“Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion” (Quickie)

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion

(A Quick Discussion)

Directed by Shunya Ito, this 1972 cult classic from Japan focuses on Nami Matsushima (Meiko Kaji), a woman betrayed by the man she loves and wrongly sentenced to time in a horrific, batshit prison for women run by sadistic, sleazy men. The film follows her escape, radicalization, and revenge. “Stylized” is definitely the word here. Can’t express enough how off-the-wall this is.

That visual style shifts so, so much. The sets – how expressionistic! The movement, the angles…. baffling in how the color will be muted then explode. The things’ a carnival laced into a rad, 70’s-as-hell prison exploitation film (complete with some insidious post-war angst).

*****TW: Sexual Assault *****

The film engages with and subverts that “gaze” that’s inherent in exploitation flicks. As we know, that lens is often objectifying, male, and warped – and here, thankfully, it moves largely away from this and flips it onto its audience.

artwork by senior artist, Natasha O. Kappler.Objects in the hands of her long list of oppressors are arranged in-frame to be phallic. In times of stress, lights are bright, movement is disorienting. Anytime the camera looks like it’s getting skeevy and voyeuristic, the next shot is focused on #701’s eyes, glaring critically toward her enemies and through the screen. There’s an acknowledgement not just of the evil,  but its storied portrayal and existence. All with surreal visuals and tactful framing.

The genre normally puts women through hell and sexes it up for no reason other than to appeal to a gross quo.  This movie throws that absurd violence onto both the perpetrators and those who are complicit, refusing to take power from its protagonist. It’s tangible, even when its fantastical.

It’s barbed, all of it, and of course, its influence on Kill-Bill is *readily* seen.

*****

So? Worth a watch?

 

Yes. Yes absolutely.

 

 

For more on its influence, here’s an article written by James Balmont on the film’s impact on badass blockbuster women in American Cinema. Click the link below:

 

Devon Canal
1/30/2021

Here We Are

“Here we are” which is something I catch myself saying all the time. Its honestly crazy how last time I was in a class like this it was Spring 2019- right before Covid hit. Single-Cam was a whirlwind while we tried to get our films together right at the brink of Spring Break.

Trust me, A LOT has happened since then and I am pretty sure the old B is gone. Some may count the pandemic as a blessing in disguise of the worst thing to happen to them… honestly to this day I still do not know what I considered it given the fact that I came out of that horrid summer a completely new person. Houk, if you are reading this, we may know that I was with someone. Well, onceuponatime, he showed his true colors and left in May. And, without going into detail, this caused me to reflect on the relationship and what I discovered was traumatizing.

So what’s a girl to do when she is brutally dumped in the middle of a pandemic, and can’t access Disney as her escape? Get spiritual.

Also LOTS of retail therapy- which I highly recommend.

Instead of sitting back and crying, which one does and I will admit I did this a lot, I knew I had to suck it up and simply DO something about it. I meditated, made a journal full of shadow workings, had tarot readings, got a job and internship, created new hobbies, met so many amazing people, had mini photoshoots with a close friend to help my shattered confidence, and my personal favorite: finally started that Disney Blog I always wanted.

In a sense I want to say I came out a more mature and “let me put my foot down and speak up more” types of person due to certain circumstances. I am incredibly happy about that. I get to smile again and start new projects (one in development!), talk to my friends whenever I want, and simply be the best version of myself. I cannot wait to grow more and see what projects I produce and how far I’ll go in this industry/ process.

So, here we are.

Sonder

In the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows lies the word Sonder. It is “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

I will continue to struggle when it comes to finding a purpose in life. This is by no means a post to tell you that I have all the answers. That Christian has it all figured out. No. Not even in the slightest. But I have come to realize that life isn’t supposed to be so clear cut. Whether or not you believe in fate or destiny is up to you. I personally believe we write our own stories and the obstacles thrown at us is our opportunity to show what kind of character we are. Are you the moral high-ground hero? Or maybe you’re a mischievous schemer? Do you help others first or make them help you? Maybe you’re just an asshole? I wouldn’t go for the last one, but again, you write your story however you want to.

