A Day In Our Lives #16

Hey Guys,
This week I wanted to talk about a bit of what I do on campus to pass my free time. I usually watch a lot of tv shows and cartoons while I crochet and make my artwork for school.  My favorite movie of all time is the Labyrinth starring David Bowie. these little creatures I have drawn are from that film. I think they’re super creepy and fun. I have a lot of fun drawing them. I usually don’t use a variety of bright colors but I really wanted to make them have dimension and look cool. I think that this decision really makes them pop. I usually spend a lot of time also hanging out with my friends and socializing here on campus. I am super excited for my upcoming show this week at the Stamps art Gallery. I have a sculpture going to the show, I hope you all check it out!
See you next week,

Round green shapes of varying sizes glow against the black background. The text reads, "Immersive."

Immersive #9: Loving Vincent

Oftentimes, adaptations of pre-existing work are translated into new mediums in order to expand upon the impact and outreach that the original work holds. However, given that every medium has its own advantages and disadvantages, these adaptations run the risk of losing the insightful themes and emotional responses that the original creator sought to invoke within their work. Nevertheless, when adaptations do manage to stay true to the original message, the end result can truly add onto the original contributions of the creator’s work in a meaningful manner.

One such adaptation that takes this approach of having a deep rooted understanding of the original work while transforming it into something revolutionary is through the 2017 feature film Loving Vincent directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman: from its conceptualization to implementation, Loving Vincent sought to put a new spin onto the life of Vincent van Gogh and the circumstances surrounding his death by having its animation consist entirely of hand-drawn paintings, becoming the world’s first ever fully painted film.

In having every frame of the film be painted in the style of Vincent van Gogh, Kobiela sought to build upon the words van Gogh stated in his last letter: “We cannot speak other than by our paintings.” And since such an ambitious feat had never been pulled off before, the creators had to spend 4 years developing the technique that would allow them to accurately capture the fluidity of film within frame by frame oil paintings. But after they managed to hone their technique, it took the team of over 125 painters another 2 years to finish the film, which consisted of over 65,000 frames painted over 1,000 canvases. The end result would be a nostalgic yet vivid world that truly allowed for its viewers to experience what it would be like to live within the contemplative and nuanced world of van Gogh.

Adeline Ravoux Folding Napkins

Overall, Loving Vincent embodies its name within all aspects of its production, retaining the expressive style and intentions of van Gogh while inspiring new life into his works through animation: it is truly a product of love for what van Gogh stood for and what he means for other creatives and admirers who gaze upon his work for inspiration. The film also serves as an indicator on how traditional mediums can be transformed into something new and innovative that adds onto the original work without subtracting from it. It is also a reminder that love for a project can go a long way in ensuring that all elements of the production work with intention and in harmony with one another, which is a mindset that I hope we are all able to embody within our own personal pursuits and creative endeavors.

Witness Loving Vincent: HERE

A New Type of Rom-Com: The Half of It

Like many other queer young adults, I was exalted upon learning of last spring’s Netflix film, The Half of It. The titular phrase, “the half of it” is derived from the Platonic myth of soulmates that proposes that each person is half of a whole soul, and the two halves search through life for their counterpart. Director Alice Wu (known for Saving Face) presents a refreshing take on the teen rom-com–this time, with a queer Asian female lead. Perhaps this is old news to some, but I couldn’t resist writing about this film. It’s the type of movie with substantial representation I wish existed when I was a teen.

The plot follows Ellie Chu, a bookish teen living with her widowed father in a small town in Washington. Ellie, a gifted writer who takes on her peer’s coursework for payment, starts writing romantic letters to a girl named Aster, posing as the goofy jock Paul. As Ellie and Paul’s friendship blossoms, so does Ellie’s romantic feelings for Aster.the loyal and playful Paul develops a strong bond with Ellie, an unexpected but delightful pairing who support each other in an honest way. Meanwhile, Ellie’s snail mail and text correspondences with Aster show Ellie’s witty, romantic nature–drawing upon book and film references and deep thoughts. I won’t spoil the ending in case you haven’t watched it yet, but I will say that the writing, although rushed at the end, isn’t demeaning or tokenizing, but portrays its characters in a realistic and nuanced way.

I admire this film not only for its complex writing and characters, but for its representation as well. As a queer woman of color, I was so excited to see representation that I could somewhat relate to. Viewers see scenes of Ellie and her immigrant father enjoying dinner together and watching classic movies, a part of the story that is surprisingly touching. Furthermore, Wu handles themes of race, sexuality, and religion in a thoughtful but not overbearing way.

The Half of It’s cinematography is beautiful as well, with tranquil shots of small-town life and semi-nostalgic high school drama. It’s warm and feel-good. Overall, it’s a brief but pleasant look at young adulthood, full of awkwardness and tension but also true friendship. Wu argues that romantic love isn’t everything in life, but perhaps only the half of it.

Round green shapes of varying sizes glow against the black background. The text reads, "Immersive."

Immersive #1: Life In A Day 2020

In a world that’s constantly responding to unexpected events that seek to sow division and reap unrest, the challenge of creating unity and a shared understanding among nations, communities, and families grows exponentially by the day. Nevertheless, in light of all these differences, there is the fundamental experience of life that is shared amongst all of us, generating empathy and compassion to the struggles that each and every one of us faces in hopes of a brighter tomorrow: the beautiful nature of humanity.

