Snowpiercer

Even though I have stopped obsessively reviewing every single movie I watch, once in a while I have to whip out my old bag of skills, and let you, the reader, know what genius graces your theater screens.

Based on the French graphic novel series “Le Transperceneige” this South Korean- American production directed by Bong Joon-ho depicts the story of a rather grim future for human kind.

The basic plot goes as such: In 2014 in order to counteract Global Warming a chemical, CW-7, is released into the atmosphere. The experiment goes horrible wrong, and everything on earth freezes and goes extinct. Living outside is impossible, unless freezing to death is a viable option for anyone.

Only a few “fortunate” people receive tickets for an eternal train, the Snowpiercer. The train’s engine runs constantly and leads this massive train around the world. As later explained in the movie, the population on the train is its own small eco-system and the last living thing on earth.

The train is divided into sections, creating a harsh class system. The higher class people live in the front of the train – close to the engine – enjoying amenities such as spas, night clubs, restaurants, shops, and education. The tail of the train is filled with the lower class people, who have to live in the dark surrounded by filth and sustained on “protein”-bar blocks, which looks like goo.

The main plot line in the movie starts 17 years after boarding the train (2031), and is essentially the “Curtis-Revolution” lead by Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) a citizen of the tail end. The one who is in charge of the ever-running engine is in charge of train. Curtis wants to right the wrongs and help his people to a better – more balanced – life. With the help of his fellow people the revolutionists start their journey through the train taking section by section to eventually reach the engine, and obviously take charge.

They face obstacles in form of overseers and police officers sent to crush the revolution. The movie portrays one of the most beautifully orchestrated slaughter fests I have  seen in a film to date. The movie doesn’t shy away from gore. Friends, comrades are lost on the way. And the group of heroes shrinks with every cart they take.

There is no reason for me to spoil any more of the story. It took a while for the movie to be released here in the United States, but I am glad that 2 years after making it, we are finally able to enjoy it. This isn’t a feel good story. It is not a story about a bad situation becoming good. There are no good guys, or bad guys. Everybody has their baggage, and the train – especially the beginnings of the never ending journey- had brought out the worst in many.

It is a fascinating concept. The train, while a rescue from the deadly cold, is also simultaneously a gigantic coffin. There is no escape, there is no advancement. There is an upper rank deciding what is going to happen, and what isn’t. The movie depicts the human condition in its rawest form. It questions decisions and assumption people have about class, rank, and order. It shows the worst and the best of human kind in an exaggerated measure. Many of the scenes in the upper class sections have an aura of a Wes Anderson movie, especially when it comes to lighting, costumes and set design.

The cast in this rather underdog film is astonishing. As previously mentioned, the protagonist of the story is played by Captain America himself, joined by Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, ballet boy Jamie Bell, and Skin’s hero Luke Pasqualino. This ensemble is rounded out by Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung, whose performance was fantastic.

This is story is fantasy – or is it? Many questions are left unanswered. But when one stops questioning the technicalities, it all makes perfectly sense. And one needs to remember that it is less about the how, when, and why, but about the status quo on the train.

The reason why I am so fascinated by this movie is simply that the concept is entirely new. So many movies have become predictable, and a surprise is only a dumb cameo. Snowpiercer managed to create this new world, which enamors one entirely.

And if this review doesn’t convince you, please consider EW (Entertainment Weekly) verdict, which defined Snowpiercer as “this summer’s best post-apocalyptic comedy horror fairy-tale”. A perfect summary of what will expect you. My, my, that is quite the title. And it makes you wonder, which movies Snowpiercer had to beat out for the crown.

 

 

 

 

 

I just can’t fucking hang

Once upon a time (roughly a week ago) in a land not so far away four friends – and by that I mean my friend Karen*, her boyfriend John, and his friend Tim, and obviously yours truly – decided after a shit show of a planning period to head to Niagara Falls for a two day tourist vacation. At 5am on a Saturday morning Tim, a stranger in my eyes, drove us all the way up to almost Canada.

Niagara Falls, the town, is ugly. At least the tourist area looks like morals have long gone and found new places to hibernate in. Commercial areas are boarded up, and I don’t think actual citizens come anywhere close to that heat hell hole of tourist mania. But we did our thing. We went on the Maid of the Mist, had a classic lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, and then hiked over to the cave of the winds, which is another tourist attraction that allows you to essentially take a shower in the Falls. Throughout the day, Tim and I sort of got acquainted with each other – more out of necessity than actual interest, mainly because lovebirds Karen and John made it in the beginning a bit hard to create a group feeling.

