Sunday, May 20, 2007

TV: The May Lee show

Starring: May Lee
Category: Talkshow

I wonder people misunderstand the phrase "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". People, it means your imitation is flattery to the one you're imitating. You are not flattering yourself by imitating others. In fact, think of it, what does that exactly say about you anyway?
I caught a talk show called The MayLee Show, after the host, May Lee. From the looks of it, it was done out of either Hong Kong or Singapore. It was a cookie cutter American talk show. Similar to those that debut on local TV stations in the summer afternoons.
The MayLee Show is a talk show hosted by someone who probably fancies herself as the next Oprah. Or at least the Asian version of it. Leading Asian women in to the 21st century. Being the voice of the modern Asian women. Telling you how it should be, what is in and what is not. If Oprah is your target, the road is very long indeed. In fact, are you sure you are on the right road?
Why does these Asian artistic types always equate Modern to Western? Why does the 'Modern Asian Women' have to look, speak and think like the 'Western Women'. Why do in the pursuit of individuality, which is what the Western world espouses, do people end up copying someone else? How oxymoronic is that?
A talk show should appeal to the audience. Does MayLee really think she really speak for the modern Asian women? The show had less Asian influence than some shows on Asia made in the US. The guest list itself says it all: an actress roundly criticized at home for turning her back on the culture, a pop star who was slammed at home (at least part time because she is only half-asian) for acting insensitively and against the local customs and an extremely annoying chef / cooking / eating show host. At least he was funny in his shows. And come on, wine toasting on the first show? Very Asian... MayLee reminds me about a cooking show host who is Asian but grew up in the West but touting her Asian roots on her cooking show. When all she does is skewer the essence of asian cooking into the mold of Western cuisine / gourmet cooking. Yes you Kylie Kwong. Serves you right when went to China and we got to see how 'Asian' you were. Not! Getting off topic...
And who is this Asian woman MayLee keeps talking about? Who is she? More importantly, where is she? In China, in Bangkok, in Kuala Lumpur, in Mumbai, in Dubai? Isn't it bizarre that a woman from Asia is actually using the narrow Western view of Asia as her own? Even that is no longer the case. People do actually understand that a person from Lahore has very little in common with a lay person in Shanghai. So why is she trying to paint all Asian with the same brush?
It seems that she as touched a nerve doesn't she? Well, people who have soap boxes must learn to use them wisely. The MayLee show is just a waste of time. A show catered to a small, elite clique who are probably self-congratulating themselves with this show. What a waste of potential.
This blog has probably a readership of the fingers of one hand. But if that is the number of people who turn off this show, my post has achieved it's purpose.

May Lee apparently is born and raised Michigan. That explains a lot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Natural

Starring: Robert Redford
Category: Drama, Feel-Good

I caught this as it was starting on TV. Now, I knew what it was about to start of with. I had read reviews about (or rather tributes to) this movie. So part of me came to see what the big deal was about. At the end of it, I wasn't that impressed.
Don't get me wrong. I fully understand watching it some years after it was release puts it in a different context. It is a more cynical time so watching it with new eyes is a different experience. So what does that mean? This movie doesn't stand the test of time?
Robert Redford, on his part was very effective. The Roy Hobbs character was older in years and has more under his belt so I get that his acting creating someone more subtle, more things to hide. His ability to convey that is truly a gift. Contrast Redford in this movie with another one further down the road, like Sneakers, where he was less subtle in actions even though this character had also something to hide.
I guess the main reason I wasn't swept away by this movie was that it involved baseball. I think it was me rather than the movie's fault. I'm more of a football and basketball guy. I understand the concepts in general and able to figure out what is good and bad in the game. But there is something about baseball that makes it less dramatic, less interesting. Maybe the fact that the players spend most of the time standing or sitting around doing nothing. Or how detached the back office can be from the actual game. It turned me off to the movie because as a sports movie, there was actually too much about the sport rather than the people playing them. Towards the end, I thought the characters actually become shallower. It's just my fault I didn't quite understood the story of the movie. It felt like a ride. Other than Hobbs, everybody else seems to be one-dimensional despite their grand-standing. Maybe not appreciating baseball is why I don't 'get' this movie.
Strange thing is, I totally get Field of Dreams and For the Love of the Game.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How to Deal: Movie and Book Comparison

How to Deal is based on two books by Sarah Dessen, That Summer and Someone Like You. Since the books share almost nothing material, the movie is an amalgam of both. Although, thinking of it now, Someone Like You's content made it more in the movie. Since the movie was based on the books, rather than having a 'based on screenplay' book or novel, the movie 'tie-in' is a compendium of both books. And being the cheapskate I am, I bought that rather than buying two separate books.
The hard thing about the books was that it was about two girls growing up and the changes, both to themselves and the people around them while in the movie it was only one girl . The books has a lot of internal dialogs that the lead characters expresses their feelings through. The standard mechanism for this would either be narration or a dairy where the feeling are taken down. But that does not translate well in movies, especially teen movies. Time and attention span is limited. So the decision was to make the two characters into one. However, in the book, both girls were different from each other. Sure, the story was about growing up and both girls did that but in different ways. That made the movie's character slightly muddled.

Transposed were too, the situations that both girls faced with their family and friends. The books deal with the girls' reactions to changes around them, in their own way. The movie keeps the situations that the family and friends, takes the reactions of both girls and give them to the central character in the movie. Which makes it harder to understand and relate to the character's reactions. While each set of reactions match to the given situation, when combined it makes the central character unstable. While not schizophrenia, it does sort come close. This ultimately sinks the movie.
If you do happen to see the How to Deal 'book' on the racks at the local bookstore and have read both books separately, browse through the author's introduction where the author put her 2cents worth on the movie. This is a rarity because most of the time writers are apologetic about the screenplay based on their books because a) they got paid to be nice and b)they pity the person who had to distill their multi-dimension, intellect stimulating writing to something people can sit still for an hour and a half.
And they get paid some. Not much though. To give you an idea, try and figure out why there is no Forrest Gump 2. In the introduction, Sarah is honest and offers her story as what they are: source materials.
So if you are either fan of the book or the movie, complete the experience by watching the other. Worth it.