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Media Snacks 4




Last week I did not know if I would publish week 4 since I've consumed limited media in this time. Luckily, I was inspired to execute this possibly last post while listening to the podcasts featured below, then took a left turn opening one of the several random tabs on my web browser, and decided to go into the archives on things I've been watching.


LISTENING


Julio Torres


I saw Julio Torres' film Problemista last week and have thought about it frequently since. I've been considering going back to the theatre for a second watch (which I've only done once before for 2023 Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse), but instead decided to clean my apartment and listen to a few of his podcast appearances. I couldn't decide on one to feature above as I have listened to 4....but the two that stuck out to me were 2017 episode of Las Culturistas and a recent A24 podcast interview conducted by the one and only Emma Stone, who was a producer on his film.


I've been a fan of Julio since seeing him on the show Los Espookys and listening to his most recent visit on Las Culturistas with the show's co-creator Ana Fabrega. I highly recommend just watching the first episode of Los Espookys. You'll get an immediate sense of Ana's character Tati and thinking of her as the showrunner is a hilarious concept. But I digress - Problemista is Julio's first film and through these interviews, I was able to see the clear connections and inspiration from his personal experience that influenced this film. It's so unique, funny, and genuine, and it makes fair critiques of systems in the US that make no sense / are difficult for no reason, like immigration and banks.


I connected with Julio because I feel who he is externally is how I feel internally, if that makes sense. The natural quirkiness of how he sees the world is exciting and extreme, plus we both like little things. Here are just bullets of things I learned, as well as my favorite moments of the film because I could probably write an entire post just about him and this movie.


  1. The culture that made Julio say ‘Culture is for me’ was I Dream of Jeannie.

    1. He thought it was live with weekly releases while he was growing up, which means his understanding of media and time was distorted. The fantasy elements are seen throughout Problemista, as we are taken in and out of Julio's mind where he is battling literal dragons.

  2. He dislikes musicals unless they make sense it fit the spirit of the character

  3. Problemista: He is both someone who is attracted to people who are difficult / create problems and also feels as if he is often convincing others that he is not as difficult as he thinks he is. He doesn't aim to change difficult people; instead, he sees it as an opportunity to understand what systems don't work for them, why, and if he can help. This is very in line with his character.

  4. With a strong love for media, he used to rent 3 movies each week: one in black and white, one he didn’t care to see at all, and of course the one he wanted to watch

  5. He doesn't care for stories that center around families (Full House for example), but when it comes to his parents, his mom and he are always collaborating creatively and his dad is such a big appreciator of art.

  6. What stood out to me the most in Problemista were all of the little character details: Julio's character's walk, little hair sticking out, only wearing blue, Tilda Swinton's character's phone flashlight always being on. Oh also, the way the film begins with a self-recorded video interview is so real and so depressing. It also



READING



I sometimes like reading the latest issue of The New Yorker, which is an accurate read on a NPR listener in LA. Ok, being honest I read The New Yorker most times to help me fall asleep because long articles and big words make me sleepy. Before falling asleep I often stumble on people or things I've never heard of which sparks my curiosity and leads to learning more, beginning with Wikipedia, against the training of several teachers throughout the years. It's my favorite for bite-sized information and as a starting point before digging deeper.


I found this tab on my phone as I was intrigued to read that Robin Givhan, a fashion editor, won a Pulitzer Prize and I needed to know more. Turns out that there is a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and in 2006 she won the award for the first time for any fashion writer. I am chuckling now reading the chosen excerpts of her work, this being my favorite as Easter is next week.

She slammed the attire worn by the wife and young children of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts during his swearing in as Supreme Court Chief Justice, saying they resembled "a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of jelly bellies, three little Necco wafers."


That is hilarious. Also generally her blunt nature, both positive and often negative, is different than my style in how I share opinions online. I always want to give positives, things I like about someone's art instead of focusing on the negatives or making jokes. What I think Robin does well is paint a picture of something both funny, true, and a little bit mean. Equating outfits to 'a handful of jelly bellies' is the best thing I've read this week - and there have been some gems about the royal family recently.



WATCHING



Raya & Avatar the Last Airbender


So the new Avatar the Last Airbender live-action show came out on Netflix. I honestly don't want to talk much about the remake because I don't have any new takes on it. I felt simultaneously disappointed and super happy for the new two season renewal. I'm a fan. So I want to chat about the 2021 animated film Raya. When I worked at Disney we were pitched Raya early since product timelines are about 18-12 months out and all we could do was compare it to the animated Avatar the Last Airbender.


It was difficult to understand the differences at the time, as we didn't have tangible clips and the plot, movie title, and even main voice actress👀 was ever-changing (including the main. Now I think it was an underrated film.


One clear connection to ATLA is her pet/mode of transportation TukTuk was an animal hybrid, similar to Appa, our favorite flying bison. TukTuk was like cute armadillo bug. But the rest felt The kingdoms they created and the connection to the importance of Dragons were interesting. I've also always love when villains are humanized and the fact that the climax of this film focused on Raya needing to trust her nemesis Namaari. One of my favorite scenes (spoiler) is when Ray's dad pushes her off the bridge. I could sense the build-up during that moment and knew what was about to happen, but it broke my heart nonetheless. I cried the first time I watched it and think that is what Disney/Pixar does well - have the heart/punch in your gut moment early on in the film. Up and Coco did it too.



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My goal for this series was to make it to 4 weeks so maybe never see you again:)




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