After endless waiting periods and other annoying tourists -but lovely must-see sights- we headed over to our night quarters, which was essentially an L-shaped motel at the outskirts of Niagara Falls. One room, two beds, one questionable bathroom, and a mini-fridge. Due to my demands and my discomfort to share a bed with a strange dude (Tim), who was not just foreign to me but also a tad too much older than me, an air mattress had been lugged onto this road trip.

We decided to enjoy the evening at the only notable place in Niagara Falls, namely the casino. The ladies got ready, the gentlemen got ready, and on our way to a night of dancing and drinking we were. We had “pre-gamed” a bit in our room before heading out. I can’t speak for the others but I was definitely not able to operate any sort of heavy machinery at 9pm, the time we got to the casino. Which was perfectly fine. I didn’t have to be anywhere, be responsible for anyone. I am off legal age, therefore I was there to have a good time.

I don’t know if it was the sleepless night the day before, the lack of a proper dinner, but by 12am and a couple more drinks in me, I was done for the night. We had danced, goofed around, and simply enjoyed ourselves in a strange town with great music. I distinctly remember the singer of the live band, who decided to have Karen and me sing along to Shania Twain’s hit song “Man! I feel like a woman”. In short, it was a fun night.

But at midnight, as I said already, I was done and ready to go home. Tim generously paid for our drinks, and Karen shuffled us to a cab, which brought us safely home. I fell asleep in the car, and had rested my head on Tim’s shoulder. Once we got to the room, I Jersey-Shored it and simply put a hoodie over my dress and got under the covers to finally sleep.

Sadly, due to my head creating its own roller-coaster I had trouble finding rest and peace, my eyes were still closed, but I could hear what was going on behind me. My (new) friends were sort of arguing because Tim had not wanted to come home but find another bar. Karen argued my case, and pointed to my coma-esque state and insisted that there was no way in hell that I could have joined another venue. She, however, suggested, he should simply go by himself. Tim wasn’t having any of this and kept repeating, “Jenny can’t fucking hang”. Eventually, possibly to appease the drunken holler, the three of them went outside to enjoy a nightcap and talk without disturbing me.

I don’t know how much time had passed, but I was woken up by Tim, who had decided to check whether I was faking or not. He laid down next to me in bed, and crept up closer and closer. He asked a couple of times whether I wanted to “cuddle”. He rested his arm on my hip. Meanwhile, I was making distinct noises that implied to be left alone. I just wanted to sleep. At some point Tim decided “to check out” what was written on the back of my hoodie, which involved moving my covers and essentially touching my back. And that’s when the last few brain cells I hadn’t drank away kicked in. They managed to have my mouth form the words, “stop fucking touching me” and move my arm in a shush motion. Apparently that did the trick.

Tim retreated, mumbling again, that I can’t fucking hang. Thankfully, he left me alone, but he left me in a state of mind that by no means allowed for immediate sleep. I was freaking out. Adrenaline was rushing through me, and instantly my brain tried to understand what had just happened. I don’t know how I eventually managed to fall asleep.

The next day, he simply approached me and asked whether he had freaked me out. I did confirm it. And that was that, no apology, no explanation. Nothing that would have made his heinous approach a little bit more humane. Not that there is an excuse, but something that would comfort my thought process. A relatively silent 7 hour car drive home was the end of this trip, which had started out ok and had turned into something I will mostly likely have a hard time forgetting about.

Nothing really happened, but something did happen that flipped a switch in my mind. The first couple of days after the incident I played my favorite game, “What if…?”. Let me tell you, it is not a fun game. Then I looked for blame, and I kept coming back to the thought that I put myself in that vulnerable position. I don’t blame myself, but the factors that aligned themselves to lead up to Tim’s idiotic act have been partially put in place by me.

I tried to find comfort in friends but had an excruciating time to properly articulate my feelings, which led to not so proper reactions on my counterparts’ side. And to me resenting my friends for not getting it. But I know fairly well that I am a cripple when it comes to sharing. Too much sarcasm and irony muddled my story to maybe really getting what was going on inside of me.

