Hi, I’m Sonia from Singapore. I did my undergrad in English Literature but I watched a lot of film growing up. I think there was a period of time during my formative years when the whole family would catch a new release every Friday without fail. Good times.
I love anime and horror films and I’m currently getting into documentaries a bit more. But I’d say my taste in films is pretty diverse with one exception. I hate war films, especially the really good ones because they just feel altogether too real and I always feel terrible after watching them.
I like anime because they have all the boundless possibilities in this medium and they’re not constrained by having to create narratives for children. I feel so old when I say this, but when I was growing up, cartoon wise there wasn’t really much worth watching on TV other than the Batman animated series, X-men and Spiderman. And then I discovered anime and realized that animation didn’t have to only be the Hanna Barbera cartoons that were sterile, moral, politically correct and ethical all the time. They could be morally confusing, ethically suspect, bloody and still with all the appeal of the high chrominance of an animated feature. It was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
I like horror primarily because of its carnivalesque nature (and I use this term very loosely), particularly the more depressing version of the carnivalesque that I think Umberto Eco talked about. The one where there’s a temporary release of social repressions only for order to return thereafter. Sort of like the concept behind The Purge (2013). But in those brief, safe moments, behind the protection of the screen anything can happen and I can revel in it and know that it can’t really touch me and at the end of the movie I can walk out of the theatre and things would have returned to normal.
I also like horror because it’s such a marginalized genre that people can say anything they want and sometimes they say the most profound things and you realize that what’s horrific is not the blood, the gore, the monsters, but everyday life; the rest is just there to make life seem a little less gruesome.
Samurai X/Rurouni Kenshin – Compelling characters, fantastic fight sequences, the manga was really well drawn and the narrative symmetry was so mind-blowing. And mostly because of nostalgia. This was the second series I ever got into.
Fullmetal Alchemist – because it is fun, action-packed, the manga and the anime (both of them) have great art. But it is also poignant and thought-provoking and doesn’t give easy answers to the questions raised in the series.
Other anime I’ve watched and liked and would recommend: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Hellsing Ultimate, Yu Yu Hakusho, Hunter x Hunter, Black Butler, Assassination Classroom, One Punch Man, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Tokyo Ghoul, I’m sure there are others but I can’t remember them right now.
Favorite Horror films:
The Thing (1982) – Fantastic special effects, which was the primary reason why I first watched it. And then I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the special effects were just a veneer for the underlying, more gut-wrenching existential horror of not knowing who to trust and not even being able to trust oneself.
Pirates of the Caribbean (2003, 2006, 2007) – YES. ALL THREE FILMS. Apart from being hilarious, I really liked the special effects and the stories. The sheer ingenuity of taking a theme park ride with no narrative and grafting one on to it. A narrative that is self-referentially aware, that’s highly allusive and intelligent. I love the fact that the titles “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” are also puns.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – I love the meld between fantasy and reality in this film and the way a horrific reality just bleeds into her escapist fantasy turning that world into a dark and cruel one as well. Basically the way fairytales were always meant to be.
Other Favorite films:
The Matrix (1999) – I watched this when I was 13. It blew my mind. It makes philosophy sexy and action-packed. And I don’t believe in the sequels because everything they needed to say has been said in the first film.
The Dark Knight (2008) – so many quotable lines 🙂 But Heath Ledger’s joker was amazing because some of the things he said really made you question the rules in the world around you and wonder if there is a little value in being an anarchist every once in a while.
District 9 (2009) – Sharlto Copley was amazing. Apparently almost everything was ad-libbed But also the 180 degree change in the character he played was compelling and convincing – both his reluctance to do the right thing and his tragic heroism at the end. It also made a clever statement about the difference between official media and unofficial media by using different types of finishes in different scenes. Very subtle and very clever.
I hope to gain out of this theory class a good grounding in theory that’s specific to film and I can use as different lenses that I can put on and switch out or combine so I may better appreciate the medium that I think is still very new and young and exciting and full of potential. I want to learn how to read film with the same level of depth of analysis and acuity and awareness as I have learned to read books. And I want to be able to not just see better but also understand what I’m seeing whenever I watch a film.