However, it is all too often that these nuanced and lived experiences of our day-to-day lives get ignored for larger and louder occurrences in the media and on the internet. Wanting to draw attention back to the intricacies of our daily lives and create unity within an isolated world, filmmaker Kevin Macdonald partnered with Ridley Scott to create Life in a Day 2020, a crowd-sourced documentary that sought to capture the human experience on a global scale.

A sequel to Life in a Day 2010, Life in a Day 2020 was carefully cultivated from over 324,000 video submissions from 192 countries that were all filmed on a single day: July 25th, 2020. The end result was a moving film that brought together our fears, hopes, concerns, and aspirations for the past, present, and future.

In the film, we are first exposed to the night. The chirping of crickets intermixed with the humming of an ensemble creates an intimate tone that is soon expanded upon after the waxing of the moon. A woman gives birth and then another one after that. Together, we welcome the new lives that have been introduced into the world, and we welcome a new day. The narrative soon picks up in pace, tying together short clips of urban and rural life from all across the globe. We gain a sense of cohesiveness from the rawness of the lives that are shown to us. Nothing here is foreign or strange, only human.

“This is my way of projecting my inner self into the world. Most people get stuck with what they see in the mirror every day, but there’s so much more to the universe. We just have to be willing to go beyond what we know,” the narrator remarks as a drone slowly flies away from its operator to capture an entire mountain. And to this point, I must agree. We must learn to embrace exploration and new knowledge in order to recognize the authenticity of all of our experiences.

Given the abundance of rich insights into daily life that were featured within the film, I can only wonder what other stories were left out to be able to cultivate the compelling narrative that is Life in a Day 2020; who weren’t we able to hear from because of the limited capacity of the production team? Because of the technology barrier? Because of the scope of the project? Even with all of these lingering questions at the end of the film, I still believe that Life in a Day 2020 was successful in its endeavor to create an intimate understanding of what it was like to live all across the globe on that single day in the summer of 2020.

Watch Life in a Day 2020: HERE

Study Hal: Week 10 – Movie Night

Grab a tasty snack and a refreshing beverage, we’re having a movie night!

Last week, Hal was really stressed out, so he spent some time finding a low-stakes hobby to keep him grounded. After some research, he discovered that plenty of classic horror movies are in the public domain and available for free online! So now, once a week, he sits down with his tea and popcorn to watch one. More often than not, though, Hal comes to movie nights so tired that he falls asleep halfway through the dang movie! I guess it’s good that he’s getting some rest…

Hal’s favorite movies are ones with the campy special effects, but he’s been more open to other psychological horror flicks, too. Can you figure out what movie he’s watching here?

In case you haven’t heard, Hal’s a U-M student back in his hometown for the summer of 2020. He shares his experiences of this weird time every week, so check out the Study Hal tag if you want to see more!

The Irony of Parasite’s Success at the Academy Awards

Parasite, directed by Bong Joon Ho, is a masterful South Korean black comedy film that has taken the media world by storm. After sweeping the 2020 Academy Awards in four categories, people are still talking about Parasite since its premiere in May 2019. at the Cannes Film Festival. It has achieved the monumental milestone of being the first South Korean film to win any award at the Oscars, ever. I have watched the movie twice and consider myself a big fan. Yet, I am not the only person to believe that Parasite’s success at the Academy Awards serves as an ironic reminder of the film’s true message.

Social and class equality form the basis of Parasite’s plot. A poorer family, the Kims, work their way into each being employed by the wealthy Parks, and the two families start to become interdependent before the tragic ending. The Kims depend on the Parks for their money, and the Parks depend on the Kims for their labor. Bong Joon Ho’s brilliant storyline highlights the disparity between destitute and extraneously rich families, ultimately satirizing the traditional rags to riches dream heard in developed nations.

But the Academy Awards themselves stand in direct contradiction to the film’s themes: the Oscars is traditionally a night of famous actors and actresses, big shot film producers and directors, and glitzy dresses and tuxedoes. The gift bags given to nominees this year, created by Distinctive Assets, had a total value of around $225,000 each, its 80 items including a gold vape pen, a 12-day yacht cruise, and $20,000 in matchmaking services. According to company founder Lash Fary, they only deliver the bags to “about 25 people”, meaning that they have to freedom to gift “the most insanely priced things.” It seems that the Academy Awards and the high cost of production and attending further illustrate the frustrating path of wealth within a capitalist society that preaches the merits of the American Dream that at the same time neglects the lower class.

Parasite seeks to illuminate the divide between extreme wealth and the stories of society’s downcast, impoverished, and displaced. Even the film is not free of complicated relationships–it was produced by CJ ENM, one of South Korea’s family-run large businesses. Director Bong Joon Ho suggests that within Parasite “no one is guilty–or perhaps, all are guilty.” Examined on a broader level, everyone in greater society is guilty in a way–we are all guilty of ignoring those who are different than us while simultaneously engaging in the exploitation of their stories. While capitalism, class, and society are intertwined in complex ways, Parasite’s positive reception indicates that at least we are somewhat self aware.