CW: homophobic slurs.

i do think the topic of "good" and "bad" representation can be a valuable discussion, as much as spending my teenage years in the tumblr dark ages should have made me sick of it. it's like any other discussion of film analysis, in that it's very paradoxical. the same tropes can be applied in different contexts and go from horrific stereotype to character study. and does it even count as representation if it's being dealt out by a corporation crushing minority voices with its free hand? gray areas and differing perspectives are what makes these discussions interesting and kinetic.

anyways i just watched the boondock saints. didn't care much for the film itself. it's notoriously vapid, psuedo-tarantinian without the supporting infrastructure. but you'd think that the mere texture of cool would at least have some primal appeal. just goes to show that dope shit is a fine art.

my persisting obsession/morbid curiosity with the cine-masculine is why this movie initially ended up on my watchlist, but i have to confess that my immediate reason to watch it was because i found out willem dafoe was gay and cute in it. his character, paul smecker, is one of those weirdo detective-genius archetypes. this iteration is better than the rest because willy is better than the rest.


i watched the documentary overnight afterwards, about the troubled waters around the production of saints. the writer-director, troy duffy, is an egomaniac shithead that casually sprinkles his conversations with antisemitism. also the opening scene of saints has the protagonists beating up a strawman-feminist lesbian. my point is that i do not think this movie had much in the way of positive intent for LGBT representation. but i'm going to overanalyze the text anyways.

the actual gay thing is, like, fairly superfluous. it's only directly referenced in three scenes. the first two exist in irrelevant isolation (you could cut them and lose nothing), so the third seems like the only "reason" it was included as a trait at all. it involves smecker infiltrating the bad guy's mansion by disguising himself in drag, seducing the guy at the door, then kicking him in the dick when he tries to have sex with him. presumably it wouldn't make sense for a straight man to do this. perhaps i would consider this scene queerly subversive in a different, more intelligent film. (read: i think willem dafoe is SOO CUTE and he kisses another man WITH TONGUE)

it's not that this approach of having a cool guy that happens to be gay is inherently bad. but it kind of implicitly evokes that casual homophobe-ism of "it's ok if you're gay as long as it's not in my face." smecker's got his cute and fruity quirks throughout, but you have to wonder if the director would lend the same respect to a more "stereotypical" character. you get an answer in the other two scenes, which involve smecker calling other gay men "fags" and "fairy fucks," who gasp effeminately and scandalously. so funny, right? :|

i wanted to call this "badass gay guy" thing a trope (there's the "straight gay" entry on tvtropes?) but i think it's just recency bias from when i rewatched kiss kiss bang bang a couple months ago. val kilmer plays gay perry, another sardonic investigator and deuteragonist.

perry is a lesser albeit longtime entry in my canon of movie cuties. say what you will about the saint, but for a few blessed minutes it filled the intersection of one of the most important venn diagrams in the world: "gay val kilmer" and "long-haired val kilmer".

shane black, the writer-director, has also done some questionable shit, but it's worth noting that he said that perry was a deliberate attempt to "break tough-guy stereotypes... I don’t think I’ve ever seen the gay guy who kicks down the door, shoots everyone and bails your ass out before." so, as opposed to saints, this movie really thinks it's making a statement.

in this case, perry's gayness is brought up constantly. it's usually for comedy. it's certainly better than saints' rancidity, but this is certainly a movie from 2004. more activist forms of commentary include a few comedic-dramatic moments that involve perry directly taking advantage of people's homophobia, including a scene where he shoots a guy with a gun he was hiding in his crotch because "homophobes never check there."

i still think it's pretty funny sometimes.

my favorite sentiment, albeit a rudimentary one, passes through pretty quietly. harry, played by robert downey jr., is the protagonist, and he also acts as a surrogate for the cishet audience that doesn't know any gay people and is a bit weird about it. he's got a fun tsukkomi-boke dynamic with perry, and, as with any good buddy cop movie, their animosity develops into a nice little friendship. (nothing to be scared of, hetties!) is KKBB a more successful form of representation-- not by nuance, but by default-- just because it's just a proper narrative that tries to have inter-character development, as opposed to the static of saints?

nostalgia probably makes me too soft on KKBB (the way it writes women has aged way worse), but i'm endeared to the enthusiasm of it. when i was a 13-year-old just coming to terms with my sexuality, and an apparently heterosexual boy giving a presentation in history class sheepishly mentioned that he was pro-gay marriage, my second thought was of relief. my first thought was "i bet this is because of same love by macklemore, lol."