Another friend called it sexual assault. I didn’t want to hear that kind of talking. It is label that propels this incident to a completely new level, which I don’t want to be on. I simply don’t want to acknowledge it as such.

I don’t even know why I wrote all of this down. I was hesitant to even publish this. But then, I cope best with writing. It is usually structured and provides clarity. Clearly, I was in desperate need to write this down. The incident happened more than a week ago, and I still sometime go back to that moment where I stood up for myself.

There is no rhyme or reason to this. I will not see Tim ever again. He is an racist asshole (another story for another time), who has proven that in no way does he know how the world works. He is a coddled prick, who has to learn that no actually means no, and that not being able to give consent also means no. It is not just him who has to learn that particular lesson, many, many people out there still don’t know the difference between yes and no.

Rant over.

 

*All names have been changed for this story.

My favorite High School “pranksters” (Explicit)

Get this, I am at the movie theater with my friend last night (Saturday). We are a bit early, and I sit down at an array of tables in the middle of the lobby while my friend secures the necessary snack variety. At a table next to me sit two High School aged kids, a boy and a girl. Since I am part of this society and its technological advancements, I immediately whip out my cell phone and start browsing my social media apps. I am as anti-social as one could be. However, I am not deaf, and I am aware of my surroundings. I don’t know if boy and girl are just utterly bored and trying to make time go by faster, or if they are part of an improve group and trying to practice on me. Nonetheless, they raise their voices and their conversations goes as such:

 

Boy: So, Jimmy calls me up this afternoon and asks if I want to hang out. I meet up with him. And he is behaving very suspiciously.

Girl: What do you mean?

Boy: Well, we are walking and suddenly he goes behind a dumpster, whips out his dick and asks me if I would suck it.

Girl: What? He just whips out his dick?

Boy: Yeah, he just whips out his dick (voice getting louder, I am listening but my eyes are glued to my screen).

Girl: Wow, that is so random. I mean, you have a dick and I have a dick, but I grew mine and my gigantic balls (rolling my eyes at this point). What happened then?

My friend returns with our drinks, puts them on the table, and says something to me. Boy and girl immediately go quiet. My friend goes over to another snack counter, and these two comedians continue their conversation.

Boy: Obviously, I said “no” at first. But then he took out this shiny, big Nickel and gave it to me. So I took it in my mouth. Just for two seconds! And he came instantaneously.

Girl: Really??

Boy: And his cum was like a Skittles rainbow. Blue, green, yellow, red. It was insane.

Girl: I can only imagine

Meanwhile, I have still not pleased them with a look, a chuckle, any reaction.

Their conversation continues in hushed tones.

Boy: Do you think she heard us?

Girl: I don’t know. She hasn’t even looked over once.

Boy: I thought at one point she looked over, but I think she was just looking for her friend.

Girl: That it is so weird. Are we loud enough?

 

In that moment my friend returns, I get up and we head to our theater. Obviously I can’t shut up about this situation and replay the whole situation for my friend.

High School kids are weird. Although six years ago I would have probably loved this kind of shit. Now I just chuckle at their desperate effort to get any kind of reaction out of me. Nice try, kiddos, I have heard it all. Although, I have to applaud them for their homoerotic creativity and their dedication to the bit. Next time though, don’t whisper right next to me to determine whether I heard it or not.

 

 

I am mad

As in previous posts mentioned I am currently attending a Community College in Massachusetts. I have a little over a month left until I graduate and then I am off to a four-year institution. In my second semester due to my exceptional grades I was invited to become a member in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which is an international honor society for Community College students whose academic achievements are outstanding. The society encourages and supports students in the completion of their degrees and assists in transfers. Every year they organize national conventions for people to meet, greet and take care of business.

Cut to a couple of months ago when the chapter coordinator for my school announced that my College had approved funding for a fully funded trip to this year’s PTK convention in Orlando, FL, for one lucky student and the chapter coordinator. While it was obvious the coordinator would go, the PTK chapter of my school decided to organize an essay contest to determine the lucky student candidate. The essay was supposed to outline how my academic achievements will help me in my future. I handed in an essay and felt pretty confident about it. I did in fact win the trip – so to say. My glorious victory was announced one and a half weeks ago, and next week I was supposed to pack my sun screen and my flipflops and head down south .

