Author Archives: Genevieve Cheng

Let’s Talk About: 1917

This is going to be an atrociously long blog post, so let’s just get into it.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Cinematography 

2019-early 2020  was a fantastic year for movies. Just looking back on the 2020 Oscar nominees makes me remember why the fight for best picture was so rough. I don’t have any argument at all against Parasite winning best picture so  I’m really glad that 1917 got the recognition it deserves with best cinematography.

If you’ve read my post on Sicario, you’ll understand my recent adoration for Mr. Roger Deakins. Although I’m a firm believer, having only seen three of his movies (I know, I’m working on it) that he deserves more than two oscars, I’m thankful he at least got this one as his second. 

The thing about 1917, is it’s not a movie that should win just for being shot to appear as if it is all one take. It’s how Deakins and the entire movie team took that opportunity and then made every single shot and moment of this film amazing. 

If you’re the kind of person to see a movie shot in a unique way like this and then immediately be struck with interest and flooded with questions like how, what, who, why, and when, then here’s a great youtube video on how the entire movie appears to be a singular take.

Some of the Most Memorable Scenes 

I haven’t done this yet on this blog, where I directly talk about my three top scenes, but I’m excited to highlight a few scenes from this movie. It also helps that I could find and re-watch them on Youtube since it’s nearly been a year since I saw this movie. 

First up, the opening scene. 

I basically decided to see this movie for three reasons:

1- I love a good war movie, as typical as that is I think some of them can be so heart-wrenching and the storylines are always so far removed from my personal life. They really put things into perspective. On top of that, I genuinely haven’t seen that many of the ‘purely battlefield storylines’ besides Dunkirk. 

2- Roger Deakins’ name in the trailer.

3- The fact that I heard or read something about it being all in one shot.

Now the third point, I wasn’t sure if that was true, so going into the film I still managed to be surprised. I distinctly remember nudging my friend about five minutes in and whispering “holy cow, it’s actually.. one shot, like no joke”. 

Here’s the scene I’m talking about if you want to check it out: the first 9 minutes of the film

Second up, the flare scene. 

Now this scene is backed up with a breathtaking score behind it. The entire score is fantastic but this specific track is by far one of the best. If you want to check it out on it’s own, the track is called “The Night Window”. 

When I first saw the movie I honestly didn’t really take a lot away from this scene. Now, re-watching it almost a year later I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, but it’s just over the halfway point so my brain was definitely getting worn out from all of the action. But afterwards, when I did my post-movie research, I found out this scene was filmed using actual, real flares. Boom. Just another topping to the cake that is any Roger Deakins’ movie. 

Check the scene out here, and make sure you listen to it because the score just makes it even more impactful. 

Lastly, one of the last scenes of the movie and probably the most outstanding is “the explosion scene” (which, taken out of context doesn’t mean much considering the whole film is a series of explosions but it’s the running one at the end? You know? From the trailer? Okay).  

I remember reading somewhere that this scene was only shot four times, or only could be shot four times because they only had so many live explosives. Don’t quote me on that but either way this scene can’t really get any more impressive. 

Not only was this scene filmed in a way I have never seen done before, still manage to have a cool score, include hundreds of extras, (yes) still shot in one continuous take, include real, live explosives, but it also managed to give every single person chills that watches it. And I can only say that because I firmly believe that if you can watch this scene without either wanting to yell, cry, or pass out then I don’t know who you are. 

If you’re going to take anything away from this blog post, it’s that I want you to watch this scene. I’m not even going to suggest you watch it, just watch it! Just.. go watch it now.


Anyway, I’ve been droning on about how fabulous this movie, but I have one more word to fit into this post about it. 

When I first heard about it I definitely thought “another war movie?”. Fair criticism. There seems to be a saturated market for war movies. I’m a firm believer that diverse stories should be told with these kinds of big budgets and talented film-makers. However, this fact doesn’t take away from the brilliance of this film. To me, 1917 in the end really wasn’t “just another war movie” and more of a way to show off the amazing things creative people can do with technology, great actors, crazy impressive camera work and a lot of time. I think this is why, as much as I do believe 1917 is an amazing picture, Parasite was the best picture and deserved a spotlight moment.

