The Significance of Serenity

Serenity is a 2019 psychological thriller starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. At first glance, the movie is exactly as advertised: Karen Zakarias (Anne Hathaway) tries to solicit her ex-husband, Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) to kill her current husband so she and her son can get away from his abuse.

Like any thriller, things get trippy. Really trippy. Baker eventually realizes that he has no idea how long he’s lived on Plymouth Island or how he got there in the first place. None of his friends have any idea, either. When he tries to ask questions, he is met with generic answers or no answers at all.

And there’s this lawyer who keeps trying to sell Baker new fishing equipment so he can finally catch the elusive fish that he’s been obsessing over for years. The lawyer lets some information about a “creator” slip, which fuels Baker’s curiosity even more.

Okay, no more beating around the bush: It turns out Plymouth Island is just a simulation created by Karen’s son that he uses as a means to escape his stepfather’s abuse. And of course, he has to have his father in the game. Baker Dill actually died in combat years ago.

This is definitely a good thriller. Some of it was hard to watch, but all in all, I really liked it. I thought that was that. The more I think about the movie, however, the more I find it familiar. Plymouth Island is a means of escapism from all the stuff going on in the outside world. It’s a safe space for Karen’s son where his stepfather can’t hurt him.

Writing is my own personal Plymouth Island. When I tap into my imagination, I can forget everything else and just focus the story. It makes me feel like I’m actually good at something. It’s also a creative outlet for my feelings. My feeling scan overwhelm me sometimes, and it’s nice to be able to channel them into a story. Channeling my feelings into a story makes me feel “normal” – it’s a way for me to keep my cool and not come off as obsessive about things or people to outsiders.


Just a karaoke show?

For those who may not know, this is Alejandro Aranda. He was the runner up on this season of American Idol. After the finale last week, The Washington Post published an article about why he didn’t win it all, and they implied that Katy Perry accidentally pointed out the reason why in her comments.

After reading the article, it’s not entirely clear whether Perry’s comments were an accident or a Freudian slip. She simply said that American Idol has traditionally been a “karaoke show”, where the contestants sing covers of popular songs. Alejandro, on the on the other hand, came out swinging with his own music on Day 1.

Since its debut in 2002, the show has evolved to allow contestants to sing original songs. Alejandro obviously took advantage of that. It was a risk for sure, but it will pay off in the long run. He made it to the top 2 in the competition, after all. Now that the audience has seen how far Alejandro made it, it will encourage others to try out for future seasons with their own music and help the show evolve once more.


Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Grown up and disenchanted by the world of Pokémon, Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) reluctantly helps a talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) solve the mystery of his past.

In a word, this movie is nostalgic. Anyone who grew up with Pokémon is going to love it; the world everyone wished existed is finally real. Pokémon GO! doesn’t have anything on the world created for this movie.

This movie is also refreshing because it doesn’t involve the characters from the anime. There’s nothing wrong with Ash Ketchum, but this story expands the Pokémon universe and gives it more depth so that anyone can enjoy it. It doesn’t feel like a movie just for kids. The only hint of the anime is Kathryn Newton’s character, Lucy Stevens. She’s an investigative journalist willing to do anything for a story. Oh, and she has a Psyduck. That has “Misty” written all over it.

The Pokémon battle scenes were entertaining, of course – what’s a Pokémon movie without a battle or two anyway? However, they also triggered a sort of social commentary. If Pokémon are domesticated, as they are in the region where the movie takes place, can they still use their powers? And if they’re not able to, is that fair to them? They were originally used for battle, after all. Living in harmony with Pokémon sounds nice, and they are considered companions, but what good is that if they can’t do what they’re meant to do?

In these questions lie the plot twists. Two plot twists, actually. Two major plot twists that the audience won’t see coming. Because Ryan Reynolds’s Pikachu absolutely steals the show. His humor is clever and perfectly timed.

If there’s a Memory Lane 2.0, this movie is it.


Avengers: Endgame

After the Infinity War left the world in ruins, the surviving Avengers have to undo the actions of Thanos to restore order to the universe.

Despite this movie picking up where the last one left off, it’s not necessary to have seen Avengers: Infinity War before seeing this one, which is nice. What happened is implied, and so it makes sense that loss is a major theme of this movie. The Avengers were never quite the same after the war. Some of them are reluctant to mess around with stopping Thanos for fear they’ll lose what they’ve gained in the 5 years since the war. But their sense of duty as superheroes outweighs their fear of what could go wrong. And there are a lot of things that could go wrong.

The special effects in this movie were really cool. Because their mission involved time travel, the Avengers had to go back to events in previous years, and therefore, previous movies. It would be interesting to find out if they used any old footage from the other movies to make this one. And because anything can happen during time travel, Stan Lee had his usual cameo, although at this point it’s almost definitely posthumous.