As you might anticipate given the title of this little story, my coordinator sadly told me today that the administration had decided to pull the funding due to some arbitrary insurance rule. Duh-dum. What do I say to that? What the hell? I am obviously disappointed, mad and frustrated. This contest and its prize were sanctioned last fall by the administration. My coordinator did not come up with this in her head and decided to screw her students over. This was legitimate. And I won fair and square.

I received the news a few hours ago, so my fury has settled just a bit. And it is not so much about the cancelled trip. For me this is more about the fact that my own school administration has decided to diminish my effort and the work I put in. Granted my essay is not the Iliad or Odyssey. But I did make an effort and used my spare time to pursue my education. I don’t write essays in between classes. I take time and thought to create a product that I and my audience can (hopefully) be satisfied with. Community Colleges and the Phi Theta Kappa stand for academic achievements and pursuing one’s personal dreams and goals. They stand for touching the students and inspiring them to seek more, reach for more.

Taking this away from me now is like flipping me off, laughing in my face and telling me to shove my dreams up my butt because no one does really care what I do or don’t do. And that is just despicable. Obviously I am not going to allow this to become part of me but the message, my College is sending, is flat out wrong.

Rant over.

PS: To make this disappointed up to me and my professor, the provost of my College suggested he could take us out to lunch instead. Lunch or Orlando? Hm, hm, hm.

 

A year later

Today marks one year since the Boston Bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. I reflected on the event immediately after the attack and the subsequent man hunt for the attackers (http://givemethepopcorn.com/2013/04/24/boston/).

I felt it was necessary to acknowledge this sinister anniversary. Questions still float. How? Why? And the most torturing, what if? Mysteries in the background investigation have popped up. Charges have been filed and read. Has normality settled in? Kind of, possibly – maybe. I don’t know anyone of the dead and injured. This makes it easier. For those who weren’t so lucky time and strength will hopefully do the trick.

I don’t know what I did last year on April 14th or even April 16th. I do remember ever little detail of the day. I wasn’t at the finish line, I did watch the marathon in Newton. I had ice cream and enjoyed the sunny day completely oblivious to what was happening less than 10 miles away from my home. I phone call brought me back to reality, and then CNN and the local news became my best friends.

I am not going to pretend that this tragedy threw me completely off the loop. I am not going to claim this tragedy and turn it into a personal pity party having no connections whatsoever. I don’t want to lessen the pain of the true victims and survivors – it wouldn’t be decent.

While the act in itself was a despicable, cruel dent into human society, the many, many heroes who stepped up and took charge are the ones who reinforced my belief in humanity.

What I also remember from this day is that people, friends, acquaintances reached out to one another trying to ensure that their loved ones were OK. In a strange, cynical way it brought people closer who had mange to drift away. It sounds horrible to even say that but the community pulled together – strong and resilient as ever.

Overheard on the elevator

I am on the elevator this morning heading to my classes when two professors come on as well. They start chatting.


Professor 1: Oh,yeah, I now have a bunch of your old students in my class. (Rolls his eyes)

Professor 2: I know. Students this semester are just getting worse and worse. They don’t want to do    anything.

Professor 1: Oh my god, yes. I told one of the girls, she really has to start reading those chapters to be able to keep up in class (keep in mind the semester is ending in 5 weeks).

Professor 2: Oh?

Professor 1: And you know what she does? She starts crying. Crying! Because I told her to do her work!


Then they both quite down because they noticed I am no longer pretend-playing on my phone but actually paying attention to them.

Hm, so college students, who voluntarily attend a higher ed institution, cry because they are expected to do a bit of work? I wonder if they know what they sign up for when they register for classes. I mean, college is not a prison work camp but it is also not just ice cream and butterflies.So, if showing up is 80 percent of success, I guess the remaining 20% would actually giving a damn and cracking open a stupid book.

Honestly, at a time when mommies of 21 year old students call professors to complain because little Johnny got a C on an essay even though “he worked so hard on it”, why am I even surprised? Should I start to pity professors because they have to deal with crying ninnies while still trying to stick to a syllabus? I guess it only makes sense to dumb down material as much as possible to satisfy students, parents, employees, and the neighbor’s cat. No wonder, this college generation is in the midst of major grade inflation. What is now an A, might not have even been a C 30 years ago.