Process Post #10: Reacting to My Third Peer Review

For this week’s process post I’ll be looking back on the helpful constructive criticism I got from Victoria over at The Procrastireader. She gave me some really helpful critiques that I’ll be working on incorporating into my site going forward! 

Let’s talk about a few. 

Technical 

As far as running a new website goes, the technical issues are the hardest for me by far; however, this correction is going to be an easy fix going forward: making sure my links open in new tabs. 

We went over this a little bit in the past few weeks in lecture and now I’m definitely aware of the positive sides to making sure readers can easily navigate to and from your site. I honestly wasn’t really thinking about it too much as my mind was preoccupied with getting all of the links embedded into the post in the first place, but going forward I’ll defiitely be making the time! 

Design + Content

I always appreciate good comments about the ‘vibe’ or tone of my site! Hearing that the graphics and colours give off the impression I wanted them to is always lovely. 

One thing she pointed out was to add more pictures to my blog posts which I’ll definitely be doing! I might even go back to some of my old posts and add them when I have time near the end of the year after finals are over. After all, this is a film blog and not showing anything from the films is definitely a missing asset. 

In terms of content, I’m very glad to hear that my posts are an appropriate length that explain films without going into too much detailing and completely spoiling them! It’s a hard balance to strike. I also would love to respond to the comment about my media remix post where I combined Harry Styles with Harry Potter. Yes, I did see this tiktok, and I loved it. 

Another pointer she gave me about page design and content is directed at my About page. If I’m being honest, I basically made that page back in September and barely looked back, so I’m definitely open to critique on it. In the next few weeks I have plans to revamp it and going forward past PUB101 I think I’m going to continue to work on this site and make myself more of a “part of this blog”, if that makes sense. TLDR: I’ll work on my About page, I promise. 

Monetization 

As far as monetization goes we are definitely on the same page. My Youtube ads are lately almost 80% Netflix, which is weird considering I do have an account with them already but we all make mistakes. I think incorporating relevant ads into my site could definitely be an asset that I look into in the future for sure. 


Long story short, this third and final peer review was super beneficial and helpful! I want to give special thanks to Victoria for her tips and compliments. 
You can check out her full peer review on my site here!

Peer Review #3: The Procrastireader

For this third and final peer review, I will be talking about the procrastireader, a site by and for book lovers. Let’s talk about it! 

Design 

First off, the design is so on-point with the theme and is also supe eye-catching on top of that. The doodle-esque, colourful header fits perfectly with the theme of the content and tone of voice. In addition, the drop cap at the beginning of the posts just adds another pop and further incorporates the site into the book theme. As much as I love minimalist sites, I think when it comes to reviewing books and discussing them in unique ways, as this site does, it makes more sense to incorporate lots of colours and fun design additions, which the creator does really well! 

Content 

I think the four diversified categories is a great way to keep readers hooked and the writer themselves interested in maintaining the site. While engaging in one common theme among posts, like this site does, can maintain a sense of consistency, I think when it comes to certain creators/authors, diversity is necessary. 

By creating four distinct sections for weekly content, it is guaranteed that the creator will be able to continue to come up with interesting and fun content for the weekly readers, which is a very important aspect when it comes to the marketability of the website and blog. 

Marketability – Audience Cultivation 

To start off the conversation about marketability, it is important to acknowledge that book reviews and conversations about books is always a hot topic. For example, book clubs have always been really popular and by creating a blog that emulates aspects of book clubs without requiring actually participation from the reader this site is guaranteed to find an audience that wants to know about books, get recommendations, and have their opinions validated by another book-lover. 

