How Far West?

How did a telly series based on a Chinese classic end up not having a single Chinese actor?

Should we even be surprised at the casting decisions for Netflix’s The Legend of Monkey, which is based on the sixteenth century novel Journey to the West? Probably not, considering how Scarlett Johansen was given the role of Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton played the Ancient One in Dr Strange.

journey to the west
Sun Wukong and gang go West … to La La Land.

The book tells the story of Xuanzang, a Tang dynasty Buddhist monk who travels to the ‘West’, meaning Central Asia and India, in search of sacred texts. He is given three friends who function as helpers and body guards of sorts: Sun Wukong (the monkey king); Zhu Bajie (the Pig of Eight Prohibitions – a half-man, half-pig); and Sha Wujing (a hideous immortal).

emilieWhile you could argue that monsters and immortals could be any race, Xuanzang is definitely Chinese. However, there is no Buddhist monk in this version of the tale. Instead, there is a teenager called Sandy (this is confusing because Sha Wujing is called Friar Sandy or Sandy in English translations of the novel) and Emilie Cocquerel [left], the actor who plays her, is definitely white.

There is no further information about the series, like where it’s set and how the three companions of Xuanzang end up hanging out with a white girl instead – I don’t know if Sandy is even supposed to be white. I notice that she is shown bald and with a tan in the promo pic – perhaps in an attempt to give her a more ‘edgy’ appearance.

Anyway, the series is supposed to be release in 2018. I guess we’ll have to wait til then to see just how bad it is. Of course, it may be good in terms of script, direction, acting etc, but I feel it’s failed already due to its casting decisions.

Goodbye Girls

Today I watched the finale of Lena Dunham’s Girls.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I guess some story and character threads, like the Adam-Hannah relationship; and Hannah’s friendship with Jessa were tied up in earlier episodes. 


Of the girls, only Hannah and Marnie appear in the series’ last ever episode. Hannah has her baby and is her usual selfish self. Marnie has practically forced herself onto her as a co-parent, and Hannah both resents and over-depends on her best friend. Granted she’s stressed and also scared and (I remember this)  probably mentally, physically and emionally exhausted. Still, I was surprised when she said what she did to her mother who visits after being summoned by a frazzled Marnie. Should we take it as hormones and stress talking or is it just Hannah being characteristically obnoxious, only much worse than usual. 

But after storming out of her house and wondering around for hours, a chance meeting with a petulant, bratty teenager flips a switch and allows Hannah some insight into her relationship with her mother and her own new role as a parent. 


The episode is too short to be satisfying but it’s nice to be left with some sort of reassurance that Hannah and Baby Grover (!) will be OK. 


It’s a little sad that the friendship between the four women didn’t make it to the end though. However, it also makes sense. Unlike the protagonists in Sex and the City, Girls’ girls are silly, selfish and, often, downright despicable in their behaviour towards one another. They are girls, not women. That was probably the point that the series’ title tried to stress: these are millenials who will screw over their best friends to get ahead, or just because. 

But in the end, I think Hannah, if no one else, finally grows up. 

(White) Girls

girls

It’s that time of the year when I binge-watch Lena Dunham’s Girls with a mixture of fascination and horror.

Over the weekend I took in eight episodes of the final season of the series; two more til Girls is no more, and that makes me feel sad as well as relieved.

But, actually, I think there’s some great writing this season. At the same time, OMG, Marnie and Jessa should just burn in hell. Forever.

I Felt It From the First Embrace

I don’t think I’ve recovered from watching La La Land. Stop reading if you haven’t seen the film yet and are bothered by spoilers. I don’t think I’m giving anything away, but who knows what you may read between the lines.Read More »

Take a moment and find yourself

Somehow, this song from Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe (episode: Mindful Education) struck a chord with me. Even without paying close attention to the lyrics, I was comforted by its melody and the way the vocalists expressed themselves. Knowing the lyrics made the song even more meaningful.

Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, has stated that she wrote the song when she wanted a song that would calm her during a difficult time. I get that – it’s a song that I’ve been listening to over and over again because, to me, it’s about all the setbacks and problems I’ve faced, and also because it reminds me that I have people who are here for me, but that, ultimately, I’ve survived everything I’ve been through. ‘I’m here’ is not just reassurance from loved ones but also a self-affirming declaration.

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