Watch This! #2: Journey to the Center of the Self
What do two sci-fi flicks and an indie coming of age film have to do with each other? Find out in this installment of Watch This!.
Double Happiness (1994)
Cast: Sandra Oh, Stephen Chang, Alannah Ong, Donald Fong
Written & Directed by: Mina Shum
Grey’s Anatomy regular Sandra Oh gave a breathtaking performance as Jade Li, a woman navigating her obligations within a traditional, but definitely not UPTIGHT, Chinese family and her own romantic stirrings for a white partner. The film focuses on Jade’s journey to self-discovery, with the romantic aspects supporting the story rather than simply being the story. The film’s exploration of race, class and gender is refreshing, poignant and never preachy – ultimately drawing its gravitas from the strength of the performances and not solely from the topics it seeks to explore.
Cast: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, David Morse, Angela Bassett, James Woods
Director: Robert Zemeckis
“Mathematics is the only truly universal language,” says Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, played sweetly and effectively by Jodie Foster, in what I feel is one of her best grown up performances. The marketing campaign might have positioned the movie as grown up Sci-Fi fare, with an overemphasis on the sci-fi elements, but Contact does a FAR better job of exploring the themes only hinted at in Kube’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The sci-fi riddles are wonderfully engrossing and I appreciate Zemeckis’ restraint in portraying them; opting to balance the sci-fi framing with Ellie’s emotional and spiritual journey. Initially, McConaughey’s hokey hipster, pancho wearing preacher seems out of place, but eventually becomes a surprising counterpoint to Foster’s emotionally conflicted scientist.
Cast: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Maggie McOmie
Director: George Lucas
Much has been written about Lucas’ first major theatrical release. It’s incredibly weird, creepy and visually unsettling. It’s also a pretty decent dystopian exploration of human emotion, from a dude not especially known for that sort of thing. I hesitate to say more because it should be seen rather than written about. Seriously, that’s not a copout.