Author Archives: ying

Posts: 15 (archived below)
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A Wasp to Uncover Secrets

“Wasp,” Andrea Arnold’s 2005 Oscar winning short film was thought provoking and anger-inducing, so much that we are left with more questions than with less. Set in the UK, the film begins with a single mother, Zoe, who charges into a hair-pulling catfight with another mother, as her four barefooted children, as well as neighbors into houses located not too far away, look on stricken with the violent temperament of the scene.

The film’s opening scene immediately sets the tone– coloring our perception– for what we are to experience in the remainder of the film. Wasp isn’t a passive film but a disruptive one; it left me indignant at the surroundings in which her children are raised. When Dave, her romantic interest from her earlier years in school, passes by her on a street in the suburban town in a beat-up car after the incident, she is flirtatious and denies that she is with her children. We are aghast at her behavior, but cannot be without any sympathy.

At her date with Dave in a crowded, dingy pub, in which she leaves her children in the parking lot, I could only imagine the despair and darkness that her children were in, left to fend for themselves in the dangerous world outside. They are hungry and almost like beggars– when a group of drunk men with bottles of beer drop a foiled bag of food, they scavenge and eat messily, leaving barbecue sauce messily on the infant’s mouth. This film left us to question, in indignation, at how a single mother can be so cruel. But beyond this, this film was thought provoking and not without an ironic twist– a wasp in her infant’s mouth forces her to leave Dave alone in the car. That’s right, a wasp. And with it, Dave discovers the truth.

Denial, the shallow layers of lies that she creates, are ultimately uncovered. Truth, we see, is never too far away.

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Cupid’s Arrow Missed Me by a Mile

God of Love,” Luke Matheny‘s lighthearted, comedic tale combining romance with bromance, grapples for ground as an artsy short film using silky jazz and a black-and-white monotone, but slips nonetheless into a muddle of familiar storyline that leaves even its characters oddly uncomfortable.

A modern-day twist on the endeavors of a jazz singing, dart-throwing oversized Cupid who really just wants a little bit of lovin’ for himself from the love of his life, the drum-thumping Kelly— played by Marian Brock—Mr. Matheny’s second short film, which began as his thesis at NYU’s prestigious graduate film program, quickly climbed its way to the big leagues. Recently nominated in the Best Live-Action Short category for the 2011 Academy Awards, along with four others from the UK, Belgium, and Ireland, “God of Love” shows us that sometimes love just doesn’t go the way we want it to.

A scene from "Earano," a short film directed by Luke Matheny

Mr. Matheny, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, writer, and actor, won numerous awards and recognition for his previous short film, “Earano,” a comic retelling that loosely follows the Cyrano de Bergerac tale. “Earano” is the story of Earl, a big-eared bighearted man with a one-sided love, who forsakes his happiness and love in order to woo the love of his life on behalf of his conventionally handsome, but inarticulate Ukrainian friend. It is clear that Mr. Matheny is not a rookie director, so why didn’t he try harder to cover new grounds? Beats me.

Like many romantic comedies of today, take “He’s Just Not That Into You” for example,  “God of Love” echoes a familiar narrative that is all too predictable for us to follow attentively with any degree of surprise or newly made revelations. We all know that love can’t be firmly controlled, even by love-inducing darts from God, so it’s difficult to understand why this film was even chosen as a nominee.

Roberto Lobianco agreed. He said, “I liked the fact that they used black-and-white visually, but it was more lighthearted and that might have worked if it had been on its own, but compared to the other movies, it seemed less sophisticated and more clichéd.”

Posted in Oscar Shorts | 11 Comments

Will You Be My Valentines?

The day Blue Valentine came out, my boyfriend and I happened to be near Angelika Film Center at Houston Street. I had passed by this theater plenty of times in the past, whether it was because I was shopping or just strolling and having a breath of fresh air, but the idea of entering the theater and actually watching a film never had much appeal. I didn’t even feel like taking a few minutes out of my time to peruse through online reviews of these independent films. Why, you ask? Beats me.