Coming from myself, as a kid I loved books and reading a lot, but as I’ve grown up, become more busy and began a degree that is centred around academic reading I find myself less and less interested in seeking out new books and finding the time/energy to read them. So, getting good recommendations that actually have background to the book and why it was good or bad is super interesting to me. Being told I should “read this” with no other context never works, so the way in which the procrastireader goes about detailing books and offering recommendations on the basis of mood (see this post), is a beneficial resource to many. 

Marketability – Possible Outlets 

One way to monetize a site like the procrastireader is promoting small authors and bookstores. For example, the post about small bookstores in the GVR could easily be monetized by offering some sort of exchange for giving the bookstores public platform on a book-lovers blog. 

Similar to what one of this week’s course readings discussed (On Advertising by Tom Bleymaeir), being able to use affiliate links to books and gain revenue that way could be a very efficient way of monetizing the site. I think this is also a more genuine, authentic way to monetize a site, as I don’t see it as selling out as long as you disclose with the audience. If they were to buy a book with your free recommendation, you’re offering a service that was beneficial to them. Furthermore, helping promote small authors directly (in more of a sponsored post function, as discussed earlier on) is doing good for the creative community and would help expose small authors and books to a large audience that might not see them in the front of a big bookstore. 

The Procrastireader 

Overall, the creator of this site has done excellent work at building, designing and running the procrastireader. The blog has a lot of potential for continuation of content generation, audience cultivation, and monetization, as like myself, many people are looking for good books to read, especially right now.

Process Post #9: The Political Consequences of Social Media

As a third year Communication major I have been taught many times about the significance of digital tracking, trails and surveillance that exist in today’s society. Although these discussions often take place in a negative light and with undertones of “you should be scared”, I have yet to find myself genuinely concerned about being surveilled. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t *like* the idea of my every click and movement online because recorded and my online presence being manipulated for the sake of capitalism, but I have a “bigger picture” view when it comes to being scared of it. I can summarize this into one kind of question;

Why would they care what I do in particular? What’s important about ME in the grand scheme of the Internet? 

Although the concept of me being surveilled doesn’t shock me or scare me anymore, I think the Internet scares me in different ways. The comfortable (for lack of a better term) understanding I have about surveillance and tracking comes from the ability to critically think that has been developed thanks to the SFU School of Communication. I know that I, as an individual, understand what is happening and the consequences, but I’m not so sure about others. 

For one of my classes this semester the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” was assigned as a reading. Although I definitely would’ve watched it in my free time anyway, this movie really opened my eyes to how little other people might know about things like dataveillance and tracking. While most of the concepts they went over in the documentary were old news to me, one thing that stood out and genuinely provoked a feeling of concern in me was the notion that the Internet has polarized political opinions more. This isn’t something I had given much thought to prior. As most people have felt recently, elections are not something that should be shrugged off. I’m a firm believer that politics should be a small part of everyone’s lives. After all, it impacts all of us and anyone who has the time to say “I don’t vote” or “I don’t care about policies” has a unique kind of privilege in today’s political landscape. 

Therefore, the idea that a contributing reason for the severe polarization that has been happening, particularly in the USA, is the mere existence of social media is definitely a new take I haven’t considered or discussed a lot. I can definitely understand why this might be the case, as on TikTok and Twitter I see a lot of far left and far right, and not a lot of centrist (particularly with gen z). 

So, although I don’t find the concept of being tracked online to be particularly scary, I think the political consequences of those who haven’t been taught to look at everything they see online with a critical lens can be particularly dangerous. Another good documentary example of this is The Great Hack which outlines the workings of Cambridge Analytica and how they basically got Trump elected and Brexit approved by feeding fake news to the most gullible, and that to me is the most pressing political and internet-related issue facing us today.

Let’s Talk About: Some of my Favourite Animated Movies

I’m going to start this post off with the disclaimer that I decided to not include any strictly ‘Disney’ movies just for the sake of making this list easier. Although, I did include Pixar because in my head they’re still separate companies (I mean, I’m just placing bets on when Disney’s going to buy out Dreamworks… any day now). 

These 5 movies aren’t the *best* animated movies in my opinion, but think of this list more as a group of movies that I recently re-watched or will be re-watching this weekend as a twenty year old who never really had a Disney princess phase.

