To be honest... July 2022
Mediocre suspense and thrill
Honestly, I didn’t even feel the weeks pass by last month. My monthly deadline for this newsletter snuck up on me. The busyness of my days have left me once again uninspired to find an album to listen to. The featured book and movie of the month also left me feeling lukewarm. If you have any recommendations on what I should listen to, watch, or read next, reply to this email or comment on this post.
Another reason why life has been busy is that I have been working on writing for publications again. Through this newsletter, I was able to dip my feet into writing consistently again. At the end of this, you’ll find an article near and dear to my heart I published on the Boston Hassle. Keep scrolling to check it out.
And of course, a big thank you to my readers and subscribers. It’s always encouraging to hear back from you and to continue this side creative project!
BOOK: The Old Woman with the Knife by Gu Byeong-Mo -⭐⭐⭐
Reading The Old Woman with the Knife was like binging a dark mysterious TV miniseries. The premise was what made me pick up the novella. Sixty-five-year-old woman Hornclaw feels like she is at the end of her career as an assassin. The reader gets to accompany her on her last few jobs as a hired killer in one of South Korea’s assassination agencies. Besides experiencing the physical toll of being in business for 40 years, Hornclaw has to face a ghost from her past that haunts her on these last few jobs.
While it was hard to put down at times, The Old Woman with the Knife leaves the reader disappointed and wanting more. The prose is non-linear and fluidly shifts from Hornclaw’s troubling past to her present. The author seemed to have a detailed and thorough account of Hornclaw’s journey from being a young girl in a village to becoming the city’s oldest assassin. Yet, the reader is only allowed snippets and mentions of her history. The present conflict doesn’t seem to stand up against Hornclaw’s near-death experiences and turbulent relationships.
Despite this shortcoming, this book is a gripping read with an earnest protagonist. The blunt tone used for Hornclaw’s stream of consciousness and intact morality makes her an endearing but complex character. I found myself breezing through the pages in anticipation as she dodges death and danger.
MOVIE: NOPE (2022) - ⭐⭐⭐
With only two movies, Director Jordan Peele has cemented his stake in the Hollywood horror genre. Unfortunately, his first big budget blockbuster Nope (2022) doesn’t live up to his debut film Get Out (2017) and suffers from similar mistakes in his sophomore movie Us (2019).
When Get Out was released, many horror fans found it a refreshing break from possessed dolls or haunted basements. It re-popularized social horror as it used racism as the foundation of its frightening aspects, creating a concise and intentional plot.
Meanwhile, Nope experiences a genre identity crisis. It introduces itself as a horror movie with a violent and terrifying opening scene of a sitcom filming gone wrong. Peele actually executes the scene masterfully, especially by hiding the gore to leave it up to the audience to imagine the aftermath. However, the film rapidly becomes a sci-fi action or thriller as the main storyline is established: Siblings OJ and Emerald attempt to save their ranch by selling evidence of the alien creature terrorizing their town.
This isn’t to box Peele in the social horror genre. However, as with Us’ glaring plot holes, Peele falls short in worldbuilding, which is an essential skill in creating sci-fi films. The alien isn’t interesting enough by itself and its terrifying features are reduced into the circumstances it creates. The supposedly most horrific scene of raining human blood comes off as more cliché and even comedic in that moment.
Still, Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya bring OJ and Emerald to life and carry the rest of the movie. As with all of Peele’s movies, it was a viewing experience that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.
BLOG: A tour of Allston’s International Groceries
Ever since I moved to Allston-Brighton in Boston, I have been amazed at the diversity of international markets I could shop at. As a foodie, I was excited– but equally daunted– since I was initially not familiar with what to look for in these stores.
I wrote a guide for residents who felt similar to how I did two years ago. Besides getting weekly groceries, I hope residents could support local businesses and form relationships with the store owners can bring communities together through food.