Friday, July 25, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent

Even though I'm somewhat late to the viewing party, I'm happy to report that I saw Maleficent for my birthday! In truth, I had no actual plans to see it -- seeing as: 1) I didn't relish the prospect of being a grown-ass woman watching a Disney movie; 2) I hate Disney "happily ever after" stories where the woman cannot be complete until she has the love and affection of the prince; 3) The reviews I read were somewhat dismal. When movie reviews weren't whining about the misuse of Angelina Jolie, they were whining about the somewhat bland plotline about (possible spoiler) taking care of Aurora.

Now, even with this in mind, I was curious to see what the fuss was about. Jolie can channel feminine darkness with strength, poise and a resilient sensibility which makes her character study quite intriguing. Plus, the idea of presenting a classic tale from the villain's perspective is brave and refreshing.

Without giving too much away, I have to say -- I loved it. Those expecting vicious revenge might be sorely disappointed, but it is a story about depth. Maleficent hides in the shadows, hating Aurora from afar for most of her childhood. But with the passage of time, one can see her hatred transform into annoyance, and annoyance into begrudging admiration, until we see that she is genuinely charmed by the girl. While the journey might feel uneventful for some, there is a truly vicious element to Maleficent -- a stoic, dark figure clad in black, almost reminiscent of an archetype with her spiraling horns and prominent red lips. But maybe one needs to appreciate Aurora's innocence in order to truly perceive Maleficent's villainy darkness.

Aurora's innocence and complete vulnerability induce both eerie horror at her fate and fascination at her openness. #scaredshitless

Overall, the movie is an exploration of the mother-daughter bond -- and even the good mother/bad mother complex. I especially liked how [highlight to see spoiler] It was Maleficent's kiss that woke Aurora from her slumber [/end spoiler]. A truly refreshing angle for true love. Also, the resolution for Maleficent's plight is well-deserved, and the King's angle is dark and interesting in its own right. In fact, whoever hoped for the formulaic approach of "good punishes bad" might consider keeping an open mind while enjoying the plot twists.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Mipsterz: Reclaiming the Fashion Statement

Muslim hipsters are the new talk of the town (Image from "Somewhere in America #MIPSTERZ")

Somewhat questionable hipster tag aside, I am fascinated by the concept of colorful hijabs and confident self-expression. Like a Bond martini, traditional notions of Muslim individuals have been shaken and stirred. According to this article on The Atlantic, these women have been universally attacked since the video went live, which is somewhat shocking. Women being shunned for asserting themselves confidently? How ever did that happen?

Sarcasm aside, I have much admiration for these women, who decided to embrace their way of life by being authentic to their own needs and desires. The stand-out concept here is empowerment. Recognizing your true desires and choosing to act on them takes courage, regardless of gender. But these women have flourished in the rebellion of self-expression.

Rabia Chaudry, an attorney and principal at a law firm specializing in immigration rights, has posted an apology letter for the raucous disapproval these women have experienced in the past few days. She states:
I’m sorry that in the span of a few minutes you were expected not just to express who you are, but who we all areevery single class of Muslimah, of every racial and socioeconomic background, dressed in the million ways we dress, doing the million things we do. I apologize that even though you may be from working-class backgrounds and be hard-working young ladies who have never been handed a thing in your life, you’re being accused of normalizing wealth and materialism by a college student, and people are taking it seriously.
-- Somewhere in the Internet, Muslim Women are being Shamed

I encourage you to read the rest of the letter. Asses have been kicked, and assertion has been served.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: Finale Speculation

I love How I Met Your Mother. I was a late-comer to the show (began watching it about 5 seasons in), but fell in love with it instantly, despite its occasional cheesiness. However, I've been on the fence about this last season because: 1) I hate what they've done to Robin's character (seriously. Wardrobe alone is a complete 180 to earlier Robin. Plus, her character has become unidimensional and redirected to mirror Barney's image. So much for strong female lead), and 2) The show's "comedy" has fizzed out over the seasons. Other reasons why I have distanced myself from the show include, but are not limited to: overindulgence of cheese, final season confined to one setting, and rushed plotlines.

However! I am a sentimental creature at heart, which is why I've been tracking the series via Television Without Pity, reading the recaps and watching a crucial episode or two. I've also been stalking the TWOP forums speculation and spoilers (but mostly for commentary), and the theory du jour seems to be the foreshadowed death of the Mother, as revealed by the most recent episode ("Vesuvius"). Now, I watched the episode and already elaborated my theory on Tumblr (holla), but any foreshadowed loss will most likely be Robin, because:

  1. "If You See Her, Say Hello" - The Bob Dylan song is significant. The show's writers mentioned in a spoiler thread that they would use a Dylan song "at a pivotal moment" of the series. After literally reading into the lyrics, I do think that the song underlines a foreshadowed loss... but, I think the loss involves Robin. She might not necessarilly die, as alternate fan theories have suggested. But they might have a falling out of some kind, as the lyrics suggest:

    We had a falling-out like lovers often will
    And to think of how she left that night it still brings me a chill
    And though our separation it pierced me to the heart
    She still lives inside of me we've never been apart.