P.S. (Personal Stuff):

we've entered the month of the tamil calendar leading up to diwali, during which my parents go vegetarian, and now i go vegetarian because i'm living with them and i get free food. i love indian veg food, it's probably as good as veg food gets, and it still can't fill the hole left by a mediocre cheeseburger.

your recommendation/assignment for this week is to watch walker 1987, then read about walker 1987.


watched RRR, finally. a lot of fun! i've seen a few of s.s. rajamouli's other films, but this is for sure my favorite of his. (i appreciate that there's finally a default-recommendation indian film that i actually personally enjoy, lol.) it's cool to see this much international enthusiasm for a south indian movie specifically. before this, there might have been a little noise for baahubali part 2 and enthiran [pictured below], but that was mostly for the incredulous action scenes. it's an acquired taste if you haven't grown up with the stuff, but open your heart. the fundamental flaw of hollywood these days is that it operates on the axis of what is cringe, and the fundamental strength of something like RRR is that it operates upon the axis of what is based.

even within india, it wasn't even 20 years ago that south indian cinema was still being lampooned by bollywood audiences for its bombast. (i've never seen this connection explicitly made, but i'm inclined to acknowledge the anti-south racism of northern india). nowadays, though, southern cinema has become an inevitability of the national box office. ever since the record-breaking release of ghajini in 2008-- a hindi film, but a remake of a tamil film by its tamil director-- southern directors like rajamouli and s. shankar are recurring appearances in the highest grossing indian movies of all time.

this scene from om shanti om (released just a year before ghajini!) is a bollywood parody of kollywood movies. despite everything i just said, i do think it's really funny.

it's the popularity of RRR, and other recent south indian blockbusters like KGF and vikram, that have sparked discussion of the "pan-indian film"; i.e. popular cinema for every indian regardless of demographic. RRR's claim for the title is certainly evidenced by its general financial success. my visit to india was during the thick of this conversation, and when i was going through my grandfather's daily newspapers, i found an article on the shortcomings of the idea; that if we really wanted pan-indian cinema, there are so many more minority voices in indian cinema that ought to be acknowledged. a blockbuster with the usual mass appeal doesn't do much for cultural unity just because it comes from a southern director.

if not an earth-shattering observation, it's one that's REALLY important to note when it comes to RRR. like i said, it's awesome that there's so much overseas love for the film! but, outside of the indian film circles i follow, there seems to be very little awareness of the hindu nationalist undertones. (i don't blame people for this; i probably wouldn't have noticed them otherwise.) hindu nationalism-- or "hindutva"-- and its prevalence in RRR is better summarized in this write-up. that's all for the film portion in this entry, but i hope the brevity encourages you to read that link.

P.S. (Personal Stuff):

finished my first week of work! the first couple weeks are remote, so i'm living with my parents a while longer. you don't get to know when and where i move out, because neither do i. i had an internship here, and it seemed like a decent place to work, but that and this are the phases where they try to reel in all the fresh meat so IDK. i'm very fortunate though.

i'm not especially passionate about anything; i majored in compsci/IT because i liked it enough to do it for a living, and it still gave me the time for the hobbies i like just as much, but would have to work harder to do for a living (drawing, movie-watching, writing about movie-watching, etc). this site has been good busywork for the summer, but i have never wanted to code for work AND for fun. i've still got all the infrastructure to keep posting my word vomits (so long as i've still got the energy), and there's some pages in various stages of development, but i fear for the less-developed stuff.

