Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) Review: The Anti-Material Girl

Should I have changed my title for this review to a story about a Classy but Penniless Gold Digger who Can’t Survive on her Own? That would mislead the readers on what I think about the beloved character Holly played by Audrey Hepburn. To call her a gold digger is far from the truth. However, at a glance, it’s hard not to judge since that was the first impression I got from looking at the cover despite what critics said and what my older peers thought. In fact, an older woman recommended this film to me. Now I see why.

Before I provide you with my personal input about this classic film, let’s talk about the plot. It’s not all bad as it sounds if you are a carefree-loving wild cat and are on the liberal side of life. This film is about an unmarried woman who appears to be happy. She’s wild, fun, and entertaining. But underneath it all–she needs help more than anything. For example, she doesn’t know how to budget money; she makes her living through entertaining sugar daddies; She throws lavish parties; and does things out of the norm. Sometimes I wonder how a classy gal can afford such things. Then again, her acquaintances have big money. Also being beautiful has its perks. She draws men to her like moths to a bright lamp at night. Even her neighbor, a writer struggling to make it big–named Paul Varjak, comes to her aid when she needs him. What a lucky girl just for being beautiful. In the end, she settled with Paul out of love when she could have picked one of her millionaire acquaintances, which makes this film a heartwarming story. All it took for Holly to say yes to Paul is the prized ring found in the Cracker Jack box. The particular scene where Tiffany’s sales clerk agrees to engrave the initial on the Cracker Jack’s ring for 10 dollars implies that love doesn’t have a set price. And most importantly, what is the probability of finding love? It’s worth more than all the diamonds you can buy. It’s a bold statement to women that you don’t always need diamonds to feel loved.

In conclusion, films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s point out the cold hard truth about material women. What it got right about love is that “love is plenty enough,” I quote from the film. Now that’s gold because love is a rare emotion that some of us might never experience in our lifetime. So why trade emotion for material security to fill the empty void in our hearts? What women really need is emotional security. The film says no to material things, but yes to immaterial things. How ironic is that, considering Tiffany’s is a jewelry store? The writer Paul Varjak is the jewelry store. He makes her feel like a diamond. Great metaphor! Overall, I love this film!

Batman Begins (2005) Review: Conquer your Fears and Fight for Justice

Not going to lie, I miss going to the theatre, drinking overpriced fountain drinks, and eating popcorn. Batman Begins is quite fitting for this time, especially during this pandemic. As soon as I saw the film available on Netflix, I can’t help but draw the correlation with our current fear to bats as it is the likeliness original source of Covid-19. If you want to conquer the virus–you have to become it. That’s the only way we can get rid of the virus called Covid-19 fear. Okay, I shouldn’t joke around about the deadly virus so lightly. But sometimes you got to make yourself laugh at the situation. It’s good for your sanity. Understanding your fear is the beginning of conquering it. This film couldn’t be more fitting for the current major event. When it comes to hunting for metaphors, like Covid-19, I do not discriminate–that’s why I’m reviewing the western film for a change. So let’s dive into the cave, I mean review.

Batman Begins explains how Batman came to be and his role in Gotham City. To fight criminals you have to think like a criminal. Instead of abusing one’s power–Bruce Wayne rises above crookedness and corruption, which makes him a legend and the perfect defender of justice. It’s a great film in the sense we see a positive character development who is forced to tackle tough questions about good versus evil, but most importantly justice. My eyes were glued to the screen when I first saw this film in the theatre and it still has the same effect on me to this day: I watch the film from the comfort of my living room. There’s a sense of Zen when viewing this film, especially towards the first 47 minutes. It unfolds and lay out for the audiences to see the growth of Batman done beautifully. Young Bruce Wayne was lost when he lost his parents to a robbery incident which scarred him emotionally throughout his youth and adult life. Then later, he was found when he turned away from revenge, the path of destruction.

