Turning Red Movie Review

Every birthday is special. But among the milestone birthdays, the day we turn thirteen is the first that represents a change in our lives. The subtle and not-so-subtle shift from childhood to young adult starting at this age is complicated for both the young person and their parent(s).

Turning Red is the newest release from DisneyPlus. Meilin (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), has recently turned thirteen. The daughter of a Chinese immigrant family who made a new life in Canada, she is smart, confident, and driven. Meilin is also on the verge of puberty (i.e. menstruation) and everything that comes with it. While she is on the slow road to becoming an adult, her mother, Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), would prefer to keep her child from growing up.

One morning, Meilin wakes up and sees a giant red panda in the mirror. Her parents sit her down and reveal a long-held family secret. Upon reaching the age at which she starts to become a woman, every female in her family turns into a red panda. Any extreme emotion, either good or bad, will facilitate the transformation. Torn between wanting to please her mother and starting to take the first step on the figurate path to independence, Meilin has to make certain choices that we all had to make back then.

I loved this movie. I love that Meilin is a dork and proud of it. I love that that she looks like a normal girl and not the preteen version of a supermodel. I love the diversity and the strong female role models, both on the screen and behind the scenes. Though she does develop romantic feelings (well, as much as one can at the age), it is not the crux of the story.

The heart of this narrative is the push and pull between Meilin and Ming. Ming is not a bad mother. The idea that Meilin is no longer clinging to her 24/7 is an idea that her mind cannot compute. Directed and co-written by Domee Shi, this film has heart, humor, and fully human female characters.

Though it is not without controversy. Some parents have complained that that analogy of a girl getting her period is inappropriate. First of all, this is the color of the animal’s fur. It’s not like Mother Nature purchased a box of hair dye and decided to paint this creature red. Second of all, this is a normal process. Without the monthly visit of our friends, we would not be able to carry and birth the next generation. The fact that it is 2022 and some adults are afraid to talk about this topic speaks volumes about our culture.

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Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also venture to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if Turning Red was on several “Best Of” lists come the end of the year.

Turning Red is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

Found Review

We all want to know where and who we come from. Someone who is raised by their birth family can easily answer this question. Those who are adopted may not be able to come up with that same information as easily.

The 2021 Netflix documentary, Found, follows three young ladies who were born during the one-child policy era in China. Living in orphanages as babies because of their gender, they were each adopted and raised by Anglo-American parents. Finding each other via a DNA test, they travel to the land of their birth, hoping to find blood relatives.

This film is touching and beautiful. I felt for these young women, whose lives were forever altered simply because they were born girls and not boys. I loved their connection, it was the emotional throughline that kept me watching. Throughout the movie, I was crossing my fingers, hoping that their deepest wish would come true.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Found is available for streaming on Netflix.

The 2022 Olympics & the Uyghur Torch Bearer: History Repeats Itself

Human history is cyclical. The details may change, but the general narrative is static.

As is standard practice at the beginning of every Olympic season, the games are opened by a couple of torchbearers. As I write this, this year’s competition is held in Beijing, China. According to many journalists and media outlets, this nation has a long list of human rights abuses.

Among them is the treatment of the Uyghurs. In an attempt to quell the criticism and prove the rest of the world wrong, a Uyghur athlete was one of the competitors chosen to light the torch during the opening ceremonies. If the Chinese government thought that this would silence its critics, they were wrong.

Eighty-six years ago, Berlin was the host city for the Olympics. Like the Chinese government, the Nazi-run German government needed to put on a good face for visiting contenders and officials. They did so by “allowing” fencer Helene Mayer to compete. Her father was Jewish, her mother was not. According to the Nazi racial Laws, Mayer was a mischling. Though she was classified as a Jew and had Jewish lineage via her father, Mayer did not consider herself to be Jewish.

If history is any indicator, we have an opportunity to save lives and prevent another Holocaust. The question is, what is the rest of the world going to do? Are they going to sit idly by while innocent people are being slaughtered? Or will they step up and make it clear that what the Chinese are doing is unacceptable?