so i've been thinking more about the diary and its future as the nucleus of the website. (hence the quality of life updates.) maybe i'll rebrand it as the "film diary", or perhaps "blog". i conceived this page back when i expected this to be a space for venting (changed my mind) and life happenings (currently living in an uneventful era). though i guess i've just written about both of those things.

i did some sports productions for the TV club back in college, and i recently found out that someone made IMDb pages for everyone involved. this has now made all my opinions twice as valid.



oh yeah baby, it's a multi-parter. for those just tuning in, the following are notes on my third viewing of the mission: impossible franchise, in anticipation of the seventh film in 2023. the last time i watched these was 2018 (the release of the sixth film). these were originally written as stream-of-consciousness bullet points, and have been shuffled into into readable paragraphs. i'm about to put the "misc." in "misc. media thoughts". expect me to shift topics with no transition and no excuse.

there's only light spoilers incoming, but here's my opinion if you want to watch these movies: for the best ratio of quality and shortest total runtime, you could probably just skip to M:I-4 (ghost protocol)... but i do love the rich tapestry woven by the whole series' journey.


main theme covered by: U2

i'll level with you, i was in a much more casual viewing mode for this one compared to the next two, so the commentary's not as extensive.

the opening twist of this movie is that it immediately kills off the ragtag supporting cast that the TV series was known for. the aftereffects of this were that 1. the entire series became a tom cruise vehicle first and foremost 2. it began the habit of cycling in new cast members for every entry and seeing who sticks, to the point that the series has now gradually built up a ragtag supporting cast (starting with my boy luther!). one could say that ethan hunt's characterization (i.e. his motivating characteristic being pathos and empathy) is unconceived in this entry. one could argue it has never really been conceived (i.e. moviestar tomcruise). these are reasonable observations. but, if you're me, you could postulate that the complete massacre of his teammates is the traumatic event that makes him obsessed with zero-casualty outcomes.

god damn, langley langley langley. this movie SEEMS like an outlier in de palma's filmography. because it is. i'm more inclined to throw this in with the palatability of the untouchables (barf) than anything earlier and louder. but rewatching the langley sequence after having seen blow-out makes too much sense. this is a decent action-espionage film orbiting itself around a single piece of perfection.

because of the disparity in quality, my memory had focused on the aged CGI and underwhelming nature of the final sequence. but there's a definite physicality to the stuntwork that's very apparent and very admirable (e.g. all the force of tom cruise being blown backwards atop the train). between the two, it's the less iconic setpiece might be the one that's more emblematic of the series's future. but i'm getting way too ahead of myself.


main theme covered (interpolated) by: limp bizkit

the transition into the opening credits are a pair of exploding sunglasses that tom cruise throws at the screen. also, this is a PRO-MULLET webpage. i have been PRO-MULLET for many years. don't like it? LEAVE!

i do consider this romantic subplot the most grueling in the series. i'm sure this entry wouldn't be so generally derided if it wasn't so overbearing. well, maybe it's just that i've seen worse in the intervening years, but it's not quite as bad as i remember. i like the earnestness of the sexy car chase, LOL. here begins the pattern of ethan hunt's emotional attachment to his companions bearing consequences; the romance in M:I-1 is moreso a bit of spice, but here the narrative is landscaped as a result.

the exact moment i decided i needed to start keeping a photo folder for this

9/11 killed cinematic violent plane crashes for a decade, and now covid has killed cinematic supervirus narrative devices for who knows how long. sad! the POINTED POLITICAL COMMENTARY VILLAIN MONOLOGUE in this entry is from a big pharma CEO, with regards to privatized healthcare taking advantage of the population in precisely this context. yup, all the thinkpieces got it wrong; mission: impossible 2 is the quintessential pandemic film.

i like this entry for deciding that luther serves cunt.

tom cruise as cheeky/charismatic hollywood hero does not play for me AT ALLLLL. his smile reminds me of my default nervous social smile on a level that is visceral and tactile. (i know i'm not just saying this because i subconsciously know he's a terrible person IRL, because i also think mel gibson was great in signs.) conversely, tom is too good in the singular minute that he plays evil. he should do it more often.