The fighting scene in the snow between Bruce Wayne and Henri Ducard–is one of my favorite scenes in the film along with the hide and seek scene with the ninjas in the temple. Why you may wonder? Simply because I love a good fight; martial arts is a form of discipline to master the self and one’s surroundings. I learned from this film that first you must ease your mind and accept that you have no control over issues that are out of your hands. Secondly, you must not walk the path of criminals as there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Third, you must conquer your biggest fear by becoming one with it. Lastly, you fight for justice if you are capable to do so. Living with a purpose to serve gives you a sense of direction in life. This is what it means to be a good person which leads to a good leader which ultimately gives birth to Batman. A strong beginning led to a strong ending. The total length of the film is 2 hours and 32 minutes.

In conclusion, the film is cinematically beautiful and it doesn’t go overboard with annoying supernatural special effects like the transformers’ action-packed films (I like substance; not all show). Batman, Scarecrow, and Falcon are all humans who use different methods to perform their deeds whether it’s for good or for evil in society. A weapon is only a weapon depending on who possesses it. Bruce Wayne uses his fearful power to fight for justice instead of oppressing people. He was once afraid of bats but then he became the fearful bat who brings terror to criminals and justice to Gotham City. He’s a well-liked iconic hero. Perhaps, that’s why I was fond of Batman as a kid and even to this day. He’s just an ordinary man in a cape, a good person. We need more of that: We need good leaders.

Mignonnes Review (2020): A Film for Pedophiles?

Netflix has some interesting shows. Growing up, my favorite channel was the International channel. I was always intrigued by how others live and think. At one point in my life, I watched nothing but international films. So, it’s no surprise that Mignonnes also known as Cuties caught my attention. But what really piqued my interest in this film was how controversial it was among the conservative groups. The film involves pre-teen girls, performing sexually suggested dance. Despite the conservative criticism, I found the film refreshing and educational. It’s about time we take a look into the female psyche, especially young girls making a transition into womanhood. We’ve lived in a male-centric perspective way too long. Let’s hear more from a female perspective.

Cuties released on August 19, 2020, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré speaks volumes on the negative effects between young girls and the media, but more importantly, it shows the cultural war between one’s traditional upbringing and the internet world. Yes, some of the scenes made me feel uncomfortable, watching young girls twerk and dance like one of those rap music videos will make anyone in their right mind gasp. It takes a mature audience to scratch the surface of the film and its meaning. The film depicts the realistic struggles of what a Senegalese-French girl goes through, which makes the viewing an insightful watch because it’s not your typical teenage angst film, in fact, it’s not even teenagers we are dealing with–it’s preteen. Wow, I remember the time when I started to rebel against my mother in middle school by skipping school and developing an eating disorder. Young girls are highly self-conscious of their bodies and I was no exception. Back then, I didn’t have the internet available, but I did have access to women’s magazines such as Allure, Seventeen, and Vogue which unfortunately are not the best material to give advice to young girls on how to be a woman. Watching this film, I can’t help but cringe thinking, “Don’t grow up too fast. Sexiness is overrated!”

Would I recommend this film as pure entertainment? No. Watch the film if you want something a bit controversial that would open a dialogue to discuss the effects that society, culture, and particularly the internet has on young girls. Overall, it’s a well-made film. It’s bold, daring, and a little disturbing. Now I understand why my mother disapproved of me participating in a dance activity after school when I was 10 years old despite the fact I saw no harm in it. The predator gaze is real.

The Revenger (1980) Review: I Fight in the Name of the Kung Fu Cop

Going around beating people in the name of righteousness sounds rather noble. Doesn’t it? In this case, The Revenger is simply about REVENGE!!! Far from serious, the undertone of the film is light hearted and humorous. I found myself laughing right off the bat as there are plenty of humorous catchy lines that made me laugh hard.

If you are a fan of the Shenmue video game franchise, the tone of this film is all too familiar. The first part is played by the father who goes around setting things straight in the society with violence. Out of revenge, the villain sent his sister to destroy the hero for being humiliated. One day, the hero rescued his future wife from bandits which was all a setup by the main villain. As they say what goes around comes around. The villain used his own blood (sister) to get close to the hero’s heart. Romance blossomed between the hero and the villain’s sister and so they both experienced great happiness and conceived a child together. Until one day, the hero got trapped and killed by the villain and his gang. Fast forward, the hero’s son is fueled with revenge when he learned how his father died. By grace, his mother stopped him from revenge and warned him that “hatred will destroy [him].” Instead of seeking revenge, the son goes on a quest to collect his father’s bones. After all, the cycle of revenge must stop! Lets not make it into a Jerry Springer Show!

