Gran Torino

Gran Torino is a film directed by Clint Eastwood, who also plays the main character Walt Kowalski. Mr. Kowalski is an old-fashioned man who have lost his wife recently, and his neighborhood is practically packed with Hmong residents. This leads to him meeting one of the neighbor-kids, Thao, and developing a father-son-like relationship with him. I will be answering question number 2 and 4 from our handout about the movie.

“2. How do we see oppression of the Hmong people in this film? What has the film taught you about the Hmong people in the USA?”

The Hmong people are, especially by Walt, treated with brutal racism. In other words; they are heavily misunderstood. They have very specific traditions and ways to behave against others in different settings. For example, it is very rude to have eye-contact with a guest, and it is seen as very polite if you feed your guest a lot. And I mean a lot. When Walt visited Thao’s family during their barbeque, he gets confused by this, and a little shocked. When observing the way that he was received, and the way that the Hmong was received by him, I noticed my own reactions being a little similar to Walt’s. I would very likely be just as confused as he was at that barbeque if none of the Hmong people would look me in the eye. Except I would watch my language. This is a good example of cultures colliding. And this taught me a lot about myself, and how easy it is to end up with misunderstanding others. After the movie I have thought of the Hmong as very polite, strict and charitable. This is not necessarily negative, but it is quite easy to misunderstand.

“4. What experiences does Walt have with living in a multicultural neighborhood? Use examples from the film and discuss to what extent Walt develops/changes through the movie.”

Walt has always been a man who follow his morals without caring about what others might think of it. I mean try counting all the times he pulls up a gun or a fake gun to intimidate others! He is a very cold and isolated man, but meeting Thao definitely changed him significantly. I noticed right away him being more prone to ask for help when he needed it, instead of waiting for Thao to come over to work his moral debt off. And he talked little by little more about his past life. Living besides the Hmong taught him a lot about how different does not always mean “scary” or “bad”. When he saved Thao from being taken by his cousin to do illegal activities, Thao’s family was so grateful they brought over all that they could in order to repay. After a while you see Walt finally accepting their gifts and not being as overwhelmed by them. He even develops friendship, instead of skepticism, with Thao’s sister. Walt softens up as much as an old man like him could ever soften up throughout the movie, but he will always be a certain degree of a bad ass.

The movie did not only show that people like Walt can change, despite a lot of prejudice being worked into their system, but so can people like the Hmong. Walt learned that the Hmong was not so bad after all, and the Hmong learned that Walt was better than he seemed. In conclusion, this movie is a symbol of hope and change, even if the odds make it seem impossible to be achieved.

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Spotlight

Question 6.

Spotlight is given a case about priests in North America, who have been and are sexually abusing children. That is the main conflict. They have to work around the case carefully in order to not get caught by someone from the outside, who they do not trust. The Catholic Church obviously cannot be trusted. Therefor they speak to survivors of the pedophilia from the priests, in order to get the full picture. The biggest issue for Spotlight may have been that the Church is very sly and unreliable, so they are always at high risk of people turning against them, while turning to the Church. The very minute they knew that the documents they needed to prove all their statements were public, one of the members of Spotlight ran down to the court house to be the first one to get to them. If that does not explain the amount of stress that the Boston Globe was under about this case, then I do not know what is. Going against the church in one of the biggest and most catholic countries in the world is not something you do lightheartedly without proof.

Question 5.

I personally feel that the protagonist of this story was Robby. While I do understand that he was sent a very important list of names of priests that were guilty of pedophilia far too long ago before this story came to life, I also think that that particular case needed to happen when it happened. Good timing comes and goes, and while he had the chance back then, the timing came back to him and the team, and they did a remarkable job that made a huge impression. Speaking of timing, he was also very sure of himself every time he said that something was not ready to be done yet, and if he did not have that sureness to him, then I think I’d be writing another answer to this question.

Now, the antagonist. I am going to have to say the Church, and every devil in it that dared to abuse children is the definite antagonist in this story. They could have saved themselves from all the hate the probably received after Spotlights’ store was out, if they had only dealt with the guilty priests the second, they found out about their behaviors. I feel that they would even be more respected if the Church didn’t just move all those pedophiles around the world, instead of handling the damage they caused. So many lives could have been saved, and so many children could have been spared if they had only kicked those priests out of the church and into a jail cell. They may be men of God, but that does not mean that they should have a right to traumatize thousands of lives.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist book was turned into a movie in 2012. Some might say it was brilliantly made to represent the book in a very creative type of manner, but to be completely clear right away; I have never in my life hated a movie based on a book more than I hate the Reluctant Fundamentalist’s movie.