in mission: impossible, de palma only makes his presence known if you're looking for it, visible in the corners of the canted angles. conversely, serial block-buster john woo has his prints all over this from the very first cross fade. i like the contrast of the midpoint sequences: langley in searing white light vs. the laboratory shootout in multicolor shadows. the first tenses up and up, the second has a burning fuse awaiting the explosion.

de palma's got the better midpoint, but woo's got the better closer. this is why i've now made a 180 turn and been recruited into the ranks of M:I-2 defenders. the slow-mo action storyboarding that shows up in this (and more effectively in hard target, might i add) insists upon every single motion. very readable, and soooo damn satisfying. not dissimilar to those videos of people doing perfect calligraphy. best of all: it's completely divorced from reality. i wish this sort of thing wasn't considered dated & gauche these days.

if you don't think this goes raw fuck you*

concluding this section: a compilation of screenshots that look like tom cruise saying nyah :3


main theme covered by: kanye west

(the credits also mention a non-existent song by jj abrams)

jjbrams using one of his easy little screenwriter tricks with this opening flash-forward, setting up big and little things to anticipate ("like you helped me on the airplane?"). he's good at what he does on a mechanical level. there's a similar degree of quote-unquote perfection in star wars episode VII. but it's also like, if you went to a nice restaurant with him, and asked him to order for you, you're getting chicken tenders. the vatican kidnapping is a decent bit of fun, the tower heist framed around the getting in and getting out is conceptually neat. but it's all passable, and not remarkable the way the previous entries were. "langley was a cakewalk compared to this"? man fuck you. also the aesthetic philosophy here appears to be "it's 2006". (in a derogatory, post-9/11 way.) shaky cam as visual shorthand for tension has got to be one of my biggest movie pet peeves.

M:I-6 remakes this scene (ethan running through the streets guided by benji's direction) and i recall that version being much better, but this long take of tom cruise running by the river is one of the few visually impressive moments in this one.

if the wife subplot in M:I-3 has 10 fans i am one of them, if the wife subplot in M:I-3 has 1 fan then that is me, so on and so forth. her hero moment in the finale of this movie is really endearing to me. i am perfectly fine with this entry's lasting legacy in the series being her re-introduction. (when i first watched the M:I series i also really loved kiss kiss bang bang, and it would have meant a lot to me if i'd realized the female leads were the same actress, lol.)

i listened to the first season of blowback recently, about the iraq war. it's great stuff, and it's currently my personality trait. cue me oohing and ahhing at this entry's POINTED POLITICAL COMMENTARY VILLAIN MONOLOGUE on setting up evidence of the superweapon-macguffin (read: WMDs?) being sold in the middle east as an excuse to fly in, flatten, and restructure. "democracy wins!" (he also throws in in a derogatory reference to "affirmative action" for flavor). don't get me wrong; it's still a film about romantic government espionage** that attributes corruption to individual bad actors. (blowback also had an excellent bonus episode about iraq war hollywood.)

concluding this section: THE CUTIE CORNER


this is what i mean about the rich tapestry! the first half of this series is such an insane combination of names and film-making approaches. even with all my derisions, i do adore the hot mess that this franchise began as. and, just for the record, you can't make an omelette with cracking a few eggs. with M:I-4, the series settles into its niche, becoming more consistent, and more consistently good. but i won't get ahead of myself, because there's only so much to be said about perfection. expect an interlude.




*i was listening to nostalgia music while putting this gif together, and i really recommend viewing it while listening to paralyzer by finger eleven.

**cursory research found tidbits about this series' involvement with the CIA; the first film's credits thank the CIA for allowing them to film at langley, and for M:I-3, "Cruise met CIA officials to discuss ways to present the Agency 'in as positive a light as possible.'" for those (like me) that might be needing to educate themselves a little more on the subject, i found this through spyculture.com, which has a lot of fascinating stuff.

***i'm not doing this.