What’s interesting about this film is its statement: Your enemy is closer than you really think. He could be your uncle. Who said blood means loyalty? Family members fight among each other. Those you love is the one that hurt you most. In summary, such serious topics could have been extended and made this film epic. It’s all too short and a little wonky because the transition scene from the father and the son was played by the same actor–Tung Li. I was so confused because I did not see the child growing up! Nonetheless it’s a good film to watch if you want a good laugh.

I would leave you folks with my favorite line from this film: ” It’s all over between us like this bridge is broken!”

The Revenger

Okay, I take that back. I hope to see you next time for my next review and the following reviews after that!

Parasite (2019) Review: The Insects of the Society

Have you read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis? Let’s pretend you haven’t read it, then I shall give you a quick summary because if you came to me and ask me what Parasite is all about — I would tell you it’s the opposite of The Metamorphosis. You see, there is one thing they both have in common: It’s about the “filthy insects” of the society that no one aspires to be. Hey, I’m just being real. Unlike The Metamorphosis where the protagonist became a burden to the family, Parasite logically provides a rationale for why leeching is justified. If you think about it, the working class is like the earthworms we find in the garden. They are buried in the underground and hidden from society’s sight but play a vital role in sustaining the glamorous lifestyle of the wealthy.

Now by no means, the film tries to justify bad behavior as acceptable in society. Instead, it successfully illustrates the poor’s real struggle by giving them a voice, a different perspective that most often societies are too ashamed to acknowledge. It does bold things by tearing down and distinguishing the rich from the poor. From the wealthy perspective, money can buy many things. Money can ease the mundane worries that life throws at us. In contrast, from the poor perspective, money is power and money can also make one become delusional into believing that the world is a safe haven. For instance, the character Yeon Kyo, the naïve wife, does not deserve to be conned, however, her niceness stems from the fact she never had to deal with the daily struggles that normal people do — such as something as simple as cooking. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of a tragedy and the downfall of the Park family.

In my final thought, the film is a bit of a tragedy and at the same time, a bittersweet victory for the working class. The film does not condemn the rich for their naivety nor depicts them as evil villains who suppress the poor from rising above in society. The rich people in this film are just simply nice folks who provide jobs for the poor but have become too delusional to relate to the struggles of the lower class. In the end, it’s the working class that rises to the top because they actually do the real work. Seriously, no pun intended. You can’t argue against this notion, which makes this film a powerful statement to society. I can see why this film was voted the best film of 2019 by critics.

Ghost in the Shell (1995) Review: The Future of Humanity Is a Stream of Conscience

What are we? We are nothing more than a ghost in a shell. In the near future, the world will erase nations and races. What do we get, something beyond AI? Ghost in the Shell, based on a manga by Shirow Masamune is a film that I have never got around to watching until now. I wouldn’t understand it anyway if I were a kid. Let’s just say it’s some pretty deep stuff. It’s so deep that it’s almost omnisciently God-like. It made me wonder if God is a computer?! After all, life is nothing more than just information from simulated experiences. Are humans really different from machines?

In this animation, Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg for Section 9, an anti-cybercrime Japanese Law enforced organization, was given the task to hunt down the cyber-criminal known as Puppet Master whose identity is sexless, originated from America and is the most extraordinary cybercriminal hacker. What is its intention? It seeks to spread its kind through the network of information. As a living organism, it is fated to die and therefore it wishes to merge with another entity to pass on its “DNA”. Who do you think is the lucky bride? The Major is a mirror of the Puppet Master.

It’s a great animation to watch if you want to dive into deep philosophical questions about what makes a human. The Puppet Master, also known as Project 2501, is a bug that has its own desire and free will separate from its programmers (sounds kind of scary). It wishes to complete itself from one particular frame of mind that is made up of a single entity. In other words, it’s trying to create an entirely new entity–something beyond humans and AIs; something like a godly being who knows and sees everything. After all, variety is good for the continuation of existence. Different viewpoints like the variety of genes, ensure a higher chance of the birth of stronger beings. I can see why this film is a masterpiece. Apparently, the bug in Project 2501, like humans, wants to procreate. Woah, that’s some deep stuff I just watched.