Sonder is a word that singlehandedly tells you how important you are and at the same time describes how worthless you can be. That may be a bit of an exaggeration but really it’s up to you which side of the word you want to hold more meaning. How does this tie in to 4381? Well… we are storytellers after all. If you’re not writing a film, you’re still writing yours. And depending on what you do in life, maybe someone will write it for you one day. Become a legend. What’s stopping you? Start showing that character.

With filmmaking, we have the opportunity to look at every aspect of the world and incorporate it into a story that we want to tell. Our characters are important, but so is the tree standing in the background. So is that extra sipping coffee. Like the world you’re living in, their world has just as many complexities and details. See it. Create it. I think that’s a beautiful thing. Take notice of the world you live in now. Understanding realism unlocks the potential to create so much more. Your worlds can practically create themselves if you start with a branching idea and let it lose into our world.

Your life is a story full of highs and lows. One day you’ll be sitting at the top and the next you’ll be at rock bottom. You’ll be driving in your car singing wildly to happy songs that remind you of fun days at the beach, and then switch the station to sad songs that’ll make you relive your first heartbreak… and then switch back to happy songs while wiping the tears from your face. Ups and downs are what makes your story interesting. They’re what makes every story interesting, and we have the opportunity to write every single one of them.

Finding My Role

Creating and writing has come slightly easier than I would have expected it to. I struggle to verbalize how I feel and express my thoughts. However, creating and writing just feels different and doesn’t bring the same challenges. I recently completed the course scriptwriting and starting off I was terrified but I begin to enjoy it and become better.

Now, I’m breaking down scripts and writing 2min scripts. Pre-production is becoming something I have grown fond too. This weekend I was going over a script and separating each scene by length and numbering each of them. A couple of summers ago I was given the opportunity to observe director and writer Greg Carters’ crew for a week. Having done that and working on some projects of my own 2nd AD is something I would really like to pursue. I’m currently still doing research and learning more about the role but that department is something I’m definitely gravitating towards.

Somewhere Between Tarot Readings and Social Responsibility

I’ve always admired anyone who says that they want to create for the sake of creation. But, I have never been able to define my wants without justification. Though, as most anxieties go, we tend to be tougher on ourselves than we are on others. That’s something I’ve come to terms with. What I don’t like is not being able to find the right words to define myself or my work. This idea of having to explain exactly why and what I aim to communicate in my life has loomed over my head for at least a decade.

After years of introspection, gaining and shredding toxic hustle-culture mentality, and what I like to call the end of my own hero complex, an idea of what I actually aim to do finally came to me. My goal is to create stories in which the characters’ journeys do not revolve around their proximity to their oppression, but rather, oppressions play in interwoven side characters as they do in real life. This thought was partially inspired by my exhaustion from watching so many TV shows that came to air post-Covid-lockdown. Their season or mid-season premiere episodes displayed practically the same story.

The black character (typically the only one in the cast*) gets held at gunpoint by a police officer. When tensions with the authorities are cooled,  the black character gives their white counterpart the typical “you don’t know what it’s like” speech, the white counterpart apologizes for their ignorance and promises to do better. And that’s the episode. That’s it. The monotony is almost insulting at this point. Of course, while I completely recognize networks and their aims to stay relevant to the murders of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor last summer, I have failed to see the scripts that tackle race and its intersections outside of police brutality or hate crimes. I try not to question how networks have rationalized and justified repeatedly black audience members are made to rewatch a real, potential trauma on a loop from these shows and news networks to possibly educate or soothe the complacency guilt of non-black audiences. While drama is usually intriguing when it is large, flashy, and gutwrenching, it caused me to think about real stories of racism that I’ve heard about from friends and family members or have experienced myself.

It’s rarely the big things, but instead, like quiet stabs to the gut that fail to bleed, whether they be situations when a waiter at a nice restaurant pivots their conversations more toward a white dinner guest over yourself, internalized preferences within the community that can ruin a romantic crush, or a classmate telling a black student that she’s “so well-spoken” (this is called a microaggression, and yes, it happened in an actual class I was in last spring). It’s the everyday experiences that fail to make it to screen that could make a world of difference in representation in film and tv, rather than filling quotas in calls for diversity.