    The falling out might not happen immediately after the wedding, or even while Ted meets and dates the mother (Ted's children are familiar with Aunt Robin, after all). However, it might imply a natural falling out between friends (Robin's journey takes her away to see the world), eventually distancing herself altogether from Ted. A crucial plot point of the series has been Ted's inability to let Robin go, and how remaining friends with her will not enable him to move forward. I think genuinely tries to let Robin go, for the sake of her happiness (again, referenced in the Dylan song: I always have respected her for doing what she did and getting free), but a part of him will always love Robin and consider her the love of his life, much like the Mother will always hold a place in her heart for Max, the other love of her life.
  2. "How I fell in love with Robin" - Let's be honest. As much as I love the Mother's character and the actress who plays her (brilliant Cristin Millioti!), a central point for this show has been Ted's undying, unrelenting love for Robin. As the popular maxim says: "Love does not die; it is transformed". I think Ted will always love Robin in some way, not necessarily romantic, but certainly idyllic. As a young man, she symbolizes the "what could have been" and, as an old man, she represents the fervent hope he experienced in his youth.

    Ted loves the Mother. He undoubtedly revels in finding her and cherishes every aspect of their journey together. But a part of him grasps at something he can never have, and struggles to keep alive in his stories. He felt unequivocal love for Robin and she led him to the love of his life. The man is telling us that he became the "perfect man" (for someone) because of her. His love for Robin transformed him into the man that could find the love of his life, and so she will forever be a part of him (To quote Dylan: She still lives inside of me we've never been apart).
  3. "How the Gang parted ways" - Supposing that Ted truly let go of Robin in sunrise and nothing else happened ever again (doubtful, but possible. There's not much space for waters to run deep in this show), the loss might involve natural distancing from friends. Marshall becomes a supreme court judge, Robin travels the world as a renowned journalist, Lily is devoted to Marshall and raises a son and Barney is, well Barney. They might get together occasionally, but their paths eventually diverge by natural circumstances. So Ted's nostalgia might very well be that of a loyal, caring man longing for the close friendships of his youth.
So! With only 3 episodes left until the finale, speculation will be in top shape... but the ending will most likely feature a happy Ted with his loving family. It is a 30-minute sitcom, afterall.

P.S. You can now follow us on Blog Lovin! Give momma some sugar! :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hooked on Foals

So I am absolutely addicted to the Foals. Now, I'm probably late for the party as I stumbled upon them by mere coincidence on Saturday night. However, I am utterly FASCINATED.

The Foals are magical (yes, magical). Flying puppies in space magical. They have that airy sound. Even though they have that ethereal quality that all indie bands have; however, there's a spark there that is all their own. After listening to their entire discography, I realized that there is no song I truly dislike. None.

You don’t have my number, we don’t need each other now
We don’t need the city, the creed or the culture now

That chorus, my friends, is catchy as shit. It should echo with the throes of hispterdom, and yet it doesn't feel hipster at all (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's just not my taste). It's all indie, all awesome. It is catchy and blares with a magical, enthralled buzz that reminds you of hopeful nights and city lights. It is the very definition of hopeful, joyfully-charged passion.

Foals - Miami

Now this song... it brings on the funk so subtly. Listen to that chorus, my friend! It reminds me of this classic. Foals translates that soulful funkiness into an airy indie riff without losing its original flavor. As much as I love the genre, indie reverb can sometimes feel painfully sterile. But Foals is somehow able to imbue every riff -- every beat -- with a mix of dynamic expectancy and cool demeanor.

TL;DR: listen to the Foals! If catchy beats and airy riffs are your cup of tea, then you are in for a treat.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dove = Fighter of Feminist Rights! And your female armpits have the right to be beautiful.

(Disclaimer: A satirical post)

Women of the world: REJOICE! For Dove -- champion of women's rights -- has struck up a new campaign to stand up for your armpits. Now, I was going to rant about the ridiculousness of the beauty obsession as conceived by mass consumption... Until I realized that I was viewing this issue all wrong. The quest for perfection isn't easy, and women have to stick together in this celebrating-our-body ordeal.

Of course, our bodies are not perfect.

Our hearts are in the right place, though. We want to love our bodies -- we really do. But its natural proclivity towards grossness always seems to get in the way. Take the armpit, for example. Did you know there are over 500,000 sweat glands there? And they produce sweat? Nasty sweat impregnating over your designer clothes (Gucci or Jacklyn Smith, it does not matter). It doesn't matter that sweat glands are an efficient cooling mechanism -- it's ridiculous to think one can love such a disgusting body part.

It's okay to feel anxious about this (But remember: not too much. It gets in the way of our happiness, which makes it completely unacceptable). However, never fear: Dove is here! Watching our backs (however hunched or imperfect they may be); considering our feelings so we don't have to. When I think of Dove, I think of a champion of women's rights. I think of a company simply committed to fixing our inherent bodily flaws. Now, our pesky, carefully systematic inner workings don't have to get in the way of our carefully crafted, socially-validated image of perfection. Dove simply presented us with an important question to consider in our quest for perfection: "How do we feel about our armpits? Do we even like them?" If you have no answers to the previous questions, then I'm sorry to say that you and your bedazzled body parts are missing out.

So, next time you stand in front of the mirror, take a good look at yourself. Let your gaze slowly wander all over your body. If you feel the anxious pull of your imperfections tugging at you -- STOP! Don't be fooled by the desire to reflect on the true meaning of self-improvement. Instead, let your feelings do the talking. Remember: Empowered body parts make a new world possible.

One less thing to worry about.