Painted Faces (1988) Review: Never Look Down on Yourself Even if People Do

One thing I love about Hong Kong films back in the 80s to mid-90s is that it has the tendency to praise hard work and perseverance. Netflix did a great job at recommending Painted Faces to me as I really enjoyed watching martial arts films but not all of them are made with passion and care. This film really depicted the rigorous training behind the scenes as performing artists which paid its tribute to the Chinese Opera School, which later brought out the best in Hong Kong martial arts films. I can testify because I was about three years old when I got my first exposure to Hong Kong action films and I remember begging my mom to watch more of them. The choreography and the fighting scenes were highly addictive to watch on top of the intriguing plots that always kept me on my toes. But I think what made me really like those films is how it teaches virtuous ideas and Painted Faces is no exception.

In this film, we follow a young boy called Big Nose. His mother had to join his father in Australia for work. Most parents would rather have their kids go to a university and become a scholar. It’s more prestigious than a performing artist. The young boy, Big Nose was handed over to Master Yu Jim-yuen, a strict Chinese Opera instructor who takes in young boys who are abandoned by their relatives for financial reasons or children who happen to be orphans. In return for lodging and food, the boys have to go through rigorous training to perform the Peking Chinese Opera and make money for the school. It’s a fair situation, putting the boys to use while providing shelter to them. Pretty much they are the property of the school. It sounds kind of bad, but not so bad at the same time.

What I really enjoyed about this film is watching how well-behaved and dedicated the children are to their teacher. Likewise, the teacher cares greatly for his students. But most importantly, the film taught me to never look down on myself regardless of what others think. Master Yu earned my respect. Overall, it’s a heartwarming film that reminds us to respect those who come before us. If you are looking for a feel-good film to watch, I highly recommend this one.

The Magic Blade (1976) Review: Life Is A Game of Chess

I have always admired those who play chess and are good at it because I don’t know how to play or even know the rules. It seems to require a lot of strategies. I would love to learn how to play one day. It sounds like a difficult game and a game which involves having a sharp mind. Magic Blade, directed by Chu Yuan, is a film revolving around this concept. It’s an action-adventure martial arts film with plenty of cool quotes. One of them is “I don’t kill unarmed woman.” The phrase was used towards a flamboyant opponent who had no sword but his hands as a weapon. And the phrase is said again later in this film when his opponent is female, but this time he said, “but you have a weapon.” The protagonist is like a Chinese Clint Eastwood, played by the actor Lung Ti. He just has an air of coolness to him. He doesn’t follow anyone’s rules and yet he has a sense of deep integrity as a swordsman, which is quite admirable. Plus, the choreography in this film is quite entertaining because the protagonist looked so cool beating up the underworld martial artists. It left me feeling good as if I was him beating up the bad people. However, it’s not all just cool in that sense. The film has a deeper meaning beyond fighting and being the best.

To be on top means to have no friends and thus you’d find yourself in a lonely place. That same statement can be said just about anything. The wealthier and more famous you become, the fewer friends you have. I often wonder is that why so many famous people are so depressed and alone. What’s the point of playing chess in real life if your hair will grow grey and you become old and weary from losing your throne? To be king of the martial arts world means death because you are always watching your back–afraid that you’d get attacked.

Overall, it’s a great film. I watched it three times. It’s so romantically philosophical and poetic. It’s a reminder not to lose sight of our humanity in the pursuit of our ambition. We want to be the best, but if not careful, we’d end up in a very lonely place.

I watched this on Amazon Prime Video. It’s free for streaming if you are a prime member, and no I am not advertising Amazon Prime Video. It’s just in case you want to watch the film.

Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion (1972) Review: The Obedient Citizen and Her Government

I’m glad I watched this film last in this series. It took a bit of detective work but I enjoyed the ride. Everything makes sense why Scorpion possesses the spirit of a dead girl and why she harbors a deep hatred toward cops. This film got political fast and I am afraid that I don’t have the credibility to discuss Japanese culture in depth. It would require heavy textbook research. I can, however, point out that this film is a satire of Japanese society.

