What’s Up 2019: Week 38

Tranquil Dreams (43)

Welcome to Week 38 of What’s Up! We’re almost done the 3rd quarter of 2019! Fall is almost here and things are definitely going back on course. Everything is almost back on track and next week, we should be seeing a lot more of the signs of October horror themed things coming into the picture (although one thing here actually is going to be for October). At the same time, I’ve also reactivated my Shudder subscription and should keep it for at least 2 months or so unless something else fun comes out and holds my interest after that.

Let’s check it out!

READING

Since September

  • Since September by Noelle MacLeod (Review)
  • The Dragon Head of Hong Kong: An Ava Lee Prequel by Ian Hamilton (Review)

Currently reading: Hope by Terry Tyler

Two novellas definitely made up the majority of my reading this week. I wanted something fun to break between the blog tour reading and decided to finally get around to continue on the Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton which pretty much never disappoints. I’m a good few books behind on the series as it is so I’m hoping to catch up with it especially since the Kindle versions have been on sale on Amazon lately. With that said, both books were pretty fun to read. Since September had a Girl Interrupted vibe to it and The Dragon Head of Hong Kong was a prequel that talked about how Ava Lee started her job which is interesting as it comes after the first phase of the series ends.

PLAYING

kaiju big battel: fighto fantasy

Starting next: Kaiju Big Battel: Fighto Fantasy

Since this week, I’ve been focusing mostly on some mobile games to wrap up the Mobile Games Roundup, the plan to start Kaiju Big Battel: Fighto Fantasy was delayed which will hopefully be the restart/comeback of our Game Warp restructuring to go back to our initial roots of having an episode for Game Warp per month with a highlighted game. We will try to get some new releases in there but games will be decided on our collective interest to discuss and obviously accessibility. However, we are still somewhat restructuring and finding our footing again in writing reviews and slotting time to record for Game Warp and such so there may still be changes but the effort to get back to action is there.

WATCHING

mary poppins returns

Two rewatches this week of films that I really do love quite a bit and they are both for Movies and Tea as one is our After Hours Shark week pick and the other is my pick. Its coming up on Movies and Tea in the coming weeks so I won’t talk too much about it but you can check out my reviews when I first saw the films.

With that said, I caught up with Battle at Big Rock which is a short that supposedly follows Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which I haven’t caught up with yet. Regardless, it  feels fairly standalone and was pretty fun. You can find it on Youtube. As for my recommendation this week for a fresh new feature film would be Mary Poppins Returns. I still don’t think doing a follow-up was necessary but in terms of how it lands, its very similar in set-up to Mary Poppins but it still has a fun and musical vibe to it.

BINGING

million pound menu

  • Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)
  • The Mist (Season 1, 2017)

Currently binging: Relation Ship, Dream Space 2, Super Vocal 2, When I Grow Up, A Discovery of Witches (Shudder)

I never reviewed the first season of Million Pound Menu but I did catch up with the Season 2 of it this past week as its one of the newer releases on Netflix. I’ll be talking about that one in a TV binge. We ended up finishing The Mist as well which I can’t say is anything to call home about but TV binge for that one fits into the October horror month so I’ll have that out in next month to also help out with the progress.

The first signs of using the Shudder is showing up already with the mention of Tigers Are Not Afraid in the “Watching” section. We’re halfway through A Discovery of Witches which is Shudder series starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer. So far, its alright. A lot goes on so it feels a little convoluted.

As for currently watching, Youku finally released their version of those matchmaking reality shows on Youtube called Relation Ship. After this one, I’ll be doing a huge post on this type of variety show because I’m still very inspired about this subject. Other than that, its When I Grow Up which is a trip for some celebs, father and son/daughters duos who go on the trip in a camping/hiking style that brings them together or understand each other better. Its interesting because renowned actors from Hong Kong like Tony Ka Fai Leung and Elvis Tsui (who was in Stephen Chow films as supporting roles) as well as some popular China stars. Its nice to see some of these renowned stars now finally participating in these reality shows that shows their personalities more.