Roberto, my boyfriend, had heard decent reviews about it, so we decided to watch it and boy, was I in for a surprise. The moment we arrived at the ticket booth, we could already see the colossal line before us. This line that we would soon join was so long that it actually snaked around the center of the theater, where a nice little cafe– complete with sofas, circular tables, and readers with books and muffins in hand– was located for moviegoers with time to kill. Now, I’m a big movie buff– I make it a habit of going pretty frequently (though lately I’ve been too busy)– but I found myself amazed that I had never thought of looking at this side of the tracks. There’s a whole new world in independent films that mainstream films just don’t reach. And I must say, I loved it and can’t get enough.

So, when I heard about these Oscar-nominated live-action shorts, I immediately thought of asking Roberto to come with me to watch them. We were originally going to watch it on the oh-so-beloved Valentine’s Day, an over-commercialized day where Hallmark is plump with the fat of cash from couples, but he figured we should watch it the day before instead of on Monday, so we wouldn’t be tight on time.

Before I launch into these Oscar-nominated shorts, let’s not forget that we didn’t want to be tight on time on Monday because we were doing exactly what the other couples were planning on doing. That’s right, I got the whole deal: the bouquet of red roses, the Hallmark card (with smudged, almost illegible handwriting writing…I hope he reads this haha), and an extremely filling eight-course Valentine-special meal for two ($75 per person) at an amazing Japanese restaurant called Zenikichi in Williamsburg. I definitely recommend it, if you want to eat a delicious meal.

Anyway, let’s rewind back (back to Sunday at 2:30 P.M, that is). 106 minutes later, between the five vastly different shorts from countries around the world, and I was left awed. I have watched shorts before, specifically online ones, but never with this level of professional skill.

I felt like I was on a high– it kept my emotions raw and I was so keenly attuned to everything that was happening both around me and in front of me. Afterward, Roberto said to me: “I think that the shifting balance of emotions that changed between films was the best aspect of the collection.”

I heard nothing else but the sounds from the films; there was absolute silence because everyone, including myself, was enraptured. Humans supposedly only have a focused attention span of eight seconds, so I think that all of us that day in that eerily quiet IFC theater broke the record. Now that’s an achievement!

So, despite knowing that Valentine’s Day has long since passed, my question still remains: will you be MY valentines, Oscar-nominated Live-Action Shorts? You guys really tugged at my heartstrings.

Posted in Oscar Shorts | 3 Comments

Mirage: More Than What You See

We are a diverse group that hails from all corners of the world. Our families can be traced back to Guyana, China, Taiwan, Jamaica, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Scotland, Barbados, Dominica, and Puerto Rico. Some of us may cross paths in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, but we are strangers just becoming friends and fellow bloggers in this vast, limitless online world.

From left: Alan, Ashley, Sherese, Ying, Gerard

Most of us are normal— majoring in Journalism that is—except for Alan, who is majoring in mathematics. Alan plans on becoming an actuary, a profession he calls the “most boring job in the world outside of accounting.” It’s strange why he chooses to enter this profession then, but he is convinced that becoming one has its perks. In the face of dwindling Social Security benefits, he can create solid retirement plans. His minors, economics and business writing, are outlets that he believes will transform him into a well-rounded individual. His interests include sports, music, politics, traveling, and technology.

Gerard, a technology buff who enjoys spending most of his time on Internet forums discussing current technology, likes working out whenever he isn’t drying out his eyes on his computer screen (though lately, he’s been slacking off). He loves strumming tunes on his much beloved guitar.

Sherese has the heart of an artist. Like Gerard, she enjoys music immensely; her favorite genres are Soul and Rock music from the 60s and 70s. Her major, an ad-hoc creatively dubbed “Words and Music: From Songwriting to Journalism,” combines music and journalism. Her interests include poetry, psychology, and African Diaspora studies. She is an avid blogger who writes frequently on her two blogs, Reese’s Ear Candy and Arts and Culture with Miss Frank.