Scorpion symbolizes the average citizen who devotedly entrusted all her faith to her protector. Her lover, a narcotic cop is the symbol of the government. The Japanese flag in the beginning and towards the end helped me put the two together. Similar to how the common people get screwed by their leaders, Scorpion was betrayed and deceived by her lover. He used her to infiltrate the drug scene to which she was later exposed and then raped by the Yakuza mob. It was all planned out so that he can get promoted and move up the hierarchy chain. Talk about police corruption. The song that keeps playing over and over in all of the films makes sense now. Once he made love to her, he tossed her away. No one wants to be violated and betrayed by the person she/he trusted. It’s better to watch your own back than entrust it to others is the message I got from this film series.

Overall, I was blown away by the cinematography despite the stripping and ripping off the clothes, revealing the naked women bare breasts, and the mild pornographic scenes which all serve a point and add a little humor. One memorable scene is when one of the female prisoners spilled her plump peach-like breasts over the male guard’s face and raped him. I can hear her saying through her action: “You like breasts so much? I will force feed you!” Such a serious plot needs to be laughed at. Without the dramatic effects, I wouldn’t understand the metaphors in this film. I highly recommend this film series if you are starved for some good morbid sense of humor. I had a good laugh and I’m happy that the heroine was able to avenge the crime that has wrongfully committed against her.

I love Scorpion. Such an amazing woman. She is the Japanese Joan of Arc! And now I must go out into the street, partially showing my breast to defend justice. After all, I’m a feminist!!!

I’m just kidding. I just had to rhyme.

If you happened to stop by my blog for the first time, please check out my other reviews for this film series which are not in chronological order, but in the order, I watched the films thank you for reading:

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable (1973) Review: Strike A Pose in Red District

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable (1973) Review: Strike A Pose in Red District

There are four films total based on the manga series written by Tooru Shinohara. I’ve been hooked on this series. So far I watched 3 out of 4. Not all films are directed by Shunya Ito. Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701’s Grudge Song was directed by Yasuharu Hasebe. No wonder the style is noticeably different. (I had to do some research to see why it was off). I have one more film to watch to complete this series.

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable is the most animalistic, metamorphically speaking, but most artistic out of all the film series so far. The angle, the shots, the unspoken words between the characters, and the color scheme made it an enjoyable film to watch solely for art’s sake. Don’t be fooled by the cover though. The color placement of blue and orange is purposely done to enhance the tone of the film. You see the colors in the character’s attire and background decors. It’s no accident. Blue is a complementary color to orange according to the color wheel. The colors are so popish. Sometimes I forget I am watching a film because it looks like a perfume ad or a fashion catalog or a photo album. I am not complaining. I do appreciate good art.

Yes, Scorpion is on the loose again and she is being hunted by the detectives. In this film, Scorpion becomes friends with a girl name Yuki who happens to be a prostitute and who shamefully commits incest to keep her brain-damaged brother satisfied. When I said the film is animalistic, this is what I meant. It’s unnatural and would make any average person recoil. Even Yuki locked her beastly brother away as if he is a farm animal and attempted to kill him but didn’t have the heart to do so.

There are other characters, apart from Scorpion, who is unmistakably referred to as an animal. The female pimp dresses like a crow. She is a bully, a scavenger. She even has a cage to keep her fellow crow mates locked away, which just shows how corrupted she is. There is a scene where she forces one of the prostitutes to get an abortion. Why? A pregnant woman is bad business! Even Scorpion has to make money! She works at the sweatshop. On a side note, I don’t know if it was intentional, but the clothing, the red lipstick, and the laborious sewing are quite suiting in this film. Women are enslaved to make clothes and look beautiful for prostitution and thus attract predators. Hmm… I always thought fashion is a form of woman empowerment, not an invitation for sex. Regardless, Scorpion made the sweatshop glamorous. There is nothing more attractive than a beautiful woman who knows how to dress well. Scorpion is like a fashion model in this film.

Overall great film. Great cinematography. I enjoyed it. If you appreciate the late 60s to early 70s pop fashion or if you just appreciate beautiful women, then I recommend this film if you haven’t seen it already.

If you just happened to stop by my blog, please check out my other reviews for this film series, and thank you for reading:

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!