Unexpectedly, this brings me to reading tarot, which I can only describe as my own Covid Lockdown equivalent to learning to make sourdough. If you know, you know. Tarot reading turned into a spark for an idea to write a screenplay about black witches and now, that feature is in editing in preparation for graduate school and fellowship applications. Today, while hovering over a sentence and trying to decide if it had too many adjectives in it (it did), I wondered if I was playing this all the right way. I’d written a screenplay about teenage black witches in the South that struggled with southern traditions while trying to make their own mark on the world through their passion that wouldn’t exactly be acceptable in their Christian family. This is where the overthinking begins. I make tabs on what scenes pass both the Bechdel test and the DuVernay test. Is it right to expect audiences to understand the nuances of generational trauma in the script? Could I be overstating my goal to include the differences in the main two characters’ appearances to illuminate colorism in the black community? Is it fair to be concerned about a character’s digestibility to an audience when I, myself, try to constantly break down internalized judgments and expectations that I’ve projected onto others?  Mostly, throughout my time writing, I wonder if I’m doing a disservice by not constantly being blatant about race relations, especially when there are so many perspectives, misconceptions, and miseducations surrounding the topic and its intersections with sexuality, gender, and topics such as economics, education, and environmental factors. It’s enough to drive someone crazy or quit altogether, I know. But, I figure that I’m already crazy and quitting just isn’t in the cards for me.

It all leads me to wonder if, instead of judgment toward the prosaic, oversimplified projection that blackness in America dwindles down to police brutality and AAVE at family cookouts, if I can just somehow accept that has just become the easiest storyline to write and the fastest to produce.

This all builds to checking my horoscope, which is possibly the most controversial topic on this post. My tarot card of the day was the Page of Swords. Under it, a note that read: “You or someone is overthinking and making this way too hard. Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.”

I’ll be taking a break from that app for a bit.

 

 

 

*One show that I watched made this situation happen to every single black male character on their show. Most recently, two out of three of the characters in one episode.

 

Spring Forward Into Creativity

After years and years of creating amateur movies and short films on my own with an iPhone and big dreams, I recently finally invested into my first digital video camera (Cannon Rebel SL3) and am looking forward to the projects I’ll be working on within the next few months in and outside of school.

This summer, my first collaborative script/project will be produced with a celebrated playwright and UH alum, Addie Symonds. We have been drafting the script all winter break and will be having our first official meeting tomorrow evening.

In light of tonights astrological event, which is a Full Moon in Leo, I will be manifesting an abundance of ideas and creative energy to flow through us and into our notes and finalization in script work tomorrow. Trust the timing in your work and trust the timing of the Universe. Anything and everything is possible.

Lunar New Year!

Hi 4381, I hope you and your family are doing great and safe!

So, today I’d like to tell you guys about my Traditional Holiday in Vietnam since it almost happens!

In a year there are many important events taking place. However, one of the most significant holidays in Vietnam is Lunar New Year. Wherever they go, every Vietnamese person cannot forget the traditional Tet holiday of the nation.

The Lunar New Year actually originated in China during the Three Huang Dynasty and is celebrated in January every year.

For Vietnamese, Tet usually takes place in three main days, but a week before, people have been busy shopping for Tet. The men in the family will paint and redecorate the house to welcome the new year. As for the women, they take care of organizing the purchase and sale of necessary food items and utensils for a few days of Tet. The typical flower that Northern people play Tet is peach blossom, while Southern people prefer apricot blossom. Five fruit trays are also an indispensable decoration of Vietnamese peopleThis is also the difference between the North and the South.

The customs of traditional New Year’s Day in Vietnam are extremely rich. Which is to wish New Year; lucky money, display a five-fruit tray, grow a tree, pack a “Banh Chung“, hang a puzzle All make up the cultural beauty of Vietnamese New Year’s Day.

When Tet comes, people abstain from anger, quarreling, sweeping the house – fearing to bring the omen, lose fortune and lose fortune in the new year. We use this as an opportunity for people to forgive, heal, and redeem for the misfortunes that happened in the old year. Tet holidays of the Vietnamese people have many special meanings. Tet is the time when all families get together and gather together. It is also the time when everyone looks back on the old year and wishes for a new year to come. Tet helps people get closer, get closer together, forgive and forgive each other’s mistakesTherefore, who does not remember Tet, does not look forward to Tet.!

All in all, each ethnic group or a country has its own customs and practices. The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is a special event with a unique culture that has been passed down for centuries. Although going through a period of upheaval in history, customs have been more or less lost and mixed. Being a Vietnamese, wherever, our heart are always directed to our national roots.