Ashley is new to blogging, but knows just how important it is as an aspiring journalist today. She is a Marketing Representative at Four Seasons Sunrooms, which allows her to meet new people and socialize at work-related events such as hockey games and concerts as well as comedy and fashion shows. She is a foodie; she loves eating and she loves scouring the boroughs for new restaurants to enjoy. Her interests include writing, reading, and listening to music. She recently started longboarding only as a hobby, but she’s hoping to master a few tricks so that she can skate in the Broadway Bomb.

Ying enjoys reading, writing, and listening to music. Besides majoring in Journalism, she is planning to declare her ad-hoc major in Anthropology and History, with a focus on East Asia. During the Fall 2010 semester, she studied abroad in Nanjing, China. She traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an, and Yangzhou during her three-and-a-half month stay. Beijing was oddly similar to New York City and Shanghai? Well, it was fast-paced to the point of frenzy— almost like a Beijing on steroids. She loves traveling and hopes to travel more— she wants to see more of the world and write about her experiences. She hopes to one day write for National Geographic.

So who are we exactly? There are really no words that can describe us as a whole. We are as diverse in our perspectives and experiences, as we are in our heritages. Together, we make Mirage.

Posted in Who We Are | 2 Comments

Strangers- Not So Good Company

Emotionally distraught female hotel guest meets hotel manager. In the midst of her sadness, she has become an interior decorator; she rearranges furniture as she tries to determine a new layout to the already well-maintained and orderly hotel room. It is early in the morning— 4 a.m. to be exact— but she is more awake than ever. She creates a clutter— a disorganized mess— that closely mimics her own confusion and her attempt to reorganize her thoughts and perhaps, even her life. Hotel manager walks in with a replacement pillow in hand, and offers not the pillow (because the pillows on her bed are actually fine, she later says) but instead, despite his emotional disconnectedness, offers his much needed company.

Sounds familiar? Like many films of today, Lost in Translation for example, strangers are apparently better company than most because they offer new and unfamiliar perspectives. But unlike Lost in Translation, a 2003 film that was nominated for four Academy Awards, this plot was much too forgettable.

In the nine-minute long webisode, Company, part of the the Suite 7 web series sponsored by Lifetime, Shannen Doherty plays the role of the hotel guest, coping with a recent breakup with her lover. Wilson Cleveland plays the hotel manager, who offers to help her rearrange furniture and figure out how and why her relationship ended. Their performance is not going to win any awards for sure, and their dialogue is shallow and somewhat bland. The script is clichéd and their reactions are excruciatingly agonizing to watch. Even with such entertainment sponsored with the efforts of corporations and big-name performers, Company definitely failed to please.

Web series, which are posted on the Internet, provide a new facet of entertainment for a widely different audience that scours and surfs the online world.  Often they are children born in the Internet Age, or right before— they are the ones who know how to navigate through the multiple layers of the Internet world.

Oh, Inverted World, on the other hand, a black-and-white film low-budget web series, produced out of Long Island, leaves viewers in just the first episode, hanging. We are left to wonder to ourselves why the moon is to come crashing down and why the three bearded men have been bound and gagged. There’s no denying that this was an unbelievable storyline that was a far stretch from reality, but I preferred it to Lifetimes’s butchered attempt at portraying one example of a low point many of us experience in life.

I didn’t love it immensely, but overall, on first impression, the film made me more curious than Suite 7 ever did. The performances weren’t stellar, but for novice actors, their efforts were laudable.

Sherese Francis, however, said, “I did not like Oh, Inverted World because the acting was not convincing enough for me. She also stated, “The lines were delivered awkwardly and I could not take it seriously.” True, maybe not too seriously, but it certainly left me wanting more.

Posted in Independent Film | 1 Comment