grandma?

They bake cookies! They don't swear! They don't wear men's underwear!
In another scene, the grandmother plants minari (sometimes known as Korean watercress) near a stream and describes to David...
Minari is truly the best. It grows anywhere, like weeds. So anyone can pick and eat it. Rich or poor, anyone can enjoy it and be healthy. Minari can be put in kimchi, put in stew, put in soup. It can be medicine if you are sick. Minari is wonderful, wonderful!
The story moves at a slow but steady and purposeful pace with conflict arising from farming, marital, familial, cultural, health issues--life!--and, like the plant, the family needs to be hardy and resilient

Echoing Soonja's words, Minari is wonderful, wonderful!


Notes on content:
  • No sex or nudity.
  • No violence, but some injury-related blood is shown.
  • Infrequent mild profanity. No f-words, but a teen flashes a middle finger at an adult. An anatomical-correct word is used regarding a body part, as well as a slang term.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Reflecting on the 2021 A to Z Challenge

Reflections 2021 #atozchallenge

When I selected this year's theme--Movies reflect human needs--I kicked it into high gear and started binging on films... watching more than 50 in the six weeks prior to April. Some were new to me and some I re-watched to see if they fit certain topics. (Not all made the cut.)

I also went overboard with referencing films in my posts. I initially planned to include up to five movie suggestions each day, but most posts exceeded that, in fact, for the letter L (Love) I suggested 23 films! It's like I turned on a movie reference fire-hose and blasted away.

Some statistics for this year's April posts:
  • Number of movies I referenced in total during the challenge: 185
  • Of those 185, the number of movies I referenced for the first time on this blog: 96
  • Of the 50+ movies I watched in preparation for the challenge, 43 were from the public library (free!).
  • I forgot to keep track of how many I watched on streaming channels.
  • Number of movies I gleaned from reader comments: 79
    • (Readers mentioned more than 79 movies, but I made note of 44 I haven't seen, and 35 I want to see again.)

This was my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge and yet I still fell short of my goals. I did better at some things, and not so much in others. 

My biggest disappointment was having very little time to visit blogs. 

Here are the ones I visited consistently (although, sometimes I didn't leave a comment):

I didn't catch all the A to Z posts on the following blogs, but hope to return to read the ones I missed:

A big shout-out goes to Sue! We met through the A to Z Challenge several years ago and even though she hasn't participated the past couple years, she's continued to follow and comment on my posts. (She's also a screenwriter and loves movies. Her blog: Suzanne Blazier: A Movie for Every Mood.)

If you click on the Movies Referenced tab at the top of the page (or click here), you will find a tidy table I created listing all the movies I've referenced on this blog over the years including links to the posts where it's mentioned. 

There's also a page with the links to all my A to Z posts (the titles, linked to the post) found through a tab above, or click here.

I set a goal to be more consistent with writing My "Take" reviews (also found through a tab at the top of the page)... I already have one scheduled to post on Tuesday (May 11). I hope you'll check it out!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Movies reflect human needs: Zone...get out of it!

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

ThemeMovies reflect human needs...

Zone...get out of it!

Image from storyblocks.com

There is no growth in the comfort zone; there is no comfort in the growth zone. (*) 

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
We need to get out of our comfort zone and stretch our abilities. Transformation typically requires getting out of our zone.

So what holds us back? Very often it's fear -- fear of the unknown, fear of failure (or fear of success!), perhaps even being afraid of the effort it will take (similar to what might keep us from saying yes to opportunities). 

During Freshman orientation at the University of Utah, I followed a group of youngsters to the Fine Arts building. At 50 years of age, I was what they termed a "non-traditional" student, and I was waaay out of my comfort zone. 

As we walked, I saw a path that I was fairly certain led to the lot where my car was parked. It seemed like every ounce of my being screamed out to leave and go back home and knit socks (which I've never done, but it seemed more doable than going back to school!).

I wish I'd had a fantastic soundtrack playing in that moment...like Walter Mitty (more on that below)...when I made the conscious decision to turn away from the escape route and continue to my degree.
You are your only border -- throw yourself over it! (Hafiz, Persian poet)
Perhaps it's another form of a comfort zone, but it's nice to be able to choose when and where and how we stretch our boundaries. Sometimes, though, life has a way of kicking us out of our zone, but as discussed in Agency, we can choose to grow from the experience, or not.

Movies reflecting the need (although sometimes forced) to get out of the comfort zone...

  • In order to find his son, this serious clownfish must move beyond his worry-wart boundaries.
  • Due to his tendency to stutter, King George VI of England is not comfortable with public speaking, but he faces the challenge.
Klaus (2019)
  • A freeloading young man gets pushed out of his cushy environment when his father sends him to an inhospitable, frozen, island.
  • A timid romance writer is forced into dangerous situations in order to help her sister who's held hostage.
  • I absolutely love the scene where Walter (Ben Stiller), with the song Ground Control to Major Tom playing in his imagination, leaps out of his comfort zone and into a helicopter about to fly into a possible storm with an intoxicated pilot! My heart soars every time I watch that scene. (Found here.)
Selma (2014)
  • In order to bring about change, and to secure equal voting rights, a whole lot of people leave their comfort zone and join Martin Luther King, Jr. in a march from Selma, Alabama to the state's capital in Montgomery.
Uncle Buck (1989)
  • Watching his nieces and nephew and staying in the suburbs is not this bachelor's forte, but he agrees to do it anyway, to help his brother.
  • An "obsessive-compulsive neurotic" man willingly takes baby steps to stretch his boundaries.

What movie would you add? Do you find ways to stretch beyond your comfort zone? Have you experienced times when circumstances forced you out of your zone? (Did you grow from it?)

 *An online search shows this quote attributed to several people, so I'm not sure who originally said it.

(Note: The movies listed might not be completely family-friendly. See my "Movie Content" information on the blog's sidebar.)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Movies reflect human needs: Yes to opportunities.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

ThemeMovies reflect human needs...

Yes to opportunities.

Image from storyblocks.com

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. (Thomas Edison)
Hoooboy, I can relate to that. I've bemoaned opportunities lost, not usually because they looked like work, though, but because they looked like more work. I routinely feel overwhelmed because I allow myself to get bogged down in tasks, so, when opportunity knocks, I'm usually too tired to open the door.

I felt chagrin while watching The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). Based on a true story, Will Smith portrays  Chris Gardner, a man who despite being a single father, homeless, and financially struggling, accepts an offer for an unpaid internship that might lead to his dream job. Not convenient--at all!!--and a whole lot of work with no guarantee for the desired outcome. I felt painfully aware of my shortcomings as I watched him grab opportunity by the overall straps and run!

The times I managed to say yes to interesting ventures, it was after I reminded myself that opportunity is rarely convenient and that if I select only convenient opportunities, I will miss out on a lot. (I wrote about one such opportunity here, and shared one of the videos here and the other here.)

We need to say yes to life. Not yes to every request or invitation, but embrace the opportunities that pull at us, lights a spark within, or lines-up with our purpose.

In each of these films, the main character says yes to opportunity...

Last Holiday (2006)
Soul (2020)
Yes Man (2008)

How about you? Have you accepted opportunities? Have you missed some chances because it looked like work, or was inconvenient, or maybe didn't recognize it as an opportunity at the time? 

(Note: The movies listed might not be completely family-friendly. See my "Movie Content" information on the blog's sidebar.)