Only time will tell, but I hope that they will finally do the right thing.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

Movies and/or television shows that are based on comic books have been part of our modern entertainment era for decades. What is important is the balance between the source material and the enjoyment of the audience.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Based on the comic book of the same name, we are initially introduced to twenty something Shaun (Simu Liu). Living in San Francisco, he and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) earn their living parking cars. Reality intervenes when Shaun’s ancient warlord father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) send his goons to bring his son back to China. On the plane, Shaun tells Katy that his real name is Shang-Chi and the truth about his family. Meeting up with his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), they have to come together to defeat their father and prevent an even greater disaster from occurring.

I loved this movie. Though I have no knowledge of the narrative or the character arcs within the books themselves, I can say with certainty that the film adaption is superb. I loved the balance of the comedy and the action. The female characters who surround Shang are not sitting in the background, waiting to be rescued. They are as important to the action as the male characters. The one role that stood out to me was Xu Wenwu. He is akin to Anakin Skywalker in that his intentions are good, but his actions are not exactly on the up and up.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently in theaters.

Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History Book Review

History is an interesting thing. We may not realize that we are going through it until it passes us by.

Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, by Washington Post writers Yasmeen Abutaleb¬†and Damian Paletta was published in June. In the book, the authors describe with fastidious detail how the former Presidential administration not only politicized Covid-19, but how the egos and careers of certain officials led to the public health and economic catastrophe that is our reality.

Starting with early 2020 and ending last the fall, we start the narrative when it was just a mysterious flu like sickness that appeared to arrive from China. As the months pass and number of cases and deaths rise, the revelations of mismanagement, lack of communication, in-fighting and political bullshit allowed the virus to take hold and kill over half a million Americans.

Reading this book felt like it was a ticking time bomb. It was just a matter of time before all of the elements would come together and explode into chaos and destruction. What made me angry is that the fate of the American people was put aside to ensure that a small handful of individuals remained in power, regardless of the damage that was created in its wake.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

China and the Uyghurs: The New Nazi Germany

If there is one thing that has lasted throughout the history of humanity, it is the appalling way in which we treat our fellow humans.

After the Holocaust, the phrase “never again” echoed from the lips of the survivors.

Unfortunately, “never again” has become an empty statement over the decades.

In China, the Uighurs are a Muslim minority. According to reports, the Chinese government have been forced to leave their homes for “re-education camps”. A segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver released on Youtube on Monday revealed the harsh treatment that these people are experiencing.

Watching the segment immediately took me back to everything I know about the Holocaust. The details change, but the basic facts are the same: a minority or minorities are dehumanized and forced into a specific location/murdered/tortured because of who they are.

I had hoped that 75 years after the end of the Holocaust, we might have finally learned from the mistakes of past generations. But humans are still humans. We still hate and kill one another strictly based on a face value identity.

Maybe one day, we will finally treat each other with respect and dignity.

Happy Wednesday.

Is China Truly to Blame for the Covid-19 Pandemic?

A pandemic does not start from nowhere. It starts with a virus that is at best not contained or at worst, ignored completely. With freedom to jump from host to host, it expands at alarming rate, spreading far beyond the place in which it came from.

According to recent news reports, upon discovering Covid 19, the Chinese government did everything they could do to bury the story. This included stopping Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who discovered the virus, from sharing his findings with his colleagues.

It is undeniable that Covid-19 started in China. That evidence is impossible to refute. That being said, it is also undeniable that China is not the only one to blame for the current pandemic. Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the following about the virus entering the United States:

“We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right,” Cuomo told a briefing. “But we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban.”

I can’t agree more. Had the federal government (and the administration of you know who) acted quickly earlier in the year, we would not be in the predicament that we are in. But they didn’t and because they didn’t, our economy is shut down, millions are unemployed and over 50,000 Americans have died from the virus.

Speaking of, did anyone else hear that you know who blamed Barack Obama for the virus?

This continued accusation goes beyond anything that he has said before. It shows how incompetent he is. Instead of manning up and doing what he needs to do, he again blamed his predecessor for his lack of action. It was not Obama who disbanded the team that could have helped to stop this disease in it’s tracks. It was was you know who.

Back in 2014, Obama warned the nation that a future pandemic was coming. Back then, like all of us, he didn’t know when or how it would occur. But he knew enough to know that preparation was absolutely necessary.

Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could vote for you know who. His lies and half truths have become more than something to laugh at. They have become downright dangerous and life threatening.

If nothing else, this should be the reason why he must be voted out of office in the fall. If we don’t, this country as we know it to be will cease to exist.

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