Hey Hollywood,

If you have a movie with the excellent premise of a gen-modded human/animal chimera who is a smart, winged, sex-changing and a rather gorgeous pixie type, how about instead of making a horror movie you make a coming of age story? A scifi action flick? Or a rom-com? Or really, anything else.


P.S. I dare any other pregnant women out there to go see it, especially if you're feeling a bit nauseous. Ugh.


Sleep Dealers

I saw Sleep Dealers last night. It didn't make much of a splash when it came out, and I knew, vaguely, that it was a Mexican SF film about farmed labor. From jump, "Sleep Dealers" was a smart, gorgeously shot, and well-acted movie.

What is it about Mexican films that generally or so beautifully filmed? I'm thinking Y Tu Mama Tambien, The Motorcycle Diaries, Pan's Labyrinth, etc. All those movies, and Sleep Dealers too, are so aesthetically smart in how they're filmed and what's in the background. It makes the average Hollywood films look so drab and boring in comparison. I'm sure there are ugly Mexican movies too, but maybe they don't make it stateside.

Anyway, the SF-nal world building in Sleep Dealers was drool worthy. Old Mexican couples in traditional dress danced to old music--techno--in slowed down 'raise the roof' style. 'Coyoteks' put nodes into people's body, wiring their nervous system to plug into the global economy. Coyotes are the name of the people who lead, often predatorily, people across the Mexican/US border, and this extension of the term worked perfectly.

Then, onto bigger themes: the global economy is a place where there is no longer immigration, but plugged in laborers who control robots building skyscrapers, picking oranges, etc. I liked how this made intrinsic sense to me. The tricky part with robots is creating them to be flexible and able to do many tasks well. Why not just import global south minds for the job? It seemed all too plausible. There was also privatized water and a surveilled world that responded with violence at the first sign of trouble. Whoever wrote this script was just as versed in sociology as they were technology, and it was such a joy to see a film that really extrapolated from our current world into the next big phase.

The last thing I found fascinating, was how much this movie defied the usual colonizing-gaze which I'm used to in movies. E and I compared notes afterward, and we both kept on expecting (without giving the plot away) certain people to be villainized, certain people to be predatory, and certain people to be victims, all of which were wonderfully not realized. Instead, the overarching story of Sleep Dealers was one of people making human connections and that triumphing over the many enforced borders between us.

This is the best scifi movie I've seen this year.


The Last (White? WTF?) Airbender

I've been caught in the thrall of the cartoon "Avatar: The Last Airbender" for a couple weeks. It's soooooooo good and epic and hilarious, and though it's made stateside, it's very anime-esque. There are four nations in the Avatar world and they correspond with Inuit, Japanese, Tibetan, and Chinese cultures. The show is steeped in these cultures and it is really hard to imagine the world outside of these Asian cultures. There's hard-core tea culture, a huge amount of martial arts, lots of talk about honor, and the main character is a vegetarian monk with a shaved head.

So, M. Night Shyamalan and Paramount decided to adapt it into a live action movie and guess who was cast as main characters? All white kids for the three main characters. One Indian actor for the main villain (who is by far the lightest skinned character in the show.)

I don't know why the movie's being whitewashed, but it is messed up. This show is about amazing Asian kid-heroes, and I want that to come to the big screen. I want all types of kids in the US, but especially Asian ones, to see this movie and see Asian heroes up on the screen. There are folks much more eloquent and fired-up about it at the link, and there's a boycott you can sign, too.




Katherine Sparrow

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January 2015


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