Sunday, February 12, 2017

X-Men: Apocalypse (Singer, 2016): Mini-Film Review

In the spring and summer of 2016, Marvel released two tent-pole films: Captain America: Civil War (Russo brothers, 2016) and X-Men: Apocalypse. Why was Civil War released first? It makes sense for a couple reasons: first, the theme of civilian casualties in Civil War goes over better when considered in light of the previous Avengers film, Age of Ultron. Tony and Steve have to deal with the repercussions of the battle at Sokovia, rather than the near-destruction of the entire planet in Apocalypse (I understand why we'll "never see the X-Men and the Avengers sharing a screen" but releasing Apocalypse before Civil War could still inflect audience response).

Second, X-Men Apocalypse is the better movie of the two--it would have upstaged Captain America. From the heroism of Mystique, the anguish of Magneto, the spirituality of Nightcrawler, to the point of view of Charles Xavier: "A gift can also be a curse...give them powers beyond imagination, and they may think they're meant to rule the world." And of course, multiple campy sequences, ridiculous and entertaining.

X-Men Apocalypse

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Chapter/Essay Abstract: Gender Negotiation in Song Cunshou's Story of Mother

Gender Negotiation in Song Cunshou's Story of Mother
and Taiwan Cinema of the Early 1970s

This essay analyzes the representation of gender identity and negotiation in Song Cunshou’s Story of Mother (1972) in order to make two primary observations. First, this early 1970s wenyi, or “literary art,” film released with state approval in Taiwan represents passive males who attempt to earn their right to be worthy patriarchs; women are portrayed as active participants whose actions are acceptable so long as they follow the rule of their fathers. Second, I propose that this model of representing gender changes very little through the middle of the decade, despite numerous social transformations on Taiwan’s political stage. Taken as a whole, the work of an important and engaging director, Song Cunshou, emerges as a primary reference point for a study of cinema in a complex, intriguing, transitional period in Taiwan’s history of the silver screen.

這篇論文以女權主義的角度與分析技巧,探討有關我對宋存壽電影《母親三十歲》(1972)的兩個重要觀察:第一, 在電影內部敘事方面,這一部台灣七零年代早期、政府認可的文藝片,一方面是關於一個缺乏主張的男性角色如何被動地轉變成為父權體制認可的大人,而另一方面則反差地置入一個相對活躍主動的女性角色,她則必需仰賴父權制的同意,以展現她個人。第二, 外部的,就電影歷史語境上來看,儘管七零年代的生活與政治環境,以當時代台灣的政治社會發展而言,已經有很大的變遷, 但性别意識,就台灣電影銀幕上所呈現的,其相對的變化卻很小。綜而言之,宋存壽在此片所顯現對於當時代社會發展的特有觀點,可作為臺灣在一個複雜不平靜的過渡期,其電影發展研究的重要參考點。

Available in: Transnational Representations: The State of Taiwan Film in the 1960s and 1970s (HKUP, 2014).

Also available in: “Gender Negotiation in Song Cunshou’s Story of Mother and Taiwan Cinema of the Early 1970s.” In A Companion to Chinese Cinema, ed. Yingjin Zhang (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 118-132.