Despite the weight of the Avengers’ mission, this was laugh-out-loud funny. Somewhat surprisingly, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) provided most of the comic relief. The end of the movie has one of the biggest – if not the biggest – fight scenes in cinematic history. It was amazing.

This movie may be three hours long, but it’s totally worth it.


It’s not nonsense

John, you’re right

It’s good to know you’re bright

For intellect can wash away confusion

Georgie sees

And Annabel agrees

Most folderol’s an optical illusion

Can You Imagine That?, Mary Poppins Returns

If you thought my Mary Poppins Returns posts were done, well, honestly, so did I. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it – they’re not.

I was listening to “Can You Imagine That?” from Mary Poppins Returns the other night, when I randomly had the inkling to look up “folderol”. I always thought it was a made-up word to rhyme with something. But now that I think about it, it doesn’t rhyme with anything else in the song.

Anyway, I pulled out my phone and tapped on the Merriam-Webster dictionary app. And I found the following:

As you can see, “folderol” isn’t nonsense, but that’s exactly what it means.


It’s scary because it’s not

I’ve now watched A Quiet Place four times. Four. And before you ask, it’s not just because of my affinity for Emily Blunt – although, I have to admit, she is the main reason I wanted to watch it for the first time.

I think one reason I like it so much is that the film is not a blood-and-guts horror movie. It’s more … is intellectual the right word? I don’t have to cover my eyes for anything. The only thing it occasionally triggers is my startle reflex, which comes into play with loud noises and sudden movement.

Another thing that makes the movie watchable for someone like me – who usually steers clear of the horror genre at all costs – is the family dynamic. After the apocalypse, there’s not much to do but try to survive. All the normal day-to-day activities are gone – no cell phones, no TV, etc. So it basically forces the Abbott family to spend time together, perhaps more than they normally would.

And going along with the family dynamic is the protection factor. It’s clear that Lee and Evelyn (John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, respectively) would do anything to protect their children. When their son Marcus (Noah Jupe) is understandably nervous about going outside to learn survival skills, Evelyn is basically like “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine, your father will protect you.” Most of this in sign language, of course. There are only approximately three minutes of spoken dialogue in the entire hour and a half run time of the movie. Because if anybody makes any noise at all, they’re pretty much dead on the spot.

Looked at individually, these reasons for liking the movie make a lot of sense. Taken together, however, I can’t seem to put my finger on what the movie represents for me as a whole. All I can say is it gives me a bunch of feelings that have nothing to do with horror.


Twitter Magic: Blogging Edition

A few minutes after I published Friday’s post, I got the above reply from Crimetown’s Twitter account. I’m really happy that they’ve decided to release it everywhere. However, I’m more surprised than anything else that they noticed my blog post.

It’s one thing to have my favorite famous people and/or journalists like my tweets and occasionally respond to them. It’s nice, and it amazes me every time. I like to think it keeps me humble. But people noticing my blog on platforms other than WordPress is somewhat new territory for me. It’s happened before of course, but nowhere near the frequency with which people notice my tweets.

What is this magic? What is it about Twitter that it’s the place where I’m lucky enough to be noticed? I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it. Maybe that’s a good thing.


Don’t play with me, Crimetown

Yesterday, this appeared in my Apple Podcasts feed. I was pleasantly surprised, because I thought Crimetown was a Spotify exclusive now. Maybe enough people complained about the switch that they decided to put it back on Apple Podcasts?

Whatever happened yesterday, I hope it’s not a fluke. I hope they release the rest of season 2. I think I’m going to wait to listen to it until they update it again, just to make sure it’s actually going to happen.

To tease an audience like this and never update it again would be worse than Spotify taking off of Apple Podcasts in the first place. I’d probably write another angry post about it. On second thought, I know I would. Let’s hope I don’t have to.


Neville v. Nagini

Who doesn’t remember when Neville killed Nagini at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? It was cinematically awesome. Neville sliced her head off nice and clean. Another horcrux had been destroyed.

However, something struck me as I was watching Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald awhile back: Neville Longbottom didn’t just kill a giant snake. He killed a woman.

Nagini is a Maledictus – a carrier of a blood curse which will ultimately destine them to permanently transform into a beast. And for much of her life, she was treated horribly. People took advantage of her and used her as a sideshow act. It definitely wasn’t what she signed up for in life.

It’s not yet clear how Nagini ended up with Voldemort, but I have to imagine that they crossed paths somehow after she had outlived her usefulness in the sideshow – when she was permanently transformed into a beast. However, I don’t think being trapped as a beast erases who she is as a person. She’s still a woman who has thoughts and feelings, she’s just not in her human form.

When looked at from this angle, her death is actually quite sad. Her entire life, she had been considered a freak. People used her for entertainment, and Voldemort later used her as a … is slave the right word?

I know Nagini was a horcrux, so she had to be destroyed in order to take down Voldemort, but now part of me wishes she didn’t die. She didn’t ask for any of these horrible things to happen to her. She didn’t enjoy any of it. She was innocent.