Zendaya Coleman is in fact a grown woman

About a week or so ago, I watched the trailer for the movie “Malcolm & Marie,” an American black-and-white romantic drama film that follows the rocky relationship of a filmmaker, Malcolm, and his girlfriend, Maire. The film seems interesting as the events only seem to take place after the two return home from the filmmaker’s movie premiere. I am really curious to see how it was shot and edited.

The film stars stars Zendaya Coleman, 24, as Marie, and John David Washington, 36, as Malcolm. I am including their ages because the film has been receiving backlash for the 12-year age gap between the two. Although I know that Zendaya is a grown woman, I cannot help still seeing her as teenager because I am so used to seeing her acting in teenage-aged roles. I will not lie, seeing her in the trailer with her counterpart confused me at first, and I thought to myself, “What is she doing with this grown man?” which is ridiculous I know. Zendaya is a grown woman and should be treated and seen as such. I wonder if anyone else felt this way or if it was just me.

In conclusion, this song is for Zendaya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3MjxWn5W9M

New Year, New Mindset

Hello everyone, hope you all had a great holiday break!

I took the time over the break to think about the upcoming semester and my overall life moving forward. It is crazy to think Covid hit last year in March.
I, like many others, did not think it would still exist up to this point. It has been hard to stay motivated and I found myself blaming a lot of situations on Covid. If I did not feel up to doing school work I would say it was because I was not at school and I needed to be because that is how I learn best. That is just one example, but mainly any negative emotions I felt towards myself or others I would say it was because I was stressed and Covid changed up my school, work or everyday life schedule.

I thought it was ok at first, but now as time has gone on and Covid is still around I realized that Covid is like any other roadblock in life. Challenges are thrown your way whether you want to deal with it or not, it’s a choice. How I react to someone or something is a choice and will change the result going forward. Instead of using Covid as an excuse, I’ve learned to perceive it as just another challenge to work my way through. It still is hard, as I know for many others will agree, but I’ve been trying to take it on day by day. It seems to be less stressful that way. I am a huge planner when it comes to anything in my life and like looking ahead. However, some things can’t be planned in advance. Covid being an example of something that came out of nowhere and changed my schedule.

A friend of mine told me, “The only constant is change.” and it’s true. As much as I’d rather have a structured life, life does not always go the way you plan.

This has definitely been a life lesson for me, and still continues to be. The people I took for granted seeing or said I was too busy to see. Having a routine and the freedom to go out. All of it was stripped away.  The best I can do is come out of this and have changed how I treat the life I was given.

This below is the last time I was together with all my family members that I have not been able to see 90% of them during this time. We are all together at our beach house and when things get back to some kind of new normal, finding time to get together again with them is definitely at the top of my list.

 

Back Into It

Happy New Year 4381 Productions!

This year has only just begun and I have already managed to find myself busy, but it is all good, creative things.

To start it off, I wanted to give an update on my thesis. If you have been keeping up wi9th my posts, you’ll know that I have been working on a Senior Honors Thesis, which composes of a feature-length film, some preproduction package, along with a visual component, if resources and time allows. Since I have last posted about it, I have shared the first half of my screenplay with all of my committee members, each bringing their own perspectives and ideas to the project. While some did call for more drastic changes, it nonetheless reinvigorated me to get back into this project again. I now have many new ideas to add to the script, ways to focus more on the characters, and the eventual performance of this screenplay. After tossing ideas back an forth, I am now considering having a virtual table read of a scene of my screenplay as my visual component, with a peer or colleague of mine taking on the director role in guiding the actors, that way I can experience the role of the screenwriter: writing a visual and dialogistic story, letting it go, and watching it grow. While I still want to produce this film someday in the future, whether in graduate programs or as a personal project, however, I think this table read is something that will help me grow as a screenwriter.

I have also slowly started to get myself more acquainted with still photography. My confidence behind the camera has definitely grown, but I think I still have a ways to go. So these are a few pictures I took on New Year’s Day. Not amazing, but a start nonetheless.

But all in all, I am excited for what this year brings. Also, I want to say welcome to all the new members of 4381 Productions. I hope your time with 4381 serves you well as it does me and my peers.