So, yeah,  crying is the only logical option when being asked to actively work on that college education. And yeah, if you are looking for me, I will be handing out tissues in the library.

Rant over.

 

 

“Can’t we just all get along?”

On Monday Lena Dunham was honored by the Point Foundation in New York for her advocacy in LGBTQ issues. The Point Foundation is a scholarship fund that helps LGBTQ students, who have trouble finishing their education, to actually empower them in their academic dreams. Their work is admirable. At a time where this country prides itself to be so advanced in Human Rights issues compared to other countries, there are still enough people here in the United States who would like to push all sexual minorities back in any available closet.

For those of you who may not know who Lena Dunham is: First, shame on you. Second, she best known for creating, staring in, directing and writing the HBO show “Girls”. Personally, I have seen all three seasons. I am still on the fence though whether I like this show or not. The four main characters, in my opinion, are too pretentious in the way they speak and behave. Apparently this show is just showing the “normal” life of twentysomethings in New York City, who are trying to find their paths. For me it is like watching a completely different species. My mind is sometimes baffled when I see them react to situations, or how they treat each other.

Nonetheless, “Girls” is definitely refreshing. I call it sometimes “Sex and the City – The poor version”. And even though I don’t really enjoy the execution, the core beliefs, values and thoughts it is trying to deliver are in fact at the heart of every mid-twenties person – I am no exception to that.

When Lena Dunham was presented her award, she said among many other things also this:

lena

Now, obviously Ms. Dunham embraces the LGBTQ community immensely, not just because, but she has closer ties to it through her sister. I applaud her parents and her for their open-mindedness and their unconditional acceptance of the homosexual community. There have to be more people like her family in the world. Nonetheless, her statement about being disappointed not to have turned out a lesbian raised my eyebrows just a tiny bit. I might come off ignorant because I only have second-hand knowledge of the movement and fight for equal treatment. But as far as I understood this whole time, the LGBTQ community never wanted to be put on a pedestal. They might have been put there with a bunch of ugly stereotypes by unknowing freaks. But the fight is for equality – not to be celebrated as a marginalized group.

Isn’t the intention this whole time to just become part of the norm? That people don’t gasp and run into walls when they see a homosexual couple holding hands? That a show like “Looking” doesn’t get backlash for being not gay enough because they are not fulfilling the gay stereotype? That when you hear that someone is part of the LGBTQ community, you don’t instantly look for the parade and the glitter – possibly a marching band?

And by that I mean that the inclusion of all sexual minorities should be aspired, and not have people be “disappointed” that they can’t join an outside party. Even though she means well, this I believe, she manages, in my opinion, to make sure that there is strict distinction between two things, where there shouldn’t be any. Neither one is worse or better. Equal. Or, “Love is love.” With increasing research in this issue we find that there is a much higher fluidity when it comes to gender and sexual identity. There are no “teams”. It is just a big ole mess, and trying to find your place in it can be hard and difficult.

Somehow, Ms. Dunham glorifies being gay because of some misconstrued image in her head. Granted I can only imagine myself, but I never assumed that one’s sexual orientation can impact a life so entirely that it changes everything. What I am trying to say by this, is that the identity of a person is not just made up of straight or gay. There are so many other aspects that make a person who they are (family, passions, hobbies, friends, job, education, values, morals, etc.).

Reading out loud to myself what I have just wrote, I realize that you can either go away from this post saying that I have no clue, or hopefully get the my message somehow in between the lines, that whatever one might turn out to be (gay, straight, lesbian, asexual, demisexual, pansexual, transgender, etc.), it is all good.

As our society progresses, so does the acceptance. And I believe that it is only a matter of time. As of now, it baffles me why people get so heatedly involved in issues that have nothing to with them and would yet deny others simple rights. The little kid in me just wants to scream, “Can’t we all just get along?” I am not going to judge you on who you love or don’t love. I am going to judge you on whether or not you are a nice person. I wish everybody would just follow step and let just people be who they want to be. That being said, in light of recent legislative injustices (or trials of) towards the LGBTQ community, I know that it is necessary for progress to speak out on these issues and highlight what is going wrong.

As for Ms. Dunham, she said what she said. Then I wrote something, and world keeps on turning.

Rant over.