Words can barely explain my anger, but I’ll try. First of all, there is a difference between starting a movie “in medias res” and starting it “in medias mess”. From start to finish I could barely cling onto the little drop of information you get, and this coming from someone who actually has read the book. For example, when Erica gets upset twice because she is with Changez while still loving her dead ex-boyfriend, someone who did not read the book do not even understand the tiniest bit of sad that she actually is, because the film does not at all represent the relationship she had with him before he died! Her ex is one of the biggest parts of her character and you get none of that from the movie! What a waste.

Speaking of waste, I did not know Changez had to turn into Jafar in order to make the movie exciting enough. In the book there is a perfect balance of distrust between the American and mister Jafar here. They are both just tense enough for the excitement to go on throughout the book until the ending. They both acted suspicious, but they were still polite and kept on going with the night. In the movie Jafar the evil genius is constantly under surveillance and they see him as the bad guy, while the American is such a good dude looking for his old mate who disappeared. Hm, I wonder who ended up shooting an innocent in the end? I mean where the book could have made the movie bloom so much more, there is unnecessary scenes of people yelling and running around making the movie even more messy than it already is!

Now, one of my biggest issue with the whole film is the prioritizing of those who are deemed important and those who are not. Jim is such a big character in the book and you basically read about him being here and there in so many of the chapters, but in the movie? No, there he is apparently not. Because it is apparently more important to watch the American and Jafar fuss about which on of them is in the right. The whole thing the director made about an American professor being missing is so unnecessary to make it interesting. The book is about Changez’ life, and how he is telling the American about it. And I do not know about you, but to me his life is more interesting than most, and adding so many scenes of things that never took place in the book is so far out of character it feel unnecessary to the highest degree there is.

I have already expressed some of my frustration with Erica and the gaping, black, hole where the info about her character should be, but I feel that I have not yet thoroughly enough yelled a bit about how the character acts and looks like. The biggest appeal about her, which draws mister Changez Jafar Khan towards her is how she is such a typical, but untypical, twentysomething year old. In the book she struts around in shorts and tank tops while being very muscular and fit. She lives with her parents in a penthouse apartment and has dark secrets around her. In the movie she is boring as boring can be. She has no mystery, no deep dark past and no appeal. The book version of Erica gave me goosebumps for days, while the movie version has already started fading from my bored memory. A little backstory would be nice eh, director?

To sum up, the film was tiresome, messy, unnecessary and starved from the lack of info it could have had. A little context never hurt nobody. I hate it with all of my heart and would rather learn every bee pun made in the bee movie, than to ever see ten minutes of that movie.

The Murder of Maharram Durrani

Among all the journalists murdered in 2018, Maharram Durrani was one of them. Durrani was no older than twenty-eight years old, not even finished with her training. She and several other journalists were murdered by a suicide bomb.

Now, the fact that we live in a world where people even get the idea of placing a bomb on themselves and ending their life just to end someone else’s is incomprehensible. She was a great role model for other women, as she passed by society’s expectations to do her own thing and support her family. She was the number one income source for her whole family, which they were very proud of and grateful for, and now they have no one. Not to say all she was was their money, but now the world has not only one more struggling family, but also another family experiencing severe loss.

A great woman that showed an amazing example of strong women going against everyone’s expectations was on her way to work, and that was it for her. If you are not even safe on your way to work, when are you really safe anymore?

Brick Lane

Grief, misery and slavery was what I thought of and felt while watching a bit of the beginning of Brick Lane. Nazneen’s grief over the chance of a life with her sister which she lost, her misery over the life she now lived where all her energy where put into everyone else but her and living in slavery as a wife and parent with a man who she did not love nor cared about.

For Nazneen I saw her life as a big opportunity for a good change. London is filled with different people, different views and opinions, not to mention different jobs to take on. Her way of living as it was in the beginning was not much to brag about. She did have a family and children to raise, but she had barely any contact with her sister, which seemed quite sad to me. Considering that I could see how much she loved her and would like to come back home. I did not get very far in the movie, but I still had a lot of thoughts of the small parts I saw.