Finding Nemo 

An all around classic. This was definitely one of my favourites as a kid, notably my Mom’s favourite as well. I think one of my favourite things about most animated movies are the comedic supporting casts. Yeah Nemo, Marlin and Dory are great but characters like Deb, Squirt, Crush, and Gill really stole the show for me. 

Although this might be an unpopular opinion, I think the sequel was pretty darn good. I’m by no means saying it was better than the first, but it held it’s own for sure. 

How To Train Your Dragon 

A newer movie than Nemo for sure, but nonetheless, great. I’ve only seen this one a couple of times so the plot is not as fresh in mind (hence the weekend plans I have to rewatch it) but overall this was such a new and interesting storyline so far from the days of princess animation which is why I think it was such a hit. 

Also, Toothless is the cutest dragon known to the human race. 

Over the Hedge 

Recently re-watched this one, as in last night, and it honestly gets better with age. As a kid with a hyper-active imagination I loved the idea of animals having their own little worlds where they hang out regardless of their species. 

Watching this as an adult definitely made me notice the underlying social message that this film sits on about urban sprawl and the toxicity of the human race towards wild animals, so that’s an interesting pill to swallow. A more positive thing to notice as an adult is the casting for this movie. As a kid I had no care for who Wanda Sykes, Steve Carrell, Eugene Levy were, but now it just adds comedic layer after comedic layer to an already great script and storyline. 

Inside Out 

Alongside the note I made about Over the Hedge about over-active imaginations, Inside Out is such a fantasy world for me as a kid. The concept of having little guys working in your brain would’ve been just pure fun for an 8 year old me. Although, I’m really glad I was a 15 year old when I saw this because it’s honestly a little hard hitting. The whole story-line revolves around some very realistic issues that I don’t think I would’ve picked  up on as a kid. On top of that, I definitely shed several tears near the end of this movie and that’s coming from someone who doens’t cry at movies, like at all. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

This is by far the most recent animated movie that I really enjoyed. It is leaps and bounds ahead of the others in this list in terms of technical and visual animation, as it should be, and adopts a really wild story-line that’s definitely more catered to an older audience than the others were. 

The Spider-Man story has been retold so many times, but if you haven’t seen it and are still on the edge about seeing *another* spider-man movie, I’d seriously consider it. Not only does it dive into a more complex sider world (or should I say ‘verse’), but I really haven’t been able to move past the crazy realms that movies, especially superhero movies, can get to when they’re fully animated. 


Unfortunately, because most of these movies aren’t Disney or Pixar, they’re not on a lot of streaming services. That’s definitely a big flaw to streaming culture right now for me is so many movies that I want to see on any given day just happen to not be available on the 4 different services I have access to which is really just a first world problem to have. But, if you DO have access to any of these movies and you haven’t seen them I highly suggest any of them on any day.

Let’s Talk About: Jojo Rabbit

Asking yourself “am I laughing at Nazis right now?” is an interesting factor to add into the cinematic experience to say the least. 

For those who don’t know, since it wasn’t exactly a blockbuster film, Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 film by New Zealander Taika Waititi that takes a satirical point of view on WW2 and the Hitler Youth program. Starring a few kids (Thomasin Mackenzie, Roman Griffin Davis, Archie Yates), Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, and Taika himself (as Hitler), Jojo Rabbit is a comedy-drama film based on a book by Christine Leunens called Caging Skies (2008). 

For understandable reasons, this movie didn’t exactly “win” with the general public, since “poking fun at WW2” is not a particularly great single line pitch for a movie, but I personally think Jojo Rabbit was one of the best films to come out of 2019. 

Taika Waititi 

As I’ve mentioned, the whole “set during Hitler Germany involving Hitler-youth” subject matter definitely tip-toed along a risky line, I’m a strong believer that Taika Waititi can do anything he wishes and do it well. Unfortunately, the only other film I’ve seen by him is Thor: Ragnarok (which is hands down one of the best Marvel films to date), so I’m looking forward to watching more of his films (ex. Thor: Love and Thunder coming soon). But from these two experiences alone I can tell he has such a fascinating way of story-telling.

