Early to the Theater: The Miracle Season

It was not so miraculous.

Achariya: I’m a sports writer for my other-other job, and there are serious issues to discuss when talking about the coverage of women’s sports in popular culture. I was quite excited about the chance to watch The Miracle Season because I thought maybe it would bring a positive spotlight to women’s indoor volleyball.

And I found myself slightly disappointed that what could’ve been a great documentary about a fraught moment in the sport was turned into an after-school special about model/actresses who never were not in their tiny uniform shorts, even for walking around town.

Here’s a short synopsis: the film was based on the true story of Caroline Found, a high school volleyball player, and the events that happened to the team in her senior year. Plot spoilers after the warning.

Jen: In looking over the description and cast, several signs jumped out at me. One was the PG rating, which indicated a family-friendly sports movie; which is fine, not all sports films require steroid use or other challenging material. Another sign was the tagline ‘based on a true story,’ and a sense that the filmmakers were going to present a very specific type of sports movie – uplifting and crowd-pleasing, but lacking in depth.

Achariya: When you mention crowd-pleasing, I’m struck by a memory — as we were walking out of the theater, we overheard a man say, “I cried through the whole thing.” I admit that I also cried, it was hard not to simply due to the subject matter. It felt pretty manipulative, though. Perhaps the filmmaking itself was clunky and heavy-handed — the second we saw the slow-motion farewell smile from one of the initial main characters, we turned to each other in our seats and said…

(Spoilers begin)

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When haoles stole Hawaii: a book review (and travelogue) of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii, The Monarchy’s Last Hope

What I learned in middle school was that a small group of right-minded revolutionaries overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy to bring democracy to a nation mired in outmoded traditions. My textbook told only one side of the story.

This book review is going to be as disjointed and ultimately unresolved as my entire trip back to the Big Island where I grew up. It’s a review of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii: The Monarchy’s Last Hope by Kristin Zambucka — a book that I picked up in my last hour in Hilo, at the locally owned and Hawaii-focused bookstore Basically Books.

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The 90th Academy Awards: Always overblown, newly relevant

The Academy Awards felt as relevant and fresh as they could while yet maintaining all the cheese and slight odor of staleness that marks this large, ponderous institution. 

Achariya: Full disclosure, although I unreservedly love the red carpet of any Hollywood event, I haven’t watched the Academy Awards for years, in part because it felt like there was little point to watching Hollywood wank itself over movies that I generally find uninteresting. I’m a geek and like action/spy/fantasy/sci-fi/arthouse movies, and the stuff that tends to win is what garnered best actor last night, movies like Darkest Hour (which, ok, I kinda liked).

Jen: Even though I appreciate the fanfare and pageantry, the Oscars have become a thing I’m aware of rather than look forward to. I appreciate filmmakers and crews and such receiving much-deserved recognition because it usually results in more work for them and more creative control, but for me actually making time to sit down and watch is less a priority than knowing what’s nominated and what won.

Achariya: I watched the show last night because after the #MeToo movement pointed out all the flaws in the Hollywood system, I wanted to see how the Academy Awards producers would handle it. And in fact, they handled it subtly and well.

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Early to the Theater: a preview of Call Me By Your Name

I will make no bones about it: if you feel uncomfortable about bisexual male romance, and feel disturbed seeing adoration and longing played out in a messy, direct, and exploratory way, this movie is not for you. Props to director Luca Guadagnino, though, for not shying away from any part of it, not the messiness, nor the aching emotions of longing, loss, and culmination, nor the delicate difficulty of filming experience and inexperience in a way that will undoubtedly freak some people out.

 

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Patti Smith’s M Train: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing”

What really to got me, reading M Train, was the unreliability of the narrator. Smith writes about loneliness and being alone, but in a small paragraph also implies that her life doesn’t let her be alone at all, and that loneliness might even be something she has to fight for. There’s a small paragraph embedded in thousands of words of solitary cafe-sitting that describes a frenetic journeying around the world — but the book lingers over the lonely times. As the dream cowpoke says to her in the very first line of Smith’s book, “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.”

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