Thoughts on Blue is the Warmest Color

I thought this was a boring movie. There are better coming-of-age foreign movies that have been made in the last 20 years. Oh my god, did I just say that? I suppose lesbian coming-of-age movies are in need of an update.

Full disclaimer, I read the graphic novel before watching the movie. So I’m already biased. I also read the reviews and lesbian reaction videos on Youtube. Still, I usually still watch the movie with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect.

So after watching the movie, I decided that the graphic novel was trying to tell a story of love between two people that was so overwhelming, *spoiler alert* one could die over it. Whereas with the movie, I felt that Adele had found her sexual soulmate who could fulfill her sexual desire and lust. The scene where she meets Emma again after she’s moved on, while it’s clear that Adele hasn’t, seemed desperate and very… helpless. However, in the book, Adele is also very desperate and helpless, but in a recluse drug abusing sort of way. But Emma comes out for her in the end, even though it’s too late. Also, 11 minutes of sex pretty much makes it hard to concentrate on anything else, so a romantic story of lesbians falling in love kind of goes out the window. It is the fantasy lesbian movie for gazers (I was going to put “male gaze”, but realized that even women can be creepy and gaze as well).

I think in both versions, Adele is a character that I hope never to be, naive and co-dependent, someone without a life of my own, someone who can’t grow within herself in a relationship. When you have a passionate and fiery relationship, you mostly think about never wanting to lose that person rather than how you can be a better person with them. If I ever do get with anyone again, that’ll be my priority.

Trilogy Complete

I finally completed my favorite adventure trilogy, Gabriel Knight, with The Beast Within. Took me 20 years because there were no playable formats once technology advanced like mad, so you’d either have to find the right custom computer in order to play the game CDs you owned (which crashed on me all the time so I gave up), or wait until someone virtualized it, which 20 years later I did.

I love this series for a number of reasons:

1. Interweaving of real life history, culture, with fiction

GK1  focused on New Orleans voodoo history. GK2 mixed Bavarian history with the occult and werewolves. GK3 featured the Knights Templar and Jesus. There are those moments that remind me of what I remember from those games that makes the experience feel a little more familiar and encourages you to step out a little further.

2. Player engagement in deciphering puzzles from real life artifacts and locations

I can’t say that all the clues from the games are completely accurate, but every game featured locations and museums that are real and can be visited. These games are the predecessors to Dan Brown, and everyone who played them know it.

3. Each story takes place in a different location

New Orleans, Germany, France. I’m not a great traveler, but I do like to see different histories and cultures, and it’s so much more enticing to discover when there’s a mystery thrown right on it.

4. Each story utilized a different visual format (This is not necessarily a good thing, but I’m a sucker for gimmicks)

Beautiful 2D art and animation, Full Motion Video, and 3D art and animation (IMO, the worst).

5. Grace Nakamura

Best sidekick ever. She’s female, APA, witty, and smart. Though she could be a little less sour, but not much you can do when your partner is a slacker.

Adventure games have always had an issue with the hint system, sometimes you just never know what to do next. Designers never want to give something completely away, but I think a robust hint system which smart ways of delivering hints would have saved adventure games. A character’s thoughts on event triggers seems doable enough, but visual and audio cues are definitely more appreciated. It adds ambient life to the environment, and if done correctly, it stands out enough to engage the player. It was probably a huge resource in its time to do, but I think it would have been fun to play god and find ways to deliver “signs” to their protagonists, which the player would have to pick up on in order to know what to do next. For example, I was especially stuck with getting the lily and putting it in the water in memorial to Ludwig… Would have never thought of that unless I saw the lily plant blossoming, or a ghostly Ludwig calling from the water.

This series started in the 90s, so lessons have been learned since then. In any case, everyone agrees that the narrative is the backbone of a good game, but there are so many ways to present the story. I like to predict what’s going to happen in a movie, but I do appreciate seeing it being unfolded before me, so these kinds of games are exactly what I love to play.

Asia Queer Film Festival

My friend’s films, La Petite Salon and Too Much Plaid, screened at the Asia Queer Film Festival this year in Tokyo, Japan in Roppongi. I co-produced La Petite Salon, and wanted to go see it at the festival for myself. I’m always looking for a good, worthwhile excuse to go to Japan.

I was a little confused as to why it would be in Roppongi, a neighborhood that’s known for its high concentration of foreigners looking for a good time. I was assuming someplace closer to the gay area, which is Shinjuku Ni-Choume. After talking with one of staff, it seems that Roppongi has cleaned up much of its unsavory past, and also has a very enlivening film community where many film festivals take place. I also appreciate it when gay spaces aren’t isolated to a stereotypical area.

Another thing I learned while attending the festival was that the residential LGBT neighborhoods are actually in Nakano-ku and Suginami-ku. Ishizaka Wataru representing Nakano-ku came out publicly and is currently working to make better protection policies for factory workers, which would include sexual minorities.

What I love about AQFF is that it is geared toward Asians, so the relationships are usually Asian/Asian, and the story never ends up being a race issue nor does it pander to having a white character as the main interest. There was one short that had a white male character, a rich foreign visitor who made false promises to a boy who wanted a way out out of his cramped life. The stark contrast in class and privilege was frustrating to say the least.

I just wish that fairer opportunities and ideals existed in every part of the world so that every country could be self-sustaining for the people to live to their fullest potential. Speaking of which, accepting and embracing the fact that you’re gay might sound limiting to some people in this part of the world, but after watching “Miracle at Jonggo Street”, a documentary on Korea’s gay district, Jonggo, and the characters who speak so truly from the bottom of their hearts and being so alive even though they are fighting for fair treatment… Imagine the potential that’s being untapped at the moment due to fear and societal and cultural expectations!

Still so much work to be done. Thank you AQFF for showing these inspiring films.

Black Swan and Pair of Love

I haven’t watched many movies lately, but I have watched these two!

Black Swan Art Deco print by LaBoca

Black Swan was an intense schizophrenic ride through the eyes of whom you would think is a passive ballerina dancer. They tout this film as a thriller, but it feels more like a drama. There’s no pre-meditative murders, and you’re not sure if everything that’s happening is completely mental. The scenes that stood out for me the most was when Natalie Portman was trying to clean up her cuticles and ended up peeling the skin off two-thirds of her finger. As a habitual finger biter, this is pretty scary. And of course the other favorite scene was the hot sex between Natalie and Mila Kunis. That was electrifying, I still get chills thinking about it. How many takes did that take! Lastly, I was happily surprised to see Winona Ryder make a sort of “cameo”. I don’t know why it makes me happy, I guess I just haven’t seen her in anything lately. What is she up to nowadays, anyway?

Taiwanese LGBT short film, Pair of Love

Pair of Love is a short film from Taiwan about 4 kids in high school, a pair of girls, and a pair of boys. As with all high school romances, there is angst, and this film is no exception. The actors are cute and likeable, and the soundtrack sounds so mainstream that I felt this was a pilot/pitch to a new Taiwanese drama series or movie. The focus on the characters is interesting. At the start, the guys have some relationship building to do, while the girls are already in a relationship. So you get to see a lot of the boys figuring out where they stand. When the plot thickened, and the pairs have to split due to circumstances, the focus was more on the more hetero-typical halves (ie, the girly girl and the jock), probably because one can easily imagine them getting together, which they did (weak!). The gayer guy had a bit of attention, too, during this phase, but the independent woman lesbian was totally out of the picture! In the end, the guys get a nice shot of them embracing, while the girls are separated, with one leaving the other a box of photographic memories.

It’s true. Gay guys have it so much better in the movies.