Also, his satirical portrayal of Hitler was unsatisfyingly hilarious. Everytime I laughed (which was a lot), it made me so uncomfortable, but it was such an intriguing performance for that exact reason. Also, the impressive dynamic and comedic chemistry between Roman and Taika should be noted.  

The Cast 

Not only were the starring kids absolutely amazing, notably Archie who definitely stole many comedic win for himself, but the rest of the cast were such integral parts in telling this story the right way. So funny and so sad all at the same time. 

One cast member I want to highlight is Stephen Merchant. I love him. I first saw him in that movie “Toothfairy” with The Rock (2010) and I have been eager to see him in anything ever since. For those who don’t know, he co-wrote the original UK version of The Office, and in this film he plays extremely tall  agent Deertz of the Gestapo, definitely stealing some scenes. Notably this scene, which is worth the watch. 

Also, I really just want to highlight this youtube video in some way. Not only do you get to see Taika’s director brain working right in front of you, but you can also understand my only criticism of the film: that Taika and Stephen have such great chemistry and they should have had more scenes in the film together. That’s literally my only criticism.  

Conclusion

Overall, this movie works to bring comedy and drama in ways that I’ve personally never seen done before. It also handles a really, really dark subject manner in a way that reconciles such a horrific time in history with some really creative humour and intriguing story telling. I have no idea what I’d compare this movie to because it’s so unique, but I highly suggest finding a way to see this film because it’s beyond worth the watch.

Process Post #8: Why I Love Among Us

I’ll just put it in simple terms, I wish I knew about Among Us sooner.

For those who don’t know, Among Us (2018) is a multi-player game based on the party game Mafia (sometimes called Werewolf) where the 4-10 players are tasked with figuring out who the ‘imposter’ is among them. 

Depending on the amount of players, there will be 1-3 imposters who only know who each other are, and the rest of the players are crewmates. The crewmates must work to complete their tasks while the imposters work to sabotage and kill the crewmates in secret before the tasks are finished. There’s no communication during the game, but when someone calls a meeting or a crewmate discovers a dead body the chat opens up and everyone must discuss who they think the imposters are, working to eject people from the game with the goal of getting rid of the imposters before everyone is killed. Of course, the imposters must conceal their identities and act as if they are just crewmates during discussion. 

TLDR: Among Us takes some of the best games I played in drama classes in school growing up and puts it into an easy to play group video game with lots of lying to your friends.

Let’s talk 4 simple reasons why I think Among Us is becoming a cultural phenomenon. 

1: The characters are so cute

First, it’s design works so well with today’s social media ecosystem.  I don’t want to say the little characters are cute, but they’re cute okay? I cannot stop thinking about when the game creators are going to launch merch because I WILL be buying. 

2: Watching people play it is hilarious

It’s so fun to watch other people play. I’ve never been someone to watch video game streams, but I cannot stop watching people play Among Us. Not only are some really funny streamers playing it, but so are politicians. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar (congresswomen from New York and Minnesota) sat down to play with some popular streamers one day and garnered the attention of many, many members of generation Z. Some politicians have tried and failed to effectively reach the attention and gain the vote of young adults today (notably, hosting a “zoom roast” where instead of gaining any votes you got one of your candidates cancelled, not naming any names of people who did this… in BC.. or anything). 

3: It’s from a small gaming company

Among Us was created by an Indie gaming company called Innersloth. When I first found out about the game, not understanding gaming culture at all, I didn’t know where or who Among US came from, but I’m really glad they’re getting the attention they deserve. The game concept is really clever. 

4: Covid-19 Safe!

It’s virtual, allows for decent sized groups to play at once, and accessible. All factors pointing to it making such a great Covid-19 safe way to engage with your friends online. Although it’s essentially full of lying and gaslighting, there’s few opportunities to have genuine fun online with your friends without resorting to group Zoom calls or Netflix party. Although it’s been out since 2018, I think 2020 was a perfect year for it to go viral.

