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!