Before this essay begins proper, I want to introduce the following definitions for “knowing” something and “believing” something: to know something is to go through a series of thoughts and steps to arrive at a conclusion based in logic; to believe something is to reach into your feelings and arrive at a conclusion based in emotional response.

Where did I get these definitions from? My own mind. I think I’m allowed to make up my own definitions. It’s not the most rigorously researched and validated, but that’s not what I’m here for. Just go with it.

Maybe this sounds…

A framed picture of my grandmother hangs next to the dining table in my grandfather’s home.


Lulu Wang’s film The Farewell begins with a line of text against a black background. It reads: “Based On An Actual Lie”. The “Lie” refers to the central premise of the film: an elderly Chinese woman is diagnosed with cancer and her family chooses not to tell her. Instead, they arrange a hasty marriage for her eldest grandson (to his girlfriend of three months) as an excuse for the entire family to visit her for the last time without raising suspicion.

I’m more interested in the other key word in that statement: “Actual”. In the most literal sense of the…

I started writing mini wrap-ups of my year in films about two years ago, and it’s something I find myself looking forward to. Usually these year-end things go in one of two ways, either about the worst films of the year or the best, and I figured I’d much rather write about things I loved; don’t know if it makes for better writing, but it sure makes for more enjoyable writing.

That is not happening this year, even with a number of films I adore. No, this isn’t about quality. This is kind of my own fault.

It’s just been…

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of this decade’s greatest achievements, with a huge flaw threatening to derail everything

I walked out of the theater after Infinity War feeling stunned, amazed, emotionally drained. Two-and-a-half hours of bombastic entertainment, a modern pop opera working at the largest scale possible, the result of a risky ten-year investment paying off to the tune of billions of dollars.

As I was on the train home, however, a feeling of emptiness started to set in, like eating a bowl of ice cream: full of flavour, great for mood, low on actual nutrition.

I was surprised…

Taking a look at memorable moments in Logan, Wonder Woman, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with as many spoilers as required.

“Why do I love movies?”

I believe most movie fans have asked themselves this question before, wondering why they spend so much time and money on something so intangible. There could be an infinite number of answers, depending on who you are and what you want, and all of them are correct.

For some fans, the breathtaking imagery and technical perfection that only the camera can achieve fuels the desire to see more. For others, it could be…

Near the halfway point of West Side Story, elderly shopkeeper Doc lectures a gang of juvenile delinquents about their criminal ways, about to whip out the “When I was your age…” cliche. Action, the appropriately named hot-head, cuts him off with a rebuttal. It is a statement that might incite more than an eye roll from most of us above the age of 16, but in this heated exchange of words, strikes as true as it ever can:

“You was never my age, none of ya!”

West Side Story, 1961. Director(s): Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins. Cinematographer: Daniel L. Fapp.

West Side Story, the 1961 film, is a masterpiece — and in this writer’s…

Halmoni Lee Yong-soo (in pink dress) and Kil Won-ok (centre) delivering their formal complaint about the 2015 Japan-Korea agreement to the American Embassy. The agreement was made without the consultation of any halmoni, who have deemed it insufficient. Holding Madam Kil by the hand is youth campaign group Hope Butterfly’s leader Kwak Jimin, 24.

An inaudible whisper. A cough. Four laboured words. Despite her critical condition leaving her too sick to speak, Madam Yi Ok-Seon insists on trying to tell her story to visitors, as she has since 2000.

She wants to tell how she was forcibly taken from her workplace in Ulsan in 1942, brought to China by the Japanese, and forced into sexual slavery. Now she is silent, her story condensed to a paragraph on an information board.

Madam Yi, 90, is a “comfort woman,” a term describing sex slaves taken by the Japanese during World War II. …

Childcares (Cara)

Parents sending their kids off at the Woori Nursery School. Woori is one of an increasing number of parent cooperative nurseries, which are gaining in popularity in Korea.

Hillary Tan

Usually a photographer, sometimes I write film essays. Currently a photojournalism graduate student at University of Missouri.

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