As I said London is filled with opportunities and this meaning that I have read and seen other people make it from the bottom to their top of their being. For example, James Bowen, the writer of several books about his cat Bob and how that cat changed his life for the better. James used to be homeless living of off coins he earned by playing his guitar on the streets. Just like Nazneen I can imagine the two of them got almost the same number of weird looks or possibly not positive attention because of what they looked like and who they were. Even though none of the strangers doing that to them knew them.

Not to say they had that much in common, but their life situations are comparable in the sense that they both were sort of at their own rock bottom and then something came around to get them up where they belonged. For Nazneen I do not really know what that was, but I know it was not a whole movie of an empty life, so it must have been something. My point is that James was looked down upon for not having a home and then one ginger cat came and gave him a life and a purpose, Nazneen might have been looked down upon for not being completely British, and I think something came along and gave her purpose as well, despite her being different.

This all comes from a point of view about what we all can achieve even though we are not all completely alike in our multicultural societies. Both James and Nazneen had certain expectations and assumptions from people around them and they both broke free, and if that is not the most inspiring thing ever then I do not know what is.

My International Day

I honestly struggle to remember exactly who of the people I visited at the human libraries, but their messages stood clear as daylight in my mind afterwards. Gratefulness is what all Norwegian students should strive for. Gratefulness for what we have, what we get and not to mention what we get to have for free.

Yes, it is hard to not strongly dislike having a lot of responsibilities, tasks, deadlines and so on, but many children, teens and adults barely gets a taste of what this is all like. It does not necessarily have to mean something negative. So many people who live in sad, scary and/or dangerous situations strive for greatness through the horrifying situations. For example, my sister’s math teacher have been in jail several times in his own home country for wanting to teach, until him coming to Norway and finally being able to live his dream. What we go through, rough path or not, is something we are extremely lucky to be able to experience for free. Going through a life as a refugee takes away not only a lot of freedom, but a lot of opportunities.

Some people live every day wondering if it is their last, many people should live every day as if it is their last.

The superheroes of Our Future

Just a movie? More of an eyeopener to me. An eyeopener with a powerful message from beyond only nine girls. Girl rising opens the curtains we are all afraid to look past. Superheroes, survivors, fighters and passionate members of society, is what I saw during this film. I saw a strong future in the making, in which I look forward to being living in.

Yasmin, an Egyptian superhero, who got the door into the house of justice slammed in her face. Indeed, she was a superhero. She was a strong girl before, but an even stronger superhero after. And a stronger superhero than any of the ones that I had previously heard of. This, however, does not change the fact that a man robbed her of a piece of her childhood for eternity. He got his pleasure, and so she was left with trauma. Often that is what makes one a superhero. He got to live on untouched by the punishment of justice. He walks free, while she had to make her own story in order to survive a life living with the original story roaming free in the back of her mind. Needless to say, this all calls for a fight against the laws of countries that allow these cases to remain unsolved.

“One girl with courage is a revolution.” That phrase tells me now after watching the film, that all it takes to change the world is to become the change. One strong girl leads to ten strong girls. Then twenty. And then fifty. As long as one girl has the courage to live on as a source of power for those around her, change will be made. Revolution will take action. Yasmin’s courage told her she was stronger than him. It boosted her above his level and lifted her head and shoulders up high where they belonged. Her courage created a forever living fire inside her, and she intended to be as fierce as it.

I can not comprehend what they might be or might have been feeling through those circumstances. What I especially cannot imagine is how my mentality and behavior would be if I were to experience or grow up in the situations they lived through. I do feel more sympathy rather than empathy for them, since I just do not see how I could possibly put myself in their position deep enough to be able to truly understand. Of course, I have a certain understanding for what it must be like, but if it is correct or not is not as certain.

The people watching this film without the knowledge that all these cases are perfectly realistic for too many girls in this world, might pick up on how serious the need for gender equality really is and how much action is still needed to be taken. The fact that many of the girls were fairly small children might make it more powerful to many, as you see horrible life stories being told through the innocent view of a little girl. Yasmine needed a story where he was the victim. Where she spared him of death. Where the shame was put on him. Many people could not have done the same after an experience like her.

Free will taken from them, all because they were girls. In conclusion as a girl you are to shut your mouth, take your orders and keep your manners, because there is no greater shame than being a girl, is there? No. Girls are our future superheroes, and they are all around us ready to strike with their girl power.