5: Teamwork but with people you probably don’t know

This game works great with on of PUB101’s first topics of discussion about engaging with strangers. As I mentioned in point four, playing this game with friends is super fun, but it’s also a really easy way to engage with people from all over the world. In some ways this random game joining function reminds me of Omegle (in the good ways, not the gross ones). In fact, some Tiktok’s have gone viral of people wanting to find a stranger who they were playing Among Us with after the game was over because they got along so well. Although there are definitely negative sides to this “strangers on the Internet” thing, I think it’s also a very interesting phenomenon and the game itself only encourages people from different backgrounds to work together on a common task.

Process Post #7: How TikTok has Revolutionized the Echo Chamber

Let’s start out with a rough definition of what an echo chamber is. As a third year Communication student, I’m not stranger to the heavy academic discourse of the complications of the modern public sphere, digital divide and the echo chamber. I think echo chambers have their positives and negatives. When it comes to things like democratic political discourse and educational resources, echo chambers are not where you want to be. In most cases, the very notion of an echo chamber is in itself non-democratic (of course depending on what context you’re putting the word democratic in). However, one of the best things about some of the social media apps that we put ourselves on today is that idea of community. 

Community or Echo Chamber? 

In most academic contexts to which the concept of an echo chamber has been applied, it has always been in direct association with the idea of using social media and new media platforms and technologies for the greater societal good, often involving politics or social education. Which is a side of some social media platforms, namely Twitter, that I have a love-hate relationship with. 

However, I am a firm believer that social media sites were built for the purpose of what’s in their very title: socializing. Although they can serve in other ways, straying from really good to really (really) bad, platforms like Facebook were quite literally built to serve socialization. You can read more about a movie that demonstrates the conception of Facebook in my blog post about The Social Network (shameless blog plug). 

This is why I want to talk about TikTok for a minute.

TikTok: Using Echo Chambers and Algorithms as the Main Function 

Unlike most other popular SNS’ today (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), Tiktok is not really based on a following system. In fact, you could say that following people on TikTok only really contributes to you seeing more of their content on your “for you page” (not necessarily seeing it at all though), and that the more followers someone has, the higher the hierarchy on the app (and more likes, if your followers are using their “following” page often enough). 

The For You Page is the main driving feed of TikTok. An algorithm driven, echo-chamber showing you the content that it thinks you want to see based on what it knows about you. Now, this conversation can turn really creepy and scary really fast, but I’m going to redirect it towards the interesting side of this app structure. 

Essentially, if the algorithm is doing you right, you will only see content that you (at minimum) can relate to, will laugh at, is similar to something else you have liked or shared before, or will enjoy in some capacity. Which can be said about other features of apps, like Instagram’s explore page or Twitter recommended tweet/content functions. But basing an entire app on this is something very interesting in relation to discourse about how dangerous echo chambers can be. 

I think there are two reasons why the echo chambers of TikTok haven’t been completely written off as problematic. 

One, most people using TikTok are using at least one other social media site, meaning this isn’t necessarily the only way they are digesting media content. I can’t say that they are necessarily following the right people, or reading the news in any capacity, but TikTok is likely not the only app they turn to for entertainment and it is unlikely that their echo chamber on TikTok is a direct duplicate of who they follow on other platforms.

Two, TikTok has been praised for it’s ability to form communities. I can testify to this for sure. Although I haven’t made any online friends or one-on-one connections with anyone from TikTok, I do feel as though there are many, many other people out there that I can relate to just through the one app alone. 

I could dive into this conversation a lot more, so I might write a follow-up process post on this another week to continue the conversation. But overall, I think there are positives and negatives to every single SNS out there and TikTok for sure is not exempt from criticism; however, I wanted to highlight the intriguing structure of the app and how the phrase echo chamber was essentially repurposed as the entire basis for one of the most popular apps in the world right now.