That’s it for What’s Up Week 38!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

Double Feature: Lifechanger (2018) & Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

double feature

And you thought Fantasia Festival stuff was over, right? Yeah, this double feature comes as something of a surprise as the reviews posted when the movies showed at Fantasia were reviewed by David. I managed to be able to check them out also back then but just kind of needed a break from Fantasia for a moment so here we are, a month after Fantasia closes, to clear out the overdue stuff and get some quick thoughts in for them as these are two selections that are very unique.

Lifechanger (2018)

Lifechanger

Director (and writer): Justin McConnell

Cast: Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Rachel VanDuzer, Steve Kasan, Bill Oberst Jr.

A murderous shapeshifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves. – IMDB

If you haven’t seen or didn’t check out my Poor Agnes review HERE, Lora Burke is a fascinating actress to watch on screen particularly in that role. When I knew she was attached to Lifechanger, count me in. Lifechange isn’t really about Lora Burke’s character in fact, our main character is narrated and keeps changing lives as the title implies. The idea of this character and who he is looms throughout the film as he goes from one body to the next. His situation becoming more in danger than the next as he starts being able to choose his victims carefully until his situation of the body he carries running out of time makes him having to make desperate choices.

Lifechanger

Lifechanger is a unique angle to take especially as it seems to challenge the deeper notion of survival versus living. Our main protagonist changes lives so quick and in turn, lives the life of this new person temporarily without any way to settle into anything that makes him truly enjoy life. When does it become all worth this trauma? Is it perhaps asking the deeper question of what we do this for and to what ends?  As much as this movie is fantastic at being this horrifying gruesome experience of the transition and the notion of what this man is about as he filters through all kids of lives in just the short span we were watching, there is an urgency and tension and with that, the film also ramps up the pacing as well in a tight little run time package.

Lifechanger is unique to say the least. Its packed with some pretty impactful moments and strives this balance between some horror elements in a thriller-esque and kind of dramatic story. It works really well and honestly, a great idea in itself.

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Director (and writer): Issa Lopez

Cast: Paola Lara, Juan Ramon Lopez, Tenoch Huerta, Ianis Guerrero, Rodrigo Cortes, Hanssel Casillas

A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war. – IMDB

If you don’t know me, you put tigers in a title and I’m in or at least I’ll watch the movie. I actually totally missed this one in the first rundown of the tentative scheduling but saw the poster during the festival and added it on. So lucky that I did because Tigers Are Not Afraid is an exceptional film. Its one of those hidden gems that I’ve heard some people draw comparison to Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. I can definitely see how there is a sort of link to it.

tigers are not afraid

Using five children who band together, specifically four boys adding in a girl who comes home and finds her mother missing, is a really broken group in itself as we learn a little about the background of the kids. You can also see how mature especially the leader of the pack, Shine, is in terms of his cautious nature as well as the way he chooses for her to be a part of the group. At the same time, there is a vulnerability to using kids as the main lead because it gives us these kids stuck in a very dangerous situation like living in the cartel and drug war and being caught in the crossfires to make them have to defend themselves in these drastic ways with no one to really turn to. What makes Tigers Are Not Afraid more special is that it never forgets that we are dealing with kids because they still have hope. They believe in the tales about the tigers who protect the neighborhood and draw inspiration from that, we see this with this animated tigers throughout the film in the arts on the wall moving around and even at the scene above with a plush tiger coming to the rescue. And the kids also being still innocent, they bask in the moments they can enjoy being a child again like celebrating their successes and playing when they believe they are safe in the moment.

tigers are not afraid

Being able to bring in this dark material and yet feeling so real in what the kids trapped in the drug war go through in this story (and probably drawing from some reality as it does feel plausible and genuine) and also bringing in those hints of innocence makes this movie so effective. Its has these adorable childlike moments that elevate this movie and make it unique while also ramping the tensions in the movie as the kids try to survive and navigate through this world as they get involved and end up getting dragged into a bigger cartel secret they were never supposed to know in the first place. Its violent, brutal and so very dark but the director never forgets to give this a childlike fantasy touch to pair up with maybe the remaining hope that these children have in their minds, making Tigers Are Not Afraid an outstanding movie and quite the gem that you need to check out if and when you get the chance.