After a whole month of traveling through Shandong and interning at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and eating juicy dumplings, I am finally back from China! Since I blogged (or rather, my friend published my posts for me) at the the TRA: Overseas Chronicles during my time away, I won’t go into detail about my travels. You can read my final blog post in the When in China series here: One month later. Here is a sneak peek of my contemplations about returning home to the States:
“The feeling of change always creeps up on you when you least expect it. But it’s always such a pleasant surprise.
Last year when I came back from China, I felt the change when I got my first slice of *real* pizza in a month.
The texture of oily, stretchy cheese and the tangy tomato sauce on my tongue was beyond satisfying. Pizza-gasm-worthy. Never had I ever truly appreciated the taste of pizza until then.
This year, the change came on a visit to the ladies’ bathroom in the airport. Soap and toilets and toilet paper, oh my! Not all bathrooms in China are dirty holes dug up underground, but they aren’t the cleanest either. One time while I was traveling through the countryside in Shenyang, I ended up going to the bathroom in an outhouse. I will never forget the smell. Or the flies….”
Throughout the month of July, I have also written two culture columns for UNC-Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. Check them out:
On the way back to the United States, I spent the entire 12-hour flight watching six movies. Nonstop. No naps, no books! My eyeballs were nearly detached from their sockets by the time we landed in Detroit, but it was worth getting caught up with recent film culture trends.
Here are my mini movie reviews (spoilers at a minimum):
|The Weinstein Company|
My Week with Marilyn: Michelle Williams’ stunning performance as Ms. Monroe had her shining like a gold star throughout the whole movie. And it’s intriguing how this movie is based on a true story. I love how deeply we delved into the private life and psychology of Marilyn, as the biggest icon of her generation.
The movie centers around an intense, albeit one-week relationship between Marilyn and the third assistant director of the movie she’s in the middle of filming (I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character/narrator). Yes, the movie tells a story about Marilyn Monroe as an adored and talented celebrity. But it also gives us a glimpse at what the life and trials are like for a beautiful woman with more fame than she can manage. There were so many times when I wanted to look away, for it felt like I, too, was invading her privacy. Apart from the lovely Williams, though, the movie was just another Hollywood film–not a masterpiece. 4/5
Despicable Me: The scenes with Agnes and the theme song. ‘Nuff said.* 5/5
*I have already seen this whole entire package of adorableness three times, not including this time (when I only got to watch half). Who’s ready for DM2?!**
**says Me! Me! Me! in minion voice
The Lovely Bones: Quite possibly my new favorite. I haven’t been this engrossed with a movie since I saw The Black Swan; both can be thought of as psychological films. This is a Peter Jackson creation, and the scenes that depict Suzy Salmon’s (Saoirse Ronan) Heaven are just beautiful. Ronan has the young-actor charm of Dakota Fanning and the wiser-behind-her-years demeanor of Mara Wilson (from Matilda). The story is heartbreaking, but leaves every audience member a lot to think about. This is one of few movies that I can’t think of any other film to compare it to. 5/5
Seriously, y’all. I liked TLB so much that I went ahead and bought the book online. Can’t wait to start reading!
Super 8: I only got to see the first half of this movie on my flight from the States to China, so this time I finished the last half. There were some awesome action-packed scenes that made me jump quite a few times, but the movie reminded me of a less-gritty version of War of the Worlds (2005), especially with Elle Fanning, Dakota’s sister, as one of the main characters. It was less suspenseful than War of the Worlds though, mainly because all the characters were kids.
Also, too much cheese. 3/5
Breaking Dawn – Part 1: Twilight isn’t the most creative plot out there, but hey, once you start a series you can’t not finish it. BDP1 was surprisingly a lot better than I expected – though perhaps that might be because I haven’t read Breaking Dawn in over two years. I want to give whomever did Kristen’s makeup for her pregnancy scenes a high-five. Kristen is still a rather awkward totem pole, but at least she changed her expressions for once and even conveyed her character quite well in several scenes. She and Rob had much better chemistry and communication together…which is an awkward thing for ME to say considering recent events that have unfolded between the two. But we won’t go into that… 3/5
Restless: I thought this 2011 romantic drama was an indie film at first because of the eccentric themes in the script, the sidewalk music and the fact that I had never heard of it before (note: these features aren’t necessarily all indie-exclusive or inclusive). Talk about hipster. #nobutreally I like this movie. The plot was reminiscent of A Walk to Remember, and the ending was equally depressing and full of deep messages about life and death.
Not gonna lie – the beginning was pretty awkward. But it got better as the characters spent more time with each other and actually developed a relationship. I love the Japanese ghost, Hiroshi, that lives inside the boy’s mind. Props for being unique. 4/5